Blue Apron Journey, Weeks 8-9

June 27, 2015

Wow, I guess I got a little behind in my Blue Apron blogs. I’ll attribute that to two factors

  1. The newness and wonder of cooking is wearing off as I gain confidence and skills (although I use that term loosely). Without blood or other injury, it just isn’t as interesting.
  2. Rich and I have both been traveling, so we haven’t been able to keep pace with our 3-meals-per-week schedule

And so I find myself faced with two Blue Apron conundrums:

  • If your travel plans impact your cooking schedule and you don’t adjust your deliveries, what do you do with the extra meal(s)? The first time this happened, I offered it to a foodie friend who lives on a property with organic gardeners and an even bigger foodie landlord. I was shamed, and I learned. The second time, I brought it to a fellow Blue Aproner at work and he was delighted to take it off my hands. The third time, I sent a FaceBook message to another BA friend who had posted a rave about the meal I was offering. He and his wife were willing to take the chance that it involved salmon and it was a week old – they survived and loved it.
  • If your husband is out of town and you don’t adjust your deliveries, what does that mean? Twice as much food for dinner? Twice as many dinners (but half are leftovers, still fresher and tastier than what you usually eat)? Invite someone over? After cooking my first meal under these conditions, I choose Door #2. So sorry, Rich, that you were out of town for tonight’s Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Meatballs with Zucchini & Brown Rice.

Week 8, Meal 1 (6/10/15)

Arepas de Carne Molida with Avocado and Pickled Jalapeno

Wow, there was a lot going on tonight. A cacophony of flavors, if you will. Arepas (savory round flatbreads made with corn meal), avocado and cilantro, sliced radishes, pickled onion and jalapeno, beef with spices and onion. It was hard to know where to start, so I kept everything separated on the plate and picked various combinations with every bite. And in a triumphant improvisation, I opted to pan-sear the radishes at the last minute because it’s well established by now that we still aren’t fans of raw radishes, but have learned to love them cooked.

Week8Meal1 Arepas1
Week8Meal1 Arepas2

Ratings: Rich, 4.65; me, 4.8
Degree of Difficulty: 3.5

Week 8, Meal 2 (6/12/15)

Chicken Piccata with Fresh Linguine Pasta & Garlic Chives

The chicken was already boneless and skinless, so I didn’t have to remember to pull the greasy skin off. The sauce was lemon juice and capers – how can that go wrong? It can’t. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked. Prep was relatively easy, Home Run!

Week8Meal2 Chicken Piccata1
Week8Meal2 Chicken Piccata2

Ratings: Rich, 4.75; me, 4.75
Degree of Difficulty: 2.0

Week 8, Meal 3

Salmon Burgers with Creme Fraiche Sauce, Arugula & Potato Salad

I’ve heard from two people that this was their favorite Blue Apron meal to date. Rich and I aren’t huge salmon fans, so I wasn’t sad to lose it. And I’m pretty sure that Scott and Vanessa were thrilled to inherit this meal, despite its age (7 days post delivery).

Week 9, Meal 1 (6/21/15)

Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Meatballs with Zucchini & Brown Rice

Love Hoisin sauce, love zucchini, love brown rice. Not much to go wrong here, and it didn’t. This was the first meal I had to eat by myself, and despite the soggy zucchini, I thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers for lunch two days later.


Ratings: Rich, not home, too bad; me, 4.95
Degree of Difficulty: 2.0 (including the 0.5 deduction for the “ick-factor” of intimately handling raw ground chicken)

Week 9, Meal 2 (6/27/15)

Seared Steaks & Mashed Potatoes with Sauteed Radishes & Snap Peas

Snap Peas? no problem, now that we’ve reached an understanding about the stupid string
Radishes? love ’em, now that I know how to cook them.
Mashed Potatoes? I can honestly say that I’ve never mashed a potato before tonight. Meh, no big deal!
Everything else? What’s not to love?

Week9Meal2-Seared Steaks1
Week8Meal1 Arepas2

Week 9, Meal 3

Seared Cod with Spring Vegetables & Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette

I’m sad to say that this might be the first meal I have to toss (at least partially) because the fish is now 11 days post-delivery. I certainly can’t foist that off on someone else, and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to give it a try. But the rest of it sounds great, so I’ll take a look at the vegetables tomorrow night and decide if it’s worth adapting and giving it a chance as a vegetarian meal.

