Wednesday, September 25

HelloFresh Review

Hey lovelies!

I just wanted to post a quick review of my new favorite thing in the world.
Love food? Check this out.
One box. Three meals (more, really). Free shipping.
 It's a food delivery service that sends you a box every week-- out every other week, or once a month, however you want, with all-- and I mean all-- the ingredients for three meals per week (for two or four people).
Free shipping, too!

It's a little expensive for a tiny budget like mine- though there are ways to get money off, such as my coupon code below, as well as account credit- but we went out on a limb and ordered the first box as a luxury and time saver and just for the fun of it! 

We don't need to grocery shop so much, don't need to argue about what we should have for dinner all the time, and it comes with easy to follow recipe cards (with photos) that make it fun to try out these recipes that we'd never have thought to make!

Every Tuesday night I'm eager for my box to come in (it gets here on Wednesday mornings) and every Wednesday night I can't wait to find out what the next box is going to be (new menu is up every Thursday)!

Did I mention that it comes with virtually everything you need for each meal? All you usually need are the tools (pots, pans, dishes) some oil, and some salt and pepper.
Everything you need!
Everything else is in the box! Recipes, fresh meats, veggies, fruits, spices, plus condiments, garlic, garnishes, everything!
Everything's wrapped individually and kept together in bags for each meal, so you just put the bags in the fridge (pantry items seem to come in separate bags) and pull out whichever bag you need for the meal you want to make!

The menu is changed every week, with options for you.
There's three vegetarian meals, or five classic meals that you choose three meals from. It's a great variety and change, but still with choices and all delicious.

And so far almost every meal has actually made enough for us both plus leftovers, so we're actually getting more than three meals out of it.

The photo recipe cards are really cool because, A) they're pretty and easy to read and reusable and just adorable, and B) they make it really easy for my beau to cook, even though he's not usually good at it, AND we get to collect them, so we'll have this cute little pile of recipes perfect for a hand-made cookbook, so we can make our favorites over and over!
Recipe cards from our first box (classic). The Kofta was so good! And the salad was fun!
And because each meal is meant to be made in less than 30 minutes, it's a restaurant quality meal that's quick and simple, so we don't feel that "I wanna go ooout!" craving as often (so the money part balances out a little since we go out to eat less).

If you don't like the service (or can't afford it all the time) all you have to do is either set it on pause until you want another box, or just cancel it. No questions asked (except maybe a quick 'why') and no hidden fees or commitments.
That's really what got us to do it. Knowing that we could choose when we would get a box, based on what we could afford or wanted.

Our Vegetarian Box recipes this week. Note there's even nutrition info!
Also, as a side note, their customer service is really good so far.
It takes a while for them to get back to you sometimes, but they're really nice.
In our first box, we were missing the main ingredients of one of our meals (the mushroom risotto, which we still plan on making), and when we told them, they credited our account for a third of the original price (which means that much off a future box!).
We were impressed with how quickly they resolved it and how nice they were.

These photos are from our first two boxes. I love how fresh everything is, how creative and healthy the meals are, plus how cute it all is! 

And the variety means we're always trying something new and different all the time!
Today was pasta with escarole and mushrooms, tomorrow is african peanut stew made with eggplant and peanut butter on top of quinoa, roasted sqaush after that. So cool! Next week is seared steak with tomato/olive ragu, spicy chicken linguine, and artisan sausages with fresh mashed potatoes.

We've loved all the meals so far, and anything we didn't love, we worked out how to adapt it in the future, such as a different herb, an added side dish, or a different ingredient.

So, to sum it up.
Classy, gourmet food that's easy to make and delicious, delivered right to you.  Healthy, fresh, and delivered. Comes with literally everything you need.
I love it love it love it.

Great for busy foodies or those looking to learn how to cook new things (or at all).

AND for $20 off your first box, use the code 9Y42J5 when you check out.

It brings the price down a lot, which is really great to just give you a taste of it!
If you're not sure about whether or not you want to keep going, just put your deliveries on hold while you're deciding, and they won't charge you a thing until you want another box (or not)!

Try it!

Edit:: the coupon code recently changed; make sure you use the correct one (9Y42J5)

Wednesday, September 18

Beautiful Books:: The Elementals

Currently reading FLBs "The Elementals".
It had a slow start, I think, but I've fallen in love. Very pretty. Very ... relatable, if that's even a word. In fact, I find it more relatable than some of her other books. 

There's just something much more relatable and understanding about a girl entering college after traumatic setbacks and feeling lost, alone, and grasping onto the things she finally finds magical. 

