Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Vortex Hand-Cranked Blender

In my continuing quest to find non-electric tools and gadgets for around my home (that really work!), I recently purchased the Vortex Hand-Cranked Blender:

So far, I've made some smoothies and mixed pancake batter, and here are my observations:

The Vortex hand-cranked blender needs a wee bit of elbow grease to turn if you have anything frozen to blend, such as ice cubes or frozen fruit. But if you begin on the low speed and then switch to the high speed, it's quite easy to use. Easy enough, in fact, that I'll use it regularly.

The blender is easy to put together and to clean after using. Not many parts and very intuitive. I like that! Plus, everything fits together super well and there's no leaking of liquid. The container is a high-grade food-safe plastic so it won't break like glass would, but I must say that I would have preferred a glass container. (That's just my personal inclination. I realize that this blender was made with campers/backpackers in mind, so the plastic makes sense in that regard. But still...)

It can hold a (surprising) lot of ingredients. One day I made about a quart of smoothie without exerting too much effort. I could have made more with room to spare, so it would be totally usable for a family.

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that you have to crank for a longer period of time to get the frozen bits (say, ice and fruit) to thoroughly break up and the smoothie to become...well, smooth! I probably industriously cranked for two minutes or so in order to get a creamy, smooth end result. Still, it wasn't hard work (although you know you're cranking!), and I was pleased with the results.

I want to try making cream soup because I love, love, LOVE cream of broccoli soup. I'm betting that it'll do a great job.

All this to say, the Vortex hand-cranked blender is a welcome addition to my kitchen. I will continue to use it often, and I'm glad I purchased it!

Blessings to you and yours,

Great Tasting Buckwheat Pancakes and Waffles

Good morning!

I made buckwheat waffles earlier today for breakfast and wanted to share the recipe with you. This recipe is found in my book The Homestyle Amish Kitchen. (You can find ordering information for this book as well as my other books on this website under the heading "My Books". Scroll to the bottom of that page for a thumbnail image of the cover of The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook.)

Buckwheat Waffle and Bacon--Breakfast Is Served!

Buckwheat pancakes (or waffles) are rib-sticking fare--you'll know you've had breakfast if you eat these filling cakes! Plus, buckwheat has a nutty flavor that is hearty and delicious. And what's more, buckwheat groats are gluten-free, for those of you with wheat sensitivity.

Note that after I give you the recipe, I'll add some comments that may be of interest to you. But now, I present:

Buckwheat Pancakes

2 cups buckwheat flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water

Mix together all ingredients. Drop the batter on a well greased, hot griddle and cook the pancakes until they are brown on the edges and have bubbles popping through the top. Turn pancakes and cook second side until done.

That's all there is to it! Personally, I'm a big fan of great-tasting, easy recipes that are done in a flash, and buckwheat pancakes certainly fit the bill.

If you are new to the robust flavor of buckwheat, you can alter this recipe by substituting some regular flour for the buckwheat flour. (Try using one cup buckwheat flour and one cup regular flour to start and then gradually reduce the regular flour until you are using all buckwheat. This might be a good idea if you are feeding kids, but then again, they may just surprise you and love the full-on buckwheat taste right at the get-go!)

When I cook waffles, I usually add another egg, 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and a pinch more baking powder.

I usually have leftovers and they make great snacks: I simply toast them, spread on some butter or peanut butter, and have a filling snack-on-the-go.

Buckwheat isn't a cereal grain, even though we use it as such. (You've probably heard of the porridge called kasha.) Buckwheat are the fruit seeds from the flowers of buckwheat (which bees love, by the way)--a plant that is related to sorrel and rhubarb. Buckwheat is great for heart health and contains more fiber than oatmeal per serving. It's also a good source for magnesium, iron, zinc, and selenium, and it can help lower blood pressure and stabilize blood glucose levels when eaten regularly. Buckwheat really is a powerhouse of nutrition!