When I lived and worked on the urban farm, I made very little money. This was both a curse and a blessing. While it was sometimes mentally exhausting having to pay so much attention to my finances, the tight budget cuts also forced me cook my own meals more often. My friends and fellow farm workers also were in the same boat as me, and so we spent most of our evenings and weekends cooking together, making community meals instead of going out to eat at restaurants. We gathered on the large red picnic table that was right next the herb garden, barefoot and sweaty from the afternoon’s labors, and celebrated our meals with a beer or two (or three).
As the weeks passed, our dinners started growing more and more elaborate. Perhaps it was due to the summer season – there was an abundance of fresh produce that we could barely eat fast enough. It inspired us to be creative in the kitchen, and to try out new recipes week after week.
My friend Amanda had brought her food processor to the farm, and this device completely changed how I approached food and cooking. I had always wanted one, but because I hadn’t wanted to fork over a couple hundred dollars, I’d bought a mini food processor for $40 while in college. That thing was tiny, always leaked out of the sides, and rattled around like it was having a fit whenever I turned it on. I did manage to get some hummus and dips out of it, but I never dared to make heavy-duty things like nut butters. After a year, it gave a defeated pffft one afternoon and stopped working forever, conquered by frozen chunks of banana. I scoured Amazon on a regular basis after that, reading reviews for different food processors while trying to muster up the willingness to pay for one.
So, when I saw the strong, mighty food processor on Amanda’s kitchen countertop for the first time, I immediately inquired about its capabilities. It seemed to do everything – knead dough, grate potatoes, churn nuts, chop up vegetables. She let me use it make a batch of hummus for myself, and when I turned it on for the first time, I was absolutely floored by its power. It yielded the creamiest, smoothest hummus I’d ever tasted.
The food processor became a regular companion when we made our dinners. Because of its constant presence and assistance, we decided it was time to christen it with a name (not bizarre at all, yes?) I first suggested Philip, but we needed something a bit more refined, with a touch more of elegance – Philippe. Philippe helped my friends and I make pizza dough, which we topped with fresh herbs and juicy tomatoes from the garden. It (he?) grated zucchini and carrots, which we made into fritters with some salsa on the side (he also helped make that). He showered us with a variety of baked goods, from black bean brownies to beer bread. Philippe helped me to see how much more I could do with food.
When I got home after my time on the farm ended, I immediately acquired a food processor of my own. It’s been a while and I still haven’t named it, but it has paid for itself many times over. I’ve become a hummus snob (no salmonella for me, thank you), a nut butter snob (why are they so dang expensive?), and a veggie burger snob (dearest restaurant, you may have great fries, but you’ve also given me beige mush between two sandwich buns). It’s made me realize how easily I can make things for myself, and that kind of connection to my food has been the most rewarding thing of all.