When it comes to cooking in the kitchen I like to make life as easy as I can, which means that if I can get a job done quickly, whilst still doing it properly, then I'm all for giving it a go.
So when it comes to doing certain little things I like to take, what I call, short cuts. Those thing being dicing, chopping and mixing. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind doing things the slower way, things like dicing onions using a good quality knife and chopping board, or maybe finely chopping some mixed herbs in order to spread onto a dish. But when I only need a small amount of such items in a dish I have found a much more suitable method of chopping and mixing that not only take the hassles out of washing the chopping board, and, if needs be, I can mix several things together at one time.
The more suitable method is by using a rather fine little device that can hold several pieces of small ingredients and, with the push of a hand, it will chop and mix up what ever is inside. This little device is something called a 'chopper' and is from the Philips 'Daily Collection' range, which as a range I only have this one item so far, but if and when I get more in the range I will most certainly tell you about them.
Anyway, this Philips 'Chopper'... and not he old bicycles that had a small wheel at the front, large wheel at the rear and a back rest on the end of the seat. So you remember them Choppers? I do... Anyway, it's not one of those choppers, it's more a small food chopper-slash-blender.
So, this chopper.
*What does it look like..?
The first thing I have to say is that it doesn't look like your normal chopper, it looks more like something that should be sat on your fire surround as an ornament, or maybe even a small training cup for a young toddler when they're first learning to drink from a 'grown ups' cup. But it's not an ornament, nor is it a cup.
There is a bowl, sort of, or more a jug, in a way, which is where all the chopping goes on. Up the sides of this 'bowl' there are a few little numbers and lines. This isn't vandalism, the numbers and lines are for the measuring guide. These numbers being in both ml and fl.oz, going up to 0.7 litres in total, so there's a number for everyone, and there's a little line to give a better idea of the level itself inside the jug, especially when it comes to the more liquid mixtures.
Sitting on top of the bowl is the motor unit that does all the work, giving a small yet good enough 450watts of kick. This motor section is the heaviest part of the machine and even this weighs less than a bag of sugar so there's no weight in it at all.
When you take off this top section, the black motor housing, you'll see the shaft for the blades, with this shaft twisting onto the motor housing so that it can work the blades. The blades themselves are made of stainless steel so they won't rust away in the wind and rain.
* Is it easy to use..?
Simple really, in fact, it's only a matter of pressing down slightly and things get going.
To set it up you just push the shaft into the jug, then you push the motor housing onto the shaft... you're now ready to get grinding and mixing.
But first you need things to chop up, so fill the jug with what every you want to, herbs and spices, onions, carrot... anything you want. Although the smaller the bits added the easier the blades rip into.
Once the ingredients are in the jug you just place the motor housing and blade shaft onto it and turn on, holding the top so that it doesn't head off the table, and wait until the chopping and mixing is done to how you want it.
You then turn it off and pull off the top, revealing the mixed up ingredients inside.
There's no 'On' switch, so to speak. You actually switch it on by pushing the motor housing down onto the jug when it's in place. This way the blades will only start spinning when they are safely inside the jug and not when you're holding them in your hand.
You only need to have the motor going for a few seconds at a time, with the little leaflet you get with this unit giving you a few ideas of how long... For example, 10 seconds for mixing herbs and spices, or maybe 10 to 20 seconds for cheese... but I tend to give it a few seconds at a time, then have a quick peek at the mix. If it looks good then I finish there. If it doesn't look quite mixed enough I'll give it a few more seconds at a time until I'm happy.
As with all cooking, it's in the eye of the chef that makes a happy chappie smile, and 'what the eye don't see the chef gets away with...'
* What about cleaning then..?
The jug is a cup and should be cleaned accordingly, dropped in a bowl of hot soapy water and left there until the wife gets home to wash it... only kidding there. Seriously, the jug just needs to be washed as you would any other cup, be that a good soaking and scrub or, if it's not too bad, a bit of a rinse under a hot tap.
Although the rinsing method will not clean it properly.
As for the shaft and the blade. Well, this should be treated like any other knife when it comes to cleaning as the blades are pretty sharp and will slice your fingers with out any warning. So be careful as you wash them. Just give then a soak and a bit of a scrub with a plastic brush... not your beloved hair brush as she may not be too happy. Mine wasn't.
Both shaft/blade and the jug are dishwasher safe so there's no dangers with dropping them inside the dishwasher with all your other pots and pans.
* Is it safe..?
This is down to who's using it I supposed.
You have to remember that the blades are on show, but not when they're working of course, but the blades have no guard around them and they are quite sharp, which can result in slicing of the fingers if you're not too careful.
But, if you don't play daft games whilst handing this unit then this is as safe as using a chefs knife really
* My opinion...
I love this little mixer and to be honest I tend to use this one more than the larger mixers I have when it comes to small chopping, even leaving my chefs knife in the holder when it comes to small amounts of chopping.
The jug itself has a nice, easy to see measuring guide up one side, if a round jug has sides that is, so that you can see at a glance how much you've put into it.
The stainless steal blade is permanently attached to the plastic shaft, with the top of the shaft having what looks 6 little triangular wedges sliced out of the top. These wedges are where the motor hosing 'cogs' grip onto so that the blades spins. If these 'wedges' get damaged then the blades will not spin properly so be careful when cleaning this shaft.
The blades sit only millimetres from the base of the jug and does look like it can make contact at any time, especially as the only way to get the blade going is to press the top of the unit down. But don't fret, the blade never touches the jugs bottom so there's no danger of getting bits of plastic in your herbs.
This is one of the easiest mixer/choppers I have used due to the simple way of getting it turned on... pressing it down... there's just no effort needed at all once the food is inside the jug/bowl.
You do have to remember that it won't cope too well with larger items of food, such as full sized apples or such things, firstly as they won't fit into the 'bowl' whole. So it's easier to chop up such things first into manageable pieces, about the size of your average dice say.
But that defeats the object of chopping doesn't it? Well, in a way yes it does. But if, like me, you use this more for mixing and chopping herbs and spices, blending them together before adding them to your dish, then this is something that you'll get along with like it's your best friend.
* What about the cost..?
This lovely little useful piece of kit sells for about £25, or there abouts, although there are cheaper versions on the market but I don't know how good those one are. I only know how good this one is.
* Is it worth it..?
Yes... next question... seriously though. If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with herbs and spices, maybe you'd like to be braver with new ideas but are afraid to ruin a perfectly good dish of food. Then this is an ideal tool to try out new mixtures in small amounts so you can taste test them before adding them to your food.
You can make a tiny amount of mixture, give it a taste. If it's any good you can then make more of your new creation...
But' if you're not adventurous in the scullery then this is still useful for general mixing and chopping of any small items of food and it does it's job in not time at all.