Monthly Archives: July 2010

Eater’s Digest: Life after tacos

Breakfast tacos

When one of my many entrepreneurial endeavours finally makes me rich, I may finally have plenty of time to write painfully detailed posts about my daily meals. But until then, I’ll have to settle for occasional updates. So I bring you a new series I call Eater’s Digest, highlights from favourite meals that I’ve recently, well, digested (you can see the unabridged photo gallery in my Flickr Food Diary photoset).

The hallmark of recent days have been flour tortillas, made possible by this recipe on the Homesick Texan, a wonderful blog that I always turn to whenever I feel nostalgic for Austin. These tortillas are just like the ones I remember buying from the HEB – soft, bubbly, and with the slightest scent of pancake.

Homemade tortillas

The impetus for making flour tortillas was a sudden hankering for breakfast tacos. We had these for lunch (breakfast for lunch is the best) on Monday with sauteed onion, pepper and potato, plus homemade salsa and avocado. (Got to love working from home.)

Breakfast tacos

In case you’re wondering why my half-eaten taco is black, what can I say? I like my tortilla a little charred. That goes for dinner, too. Tonight, I needed to eat fajita tacos. I don’t know why, I just did. With all the fixins: pico, guacamole, black beans, shredded iceberg lettuce. Somewhere, there were even fajitas in the mix: sauteed onion, peppers, zucchini and mushroom. Love.

Fajita tacos

In addition to tortillas, other recent experiments include fresh goats curd, which was surprisingly easy following this recipe: how to make cheese at home easily. In a nutshell: boil milk, add lemon juice, let it curdle, then strain the curd from the liquid whey through a muslin cloth. The result is a lot like ricotta – do I sense lasagna in my future?

Homemade goats curd

Of course, woman cannot live on tacos and cheese curd alone. I’ve been embarking on an effort to “get strong” over the last few months and have recently added protein shakes to my repertoire. I do it with a certain amount of resistance because I don’t really like to drink my calories. And furthermore, I like to eat food, not supplements. And yet, since hitting the weights, I’ve been kind of alarmed at how long it takes me to recover. So I’m trying the protein as an experiment. If this is the way to a pull-up, so be it. I mean, what if I have to scramble up the side of a cliff someday? It could happen. I need that pull-up!

Turns out, smoothies are a good way to use up the leftover whey from making goats curd. A combination I like is protein powder, frozen mango, frozen melon, and that glorious whey, whizzed to a silky smooth puree in the Vitamix.

Melon and mango smoothie

Other meals have been a bit more ordinary, at least for us, anyway. This shorabat addas (red lentil soup) is one of our favorite quick and easy lunches.

Red lentil soup

What’s a vegetarian without her occasional dose of tofu stir fry?

Stir Fry

And finally, a bit of good news: I’ve been commissioned as a restaurant reviewer for Food Magazine and went out last week on my first assignment to Ronnie’s Restaurant in Thornbury. Shocker: they had TWO veggie mains on the menu, one of which was this delightful Moroccan-spiced nut roast.

Nut roast

As the weeks go on, I’m looking forward to seeing more food from my own garden land on my plate. The tortilla binge has me devouring my cilantro plant, and waiting impatiently for the jalapenos to come in. I’m determined to get my Tex Mex fix, even if I have to grow all the ingredients myself.

Cilantro from the garden

Walking in the Cotswolds

Withinton Woods

Shortly after we moved to Orchard Cottage, I bought Tim and I the Pathfinder Guide’s book of Cotswolds Walks. The intention was to get out every weekend for a long walk in the hills. Well, we moved here over a year ago and it was only three weeks ago that we actually got out on one of these walks. And now it feels like we’re full steam ahead.

Three weeks ago we did a 5 1/2 mile loop around Buckholt Wood and Cooper’s Hill, site of the infamous cheese-rolling competition. Two weeks ago we did a relaxing 6-mile circuit around crazy-beautiful Bibury. Finally, last weekend found us a little north of Cirencester on a 9-mile loop through Chedworth and Worthington.

Looking over Withington and Woodbridge

The book claimed that the three focal points of the walk were the two villages and the Chedworth Roman Villa, “the finest of a number of villas in the Cotswolds”. That may be true, but when we got there, we were put off by the “cafe” that was really just a tea-dispensing machine, not to mention the cheesy Roman centurion re-enactor and the £6.50 entrance fee.  The Roman Villa will have to wait for another day.

