Mixing By Hand
Have you ever used one of these?
I don't see them much these days but I remember them fondly. My Aunt Hen had one when I was a girl. I loved helping my aunt in the kitchen and operating this hand-powered tool was something I could safely manage on my own. It seemed to me it made some labor intensive kitchen tasks both simple and fun.
A mixer of some kind was needed for many of the good things that came from Aunt Hen's kitchen. When we needed serious whipping, for smooth cake batters, frosting and such she pulled out an ancient hand-held electric mixer. It was both powerful and heavy. When I was small Aunt Hen was reluctant to let me hold that mixer on my own though I stayed close to help out by licking the batter or frosting from the ejected beaters when the mixing was done.
When less ambitious whipping was called for, or sometimes by my special request, Aunt Hen would pull her rotary egg beater from the drawer instead and we would power the whipping by hand, taking turns turning the nifty gear with the little red handle on the side. Whipping cream could be tackled this way as well as some batters and egg whites.
In my own kitchen I have long used an only somewhat less ancient 1970's harvest gold Hamilton Beach handheld electric mixer. Aunt Hen gave it to me as a wedding gift. While less sturdy than her older model it has held up under the use of many helping hands and an entire bowl of overturned cake batter, dried pieces of which stlll occasionally fall out of it’s interior.
In that era no one thought to give a rotary egg beater as a gift. By the time I moved into my own kitchen I think they must have been considered completely old-fashioned and outdated. For a long time I never saw or heard of one. Instead I had a whisk for light beating and my electric mixer for everything else.
It worked but I couldn't help feeling there was a gap there somewhere. When I wanted to whip a small amount of whipping cream to garnish a dessert for two I would find the task challenging and time-consuming armed with only a whisk but felt the noise and bother of pulling out my old electric hand mixer and beaters to be a little overdone.
Everything Old is New Again
It’s just that niche that a rotary egg beater finally slipped into in my kitchen; one I hardly knew existed but am glad to have filled. Recently, I've seen rotary egg beaters for sale again, both new and vintage models. Charmed by my memories, I ordered one a few months ago. I chose a new model and, while it may not be quite as rugged as the old one I remember, I find that it comes in handy for a number of kitchen jobs and nicely fills that gap between whisk and electric mixer.
I like my new rotary egg beater. I like the bright cheery red of the handle and gear. I like the way it cleans up easy with a quick wash and the way it is hand powered without reminding me that to have the arms of a real old-fashioned cook I need to train a lot harder and probably spend more time at the gym. Most of all, though, I like the way this convenient little tool reminds me of those times spent learning the ins and outs of Aunt Hen’s kitchen. For mixing simple batters, whipping cream or beating egg whites this old-timey gadget is a joy to have on hand.
Old-Timey Whipped Cream Topping
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar (I like using brown sugar best)
a splash of vanilla, balsamic vinegar, bourbon or liqueur
Combine ingredients in a bowl that is small but deep. Whip until soft peaks form. Continue whipping to desired consistency.
Spoon on top of your favorite dessert.