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Every day around 4:00, I stand in front of the refrigerator, door open, light on, wondering what to make for dinner. My old waste-nothing restaurant routine kicks in and it’s a stir-fry with leftover chicken, pasta with beet greens and that last chunk of feta cheese, fajitas tacos out of last night’s uneaten rib-eye, or vegetable soup made from of a slightly overripe tomato, half a zucchini, one carrot, some extra spaghetti sauce, TJ’s chicken stock, and elbow macaroni that didn’t go into the goulash.
I like to cook, but I don’t like to grocery shop so I will go to any length to make something that doesn’t involve a trip to Thriftway—that part should be someone else’s job, not mine. I get into a rut, recycling the same old things, saving new recipes but never following through. I wait too long to let the pizza dough raise, soak the cannellini beans, oven-roast the beets, or slow cook the pork shoulder.
For about a year now, I’ve seen a weekly Hello Fresh box outside my neighbor’s front door. I’d read about on-line meal kit deliveries but assumed they were expensive and meant for families. So I was delighted when this year’s Mother’s Day card from my daughter included a week’s menu from Blue Apron. The next Monday I was standing in front of the refrigerator, door open, light on, wondering what to make for dinner when the doorbell rang. A Sikh man, with a neatly-tucked beard and blue turban, gestured toward a Blue Apron box by the doorstep, “For your pleasure, Ma’am,” he said with a slight side-to-side head bob.
The box was big—and heavy. We unpacked it right away, pulling out icy blue gel bags, puffy plastic pillows, cardboard separators, and a metallic blanket that covered everything. Each egg was secure in its own cardboard nest, each vegetable sealed in a separate ziplock, condiments packed in a small brown sack, and meat Cryovaced and slightly frozen, all creating a large pile waiting for recycle day. I imagine that meal kit delivery services will soon have to address their packaging problem.
For our pleasure there were ingredients and recipes for three meals: Squid ink pasta with shrimp, Chicken chipotle tostadas, and Knockwurst with roasted vegetables. We loved the squid ink pasta with shrimp and the chicken tostada, but I’ve never cared much for knockwurst—tastes like rolled up boloney. We didn’t cancel in time, so before we could peel another carrot, the Sikh man showed up at our doorstep with another box. This time it was Spicy Korean chicken, Spanish meatballs, and Pacific cod with zucchini pancakes.
The recipes were detailed to a fault, instead of, “1 grated zucchini, drained” it was, “Wash and dry the summer squash. Carefully grate on the large side of a box grater. Transfer to a strainer; hold or rest the strainer over a bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the grated squash to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the drained squash to a large bowl.” I did love the addition of diced dates to the zucchini cakes, I’ll keep that idea.
Spanish meatballs with asparagus risotto
We liked this one a lot even though the rice was a bit dry.
Spicy Korean chicken with roasted vegetables
Blue Apron’s version seemed like it would finish up a bit dry so I sautéed the chicken, roasted the vegetables, then added them to a miso/sautéed shallots/shiitake mushroom/chicken broth soup. Delicious.
Spicy Pacific cod with zucchini pancakes
Loved the Indian spice rub on the cod and the chopped dates in the zucchini pancakes.
Chicken tostadas with roasted squash and chipotle chicken
Never would have thought to use a flour tortilla but it crisped up beautifully in the oven and tasted great.
All in all, a meal kit week is a genius Mother’s Day gift—an experienced cook would be pleased to find a Blue Apron box sitting outside their door. It would also make a good gift for someone who wants to learn how to cook or a cook who wants to expand their culinary horizons. The recipes were a little too long and tedious for me and I would hesitate to give this to someone who didn’t like to cook or didn’t know how to cook, but it was fun, tasty, and I didn’t have to go to the store. Don’t forget to cancel—the default is a $60 Blue Apron box outside your door every week.
Here’s a link to Blue Apron’s squid ink pasta with shrimp and sugar peas: