What’s cooking in the new year?

January 3, 2021

What’s for dinner tonight? is the monotonous question these days, weeks and interminable months at home in the kitchen.

Recently, a neighbor asked me if I wanted to try three free meals from Hello Fresh. For me, the stress of cooking dinner is deciding what to make, as my spouse and I have different tastes. Why not?

Last month, a huge box landed on my doorstep. Inside were three sealed paper bags and the meats, partially frozen, at the bottom of the box. Inside each bag came all the other ingredients to make meals called Creamy Dreamy Mushroom Cavatappi, Cherry Balsamic Bavette Steak, and Pecan-Crusted Trout.

We were entertained by the child-size packaging of the ingredients. One ounce of dried cherries. A doll-size bottle of vinegar. Miniature pouches of an ounce of sour cream, one tablespoon of panko bread crumbs, two teaspoons of Dijon mustard.

For a few weeks, we ordered more meals online because we liked that neither of us had to plan anything. The coolest part was these colorful laminated cards with step-by-step directions. It was like kindergarten and we just had to paste a triangle on the correct shape. Step one: Cut potatoes into one-quarter-inch rounds.

When it was my husband’s night to cook, I presented him his very own card, “Here is your card, sweetheart!”

I watched him adjust the oven racks, wash, peel and cut carrots, thinly slice the shallots, while I set the table and thought, now this could be a game-changer in my marriage.

The experience reminded me of a 1971 cookbook called “Couples Cooking Together.” I recall the wife’s role involved actual cooking while the man’s role included laying down cloth napkins and lighting the candles.

Ultimately, we decided that Hello Fresh was too expensive and not environmentally sensible. We were flabbergasted by the amount of packaging thrown into the garbage. I still have four petite packages of grated parmesan cheese, Korean chili flakes, and sesame seeds.

Last weekend, my husband Ray went to Totem Farms to pick up produce. He asked for broccoli, but I had forgotten to preorder. Rob noticed there was none in the refrigerator and said, “Oh, let me go cut some now. I’ll be right back.”

Now that’s what I call fresh! Best broccoli ever!

I did learn a few pointers from the fresh people. You can grate ginger easily using the back of a spoon. Rice is better when you add grated lime zest while it is cooking. Bavette steak is a cut of beef taken from the abdominal muscles or lower chest of the steer.

Ordering meals delivered to our home just felt wrong to me when so many people are lining up at food banks to get through a few days. Instead of ordering more meals, we made a donation to the the Jusst Sooup Ministries, and we support local restaurants with takeout and dining in, too.

Truthfully, we are spoiled and lazy. Time to chop up onions and celery to make soup. Wishing you a happy new year and shared responsibility in the kitchen!

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