As for the villages of Chedworth and Withington, they were indeed ridiculous in their prettiness. You could practically smell the wealth bleeding from the Cotswold stone. And even though it was barely 9am, I was still tempted to pop into both of their perfect English pubs for a pint. But I managed to stay on track (mostly because the pubs were still closed).

Chedworth

I’ve discovered that there are different types of walkers in this world: some like villages, others like beaches, others like rolling vistas, and others live for the lunch break in the middle. Me, I like trees. And the forests we covered on this walk were the highlight of the day.

The coniferous trees in Withington Woods somehow reminded me of my bike ride through Wisconsin.

Coniferous

Meanwhile, the mixed woodland in Chedworth Woods was like something out of a fairytale.

Chedworth Woods

So three weekends in a row of walking and I’m looking forward to the next. It reminds me: I have a hiking pack I haven’t used yet and the summer is fading fast. I sense some camping in my future. Wild camping – yet another reason why I love living in this country. That and big giant snails:

Biggest snail ever

Best Chocolate Sorbet Ever

Chocolate Sorbet

A few months back I bought an ice cream maker on eBay and have been pining for David Lebowitz‘s The Perfect Scoop ever since. His photography and recipes on his blog are a frozen dessert lover’s wet dream, and his other stories about life in Paris are pretty good too.

Last week, the pining ended – my parents sent me a copy of The Perfect Scoop for my birthday. And after flipping through every custard-filled, chocolate-swirled recipe, my heart settled on one I know and love: chocolate sorbet.

Chocolate Sorbet

David’s way with chocolate sorbet has already been drooled about on numerous blogs such as Smitten Kitchen and Chocolate & Zucchini, so I’ll spare you the oggling of an ice cream fangirl. Instead, I’ll just get to the chocolate. And let me tell you my friends, this chocolate sorbet means business.

One of the critical steps in making ice cream or sorbet is to let it chill thoroughly before putting into the ice cream maker. Well, this stuff is so rich and chocolatey that after cooling, it’s just about as thick as ice cream (and pretty darn good on its own). Its thick creaminess almost makes it hard to believe that it lacks dairy or eggs. The thickness is chocolate talking – I told you this sorbet doesn’t mess around.

Chocolate Sorbet

Best thing about this chocolate sorbet? Eating the super frozen scrapings off the side of the ice cream maker. Second best thing? Eating a big ol’ bowl of it, maybe with a few raspberries on top.

I’m looking forward to trying the other recipes in the book, especially his Strawberry Frozen Yogurt and Butter Pecan Ice Cream (a treat for my dad who is coming to visit in a couple weeks). Then again, my next attempt might be one from his blog, a Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream using rice milk. But I better get going – strawberry season is running out. And so is summer.

Chocolate Sorbet

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

  • 2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk, for 45 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.

 

