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When David was born at the tail end of 2010 Mark reminded me of a promise I'd made while buttering him up for baby number four. Being more sensible than me he'd been worried about the impact another baby would have on our finances - I talked him round (using more feminine wiles than the very masculine looking Sally Bercow used on her ridiculous hubby) but there were conditions. Obviously I wasn't to be spending silly money on baby items, I was also made to promise that I would attempt to save money wherever possible - so that ruled out the ready made baby food I have always used for my babies, especially as it has shot up in price so much in the years that I've been sprogging.
I was, frankly, shitting myself. I'm not much of a cook at the best of times and the thought of entrusting David's health to my culinary skills was a bit of a worry. But I'd made a promise (the retort of just buying baby food and telling Mark we couldn't very well send him back if I broke the promise didn't occur to me) and at around four months set out to whizz up a selection of foods for my then weaning baby. Then the blender broke and I thought all was lost, until my very useful mum handed me this Russell Hobbs Mini Chopper which she'd bought for herself thinking it was something completely different.
Anyway, I'm digressing again. The inventively named '14450' (just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) has been an absolute godsend. It's a mini blender that means I can just blend up enough for a single meal for David rather than going to the bother of making him a whole stew, also very useful for simply blending portions of our dinners to feed him with instead of always having to cook him something different.
It works amazingly well, much better than I thought it would. The 200ml plastic pot is the perfect size to make a portion or two of baby food and is clearly marked with a 'MAX' level (which I take absolutely no notice of) as well as having wide rubber tipped feet to prevent the blender sliding around while being used. The blade lifts completely out of the pot which means I don't usually bother putting the mush (for want of a better word) into another dish as I can just as easily feed David straight from the pot.
The blade is attached to a thin plastic 'pole' and is easily cleaned in hot soapy water, there's an irritating strip cut out of the plastic which I worry about as it looks like just the sort of place where germs could breed but with a bit of fiddling around this will also come up spotlessly clean. I find an old toothbrush is excellent for this purpose but even then I do worry about particles of mush getting stuck in the corners. Ahh, also do be careful about throwing this small blade in with the rest of your washing up - I learnt this lesson the hard way when Mark cut his finger quite badly plunging his hand into the water and snagging his skin on the blade. Maybe that should be Mark learnt the lesson, the lesson being not to delve too quickly beneath mounds of bubbles!
Once you've put your chopped food into the pot and attached the blade (as easy as sliding it into a hole, you can't go wrong) you then need to press the splashback/shaker lid into place. This is a circular piece of plastic designed to fit into the top of the pot, it clicks into two small cut outs and not only prevents liquids getting into the top of the blender (ie. the bit with the electrical current) but also enables you to shake the pot around if it looks like the blades are missing bits of food. This aspect of the blender works very well, as I've already mentioned I sometimes (always) exceed the MAX line and this is when the blade struggles to grab the pieces of food at the top of the pile - a quick shake is all that's needed to get it all back into place ready for mush-making.
It's really clever the way this blender works. To get it whirring into life you simply put the top portion of the blender into place (after plugging it in, obviously) and lean down on the soft rubberised top. To be honest, getting the top into the correct position can be a bit awkward as the tabs don't always slide into their corresponding holes as smoothly as I'd like and considering it won't work until it's all put together *properly* this can be a nuisance. Oh, it's a brilliant safety feature but sometimes with a hungry wailing baby on my hip (he's been grafted there) I wish it was a bit easier. Saying that, the fact that the blender will not do anything until it's clicked into place means I can leave the top portion plugged in safe in the knowledge that it won't suddenly start making a blending racket. Although as the top doesn't actually come into contact with the blade this is probably irrelevant.
I love this nifty little gadget and wish I'd bought one years ago. With four children it grieves me slightly how much I've spent on baby food over the past fifteen years when I now know just how easy it is to make my own. Obviously the size of this means it's suitable only for small portions, but considering it's a mini blender it doesn't deserve any criticism for that!
Since owning this blender I've pureed just about everything. It works equally well with meat or vegetables and blitzing a banana with a selection of other fruits gives me a thick smoothie-type meal for David. Yesterday I spotted some leftover baked beans and tinned tomatoes that Mark had left in the saucepan so I blended that down with a handful of diced chicken, David actually cried for more after he'd eaten all that so it seems that might become a favourite 'recipe' soon - it even smelled nice to me actually! Another use I came up with this week is to pour milk into the 14450 (ha!) and add my couple of scoops of Slim Fast powder, resulting in a much creamier drink than I usually get with my hand whisk - unfortunately the small blades wouldn't cope with ice cubes otherwise I'd have added some of those too.
£20 - £25 from (umm) no idea actually but I'd imagine most electrical stores will stock it, maybe even supermarkets as it's such a small item.
The Russell Hobbs Food Collection Mini Chopper is designed to sit discretely on any worktop or tidily away in a cupboard / With the one touch function and rubber non-slip feet it is easy to use and steady when working / Brilliant for finely chopping nuts, making sauces and pureeing food, this mini chopper will be used in many households on a daily basis / Fro nutritious baby food and dessert toppings to sauces for lunch and dinner, create what you need in seconds with this powerful compact unit complete with a stainless steel blade / The Russell Hobbs Food Collection brings everyday style and value to the kitchen / Short name: Russell Hobbs 14450