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DianaB

Cooking from Meal Kits (Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot, Gousto, and so on)

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Another parchment fish dish from Sun Basket: Sole and spinach with date and apricot salad  We've had this one several times and do like it.  Comes with sole, spinach, shallots, lemon, apricot, dates, almonds, parsley and sumac.  We added walnuts and more dried fruit (blueberries, currents) and more sumac.

 

The fish in parchment after baking:

 

IMG_20170718_205212-001.jpg.46c0ae2c6f567f4b2cd749eb87d1eed7.jpg

 

And the full dish:

 

IMG_20170718_205902.jpg.7007717d39459d310f4eb13596697711.jpg

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I don't think I posted this one.  liamsaunt made this one earlier, replacing the lentil puree with queso fundido.

 

This one was somewhat of a cooking disaster -- my fault, tho.  I usually throw grains in my 20 year old mini rice cooker which can only do a max of 18 floz dry rice, but can do as little as 1/4 cup!  These recipes usually have just 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grains, so perfect.  Even if they have a few lentils in with the rice it all works out.  

 

Except this was just lentils and a full 1/2 cup of them.  I wasn't thinking straight and just dumped them in the rice cooker and let 'er rip.  Then cleaned the stove top down to the burners.  A few hours later, when ready to make the meal, I noticed the rice cooker had boiled over and was blinking error.  of course!  They were, however, about 3/4 cooked.  So into a pot and onto the just cleaned stove.  But oops!  The burners still wet didn't want to light the gas properly, except the one in the far back.  So I use that one.  Tiny pot.  Long reach. Sticks to bottom of pot.  Stir hard.  Oops again -- beans flip out of pot onto clean but now very hot burner cover.  Jeeeeeeez.  Salvaged most!  But have to clean stove again!

 

The piri piri sauce/salsa was mostly raw garlic and shallot.  We love garlic.  But not this much raw!  Should have cooked some a little first.  It was an OK dish, though.

 

IMG_20170717_200706.thumb.jpg.cc5255a7647ddb88379cb750f11ff8d2.jpg

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On 2017-07-17 at 9:27 PM, Anna N said:

@Allura

 

Most interesting. I did a trial run without providing any traceable personal information and their suggestions seemed appetizing and appealing. Will investigate a bit more. Thanks for sharing. 

So I sprang for the 10 day free trial but I'm finding the interface less than user-friendly or perhaps it's just me. Once again we singletons seem doomed to repeat meals.  I am aware that cooking/shopping for one can be challenging but if you are going to be paying for menus and recipes then I aver that it's not unreasonable to expect the algorithm to deal with singletons who don't want to repeat meals. 

 

 If I request five lunch menus I get two menus to be repeated and a single menu. 

 

 I have yet to figure out how to save any menu/recipe/list although there must surely be a way. 

 

 I was hoping to be blown away by the service but so far I have to say I am underwhelmed.

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10 hours ago, Anna N said:

So I sprang for the 10 day free trial but I'm finding the interface less than user-friendly or perhaps it's just me. Once again we singletons seem doomed to repeat meals.  I am aware that cooking/shopping for one can be challenging but if you are going to be paying for menus and recipes then I aver that it's not unreasonable to expect the algorithm to deal with singletons who don't want to repeat meals. 

 

 If I request five lunch menus I get two menus to be repeated and a single menu. 

 

 I have yet to figure out how to save any menu/recipe/list although there must surely be a way. 

 

 I was hoping to be blown away by the service but so far I have to say I am underwhelmed.

 

Sorry it's not working for you. Check your preferences as far as "prefer new things every day" vs "will eat leftovers". That might help. And I did get an alert 2 days before the trial expired, so there's that.

 

We haven't made anything new since then. My work has been nuts so we've gone back to the standard quick meals and too much takeout (we live right near a highway with many chains on it).

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I have determined by reading reports here that these meal services just aren't meant for someone like me,

looking at the meal plans I find that the ingredients are just too much for a single person as well as too fiddly for someone like who's looking for ease in preparation.

For now, I'm finding that buying single ingredients (from Schwan's) as well as drawing from my freezer as well aswith trips to the grocery for perishables is my way to go.

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10 hours ago, Anna N said:

 I have yet to figure out how to save any menu/recipe/list although there must surely be a way. 

 

I remember importing from the webpage into Paprika, I think.  Or just save the webpage, screenshot, or copy paste?

 

PlateJoy didn't really work for us, though I did find it interesting when we told it we had Whole Foods available and they'd include recipes with pre-shredded brussels sprouts, pre-cooked beets, etc, that are available there.  And now there are even more pre-prepped ingredients in supermarkets, some in smaller amounts.  I did like the idea of PlateJoy.