Bibury, Burgers and Birthdays

Bibury
So it begins – I’m officially in my thirties! Last Sunday was my 31st birthday. The “flirty thirties” some might say. Tim informed me of recent research showing that women are at their most beautiful at 31. I’m reminded of the line in that famous Jack Nicholson movie: “What if this is as good as it gets?” That’s not really my style of thinking, nor is flirtation. As I see it, it’s just another reason to make the most of the present, whether I’m 31 or 41.
As the present has me living so close to the Cotswolds, I decided to spend some of my birthday in the hills. Sunday morning, Tim and I headed to Bibury, a nearby Cotswold village that William Morris called “the most beautiful village in England”. This means that there’s loads of tourists around taking pictures and saying the word “quaint” a lot. We didn’t stay in Bibury for long – this was merely our starting point for a six-mile walk in the surrounding area.
On our way out of the village, we walked by Arlington Row, one of the most photographed places in the Cotswolds. The cottages were built in 1380 as a monastic woold store, then converted into a row of weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. I wonder how the people who live there now feel about their homes being the constant focus of people’s cameras – like my own.
Arlington Row, Bibury
The weather was nothing special, but it was dry and warm and we had a very relaxing walk along fields, woods and the River Coln. Walks like these make me realise how much humans run the planet. It seems like every square inch is devoted to making stuff for our own consumption, be it broad beans, wool, milk or meat. Some of the scenes reminded me of the midwest United States, only instead of corn, we saw rapeseed and wheat fields. Which reminds me, Tim took a couple cool shots of the wheat fields with my camera. It’s amazing how different they look depending on the direction of the wind.
Wheat field
Wheat field
We attempted to toast the day with a glass of our homemade elderflower champagne. Unfortunately, the beverage was a bit of a fail – where did all the bubbles go? Either we let the stuff ferment too long before bottling, or if my grolsch-style bottle wasn’t completely air tight. We have lots more of the stuff in 2L plastic bottles, but I’m going to wait until I have a few more people around to try those (2L of homemade bubbly sounds like a bad idea for one person to take on alone).
For lack of champagne I treated myself to my favourite beer of the moment: St. Peter’s Organic Best Bitter. I also made burger buns and black bean and beetroot veggie burgers. I was too busy eating to take a picture of the burgers, but here’s a pic of the bun in action with Monday evening’s portobello burger:
Portabello burger
I was also treated to an excellent birthday surprise from Tim: a “garden trug” basket by Ted Bruce, a basket weaver in Shropshire who also also did our waste paper bin. I’ve already put it to use collecting potatoes from the garden:

Modest potato hall

Walking. Gardening. Veggie burgers. A pretty low key birthday, but with an undercurrent of celebration and tribute. See, it was about a year ago exactly that we moved from London to the countryside. And in case you can’t tell, I have no regrets whatsoever. I can think of no better place to spend a birthday than here in (and around) the cottage I’ve called “home” for the last year and a bit. After all, this place is pimp, and it just keeps getting pimper. Somehow I find it hard to believe that this is as good as it gets.
More photos from last Sunday are on Flickr.

Dilly broad bean salad with sugar snaps and goats cheese

Broad bean and goats cheese salad with mint, dill and potato

It was hard to title this salad because it has so many good things going on that it’s hard to pick out the shining stars and fit it into a title. I guess that’s what they call a “high quality problem”.

I’ve been working on this salad for the last few weeks based on two inspiring meals from recent years. One was a lemony broad bean, sugar snap and dill salad had at the Wellcome Collection‘s cafe run by Peyton and Byrne, a couple of posh chef types who run a bunch of cafes and bakeries around London. The other was an asparagus, pea and broad bean salad with fresh goats curd had on the first night of our cooking course at Chateau Ventenac.

One of the reasons why I liked these salads is that they’ve helped me come to grips with one of the UK’s most common vegetables: the broad bean. Why all the fuss over a vegetable that’s so hard to deal with? First you have to pod the beans, then blanch them, then bean-by-bean remove their tough outer skin (optional, but recommended as the outer skin can be a bit tough and bitter), then finally do something with them. Some people puree them into a soup, others eat them on toast. But after all that effort, I want to know that the broad beans are there.

Shelling broad beans

Of course, I probably would never have confronted the broad bean had it never become a staple of the summer season’s organic box. We’ve getting piles of broad beans in our Riverford organic box lately. So with the energy of Peyton, Byrne and Demuth behind me, I set out to create a fusion of the two salads, with a few extra additions of my own.

I like my salads crunchy, so I threw in a few thin-sliced radishes and cucumbers, both from the organic box. I also had a couple steamed potatoes in the fridge, leftovers from the potatoes we harvested a few days earlier from the potato pot. My mint was also looking pretty good so I grabbed a few leaves of that, too. For lack of fresh French goats curd, I used some rich Welsh goats cheese I recently discovered at the Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester.

Mint and dill

What I like about this salad is that it defies the stereotype that all salads consist of a pile of leaves. Here, I kept the leaves to a minimum, adding just a handful of torn romaine lettuce leaves to intersperse among the main ingredients. I love the flavour of the dill with the cucumber, goat’s cheese and, of course, those broad beans. The mint kicked in a nice summery freshness and you can’t beat the crisp spice of a good radish.

This is definitely a salad I’ll make again. The only thing I missed was that fresh goats curd. It was soft, like a very thick Greek yogurt, but with the crumbly texture of a feta. I actually crave it. So I’ve got a litre of full cream goats milk in the fridge, destined for curd. This will be my first cheese experiment, and I can’t wait.