Weeks 8-9 Wrap-up

  • Plan ahead for travel schedules – If you don’t have time to cook all three meals, or you’ll be cooking for yourself for a week, better to skip a delivery than have them stack up and either be given away or tossed. And since half the fun of cooking is Rich’s response (not to mention his help with cleanup), I’ll be more careful with my delivery schedule in the future.
  • Leftover Blue Apron meals are still better than most things I would otherwise eat.
  • My chopping skills are improving – I only wear my protective gloves (or as Rich calls them, my chainmail gloves) for grating and mandolining. It helps that I bought a spring-chopper for PITA stuff like nuts.
  • I mashed my first potatoes ever. No big deal!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 7

June 3, 2015

Week 7, Meal 1 (6/3/15)

Pan-Seared Cod with Curried Basmati Rice, Snow Peas & Mint


  • If the fish is still frozen when it shows up and that’s the meal you choose on the first night, throw it in the microwave to defrost for a few minutes or the cooking time will be off. It’ll sear too much and cook too little. This ended up right on the edge.
  • Loved the Curried Basmati Rice. At first I was taken aback by the amount I spooned onto the plate, but we both ate every bite.
  • Damn, those Snow Peas. Surely there’s a trick to stripping the spine fiber more efficiently… Thanks to WikiHow, I’ve now concluded that
    • I only need to worry about the extra-tough string on the straight edge, and
    • If it breaks while I’m stripping it, it wasn’t tough enough to bother with.
Week7Meal1 Pan-Seared Cod1
Week7Meal1 Pan-Seared Cod2

Ratings: Rich, 4.5; me, 4.0
Degree of Difficulty: 3.5 (0.5 addition for the Snow Peas)

Week 7, Meal 2 (6/5/15)

Fresh Fettuccine Pasta with Sugar Snap peas & Arugula Pesto

I don’t have much to say about this except this: Who knew you could make a pesto sauce from arugula? I didn’t, that’s for sure. But then, I didn’t know anything when I started this journey so that’s no surprise. The chopped pistachios on top added a wonderful flavor, texture and character.

Week7Meal2 Fettuccine Pasta1
Week7Meal2 Fettuccine Pasta2

Ratings: Rich, 4.85; me, 4.9
Degree of Difficulty: 3.5 (including a 0.5 bump for the Snap Peas)

Week 7, Meal 3 (6/6/15)

Turkey Steam Buns with Quick Cucumber-Radish Kimchi

I didn’t have high hopes for this one. And as it turned out, I didn’t have time to prepare all three meals this week. Luckily, several of my colleagues at work have become Blue Aproners. One of them had prepared this meal earlier in the week, loved it, and was happy to take it off my hands. He now owes me lunch and nothing went to waste. I think I’ll start a BA swap group amongst my colleagues and local FB friends!

More Accessorizing

More shopping, this time at Big Lots, thanks to a suggestion from a friend.:

  1. Grease spatter shield
  2. Silicon whisks
  3. Spring chopper
  4. Small baking sheet
  5. Palm peeler
  6. Two small stainless steel bowls

Week 7 Wrap-up

  • I’ve reached detente with the Snap/Snow Peas:
    • I’m only dealing with the really thick string on the flat edge
    • If it’s so weak that it can’t survive my best effort to strip it, it’s tender enough to eat.
  • Rich and I have become nose-blind to the dog smell in our house. It sure is a pleasant change to smell curry or something equally fragrant for a day or two after we cook.
  • Sonoma County Blue Apron swap group – who’s in?

Next up, Weeks 8 and 9!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 6

June 1, 2015

Week 6, Meal 1 (5/27/15)

Curry-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Sugar Snap Peas & Fingerling Potatoes

I was really looking forward to this because I love all of the ingredients, especially the curry. And though not mentioned in the name of the dish, I was delighted to see that the whole thing was topped with a cucumber-yogurt sauce. The result was delectable, but I learned a few more things:

  • No matter how careful I pretend I’ll be, I will eventually screw up if I insist on using my sentimental favorite oven mitt after the puppy has chewed the end of the thumb off. Ouch. Back to Amazon.Week6Meal1Casualty
  • If I make this dish again (or any chicken thing) I’ll remember to take the skin off. I thought of it too late because I had already started rubbing the curry powder on it and didn’t want to run out.
  • Couldn’t find my box grater, so I went shopping again – details below.