 

If I weren't cooking for two, the mealkits would be a pain for me as well.  I think I'd go for mixing up steam-table grocery foods you can buy in small amounts with pre-prepped ingredients for fast meals.  As an example, I bought just a cup worth of pre-cooked okra and shallots from Whole Foods to add to one of the meal kits as a little side dish earlier.

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On 7/20/2017 at 10:38 AM, Anna N said:

 I have yet to figure out how to save any menu/recipe/list although there must surely be a way. 

 

 

There should be a print icon. That made a pdf that you ought to be able to save.

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8 minutes ago, Allura said:

 

There should be a print icon. That made a pdf that you ought to be able to save.

 Thank you. That seems to have done the trick. 

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A repeat dish from Sun Basket (this is our 4th time ordering it) Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups   It's very flavorful.  Ground turkey is cooked with their awesome lemongrass paste, you quick pickle the carrots, and serve with cashews and lime. 

 

Our dishwasher broke yesterday with a full load in and more waiting to go in so I spent the evening washing and drying dishes, while my husband quickly dished up the meal.

 

Ingredients for the lettuce cups:

 

IMG_20170721_213005.thumb.jpg.4eadef5f7de594f5f8bd73a3967e5d7a.jpg

 

And cup ready to eat:

 

IMG_20170721_213138.thumb.jpg.ffee390f169d884443d9dd40b2b0c047.jpg

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Good luck with the dishwasher repair.

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Thanks lindag! We're hoping it'll be a quick fix Monday.

 

Dinner today was Quinoa fried with yellow beans and snap peans and a kohlrabi salad from Purple Carrot

 

They emailed earlier before the box arrived to say that they were unable to provide kohlrabi and made suggestions for what you could use instead (but did not provide a substitute).  The kohlrabi was the whole point of this dish, since I haven't actually made dishes with kohlrabi before and my husband has never had kohlrabi at all.  I felt much better about it when they said the were giving a $20 credit (out of the $26 cost of the meal).  Also, the advance notice gave me time to go buy kohlrabi, so no big deal.  Although the grocery had them priced in bundles of 3 and I only needed one.  We doubled the kohlrabi salad when we made the dish, but still have one leftover.

 

Really nice dish, tho!  I love being able to make something like this with a wide variety of fresh ingredients.  Quinoa is fried with garlic, ginger, tamari, edamame, yellow beans, and snap peas, and is flavored with a charred scallion vegan butter and togarashi spices.  Besides the raw kohlrabi (which we sliced in our food processor in seconds), the salad had almonds, tamari, rice vinegar, and sesame oil for flavoring.  Because we doubled the salad, we added walnuts as well.  Multi-color sesame seeds are provided for garnish.

 

IMG_20170722_184037.jpg.431458f93b9b32d84689dfaa88683c6e.jpg 

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Tonight's Purple Carrot dinner: White bean walnut patties with mashed yam, asparagus, and kale

 

This was decent -- not great, not bad.  Baked patties made from white bean, walnuts, oats, parsley, mint, and garlic.  Yam mashed and flavored with garlic and vinegar (I added some togarashi spice as well).  Sauce is vegan mayo with lemon juice and dill.  They called for the garlic to be added raw to the mashed yam and the patties (which were only to be baked for 15 min) so I doubled the garlic and sautéed it first.  Also stir-fried the asparagus and kale instead of boiling/steaming it and added just a touch of ponzu.

 

Mashed yam with vinegar is quite good.  Will have to remember that.

 

IMG_20170723_195249.thumb.jpg.e31cd9ee56c413d52905951058d32425.jpg


Edited by SJMitch (log)
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So we made the last dish from last week finally: Black Rice ramen with tofu, corn, and bok choy from Purple Carrot.  The dish liamsaunt did earlier with added duck egg.

 

We made it standard:

 

5976e643322d4_blackriceramen2.thumb.jpg.243e61252c6c4315bb9394f746f7cf64.jpg

 

My husband wanted to cook up leftover fish cake and chrysanthemum greens before they went bad, so he also put together this stir-fry:

 

5976e6a152e80_fakemeatfishcaketofu.thumb.jpg.d9e949d745cba4a6b10b41d1278aeaf6.jpg

 

The slim sticks are the fish cake, it also has preserved vegetable, fried sponge tofu and fake abalone in it.  He and I are really good matches foodwise -- we both enjoy nicely done fake meats (such as the canned mock abalone in this dish) and will cook them up with real meat as well.

 

The purple carrot dish was plenty of food to begin with, but the added stir fry was delicious in the broth as well.  We now have more cooked leftovers!

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4 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Mark Bitmann's not impressed.

True.  But then he is not exactly one likely to give an objective assessment.   At some point he must surely have had a little more positive view since he did accept a position with Purple Carrot. 

