As a teenager in the 1980s, I was the kind of girl who bought expensive pans, white porcelain plates and fancy kitchen gadgets. I was 17 and if it was a toss-up between spending money on a Morrissey album or a non-stick frying pan, the pan won every time.
On the outside, I looked like your average, terribly modern teenager: all women’s lib and punk hair-dos. Yet on the inside, I was dreaming of the day when I’d have a beautiful, well-equipped kitchen of my own. But rather than wait for that day to arrive, I spent the hard-earned wages I got for my Saturday job – working in the staff cafeteria of a department store – at Habitat, the U.K.’s answer to Crate and Barrel.
Of course, the first kitchen I got to call my own was a completely grotty, shared one in a student house in Nottingham, England. Half of the stove’s burners didn’t work and there was barely enough room to pull out a chopping board, let alone whip up a gourmet meal, so I left all my beautiful kitchen bounty, still in its original packaging, back at my mum’s house.
After college, I moved to London and while my friends would visit museums, I would wander the jaw-droppingly expensive kitchen department at Liberty, a very snooty store just off Oxford Street. What caught my eye time and time again, was the Waring blender. The combination of the thick glass jar and the gleaming chrome base with its 1950s-style flip-switch, made me drool like someone else might, at say a Ferrari. It would be another ten long years before I got to own one of these beauties. In fact, it was one of the first purchases I made after hopping the pond to San Francisco.
My Waring blender served me well (or so I thought at the time). I made hot soups in it, and the lid only blew off a couple of times, scalding me and re-decorating the kitchen in the process. I puréed baby food and made smoothies, ignoring the odd lumps of fruit or vegetable. I even ordered a replacement glass jar when I broke the original one.
About a decade later, as I started to get more into nutrition, making protein smoothies on a daily or even twice-daily basis, I heard about the Vitamix. Apparently, it’s the Rolls Royce of blenders and can be found in any commercial kitchen. It’s not much to look at and definitely doesn’t look pretty on the counter. The base is a hulking big black square of plastic which houses a motor powerful enough to send a boat down a river and I’m not kidding (although I haven’t actually tried the boat thing). And the cost? Let’s just say it’s equivalent to a rather nice weekend away.
Deciding to splurge, I renewed my Costco membership, which had lapsed long ago when I no longer needed to buy diapers and baby wipes by the thousand, and braved my way through the hell that is a trip to the retail mothership. I quickly spied my prize, money exchanged hands and I brought my new toy home. And did I ever fall in love?! This baby can sweet-talk the gnarliest of root vegetables into a velvety soup without the coaxing of butter or cream.
Despite its workhorse-looks, it now takes pride of place in my kitchen and rarely a day goes by when I don’t use it once, twice or maybe even three times. Smoothies for Monkey have become a start to most days; protein shakes are the only way you can convince me to eat breakfast, and I make endless varieties of soups depending on the season. (Recipes to follow.) Its powerful motor makes mincemeat, or should I say a purée, out of rock-hard frozen fruit and ice, not to mention fruit and vegetable skins. Just don’t forget the lid before you turn it on as I once did. I had to take a shower immediately afterwards and Monkey was late for school.
There’s no danger of the lid blowing off when you are blending hot liquids because it has super-duper steam vents, and you can buy a dry grains container to make your own flour, knead dough, grind your own flax seed or whip up your own delicious nut butters. Almond butter is a favorite in our house. Soups and smoothies are tremendously creamy and you can even make ice cream using ice cubes and cream! Yep, this is a Jetsons’ dream machine.
Vitamix boasts about its warranty being the best in the business, and I have to say that when I accidentally broke the container (yes, I’m clumsy) they had a new one shipped to me, free of charge, within a week. Pretty darn impressive.