Ratings: Rich, 4.9; me, 4.5 (0.3 deduction for the chicken skin)
Degree of Difficulty: 4.9

Lessons Learned:

  • Frying the chicken with the skin on left me with excess grease to dump. I mopped it up with paper towels, and then was pleased to be reminded that those paper scraps can go in the green bin trash with the vegetable trimmings.
  • Didn’t have the right tool to grate the cucumber. My bad, fixed for next time.
  • Exceeded my threshold for dirty dishes. A friend suggested I use parchment squares (aka hamburger patty paper) instead of mise-en-place bowls for the drier ingredients. I think I’m going to try that.

Week 6, Meal 2 (6/1/15)

Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce, Gai Lan & Snow Peas

Only two meals this week because I went out of town for the weekend. I gave the Seared Salmon with Sorrel Salad & Creamy Barley to a friend – can’t wait to hear how it went for her.

Update: she lives on a 23-acre property. Her landlords are foodies and the other tenants run an organic farm. They adopted the ingredients, supplemented with freshly-picked produce, and threw the recipe out the window. Ah, to have those resources and skills.

Meanwhile, back in my Literal Kitchen, tonight’s meal was a grand slam: 4.925 on the combined rate-o-meter with a sane degree of difficulty. I love Pad Thai and this was a fresh variation that will definitely get a repeat try. Next time, I’ll try not to overcook the rice noodles, and I may get more adventurous and add some shrimp and braised tofu.


Ratings: Rich, 4.9; me, 4.95
Degree of Difficulty: 2.5

More Accessorizing

This week’s Amazon foray resulted in the following:

  1. Bad-Ass Oven Mitts: After burning my thumb last week with my puppy-chewed oven mitt, it was time.
  2. Coarse and Medium Grater: I hate box graters because they’re so hard to clean, but OXO has come up with this nifty alternative. The two parts come apart for easy cleaning.
  3. Fine-Mesh Stainless-Steel Strainers: All I have is an old colander, and the holes are too big for things like rinsing bulgar wheat (I improvised last week with a flour sifter). It was obvious from the Blue Apron photos that I needed something with smaller holes and a handle, so I bought a nested set of 3 from Cuisinart.
  4. Parchment Patty Papers: A friend suggested that I could use parchment paper instead of mise-en-place bowls for some ingredients – I thought that was a great idea so I bought these. (And besides, Parchment Patty Papers is just fun to say!)


Week 6 Wrap-up

  • All-time record score for the Stir-Fried Rice Noodles, with bonus points for a low degree of difficulty.
  • Shamed by my foodie friends who blew off the Seared Salmon recipe and did their own thing. I’ll get over it.
  • No more chicken skins, ever.
  • Bought even more accessories.
  • Snap Peas and Snow Peas are a pain in the ass. I finally figured out how to deal with them as instructed, getting rid of the “tough string that runs the length of the pod” (on both edges, I might add). But any time I see these, I’m going to automatically add at least 0.5 to the degree-of-difficulty score.

Next up, Week 7!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 5

May 24, 2015

Let the Accessorizing Begin!

I made it past the critical 4-week mark with (a) no sign of ADD-fatigue and (b) continued spousal support (“Hey Rich, you know what tomorrow is?” “Yep, it’s Blue Apron Day!”). So I had no choice but to accessorize.

  1. After having suffered multiple bloody zesting injuries, I clearly needed a safer tool. OXO to the rescue with a Zester/Garnisher.
  2. I suck at slicing with a knife, and that suckage was exacerbated when faced with “matchsticking”. Again, OXO to the rescue with a mandoline slicer.
  3. The pretty pictures on the recipe cards assume I own an endless supply of small glass bowls, just like on the cooking shows. Turns out they have a name, “mise en place” bowls, and now I have them too.

Several friends also suggested No-Cut gloves (perhaps based on my previous zesting injuries), so I went back to Amazon and found them, plus a wide-screen scoop for frying and a magnetic recipe card holder. Go ahead, my cooking-savvy friends, laugh your asses off. It’s all new and fresh to me!