 "That was when I started to run. I ran and ran as fast as I could along the pavement. Sweat poured down my face, mixing with the tears that had started to come. I could run fast. But you just can't run faster than time, not faster than death and, as I'd find out, not faster than love."
-- page 8

Weetzie Bat led a beautiful life, but it's not one everyone gets, or understands, or even necessarily wants. But Ariel is so real and complex in her fears and desires that I see myself behaving much the same way as her in many of the situations she faces. Her fear and anxiety and loneliness and desire to find her friend (and herself) definitely reflect me back at myself in a sad, beautiful way. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

"I walked past groups of laughing frat boys in monster masks and sorority girls dressed as sexy cats, sexy witches or sexy fairies in accessorized leotards and tights. The homeless were out in full force as well but the Greek kids were ignoring them in the usual way, as if they were invisible, phantoms. But I saw. The woman with the wings held a skeleton mask over her face and her small companion was dressed head to toe in clothes that looked as if they had been dipped in blood. The man with dreadlocks had twisted them into horns. He approached me, mumbling and waving his hands. I froze. As he got closer he shouted, 'The end is near and the parallel universe is not near complete!' He kept walking past me and I resumed breathing. The air smelled of coffee and chocolate. I stopped at the corner and looked around. People were sitting in the cafe. It seemed so warm and cozy in there."
  -- page 29

It reminds me a little of Echo, in the searching, and Quakeland in its self aware anxiety, The Hanged Man in its views of life and the self, and Ecstasia in its lush sensory descriptions.
But all of these in a much more narrative, realistic, understandable way. I can see myself as Ariel in ways I couldn't with other characters. I don't aspire to be like her or in her life; I just could be. Anyone could be.

The story is part coming-of-age, part supernatural, and part crime mystery. It's lovely and touching and sad and scary, and reminds you of those times when you just want to run and jump and dance, dress up, play, light candles and kiss and write and sing and be alive as much as possible.

"Everywhere I went I imagined she was walking with me. I tried to see things through her eyes; it wasn't hard. I knew how she thought. The faces she would find beautiful or interesting, the scruffy and disabled dogs she would stop to pet, the jewelry she would life from black velvet on the street vendor's table, examining to see how it was made, the buildings she would want to live in."
--page 17

It's also incredibly grounded in its representation of love and fear and tragedy, and I swear it's a wonderful read, Teen-Fiction or not. 

It's amazing.

Tuesday, September 10

Soba Salad Anyone?

Scanning through Necklace of Kisses last week for a post got me wanting miso soup and cold soba noodles. She eats them like three times and there's only so many times I can see or hear about something before I want it (okay, so it's really only one time, but still).

So last weekend I got some miso paste, tofu, and wakame seaweed and settled the miso problem. That's easy enough.

But while I know how to make soba noodles, and usually have the noodles themselves around, I'm generally afraid to try anything new with them.

Today I got over that fear.

The stuff;
Buck wheat soba noodles
Meat/protein (I used cooked steak, next time gonna use quinoa and egg)
Veggies (peas, Napa cabbage, spinach are good)
Toppings (sesame seeds, nori strips, furikake)
Sauce. You can use a light dressing like miso dressing, peanut dressing, or just soba broth -- here's what I used today;  drippings from the steak, bottled soba broth, scallions, a drop of sesame oil, black vinegar, and crushed peanuts.

The process;
1. Prepare your meat/protein as needed. Set aside to cool.
2. Prepare soba as directed on package.
3. While soba is boiling, prep everything. -if using frozen veggies, add to boiling noodles so they cook with it. -cut protein however you'd like it. I prefer small chunks for meats/tofu.
4. Prepare your chosen sauce and allow to cool if hot. I mixed all my dressing ingredients in a pan on low and then let cool. If you're using a bottled dressing/broth, no work required!
5. Rinse noodles really really well in a colander and then allow to drain fully.
6. In a big bowl, mix all ingredients gently. Start with noodles, then veggies, then most of the meat and a helping of sauce. Start slow with the sauce and add as needed- you don't want it soupy. Then add some of your toppings and mix gently. Add ingredients as desired.
7. In (cute) bowls or traditional platforms, use chopsticks to arrange a pile of noodles. Make sure to get helpings of meat, veggies, etc. To finish, place a few bits of protein around the edge and top with a small pile of sesame seeds and nori strips/flakes, and any other toppings.
8. Enjoy your cool, filling, healthy meal.

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