Sunday, April 29, 2012

How we joined the Blendtec ranks, cont.

After a lot of research, including reading oodles of reviews about the various options available (including Vitamix and Blendtec), we decided to purchase a Blendtec Total Blender. The power, versatility and warranty were important factors.

After shopping around, I found the best deal through It included two jars -- unlike a lot of the deals I saw, which seemed to give me some versatility, I thought. After some family discussion, I ordered it on a Thursday. We were told it would take 3-5 business days to arrive, but Friday got a shipping notification that the new blender would arrive late Monday.

Friday afternoon, Youngest and I were walking through Costco, and -- guess what! -- a guy was demonstrating the same Blendtec blender we'd just ordered. Buying one at the demo would have cost us $50 less, but it appeared that the demo deal only included one jar, so I think we might have gotten the better deal.

The best part of the demo was seeing the Blendtec in action, listening to the guy's spiel, and tasting the results. We tasted tortilla soup, watched white rice ground into flour, and then watched (and tasted) homemade "ice cream" made with agave, avocado, spinach, and ice. It actually tasted pretty good! And no dairy! We could hardly wait for our own Blendtec to arrive.

...which it did, mysteriously, not long after noon on Monday. I wasn't expecting it until "late" as the tracking information said, but I went to let the dog out after lunch and there it was, sitting on the doorstep, silently promising great things to come. I wish I'd taken a picture of it sitting there, and the unpacking that followed. That UPS guy sure is sneaky -- even the hypervigilant Giant Schnoz didn't hear him come and go, and she's a dog that will bark at the clickety-click of another dog's toenails going by on the sidewalk outside, not to mention the squeak of brakes in front of the house when the UPS truck pulls up.

Of course we had to unpack it without delay, admiring all the way. True to character, I went immediately to reading the instructions, while Youngest went to immediately putting on her own product demo, though I insisted she wash the jars first. I say "jars" because of course she had to make two different things right away. You can read more about that here. Without even consulting the recipe book or instructions, the young teen whipped up a strawberry smoothie and created her own version of orange sorbet.

And so you have it. The beginning of, as a famous actor once said, a beautiful friendship.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How we joined the Blendtec ranks

A workhorse kitchen machine has been on my list since we went gluten-free last year. A friend with celiac in her family introduced me to some of her strategies for cooking gluten free on a tight budget. One of her main tools was a high-end blender -- so "high end" that I could hardly call it a blender. With this machine she ground rice and millet into flour, whipped up coconut milk and cashew creme, made soup and dairy-free ice cream, and more. She made it look so easy!

(But I just couldn't justify the cost of the fancy-dancy machine...)

We managed with what we had in the kitchen, though GF breadmaking didn't turn out so well until my family got me a Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas 2010 -- that made all the difference, that mixer, and learning the secret of telling when the bread was done baking.

We make a lot of smoothies, as a rule, and as the temperatures turn warmer you might find us making up a blenderful of smoothies -- or more -- every day. We had a nice blender that was great for smoothies. After seven years, it was still going strong, almost like new, until the day, a couple of months ago, when someone left a spoon in the blender. I went to get a second helping, thought I'd whip it up a little more (the sides of the jar were covered in strawberry smoothie, but the lid was on, so I didn't think twice, didn't lift the lid to look inside... do you see where I'm going with this?)

A few weeks after the blender bit the dust (too old a model, no replacement parts available) we discovered that a family member has serious issues with dairy. I had a couple of choices. I could stop cooking anything to do with milk, or I could try to substitute.

There are a lot of milk substitutes available today: rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk, almond milk, and more. The big downside is that they are expensive. We'd used rice milk before, for a time, but I found the stuff insipid. The texture felt nasty on my tongue, and the taste... Let's just say I used it for cooking, but not on my cereal and certainly not in my coffee.

We began to try out some of the alternatives on the market and found, after a little experimenting, that coconut-based coffee creamer seemed to work best in coffee and tea. But spendy! Soy milk was out for various reasons; I had already decided rice milk wouldn't work for me at least; almond milk was next on the list for us. It was good, but again, spendy.

I started researching homemade alternative milks. All seemed to require a blender...

To be continued...