Armed with four weeks of success and a new batch of tools, I really felt ready for this week’s box:


Week 5, Meal 1 (5/20/15)

Flat Iron Steaks with Ramps, Fingerling Potatoes & Shaved Asparagus Salad

I actually sort of know how to cook a steak (that was one of my mother’s staples), so I wasn’t too intimidated by this one. And now that I’m an expert on Ramps (having learned last week that they’re nothing more than wild green onions), and Fingerling Potatoes (also from last week), this one felt like a walk in the park. And it was, except for the part where one of the dogs stole one of the steaks off the counter – I turned around and it was gone.

I have no doubt that Billy was the thief, but I also know that Tippi the puppy is the new alpha bitch in town, and he no doubt conceded it to her when challenged. Sure enough, there she was in her crate with the steak, which I quickly recovered. I was lucky – had he retained possession, it would have been gone in a gulp or two. But she’s a more dainty eater, so it just had a few puncture wounds. I thanked her for the tenderizing effort, washed it off, and proceeded with the meal prep.

Some of you might be grossed out, but I know my dog friends will understand (and probably cheer). This meal, with lots of chopped and diced ingredients, also gave me a perfect opportunity to use my new “mise en place” bowls. So instead of my usual first photo being the raw ingredients from the box, I decided instead to post my prepped results in their individual bowls.


Week 5, Meal 2 (5/22/15)

Rice Flake-Crusted Hake with Sauteed Daikon Radish & Yuzu-Soy Sauce

Setting aside the lack of professional manicure and the skin that I once thought belonged only to my mother, which fingers do not look like the others? I know, the two red ones on the left. Yes, after 4-1/3 weeks of playing with hot oil and avoiding injury, I did it tonight. Other than that, tonight’s meal was spectacular (4.75 on the Rich-o-Meter). And thanks to my new cut-proof gloves, I’m tackling slicing and dicing with new-found confidence. RiceFlakeCrustedHake1

The injury happened early in the prep (during the placement of the Daikon Radish slices in the frying pan), but I persevered – the show must go on! And I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to ignore the irony of buying fancy gloves to avoid my previous zesting injuries and then burning myself instead.


Week 5, Meal 3 (5/24/15)

Turkey Kibbeh with Cucumber Salad & Mint-Yogurt Sauce

I had mixed expectations for this meal because though we love mediterranean food, Rich isn’t a huge cucumber fan. When I served it, I even gave him an out: “I’ll eat whatever cucumbers are left over” (to which he replied, “of course you will”). So imagine my surprise when despite the presentation challenges described below, (a) there were no cucumbers left on his plate, (b) he rated this 4.25 on the Rich-o-Meter, and (c) he further offered that he liked the cucumber/yogurt sauce so much that it raised the score from a 3.25. Wow!

Thanks to my No-Cut gloves (along with OXO zester and mandoline), I zested the lemon and sliced the cucumber with confidence bordering on reckless abandon!


That said, this one was a bitch, and prompted me to add a “degree of difficulty” rating to our scoring. Tonight I used a combined total of 11 vessels – 1 pot, 1 pan, 2 mixing bowls, 8 prep bowls – not counting the spare plate for the turkey patties. I don’t know what my threshold is, but I know that 11 exceeds it. Plus, my “large” pan wasn’t large enough to properly segregate the patties, which caused them to fail and detrimentally affect the plating/presentation. The result looked more like a Sloppy Joe than 6 Turkey Patties. So this one got 4.5 for degree of difficulty, only outdone by the fried fish fiasco, in which I was presented with the “WTF do I do with all this oil?” conundrum.

Going forward, the degree of difficulty rating will be totally subjective, but will take into consideration the following components: number of things that got dirty; number of times I had to google to understand an instruction; risk of injury (or worse, actual injury); whether or not the resulting mess was bad enough that I resorted to asking Rich to help clean up.

Week 5 Wrap-up

  • Committed enough that I bought accessories
  • That redness on the index finger turned into a nasty blister – ouch!
  • Other than that, no injuries, and new confidence with the No-Cut gloves
  • Added a “degree of difficulty” number to our rating

Looking forward to Week 6!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 4

May 18, 2015

Still going strong!

