Arm Power!

Earlier this year Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, appeared on Oprah. In his interview he mentioned that he loved french fries, but that he was only willing to take the time and energy to make them himself about every three weeks. This, according to him, is about as often as you should be eating french fries–not everyday at lunch with a cheeseburger.

It’s so easy to forget what kind of effort goes into the preparation of some foods when they are prepared out of your view or are mechanically produced hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Out of sight, out of mind. You can get a better idea of the energy expended when you cook at home, but even then we are afforded some lovely, modern conveniences.

This is my food processor:

Yep. This is my usual choice for mixing when I’m baking. Sometimes I switch out the tool at the end of my arm–a wire whisk, a fork, or a wooden spoon are sometimes more appropriate–but a pastry cutter works for pretty much everything. This method of mixing requires a bit more effort and makes the reward that much sweeter.

You can choose to buy a box of individually wrapped cupcakes with cream filling, you can add an egg and some water to a box mix and frost the result with purchased frosting, or you can whip up a batch from scratch at home with a stand mixer and ingredients you choose and know. I recommend that, at the least, you mostly make your treats at home (or buy them from a local bakery) and, every so often, put your back into your baking, do it by hand, and really think about the energy that is expended on your food.

Last night I made cupcakes.

Frosted chocolate cupcake. Recipes from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 11th edition. Mixed with arm power.

Just a thought: How often do you think people would choose whipped topping on their mochas if they had to spend the 30 or so minutes vigorously whisking it? I’m going to keep that in mind when I’m at the coffee shop next.


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