What have I been up to the last few weeks?
I know, hard to believe, right?
When I cheerfully look back on the nearly 10 years (?!) I've been cooking for my man and then my little people, I can count the main meal dishes on one, maybe two, hands.
How many variations of spaghetti bolognaise can one family eat?
Add four bean mix...or not.
Use fresh tomatoes instead of a tinned sauce....or not.
Grate up whatever leftover veges I have in the fridge...or not.
I have a tuna mornay recipe that everyone eats. Sometimes I replace the tuna with salmon...oooh, creative! Sometimes I cook rice and mix it into the mornay and then I call it tuna risotto but it is definitely NOT a risotto. :-)
You get the picture.
I've never liked cooking that much and at the same time I'm not that keen on the long list of additives in packaged food. I also find that standing around stirring and checking stuff gives me the shits (multiplied by a thousand now I have children) and the results I have are pretty average anyway.
So when I heard about the new fancy pants All-in-one kitchen machines popping up in Australia that claim to do EVERYTHING....I was very keen to learn more.
I played with a friend's Thermomix and it was great! They are sold by party-plan so I hosted a Thermomix demo at my home soon after, hoping to talk the Man of the House into buying. The local representative whipped up tasty risotto quickly and strawberry sorbet in minutes.
Unfortunately, the Voice of Reason in the family explained that $2000 would go a long way toward our backyard that we are currently doing up. We need more lawn, fencing, cement, basketball ring, bark chips etc.
Dammit, we did have other things to spend our money on right now.
He was right. He usually is, I just like to keep that quiet.
Luckily, he could see that a little help in the kitchen wouldn't go astray (yeh, thanks) so I began to look into a cheaper model. The next one down was the Newwave Thermochef, $1300 cheaper which is a fair saving.
Long story short, I bought one of these babies from Tableking for $675 including bonus recipe books and I am a very happy customer. I must admit though that it wasn't an easy decision. Google is my friend but finding unbiased product reviews of kitchen appliances isn't easy, especially when there is such a cost difference between what is available.
The main limitations I read in regard to the Thermochef was that it didn't have a reverse blade function and that it apparently also had a safety feature that prevented pureeing hot food. As far as I could tell, not having a reverse function wouldn't matter too much as current owners confirmed that using speed 1 with the butterfly bar was fine for stirring risottos AND the new model now had a kneading function for bread. It also has a new Pause function as apparently the old model would reset the digital display if you were in the middle of weighing but had left it idle for a few moments.
Busy Mums appreciate Pause functions.
I was a little concerned about not being able to puree hot food but I figured letting it cool a little shouldn't be that big a deal. It actually turned out to be a non-issue.
The Thermochef just won't puree food that is close to 100 degrees on a high setting. It will automatically use a lower blade setting of 5 which, as I've discovered, purees soup just fine!
The Thermochef recipes also suggest waiting 5 minutes before blitzing if you want to use a high speed blade setting...easy to do. The soup is still very hot!
Another thing I was concerned about was the apparent lack of recipes and online presence...which thankfully wasn't a problem.
1. The deal I found from Tableking included two bonus recipe books, in addition to the one that is normally included.
2. I found a welcoming online Facebook group called Thermochef Recipes, full of happy Thermochef owners sharing tips and recipes.
and 3. Apparently Thermomix recipes translate easily to Thermochef although I haven't personally needed to test this out yet.
Cooking with a Thermochef is also a bit like 'paint by number' for artists. If you're a creative, old fashioned type cook, you may prefer to stick to the tried and true way of cooking. If you have a few well-loved family favourites and they work for your family, you might not need something like this at all.
But, for me, someone who inherited her mum's meat and 3 veg way of cooking (but doesn't like to eat meat a whole lot!), there are many benefits.
2. Healthy food and I know what has gone into it.
3. A full freezer for the evenings I am too exhausted to cook (and I'm out of eggs!)
4. My preference for eating hot soup and crusty bread for lunch is satisfied on a daily basis.
5. Committing to 10-20 min a week to write up a rough meal plan and grocery list for easy, organised meals.
6. I can set the timer and attend to the kids or hang out the washing while breakfast or tea cooks, hallelujah!
And by far the most important....
7. I'm a lot less cranky come dinner time.
If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
So what's cooking, good looking?
Lots of stuff!
Pumpkin soup, minestrone soup, sun dried tomato risotto, garlic chicken pasta sauce, pumpkin and lentil curry, apricot and almond porridge, chickpea and bacon soup, salmon rissoles...the list goes on.
I much prefer the recipes that allow me to cook the meal in the Thermochef. Some recipes, like the salmon rissoles, use the Thermochef merely as a food processor so I have to take the mixture out and roll into balls and then fry.
Too many steps :-)
In summary, I'm happy with my handy helper Thermochef. I'm still using my vintage Sunbeam blender for smoothies most days, as I always have, and I'm still cooking rice separately in my rice cooker at the moment. This may change when I get brave and start using all of the included attachments.
Drawbacks to the Thermochef that I can see.....
1. It's not the quietest machine I've ever used.
2. I prefer a normal cooking spatula than the one provided.
3. They are a new machine so I'm not sure what the longevity is but it does have a 2 year warranty. Time will tell.
4. Some users online say that their butterfly bar comes out during cooking but I haven't experienced it, I think there is a nack to putting it on though.
5. There is a learning curve as with any appliance so you do need to invest some time and effort into learning how it works.
If an All in One kitchen machine sounds handy to you and if you have some more money to spend, you might like to look at the Thermomix or even the Hotmix PRO Range which are a little more expensive again.
Here are some foodie pictures....yummo.
Apricot and Almond Porridge.
Pumpkin and Lentil Curry.
You can find a more recent follow up post on my Thermochef here.