My blender will likely burn out this summer.
I remember the Osterizer® blender of my childhood, circa 1955, a stainless steel beehive-shaped affair with a single toggle switch. It was the “modern” way to prepare meals (see illustration below) when I was a kid. The Oster® Beehive Blender lived on our kitchen counter top and blended many Carnation Instant Breakfast™ servings (with added raw egg), poured many pancakes, and caused confusion while washing the sharp doohickey on the bottom. The iconic glass jar finally shattered and the base burnt out, I suppose. I haven’t seen it for years, that is, if Mom still has it, which is possible.
Mine is a standard, plastic-jarred Oster® blender that I bought more than 15 years ago–maybe even longer–from some discount department store. It has 8 buttons, a “low-high” slider, and boasts 12 speeds plus “Pulse”: Easy Clean, Grate, Puree, Blend, Cream, Shred, Chop, Grind, Whip, Liquefy, Mix, and Ice Crush. Have I cheated and shredded on whip? You betcha. I’ve also grated on ice crush. There’s a method to my madness, however.
It’s been a faithful companion all these years.
Companion? Yes, I traveled with it. I remember carting it about with me one summer when on a medically-recommended liquid diet. Specifically, I remember in an Ohio turnpike rest stop asking for ice at the conveniently located Starbucks, then going into the family restroom stall, plugging it into the outlet there, and blending myself a delicious, nutritious liquid meal which I sipped from the container with a long straw. Who knows what people thought when they saw me emerge from the bathroom with a blender full of … stuff…!
I’m addicted to sucking up icy sludge. Sludgees. I don’t know what else to call these blender treats. They’re not smoothies; smoothies are healthy full of kale or yogurt or berries. They’re not Slushees or Slurpees, which are trademarked products dispensed at convenience stores; nor are they any alcoholic mixed drink. They’re C-O-L-D; that’s all that matters. And they go down quickly. Sludgee.
The primary component is ground up ice. Without the ice, the beverage is not fun. Next is some milk product. I use powdered milk (and water) whenever possible for the convenience. (I also don’t like the sound of people crying in the kitchen in the morning over dry corn flakes when the last of the milk has been used up.) I’ve also used ricotta cheese, yogurt and ice cream, although it’s a waste of good ice cream. For volume or consistency, a piece of fruit is good. Frozen bananas work well (peel them and put them in plastic wrap when they start to turn brown on the table), but I also use an apple, skin and all, rarely berries, and most unusually, a half of a cooked yam. Once in a while I’ll add something “healthy,” like ground flax seed or psyllium powder. Cocoa powder and some artificial sweetener, a splash of vanilla extract, and a shake of cinnamon complete the sludge. Blended up, adding one ice cube after another until the motor strains in protest, it resembles… sludge. If you omit the cocoa, it’s just ugly, not sludgy.
My blender is on its last leg. The gasket allows liquid to seep out slowly. Sometimes when I blend I can hear a strain on the motor, a pulling. Sometimes I sniff a little of that electrical odor, the kind you smell before a motor burns out. (Aside: What is that odor, by the way?) I surmise this happens when an ice cube drops in the way of the blades, preventing them from spinning. That’s when I hit the “off” button, poke about with my long straw (never use the straw while it’s still spinning), and then hit the “pulse” button. Vrooom! It whooshes around.
Lately though, the liquid has been separating into two phases (note the scientific word I used): a liquidy phase on the bottom and a slushier phase at the top. What I desire is slushy all the way through.
I should be wearing earplugs. That would be easier than sticking my fingers in my ears. Also, I have never tried the blender with ice only although the rightmost button is labeled “ice crush.” That sounds so daring that maybe I’ll do it before the end of summer or the end of the blender, whichever comes first. Live dangerously!
Now you have endured my trivial notes on my on-the-way-out blender. My love of it, and sludgees, has evolved from a desire to stay cool. If I can’t provide 24/7 air conditioning for my body, at least I can freeze it from the inside out. So, having subjected you to this paen to my blender, here is my recipe for a Sludgee:
1 cup milk or (⅓ cup powdered milk plus water to equal 1 cup)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 packets Equal sweetener
Some fruit: 1 banana, 1 apple (cored), OR ½ cooked yam
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon (or 1 shake) ground cinnamon
10-15 ice cubes
Start blending ingredients, then add ice cubes one at a time. Whiz until it is slushy. Stick in a long straw and suck. Experience brain freeze. Rinse and repeat.