Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 1 of putting 'Tom' to the test...

(Sorry - this is a really long post!)

I'm not usually one to name my machinery, but it's just so much easier to write 'Tom' than it is Thermomix every 5 seconds. So Tom it is.
(Plus lets face it, it's kind of nice to think about a man doing all the work in my kitchen ;) )

I had to chuckle at the comments yesterday. See I told you there'd be on of 3 reactions and both b & c always tend to be quite extreme in either direction.

I especially love how Carol always says exactly what she thinks! But sorry Carol, no way am I taking this thing back! :) And trust me I've crunched the numbers hard - especially as it cost me 2 adult fares back home to NZ to see my family!
Big big thanks need to go to the Australian Tax Office for 'giving' me the money to buy this swish machine. - We decided to use part of our tax return this year to pay for it, so I must admit, the fact it is not coming out of our everyday "household budget" is making the cost a little easier to stomach!

Anyhow lets get on with the first test.
Now, I was supposed to wait to use it until my Thermomix demonstrator can come on Monday to do my set up session & make something together. But I did tell her there was no chance of me waiting! I mean would you want to wait an entire 5 days?!
In the few days leading up to Toms arrival I had already bookmarked a bunch of recipes to try off of the internet. Also, as per the request of my husband, I had also read the instruction manual cover to cover on the internet the night before.
So I knew what all the buttons did already and I was good to go.

Now as I go through and test things I have decided to put the results under the same headings each time for consistency of measure. {And this is why it's a long post - because I made 5 things in my first afternoon}
With those headings in mind lets look at yesterday's results:

Test 1: Vegetable Stock Concentrate...

Ease and time in preparation:
Well this thing was easy to put together. Cut all the veges into big chunks, bung them all in and whiz for about 20 seconds or so. Easy peasy. No peeling or small chopping required!
Cooking time:
20 minutes on Varoma temperature then a few seconds blending
Taste results:
Well as this is vegetable stock concentrate I didn't expect this would taste nice out of the pot. It is highly salty so not a food by itself. But it's designed to keep in a clean jar in your fridge and use a Tbsp mixed with water every time stock is called for in a recipe. Tasted great in my pumpkin soup (see next item).
Did the kids like/eat it:

Ease of clean up: 
Super easy - just blended water for a few minutes to clean then had 1 chopping board & 1 knife to wash.
Price Comparison:
I imagine this is going to save me heaps of money! It probably cost me about $2.00 at the most to make. Most of that would be the rock salt - the veges were cheap from my local market.
I often use good quality natural stock out of a carton if a recipe calls for it and I don't have time/ingredients to make some. Those cartons work out very expensive - currently $2.12 just for one serving of 500ml. That's quite a big savings!
(I could of course have made this at home previously - but nowhere near as efficiently).
Will I make it again:
Certainly. It's quick, easy, affordable and tastes great (I've already used some).
Such a convenient recipe base to have on hand!

Test 2: Pumpkin Soup...

Ease and time in preparation:

Easy peasy. Pumpkin washed & cut into big chunks. I did not even bother to de-seed or take the skin off. Just whizzed them all up for 30 secs to make a fine pulp.
Cooking time:
20 minutes on Varoma temperature then a few seconds further blending
Taste results:
Tasted great! Next time I won't put in as much garlic though. The clove I used was really big (and the recipe didn't actually say to use garlic but we like to).
Did the kids like/eat it:

My kids never have trouble eating pumpkin soup and this was no exception. Abbie got extremely distressed at first and started squealing. It turned out she was frustrated because it was a bit hot and she wanted to eat it now. LOL.
Both kids cleaned their bowls & Abbie asked for and had seconds.
Ease of clean up: 
Super easy - just blended water for a few minutes to clean then had 1 chopping board & 1 knife to wash. A washing up savings over my pot + blender method.
Price Comparison:
I usually make my own from scratch in a pot so this is non applicable.
Will I make it again:
Yep. We love pumpkin soup in this house & I love the fact I could walk away & not have to worry about this burning/boiling over etc. - A buzzer rang to tell me it was done and ready to eat. Too easy.

Test 3: Sunflower & Linseed Bread...

Ease and time in preparation:

Amazingly quick & easy! 10 seconds to mill my seeds into flour then it took one minute & 30 secs to mix/knead and in that time I could put all the ingredients away. I weighed everything straight into the machine so that made the measuring easier. All I really had to do was oil a bowl, put to rise in a warm place. Punch it down twice. Transfer to the baking tin and put it in the oven after a brief second rise. 
I estimate about 3 minutes total manual handling time from start to getting it out of the oven.
Cooking time:
35 minutes in my oven on 180 degrees celcius.
Taste results:
Very light and fluffy! In fact I had trouble slicing without it crumbling it was that light. Next time I will leave it longer to cure. I thought it was delicious.
Did the kids like/eat it:

Abbie hasn't tried it yet. Hannah was so eager to try it that she begged me to slice it. Not so eager when it came to the eating though when it was plain. I guess the linseed was quite strong. But I put some all natural jam on it and she gobbled it up.
Ease of clean up: 
Not as easy as when I saw her clean up at the demo. It was quite a sticky mixture so blending water in the machine wasn't enough and I had to remove the blade to properly clean it. It wasn't that big of a deal though and on the plus side I didn't have floured surfaces everywhere. Just one bowl that I used for rising (I could have used the machine if I didn't want to use it for something else at the time) and the one baking tin.
Price Comparison:
Definitely a big money saver to shop bought natural bread. But I'll work this out properly next time once my whole wheat arrives, I'm milling my own flour and I've worked out the energy consumption.
Will I make it again:
Definitely. It's so easy & tasty. I'm hopeful I can get into making 3 batches at a time (as I have 3 loaf tins) plus a load of dinner rolls which would be the maximum I could fit in my oven at one time. Then I can just bung them in the freezer & take out as required. That should last our family a week or more.
With only an estimated manual handling time of 10-12 minutes total that's pretty amazing for 4 batches of homemade bread!!!

