Changing Organic Landscape

When we look at Whole Foods Market, we think “big”, the truth is that it’s all a matter of perspective. Sure, Whole Foods is big; after all, 440 stores in the US is nothing to sneeze at. But compared to the nearly 3, 500 Walmart Super-centers and 2, 400 Kroger-brand supermarkets in America alone, Whole Foods is relatively small. Add home delivery options like Amazon or meal delivery services like Blue Apron and suddenly you’ve got a mid-level grocer in distress—scrapping plans to expand, and closing stores all across the country.

With large grocers increasing their offerings in the organic-and-natural-food market at a cheaper price, it should come as no surprise that the notoriously expensive Whole Foods (dubbed by many as “Whole Paycheck”) has felt a hit—and they are not the only organic food chain that is struggling. Smaller rivals like Sprouts, Fresh Market, and Fairway have all seen plunging stocks this year as well. The solution—for Whole Foods, at least—is to start with store closures in the smaller markets, and lower prices across the board. They are also attempting to grow the larger markets with a new chain: 365 by Whole Foods, a smaller, cheaper option for those who want to buy organic. Additionally, the chain is partnering with a private consumer data subsidiary of global grocery giant Tesco in an attempt to use customer information to improve merchandising and personalize offers to loyal shoppers. So what does this mean for the smallest of purveyors, like South Shore Organics? Well, for starters, we can’t deny that any grocer or food delivery service (big or small) is potential competition.

Whether folks are shopping at another local market or getting pre-packaged meals from meal kit services, the fact is that we saw our first dip in sales last year. It’s left us wondering whether our community is seeing the trickle down impact of these large grocery stores, and how we are supposed to sustain our business model in the face of such competition. We are one location to their many; we don’t mine consumer data for trends; and above all, we believe in helping our customers feel a stronger connection to their food. From its very inception, South Shore Organics has been on a mission to provide clean food from sources that support family farms and food production. This means getting produce from local farms year-round.

But we still compete with bigger companies who merely pay lip service to what is our primary focus and core mission. Companies for whom “supporting farmers” means getting farm-fresh produce at the lowest cost while offering farmers 90 days payment terms. A large proportion of processed food sold under the organic label (everything from frozen carrots to chicken nuggets) is imported, and largely from China. We understand that shoppers want high quality at an affordable cost. This is why we strive to offer the best produce around, while keeping our prices competitive. In fact, our regular price checks against chain grocers and local markets in the area consistently demonstrate that we offer the most local and organic produce for the lowest cost, and we are very proud of that—especially since we are only one small, locally-owned business with fewer resources at our disposal to do our good work and make a positive impact within our community. It is both challenging and frustrating to go head to head with many of the super-centers, meal kit companies, and cheap organic brands for ‘organic dollars’ when they will do whatever it takes and make (environmental and ethical) compromises, while we, the scrawniest, scrappiest kid on the block with hardly any muscle, stand steadfast, refuse to make compromises, and cling to our food ethics and mission.

We have seen a lot of change this year. Many farmers are no longer offering CSA’s, and have reduced their commitment to Farmers’ Markets this season. On a local, small farm level, many of us are feeling the contraction. With existing stores expanding their offerings and many new ways to think about, cook, and consume food coming to market, other, larger brands like Whole Foods are feeling it too.

It is going to be interesting to see how the landscape is affected over the next few years, and see who will survive. I hope like hell it’s us, others like us, and our small family run farms. Otherwise, who will we trust to do the right thing?

“Putting Things Into Perspective.” Berkshire Organics – 24 Feb 2017.
Barth, Brian. “Meal Kit Mania, Unpacked.” Modern Farmer – 16 Nov 2016.
Peterson, Hayley. “Whole Foods is Closing Stores: See if Yours is on the List.” Business Insider – 9 Feb 2017.
“Whole Foods is Closing Nine Stores After a Year of Sluggish Sales.” Reuters: Fortune – 9 Feb 2017

All Things Have a Season

Oliver de Serres (1539-1619) once said, “A thriving household depends on the use of seasonal produce and the application of common sense.”

