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Your blender is a versatile machine that can be used for hundreds of dishes besides drinks.

Two general rules to remember are to cut food into pieces before adding it into the blender, and add liquids before solids.

Blenders have limitations too: remember that they are actually cutting devices rather than mixing devices, so they’re not recommended for whipping cream or egg whites.

Here are just a few blender ideas:

STARTERS AND SNACKS

GUACAMOLE
Blend together 2 ripe avocados (peeled and cubed), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt, 1 tomato (peeled and cubed), ½ small onion, 2 chilies (seeded) or ½ teaspoon paprika. You‘ll probably need to stop the blender and scrape the mixture off the sides. Serve with crackers or strips of raw vegetables.

CREATIVE SANDWICH SPREADS
Use leftover meat, fish, cheese etc. Blend with breadcrumbs and stock, sauce, milk or melted butter and season to taste. Again, you may have to stop and scrape the sides.

SOUPS

LENTIL SOUP
Soak 1 cup of lentils and a bouquet garni in 2½ cups water overnight. Remove bouquet garni. Use the blender to chop 2 medium onions and 1 clove of garlic finely. Simmer lentils, 1 cup of water, chopped onions and garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, a bay leaf, ¼ cup tomato juice and a teaspoon of yeast flavoring extract for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, chop 2 medium carrots and 2 celery sticks. Add to soup and continue simmering for a further 15 minutes. Remove half of the soup and blend until smooth, replace in pot and add ½ cup milk. Taste and season further, if necessary, with salt and paprika.

SPLIT PEA SOUP
Blend ½ cup split peas in blender for 1 minute. Melt ¼ cup of butter or margarine in a pot, and cook 1 large, chopped onion and a rasher of bacon until the onion is golden brown. Add a chopped onion and a chopped turnip and cook for 2 minutes. Keep stirring. Add the split peas, a teaspoon of sugar and 1½ cups of stock. Bring the mixture to the boil, then simmer for 50 minutes. Remove half of the mixture and blend with a cup of milk. Return to pot and add salt and paprika to taste.

MAIN MEALS

DELICIOUS STUFFED CHICKEN
Blend 6 slices of dry bread to crumbs. Place in large bowl. Blend a small onion and 2 stalks of celery with a cup of cold water, then drain off the water. Cook the chopped onion and celery with a chopped rasher of bacon in 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine until tender. Peel an orange, remove the seeds, then blend with a little of the orange peel, a teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of pepper. Add the cooked onion and celery and the blended orange to the breadcrumbs. Use this mixture to stuff a chicken, and use a peeled potato to close the aperture. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cover, then cook in a moderate oven for 30 minutes, then remove cover and roast for about another hour.

BAKED PEANUT DELIGHT
Blend ½ cup of shelled peanuts until fine. Put aside. Blend 1 large onion until fine. Spread 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, and top with ½ cup of breadcrumbs (which you can make separately in the blender). Heat another 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, and fry the chopped onions until soft. Remove from heat and mix in chopped peanuts along with ½ cup of whole shelled peanuts. Add dashes of sage and thyme. Spread this mixture over the breadcrumbs in the dish, and sprinkle another ½ cup of breadcrumbs over the top. Dot with margarine or butter, and bake in a moderate to hot oven for about half an hour.

SALADS

BLENDER DERBY SALAD
Place 3 sliced carrots, ½ large cucumber and 3 stalks of celery in blender. Cover with cold water. Blend until chopped, then drain water and place vegetables in salad bowl. Top with some baby tomatoes. Blend a slice of bread, broken with fingers, with about a cup of sharp cheddar or blue cheese, and 5 slices of cooked bacon until coarsely chopped. Add to salad bowl, toss, and top with croutons. Serve with a dressing.

ZESTY SLAW
Blend 3 cups of cabbage, 1 cup of sliced carrots, and 1 cup of green pepper until coarsely chopped. Add the vegetables slowly, or cover with water and then drain. Pop into a bowl. For the dressing, blend a half a tablespoon of vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, and ½ a cup of mayonnaise. Pour over salad and toss.

SAUCES

WHITE SAUCE
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a pan, and stir in 2 tablespoons of flour. Reduce heat and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Place into blender. Heat 2 cups of milk to simmering point, add to the mixture in the blender, and blend on maximum speed for 30 seconds. Return to saucepan, add salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg, and boil for 2 minutes.

TARTAR SAUCE
Heat 1 cup of mayonnaise in pan, then blend with a tablespoon of lemon juice, a chopped pickled cucumber, a couple of pitted olives, a chopped hard-boiled egg, a chopped pickled onion and some chopped parsley.

SWEETS

EASY PUMPKIN PIE
Cut a large pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, then bake in a moderate oven until tender. Remove the flesh, place in blender, and blend until smooth. Mix with 2 egg yolks, ½ cup brown sugar, a cup of milk, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, the juice and grated peel of a lemon, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon vanilla essence. Whisk the egg whites and fold them into the mixture. Bake with or without a piecrust in a hot oven for 15 minutes, then more slowly for another 35 minutes.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to use your versatile blender.