Cooking is not my hobby, it's a necessary evil for survival. I don't want a bunch of gee-whiz gizmos in my kitchen. I want a few, high-quality, multi-purpose tools that are easy to use.

When it comes to kitchen blenders that means something crafted for years of hard labor actually blending big chunks of food—because I hate chopping—into a smooth purée. It also means something that is simple to clean once the mashing is done.

I've used a number of blenders in my time, but there are only two that I will consider for my kitchen. They rank as number one and number two by Consumer Reports, respectively. Both blenders are pricey (and noisy), but they are powerful and rugged enough to liquify massive pieces of whole fruits and vegetables (skin, seeds, core and all) into a wastefree, high-fiber smoothie. The can knead small batches of dough or grind grain into flour. They can make freezer drinks. They can blend—and even heat—sauces and soups.

My recommendations are:

Vitamix BlenderVita-Mix 5000 Blendtec BlenderBlendtec TB-621-BHM Blender

If $350+ is not in your blender price-range. I suggest the Oster BVLB07-Z00 Counterforms (pictured top of post). It's a handsome, well-designed machine. The Oster blender doesn't pack all the power of the other two machines, but will perform basic blending functions without making a sloppy mess of your wallet.