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November 11th, 2012

Hand Held Immersion Blender

Hi,

I'm thinking about asking for one of these for Christmas - because I love soup and a lot of recipes like the ones I have for Carrot Soup and for Tomato Basil soup call for blending or pureeing the soup and using a regular blender is frankly a pain. Question is, I'm kind of overwhelmed by the choices so I was wondering - which one is the best for the money?

And if you wouldn't mind sharing some of your favorite recipes that would need something like that, I'd love that as well!

Thanks!
The ham steak dish was easy and very good. It says it serves 6 not-especially-hungry people; I'd say 4- but we hadn't had ham for a long time so we ate largish pieces. Stretch it out by including more potatoes and/or apples, and maybe a salad or cooked green (as well as rice or similar for the sauce).

1.5 pound ham steak
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
0.5 cup brown sugar
0.5 cup water

Cut the sweet potatoes into quarters and parboil for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Meanwhile, if there's a lot of fat on the ham slice, cut through it so it'll cook flat. Quarter apples and core. (The recipe says to cut into 1-inch slices, but I didn't and they were still overdone if anything.)

Grease a baking dish- I used a stainless steel frying pan- and put the ham in the middle. Surround it with the apples and the drained sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the sugar over it all and add the water.

Bake for 30-45 min or so at 350F, till the potatoes are done.

Serve with rice or quinoa or mashed potatoes to enjoy some of the juice. If you want to, or are doing it for company, I'd suggest resting the ham, potatoes, and apples while you boil down the juices to reduce them, and maybe add a bit of butter at the last minute off heat to thicken it.

Note: I did cook this covered; the recipe didn't specify. It might be well to uncover it for the last 10 min or so. Also, ginger would be an excellent addition to the flavorings, maybe minced and lightly sauteed before adding the rest of the stuff.

This is adapted from a 1920s era cookbook ("At Home on the Range" by Margaret Yardly Potter). In the cookbook, it's a paragraph description; I turned it into a more modern format with a bit more explanation. The cookbook is a fascinating read, and I particularly enjoyed her run-down of the advantages and disadvantages of iceboxes vs. electric refrigerators.

ETA: Apple cider or juice would be a good substitute for the 0.5 cup water in the above.

Quinces

I'm not sure I'd ever met one in the flesh before, but there they were on offer with the veg box, so I ordered some. They're bigger than I expected. That's 750g of fruit - yes, just two of them.

quinces

They're reputed to be like pears but harder and more bitter. This is what you see when you cut one open - which, incidentally, is hard work, about as much as cutting a butter-nut squash.
quince

Yes, a lot like pears, but not so much "bitter" as "dry", in both sense. No juice, and no sweetness. No real acidity, either.

So I chopped, peeled, cored, and cubed, ending up with 560g after wastage, ready to turn the lot into Quince Jelly - or, being into historical things, and having the Four and Twenty Blackbirds around to advise, 17th century Quince Marmalade.

"Let your quinces be full ripe, boil them till they are quite tender, drain and sift them as usual; reduce the marmalade (on the fire) to a paste-consistence, stirring continually, accord­ing to the quantity of quince-marmalade; refine a pound of sugar to three quarters of quinces; mix them together on a very flow fire without boiling, put it into what form you please directly, and dry as usual."

"Sift" means to push it through a sieve. In fact I used a processor, since life is too short.

They turn red when boiled, and take abut an hour or so to go soft

Glopping

Then I mixed with the same weight of sugar as of quince (about 500g), using jam sugar since we had some. Heated slowly and gently, stirring and letting it "glop" a bit. It had to stand and go cold part-way through (had to go shopping), and the surface at least was setting nicely when we got back. A little more heating and glopping, and the bottom of the saucepan stayed clear for a moment when stirring, so that was about good enough. I foil-lined a baking sheet, and poured it in.
Setting

It's setting nicely, and spending the night in the fridge should finish it off. Then I can chop it into squares ready to serve. If I get 50 pieces out of that, they'll be one WW Point each.

Incidentally, should one be tempted to apply fingers to wipe out the last bits from the saucepan, bear in mind that something that's 50% sugar, even if only "glopping" rather than boiling, is quite hot. Well worth the burnt fingers, though.

(What, no tag for fruit: quince???
More surprisingly, no tag for jam/marmalade, either)

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