Broad bean and goats cheese salad with mint, dill and potato


Dilly broad bean salad with sugar snaps and goats cheese

  • 100g Broad beans, podded, blanched and de-skinned*
  • 100g Sugar snap peas, blanched
  • 1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 large radish, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp each fresh dill and mint, chopped
  • 1/4 lemon
  • handful of salad leaves
  • 1 potato, boiled or steamed, then sliced
  • olive oil, enough to coat
  • salt and pepper
  • goats cheese

Put all of the vegetables into a bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Springle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Crumble the goats cheese on top. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.

Serves 2.

*To de-skin broad beans, cook in boiling water for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Use your thumb to pinch a hole in the broad bean skin, then squeeze the broad bean to pop it out. It’s a bit of a pain, but totally worth it.

Fresh sugar snaps and broad beans

In search of the perfect kosher dill

These cukes were born for pickling

Exciting times in the garden this week. Last Tuesday I picked four perfect ‘Parisian Pickling’ Cucumbers from my thriving potted cucumber plant. It was an exciting moment for me. Sure, all harvests are good times in my book, but the cucumbers are special. See, I grew these cucumbers with a purpose. These cukes are destined for the pickling jar.

First cucumber sighting

If you know me at all then you know I love pickles, and I’ve been in search of the perfect kosher dill ever since I can remember. It all started with Claussen pickles – my friends in America, you know them well as the pickle you can only buy in the refrigerator section. Claussen pickles are a great pickle, but they’re also owned by Kraft, which sadly makes them less great.

But I’ve been hard pressed to find a better pickle in the supermarket. And here in the UK, the situation is even worse. All of the pickles I’ve purchased are either too sweet or too mushy. Instead, I usually go for baby gherkin, which are nice, but it’s just not the same as biting into a big, crispy kosher dill.

That Pickle Guy Pickles

The best pickles I’ve had recently were from That Pickle Guy based in Chicago. His kosher original fresh packed pickles are to die for. I discovered them at the Downers Grove Farmer’s Market and while they’re not exactly cheap ($7.49 for a bucket of about 10-12 pickles), they are delicious. You can’t put a price on the perfect kosher dill.

So I decided to take the pickles into my own hands and grow my own cucumbers for pickling. I picked the ‘Parisian Pickling’ Cucumbers because The Real Seed Catalogue just made them sound so appealing.

A proper pickling gherkin-type cucumber with a long history. This was selected in the 1800’s for the cooler northern climate of Paris when cucumbers became fashionable in the city – other ‘southern types’ just couldn’t crop reliably that far north. Despite its age, it is still a very reliable, early and productive cucumber, making lots of fruit with no fuss, even outdoors in the UK.

Sure enough, my cucumber plant thrived outdoors in my little pot on the patio. And I’ve been obsessively watching it grow. Even now, there a bunch of little cucumbers just starting to come to life. My only wish is that I grew more: I have a big appetite for pickles and I can tell this won’t be enough.

Cucumber

Still, I have these four to start with, and they fit perfectly in one of my jars. It’s time to make some pickles. And this is where I get a little sad. I have never made pickles before and I doubt that my first attempt will be my best. Still, I must start somewhere, but where?

As far as I can tell, the basic process works like this:

  1. Wash the cucumbers and soak them in cold water overnight.
  2. Sterilize some jars.
  3. Boil vinegar, water and salt to make a brine.
  4. Put dill, garlic, spices, and cucumbers in a jar.
  5. Fill the jars with the hot brine.
  6. Put lids on the jars and process them in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
  7. Store for about 8 week then eat.

Step 6 scares me. I fear that cooking the pickles this way will rob them of their delicious crunch. Comments like this one on an AllRecipes dill pickle recipe scare me: “I finally opened my first jar last night and they were delicious. I was hoping for super crispy pickles, but suspect the hot bath method might have made them a bit soggy?”

Soggy pickles? No thanks. I’ve found a few recipes that skip the hot bath, and I think this is where I’ll start. Both of these sound about right:

Both of these season the brined with garlic, dill and peppercorns, but since I have a hard time sticking exactly to a recipe, I might have to add a little mustard seed and turmeric to mine.

