Blue Apron – meal 1

My cousin had a free week of Blue Apron meals and gifted them to us to try.  I have not tried any of these pre-set at-home cooking services yet but thought “why not?”  The wife wasn’t all that excited about any of the recipes.  I settled on the Albondigas, catfish, and chicken biscuit sandwiches.

I scheduled the arrival on a day I was off (I know they say you can let it sit out most of the day without issues).  Nevertheless it is good I did schedule it this way because we’ve had triple digit temperatures all week (108 yesterday, 106 today).

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The package came in a deceptively hefty cardboard box.  Upon opening the box, I found what looked like space age saran wrap with reflective coating.

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The 3 separate meals came all jumbled up.  The protein was nice sandwiched at the very bottom between 2 very large ice packs.  Above that (as seen in the photo below) was a mixture of the produce as well as grains.  There was a “knick knacks” bag for each meal that housed smaller things like bread crumbs, soy sauce, etc depending on the meal.

I know that many people praise these types of services for their fresh food and quality.  I was a bit disappointed by the  two squashes that were in the box.  The zucchini was markedly bruised and slightly soft to the touch (the ones we are growing in our produce boxes are definitely better).  The yellow squash also was bruised up and softer than I would have expected.

I elected to try making the Albondigas for dinner.  Normally when I think of Albondigas, I think of a meatball soup of Mexican origin.  However, this “Albondigas” recipe wasn’t what we expected.

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Individual recipe sheets

I liked that the recipe directions are printed on one side of the cardboard recipe sheet.  I wasn’t a huge fan that they basically have you do all the mise en place before starting any cooking.

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Mise en place

I feel like as someone who has a decent amount of experience cooking, it made me feel less efficient.  Usually I’m doing multiple things at once.  It was nice however that once I was done with that, you can just grab what you need and toss it in.  This was a fairly straightforward recipe.  You saute some onions with garlic and pre-packaged seasoning and use this to mix with the ground beef, bread crumbs, and raisins to create the meatballs.  The seasoning felt more like a middle-eastern taste than Mexican.  While creating the meatballs you also then saute the yellow squash.  I had to find a way to keep the squash warm while I was cooking the meatballs and the sauce (I ended up pre-heating my oven to 170 F as a warming area).

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Meatballs in tomato sauce

The sauce was created with diced tomatoes and tomato paste and then adding in the browned meatballs.  To go along with the meatballs and squash, they provided a small baguette that was halved and toasted.  Then, following the Castilian tapas, rubbed garlic and tomato on the toasted bread.

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Voila

Overall I felt the meal wasn’t too bad.  Was it my favorite? No.  Would I make it again?  I don’t know.  But it was decent.  I liked dipping the toasted tomato/garlic bread into the tomato sauce with the meatballs.

We shall have to see how the 2 other meals go.  Currently I don’t have plans to continue Blue Apron after these 3 meals but we shall see.

-StewsCat

RUNservations

On today’s warm run, I had some thoughts (whether they’re good and/or interesting is up for debate but I wanted to remember them) I wanted to jot down.

