Alisa and I came together as partners in one of those fated ways; both of the women who normally assisted her in her classes were unavailable - due to 'personal emergencies - on the weekend of her first 'Equipment' class. I - by simply being the only one available - became the substitute. And the rest is history, so to speak. But on the subject of 'Equipment'... my whole kitchen had been transformed into what I then dubbed 'Alisa's Chamber of Torture'. Everything looked impressive and imposing but mostly it just looked like ALOT! There was not an open space on the kitchen counter; it looked like any moment all this stuff would revolt and take over the house .
Never one to acquire gadgets, I was astounded to find instruments for taking the hulls of strawberries, pitting cherries and zesting lemons. "What's wrong with a knife?", became the phrase of the day.Alisa had many, many knives and a very large and dangerous looking cleaver (for coconuts). "What do you need so many knives for?" I queried. There is no real answer. Some people just collect knives. Which brings me to the equipment. Juicers; all different kinds, some of which I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the fruit went in and the juice came out! Three different kinds of blenders. Some white gizmo with a guillotine blade and a crank handle that supposedly turns vegetables into noodles. A big black box with removable trays called a dehydrator - the closest thing to cooking in the raw world but kind of like the grown up version of an Easy Bake Oven (another contraption that takes a whole day to bake a cake).
I felt scared and deprived at the same time. Was I supposed to have all this stuff in my own kitchen? Why didn't I have all this stuff in my kitchen? I think I better learn how to use the strange little lemon rinder but, again, what's wrong with a knife?
Now the reality. The truth is: you don't need all that stuff. We conduct most of our classes with a blender (just one) and a food processor. Sometimes we throw in the dehydrator. We use measuring cups and spoons and knives. And that's pretty much it. More than a year has passed since that first class with Alisa and I, myself, verge on living a life on the edge of All Raw (although sometimes when you live life On The Edge, you're bound to fall off sometimes - but that's another story), I still don't have a VitaMix - considered to be the blender of choice for all raw food-ists. It's just me and my little Osterizer - and that works fine. Except that I must admit that there is nothing like the Vitamix for turning nuts into a smooth cream, something my own humble blender refuses to do, eventually shutting down completely like a petulant child until I let it sit for awhile and cool down. I didn't buy a juicer either. And I drink TONS of juice. I use my blender to beat things into a pulp instead, then pour the fibrous concoction through a nut milk bag and into a bowl. $9.50 for a nut milk bag. It's a bargain. You could use cheesecloth if you had a mind to, but the nut milk bag is better. It just goes to show that you don't need to break the bank to get the job done. I like juicing this way. It's kind of like milking a goat and I've always kind of gotten a kick out of that too. I did, however, invest in a fabulous Cuisinart food processor, cutting my processing time for almost anything in half. I also bought a dehydrator; even though I consistently prefer fruits and vegetables in their most natural states, every once in awhile I get a craving for one of those 'easy baked' items. Chips, stuffed mushrooms, pie crusts, pizza, breads. And, after all, I like it because it warms things up a little and me being - first and foremost - a cook, I like that sometimes... a warm blast from the past. I bought the best dehydrator there is. The 'Excaliber': Dehydrator Of Champions. Honestly most of us consider it the only dehydrator there is. And yes, I too began accumulating knives ( in particular the ceramic kind though right now I'm pining for two lovely Cutco knives that slice through anything - bone, rope, you name it -and that I'm threatening to use on the farm as well). Oh! And I bought a cleaver. Because you can never drink too much coconut water.