Test 4: A complete dinner; rice with steamed fish & green beans...

Ease and time in preparation:

Very quick! Maybe 2 minutes? Enough time to chop the ends off the beans & bung everything in.
Cooking time:
20 minutes in the thermomix on Varoma heat setting.
Taste results:
To be quite honest I over cooked this. Which is lack of experience never having used (or seen in use) the varoma basket before. The rice recipe called for 16 minutes and the fish recipe called for 25 so I decided to meet in the middle and tried 20.
But everything was slightly overcooked - I should have gone for 16 minutes. Never mind, I know for next time and that just means cooking time is even more efficient than I'd thought. Sweet!
And I used some of our left over pumpkin soup for a sauce so that made it all more tasty.
Did the kids like/eat it:

Abbie completely gobbled hers like I hadn't fed her in a year. Score!
Hannah not so keen on it from first sight (the beans on the plate I suspect). But when I fed her (which even though she's 4 years old is still a nightly performance) she did actually eat 80% of it before telling me she was full. I didn't have to force her to eat it, she just was lazy to feed herself something that wasn't her favourite.
Both kids eating it means I'd still call this a moderate success. Better still if it didn't get overcooked!
Ease of clean up: 
Hmmm now this meal made a load of dishes because I used just about every part of the thermomix - 2 layers of the steamer basket, the internal basket of the main machine & the main machine itself.
So I would not call this meal a dishes saving. But they were all easy to clean and I chose to separately cook each element separately to try the layer capability of the machine.
Price Comparison:
Not really applicable. I would have cooked this meal at home anyway just partly on my gas hobb and in the microwave.
Will I make it again:
Even though it wasn't the best from a flavour perspective (that was my mistake and is easily remedied) or a dishes or money saver I still think I would. The beauty about this dish was in the time saved during the cooking process. Because everything went in at the same time and I could walk away until the buzzer rang.
In the 20 minutes our dinner was cooking I managed to get 1 load of washing in and put two away (whilst refereeing my children to stop fighting on the trampoline!). And I didn't have to go back to stir or worry about getting distracted if I walked away and anything burning.
That was the biggest benefit to this meal to me!

Test 5: Strawberry Sorbet...

{This was just for fun this one...}

Ease and time in preparation:

Very quick! Washing the strawberries, talking the tops off & chucking all the ingredients in. I'm told that you can leave the tops on if you want but that didn't appeal to me so I spent the extra seconds chopping them off.
Cooking time:
90 seconds of processing time on the maximum speed.
Taste results:
Instead of using sugar as the recipe called for I used Agave Syrup which is a natural sugar substitute. I also halved less the amount suggested and added some natural yogurt for a bit of creaminess.
It was yummo. No extra sugar required in my opinion.
Did the kids like/eat it:

I expected them to like it more than they did to be honest. It was too cold for Abbie and she cried (she's cutting 4 canines so is a bit sensitive in the mouth). Hannah ate half of hers only.
Perhaps ice-cream will be a bigger hit with them because it's more what they're used to.
Ease of clean up: 
Too easy. A quick blend of water & rinse and it was done.
Price Comparison:
Probably lots cheaper because sorbet is very pricey. But not really applicable because it's not something we'd buy. This was just to try making for fun.
Will I make it again:
Definitely. Maybe not until summer though. It would be such a quick afternoon cool snack for the kids instead of an artificially flavoured icey pole.

So there you have it.
One machine,
5 different dishes in
one afternoon
- all with minimal time & mess!

Quite frankly I cannot believe that I cooked so many different things and yet don't feel like I spent all afternoon in the kitchen!
The most time consuming part to it all was deciding what to cook and following recipes for a change (I usually cook from my head). But once I'm used to the processing and cooking times I bet I won't need recipes for this any more either.

More tests coming up although in future I'll limit it to 1-2 per days post. It just didn't seem write not to document everything I made in my first afternoon because the quantity & ease I started using it impressed me.

Back soon


carol said...

Wow! Makes me tired to even read it all! That gadget might not have been as bad an investment as I originally thought! lol

susan said...

From the woman who hated to cook this is amazing.

Leanne said...

It sounds like it is easy and fun to use. I look forward to hearing more.

Cherie said...

Glad to see you've been using it a lot. Does it save on the energy used?
Great looking meals there! =D

Marg said...

Wow you were busy. I'm impressed!

Sarah said...

omg I want one....

Cassandra said...

Impressive! Now I want one. lol. But I looked up the price after my last comment... not sure I want one that badly! ;) I'll just live vicariously through your blog.