Adventures with a food-mill

I acquired a food-mill, you know, one of those gadgets which turns cooked fruit and vegetables into a purée…

I used the experience in part of my novel, ‘Raddy and Syl’… I turned it into what I hope is an amusing scene, but I can tell you, I was not very amused!! In my story Thomas and his young son Kenneil have fun at home while his wife Kylie is at work; Kenneil has started to go to nursery school in the mornings and Thomas collects him and they go home together for lunch:

A food-mill! I have a food-mill! Way back in my other life, my ex-wife used to read a lot of magazines which obviously I had no interest in until I began to think of food as something more than what you just put in your mouth and I began to read her   cookery and food magazines… There were often features on gadgets… and quite often Rebecca would decree we needed whatever was popular at the time, most of which were used once and then sat neglected at the back of the cupboard. When I moved out and she packed up all my things, I had a lot of her stuff which she obviously just wanted to get rid of, tons of stuff, which clever Kylie made me not throw away or take straight to a charity shop but sell on eBay and other sites… we made quite a bit of money I can tell you… I was amazed at how much to be honest…

Anyway… anyway to get   back to kitchen gadgets, one of the few things which appealed to me was a food-mill. It’s a sort of rotary chopper and grinder and mincer. There’s like a metal bowl with a handle and sieving plate and then a chopping blade that’s turned round by another handle and stuff comes out of the underneath. I read an article on it and it seemed almost magical and a must-have… except Rebecca didn’t think it would be any good so we didn’t get one.

Today, when I went to pick Kenneil up from his ‘school’ on the desk in the entrance where the notices usually were, was a box with a brand-new unused food-mill in it and ‘free to a good home’ label tucked under the flap of the lid… well, I didn’t need to think about it – although I did ask the other waiting parents and grandparents if anyone wanted it… and no, so Kenneil and I went home with a food-mill… soup making would be even easier! And cheaper! I’d use no electricity, just muscle power! The super-smooth purée might not even need sieving!

… Even easier… hmmm… maybe it’s me, but I think the food-mill will be on eBay before long. We’d got a whole bag of squidgy veg from Val… I tried to pay but she said she couldn’t even sell it, tomatoes with split skins, peppers with soft and almost mouldy bits, onions which were sprouting, a broken courgette (yes, it had snapped in half), some aubergines with nasty tan spots on their beautiful purple skins… Well, Kenneil and I were delighted!

I put the veg, with all the nasty bits cut out, in a slow oven with some olive oil… we actually do have olive oil, I’m very economical with it, and we get the shop’s own brand, but I just don’t like other oils… Kylie sighs a bit when I say things like this, oil’s oil… but not for me.

The vegetables were cooked and looked and smelled lovely – I took a picture on my phone to show Val… So, exciting! The food-mill! The first problem I encountered was that the little sticky out things on the bowl, the lugs I think they might be called, were at the wrong angle to fit over the bowl I had decided to use  to grind the vegetable purée into. I found another, smaller bowl, which was too shallow, so the mill just sat in the bottom of it. I tried a saucepan which was too big and decided that the one I had put the vegetables in was the right size, so I transferred the veg to the other pan… but this one was actually too small. I have a big round plastic measuring jug… it wasn’t perfect but it just about fitted, chiefly because it was pliable plastic and I forced the mill down into it.

Kenneil enquired how I was getting on… he wasn’t convinced by my assurance that everything was fine and told me he would ‘leave me to it’, which so amused me that I told him we would have a drink and a biscuit when I’d finished as he was such a good boy. He told me I was a good boy too, Dadda…

This cheered me up, which was just as well because the next half hour of food milling, which seemed like half a year, was frustrating and annoying beyond measure, and I think I deserved more than a biscuit and drink by the time I finished.

I put the vegetables into the bowl and began to turn the handle… nothing much seemed to happen except they all rose up the sides of the bowl away from the blade and there was just a thin vegetable juice in the jug. I got a spoon and scraped it down and carried on, turning the handle more vigorously…  The jug skidded and I had to lift the blasted mill up and hold it in the air, which meant it wobbled about a bit. Every few minutes I had to scrape the underneath to get the milled purée into the jug, and scrape round the inside of the damned bowl to push the vegetables towards the blades.

I carried on becoming more and more annoyed, arms aching, all the fat on me wobbling as I spun the handle round faster and faster in an effort to get the bloody thing to work properly…

“Did you say a naughty word, Dadda?” a little voice came through from the back room.

I put the whole blasted thing down and decided to make us a drink…

I’d lost track of time and at that moment Kylie arrived home.

“What have you been up to? You look as though you’ve been paint-balling…. You’re covered in… in… ”

“Roast vegetable purée…” I replied grimly and not amused. “I’ll make you a cup of tea…”

She followed me into the kitchen… what a scene of devastation… there were pans and bowls everywhere and splatters of stuff all over the cupboards, and tomatoey fingerprints I realised…

“Thomas!”

“Dadda said a naughty word, Mamma,” Kenneil said helpfully.

She looked at him, looked at me, looked at the mess and then burst out laughing… and then we were all laughing…

How I love that girl… and tonight she can sell the damned food-mill on eBay and I don’t care if we only get 3p for it… bloody thing!

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