Putting a home-cooked healthy dinner on the table with any regularity is a challenge, whether you are a food writer, chef, farmer, stay at home mom, a commuter, part-time or full-time worker-bee. The struggle is real for all of us. The most common complaints are:

  • I hate staring into the fridge at 6pm,trying to decide what to have
  • I’m so bored with my repertoire, we eat the same thing over and over
  • My children are always whining about what I’ve made for dinner
  • I just don’t have time
  • I’m not a good cook

I read somewhere that since the advent of cooking shows on TV, the number of people who cook regularly has declined, which is interesting. You would think people would be inspired! What has happened, I think, is that cooking shows have raised the bar of what we think is expected, and now, unless we are performing Jamie Oliver or Rachel Ray type feats in the kitchen, we feel like underachievers.

The truth is, there is no secret genie. No magic unicorn answer. Until the visions of star trek producers are realized and we can push a button on a replicator, wait two seconds, and open the door to a steaming roast beef and gravy dinner, we are on our own.

Here is the another truth: every option has it’s pros, and it unfortunately, also has its cons. Whether it is a microwaved dinner (processed, not fresh, stored in plastic, often full of preservatives)  a meal-kit you just need to assemble (packaging nightmare, environmental impact is awful, and it’s expensive by comparison), a farmer’s market trip (getting there in a window time frame can be challenging), or a drive to the grocery store (not the fresh food ideal, food often shipped from far) at the end of the day, no matter how tired you feel, good fresh food takes work.

This brings us to the final truth. It’s all in the planning. If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.

It is for this reason that I am so excited to introduce Cook the Seasons. Here’s why, after test-driving many, many products, including the meal kit offerings, we picked Cook the Seasons to share with you:

  • It supports all the food ethics we hold dear: meals based on local, seasonal, farm fresh fruits and veggies
  • It is completely flexible, you can tailor it to what you like to eat, all the while considering what is coming in your delivery
  • Cook The Seasons puts left overs to good use with ‘Reinvention Recipes’
  • It’s easy to use
  • The recipes are super simple, with a casual elegance that allows you to be Rachel Ray, and make it look just as easy! And delicious!
  • Lia doesn’t just give you assembly instructions, she supports each season with a ‘how to stock you pantry for spring’ and ‘kitchen equipment you will need this season’, plus other wonderful tips on which oil to use, or how to de-glaze a pan. You will actually learn to cook.
  • You can make cooking a family affair, and get everybody into the kitchen with you
  • You actually spend less and less time in the kitchen as the week wears on and you lean on ingredients you’ve already prepared
  • You save money

All this for only $55 for three months, AND Lia has generously offered all SSO customers $20 discount with the coupon code SOUTHSHORE. And, we are so confident it will help you use up every morsel in your green box, that we too will give all customers who join us a $10 credit to their account.

Seriously, what have you got to lose?

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The Dish on Meal Kit Companies: Farmers

With all the ‘farm goodness’ on marketing materials, we asked if meal kit companies deliver on their ‘small farm’ promise, the results were not that surprising:

Menu’s Are Not Regional, or That Local

Large meal kit companies are sourcing and shipping raw ingredients nationally and internationally, and distributing the end product all across the USA. “There’s less carbon emitted to aggregate meat on a shipping container on a boat from New Zealand than if we were driving it from Nebraska to Chicago,” says Matthew Wadiak about grass-fed beef, Matthew is Blue Apron’s 38-year-old chief operating officer and one of its three co-founders.

In an article written by Brian Barth for Modern Farmer, Plated, which boasts “farm-sourced seasonal ingredients,” did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. HelloFresh, which makes a similar claim [about fresh ingredients from nearby farms], replied to inquiries via an email statement—“we source a growing percentage of our produce direct from growers”—yet provided no details regarding that percentage or those growers.

A Culture of Mono-cropping

Mono-cropping is hundreds of acres under a single crop which is terrible for biodiversity and genetic diversity. Meal kit companies have become so successful, and are dealing in such large quantities (8,000,000 meals a month in the case of Blue Apron), that when they need chard for a recipe, they need 40,000 pounds of it. This runs counter to the small farm ideal, supported by locals through CSA’s, Farmers Markets, and businesses like ours. A diverse farm with many different crops minimizes the risk and exposure for farmers against catastrophe. If one crop fails, another is likely to be successful. Diverse farms are also key to the genetic viability of our food system, and are also home to a greater number of insects and wildlife, all vital in lowering the environmental impact of agriculture and creating a system that is healthier, more robust, and more sustainable.

Local Farm Economics

Spending money locally improves local economy. To have the same economic impact and job creation, you would have to spend three times as much with a chain store, and even more with a business that isn’t based in your neighborhood, but instead, is shipping to its end users.