Let the pickle experiments begin.


Have you ever made pickles? Any tricks of the trade for keeping my pickles crispy and perfect? Suggested seasoning? Uses? I’m all ears.

These cukes were born for pickling

Flammkuchen in the clay oven

Building the clay oven was one thing, but sometimes the time it took to build the oven feels like nothing compared to the time it actually takes to make a pizza. It takes hours of log feeding and fire stoking to get the oven hot enough to bake good pizzas. This pretty much makes the oven a special occasion kind of thing.

Last weekend, the occasion was my friend Mike coming to visit from Coventry. Luckily the weather was nice and we had plenty of sauce-making, veggie-chopping, beer-drinking and conversation-having to do while we tended the fire.

Clay oven in action

One aspect of the pizzas was easy to prepare: the dough. I had a few dough balls in the freezer leftover from our summer BBQ, one of which was made by our chef friend, Alex. Alex introduced us to German Flammkuchen (or tarte flambée in French, or flammekueche in Alsatian), a pizza made from a very thin dough, topped with creme fraiche, leeks and bacon (hold the bacon for us vegetarians). Sounds weird, right? Guess what: it’s surprisingly awesome. Creme fraiche as pizza sauce is a total revelation. And leeks? Sublime.

But last weekend, we were going for something more traditional. I usually work with the Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough from Peter Reinhart’s American Pie, but on this occasion, Alex’s flammkuchen dough did a much better job. It was easy to roll out and rose beautifully in the oven.

Clay oven pizza

Okay, so perhaps I still need some practice avoiding those burnt edges. Or do I?

According to legend, the creators of flammkuchen were Alemannic farmers who used to bake bread once a week and they’d make a tarte flambée to test the heat of their wood-fired ovens. The embers would be pushed aside to make room for the tarte in the middle of the oven, and the intense heat would be able to bake it in 1 or 2 minutes. The crust that forms the border of the tarte flambée would be nearly burned by the flames. The name itself comes from this method of baking, the English translation of the original Alsatian name being “baked in the flames.”

Clay oven pizza

So maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about the burnt edges. But I do worry about the heat of my oven. My pizzas certainly don’t cook in 1 or 2 minutes, but no matter how much fire I give it, the floor doesn’t seem to hold the heat once I push the embers aside. I blame this on using traditional bricks rather than fire bricks. Live and learn. This oven was only my first.

Clay oven pizza

I was going to post Alex’s dough recipe, but I couldn’t read his handwriting (either that, or it was written in German – who can tell?!). Here’s another flammkuchen recipe. I highly recommend it (without the bacon, of course).

Cheers to Moff for the first photo from our BBQ. And cheers to Mike for taking photos last weekend, all except the next one. This is what happens when you keep two hungry guys waiting for their flammkuchen:

Fried chicken

Slowing Down at CrazySexyLife.com

crazysexylife.jpg

I’m thrilled to bits to be guest posting today on crazysexylife.com about my recent trip to Rachel Demuth’s Vegetarian Cookery School at Chateau Ventenac in Southern France.

Head on over to read my post:

Slowing down in Southern France

Here’s an excerpt:

 Woman cannot live on baguettes alone. So what’s a vegetarian to do in a country where fish, meat, and copious amounts of butter and cheese are par for the course?

Head south to a little village called Ventenac on the Mediterranean coast of Southern France. That’s where I discovered Chateau Ventenac, a 19th century castle on the Canal du Midi that’s become a magnet for artists, poets, writers and, on that particular week, veg-loving foodies.

We were all gathered for a five-day cooking retreat with vegetarian chef Rachel Demuth and her assistant, Helen. In between all of our mixing, blitzing, kneading and chopping, I discovered a slow, convivial approach to food that is all at once local, compassionate, and most of all, healthy by default. As a result, I’m not only a better cook, I’m also a healthier traveler and a more conscious eater.

