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Most people do not pack their blender when heading out for a weekend camping trip. Margaritas, blended coffee, and smoothies are not typical camp fare. So I was very intrigued and courious about a hand-cranked blender from impressive product line of GSI Outdoors.

The Vortex Blender is a nesting, two-speed, hand-cranked blender that attaches to any table top (most park campgrounds have picnic tables that work well) or it will attach to the optional Vortex Trailer Hitch Table for those sites that are more off the beaten path.

The Vortex Blender’s construction is very durable, solid, and comfortable to use. The pitcher and shot cap are made of Lexan® resin making them virtually-indestructable.

Packing a blender on our trip allowed us to round out our Tex-Mex menu on one particular trip with margaritas and salsa. The versatible Vortex Blender can be used to crush ice or work as a food processor. We were very impressed with the two-speed option. The crank can be fitted to the low speed position to pulse fruit or vegetables, blend sauces, or batters. Dropping into “four” low we were highly impressed by the raw power pulled from our unexpected new friend as we cranked out batch after batch of frozen ritas. When you’re through being creative the base fits right into the pitcher making it very convenient to pack and store.

The GSI Outdoors site boasts that increasing your popularity, making new friends, and picking up ladies, are just a few of the hidden benefits of owning their hand-cranked blender. Overwhelmed with the cooking and beverage possibilities alone, I suppose I underestimated this awesome gadget according to their claims. What ever your reasons and wishful intentions may be for purchasing the GSI Outdoors Vortex Blender, you would not be disappointed. It would certainly make a very unique and highly appreciated gift to your favorite camp cook.

Rating:  5 out of 5

* Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.

Serves: 4-8 2lbs Beef Cubes – 1inch thick (I used the trimmings of rib eye steak rib bone meat), Diced Stew meat works well for this too. 1 Tablespoon Oil 1 teaspoon Cumin Ground Pinch Ground Cloves 1 teaspoon Black Pepper 1 teaspoon Paprika 1 teaspoon Chile Powder 1 teaspoon Achiote (ground annatto seed) 3 cloves Garlic chopped fine 1 bay leaf 1 pinch Cinnamon Water 1 Cup Chopped Cilantro Plain White Rice Pre-cooked and cooled 1 – 14 oz can Black Beans, strain liquid off 8 oz. Chevre (Soft Goat Cheese) Flour Tortillas
MAKE AHEAD AT HOME: In heavy bottom pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the beef cubes and let sear/brown on all sides. Add in the garlic and other spices, incorporate well. Pour in water to cover the meat and stir well, especially the caramelized bottom bits and pieces on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until almost dry. Sample a piece as it should be fork tender, if not add more water to cover again. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Let simmer until almost all the liquid is gone. Once the meat has become fork tender, take out of pan and let cool. Assemble all of the cooled ingredients, layout tortillas and begin by putting a little of each of the ingredients in them. Roll into a burrito and wrap in heavy duty foil. Refrigerate or freeze until needed. When reheating in a lunchbox oven or on the engine block, make sure that the internal temperature reaches 165°F. ENJOY!

I made this ahead and assembled the separate ingredients on the trail. I do recommend complete assembly at home and simply reheating on the trail for even quicker cooking and clean up. Some of my newer recipes will be more specifically geared towards this; however, here is the basic outline:
Serves 4-6 1lb Penne Pasta Ð Pre cooked 1 Tbs. Oil (either canola or olive oil works well) 3 Cloves Garlic: chopped The Holy Trinity: onions, celery & pepper 1 Small onion, diced small 1 Celery stalk, diced small 1 Green bell pepper, seeded and diced small. 1 Roma tomato, diced small 1 Pound Andouillie Sausage, diced John Folse’s 1 Pound Tasso Ham (spicy ham product from Louisanna) John Folse has the best!!!! 7oz. Pre-Cooked Chicken (I used the packaged stuff from the supermarket) like the chunk tuna packs or you can grill up some at home and cook to 165°F, cool, dice and freeze. 4 Tablespoons Bellisimo Mushroom Cream Powder or other dry powdered cream sauce from a supermarket. Franks Red Hot Hot Sauce as needed
Sauté the “trinity”, Andoullie, Tasso ham, tomatoes and garlic in the oil. Add in the chicken, let heat up. Add in the pasta. Follow directions for powdered cream sauce. The Bellisimo product called for 1 cup water per 4 Tablespoons of powdered mix. Stir all together thoroughly until all is coated and creamy. Add Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to your desired heat level. Remember, if it’s hot going in then it’s hot going out!
REHEAT Three (3) Final Preparation Options to choose from: 1. Portable Lunchbox Oven : Follow the above all the way through to the end. Cool down and place in a tin pan that fits in the Porta Oven to be reheated on the trail. 2. Sous Vide (Fancy term for BOIL IN THE BAG): Follow the above recipe all the way through and let cool. Place cooled ingredients into Ziploc or Food saver bag. On the trail add the filled bag to the pot of boiling water and reheat to an internal temperature of 165F. Use your Culinary Tire Gauge (thermometer) to test. Fold bag over the thermometer so as not to pierce the bag. 3. Reheat in pan: Simply cut the bag open and put ingredients in a non stick pan. Reheat to 165°F. Eat!

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