Although meal kit companies report to pay ‘somewhere between wholesale and retail’ prices for food from small farms, in our experience this has not been the case. For example, Markristo Farm who works with our counterpart, Berkshire Organics out in Western Mass, was approached to grow the above mentioned 40,000 pounds of Swiss chard, the price he was offered for it was 80 cents per pound. At South Shore Organics we pay anywhere between $1.75 and $2.50 per bunch of Swiss chard, depending on the farm and the time of year. A vastly different price point. Eighty cents is well below the wholesale price, and not viable for smaller farms relying on labor and not machines to harvest and wash crops.

What if the crop was a couple weeks late due to a cool start to the summer season, the meal kit company could reject the entire crop. What would a farmer with 24 acres do with 40,000 pounds of Swiss chard?

Food Waste

These companies promise ‘no waste’, however, we have already addressed the abhorrent plastic waste in our blog ‘The Dish on Meal Kit Companies: Packaging’. And food waste? Menus and recipes prepared by these meal kit companies rely on perfect portioning as well as simplicity to be successful. The cabbage can’t be too big, or too small, neither can the apple, or the leaf size of the kale. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not a drive-through order window, and she loves allowing things to grow at their own rate.

Similarly, meal kit companies do not accept wiggly carrots, because it makes them more challenging for their customers to peel. Or misshapen green peppers. Or green peppers that have already started to blush red. The waste is real, you just don’t get to see it.

Our customers know we include potatoes of all sizes, wiggly carrots, and funky green peppers. These perfectly edible vegetables are not rejected and destined for the compost heap because they don’t conform to size, weight, and aesthetic standards of a recipe card.

Food Ethics

And what of the ‘food miles’ solution suggested by the recent surge in hyperlocal meal-kit companies? Wadiak of Blue Apron would argue that they sacrifice mass reach for ideology. Apparently they are mutually exclusive. Mass Reach vs. Ideology. Which side are you on when it comes to food?

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Source (quoted): Modern Farmer, Meal Kit Mania – Unpacked, and conversations with farmers

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The Dish on Meal Kit Companies: Packaging

I have been watching the meal kit company space develop with great interest over the last year or two. I’ve overheard people talking about how convenient it is, and how there is no waste, and how it all seems too good to be true. And it is. Not only do meal kits take all the spontaneity out of cooking, but they fly in the face of all ethics we value and cherish.

In this post, we are going to tackle the environmental impact of all the single use, single serve plastic used in portioned meal kit servings. Here is a sample of what one delivery from a popular meal kit company, Blue Apron, will bring in terms of waste: plastic-use

At a time when we are waking up and realizing the enormous impact  of ‘single use’ plastics on our environment, meal kit companies are making the problem far, far worse. Fact: every piece of plastic ever made still exists in the world today.  Biodegradable plastics are still not the answer, they are made by adding metals to the plastic, causing oxidation, which breaks the bags down into pieces. These metals leach into the immediate environment, and the pieces of plastic still persist, they are just smaller, harder to clean up, and if anything, more dangerous.

300 Million tons of plastic is produced every year, only 10% of it is recycled, and of that 10%, we, the U.S., are sending container loads (an estimated 6.6 million tons) of it to China to be re-processed. Think about the carbon footprint of that little statistic for a moment. In addition, it’s hard to know exact numbers, but recycling aside our best guess is that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into our seas every year.

When plastic is recycled, it is often down-cycled. Bottles don’t turn back into more bottles, they turn into flip flops, and textiles for clothing and blankets, for example. And what of contaminants found in some plastics? Harmful chemicals we are only now learning can be endocrine disrupters? They too leach into the environment. One way we see this is when bits of plastic are eaten by fish, these endocrine disrupters are absorbed by the fish, and we eat the fish. The endocrine disrupters stay in the environment, like the plastic, they don’t disappear.

Now consider that just ONE meal kit company, the same one featured above, ships more than 8 million meals PER MONTH. That’s tens of thousands of these (and this is just one of six major meal kit companies operating in the US):

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By comparison, this is what somebody cooking from a South Shore Organics delivery, or a CSA share, or a trip to the farmers market is likely to be left with for waste:

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No matter which way you cut the cake, the truth is, we desperately, desperately need to cut back on the amount of plastic we are using. We MOST DEFINITELY need to cut back on how much ‘single use’ plastic we are using. And although some meal kit companies will take the packaging back after a few deliveries, once you have emptied, rinsed, and compacted it, they are not cleaning it for reuse. They are not allowed to. They are discarding and recycling it, allowing it to be turned into something else, and they are buying new plastic bags for their next delivery.

