Baby, I’m BACK! 3/31/2021

Quick things:


I’ve got a confession to make: a few weeks ago, I signed up for a meal kit service.

Crazy, right?

But here’s the thing — we’ve always been curious in, like, a market research kind of way, but we also always had too much food and too many cooking ideas of our own for it to make any sense. But when my sister, having been the recipient of someone else’s box they couldn’t use, said, “It’s really nice to not have to figure out what to make, it’s just all there,” I thought, “OH!” The time was right.

So we’ve done two weeks of a couple of meal kit meals each week, and my review is mixed. On one hand, I am appalled by the quality of the produce they’re sending. We would definitely be putting this stuff on Urgent Use special. On the other hand, my sister was right — it’s really nice to have someone else decide what you’re eating. I mean, within reason. And on the other other hand, since the meal kit thing isn’t really less effort other than the decision part, as we’re eating I’m often thinking, “Wait, why did we do this?” And on the other other other hand, having these kits waiting at home for me has inspired me to let Elliott and Dusty handle closing at the store so I can go home and make dinner. It’s complicated.

But an interesting side effect has been that even on nights I don’t intend to make a meal kit dinner…I’ve been making dinner. It helped shift something in my brain from “we don’t have time to make a real dinner” to “if I just make a decision about what to make, I can totally do this”.

Last night before I left the store I went shopping. I got a small ham, a big sweet potato, a bag of spinach, and a couple of shallots. I turned on the oven and cubed the sweet potato (scrubbed, didn’t peel), tossed it with some salt and pepper and a sprinkling of the first Calicutts spice I pulled out of the cabinet. Threw it on a sheet pan. Sliced up the shallots, drizzled some sunflower oil in a skillet, rinsed and roughly chopped the spinach — into the pan. Heated a cast iron skillet on the other burner. Cut some thick slices from the ham. Threw them into the skillet, shook some dried thyme on top. Dinner. Super simple, but thanks to the quality of the ingredients and a generous hand with the salt, much more satisfying for both belly and soul than the somewhat more complicated meal kit dinners that proceeded it. And bonus: enough leftover ham to slice up for sandwiches.

Meat, orange, green. I mean, pork chop, sweet potato, baby kale!

A few nights earlier, I did basically the same thing but with a pork chop (just one — Dusty had other dinner plans), a sweet potato whole into the Instant Pot, and a bag of baby kale quickly sauteed.

I like this template for this time of year — a protein, something orange, and something green. Maybe flat iron steaks, steamed carrots, and a ruby streaks salad with Chef Tim’s balsamic vinaigrette or even just some sunflower oil and a splash of Keepwell’s sorghum molasses vinegar. Maybe some roasted or pureed butternut squash (maybe starting with a bag of already cubed b’nut?), anything from the fresh meat case (or, if we’re feeling vegetarian, a pack of tofu), and some braised rainbow chard. Not dandelion greens, though. We’ve got ’em, but they’re not for me. (Kudos to you if they’re for you, though. I admire people who like bitter greens.) Maybe I could even switch it up with something red and make some beets. My own recipe for it hasn’t made the leap to the new website yet, but I’ve been dreaming of a beet rosti, preferably dolloped with Greek yogurt and served with a big green salad.

Not into this template? I’ve also been dreaming about pork tacos with kim chi, and even toying with the idea of topping them with kim chi and thinly sliced fresh Napa cabbage. We’ve got some chives this week, and chopped they’d make a fine finishing touch.

Or maybe, since there are some chilly days coming up, I’ll just grab a quart of Dusty’s sausage & kale soup and one of those fresh baguettes and call that dinner.

Or maybe, or maybe, I’m getting ahead of myself with all these fantasies — after all, part of the appeal of the meal kit thing is not having to decide. Just pick one, Julia, just pick one!

Anyway — we’ve got a fresh meal kit box arrived today, and one more week at the introductory promotional price. We’ll ride it out. And when it’s over? Well, I’ll be grateful that it got me back in the kitchen…and grateful that I’ve got easy access to beautiful food of my own choosing whenever I want it.