The company’s website states “The new Thermomix TM 31 is not a food-processor – it is the perfect partner in your kitchen.” After two days of testing the Thermomix, I have come to call it The Beast with a Brain. The beast and I will be together for the next month and after just two days of getting to know my new partner, anxiety separation is already setting in.

A few days ago an email was sent out from Valerie Lugonja, a.k.a. Canadian Foodie, asking if any other food enthusiast/blogger out there would like to take the beast for a test ride. I couldn’t pass that up. I had been to Valerie’s before and tasted the foods she’d created using this machine. I remembered her saying how many things this one appliance did: it made yogurt, it made zabaglione, it made soup; it sauteed, diced, pureed, steamed, whipped; it dry roasted spices, ground coffee and melted chocolate. One machine? How is that possible?

I spent a couple of hours at Valerie’s house watching and learning. In that time we made lemonade, a yam ginger soup, foccaccia and ice cream. The lemonade took about 10 seconds and that included the time it took to grind the rock sugar, chop the lemons, beat them up a bit, add water and pour everything into the pitcher. It was simple and delicious. I began to envision summer days and margaritas on the deck. The ice cream took a little longer…about 30 seconds from start to finish.

When Valerie was showing me how to make foccaccia, she took a little chunk of brown stuff and plopped it into the bowl. “What’s that?” I asked. She looked at me like I had just spoken in Greek. “What do you mean, ‘what’s that’? That’s yeast!” “Oh my god, Valerie…I don’t bake!” To which she replied, “Oh, you will…now.”

I didn’t know what I was going to tell my family. Cooking? Yes, I can cook. But baking? My idea of baking is slicing a roll of Pillsbury dough into perfectly shaped rounds and watching the doughy circles magically transform themselves into cookies in the oven. When this happens (once a year), my kids walk into the kitchen, stunned, and make comments like, “wow, are you baking?” or “what’s that smell?”

The foccaccia that Valerie made was a perfect combination of lightness and density with just the right chew factor, fragrant with herbs, perfectly glossed with olive oil and looked like it belonged in Gourmet magazine. It resembled nothing of the cheese sodden, anemic, bland loaves you get from a grocery store. The soup was like liquid velvet, and the ice cream was silky and bursting with honest-to-goodness raspberry flavour (from raspberries picked from Valerie’s garden in the summer).

On the drive home a thousand possibilities raced through my mind. What would I attempt first? I couldn’t wait to explore this machine.

Stay tuned for postings on my trials, tribulations and culinary successes (hopefully!) as I get to know the Thermomix.