Caregiving for my parents has narrowed my meals to a narrow spectrum of down-home meals that both of them will eat. Did I say narrow? I mean NARROW. They still eat as if they were country kids when everything was boiled, fried and salted within an inch of death. My dad is especially picky; for him, lasagna is exotic. He will not eat anything from a grill except hot dogs. He hates fish and beef. He loves spam, ham and bacon. That’s it. Oh, and boiled cabbage.
Since I can’t get out as much as I’d like to, I often find myself fixing two meals each and every meal—one for them and one for myself. This is a ridiculous amount of work, so I finally broke down and tried Blue Apron. When my first box arrived, instead of the expected joy of being rescued from my culinary confinement, I immediately felt scads of guilt about the carbon footprint of the ready-to-make meals. It was delivered by Fed Ex and the packaging was ridiculous (but how else would they do it??). A lot of the packaging was bio-degradable, but most was just your run-of-the-mill plastic bags. Speaking of which, what is that frozen gunk in the plastic bags that keeps everything cool? Is it toxic waste? Do I puncture the bags and pour it down the drain? I need answers.
Out of the three recipes in the package, I went for the one I thought I’d like the least – a Thai-inspired, seared chicken in coconut-peach broth. So disgusting, it just might work! You can pick the recipes that you want, but I just went for the recipe lotto. That was the whole point of it for me. I wanted tasty surprises to knock me out of the caregiving tedium.
Ok, on to the process: I’m a decent cook and there was a lot of chopping involved. I enjoyed the process (I’d never pitted a fresh peach other than by eating it, and I’d never cooked with bok choy), but I think it would be a lot of work for beginners. Also, the instruction card was great, but it was like when someone who gives you TOO MANY details about how to get to the mall. Young folks evidently need lots of pretty pictures and blow-by-blows.
I did have to bring some of my experience to the process. Like, why would you take the chicken breasts out of the pan in order to brown the ginger, garlic and scallions? Wouldn’t you want the meat to soak up that flavor? And please define “spicy.” And about the honey, NO, even if it is “pure, raw and from 3rd generation family farmers in Bakersfield, California” packaged in “100% Post-Consumer Recycled Paper.”
I guess it took me about an hour to whip up my meal, maybe a little less. But it felt like LABOR, not like magic. My kitchen was a mofo mess, just like it always is when I cook. For me, that’s a sign that I’ve really created something, which adds to the enjoyment. However, if it’s a week night after work, you might wish you’d just ordered take-out.
I sat down with a plate of the coconut-bathed, peachy, spicy, bok-choyish chicken and a grown-ass glass of pinot grigio and MY GOD!!!! WTF JUST HAPPENED?? It was one of the best meals that I’d had in ages. I ate like a hog (which is my habit) and there was enough for dinner the next day if I ate like a human. Or, maybe just a nice little lunch. Or, maybe midnight snack. Next up, spiced beef wraps (gyro) and beef mushroom burgers with roasted onion and marinated cabbage. You can tell that I’ve been beef-deprived by my dad.
1) Do they do Blue Apron desserts?, and
2) Would I make today’s recipe again? (Sure, as long as someone packaged all of those ingredients and sent them to me again), and
3) Was it worth the carbon footprint? (Until the flood waters rise, I’d have to say, “yes.”)