Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The idle spear and shield were high up hung - John Milton

Idle or not, I could use a good shield now. Better yet more than one, as in Shields Bros. A local institution for a generation with its location on Main Street, and later on Niagara Falls Blvd. in Tonawanda.

Let me digress. The last scion of the Shields Bros. to operate the business - Rob - was a friend I've lost touch with. I seriously dated his sister-in-law for a year or two. With my now wife, we did a real estate closing for a cottage on Keuka Lake that included winery tours, good food and lots of laughter. Heck, if one of the partners hadn't come back to the office early, things might have started sooner. But, we are both pretty certain that was for the best.

So, why do I bring up Shields Bros.? Shields Bros. was the local repair shop for just about anything. Clocks, radios, small appliances; they fixed them all. Still under warranty - Shields Bros. was pretty much guaranteed to be an authorized service representative. No warranty - Shields Bros charges were never onerous.

Shields Bros. is gone now, a victim of our disposable society. We have lost much of intimacy in our world, nowhere more noticable than in the world of food. Gone is the local butcher or fismonger who knew your needs. Gone the neighborhood greengrocer who would dispose of product, rather than be known for selling vegetables past their prime.

Gone is the local authorized service center - you now have to pack it up and pay for shipping even if under warranty, at a cost so high that buying a new one is pretty much cheaper that excercising ones rights under a warranty.

So, why this rant at this time? My trusty 6 year old 6 Qt. Custom Edition 500 watt KitchenAid stand mixer is on its last legs. You can sort of see in the photographs that the "head" is working loose from the "neck".

Our stand mixer is well used, making bread a few times a week (at least), and other sundry preparations on a regular basis. The meat grinder/sausage stuffer attachment are out at least once a month. Yes, we are shopping for a replacement, but like all kitchen tools, we have learned all the strengths and weaknesses of this one. No, we have never named it, but we did put googly eyes on it. But, instead of being able to give at a vacation at Shields Bros. for a week or two, it will be consigned to a ride in the back of a garbage truck, and we are going to have to start again.

Not all progress is progress.

Here endeth the lesson.


ntsc said...

Be cautious about current KA mixers. My 620 was given to good will as I finally got tired of it going into thermal overload on a two loaf batch of bread, that it's smaller 500 series cousin handles with eaze.

I don't know what will replace it, but I'm about to order a small stand alone meat ginder.

Scotty said...

Dude, that is so timely and on point, that I want to reach through this LCD display and shake your hand. I was leaning towards the KA in part because of the attachments, including the grinder/stuffer.

But I also knew that Darcie at Bakin' and Bacon picked the Cuisenart Food Processor over the KA that we bought - and thier have been problems

Have you considered the Viking?

redman said...

I inherited my mother's KA she got in the seventies a few years back and the repairs were so expensive when it konked out that I gave up and had to throw it in the trash. That really hurt. At least she's still got the robot coupe she bought from a cooking class instructor who ferreted it over from France in the sixties. I hope that thing never dies.

I am 100% on board with our culture and its products. I wish we built things to last with the right parts, as some other countries (see Germany) seem to do. I love the asthetic of not filling up our landfills as well.

redman said...

100% not on board? is that "good" English?

Scotty said...

Paul, you have certainly been around big Hobarts as much as I have. They are ugly, ornery, ungainly, but they ALWAYS work! The KA was originally a "Mini" Hobart.

That they now don't live up to their pedigree is at best disappointing, and at worst totally depressing!

ntsc said...

KA is no longer related to Hobart. They are assembled, or were, in the US from non-US parts. The electronics are very cheaply manufactured. On the 620 they used a plastic gear box which melts under heavy load. They refuse to admit this is a defect and will not replace it in or out of warranty unless actually melted.

Mine was out of warranty so I bought the part and the lubricant, but when I opened it I discovered that a bearing had broken, scattering brass chips and damaging the gears. I did manage to replace those parts, but motor damage had alread occured. It seemed fine for light use, but couldn't handle bread.

I'm thinking of the Viking as my floor wound not support a Hobart, nor would my wife. However this is not a rush as the 12 year old KA 500 seems fine.

redman said...

you gotta believe as well that 80% of KAs sit on countertops mostly unused save for the occasional whipping of cream or high fat dough like cookies and were purchased as a status symbol or on a wedding registry, whereas if you're making bread tough a few times a week (I'm impressed!) and sausage you probably worked it more than most people do. I'm sure at some point the company made the decision to save money and go with cheaper parts since they knew most people would never put them to the test. But this is sad and goes back to the point about things not being made well in many cases.

ntsc said...

The 500, which we bought when we bought the house in 96, does all these tasks with no problem. The 620, which was purchased in 06 as my silver aniversary present (my wife got a professional 8 burner) was desired only because of the larger bowl. I wanted to stop spilling flour.

However the good news is is that it gave me reason to buy a meat grinder. We are at the height of dry cure season and I make all of my own sausage.

Larbo said...

I feel for you, Scotty! For years we stuck with KA, buying a bigger, more powerful, model each time we burned out the old one trying to do something more strenuous than whipping cream.

As ntsc says, KA quality has really dropped off since Hobart sold off the KA line of domestic appliances to Whirlpool. IMHO, they just won't handle anything more than cream or batters over the long haul. Forget about bread doughs.

Best bet? Keep an eye out on Ebay for a used Hobart N50. This is the 5-quart mixer the KA's were based on and will fit on the countertop. The one we bought is almost as old as I am and cost twice what a new KA would have, but it handles everything we throw at it–and we work it hard, like mixing up 10 pounds of bread dough!

Yes, the old ones are noisy and industrial-looking, but a good one should last your lifetime. And your KA attachments, like the grinder, will still fit on the front hub.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -