Experiments

Kitchen Tech Saturday: Online Lunch delivery with EatPakd

Note: This post is not sponsored, and the discount code given at the end of the post is not an affiliate code. All opinions are mine.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of all the grocery delivery, local food delivery, and meal prep delivery kits available online these days. If you never want to leave the house, but can’t quite get yourself to give up that pesky habit of, you know, eating, there’s a service out there that can help.

I love going grocery shopping, I can definitely plan meals and cook for myself, and most of the time, if I’m going to eat food from a restaurant, I’d like to enjoy the perks of actually eating there. However, there’s been one particular meal that’s been a little bit of a challenge for me– breakfast.

I have to be out the door no later than 530am to get to work anywhere close to on time. I am NOT a morning person, so the chances of me getting up any earlier than I have to to make breakfast are, well, let’s not kid ourselves, not good. I tried doing the overnight oats thing, but discovered that driving and eating a two handed breakfast meant not only was I driving with lots of distractions (and I’m not the most awake driver at that hour, as it is), but I also ended up with about 10 percent of my breakfast on the front of my shirt.  I needed something I could eat one handed that also didn’t force me to look down to see where my spoon was landing. I saw a mention about EatPakd on Twitter, and after poking around their website I thought, “Ok, maybe this will work.” I found a coupon code that gave me a discount off my first week of meals, and we were off to the races.

 

EatPakd was designed for busy parents who may not always have time to pack a healthy lunch for their kids in the morning. They use organic and non-GMO fruits and veggies whenever possible, and each meal is balanced with lean protein, good carbs, and fresh ingredients– Great for moms and dads who don’t want rushing out the door to mean they’re sending their kids out into the world with a less than nutritious lunch. For me, it means I’m getting breakfast without having to rely on fast food or pre-packaged stuff with a dubious ingredients list.

The website is easy to use. Within each weekly menu, I can go with their pre-set combinations, OR I can customize my own meal packs based on what appealed to me, and what would be the most commute friendly combination. You can plan up to a month at a time, but you have until Sunday night to finalize your order for the following week.

 

But of course, you know I wouldn’t even be talking about EatPakd at all if the food wasn’t good. It is. The fruits and veggies are flavorful, and taste as fresh as if I’d cut them up that morning. The entrees for my first week ranged from whole grain waffle bites with sunbutter and jelly, to a steamed pork bun that, I’ll admit, I was a little dubious about, but turned out to be one of my favorites of the week. The packaging is easy to open, one handed and without looking, and each section can be separated from the others, in case you want to say, save that cookie for later in the day, or hold on to those tomatoes and crackers for a pre-gym snack.

If there are any cons to EatPakd, I’d say it was probably that some weeks the gluten free and vegetarian options right off the shelf are a little slim. However, because you can customize your meals, there are ways to work with the menu to get what you want, and you can opt to say, take the meat off that turkey roll up. All of their ingredients are nut and tree nut free, except for a few items that contain coconut.  If you have questions, or can’t quite figure out how to get exactly what you need, their customer service link is available on every page, and while right now you can’t call them directly, I got an answer to my customer service question within 12 hours. They’re also very responsive on social media.

Pricewise, for me, this is definitely about the same as I might spend getting a fast food breakfast or buying something microwaveable. You can decide how many meals you want per week. If you want to just keep a few of these around as a back up for those mornings when everyone is running late, the 4 meal plan might work for you. if you’re looking for an every day solution, the eight or twelve meal plan might be a better fit.  Of course, you can also skip weeks, say, if you’re going on vacation.

If you’d like to give EatPakd a try, use the code GONNACOOKTHAT at checkout to get $15 off of your first week. If you do try it, let me know what you think!

