Featured Article

Blenders Never Go Out of Style

Some small appliances, you just can't live without. At our house, the toaster, microwave and coffee grinder live in prime real estate on the kitchen counter. Lower down the pecking order and stored out of reach are the food processor, mixer, and waffle iron. The electric knife hasn't been touched in years.

But on the cusp of frequent use, and therefore always within reach at the end of the counter, is my old-faithful blender.

For most of us the blender is used for making smoothies and mixed drinks that contain overripe fruit and ice but there are so many different ways you can use your blender and make it a primary use appliance.

Purists might flinch, but instant potato pancakes are easy to make in a blender. Throw in all the ingredients (see below), whirl and pour out the batter onto a hot griddle. So what if the texture is smooth? Smooth potato pancakes are better than no potato pancakes at all. And no grated knuckles. Open a jar of applesauce and you have a meal.

A blender is part of the formula when making Spain's famous cold liquid soup, gazpacho. The gazpacho you make at home is far fresher and better than any you will get at a restaurant. And it's the fastest salad you'll ever eat. A little texture adds interest, so leave the soup a little lumpy. Serve it in a bowl with croutons if you like, but I like it poured into a mug (cooled with a couple of ice cubes) for sipping while I sit outside on a warm evening.

Feel free to get creative and make that blender purchase worth it!

Into blender put:
 1 clove garlic
 1/2 small onion, sliced
 1/2 green or red pepper, seeded and sliced
 3 ripe tomatoes, quartered
 1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon pepper
 2 Tablespoons olive oil
 3 Tablespoons wine vinegar
 1/2 cup ice water
Cover and blend for 3 seconds, or until the last slice of cucumber is pulled down into cutting blades. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Makes about 4 big mugs of liquid salad. You can pour it into a bowl and top with croutons if you feel more like soup.
Hurry-Up Potato Pancakes
The parsley adds more than flavor and nutrition. Its bright green color offsets the grayness that potatoes get when they've been exposed to air.
 2 eggs
 1 slice medium onion
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/4 cup parsley clusters
 2 cups diced raw potatoes
 1/4 cup flour
 Few drops hot pepper sauce
Break eggs into blender. Add onion slice, salt, parsley and half the potatoes. Cover container and turn motor on high. Uncover container and, with motor on, add flour and remaining potatoes. Turn off blender as soon as last potato cube has been added and disappears. Pour batter onto a hot greased griddle and cook on both sides until brown. Serve topped with a little sour cream or yogurt cheese.
Makes 8 small pancakes.