Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Delivered to Your Door: Blue Apron

27 Jun

BlueApron_Box

Blue Apron, a company based in Brooklyn, will send box of ingredients to your door once/week for three vegetarian or meat/seafood meals. With Blue Apron, subscribers can put together convenient home-cooked meals while utilizing new recipes and ingredients.

Cara Eisenpress from Blue Apron AND Big Girls Small Kitchen (her blog is amazing, if you aren’t already a fan) emailed me and asked if I’d like to try a Blue Apron box. Of course I did! So my insulated vegetarian meal box arrived in the mail on a Wednesday, and the contents were still cold when I opened it up after work. On the top was a letter from the Blue Apron Team, along with three beautifully illustrated recipe pages.

StirFryIngredients

Serving sizes are larger than estimated in the recipes, which was a nice surprise because one recipe was more than enough for a huge dinner for two and another single serving for lunch the next day.

Oil, salt, and pepper are not included in the box (the oil was particularly noticeable because I ran out of olive oil the week the box arrived!). Including all of the items would have been helpful, so you could literally not have a single item in your kitchen and still cook three delicious meals. But aside from those three items, everything else arrives portioned out and ready to prep.

Here are the three meals I made with the box:

BlueApronPizza

Whole Wheat Pizza Topped with Arugula Salad

Salad-topped pizza is one of my go-to options at a pizza place. Maybe I’m just tricking myself into thinking it’s healthier, but really, fresh greens on top of pizza is a good combo. The dough for this recipe arrived pre-made in a bag and I let it rise for a few hours. Closely following the recipe (i.e. trying not to make it up as I usually do), I spread out the dough on a large baking sheet, which resulted in a very thick whole wheat crust. Even though the recipe didn’t say to do this, I should have divided the dough into two and made two separate pizzas. Everything else, though – the tomato sauce, cheese, olives, and dressed salad on top was fantastic. I’ve made pizza a million times, but I felt very accomplished with this one!

BlueApronStirFry

Maple & Sesame Root Vegetable Stir-Fry

I cook a lot of stir-fries and sometimes I feel stuck using the same ingredients and flavors. This dish tastes like it was cooked in a restaurant, which was very rewarding. It was a little heavy on the sugar compared to my typical homemade stir-fry, but if I was using the box on a regular basis, I would just use a little less maple syrup. I also used fresh lotus root and sunchokes for the first time – trying these new ingredients was really exciting and delicious.

BlueApronRatatouille

Tempeh Ratatouille on Wheat Berries

This was my favorite of the three recipes, and also provided the opportunity to use two more new-to-me ingredients: tempeh and wheat berries. When my box arrived the graffiti eggplant had gone bad, so I had to buy another one, but aside from that all of the other ingredients were ready to go. I prepared the ingredients and began cooking the tempeh in my wok in stages as the recipe instructed. Once the tempeh was browned on all sides, I added the red pepper flakes, which promptly started smoking and left a nice black coating all over my wok. The recipe didn’t say to mix together the garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, vinegar, and tomato paste before adding to the tempeh, but lesson learned on that one! Funny how following a recipe can sometimes make me forget common cooking sense. I transferred the tempeh over to another pan and, after that first little mishap, everything else fell into place perfectly. I ate this for three days straight – it made a lot of food and was so delicious.

As with any new culinary experience, I realized a few things about myself as a cook that I didn’t think about before this food box adventure:

  1. I rarely use recipes and, when I do use them, it’s only as a guide.
  2. There are a lot of basic ingredients I’ve never used.
  3. I love recipe testing and thinking about how I can improve recipes.

Trying out Blue Apron was a great experience. I love grocery shopping, but I know plenty of people who can’t stand it. For a homecook who has the disposable income to let someone else do the shopping and meal planning for them, this would be a great solution. It’s $60/box, which is more than I spend on groceries for the week, but to a lot of people the time and energy savings would be totally worth it. Plus, it’s like receiving a delicious present every week!

Thank you to Blue Apron for the complimentary box. As with all EatingPlaces posts, opinions are my own.

2011 Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

4 Nov

Year Two of living somewhere is great because you can eagerly look forward to annual events. I missed the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival in 2010, so I planned ahead to attend the 16th year of this fun (and free!) weekend.