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5 minutes ago, Anna N said:

True.  But then he is not exactly one likely to give an objective assessment.   At some point he must surely have had a little more positive view since he did accept a position with Purple Carrot. 

 

Indeed, but then a man (or woman) is entitled to change their mind.

 

I'm fairly neutral. I agree with some of what he says. Food kits just don't appeal to me at all. I love the planning and shopping and preparing and the whole performance - and as he says, it's cheaper to shop for yourself. And I want to go to the market to see what's new/fresh/good quality. 

 

But I appreciate that there may be many people for whom this is an ideal set-up. Different lifestyles.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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I'm not really sure about the long term viability myself!  I don't see how they can make this cash flow positive long term.

 

I spent decades as a hard-core research/plan/shop/cook foodie.  Buying cow shares and pigs and goats from small farms before pastured meat parts were available at the farmers markets or independent groceries, learning to butcher and dress chickens, making our own sausages and other tasty meat parts, making my own seitan starting from wheat kernels, buying dozens of heirloom beans, dried corn, etc. Spending two weeks camping at Sandor Katz's farm in TN learning all kinds of fermentation techniques. Backyard garden (still have yard orchard, tho). Making our own injera after frequenting the local Ethiopian grocery and chatting with the owners. I'm a Kansas City certified BBQ judge and have judged barista competitions (and own an aging Hottop coffee roaster, which I still use every couple years). Had Modernist Cuisine on pre-order and make a few things from it time to time.  Love gadgets, too!  Used to have a built-in steam oven, but now have the CSO. Had grain grinder, stone wet mill, electric pasta roller, chamber vacuum, etc.  Own a few sous vide setups (including older Sous Vide Magic with its bubbler). You couldn't have gotten me to use mealkits 15 years ago, for sure!

 

Still would enjoy that part of the foodie lifestyle (it IS fun!), but now lack the time and have too many other things I want to do too.

 

We've really been enjoying the mealkits (2 years, 300+ meals, no kidding), especially the ones that use unusual ingredients or combos. But I don't think there are enough people like me to make this business model work long term. But we'll see ....


Edited by SJMitch (log)
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@SJMitch

 

 Thank you for that. I might not have guessed how close to the basics you once were with food. Nor could I have possibly guessed that you have been using meal kits  as long as you have.  My suspicion is that there will continue to be a small niche market of well-heeled individuals whose priorities lie elsewhere than spending hours in the kitchen. Restaurant meals are not necessarily the answer to everyone's desire to save time in the kitchen.  They can take up a great deal more time when you add in travel time and wait time etc. Somewhere between having one's own live-in chef/cook  and eating out every night I see a place for meal kits. 

 

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

 My suspicion is that there will continue to be a small niche market of well-heeled individuals whose priorities lie elsewhere than spending hours in the kitchen. Restaurant meals are not necessarily the answer to everyone's desire to save time in the kitchen.  They can take up a great deal more time when you add in travel time and wait time etc. Somewhere between having one's own live-in chef/cook  and eating out every night I see a place for meal kits. 

 

Absolutely agree!  Our mealkit usage exactly tracks to a transition from having more time than money to having more money than time.

 

I've had an amazing food journey for a kid from a midwestern trailer park who grew up on overcooked, over-salted vegetables.  Then I hit Boston, in a little basement apartment with one slim window looking out on a Beacon Hill cobbled street 30 years ago (it was under foreclosure, so had cheap rent for about 1.5 years before it went up for auction).  Boston launched my interest in food.

 

My food explorations really exploded when 3 of us lived in a 500 sq ft  2-bed 1-bath apartment next to the freeway in East Palo Alto, CA in the 90s (when East Palo Alto was briefly "murder capital of the US"). Still co-own many of those early kitchen gadgets with various people.  That little galley kitchen was so heavily used.  My trek to the Tennessee farm was done by car from California and back, throwing up a tent along the way.  That's also when I went to judge at the American Royal in KC.  Had the car, had time, might as well make the side trip!

 

Now I don't have time like that for those adventures, alas.

 

Honestly, though, if I could get restaurant food like what the meal kits are doing?  I wouldn't do meal kits. Where we live now, there aren't any restaurants that serve food like that black rice ramen I recently made, so restaurants aren't even an option to get interesting food like that (and we live near several really good ramen places).  And the very few options for food like I want cost 1.5 to 4 times as much as what Purple Carrot and Sunbasket are doing (especially with tax and tip).  Might be different if I lived in a big city like SF or LA or NYC, tho.  So for us, it isn't really a time savings over restaurants: it's a time savings over planning and shopping for home cooked meals (and a reduction in food wastage) while it's a money and availability savings over restaurants.

