We moved to Davis in 1973 and Walt bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer before we left our house in Oakland, so this machine has been in my possession for more than 40 years.
Today I decided to make some Christmas cookies and as the machine was mixing the first batch, I thought about how much I have used this mixer, without more than one or two minor problems (mostly needing blade replacement and nothing else) over the past 40+ years.
The dough hook has disappeared now that I have a bread machine, but in Oakland, and even here in Davis, I made a lot of bread in that machine. Before the mixer came along, I made all the bread by hand, banging around on the kitchen counter and scaring the skittish Sheltie, who thought I was going to throw it at him. It was as big a difference going from making bread by hand to using a mixer and a dough hook as it was from retiring the dough hook and moving to the bread machine.
I can't possibly remember how many cookies this mixer has helped me make. I make cookies just about every Christmas. Some years I make lots and lots of cookies and give them as gifts; other years I make one or two batches and share them with a few people. But it's a rare Christmas when I don't make cookies. 40+ years of cookies in this mixer.
Then there were the cake decorating years. I learned how to decorate cakes and for a couple of years, I was the only non-Safeway cake decorator in town and made and decorated lots and lots and lots of cakes. I probably could have covered a mountain with all the powdered sugar I used in those years. I used to buy it in 5 lb bags.
This was one of my favorite cakes. It was made before I had ever attended a Lamplighters cast party and I made it for the co-founder of the company, who had the lead role in a production of Patience. It involved not only the regular frosting, but also egg white frosting and that big stand-up Valentine at the top, which took days to make because it required a day to dry between the various layers. I was so proud of that cake and didn't realize until I actually became a part of the company that the guy I made it for never attended cast parties and obviously never even saw it.
I don't make cakes any more. I made Ned & Marta's wedding cake, Paul & Audra's and Jeri & Phil's (Tom and Laurel had a bakery cake). I said I was finished making cakes, but I think the very last cake I decorated was the cake for Brianna's first birthday. Laurel is a cake decorator too and was very generous to let me make that cake. Now she makes the girls' cakes and does a much better job than I ever did.
There were years when this machine was used at least once and often many times during a week. It has made pumpkin pies every year for more than 40 years. I even take it to Santa Barbara now to use it there. But what it mostly gets used for these days is mashing potatoes and the occasional baking project. When I think of how many years it has lasted and how trouble-free it has been, it's a pretty amazing product endorsement!
When we first got it, I felt a little guilty because it cost so much, but it has certainly more than earned its keep and shows no sign of giving up any time soon.
Two batches of cookies today and more to come throughout the week.