I’ve made it through three weeks of cooking (for the first time in my life), and there’s no sign of ADD-driven fatigue. I’m still looking forward to delivery day on Wednesday. Lots of ingredients in this box – spilled onto a separate section of the counter from previous boxes. Here’s what came this week:

2015-05-13 Week4 Box

Week 4, Meal 1 (5/13/15)

Hearty Chicken Salad with New Potatoes, Pickled Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

Until this point, I had posted every meal on Facebook because each was such a triumph, and some were punctuated with bloody injuries as I stumbled to get familiar with sharp implements. But I’m fairly certain my friends have started to get bored so I’m moving on to blogging, unless something spectacular happens.

Sad timing, because tonight’s dinner was a knock-out – 4.95 on the Rich-o-Meter, no injuries, and I’d definitely try it again on my own. The chicken salad was special because the chicken was pulled instead of diced, which allowed the flavors of the pickled rhubarb dressing to inundate the shreds. Wait, did those words just come out of my mouth? Until this week, rhubarb was something found only in a pie that Rich loves and I haven’t even had the guts to taste.

2015-05-13 Hearty Chicken Salad1

2015-05-13 Hearty Chicken Salad2

Week 4, Meal 2 (5/15/15)

Steamed Cod with Pickled Ramps and Yu Choy

What is a Ramp? As with the Celeriac, I admit that I had to look this up before I approached it. Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that it’s a “North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States.” I love onions, good enough! I was also concerned about the steaming (evoking images of double-boilers or steamer baskets), until I followed the instructions and discovered that the steaming actually happens in the same pan with the vegetables and a simple aluminum foil cover.

2015-05-15 Steamed Cod1
2015-05-15 Steamed Cod2

Week 4, Meal 3 (5/17/15)

Mushroom & Swiss Burgers with Pan-Seared Fingerling Potatoes

We lost a little momentum on this one. Rich charitably gave it a 4.5, but I couldn’t muster more than a 3. I’m not a huge burger fan, and making it with fancy ingredients, like Cremini Mushrooms and Beef Demi-Glace, doesn’t help. I won’t be repeating this one because I’d rather have a Crush burger from Mike’s at the Crossroads. I’m glad this didn’t happen in Week 1 because I might not have carried the same degree of enthusiasm into subsequent weeks. But with 11 successes under my belt, I was undaunted and looking forward to Week 5.

On the up side, we liked the lightly-dressed Upland Cress salad. And Rich pointed out that the “green stuff” on the potatoes really brought them to life. That was Rosemary, and I got a little pang when I remembered how unceremoniously we pulled the rosemary bushes out of our yard to make room for a storage locker.


Week 4 Wrap-up

  • No injuries!
  • ADD-fatique hasn’t kicked in yet
  • Two more hits, and one minor miss
  • Week 5, beginning of Month 2, coming up

Blue Apron Journey, Week 3

May 11, 2015

Mexican Week!

After two weeks of getting used to the idea of cooking (for the first time in my life), I found myself looking forward to my third Blue Apron delivery on Wednesday. Here’s what it looked like:

2015-05-06 Week3 Box

Week 3, Meal 1 (5/6/15)

Crispy Fish Tacos with English Pea Guacamole and Pea Tip Salad

Tonight’s dinner set new records for highs and lows:

  1. It rated a 4.7 on the Rich-o-meter, a new high. He’s still holding out for the 5, but he said this was close …
  2. …except for “the white stuff” (aka the raw matchstick-cut Golden Beet) in the accompanying salad. He didn’t mind it as long as he could stuff it on the taco, but it cost me a 0.01 rating decrease for every bite I insisted he eat after that (resulting in a net of 4.65). I don’t blame him, it wasn’t high on my list of raw experiments either.
  3. WTF do I do with the leftover oil? I grew up in the suburbs, we didn’t fry stuff by dousing it in an oil bath – we left that to Colonel Sanders. My first experience with a frying pan full of oil was a few years ago, when my Cordon-Bleu-trained friend Wendy prepared schnitzel with noodles to accompany an authentic Sound of Music Sing-along at my house. It was delicious, but I didn’t know what to do with the leftover oil then and I still don’t. Please help – the only two choices I can come up with are (a) sop up the oil with dozens of paper towels until it disappears, or (b) abandon the pan on the stove and pretend it isn’t there (and hope that my dog, Billy takes care of it).

