I’ve got to say that when I took the machine… I’m going to have to give it a name, aren’t I? I can’t just keep calling it “the Machine”, it sounds like some weird body building kind of bloke. Or maybe a wrestling wannabe. I realise that someone is now going to tell me that there actually is a wrestling star called The Machine. Well, I’m not naming my cooking thing after him, that’s for sure. I’m going to call my machine ‘Red’. I know my machine is black but all the photos of the machines in the publicity shots are red, so Red it is.

Where was I? Oh yes, so I start to take Red out of the box and there’s bits, and more bits and even more bits. Then, I have to figure out where all these bits go: in this container? Or the other one? I’m damn sure they’ve all got somewhere specially made for them to reside because this thing is too organised for something like that to happen. I decide to take the drastic step of putting on my glasses so that 1) I can actually see all the bits and 2) I can see the writing that’s on the containers that tell me where everything goes. By the time I finish taking everything from the boxes, my kitchen benchtop is littered with what looks to be instruments of torture, but which I am assured by the box are simply the necessary parts for Red to function, and the floor looks like a herd of toddlers has been playing in a polystyrene snowstorm. I readied myself for the upcoming battle. Not with Red, but with that subversive element, polystyrene.

I have my suspicions about polystyrene. It pretends that it’s happy to lie there, looking all innocent, just waiting to be swept up and put into the bin, secure in the knowledge that it’s job of protecting my purchase is done. But what I’ve noticed is that I can never, ever sweep it up. Oh, I think I’ve swept it up, I think I’ve got it all nicely contained and put into the bin, polystyrene allows me to believe that I’ve won the battle, nice and easily, and that it’s happy to successfully complete its sole purpose in life and now be sent to the big rubbish dump in the sky. Invariably, though, I return from the bin only to find that no, there’s still lots of little bits of polystyrene left and it’s sticking to various surfaces, including my body and my clothes, the brush, the cupboards, the drawers, even the thing it was supposed to protect. Like a toddler being dropped off at daycare, when I try to brush it off, it doesn’t fall to the floor or go quietly, it simply attaches itself to something else and I spend a fruitless several minutes trying, without success, to persuade the stuff to just behave already, do as it’s told and get in the bin. It just does not want to be thrown away and it leaves its little babies in hidden nooks & crannies, ready to burst out when I’m least expecting it. I have my suspicions that polystyrene secretly wants to be more than just the unsung protective hero.

My battle with polystyrene over and lost, I get onto the interesting bit: playing with my new toy. Against all prior experience, I decide to cook something easy the first time round and opt for a Chilli. The recipe for Chilli in the book that came with Red doesn’t look interesting enough, so I launch into Google…

And realise that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. This is perhaps the most confusing recipe I’ve ever come across. There’s quite obviously been a typo, several typos, in fact. Maybe the author (some famous guy from the UK) was on something, I dunno, but this recipe does not make any sense. It goes like this: 
Step 1, chop the onion in the processor, 
Step 2, replace the blade with the stirrer thing (okay, the article never mentioned and ‘stirrer thing’ but I’m invoking artistic licence here), 
Step 3, select a setting on the processor. 

Easy, peasy, I think. Which is exactly the moment that things start to go wrong because Step 4 says “After Step 1, add the remaining ingredients”. Right. Then, Step 5 says “After step 2, add the kidney beans”. 

I’ve quite obviously lost my mind because this is not making any sense and I haven’t even had a glass of wine yet, so I can’t blame it on that, either. With several decades of cooking experience and a healthy dose of disregard for my total lack of experience with any machine like this, I decide to bin the recipe and just wing it, and off I go. For about five seconds. I plug Red into the power socket and… nothing happens. No lights, no display, nothing to indicate that there’s any power getting to the unit at all. S**t. I hope this unit’s not broken; I’ve only just managed to lose the war with the polystyrene and get most of it in the bin. Maybe it’s like my food processor and you need to have the bowl attached and in position before it switches on. Filled with a completely baseless hope and mentally crossing my fingers, I put the bowl into place… still no lights. I switch the unit off at the mains and back on again, no lights. I twiddle a few things and succeed only in releasing the bowl again. Well, at least now I know what happens when I twiddle the knob. Damn. I’m about to get on the phone to the rep to tell them that I’ve got a dud when I realise that there’s an ON switch! Woah! Awesome! And I’m off again. This time for about five minutes. At which point I realise that I need a) the recipe and b) the instruction manual because I’m completely out of my depth. I also decide that it’s the perfect time to record a video of my total confusion. As you do. But then – hallelujah! I realised what the chef (he’s now a chef, not just ‘some bloke from the UK’, have you noticed?) meant in his recipe: the cook settings have Steps in them! Ah! The lightbulb goes on! Okay, I can do this, I’ve got it sussed now!

Forty minutes or so later, out comes a delicious Chilli, if I do say so myself.

And no, I didn’t follow the recipe. I really am constitutionally incapable of following a recipe.

K xxx

PS I made a Beef & Cabbage Cobbler (without the cobbles!) in there last night and that came out yummy, too. That was my own recipe and I just figured out what I needed to do with the machine.