Browsing Tag: food

    Miscellany

    All-In on Grocery Delivery Services

    September 11, 2020

    When it comes to “pandemic changes” that we’re going to continue doing/using after the pandemic ends, grocery delivery is pretty high on the list.

    I’d never done grocery delivery until this hit back in the spring, and now I’m totally sold on it.

    Since Cari is a real estate agent, her weekends are often spent out looking at houses with clients — yes, even during the pandemic that’s still the case. So I’ve been doing the family grocery shopping for pretty much the past 16 years. A typical weekend of grocery shopping involves a minimum of two trips to different stores and takes a good two hours or so, sometimes more but rarely less. And that doesn’t include a monthly trip to Costco; add in another 60-90 minutes for that.

    With grocery delivery, I’m spending maybe 20-30 minutes total making a shopping list and placing the orders through Costco.com, Walmart.com, and Instacart. And then everything shows up on our front door and we just put it away and get on with our lives.

    I hear you saying, “What about the costs, Matt?”

    The groceries are a little more expensive when ordered through Costco or Instacart. Walmart groceries cost the same online and in the store. Then there are delivery fees and tips … and I try to be a generous tipper, especially in times like this.

    As best I can tell, and I’ve tried to track this, all of those extra costs come to about $50-60 per shopping “event.” I put it that way because we used to do grocery shopping every weekend. Now with delivery, we’re ordering more and only shopping twice a month. So it’s about $100-$120 extra per month … but it saves me about 8-10 hours per month. When I do the math, delivery is basically costing about $12-15 per hour. And my time is worth a lot more than that, so I consider it a fair trade.

    The only downside to grocery delivery is that sometimes the stuff you’ve ordered is out of stock. With all of the services, you can indicate if you want a substitute item or if you want the item skipped if it’s out of stock. And when this happens to your Costco/Instacart order, it’s no problem — you can watch the order being shopped in real-time, and if you don’t like what the “shopper” has chosen as the substitute, you can text right away and provide instructions. But you can’t do that with the Walmart orders. When something’s out of stock at Walmart, the shopper picks a substitute and you’re basically stuck with it. So you have to be extra careful when ordering about which items you’ll allow substitutes for, and which ones you won’t.

    When the pandemic started, we also signed up with a local community farming co-op — they deliver super-fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every week for $29. That’s been really cool because I hate to waste money and hate to throw food away, so I find myself eating a lot healthier these days to make sure that food and money aren’t wasted.

    The photo above shows a typical delivery from this service — heirloom tomatoes, peaches, sweet corn, watermelon, green peppers, cucumbers, avocado, and blueberries. Soooooo fresh and delicious.

    Put all of that together and you can count me a convert to the joys of grocery delivery.

    Miscellany

    New Menu Addition: Pico de Burger

    August 2, 2020

    Every week we get a fresh farm-to-table delivery from a farm co-op/community supported agriculture group in our area. It’s sooooo good.

    The most recent delivery had Roma tomatoes, red onions, jalapeno peppers, and fresh cilantro — pretty much the only stuff you need for pico de gallo. So I made a batch the same night the delivery came in and it’s delicious! (We’re still eating it.)

    Last night was burger night and I thought it would be interesting to try putting pico de gallo on a burger. Why not? Tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos are some of my favorite burger toppings, so I thought it was worth trying.

    After doing some online research, I settled on this simple combination:

    • Avocado
    • Thin layer of mayo
    • Monterey Jack cheese
    • Huge scoop of pico de gallo

    The first two ingredients went under the burger; the second two on top. And that was it. No BBQ sauce. No ketchup. Nothing else. This is what it looked like.

    IT. WAS. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

    Seriously, I thought I’d like it … but I LOVED it. This burger was 10x better than I ever expected it to be.

    And what’s cool is that it can be customized. Want more heat? Add some fresh or grilled jalapenos on top. And maybe add some chipotle/spicy aioli. I also wonder what it would taste like with some bacon underneath. So many ways to make it.

    It’ll definitely go on the menu at the burger joint.

    Miscellany

    Restaurant Side-Dish: Macaroni Salad

    May 3, 2020

    When I finally get around to opening my burger joint, it’ll have all the regular side-dishes you’d expect — french fries (couple styles), tater tots, onion rings, etc.

    It’ll also have this macaroni salad that I’ve been eating since I was a tiny little boy.

    It’s really simple. (Is there ANY form of mac salad that’s complicated? Hope not.)

    • 1 box of pasta
    • 1 large tomato, diced
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 red pepper diced
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 1-2 cups mayo
    • Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

    That’s the whole ingredient list. You just cook the pasta normally, then add everything else in and stir until it’s mixed. Simple.

