I was fortunate enough to inherit, in the cinders of a failed marriage, an old, beaten up, but still functional Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
One thing I adore about Value Village (pronounced in the French fashion to make it sound classier, in the same way some pronounce it "Tar-zhay" rather than Target) is that people often offload their "this seemed like a great idea at the time, but we've never used it" kitchen gadgetry, so I have a nice motley assortment of George Foreman grills, electric waffle irons, etc.
But I've never been tempted to buy any of the bread makers I've seen kicking around the place. There's just something about doing it in an oven that makes me very happy deep down inside.
The Kitchen Aid makes it piss simple. Whop all the ingredients into a bowl, insert bread hook, four minutes later, you have a shiny mass of yeast-infused bready goodness. And, given that any half decent loaf of bread is pushing the $5 a loaf mark, it's even economically better to be making a few loaves at a time. My ex was a wizard with the damn thing, she'd make sausage as well, which finally got me into sausages. There's something to be said for good meat in a good casing, rather than over-peppered, greasy tubes of Christ knows what.
It's become somewhat of a soothing, calming ritual for me in the evenings, firing up the oven to give the loaves a warm place to rise, making the dough, balling it up and placing it in the warm oven, letting the loaves rise twice and then baking them. Rich oatmeal breads, light white bread, savoury rosemary foccacia, it's a different ball of fun every night.
My housemates (who I moved in with so they could afford a roof over their daughter's head) are nice people, but I'm dragging them kicking and screaming from their present gastronomic tastes (namely, spaghetti-Os and Wonder Bread) to the wonderful and cheaper delights of a herb-rich ground turkey spaghetti sauce (like veal but without the cruelty), handmade multigrain pasta, and suchlike.
Screw fast food. Slow food is where it's at. Slow food lets you marry flavours slowly, it perfumes your home, it's better for you, and it's good for the soul. If you don't believe me, skip the takeout, get a crock pot and stew something up.
But even if I haven't got the time to make a full meal, thanks to that stand mixer, I can do whatever else I need and give the yeast the time to do its magic, filling the home with the rich, indescribable scent of handmade bread.