When I was first married in the 1970’s, I worked during the Christmas season at an Indianapolis department store icon L.S. Ayres. For those of us who grew up in an era when downtown department stores were the rage, L.S. Ayres was the cream of the Indianapolis crop in the same league as Chicago’s Marshall Field’s and New York’s Macy’s. There are many stories shared over the years about “Breakfast with the Bunny” Easters, glorious Christmas decorations, and the fate of the L.S. Ayres Cherub, who took its proper place at the corner of Washington and Meridian Streets every Christmas shopping season perched on the landmark L.S. Ayres clock. In fact, here’s a link to a little history of the Ayres clock and cherub from Historic Indianapolis.
I had no idea where I would clerk when I applied for a part-time job at the Glendale store on North Keystone, but I was offered a position in the housewares department. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. See, I’m addicted to housewares of all kinds. I was quite happy to help customers find the perfect holiday, shower or wedding gift. And I envied the gift recipients who were going to benefit from the newest set of fabulous pans, the sharpest knives, the quirkiest gadget, shiny new flatware, beautiful coffee mugs – I was in my element.
Then I saw it! In my wonderland housewares department was a live demonstration for a Cuisinart food processor. Shiny and efficient, the Cuisinart was spewing out fresh pasta dough made with semolina, cream cheese vegetable spread – just throw in cream cheese, green onions, radishes, cucumber and watch this glorious machine spin it all into a mash of creamy goodness in seconds! Just open the crackers and serve! I couldn’t believe it! I’d never seen one before. I had to have one, but newly married, you know our budget was tight, and that little French mechanical miracle was pricey!
But you could order additional slicing and grating discs. And it came with a large feed tube to perfectly and thinly slice tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, carrots – whatever you could shove down that oval feeder. Not only that – it had a french fry cutting disc! When unsuspecting husbands came to me clueless, but looking for a special gift, guess what was my recommendation? Maybe there were a few women irritated with me on Christmas morning, but I bet they were thanking their lucky stars once they had a few recipes under their belt.
So, 20 years later, I mustered up the cash to get a beauty for myself. And not the DLC-7, but the big DLC-11, an eleven-cup beauty. How my love just grew and grew – pie crust, pasta, coleslaw, grated cheese, spreads and dips of all variation, chopped pecans and walnuts, shredded potatoes, cranberry sauce – seriously, it’s had a workout.
Here’s just a sample of what my trusty sidekick and I have worked up in the last week or so.
Leftover ham? Process the ham, then add a couple of hard boiled eggs, salt, pepper, mayo and you’ve got ham spread!
We had a big hunk of corned beef leftover, so I chopped it up to turn it into Corned Beef Hash and Eggs for breakfast. If you do it just right, you’ll have larger and smaller chunks of meat – perfect!
I’m a sucker for hot bread. Besides kitchen gadgets, I cannot resist the fresh hot bread sold in clever grocery stores at about 4:00 in the afternoon. If a partial loaf goes uneaten, I’ll turn it into bread crumbs, put them in a freezer bag, and viola! I have plenty to top casseroles, make a light stuffing, or breading for Italian arancini, pork tenderloin, or little deep fried tapas.
In all that time, I’ve only had to replace the work bowl. When the removable cap on the lid cracked, my husband glued it back together. Ah, my little French friend – trustworthy, dependable, indispensable, and it does whatever I want it to do without complaining – true love.