 

And yet, in a few years we may give up the detached house, front yard orchard, and wonderful bay area weather for a cramped apartment in Shanghai and more time.  Change is the only constant.

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I had a lot of hope for this dish from Purple Carrot: Strawberry tomato gazpacho with avocado toast

 

IMG_20170725_202014.thumb.jpg.aa6c10a9263f039b86f672959550d3be.jpg

 

Gazpacho made with a full pound of strawberries (ours arrived nicely ripe, a good batch), a red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, 4oz of cherry tomatoes, and various seasonings.

 

But the balance was off -- too sweet for a main course (even with the jalapeño and Sriracha).  Would have been better with double the tomatoes and half the strawberries.  Good thing we still had leftovers from yesterday, we each made it about halfway through the soup before switching to leftovers.  It was like having a smoothie for dinner.  We polished off the avocado toast (which was covered in provided hemp seed).  Avocado toast was ordinary but tasty (the provided avocado was perfectly ripe on arrival).

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Another so-so dish.  This one from Gobble: Salmon cakes with salad and gribiche sauce.  

 

This week's Gobble box has one error so far: but this time it's extra food: they shipped two bundles of one of the meals we ordered (we only ordered one).  The meat is separate from the other ingredients and they included the correct amount of meat.  So we have all the fixings except the meat if we want to make a second portion of that dish (a pork dish).

 

I worked late so my husband cooked this one up.  He's a bigger fan of salmon cakes made from fine ground salmon, so he liked it much more than I did.  It was fast, easy to make, and filling.

 

IMG_20170726_220341.thumb.jpg.569be9d46d30d6b7476eb1848e75d1da.jpg


Edited by SJMitch (log)
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And Gobble again tonight -- this one a winner dish.  Their various gnocchi dishes are always quite good.  The one is ricotta gnocchi with fresh cubbed zucchini, roasted red pepers, kalamata olives, fava beans, and a pre-made pomodoro sauce.  Basil and parmesan cheese to garnish.  I only added onion, garlic, and swapped the fine grated cheese for shaved parmesan.

 

Oh, and I was wrong about the extra packet of food for a pork dish, it was actually this dish we got double of (cool, because it's veggie and complete, though since this is an extra large order for us, 4 dishes plus 2 sides, 2 soups, and dessert, it'll be a bit before we can make and eat the extra).  We were properly charged for what ordered.

 

gobblegnocchi.thumb.jpg.e886e9aa133e9d6450ed7210c799da0f.jpg

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Another Gobble, the Pork tenderloin with peaches, bourbon sauce and farro-arugula salad in sherry vinaigrette.  This is about 1/3 of it, we split 3 ways.  I added a citrus-chipotle rub to the pork tenderloin.  Skillet cooked instead of grilled.  Very good.

 

IMG_20170728_191644.thumb.jpg.e279674538bfbc450b4cae3cf5684133.jpg

 

 

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And the dish from Purple Carrot I was so interested in from their regular menu that I skipped the TB12 offerings for: Okonomiyaki with vermicelli noodle salad

 

Here is 1/3 of it:

okonomiyaki.thumb.jpg.b742f350de6d754d3a7ca75710a933e8.jpg

 

Not bad -- not amazing.  Decent.  Pancake is a mix of flours with shredded Japanese yam and savoy cabbage.  Noodle salad is savoy cabbage and vermicelli with scallions and flavoring  They provided nori for garnish.  We also added sesame oil and sesame seeds.

 

 

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I had fun with this one, although it needed a little help in the end: Chopped salad with charred vegetables and orange-ginger-miso dressing

 

Some veggies were to be prepped raw and some charred in a skillet.  It reminded me of making a coffee blend where you blend the same bean at different roasts, so I ran with it a bit and charred some of the scallions and left some raw.  I also 'massaged' the chopped kale to break down some of the cells in advance.  I also roasted the provided thai chili to tame it a bit but then added chipotle powder to the garbanzo beans when I crisped them up.  Ingredients prepped:

 

IMG_20170731_201743.thumb.jpg.f3cd078212ee8ab8f83da7204c74a122.jpg

 

There are: orange segments, massage chopped kale, whole mint and cilantro leaves, chopped raw scallion, crisped chipotle garbanzo beans, charred chopped savoy cabbage, a ginger-orange-miso-sesame oil dressing, chopped mint and cilantro, sautéed chopped zucchini, nori-sesame seed mix, and charred scallion and thai chili pepper.

 

Served it up so:

 

IMG_20170731_202313.thumb.jpg.f4dc1ca9493dd6d46f23f349b2ebaa1d.jpg

 

The orange juice didn't provide enough acid to make a good balance, so I added fresh lime juice to the dressing at the end to make the recipe work.

 

I enjoyed this one.

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