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...

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