These days, everything is multi-function. Your phone can be used to watch TV and check emails. Your TV can be used to make calls and check your email. Your game system can do anything, and even e-book readers do a whole lot more than just allow for reading books. Why shouldn’t your kitchen appliances get involved too? Cuisinart certainly thinks they should and even if you can’t check out the latest YouTube video on their products, there is still a whole lot of stuff you can do.
As my wife will tell you, and our now-garbage old blender can attest, you can’t put hot things in a traditional blender – gaskets warp, pieces break, and stuff leaks everywhere. Everywhere. All over your counters, everywhere. One of Cuisinart’s multi-function devices is Blend and Cook Soup Maker, the SBC-1000. The brilliance of the device isn’t just that it can be used to blend hot foods, it’s that it can actually make foods hot. You can, in fact, take raw ingredients and turn them into soup (recipes included… although, the one we tried wasn’t brilliantly successful).
The blender (we are calling it that for simplicity’s sake), happily, comes with a glass carafe as opposed to plastic, and even has a measuring cup in the lid of the carafe which allows you to not only measure ingredients but provides a handy-dandy opening to add ingredients while the device is in operation (food processor-style). When the hot option is turned on, nothing can be “blended,” but it can be “stirred,” and as the blades are inside the blender during the entire of operation (hot or cold) this can amount to, more or less, the same thing.
The SBC-1000 can crush ice and with the glass carafe and terribly scary (and sharp) blades, feels relatively heavy duty. Heating can be done on three levels (low, medium, high) and time can be added or subtracted with buttons on the base. On the downside, pressing any of the buttons results in a terrible beep to let you know that you’ve pushed something.
Our biggest concern after using the blender is the cleaning of it. The SBC-1000 comes with a brush to clean the base around the blades and to keep one’s fingers away from the blades, it is essential to use the brush. It is also essential to do a very, very good job cleaning it because cooking a hot soup with onion or garlic or, really, any combination of savory vegetables and spices is going to cause a nice soupy aroma to stay with the blender’s parts. While that is perfectly acceptable when one is making soup, no one wants a milkshake that reeks of garlic.
The truth is that we have concerns over the long term, no matter how well one cleans it, that an odor on the base-piece to which the blades are attached is going to occur. The inclusion of a second base piece and the ability to, therefore, use one for hot food and one for cold, seems like a nearly essential addition to what is, otherwise, a very solid notion.
The other multi-function device from Cuisinart we got our hands on is their 4-Quart Cook Central 3-in-1 Multicooker, the MSC-400. Most folks would refer to it as a slow-cooker or by the brand name, Crock-Pot. Use as a slow cooker is really the base function of the MSC-400, but it also can brown/sauté and steam.
That is brilliant.
All too often, we have found ourselves looking at a slow cooker recipe which sounds delicious but which, inexplicably, requires us to brown something before tossing it into the slow cooker. In our minds, the point of the slow cooker is that you just toss in all the raw ingredients, turn it on, and come back eight to 10 hours later and eat dinner.
We, no joke, don’t make recipes that require us to brown first. Or, at least we didn’t before we tried out this new Cuisinart Multicooker. Browning in place is significantly more easy than dirtying several sets of pots and pans in the morning before we head out for the day. Plus, the browning in the nonstick aluminum pot included in the MSC-400 actually works and works well.
One of the few issues we found was our own personal attempts to determine how high a heat we needed for browning. Rather than operating on a low-medium-high scale or a stovetop’s traditional one to 10 number scale, for sautéing, the MSC-400 uses an actual temperature scale (and goes up to 400 degrees). How 350 degrees relates to a six or seven on our stove is the sort of thing it takes a while to figure out, especially as one can’t actually see the flames licking the bottom of the slow cooker (not only is there the nonstick pot in place, but it’s electric).
We also found the four quart size to be a little small, particularly as our old slow cooker is a six quart, but the MSC is also available in a six quart iteration. The displays on the front of the slow cooker, and working out how to switch from one setting to another/alter cooking times aren’t quite as easy as we’d like either. More than once it either proved more simple to turn it off and turn it back on rather than attempting to alter settings or we just wound up turning it off accidentally. It is not that a detailed set of instructions doesn’t exist or that the buttons and display are in any way complicated, but what correct sequence of buttons is needed to switch things up isn’t terribly obvious.
Okay, but now that we’ve tested them out, what are our future plans? Are these things simply going to take up space on our container/in our cabinets or are they going to get used (after all, that’s really the bottom line, isn’t it?)?
The slow cooker is going to wind up being used in regular rotation, and in place of our old six-quart one, if the smaller size will work for the meal. The Blend and Cook Soup Maker, we expect, will also be used, but probably almost never on the hot setting. Our fears about lingering smells is simply too great for us to think that there’s really a reason to be doing it in our blender as opposed to on a stove. Blenders are too expensive, and one with glass carafes—which we view as utterly essential—are too rare, for us to want to ruin this one. It doesn’t have 20 different blend settings as some others do (it has a pulse plus four speeds), but it blends enough and well enough that it’s certainly worth keeping around. Maybe we’ll look into buying a second, separate, blade piece for use with hot preparations.
If the Blend and Cook Soup Maker and Cook Central are examples of the multi-function ways our future kitchen appliances will work, the future could be exciting. This is especially true if someone works out some sort of ingenious devious that can not only make ice cream but also waffle cones to hold said ice cream (and maybe a nice cup of decaf, too).