Packing up and moving a kitchen is a pain. But realizing, as you close the sole box that your own equipment fills, that all the good stuff actually belonged to your roommate—now that’s a tragedy.
As I recently mulled whether to move for a new job or stay put, the kitchen was not a factor. Unlike many people my age, I am not a natural born itinerant. I don’t get a thrill from accumulating new zip codes like beads on a key chain I’m a foot-dragger, bigtime.
So as I started to empty the cardboard boxes and fill my new home, I expected to shed a poignant tear or two about a farewell to a city, or the end of an era, or something. Not about an appliance.
I looked at the stuff my two new roommates had furnished. A set of dishes! Good, I don’t have those. Silverware! Great, don’t have that either. Damn, I thought, as I placed my five reusable grocery sacks, three spatulas, and two animal-shaped dish scrubbers in the cabinet. I am useless.
The list of things I thought I had, but really don’t, began to grow. A loaf pan. A cast-iron skillet. A wire whisk, for goodness’ sake.
Those were replaced quickly. But the number one roommate-owned kitchen object that I miss dearly? Immersion blender.
This device is an oblong metal stick with a handle at one end and blender blades at the other. The big idea is that you can blend liquids right in the bowl or pot, mid-recipe, without having to transfer to a pitcher-style blender or food processor and back again. Many home cooks use theirs to purée soups. But even if that isn’t a draw for you, this little guy, which I found for as low as 17 bucks on Amazon and which you can store in the tiniest of apartment cabinets, takes care of all sorts of mixing and whipping needs. You won’t have to lug out a 20-pound glass monstrosity, nor will you have to dirty it, for a tiny batch of something—the norm when you’re cooking for one.
Here are a few things to try with it, besides soup:
Pesto. Pine nut shards are no fun to scrape out of a giant blender.
Vinaigrette. Perfect because you’ll never be making more than a small amount, and for smoothness, puts the whisk to shame.
Mayonnaise. As above, you’ll rarely want a gallon of this, so the mini blender’s perfect. Put an egg yolk, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon water in a bowl or the cup that comes with the immersion blender. Blend for a few seconds and then begin drizzling in about ½ cup oil, very slowly, almost drip by drip, checking the consistency periodically, until a thick emulsion forms and you have a bowl of mayo.
Whipped cream. For some reason (maybe because I’d seen the ingredients label on Cool Whip) I didn’t fully realize until recently that whipped cream is just cream. That you whip. Light bulb! Blend a cup of heavy cream till it reaches the texture you want. Sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated or powdered sugar and blend in. Stop when you see soft peaks.
Smoothies. This appliance won’t do well with big ice chunks, but you can still whip up a smoothie with chilled fruit and cold milk or yogurt.
Tomato sauce. Gets the chunks out quickly if you’re looking for a smoother sauce.
Banana whip. Have you seen Yonanas, a machine that turns plain frozen bananas into an ice-cream-like dessert? It remains prominently atop my Christmas list for fun factor, but the hand blender can give you a makeshift version. Freeze the fruit first, cut into 2-inch pieces, then churn.
I’m sad my roommate and her magic kitchen wand are having fun without me. But soon I’ll have my very own, to come along the next time I pack my life into a box, and to supply me with soft-serve banana mush for all eternity.