Tasty Tools: Assistive Technology in the Kitchen (Part 6)
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
By Jen Gosett, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff
Welcome back to our Assistive Technology in the Kitchen series, Part 6 :-)! Today we are talking about using a stand mixer (or standing mixer) as an Assistive Technology support in the kitchen!
Mixing by hand can require precision, endurance, and fine motor control. Handheld, electric beaters can be difficult to use; holding the power button down can take a lot of grip/pinch strength and holding the device itself takes a fair amount of upper body strength. Knowing I can set the stand mixer to do its job makes cooking and baking seem less daunting and more accessible to me.
When you think of a stand mixer what comes to mind? Having a lot of time available to “play” in the kitchen? That’s what I thought at first too and I couldn’t justify spending a larger sum of money on something I’d maybe use once a week. But then I searched “uses for kitchenaid stand mixers” on Pinterest and found that (along with other surprising uses), I could shred cooked chicken breast using a stand mixer!
I have been making bbq chicken in my slow cooker for years, but there’s a step in the recipe where I need to shred the cooked chicken with 2 folks. Using 2 forks to shred up a protein (even if tender) can require upper body strength, fine motor control, and muscle endurance. Not to mention that your hands are really close/touching hot meat and that can be painful. By using the stand mixer to shred the chicken, I now just use tongs to place the hot, cooked chicken into the mixer, mix for 30 seconds on low with the paddle attachment, and all my chicken is all shredded and ready for bbq sauce & bun (maybe a little coleslaw too)! 😉
I use my mixer with the whisk attachment whenever I want something really thoroughly mixed: Jello, instant pudding, ranch dressing/dip, fluffy eggs for scrambled eggs & omelets, box cake mix, meat for meatballs & meatloaf, etc.
Stand mixers often come with that paddle attachment I mentioned with the shredded chicken, the whisk attachment, and a dough hook attachment. You can make lots of great, yeasty dough’s for soft pretzels, breads, rolls, etc. using the dough hook. I especially love using the dough hook to make quick breads; the dough hook attachment doesn’t over mix and ends up giving them the best texture!
- Pro tip 1: When I bought my mixer, I purchased a second bowl & paddle attachment so that when I was making a recipe that required 2 different batters or preparations, I didn’t have to stop to wash my one bowl & paddle. The bowls I have are the lighter, stainless steel ones. Kitchenaid has some pretty ceramic and glass bowls available, but they are heavy and therefore can be cumbersome to use, wash, scrape batter out of, etc. In addition to the food weight inside of the bowl, the glass & ceramic bowls add 3 additional pounds!
- Pro tip 2: Stand mixers are heavy and can be difficult to lift (even just to scooch over a bit). Mine lives on my counter so I don’t have to deal with moving it to store it after I’m done using it (besides, it’s pretty and I like looking it lol). I’ve found that by putting small, furniture felt pads on the bottom of the stand, the mixer scooches around on the counter a lot more easily. And if the pads get dirty they are easily replaceable.
Stand mixers in general are relatively expensive and if you’re going for the bright, colorful, and popular models (ahem, Kitchenaid), be prepared to pay $300-$400. I saved for a few years before I purchased mine and during that time did a lot of research to find out which model would be best for me. After visiting stores (Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table tend to have various models in their stores) to physically touch the mixer controls & watching the America’s Test Kitchen equipment review of stand mixers, I purchased an Artisan Kitchenaid Stand mixer (in the green apple color) with the “head tilt”. I got mine from Kohl’s when it was on sale. At that time, I had a 30% off coupon and they offered a rebate (saved me about $100). I bet you could get the same deal if you checked their site (I think they list sales on Saturday’s) and keep your Kohl’s coupons/look up Kohl’s coupon codes. Note: I wouldn’t recommend the Kitchenaid mini because I’ve seen that it doesn’t mix as well as the other models.
Do you have a stand mixer? What do you use it for most?