In terms of plastic use, meal kit companies have one of the worst environmental impacts of all food systems. That’s a hard fact to swallow, just ask the fish, seals, and albatross’s to name a few.

Sources:

“The Trashy Consequencies of Meal Kit Companies” By Ellen Cushing for Buzzfeed, November 2015
“Dear Blue Apron, You are Making it Worse” By Nathaniel Johnson, August 2014
“The Truth About Recycling” The 5Gyres Institute
World Economic Forum, “The New Plastics Economy, Rethinking the Future of Plastics” WEF
Brad Plumer, “China Doesn’t Even Want to Buy Our Garbage Anymore” The Washington Post

 

Letter From the Daily Table

To: South Shore Organics

Dear Pam,

daily-table-2Thank you for your generous donations to Daily Table in 2016! Through those donations, we were able to continue offering affordable and nutritious food to our community. In recognition of your support, we are pleased to award  you a key supplier certificate.

2016 was a big year here at Daily Tbale. Last June, during our one-year anniversary celebration, hundreds of customers shared with us how the food they bought at Daily Table had positively affected their lives. Over and over again we heard how delicious the food was and how our shoppers appreciated our healthy products at affordable prices. One customer said:

“I shop at Daily Table because there is always a different selection. Daily Table takes all the stress out of shopping because I don’t have to compare prices or make sacrifices–and I know its always healthy!”

Her observations are reflected in the numbers. We are now averaging 300 different items in the store (as compared to only 100 when we first opened). Our average daily customer count is up by 100 over the previous year. We have rescued almost one million pounds of food, to date, selling more than 15,000 servings of healthy and affordable food every day this year in our upbeat, clean, and friendly retail store in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Together, we are providing a meaningful, and dignified, solution to food insecurity.

2017 promises to be an even bigger year. We recently signed the lease for our second location, in the Dudley Square neighborhood of Roxbury, expected to open early summer. We are excited through our continued partnership to bring nutritious products at truly affordable prices to a new community.

Your donations make all the difference. Thank you again for being a key supplier for Daily Table.

With gratitude and wishes for a happy and successful New Year,

Doug Rauch, Founder and President

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About Daily Table:

Daily Table is a not-for-profit retail store that offers tasty, convenient, and affordable “grab-n-go” ready to eat meals, and a selection of produce, bread, dairy and grocery items all at prices designed to fit within every budget.  The store is clean and friendly, and open to everyone in the community.  We can offer these daily values by working with a large network of growers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and other suppliers who donate their excess, healthy food to us, or provide us with special buying opportunities. In this way, Daily Table keeps prices affordable for all our customers.  Our meals are priced to compete with fast food options, making it easier for families to eat healthier within their means.

About Our Donations:

We made weekly donations of fresh fruit and veggies from local farms all year long in 2016. Daily Table is essentially an oasis in what is considered a food desert, we love their mission, and are delighted that on behalf of our customers, we could support their mission to improve access to healthy food. We made a difference.

Staff Review: Smoothie Mix Micro Greens

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Reviewer:  Pamela Denholm

Micro greens have the reputation of being a wonder  food. They are potent, offer as much as 100 times more beneficial enzymes in than in regular veggies, contain 10 times the anti-oxidants, and are rich in minerals and vitamins that are easy for us to absorb. Essentially, sprouts and shoots contain everything needed for (new) life.

Micro greens from 2 Friends Farm look so fresh and green and vibrant, I was dying to try them and eventually settled on the Smoothie Mix to bring home last week. The same last week of Friday the 13th, and a full moon.

I have to say, right off the bat, that the smoothie portion is generous. If you are adding a handful of micro greens to your smoothie each morning, the clam shell they offer will last about a week. And although it is the ‘smoothie mix’ – it looked like such a nice blend of different micro greens I decided to try a couple different things with it:

  1. Sandwich – I put the micro greens  on a wrap, with cucumber, cottage cheese, grated carrot, and green beans.
  2. Salad – I didn’t have salad greens so added grape tomatoes, cucumber, left over roast chicken, and a drizzle of olive oil to a handful of micro greens for lunch
  3. Smoothie – an orange (peeled), frozen banana, micro greens, and 1 inch peeled ginger