Based on the abundance of meat-free recipes on my blog, you might guess I’m a vegetarian. I’m not—but I was for nine years until I was in college. My mom visited Michio and Aveline Kushi’s ‘Kushi Institute’ in Becket, MA when I was young and began introducing us to macrobiotic recipes at home, which was my initial inspiration to look more deeply at my food choices. Regardless of your food preferences, everyone can enjoy the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival.

The festival was held at Roxbury Community College’s Reggie Lewis Center, which was great because there were multiple rooms and floors for exhibitors and speakers. These are my picks from the event:

I met the owners of Dirty Vegan Foods and had a great time chatting with them. I also bought vegan coconut brownie bites for my mom (Surprise! I’ll keep them in the freezer for you until Thanksgiving). They’re a-maz-ing.

Equal Exchange had free chocolate, which was the initial draw, but then I started talking with Mallory the Coffee Roaster (left) and fell in love with the company. Equal Exchange is worker-owned and their employees are super committed to fair business practices around the world. Plus their Very Dark Chocolate (71%) is particularly creamy for having such a high cacao content.

I also tried Theo Chocolate. I was very excited to sample cacao nibs (roasted raw chocolate) for the first time – they were delicious – a great blend of bitter, acidic, and super dark chocolate without any added sugar. Theo has delicious nibs and chocolate, but what stands out most in my mind (aside from the nibs) is their gorgeous packaging, designed by KittenChops, an artist out of Seattle. I’m in love with her work.

The Sproutman table was very visually appealing as well. I talked with the Sproutman’s son (‘Sprout’) and learned about the benefits of sprouting in hemp bags. I can’t justify spending $10 on a hemp bag when I have tons of glass jars in my apartment, but if I had the funds I’d try it. I also learned that I can sprout the chia seeds I drink in water.

At Ocean Approved I met Tollef Olson, who created the only commercial kelp farm in the United States with partner Paul Dobbins. It was great to talk with Tollef about sustainable farming in Maine, where Ocean Approved is located (kelp requires no fresh water or land!). I also bought a little plate of seaweed slaw (featured in the image above). I savored every piece of kelp.

The Book Publishing Company had a huge selection of vegetarian cookbooks. I bought ‘Indian Vegetarian Cooking at Your House’ (by Humbad & Schafer Boger) and can’t wait to starting cooking from it! Then literally a second later…

I met the wonderful Mrs. Laxmi Jain who has a website on Indian Vegetarian Cooking. She was giving out spice packets (filled with coriander powder, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, garam masala, and chili powder) and recipes for Kidney Bean Curry, Potato Curry, Cabbage with Tofu & Bell Pepper. Each recipe uses vegetables you can find anywhere and then you just use the contents of a spice packet. What a fantastic (and unintimidating) introduction to Indian cooking!

At the Peanut Butter & Co table I tried ‘The Heat Is On’ peanut butter and it was SO hot. I need to buy some to use in my noodles with peanut sauce dish. I also tried the ‘Mighty Maple’, which was addictingly delicious.

At the Cascal table I sampled the ‘Crisp White’ flavor, which is a lightly fermented pear and apricot soda. I expected it to taste like kombucha, but it was much more mild (and sweeter, it’s soda). I don’t typically drink soda, but I could see having a bottle when I’m in the mood for something like wine, but without the alcohol.

I stopped by Taste of Kilimanjaro for lunch after meeting one of the catering employees early in the day when we were in line at a booth. I had heard of them before at an outdoor Harvard Square event, but what sealed my decision was how friendly the woman was while we were talking. That’s effective customer relationship building!

The atmosphere of the festival was very inviting, educational, and fun. It was it was interesting to think about what it means to be a vegetarian, how many diet options there are out there, and how I piece together my own guiding principles (vegetarian, unprocessed, local, or a combination). The festival also made me think about vegetarians who consistently drink protein shakes (there must have been eight different companies at the festival selling powder drink mixes), but these are separate and longer conversations!

I hope you’ll mark the Boston Food Festival on your calendar for next year. Vendors come from all over the country and I met people from throughout the Northeast. It was a great time.

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