    But there are a few notes I should pass along:

    Pasta: Any kind will work, really. The photo above is Penne. It also works with Ziti, Elbows, and any tube-style or twist-style pasta. I wouldn’t use long pastas like spaghetti or fettuccine because that just seems … weird. But TBH it would probably taste fine.

    Counts: Other than the pasta, I really have no idea about the counts I listed above. I really do just eyeball things and stop putting in green pepper when it looks like enough. But I think one of each vegetable above is a safe guide to use. With the exception of the…

    Onion: This is an “add to taste” thing. You definitely want some onion in there to balance out the other tastes, but if you’re not a big onion fan, probably a quarter or half of an onion would be enough. I generally use either a standard yellow or sweet onion.

    Mayo: Seriously have no idea how much I put in. It’s probably closer to two cups.

    Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt: This is NOT optional. It’s the best seasoning out there for stuff like this, so hunt high and low if you need to, get it on Amazon if you need to, whatever. Again, season to taste — start with small amounts and add as you go. You should be able to clearly taste this, but be careful about overdoing it. (BTW, Jane’s is also great on tuna salad.)

    Final note: The great thing about salads like this is that you can play around and try new things. When I made this a month ago, the only onions we had in the house were red onions and scallions — so I used them both and it was still delicious!

    Miscellany

    #Burgerfail

    February 23, 2020

    I figure since I’ve posted so often over the years about all the great burgers I’ve made, I should post when I screw it up, too.

    Tonight’s “bright” idea was to caramelize the onions with bacon in the pan. I mean, right? Caramelized bacon and onions sounds like something they’ll have on the menu in Heaven.

    And it sure looked good at the start.

    That’s about three-quarters of a pound of bacon on top of about two medium sweet onions. There’s also a little butter under there, which was totally unnecessary.

    I added some kosher salt and brown sugar and had some Sherry vinegar handy, but it was also totally unnecessary.

    Why? Because the onion juices and the bacon fat combined to make what looked like soup for quite a while. As the burgers were getting closer to finished, I had to choose:

    • drain all the liquid, or
    • turn up the heat and reduce it

    I went with the second option.

    I don’t know if either option would’ve worked, but with option 2 I ended up burning the onions … which you can see starting to happen in the photo above.

    It got much worse after that.

    The bacon cooked just fine, and I was able to salvage enough of it to use on our burgers.

    The burgers were still good overall, I suppose. Just not up to standards. Maybe a 6 on a scale of 1-10.

    Live and learn. It was fun to try something new, but I really prefer it when the experiments work well.

    Miscellany

    Mom & Dad, Why Did You Let Me Eat This Stuff?!?

    October 5, 2019

    I’ve been chatting with my daughter over the past several days about all the strange (and probably unhealthy) eating habits that I had as a kid.

    There was the phase I went through around 8-10 years old where I constantly ate uncooked hot dogs straight from the package. I remember polishing off an entire pack of hot dogs in a single day — had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yuck, right?? I shudder just thinking about it.

    That was around the same time that I went through my mayonnaise sandwich phase, where I’d just spread mayo in between two slices of bread. That creation quickly morphed into a ketchup sandwich, and then into a ketchup & mayo sandwich. Just bread and condiments.

    I was telling my daughter that I wish at least one of my parents was still alive because I’d really love to ask them, What were you thinking when I was eating an entire pack of raw hot dogs in a single day, or having a mayonnaise sandwich for lunch? Or better yet, WHY DID YOU LET ME EAT LIKE THAT??!! 😄

    And then today I was in the grocery store and I saw an item that triggered another memory: I don’t remember how old I was, but I used to drink Karo Syrup straight from the bottle, like it was juice. Can you imagine?!?

    Again, main thought: WHERE WERE MY PARENTS??!! Then on second thought:, I can’t help feeling that I’m just lucky to be alive because I ate some really weird shit when I was a kid.

    Miscellany

    Slow-cooker recipe: Sweet Chili Meatballs

    February 24, 2019

    Found this quick recipe in Food Network magazine and, since we don’t always save those for future use, I want to put this here primarily as a reminder to myself for how to make it. Not that it’s difficult — it’s brain-dead easy. But I’ll forget because it’s not something I’ll make super often.

    Step 1: Full bag of frozen meatballs into the slow cooker

    Step 2: Add 2 cups chili sauce

    Step 3: Add 2 cups grape jelly

    Step 4: Cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 2 hours, but I went with low), stirring occasionally.

    End of recipe! And the final result was really, really delicious. Here it is:

    Like I said, I’m posting this for my own future benefit, but if you give this a try yourself, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!