Of course, as I eluded, it was Friday the 13th, the moon was a full, brightly lit round orb. ‘The Wolf Moon’ no less. And guess what? My Vitamix gave up the ghost. That is, it kicked the bucket and went to blender heaven. What the heck!?!  I was committed (to doing this, not to an institution) so after a couple minutes of mild panic and dismay at my recent loss, I threw all the ingredients in my regular blender which made it a little lumpier than usual, but still very enjoyable.

img_4457I really enjoy smoothies, but I am fussy about the flavors. I don’t like it when they taste too ‘grassy’, which can sometimes happen with greens. And I don’t love it when they taste like peas either, which is why I tend not to use pea shoots in smoothies – it is a difficult flavor to mask. But these micro greens which are a blend of pea shoots, baby kale, and other micro greens, were just perfect and not at all overpowering. My smoothie may not have been very ‘smooth’ (RIP Vitamix), but it did go down well and I am eager to make it a morning ritual because it is a no fuss way to get those nutrient dense greens in! They were equally enjoyable in the salad and on the wrap – no need to limit yourself just because the label says ‘smoothie’.

Now I’m off to get on to Vitamix to see if we can do an emergency air-lift. Cross fingers that a full recovery is possible, otherwise I’ll be back on Craigslist hoping somebody’s  New Year’s resolutions dissolved into a ‘Vitamix for sale’ post.

About 2 Friends Farm:

Two friends, who share passion for fresh young greens, sprouted the seed of an idea into a busy, indoor farm growing organic microgreens and wheatgrass  in rich, fertile soil year-round!

“We are organic farmers, consciously growing fresh, beautiful microgreens and wheatgrass, promoting a lifetime of health for your family and ours,” say Ashley and John, Founding Friends.

About Pam:

I believe the healthiest thing for you, is a healthy relationship with food. I enjoy cooking and trying all sorts of things, and have a kitchen full of life that needs sustaining from scoby’s to yeasty bread starters. It is a real treat to have good quality micro greens in my kitchen too, without having to add a tray of young sprouts that would also require maintenance and care.

Don’t make this recipe, it’s awful.

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By Pamela Denholm

I am not afraid. In the kitchen, my philosophy is: just cook it! This makes my husband a little afraid, and my kids sometimes terrified. But I ignore them, blissfully, and turn the music up while I crush garlic. My efforts are broadly successful, blog-worthy even. And then, there are those other times . . .

It all started with the buttermilk. I had made a successful batch of buttermilk rusks – a farmhouse style of biscotti. I wanted to use up the leftover buttermilk before it turned and found this recipe for Buttermilk Ranch Potato & Turnip Gratin. I had at least 2lbs of scarlet turnips in the fridge. And instead of the ranch, some shallots, garlic, Parmesan, and fresh thyme would be a noble buttermilk pairing. Oh, but no potatoes! No problem. Just the turnips would do.

I whipped out the Mandolin, put all the ingredients in the baking dish, padded out to the garden for some fresh thyme, yum! Covered it up and into the oven it went. I was so gosh darn proud of myself for being creative and making something delicious out of things I had in the fridge, I phoned my husband to brag. In hindsight, this was a mistake. If you are married, you’ll know what I mean.

What came out of the oven an hour and a half later was not pretty. The buttermilk had separated and curdled. The pink skin of the turnips had turned the clear runny separated buttermilk pink too. The pale fleshed turnips were swimming in a clear pink soup, with a generous sprinkling of curdled sour cottage cheese lumps. NOT photograph worthy. Sorry. It reminded me of my home economics class in high school, when my teacher had to taste my luminous pink coconut ice cookies by drinking them out of a glass in order to assign a grade. Pink is the color of failure in my kitchen, it seems.

I could not get my family to eat it. I ate it, just to prove my constitution is just as strong (and stubborn) as my (inflated) sense of pride. Besides, my husband had remembered my braggart call from earlier and was having a field day ordering pizza, sans turnips, and I was damned if I was going to have any.

About Pamela:

There was a mutiny. Pamela ‘Queen of the Turnips’ was dethroned. Stripped of her title but not defeated, she resigned herself to the kitchen to hatch a new plan to rule the veggie kingdom. Perhaps this time, as Queen of the Beet. She turned the music up, and destroyed all evidence of her demise. She shall rise to cook again!

The Pizza Pickle

B - Michael

By Michael Borghesani

I recently made a trip up to Vermont with two of my close friends. While there, we visited a flatbread pizzeria in Waitsfield, American Flatbread. It is housed in a converted old barn, and much of their offerings are farm fresh. They have become so popular that you have to make reservations in person for that evening during the afternoon to be served that evening  (no walk ins).