2015-05-06 Crispy Fish Tacos3

2015-05-06 Crispy Fish Tacos1
2015-05-06 Crispy Fish Tacos2

Week 3, Meal 2 (5/9/15)

Chiles Rellenos with Spiced Tamarind Rice & Queso Fresco

This one was a winner! Rich and I both rated it 4.9. It would have been 4.95 on the Rich-o-Meter, but it lost 0.05 because the Poblano Peppers weren’t quite cooked enough. Point taken, lesson learned. We’ll definitely be doing this one again.

2015-05-09 Chiles Rellenos1
2015-05-09 Chiles Rellenos2

Week 3, Meal 3 (5/10/15)

Enchiladas Rojas with Nopales & Black Beans

When our Mexican week box showed up, we had high expectations – we both love Mexican food. But this meal nailed it. Are you old enough to remember Euell Gibbons, and his “ever eat a pine cone?” ads? We are. And that’s how I felt when I was presented with two giant cactus leaves for this meal. I trusted BA, and boy did they come through. In fact, as I was cooking this meal, I found myself thinking that corn might have been a good ingredient. Guess what? The diced Poblano Cactus Pad filled the bill – same texture, less sweet. The result was the highest combined score to date: 4.9 for me, and 4.95 for Rich. There was nothing wrong with it, but he’s holding out for the Perfect 5.

2015-05-10 Enchiladas Rojas1
2015-05-10 Enchiladas Rojas2

Week 3 Wrap-up

  • Mexican week rocked!
  • Poblano chiles need a little extra time
  • We ate cactus and weren’t afraid
  • Week 4, here we come

Blue Apron Journey, Week 2

May 4, 2015

Week 2, Meal 1 (4/29/15)

Sirloin Tip Steaks with New Potato, Asparagus, & Radish Hash

My second BA box showed up. As I unpacked it, I had the following responses:
1) “Fennel!” (which I couldn’t even recognize until last week)
2) “Radishes!” (which I didn’t know could be cooked until last week)
3) “Parsley?” (which until tonight, I thought was just another disposable garnish, but approached with a freshly-opened mind based on having recently overcome my Radish bias)

2015-04-29 Sirloin Tip Steaks1
2015-04-29 Sirloin Tip Steaks2

The Rich-o-Meter rates this a strong 4.5 (out of 5), tied with last week’s Almond-Crusted Cod for things he’d like me to try again (from scratch !?!).

Week 2, Meal 2 (5/1/15)

Dukkah-Spiced Salmon with Spring Vegetable & Oyster Mushroom Ragout

Tonight I faced the scariest ingredient to date: Celeriac. This thing has everything going against it: I’ve never heard of it, its name sounds like a disease requiring a gluten-free diet, it’s really, really ugly, and I had no idea what tools I should use to prep it. I googled it and overcame my fear when I learned that it’s nothing more than a fancy, unfortunately-named, root-based relative of celery. I confirmed its heritage with a quick sniff check, peeled it like a potato, whacked off the nasty root end, chopped the rest into bite-sized chunks, and now I can embrace it the same way I have the radishes.

2015-05-01 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon2

That said, tonight’s meal was by far the highest-effort and most adventurous meal so far. It got mixed reviews on the Rich-o-Meter (overall rating of 3): Plus points because he liked it in spite of the salmon (which isn’t one of our favorites), and Minus points for too much fennel (note to self: it’s OK to adjust and toss the extra if the fennel bulb in this box is significantly larger than the one you learned on in the last box). Oh, and I still need practice with the zester, although tonight’s injury was trivial compared to the first one.

2015-05-01 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon1
2015-05-01 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon3

On a side note, this conversation happened tonight:
Me: “I know you’re busy, but sometime after the race bikes have left on the ship for the Isle of Man, we need to take our knives to the knife-sharpening guy at the Cotati Farmer’s Market.” (The last time we did that was several years ago.)
Him: “If it’ll keep you cooking like this, I’ll take care of that next week.”

Week 2, Meal 3 (5/3/15)

Laotian Larb Gai with Sticky Rice, Peanuts & Mint

Two weeks ago, I didn’t know how to cook and I didn’t care about learning. One week ago, I was rewarded by some early successes with my Blue Apron kits, but assumed my ADD-driven curiosity would quickly wane. Tonight, I’m truly looking forward to my next delivery on Wednesday (it’s Mexican week!). I’ve no doubt that my serotonin-deficient brain chemistry will ultimately prevail, but my interest has already lasted a week longer than expected. I still don’t know HOW to cook, but thanks to pre-measured ingredients and excellent instructions, somehow I actually AM cooking (in spite of myself).