I’m in my ELEMENT

Hi folks! I’m super excited to let you all know about my involvement in a new project (one of many to come!). I’ve taken a position as Marketing and Social Media Manager for a brand new pop-up restaurant project called ELEMENTS. We have a roving band of chefs who will travel the country, led by Chef Skye Van Schetsen, connecting with communities and using the best of what that region has to offer to create both a beautiful meal and one of a kind dining experience. Proceeds will go to a local food/hunger related charity in each city. How cool is that?

Our first stop is in Portland, Oregon.

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If you’re interested in following our journey, and/or you live in the Portland area and are interested in attending one of our dinners there, go like and follow us on whichever social media platforms work for you for the latest updates.

And check out the website, where we’ll post menus for each city and lots of other fun stuff.
Happy Tuesday!

I’ll take my bread on the rocks, please.

You guys… this baking thing is going to be the death of me. I’ve actually pondered doing a separate baking blog, just to chronicle all my baking related… disasters? tragedies? debacles? Whatever you call them, they make me just frustrated enough that I’m compelled to keep at it until I get better.

Case in point, the sourdough. My starter is lovely and bubbly and alive and I thought, “That went ok. Maybe this bread thing will work out, too?”

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This is the recipe I used. As you can see, it’s meant to produce a lovely, light, airy loaf of sandwich bread.

I followed the instructions for mixing… combined the water and the yeast…

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Added the flour and salt…Kneaded until my fingers and wrists and elbows got crampy…

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And then…… then the whole let it rise thing got me. Did the first rise, then split the dough and put half in a loaf pan and let it rise again.

It looked weird when I put it into the oven, but I thought… maybe it’ll still be ok.
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But….. well……. *insert big, dramatic, Oscar worthy sigh here*

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I went back and re-read the directions and determined that I need to do this whole thing during the day. I put the dough in the fridge overnight to have its last rise before going into the oven, but I’m pretty sure I’d already jacked it up at that point. It was dense, and REALLY hard on the outside. Like, if someone broke into my apartment and tried to steal me, I could fling this loaf of bread at them and probably cause some serious harm to their head area (assuming my aim is that good, which it never is). I will probably just make breadcrumbs out of it and try again on Saturday, when I have a whole day to really pay attention to the timing like I should.

I will say this… it does taste good. If I can duplicate the flavor it has now, AND get it to be all beautiful and light like sammich bread, I’ll do the happiest of happy dances. That starter is the bomb, and I hate the idea of not being able to use it to make something worthy of all that awesome flavor it’s bringing to the party.

So, this probably isn’t the last you’ve heard of my adventures with sourdough. If things go better on Saturday, I’ll post a quick update.

Is there a recipe you’ve tried and tried and tried again before you finally got it right? When did your persistence finally pay off? Tell me in the comments!

Let’s Get Funky!

I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with the thing I’m so not very good at, but here I go again, starting another baking project.

Did I tell you guys I made gingerbread cupcakes in class last week, and when they sunk in the middle I cried? Yeah, I know that school is for learning and learning means messing up, but this is something I’ve made at home before a few times and never had an issue and I was just so upset about it I made a big ole fool of myself. Snotty and red faced and the whole nine. But then three different chefs came over and gave me pep talks, really good ones, and I’m over it now. Mostly.

And now headlong I’ve gone into this thing… a sourdough starter. But not just any sourdough starter… one made with bottle dregs from this beer:

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If you’re not familiar with bottle dregs, here’s the scoop. Sometimes, you’ll drink a beer that has “stuff” floating in it. Usually, unless you shake up the liquid, the stuff sinks to the bottom of the bottle and never makes it to your glass. Contained within that stuff, the dregs, are bacteria and yeast that were used in the beer making process. Those dregs still have live “bugs” in them, and can be reused to make more beer, or, in this case, give a sourdough starter a big ole kick start.

To make mine, I used the basic process laid out here, at thekitchn.com. They do a great job of explaining what a starter is, and why you’d want to make one, but I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version.

