Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you've probably seen things popping up on line about a company called Blue Apron. When I started seeing friends posting pics of delicious-looking meals they had prepared "thanks to Blue Apron", I thought it must be some kind of cooking school or something. In a way, I guess it is.

A few weeks ago I got a message from my daughter saying she had received a $30-off coupon good towards a Blue Apron delivery, so they decided to give it a whirl, and this is what they got.

A box lands on your doorstep on your designated day, filled with everything you need to make three delicious meals (and I mean everything) all packed in ice in case you aren't home when it arrives. It comes with step-by-step illustrated instructions and every ingredient, pre-measured, right down to the herbs and spices. The only thing you provide is a bit of olive oil to grease your pan.

They enjoyed that first week so much, they ordered another, which came with an email inviting three of their friends to receive a box absolutely free, which is how I ended up with one. A great way to expand your customer base, no?

So, why on earth, you might ask, would a person who's been cooking for the last 44 years and is pretty good at it already, and who helped establish a food co-op in her home town just so she could get as much of her food as possible from local growers and producers, even consider having food and recipes delivered to her from who knows where? Well, timing had a lot to do with it, since just a few days earlier we had gone to pick up our bi-weekly order from The Bountiful Sprout, only to find it locked up tight. They had shut down, for good! Apparently, once the very last of the original founders stepped down from board, the organization sort of lost its momentum. Less effort put into scouting for new growers and producers meant less product to choose from, which meant less members joining and shopping, which meant more producers dropping out. I was devastated.

Also, though I do love cooking, I do not love deciding what to fix each night, and having to shop for every single ingredient -- especially the more exotic ones that will probably get used only once or twice, and many not even be available at our small-town grocery store. With Blue Apron, all that is taken care of for me.

Love the cute little bottles and packets, all of which are recyclable.
Basque-Style Cod with Sweet Pepper-Tomato Sauce and Freekeh
On the down side, though they do utilize fresh, seasonal ingredients from trusted farmers and artisans, only sustainable seafood, and meats raised naturally on antibiotic- and hormone-free diets, they are not MY trusted farmers and artisans, who are also my neighbors, and whom I can visit with at the farmers' markets and swap recipes with. Then there is the rather huge carbon footprint created from shipping these cartons all over the country. Of course, most of their customers aren't like me, and are replacing meals that came from restaurants and big chain grocery stores whose product was not locally sourced either. Then there's the cost, which is around $60 per week, for just three meals for two people each, which is probably more than what you are used to paying for groceries, but less than what you're paying for restaurant and ready-made foods.

Seared Chicken and Caramelized Vegetables with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Mashed Potatoes
I guess what I love most about this is that, with their step-by-step instructions -- even sorting out the timing of everything so that it all comes out ready at once -- along with their little videos and tutorials on-line which teach you skills like chopping onions efficiently or cutting corn off the cob, they are teaching non-cooks that it's really not that difficult, and sooo much more delicious, to eat real food rather than all that packaged, processed crap. Best of all, Lex and Nate have discovered it's something fun that they enjoy doing together! So, thanks Blue Apron, for bringing real food back into our kitchens, and the family dinner hour back into our homes!

Pork Chops and Spicy Chow Chow with Sweet Potato Salad
P.S. Oh yeah, just thought of one more benefit. With each "real" dinner I cook, the happier and more lovey-dovey my hubby becomes. So much so, that he doesn't even mind doing all the clean up. By the end of the second week, I had that boy eating out of my hand! And here you thought that thing about "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was all a myth...

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