  1. Warm weather running sucks.  I had already known that running in hot weather was not fun.  Today’s run confirmed my previous thoughts further.  I’ve alway said that my favorite temperatures to run in are the high 40s F (for long runs) and 50s F.  Due to a morning work function, I had to push my run back until after this meeting.  I ended up starting my run around 11:30 am and the ambient air temperature was 81 F.  Not too bad you say? Well it isn’t if you’re just walking or standing around.  However, once you start running, your body temperature goes up and your body starts working hard to cool itself.  Luckily for me I had a relatively short run on the schedule (I don’t really have a schedule right now, just running to get in decent miles and hit my 70 miles/month goal for 2016).  One thing I noticed is that my heart rate is consistently higher when putting out less effort (i.e. running slower) when the outside temperature is higher.  As an example, on today’s run I put in 4 miles at a relatively relaxed pace and saw that my HR hovered around 156-158 bpm.  Typically when I run at a casual pace my HR is 144-148 bpm.  This definitely tells me that the warmer weather is more taxing on my body.  I also know not to push it.  Coincidentally this article from Runner’s World showed up on my Facebook feed after I finished my run today:  Warm weather running
  2. Garmin 225 GPS / HR watch:  As I just mentioned I was monitoring my heart rate while on my run.  Earlier this year I purchased the Garmin 225 GPS/HR running watch.  I’ve been running with it regularly since I bought it.  I have been very happy with it thus far and it also frees me up from needing to wear a running belt on a lot of my runs.  Before I had the watch, I would run with my phone in a running belt.  Originally I ran with the HTC Incredible 2 (from around 2011 to 2014).  I’d use the GPS function on the phone tied to Runkeeper to keep track of my distance/time.  I also used it to gauge how far I needed to run.  Naturally I upgraded my phone in the fall of 2014 and after about 1 month  noticed that my times were recorded as a lot slower on Runkeeper and the distances were shorter (for runs that I had been doing and knew the distance).  I read up on GPS in phones and accuracy of running apps and found that there is a lot of variation between GPS readings and actual distance based on the phone and GPS chip in the phones.  I started using web sites to track (geodistance) to look at my distances.  I found that my new phone was under-measuring how far I had actually run.  When I looked at the tracking on Runkeeper, the phone would cut off corners (going through houses) in neighborhoods.  It was relatively accurate if I was doing runs that were just long straight runs.  When I ran in the neighborhood and did a lot of turns winding through various streets, it would leave off a lot more distance.  A big reason I chose to get a GPS watch was to have more accurate ways of measuring my distance.  Also with the information on my wrist, I could more easily look at how far I’d run, my pace (and whether I should speed up or slow down) and also track my heart rate.  Since this is getting long I’ll probably do a post just about the watch and its pros and cons.
  3. Grilling.  I purchased a grill sometime in 2014-2015.  I had used it sparingly over the last few years.  I’ve decided that I need to use it more regularly.  So I’ve been doing some grilling here and there.  Yesterday evening I grilled up some chicken drumsticks (I marinaded it in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, honey, red wine vinegar, fresh garlic, a little sesame oil and olive oil).  I had some freshly made tortillas (well I had made them earlier in the week for lunches) that I put on the grill along with a crooked neck squash my coworker had grown in his garden.  I paired that with a salad for dinner.  Good stuff!

-StewsCat

 

Homemade pancakes – Sourdough discard

Homemade pancakes – Sourdough discard

Hello!  Quick little post from this morning’s breakfast

This morning I did an impromptu homemade pancakes since I had to feed my sourdough starter and didn’t want to just toss the extra sourdough starter in the trash.  I have kept my starter in a small mason jar in the fridge.  Everything I read says you should feed your starter that is stored in a refrigerator about once a week.  You can technically let it go longer, you just have to revive it later when you’re ready to start cooking again.

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Sourdough starter out of fridge

I procured about 1/2 of the above volume (~1/3 cup) and mixed it with the below pancake recipe I found online.

Pancake recipe:

  • 1.5 cups AP flour
  • 3.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups rice milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter

I mixed up the sourdough starter discard with the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) and combined it with the moist ingredients (milk, egg, butter).  Using a whisk, I mixed it until I had a nice pancake batter.

I then used a ladle to make pancakes on my cast iron pan.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve made pancakes but I remembered something about waiting until there were a good amount of bubbles in the center of the pancake before needing to turn.  I wasn’t sure how long to cook after turning since there would be no more bubbles to watch.  I kind of winged it and noted it took about another 1.5-2 minutes after the first flip.

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Overall they came out well.  Glad I was able to use the sourdough discard.  I had mine with maple syrup and the wife had hers with maple syrup and blueberries.  Will have to consider other recipes for the sourdough discard (biscuits, crackers, etc).

In other news, I made it out for 7 and a quarter miles this morning.  It’s been warm here and will only get hotter next week.  Surprisingly even though I didn’t go out too early, it still wasn’t too hot for a long run.  I also managed to do some good stairs (there’s a parking structure at the nearby school that is about 5 stories with an outdoor staircase).

-StewsCat