Tonight’s Laotian meal rated 4 on the Rich-o-Meter. And yes, as my friends predicted, the “how can I make it better” has kicked in: I was faced with a plateful of raw cabbage, which neither of us care for. Undaunted, I pulled out a bottle of Comfort’s Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing to salvage (well, disguise) that part of the meal – success, no cabbage went to compost!

2015-05-03 Laotian Larb Gai1
2015-05-03 Laotian Larb Gai2

Week 2 Wrap-up

  • I cooked some more
  • It was still good
  • Week 3, bring it on!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 1

April 27, 2015

Week 1, Meal 1 (4/22/15)

Almond-Crusted Cod with Snap Peas & Radish-Red Quinoa Salad

Inspired by the posts of friends, I signed up for the Blue Apron meal kit delivery service. I don’t cook, but I can follow directions and assemble kits so I thought I’d give it a shot. My first attempt didn’t look much like the picture (because I forgot to refer to it before I shoveled the food onto the plate), but it tasted pretty darned good. Rich (my husband) concurs, and trust me, he wouldn’t hesitate to tell me otherwise. I only suffered one injury (need a little more practice with the zester), which isn’t bad considering I repeatedly tempted fate with knives and hot olive oil.

Week1Meal1 Almond-Crusted Cod

But damn, what to do with all of the packaging? Definitely not earth-friendly, which is ironic because today is Earth Day. Shipping box? Recycle. Ice packs? Reuse and Freecycle or donate after the first week or two. But what about all of the little plastic zip-lock bags? And the huge foil insulated bag? I finally found the Blue Apron recycling guide. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

Week 1, Meal 2 (4/24/15)

Spring Casserole with Fennel, Asparagus, and Golden Raisins

Until about an hour ago, I had never cooked a casserole, had no idea what fennel was (let alone that it is disturbingly reminiscent of “Wilson” from Castaway), and didn’t know that b├ęchamel sauce was even a thing. But here it is, the before and after pic of tonight’s Spring Casserole with fennel, asparagus, and golden raisins (in b├ęchamel sauce).

2015-04-24 Spring Casserole1
2015-04-24 Spring Casserole2

Spousal Responses (after taking the obligatory and safe half-portion):

  1. Hm, I took the first bite in the kitchen assuming it would need more salt. It doesn’t.
  2. Damn, I’m glad there’s more.”

Week 1, Meal 3 (4/26/15)

Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry with Radishes, Bok Choy, and Pink Rice

I want to summarize the results of week 1.

  1. Aside from lack of passion, there are many reasons I don’t cook: (a) I have no imagination for ingredients and no idea what to do with them; (b) I don’t want to buy a 16-oz bottle of X because a recipe calls for 1 tsp; (c) I’m terrible at planning, making decisions, and shopping – grab ‘n go at Trader Joe’s or Oliver’s is so much easier. Blue Apron probably won’t overcome my overall apathy for learning this skill, but it has addressed the other problems I mentioned.
  2. We’re expanding our food horizons. In addition to the fennel example I posted earlier this week, we have this: Rich and I both hate radishes. Raw, that is. Until this week, neither of us had any clue that they were good for anything other than garnish or things to pick out of your salad. Now I know how to cook them, and surprise, we like them!
  3. Tonight, I learned how to recover from mistakes. Mistake #1: When step 1 of the recipe is to simply cook rice, just use the rice cooker so you don’t have to worry about that timing while you prepare the rest of the meal; Mistake #2: 1/2-cup isn’t the same as 1/4 cup (time to fix those glasses), especially when you’re adding the ponzu/cornstarch/water mix to the final phase of the stir-fry. Solution: throw the excess stir-fry goop into the rice that wasn’t quite timed right and turn it on High.
  4. Inspired by a friend’s question, we are not only keeping the recipe cards, we are rating them so that we can decide which ones are worth repeating in the future.

Here is tonight’s triumph:

2015-04-26 Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry1
2015-04-26 Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry2

Week 1 Wrap-up

  • I cooked
  • It was good
  • I’m looking forward to Week 2