Sunday, August 6, 2017

My favorite things 32

I received a Cuisinart for Christmas 1979.  Food processors were relatively new consumer items and I felt like a daring early adopter; didn't take long for the little machine to become an essential part of my life. It also didn't take long for the new models of the machine to start getting "upgraded" with features and gewgaws that I read about in ads and didn't think I would like.

By 1992 I had started to worry that my machine would some day die, and would I then have to buy one of these overpriced, over-accessorized models then on the market?  In particular, I had noticed that the new models were engineered to save me from myself, with convoluted "safety features" that would, for instance, not allow me to push new basil leaves into the machine while it was running, thus doubling the time to make a batch of pesto.

Fortunately my mother was downsizing, and had never loved her Cuisinart (the very same model as mine) enough to take it with her to the retirement community, so I called dibs on it.  Imagine my dismay when she and my sister phoned one afternoon to update me on their packing up the house, and they told me they had taken the Cuisinart to the Goodwill store that morning!  My shriek could have been heard in Virginia without the telephone.  They got in the car, went back to the Goodwill and ransomed the Cuisinart, which made its way to me.

Sure enough, my machine died one day, but I was able to haul Mom's machine out of the closet and set it to work.  I also ended up with two bowls, two tops, four blades and two pushers, which has forever made it easier to work without having to stop and wash up.

But the poor dear Cuisinart is showing its age.  I have no idea what I did to put that horrible burn/melt onto the pusher.  The bowls have ominous striations that look like the plastic wants to shred under stress; some of the little hooks and tabs that lock the bowl and top together have broken off; the spring sometimes sticks in the ON position instead of releasing when I turn the top; one of the plastic blades broke earlier this year; the cord has electrical tape wrapped around where it comes out of the base.  I figured this sort of thing happens in old age, but the Cuisinart, like me, would continue to soldier on despite aches and pains.

But last week something really bad happened.  I affixed the bowl to the base and the machine turned on, even though the bowl hadn't been turned into place to trip the switch.  The little red spot, right above the second I in Cuisinart, is a plastic membrane that protects a switch underneath; the vertical tube on the bowl has a spring-loaded piston that is supposed to depress whatever lies underneath the red membrane.  But it seems that the red membrane has disintegrated into cruddy bits, and that seems to be enough to render the switch permanently ON.

What to do now?  I made pesto the other night by inserting and pulling the plug out of the wall to turn the machine on and off.  Worked OK, but I feel vulnerable, especially when a spark flies upon pulling.  I guess life has really and truly run out for my wonderful machine.  I am too depressed even to start to research what is available in food processor technology these days; I'm afraid it will be just like in the late 80s, way too many protect-you-from-yourself features and way too expensive.  User testimonials welcome.

I do know one thing -- I have to figure out a way to incorporate this machine, or at least some of its parts, into my art.  It's been too close to my heart, too necessary to my life, for almost 40 years to just deposit it in the recycle bin.


  1. I bought my very cheap food processor in the late nineties, and I don't use it much--so much harder to clean than a knife or a grater--but it allows me to shove celery continuously into it, so maybe you shouldn't give up hope.
    Yes, that machine should definitely become art!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. Check for your model on Goodwill's auction site.

  3. Still have my "antique" 25+ yr old Cusinart. Tang on lid that pushes down to lock machine broke. Now have to hold it in place for machine to run. Looked everywhere for replacement. Found some that looked right, but didn't have matching part numbers. Wrote to Cusinart to see if they would work (sent photo of machine with model/serial number). Their response was, no, but offered coupon for 50% off new machine. Will take more than broken lid for me to give up my Cuisinart.
    Rena in Everglades City

  4. Here in Australia, I like my Sunbeam Stickmaster Pro system, many varied uses.

  5. I hear you, sister. Mine's a similar vintage and I'm not about to upgrade. To upgrade is to downgrade IMO. I like the shopgoodwill option. Hope you get lucky.
    Vancouver Barbara

  6. My Sunbeam Le Chef Food Processor is from the 1970's (later years) and still makes the dough for Christmas Pierogi each year--four batches. I think it might still be working because I don't use it as much as you are using yours. There are blades I have never used--one that cut my finger badly back when the machine was new. I even used my Sunbeam in Europe on a transformer.

    I would get a new one if this one stopped working--but it would be the most basic model. Lets hope that doesn't happen. I tend to not do well with change. My washer/dryer is well into it's 30's

  7. I never had a food processor until only a few years ago. I bought a Kitchenaid and I love it. It is bright red and I keep it on my counter, mainly because it is so heavy to move and store elsewhere. I wonder how I ever got along without it.

  8. Oh I have had my Well used Cuisinart (I catered) since the 70's... once when the core and blade and bowl were broken I called about replacing and asked if I should buy a new one... the honest person who answered the phone said that my machine had a 30 year warranty on the motor and the new ones had five!!! So new parts it was! That is until this year, it just started falling apart... Luckily A friend gave me hers that she wasn't using!!!
    But my Sunbeam hand mixer!!! A shower gift in 1969...Used it through the catering years... worked like a charm til just a few years ago and kaput!!!... can i tell you how much I dislike the Breville replacement?

    1. I will be very careful with my mother's second Sunbeam mixer then. She bought it sometime in the early seventies when her 1946 wedding present one died.
      Mary Anne in Kentucky

  9. I never had a food processor even though I thought it might be nice . . . My husband gave me a Ninja from Costco last year and I love it. It's a blender, a food processor and even has containers for smoothies that you mix and take with you. Easy to clean which I love.

  10. Just realized that I didn't clarify that I have had and will always have a Cuisinart.

  11. My sympathies...I,had to "upgrade" when mine died and I am not comfortable with my new one.

  12. I got my first food Cuisinart way back in the early 1970’s… soon as the first ‘large bowl’ machine came out, I began having two on the kitchen counter. I used to own a small cooking school and was as passionate about cooking as I am now about fiber. So yes……life without a Cuisinart on the kitchen counter is not conceivable!

  13. Oh man, that stinks. I totally hear you on "features". I feel the same way about most computer "upgrades" as well. Changing everything around for change's sake (pure profit) is just maddening.

    I have a food processor, but rarely use it, though I don't remember it having any complicated features. I'll get it out and see about that.

    I make pesto in a small 1 cup mini processor. It is super easy. bowl locks in, blades drop in, I jam all the ingredients in, put the lid on and hold the button until done. It's great. What it holds fits exactly into the little plastics that I was getting at the store. They don't make those anymore, of course. Now I'll have to figure out something else.