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SMITH COLUMN: An ode to kitchen appliances

on Monday, 27 September 2021. Posted in Local News

Julie Smith.  Smith  Says

God bless America, land of the 10-speed blender. Widdle, my husband, says we need a new blender … but our old yellow one works perfectly well.

It’s an Oster, although the name is almost worn away. There’s no starter switch; you dump ingredients in the tall plastic container and select your desired speed from age-grimed buttons quaintly marked “Frappe”, “Whip” and “Puree.”

The container lid vanished years ago, so we have to hold a paper plate on top when we frappe, whip or puree, to keep the contents from splattering us and the kitchen cabinets.

It can’t crush ice or make nut butter, but it does a decent smoothie, if you don’t mind coughing up small chunks of fruit.

Also, it starts with a convulsive shudder and sounds like a 727 taking off.

Still, it’s a fine blender for being 40+ years old. It belonged to my late mother; I think she bought it in 1978. When she stopped making frozen daiquiris, she passed it down to me. It’s a plain, homely thing that we keep stashed under the kitchen sink, in the dark cabinet where the tiny food processor (it holds maybe two cups), turkey roaster and Insta-Pot also live.

I’ll admit, Widdle and I have been dazzled by rave reviews for the current crop of mighty blenders. There’s the Nutri-Bullet, Cuisinart, Ninja, Breville and, of course, Vita-Mix.

Several friends own a Vita-Mix. They rave about it, keep it on the counter and use it every day. I’d love to have one, but I refuse to pay more for a blender than I did for my first car. Six hundred dollars is beyond the pale.

There’s apparently a hot market in pre-owned Vita-Mix blenders, but you’re still talking $300 or more. I can’t bring myself to spend that much on a second-hand countertop appliance.

Friend: That’s a nice blender you got there. Me (wailing):

I bought it used and spent $300! I’m insane!

Friend: A frozen daiquiris would make you feel better.

Me: I hate white rum and we’re out of ice! Mom is rolling in her grave!

So yes, I’m conflicted.

On one hand, wouldn’t it be great to buy the most expensive (read: powerful) model? We could throw spinach, pineapple, ice cubes and protein powder in willy-nilly, and have a healthy, delicious smoothie in 30 seconds.

OTOH, I’d be thinking: “We have to knock out 500 smoothies to amortize the cost of this appliance.” Even with Widdle on board, that would take a couple of years.

Speaking of Widdle, about a decade ago he bought me an expensive Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, for reasons that are still fuzzy.

My cake-making needs are simple: When I bake one (which happens roughly once every eight years), I use a brown mixing bowl and my Sunbeam hand-held electric beaters. If it was good enough for Grandma, it’s good enough for me.

The Kitchen-Aid mixer, which includes a stainless-steel bowl, huge beaters and a paddle attachment, is harder to use; I’m always confusing the beater-release button and the tilt-back button. Once it tilted back while whipping egg whites, and that was a mess. (Merengue is so tricky.) I also have trouble fitting the bowl correctly on the stand so it churns around while mixing.

I gave it the old college try, but today my husband uses our kitchen table as an office, and the Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl is filled with colorful paper clips, Post-It notes, laptop chargers and ink pens. At least it’s being used for something.

In the meantime, I want a smoothie. Let me go find a paper plate.

Julie Smith can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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