Archive for Review

I’m in Love with a Ninja

Okay, kids. Let’s talk blenders.

A blender is an essential tool for any kitchen.  I use mine on pretty much a daily basis–smoothies to start with, and then pureed soups, sauces, jams, hummus, homemade nutella. I even make my own nut milk sometimes.

But here’s the thing about blenders: good ones are really expensive. And there’s a wide gap between the not-good ones (read: cheap) and the good ones (read: expensive).

About a year ago, I was struggling with this question. I had a Magic Bullet, which I’d never been super happy with, but it was convenient. It made smoothies (mostly) okay, but when it came to tougher ingredients like chickpeas, it floundered. Maybe, I thought, it was time for me to bite the bullet and invest in a good blender, and by good, I mean a Blendtec or a Vitamix (which will run you anywhere from about $400-700). But the money! I knew they’d be good, they’d last, etc, but I still had a really tough time justifying (and finding) that kind of cash.

I went online and polled my friends, and one of them suggested a new blender on the market called a Ninja. I did some online research, and the recommendations were really high. So, I bought one, at Canadian Tire, for about $79 (I got it on sale–it’s regularly around $100). And I immediately was happy. First off, it had 1100 Watts of power–as opposed to the 300 of the Magic Bullet. Secondly, it has a very different kind of blade than normal blenders. Most blenders have a blade just at the bottom, this one had blades on a pole going all the way up. I recommended it to everyone.

On the right, my old Ninja Pro. On the left, the new Nutri Ninja.

On the right, my old Ninja Pro. On the left, the new Nutri Ninja.

Then, in September, I attended the International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. The Ninja people were there. I gushed to them about how much I loved their blender, and they offered to send me their newest model.

I’ve had the Nutri Ninja Blender with Auto IQ for about a month, now, and I love it even more than my old one.

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Shiny.

One reason is because it comes with smoothie cups. Now, I loved my old Ninja Blender, but it came with just the blender jar, and that was it. So I had to wash it all the time, every day. My new Ninja came with the blender jar and two smoothie cups (in two different sizes). The smoothie cups also have their own blender blade, so it works exactly like a Magic Bullet. Although I was really frustrated with my Magic Bullet all the time, you can’t deny those little cups are really convenient. Well, now I have that same convenience in a powerful blender. No more frustration. All the convenience. I very seldom have to hand-wash them now, because I have enough to go around that I can run them through the dishwasher every 3 days.

The second thing I love about my new Ninja Blender are the variety of settings. My old Ninja basically had one speed: on. It was a good on. A powerful on. But just on (you could also pulse, of course). This new blender has tons of different settings, and it also has this cool feature called Ninja IQ. Basically, it’s a built-in setting that pulses at first to break everything up, then blends for a period, then pulses again at the end. It’s super cool, one-touch blending that works every time.

Thirdly, kids, is the power! Mwhahahahaha!! I love power, and this baby has it. It’s actually changed the way I juice. I started juicing about a year ago, and I have a really good juicer. What I used to do was juice the hard veg, like carrots and beets, and then add that juice into my smoothie for extra nutrients. What you’re missing if you do this, though, is the fibre, because the juicer extracts that. Now, I can actually juice right in my blender. Yeah, I’m throwing carrots in my smoothies. A whole, raw carrot. And by the time the blender is done with it, you’d never know. It’s as smooth as silk. At 1300 watts, this baby can handle anything you throw at it–hummus, nut butters, the works.

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What do I not like about it? Well, it’s a bit loud, but that’s to be expected when you have such a powerful engine. Secondly, you have to be really, really careful when cleaning the blade. They are very sharp, and because of how they are positioned, it’s easy to cut yourself. Which I learned the hard way. Other than that, I don’t have anything but good to say about this blender.

I really can’t recommend it enough. And remember–while the most recent version may have been sent to me to review, I purchased my first one with my own hard-earned cash, and I would do it again! If you’re in the market for a blender, I think you should get a Ninja in your kitchen.

 

 

Sansa Stark’s Lemon Cakes #GoT

Is anyone else out there completely addicted to Game of Thrones? For me, it started by reading the books–it took me an entire year to get through them all, and like many of you, I’m sure, I’m terrified that G.R.R.M will die before he finishes the series.

In the mean time, we have the television series to keep us happy, and happy it does make us! It’s beautifully shot, the acting is great, and the storytelling is immensely well done.

lemon cakes

One of the presents I got this year for my birthday (given to me by someone well-armed with this knowledge) was A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook. I’ve been busy reviewing other cookbooks that were sent to me for that purpose, so this one kinda got back-burnered.

I recently had a chance to leaf through it, and it’s a pretty cool cookbook. Many of the recipes (not created by G.R.R.M., who admits to being a better writer than a cook), give the traditional medieval recipe, and then a modern take on it, as well.

There is, to be fair, some pretty exotic fare in here. Dornish Rattlesnake, for example. I don’t even know where I could purchase rattlesnake, even if I wanted to.

The book breaks down the recipes into regions, so you can eat what Jon Snow may have had for breakfast on The Wall, and then have Bowls of Brown from Flea Bottom for dinner.

The recipe I was most interested to try was for Lemon Cakes. You’ll remember how much Sansa Stark (in the earlier part of the books) loved them. They were her favourite treat.

sansa stark

One of Sansa Stark’s gowns from this past summer’s travelling Game of Thrones Exhibition

The name is misleading. This is much more of a cookie than a cake. But, in my opinion, they deserve Sansa’s affection. They are bright with lemon flavour, and the texture is halfway between a macaron and a sugar cookie–slightly chewy, but in a wonderful way.

It’s worth noting that I made these in a very un-mediaeval way, employing both my food processor and my citrus zester, tools that obviously did not exist in that time.  But that’s okay. Technology is here to be our friend, and ingredient-wise, it’s an incredibly simple recipe.

This recipe is a winner, hands down. And… Winter is coming.

lemon cakes

Lemon Cakes

(from A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • grated zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp milk

Method:

  • In a food processor (you could also do this by hand), mix together the flour and sugar. With the motor running, add the butter, slowly, one small chunk at a time, until it starts to look coarse.
  • Turn the mixture out into a large bowl, and mix in the lemon zest. In a small bowl, beat the egg together with the egg yolks, and then add it to the dry mixture. When mixed, the cookie dough should be on the wet side, but not stick to your hands when you pick it up. If it does, you can add more flour to thicken it.
  • Roll into 1 1/2″ balls, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 355 degree oven for 15 minutes. The tops and edges should just be golden, but they should still be quite light in colour. Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  1. Mix together the icing sugar with the milk, substituting out some of the milk for lemon juice, if you’d like to give your cookies and extra lemon hit. Place the wire rack with the cookies on it, on top of a cookie sheet. Drizzle the icing mixture all over the cookies, then serve.
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