When you make bread, you need a leavening agent to make it rise. Most of the time, you’re going to go to the store and buy the yeast that has been grown and cultivated specifically for the purpose of baking. You don’t have to corral all those little yeasties yourself because someone has done it for you. Essentially, by growing your own starter, you’re creating a medium in which you can cultivate and grow all the wild yeast that’s already in the flour to use as your leavening agent, versus using the stuff from the store.

I started with a 1:1 ratio of flour to liquid– 4 oz. flour, and 4 oz of a combination of the bottle dregs and water. The moment I put the two together, I already started to see bubbles. That’s a good sign.

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Every day for the past five days, I’ve been feeding the starter with fresh water and more flour. Here it is on day two:

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And day four:
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It’s a little hard to tell, but it’s starting to get frothier and just generally gooey. It also smells kinda sour at this stage (duh), and at day five, closer to being ready to use, I can also smell that lovely yeasty smell. What you don’t want to smell is acetone. If you smell that, it means things have gone a little sideways and you probably need to start over. But, as long as you feed it every day, and store it in a spot with a consistent temperature of around 70°F, in about 5 days you should have a healthy starter that you can use to make everything from bread to pizza dough.

I’m in school for the next three days, so the first opportunity I’ll have to test out my starter in a loaf of bread will be late Friday evening. Of course, I’ll take pictures and tell you how it goes.

Have you ever made your own starter? How do you use it? Leave a comment and let me know!

An Egg-cellent Adventure

Just get used to punny titles, folks. I sincerely cannot help myself.

It’s been awhile since I performed any true kitchen experiments, and it was starting to get a little sad around here. The part of my brain that thinks about food (most of it) craves excitement (don’t think for a second I didn’t want to say “egg-citement” just then) and adventure was crying out for the thrills and chills of an “I dunno what’s gonna happen here, but let’s do it anyway!” moment.

Enter, this little gem from Hard Corps Foodie. It’s instructions on how to salt cure an egg yolk. I’d never heard of such a thing, and then once I did, it seemed like they were showing up everywhere. They’re being grated over salads, and pasta dishes, and all sorts of things.

What are they? Well, it’s pretty much like it sounds. You basically bury egg yolks in a salt-sugar mix, let them hang out for a few days until the salt pulls out most of the moisture, then hang them to dry somewhere cool for another week. You can play around with the ratios, and even add other spices into the mix to further manipulate the flavor of the final product.

I was dying of curiosity, so I set out to cure my own egg yolks last Saturday. I’ve just started the “hanging” phase today, but I thought I’d show you what it looks like so far, and I’ll give you an update in a week or so when they’re ready to use, and then, you know, use them, because what’s the point, otherwise?

I actually used a mixture of about 30% sugar, 55% sea salt, and 15% hickory smoked sea salt.

I just cracked a couple of eggs, dumped the whites and gently plopped the yolks into the cure.

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Then I buried them as well as I could, put the lid on, and stuck the container in the back of my fridge and pretty much ignored them until this afternoon.

When I took them out of the cure and rinsed them with cold water, this is what they looked like.

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So, yanno… like dehydrated yellow things. Kinda shaped funny, but that’s probably because the burying process was a little tricker than I had anticipated. I wanted to make sure they were both closer to the center and not touching the sides of the container, and that took a little manipulating. I can’t imaging being a funny shape would impact the taste at all. It was a lot weirder to me that I could actually hold this crazy dehydrated egg yolk under cold running water without it just totally falling apart.

And now, as I mentioned, we’re just at the hanging up stage.

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I’ve read that you can cure yolks in pretty much anything salty… like miso and even soy sauce, so if these work out I will definitely become obsessed with doing this all the time, just to see what it tastes like.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m super impatient sometimes… I really hate waiting for the good part, so I’m trying to slow myself down during experiments like this and think of all of it as the good part, so I can really notice what’s happening along the way instead of just being so fixated on the final goal. That’s another thing my food obsessed brain needs– reminders that the process should get just as much attention as the end result.  It’s all about eggs-periences, right? (Sorry. I couldn’t resist!)