Watching a product pitch at the state fair is like observing the hard sell 30-second spots that interrupt late-night television movies. Your eyebrows jump as the questions of product effectiveness cycle through your head.
Occasionally, though, a useful product surfaces from the enthusiastic marketeers.And Deanna Sudweeks found one - the hand-held blender.
"I watched the demonstration and I didn't believe it would work. I thought, `You can do that, but I don't think I could - or anybody else could.' I walked away, then went back. I decided if there was a money-back guarantee, what did I have to lose?"
After four hours of experimentation, Sudweeks was convinced.
"It was 1 o'clock in the morning," she recalled, "but I woke my husband, John, and told him how excited I was."
That was 10 years ago, and Sud-weeks has logged many miles with a blender in hand.
Classes, demonstrations, tours as a manufacturer's representative and now, author of a cookbook specifically geared to food preparation with the blender occupied Sud-weeks' time. The book, "The Magic Hand-Held Blender Cookbook," is a compilation of simple and complex recipes, written in a readable, step-by-step format. Illustrated with both color and black and white photographs, the book suggests using the blender in a multitude of ways.
Hopscotching across the country with a blender in tow, the BYU home economics graduate gathered ideas for successful use of the appliance.
"I've learned from others. People are anxious to share the things they've learned to do with the blender," Sudweeks added.
Initially, people discover the convenience of the blender.
"When you use the blender, you can use any container, any size, any shape. You can mix things in a serving piece, eliminating extra cleanup. The blender is portable; it goes anyplace, even in a suitcase. A simple rinse of the beater allows you to move to another project."
The innovative cook documented 20 time-saving tactics involved in preparation of Thanksgiving dinner as an example. Using the blender, Sudweeks chopped celery, onion, parsley, cranberries, bread crumbs and nuts, then mixed pastry, pie filling, whipped topping, potatoes, gravy and sauces.
"It was almost like having the Good Fairy come to help with the dinner preparations," Sudweeks exclaimed.
Multiple uses of the efficient machine surprise most people. According to Sudweeks, the hand-held blender collects dust in the back of many cupboards. People are unaware of the versatility of the machine, the kinds of tasks it can perform or where to get replacement blades for those "inevitably lost in the garbage disposal."
Sudweeks' response: "Make sure your blender has a warranty for chopping ice and raw vegetables. Blenders with stainless steel assemblies complete those heavy-duty tasks, but you have to be aggressive. This type of blender is available at kitchen specialty shops or kitchen mill stores. Parts are always stocked by the Mending Shed in Orem."
With Sudweeks' instructions, the hand-held blender becomes a "magic" tool in the kitchen.
- Note: "The Magic Hand-Held Blender Cookbook" can be found at kitchen specialty shops, kitchen mill stores in the Intermountain area or through television advertisements. The recipe collection is priced at $24.95.
Mexican Chip and Dip Platter
4 medium avocados
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 large tomatoes
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese
Taco chips With "C" blade, puree avocado and lemon juice. Spread on serving platter, allowing space around edge for ruffle of corn chips.
With "B" blade, combine sour cream, taco seasoning and mayonnaise; spread over avocado layer. With a sharp knife, dice tomatoes and spread over sour cream layer. Grate cheese and layer over tomatoes; top with chopped olives. Arrange corn or taco chips around edge of tray. Serves 10-15.
1 package (19 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1 teaspoon mint flavoring
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water Mix cake according to package directions, but use "B" blade of blender. Add mint flavoring. Bake as directed.
For filling, beat milk, sugar, shortening, vanilla and salt with "B" blade for 3-5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and water. Spoon filling into a cake decorating bag, insert the decorator tube into the cupcake and squeeze filling into center of cooled cupcake. It is not necessary to cut a hole in the top of the cupcake. Frost as desired.
Pineapple Cheese Cake
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
11/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained dry
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted With "C" blade, combine cream cheese, sour cream, pineapple and sugar; beat until creamy. Fill prepared pie shell and chill until served.
For crust, place graham cracker in a tall, straight-sided container; crush with "C" blade. Blend with sugar and melted butter. Press mixture on bottom and sides of pie pan and refrigerate to set until used. Makes 8 servings.
2 beef bouillon cubes
4 cups tomatoes, stewed
1 tablespoon basil
4 cups water
2 cups green beans
1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
Cheddar cheese, grated Peel and chop with "C" blade, onion, potatoes and carrots. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese. Makes 6-8 servings.
Fresh Fruit Drink
2 apples, peeled and cored 2 bananas
2 cups pineapple juice
1 can (6 oz.) frozen orange juice
2 cans (6 oz.) water
1 teaspoon nutmeg With "C" blade, chop all ingredients; add ice to serve.