Rouxing the day my immersion blender failed me


JANET SILVER GHENT, The Jewish News Of Northern California

With the High Holidays approaching, I’m once again immersed in the throes of family traditions that bring me back to the kitchen.

Even though we rarely eat beef these days, one of those traditions is brisket. Like my mother, I’ve been known to use a smidge of dehydrated onion soup mix for extra flavor. Unlike my mother, I sauté a mélange of finely chopped carrots, celery and onion. The French call it a mirepoix, the Italians call it soffritto.

Regardless, to create the proper je ne sais quoi for a brisket (or a Bolognese), I rely on the handy chopper bowl attachment from my multipurpose immersion blender. The skinny stick that sits alongside my range not only purees soups and sauces right in the pot. With the bowl attachment, I can quickly mince vegetables to add to soups, sauces and roasts.

Unfortunately, the attachment was kaputski. This time it wasn’t the domelike lid, which resembles the top of a nuclear power plant. I had replaced that a few years ago. It was the skinny shaft inside the bowl, which supports the chopping blade. After a couple of decades of steady chopping and mincing, the rubber and plastic that buttress the shaft were disintegrating, in danger of spewing unwanted essences into my pot roast.

I went online in search of a replacement part. Alas, the manufacturer had discontinued that model years ago and had no spare parts, so I checked out eBay.

Somebody in Virginia was selling a replacement bowl that looked like mine. With shipping, taxes and handling, it would cost me $21.31. Yes, I could get a whole new immersion blender for about $30 to $40, but I loved the one I had and didn’t want to contribute to global waste, so I sent the money via PayPal. The new chopper bowl arrived promptly. It looked great, but it was the wrong size. I retaped the box and brought it to a neighborhood mailing service.

It would cost $12 to return to sender.

“That’s too much,” I said. “I’ll take it to the post office.”

But the post office was a mile and a half away. Then I remembered: With my U.S. Postal Service account, I could pay the shipping costs online, print out a label and leave the package at the door for the letter carrier.

That would have been easy.

But then I discovered that the USPS wanted $9.90 just to mail my eight-ounce package. I also learned that my postal service account had expired. I tried to renew it, with no success. I tried to open a new account. That didn’t work either because an account with my name and email address was already in use. What?

Frustrated, I brought my husband into the act. His USPS account was not defunct, so I went on his computer. Gritting my teeth, I paid the $9.90. Then all hell broke loose. When we tried to print out the label from my husband’s upstairs printer, it spewed out a dozen pages, each with a line of cryptic print, but not a single label was among them. To avoid further paper waste, we turned off his printer.

Exasperated, my husband created a PDF, which he sent to my email, so I could use my preferred printer. I printed out the label, taped it to the box and opened the front door just as the letter carrier arrived with our mail. He took the package away, no questions asked. Three days later, eBay refunded me $21.31, so I was out only $9.90. Great news!

Meanwhile, I was just about to order a whole new immersion blender for $39.95 when my husband presented me with my existing bowl attachment, good as new. Rising to the challenge, he had repaired the errant shaft.


“I glued in a new sheath,” he said. “I just happened to have a washer that fit over the shaft in the bowl, so I was able to glue it to the bowl to support the shaft.

“When it was all done, the shaft wasn’t straight up and down,” he continued, “so I had to heat up the whole assembly that supported the shaft in boiling water. I waited patiently until the plastic deformed a little bit to straighten the shaft in the bowl.”

Problem solved.

I may never understand exactly how he did it, but I have learned not to question why he has myriad spare parts in the garage and in what we call the futility closet. You just never know.

Happy holidays.