The Vitamix Experiments #1: Carrot Caek Smoothie

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Remember how this blog started as a (mostly) food blog, so I could share recipes with friends? Well, it’s time for a brief return to that. And here’s why.

Since my moving plans have recently become a lot less international (thanks for nothing, Brexit!), I won’t have to move the cats across borders, which means a lot less stress for them and a lot less expenses for me (including microchips and rabies shots). But I’ve already saved up for this, so suddenly I have some extra money to spend! And here things get really exciting. I always get myself a birthday and Xmas present (just in case somebody forgets, and besides I know exactly what I like), and I’ve been dreaming of a Vitamix for years… So why not combine the birthday and Xmas and buy myself one? But now I had a different sort of (very first world) problem: which model do I get?

There’s the relatively new little S 30, which is a “personal blender” for the smoothie people, and it has noticeably less power than, say, the TNC 5200 (which I could get for 50€ more). But it’s small, it comes with a smaller container plus two to-go smoothie cups, and it’s available in eight colours, including a pretty green. I’m not planning on grinding coffee or grains, so should I give it a go? On the other hand, each container for the (bigger and stronger) TNC 5200 comes with its own set of blades, so it’s practivally invincible. What to do?

Luckily, my local seller offers a 30-day trial period with free returns. So I’ve decided to give the S 30 a try and see what it can do. If I’m not perfectly happy, I can always exchange it for the larger superhero model. But I’m hoping to be perfectly happy with it.

Today it arrived, and a wonderful surprise arrived with it: I got a free “smoothie starter set”, containing dried mangoes, dried pineapple, raw chashews, dates, and barley grass powder (which I had to google). Awesome!

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Also note the four sharp blades of the Vitamix S 30 (for comparison: my old immersion blender has two small, blunt, bent-looking ones):

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Okay. Here’s what I first made with it: a Carrot Caek Smoothie (yes, that’s how you spell it), modified from two different recipes I found online:

3/4 c soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)

1/4 c Greek yogurt (you can use the coconut-based version)

1 t sweetener of your choice (I recommend maple syrup)

1 c carrot chunks

1 T cashew nuts (I didn’t even soak them)

1/2 t cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 banana (use frozen if you can)

Even though I can’t freeze stuff or make ice cubes at the moment thanks to the Fridge from Hell (I’ll have to come up with a workaround for future experiments), this turned out lovely! I’ve never made such a smooth smoothie before. For now I’m a fan of the little S 30. Pics before and after blending:

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Nalo Hopkinson Special on Strange Horizons!

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Awesome! Strange Horizons are doing a special issue focusing on Nalo Hopkinson’s writing. Her short-story collection Falling in Love with Hominids was among my favourite reads of 2015, so I was super pleased to be asked to contribute a review.

As a fan of Weird fiction, which is a genre that has long been dominated by Old White Men, I can only recommend this book. I picked it up as soon as I saw the cover—an illustration of a dreaming young black woman with awesome hair and also fully dressed, which is still not something you automatically get with your generic SFF anthology or short story collection. I was so smitten with the stories contained therein that I changed the reading list for my upcoming course on Weird short fiction to incorporate “The Easthound” (the first story in the book), which offers a fascinating twist on zombie tropes, a children’s commune, solidarity, oral storytelling games, and world-building based on mondegreens. Like Angela Carter (but more radically so in my view), Hopkinson picks up old myths and fairy tales—in her case mostly Caribbean ones—and revives them using contemporary topics and characters with transcultural, postcolonial, feminist, and/or LGBT backgrounds. Her stories are very much about finding one’s place in the world, about battling hierarchies and systems of oppression, and about empowerment. Female readers need voices like hers, LGBT readers need voices like hers, and so does the genre of Weird fiction. (read more)

Review: Beauty Secrets of the Martyrs by Verity Holloway

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Happy New Year, everyone!

For me, the new year started with a look at my favourite reads of 2015, and then I went straight back to (academic and creative) writing.

But of course I can’t stop talking about books, which is why you’re already getting a new review. Beauty Secrets of the Martyrs is Verity Holloway’s debut novella. “If you like things that share the aesthetic of the Penny Dreadful TV series, with maybe a bit of the undead Jane Austen remix thrown in, you might like this book.”