The Grind

Last fall, I came home from work and was greeted by a couple of bloody guys wielding knives. Our small kitchen was barely big enough for a live elk to stand, but by the time I walked in the door, every surface was covered with parts of a dead one. It was 11pm and I was about to get a lesson in steak cutting. If my husband had been a hunter when we got married, I would have known better. I would have registered for the KitchenAid mixer after all.

You see, the KitchenAid stand mixer has been around for 90 years, and it is a historical icon. To me, it represented oppressive kitchen slavery. It was an expensive showpiece that would only collect dust while I pursued burly mountain-woman activities. I thought that people added them to their wedding registries because they were brainwashed by consumerist ideas of wedded bliss.

That is the kind of cynical feminist ranting that my husband endured as I pissed and moaned my way through our wedding registry. In the end, there was nothing to complain about—our generous friends and family helped send us backcountry skiing in Patagonia, where there was nary a KitchenAid in sight.

I wore my lack of traditional domestic appliances like a badge of honor until that night of butchering. Our buddy showed me how to take apart a hindquarter and how to cut an elk steak that beats the pants off of that legendary Patagonian beef. Anything with too much tendon went into the grind pile, destined for burgerland. I was having such a good time slicing and dicing that I started to consider a second career as a butcher. As we tore through muscle after muscle in that late-night, madcap operation, the grind pile grew bigger and bigger. I was fantasizing about the months of tasty goodness that would come from our new favorite protein source. Then, it was time to make the burger.

We were not looking forward to grinding that meat. Being unwilling to part with more money in the name of hunting, my husband bought the cheapest, hand-cranked meat grinder possible. It clogged constantly and turned perfectly good meat into a disgusting blob. It would be a great device if you hated electricity and spare time. Fortunately for us, our mentor had all of the tools of the trade. He went to get his meat grinder from the truck.

And there it was, on the counter: my favorite symbol of domesticity, complete with handy meat-grinding and sausage-making attachments, about to be covered in elk goo. As the scuffed white KitchenAid made quick work of the grind, I had to admit a couple of hard truths to myself. First, I really wanted a KitchenAid mixer. Yeah, I’m no domestic goddess, but they’re cool-looking and come in about 20 colors. Plus, they’re classic. And they grind meat. Second, if I’d been too hard on the KitchenAid for its traditional gender role, what else—and who else—had I been wrong about?

Now, when I pass by the window of Owenhouse Ace Hardware, I see the spectacular display of KitchenAid mixers and feel a little pang of regret. If only I had one, an orange one, it would make meat processing so easy. But they also remind me not to pass judgment. Perhaps I’ll proudly own one some day, and maybe I’ll even use it to grind my own elk. Or bake my husband a cake.