Read more…

VitaMix and Nut Butter

Hazelnut, Almond and Peanut Butter
A few months ago, one of my employers generously gave me a bonus after a particularly rough patch of work. I decided to use my new found cash to treat myself to a kitchen toy I’ve been wanting for years: a VitaMix blender.
You’ve probably heard of the VitaMix: it’s designed to be the best blender EVER, and it better be at £399. It’s probably overkill for most home kitchens, but people who own them love them. Just reading the reviews on Amazon is like taking a sneak peak at a smoothie-lover’s wet dream. “If I could marry it I would.” I mean, seriously?
I started thinking seriously about buying a VitaMix after I burned out two blenders within the space of a couple years. True, I had put it through the trenches: nut butter, almond milk, dry spices, and of course, endless cubes of ice and frozen fruit. And then there were the things I couldn’t do with my blender, namely, grind whole grains into flour for baking bread. I didn’t want to buy another cheap blender that would break in less than a year, so I decided to look upmarket for something a bit more powerful with an all-steel blade mechanism.
After a brief internal debate between the Vitamix and a Blendtec, I caved to the hero worshipers and settled on a VitaMix 5200, a 2+ horsepower blender that is so powerful it can actually heat water up to the boil. That means you can actually make hot soup in the VitaMix jug, which to me is just crazy. I confess, I haven’t tried this feature yet, but I have been putting the VitaMix to work for other concoctions. Here are my first impressions:
The VitaMix package has a certain As-Seen-On-TV quality (so does its website). The box is full of color and exclamation marks, and an overwhelming amount of VitaMix “shwag” – DVDs, recipes, binders, manuals. It was a little overwhelming. Is this really what my £399 paid for?
Then I took the VitaMix out of the box. This thing is huge. And heavy. I guess it should be – a blender this powerful needs a pretty big motor. But the question remains: will it blend?

IMG_5817-1

I decided to break in the VitaMix by making raw almond butter, something I’d been pining for every since I ordered the thing. In went the almonds and away I went. Now, it’s not as if I flipped a switch and suddenly there was almond butter – it took some work. This is where I really appreciated the “unique tamper tool for extreme processing power” that basically lets me push and mix the blender contents as it blends without making contact with the blade. I also appreciated the variable speed – the raw nuts were putting the VitaMix to the test and I needed to keep it on a fairly low speed to avoid burning out the motor (wouldn’t that have been sad?).
In the end, I had almond butter, but it wasn’t the ultimate taste sensation I was hoping for. Sure, it blended the almonds into a very smooth paste, but it was thick and,as Tim put it, had “the consistency of plastic.”
Not what you want to spread on your toast.
I decided to blame the almonds and not the blender, and gave nut butter a second try, this time with a handful of roasted hazelnuts, another handful of roasted peanuts and a a spoonful of my almond plastic puree (I’ve gotta use this stuff up somehow). The result: pretty awesome, IMHO. The VitaMix pureed the butter in a snap, and the result was exactly what you want out of a nut butter: smooth, delicious, nutty, and not a hint of plastic.

Fresh bread with even fresher nut butter

Later research revealed that raw almond butter is a bit of a challenge: the raw almonds don’t have much oil in them, making them difficult to blend up into a nice smooth butter. Some people claim it can be done, but others swear you have to add oil to make it work. Either way I haven’t mastered it. Yet. But that’s a trial for another day.
I’ve made a few other things with the blender – mostly smoothies – and while I’m not disappointed with my purchase, I also haven’t become a super ga-ga VitaMix fangirl. Maybe I’m still getting to know the VitaMix – I certainly haven’t tested its limits. But I will say that I love being able to throw a bunch of ice in the blender and feeling totally confident that it will blend without burning out. I also LOVE the tamper tool. It’s genius.
One other hangup I feel compelled to mention – one of the reasons I hesitated to buy a VitaMix is that it seemed insane to me to spend so much on a blender. Does a blender really deserve such a central place in the kitchen? Do I need this to make good food?
As much as I don’t need a VitaMix, I also don’t need a food processor, a garlic press or a food mill. But at the same time, all of these tools are enabling. It’s sorta like having good walking shoes. Sure, you can walk in heels, but without a good pair of walking shoes, you might be discouraged from trying out something different or walking a little bit further. So I’m treating this VitaMix like a very expensive pair of walking shoes: it’s high quality, durable, should last me for ages, and it’ll enable me to try making new foods for myself that I would otherwise have to buy at the store.
Besides, a blender so powerful that it can boil liquid into soup? That’s kind of cool.