Tag Archives: cooking

Blue Apron, meal in a box

A friend of my daughter Mara’s is quite a fan of Blue Apron, the meal in a box provider and she gave Mara a coupon for two free meals.  They arrived yesterday and we made the first and will make the second tonight.

At ten to five yesterday a large box arrived at my front door. Impressive very professional carton and it weighed about thirty-five pounds.  Half that weight was the four ice packs that keep the contents chilled.  I schlepped it into the kitchen and unpacked it.  The white special ice packs filled one of two sides of the dual sink.  Then I broke it down.  There were a few promotional fliers and two clear well illustrated instruction sheets.  I broke the ingredients into the two meals: one was Boston style salmon rolls with thick rounds of  Chesapeake style oven roasted potatoes, the other was a savory chicken sauté with garlicky smashed golf ball size new potatoes, nice long green beans and a few extras.  There were two plastic tubs of salmon filets and skinless boneless chicken thighs, a plastic bag of green beans, a clove of garlic,  three large russet potatoes and a packed of new potatoes and the supporting cast of chives, a cup of vinegar, a half cup of mayo, seasoning packets and literally everything you needed except salt, pepper and olive oil (which we had on hand as most people would). 

Mara put on an apron and prepared the meal, the salad was ready except for dressing.  She washed and sliced the russets into silver dollar disks and seasoned them per instructions and put them on a cookie sheet and into the oven.  Then she prepared the salmon as instructed and shortly we had a meal of savory salmon hash served in four hot dog buns.  Very nice and simple.  It would serve four people so the rest of it will go on toasted sour dough with another big salad and stuff to eat while we watch the Warriors and the Cav’s got at it in Cleveland.  We’re Cav’s fans via the St. Mary’s connection with Matt Delavedova the Cav’s Australian Gael alum as back up point guard and the fact that Mara’s boss and some other people at the office are Cleveland natives,  the most dogged and loyal and long suffering breed of sports fans in the USA.

The other meal will be cooked tomorrow and looks to come together as easily and quickly as the first.  So what do I think?   The meals are all there in the box, the instructions are clear and easy to follow and the results are a good healthy meal made from just the right amount of ingredients.  They will feed four people at a cost of $35 bucks.  It feels like they are to cover a weekend because you get two meals in each box and they cost $69.99 for both.  The food is good and obviously way less than what the same would cost at a good restaurant.  The boxes save a lot of time and trouble, if you have a cramped schedule.  Salads and desserts are not included, but not that big a deal to improvise.  So I would give the idea an  OK if you want to try it.  Sure, you could buy the stuff yourself for less at the Supermarket, but most of us would be hard pressed if time was at issue.  It is like those big black plastic boxes at Whole Foods with pot roast, beef stew, etc., etc., etc. which give you all you need to load into your Crockpot in the morning and know you will have a  good meal that night when you get home.  So, when the circumstances are right, I would recommend both items.

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365 By Whole Foods in Silverlake

Hey, I visited the world’s first outlet for “365.”   This is Whole Foods new spin off meant for the younger poorer hipsters, vegans and foodies who can’t afford the real Whole Foods.  What was it like?

Well, it was in ultra cool Silver Lake in what had been a nice mid-sized Ralph’s market.  How cool and hip?  In the crowded parking lot as I waited for a car to pull out, an intense looking young woman with odd hair and long dangling ear rings cut me off and snatched the space.  She had a Bernie bumper strip on her Prius,  so she was for peace, love and vegetables on the outside but she was a greedy cut throat egomaniac who grab the space I was waiting for.  At least she wasn’t texting while she did the deed.

When you walk into the large open space it is almost Costco spartan.  Concrete floor, open rafters with wires and ducts in full view.  On the left was a very large produce area, on the back wall was meat to the left and dairy to the right.   The far wall on the right was beer and beverages.  In the center were cold and hot ready to eat items: salad bars, soup bars, Asian food tables, hip vegan and vegetarian tables and a long unit of olives and marinated veg.  However the first thing you saw was a YUGE pile of Pabst Blue Ribbon 12 can half cases — tipping you off that 365 was aiming at bright young hip people.  PBR is the brand of choice among the young in case you didn’t know.  It is like the “animal” beers were for us in the 1980’s.  (Admit it, back then we all drank cool suds like Moosehead, Elephant Malt, and other up scale brews.)  There also was a small display of blanc, rosé & rouge bottles of Le Vielle Ferme, which is very good quality mass produced French plonk favored by older wiser patrons.  The bottles have a prancing goat logo.

Looking at the ready to eat cold and hot tables I thought is was nice looking faux ethnic chow at not that bad prices.  Going over to the produce area I was pleased to see that the selection of organic fruit and vegetables was wide ranging and good looking.  It was far bigger and better than Trader Joe’s and about the same as the major supermarkets with a modest bump in price.  This area was worth it and well done.  The meat area was new to me and everything was ever so specially grown and slaughtered.   I am not familiar with the producers and their brands so I take it they well known to regular Whole Foods shoppers.  One thing that struck me as interesting were four pound boned lamb shoulders (American grass fed, not Aussie or Kiwi sheep)  that were available plain or marinated in Latin   American rubs or Greek style herb rubs.  The one product I liked on my previous visits to Whole Foods was the black plastic boxes that sold for about $20 that offered meals ready to prepare in your crock pot.  These were pot roasts, beef stew, beef goulash, and so on with the meat, vegetables, sauces and seasonings that guaranteed a good healthy and hearty  meal for two three or four when you got home.   I imagine 365 is aimed at singles or couples and not working parents who like loading the crock pot in the morning and having a good meal waiting them, their spouse and children when they get home.

Over all I found 365 interesting and much of the stuff of good or very good quality and for the most part reasonably fair in price.  It is much more approachable than most Whole Foods stores where you feel you must very thin, very well to do,  casually dress in designer duds and having  parked a Tesla, BMW or just a Prius in the lot out front. I should point out that I visited 365 in mid-afternoon and half the shoppers were on Medicare like me.  Outside working hours I was told it is jammed with single 20 somethings who are looking for organic kale and goats milk yogurt and maybe hooking up with another 20 something they meet in Produce or over at the cold table with twenty kinds of olives and marinated veg.  It must be a modern day update Omar Khayyam’s promise:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou,
Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!!

In Silver Lake today, it’s an I-pad, a dozen Pabst Blue Ribbon,  a plastic tray of orzo salad and you babe.  The one thing that irritated me big time was that all the under 35 dudes and chicks were leaning against the display cases texting up a storm. In a better world I would expect them to be flirting over the organic nectarines and the four colors of organic Swiss Chard.

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