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Every now and again I am overcome by an urge to do lots of cookery and baking. It is hard to work out what single thing leads to this but I have a suspicion that my enjoyment of certain over-the-top American cookery shows, combined with a certain amount of spare time in my holidays can perhaps be to blame. Now, I have always enjoyed cooking but sometimes my time is limited, so I felt that I was going to need a little time saver on my side. Several recipes were calling for blending ingredients and for fine chopping of spices. This is where this device comes in.
Readers of my iron review will not be surprised that I undertook almost a couple of minutes of searching before finding the above model on the Argos website. I had wanted a blender that could blend but also chop finely and began by looking at some very expensive models that I had seen on cookery programmes. Quickly realising that my bank balance and my limited time spent cooking would not support these choices, I went for a more budget-conscious approach.
This Kenwood model caught my eye. I have always had good results from Kenwood products in the past, so I was happy with this. It is currently retailing at £37.99 on the Argos site, which makes it more than I would pay for just a blender but the additional components swayed me. Incidentally, I had first been drawn by a similar Kenwood model which lacked a smoothie mixer and was the same price, so I was glad I saw this one.
Now, onto the components themselves. As I unpacked them, it took me some time to realise which bits went with which jug. As I may have mentioned before, man and instruction leaflets are not necessarily compatible. I will begin by looking at the base unit itself.
The base is a basic, slim form white unit, with non-stick feet. It has a simple but sturdy grey button to make the choice between 2 speeds or the pulse setting. Whilst it would not win any design awards it is a functional and efficient design. It is pretty noisy in operation but is quieter than a smoothie maker I previously owned. However, being a blender I do expect noise and didn't find it excessive.
The main jug is again simple but effective. The clear jug has a sturdy plastic handle and spout for pouring. It has a litre capacity but it is only marked up to 800 ml on the side. That being said, the measurements are very clear. What I like as well is that there are also markings to show cups full, which is great considering the number of recipes using that form of measurement. The white plastic lid fits well. Tabs on the inside of the jug line up with grooves in the lid, which firmly click into place to prevent slipping. Indeed, they are so firm, I had some initial difficulty moving it with my hands damp from washing after chopping. The centre of the lid has a hole for dropping items in, which is blocked by a clear plastic stopper, which cleverly doubles a small measuring device, which is marked in 10ml increments up to 30ml. That sits firmly enough in that it prevents splashes. Cleaning is easy, as the blade unit can be removed by twisting clockwise to release. It can then all be cleaned down ready for the next use. The blade unit re-attaches by twisting anti-clockwise, into plastic lips, which prevent slippage.
Next is the spice unit. It has its own blade unit, which fits in the same way as the main jug. Indeed, they are inter-changeable, which is great for the device's longevity. The small container has a capacity around 20oml and can be used to chop various fine ingredients. I have used it for garlic and spices and it has worked well so far, though I have to confess I have used it far les than I originally had intended to!
Lastly, I will describe the unit that has been a revelation. When I bought the device I genuinely only bought it for the other two parts, this was just a bonus that I was sure would sit in a cupboard. However, this purchase coincided with an attempt by myself to eat more healthily, get fit for the rugby season and to lose a bit of weight. Therefore, I had been going to the gym and needed something for energy that was healthy. That's where this comes in.
The jug/beaker has a max capacity of 400ml. In smoothie terms that translates into my being able to fit in two medium sized bananas. I then throw in a handful or two or raspberries, strawberries or both. That then allows me to top up with a fruit juice. For me, white grape is best, as it has no strong flavour of its own. Having over-filled once, I can tell you that the max capacity is more than a recommendation! The blending unit can then be screwed onto the jug to provide a good seal, before being tipped up to insert into the base unit. Like the other tow, it is twisted into place and then is held firmly with the safety interlock system not allowing the blend to begin until the object is firmly in.
It quickly turns the items into a delicious smoothie but the true genius of this device is what comes next. With the beaker the right way round you can remove the blend unit, which can be easily cleaned. You could drink it straight away but I have made use of the rest of the components to be able to take this with me to work. You can attach the separate white-plastic lid, which has an integral handle. This screws on firmly and turns the beaker into a travel mug. There is a sturdy flip-over piece of plastic as the lift-off flap. This has a rubber piece to make a great seal in the drinking hole. The whole thing is sturdy and has not leaked even when accidentally upside down in my bag.
Overall, I have found this to be an extremely useful blender. I have made good use of it on far more occasions than I envisaged originally. Cleaning has been easy and the parts are listed as dish washer safe. I have noticed that underneath the blending unit, there are some metal components attaching the revolving parts. These are showing some minor rusting, which is hard to remove. It has no effect on the parts which touch food (which makes me ask why they didn't use the same quality of metal as the blades) but it is something that may lead to reduced effectiveness in the future. It is also something that I will keep an eye on to ensure that it doesn't get worse. I am more than happy with the device but that flaw leads me to take a star off - surely we could have had a rust-proof component?