If you visit the area, put this little local gem on your priority list. Between the specially selected Vermont craft beers (which are all excellent), and clay ovens from past times that conjure pizza’s from another dimension, its a winning combination covered in cheesy goodness.

The special of the night was banh mi pizza. All the veggies on it were pickled first, and I was unsure I would enjoy it, but it was one of the best pizza’s I have ever had. So, naturally, I came home and tried to recreate the masterpiece for friends and family. A heads up, this is a weird and spicy pizza, depending on the ratio of pickled veggies to plain pizza you got going on. If you go in with an open mind, however, you won’t be sorry.

Ingredients:

Wholewheat pizza dough, cut in half (bread dough works fine too, in a pinch)

8oz Poblano Tomato Sauce

8oz Mozzarella Cheese

6oz Foxpoint Spiced Dill Pickles

6oz Pickled Carrots

1 Chopped Onion

Cornmeal for the bottom

Olive oil (I have a bottle of olive oil that I added pepper flakes to, and allowed it to sit. I use it frequently when cooking, it adds a smokey flavor and a little heat)

Making the Pizza

Turn oven on to 350 degrees.

Open bag of dough, divide, and let sit for a bit.

Sprinkle cornmeal on baking sheet, and knead out dough to rough shape your flatbread. Add more cornmeal as you need under the pizza to prevent from sticking.

Drizzle a little olive oil, then spread with sauce.

Cut up and sprinkle pickles of choice over flatbread, I did gherkins and carrots.

Cut mozzarella cheese into chunks, distribute over the top evenly.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until cheese has melted and the pizza crust is golden brown.

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Remove, rest, slice, enjoy.

About Michael:

Our young and always hungry Padawan – Michael is a valuable ally if you want to try a new restaurant, or a new dish. We think having an adventurous appetite says good things about a person. Breakfast is his favorite meal of the day.

 

 

October Cooking Challenge: Week 2, Meal 1 – Italian Steak and Egg with Hash

I often think ‘things will quiet down after this week’ – but they never seem to. Crazy is the new normal. My mom often comments that the pace at which we fly through our days is sheer lunacy, and she doesn’t know how we do it. I agree with her, it’s wacky. I don’t know how we do it either, and I don’t quite know how to slow the speeding bullet train.

I have to say doing this challenge and planning out our meals has actually been an ENORMOUS help. Much more than I realized. I think about it once, up front, make a list, and then I am done. I don’t think about it again. No more ‘what’s for dinner’ scrambles. So, if nobody gets anything out of this experience other than me planning my menu, I’ll still be very glad I did this challenge!

Steak, egg, and home made fries are a nostalgic dinner choice for me. My mom used to make it once a week, more or less, and we would eat it in front of the TV watching the A-Team or MacGuyver. This recipe is an elevated, healthier version of my nostalgic classic, but it really made me want to watch old A-Team re-runs  to round out the experience!

Ingredients:

img_40021.2lb sirloin tip steak (excellent choice)

1 bunch kale

2 green peppers

8oz crimini mushrooms

2lbs sweet potatoes

3 cloves garlic

paprika or cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

 

 

Step 1 – Prepare Steak & Vegetables (10 minutimg_4005es)

Remove the steak, pat with paper towel to remove excess moisture, season with salt and pepper

Remove stems from kale, and chop into 1/2-inch ribbons

Peel and dice sweet potatoes

Core and dice green peppers

Slice mushrooms

Peel and mince garlic

 

 

 

Step 2 – Make Hash (10-15 minutes)

img_4007In a large pan add a little olive oil and saute the garlic on medium-high heat

Add the green peppers and sweet potato and stir

Continue to stir occasionally until sweet potato softens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – Cook Steak (20 minutes)

img_4006Heat oven to 400 degrees

In a large pan, heat a little coconut oil over medium-high heat

Add your seasoned steak to sear it, about 3 minutes until it is nice and brown

Turn steak and cool for another 3 minutes

Remove steak from stove, place on baking sheet, cover with a tinfoil tent and pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Tip: The steak was large and quite a thick cut, I find roasting steaks to finish them keeps them tender and gives them great flavor.

Step 4 – Finish the Hash (5 minutes)

img_4008Add mushrooms and kale to the hash, stir occasionally

Season with cayenne pepper or paprika to taste

Step 5 – Fry the eggs (4 minutes)

Give the large frying pan that the steak was in a quick wipe (I have ceramic coated non-stick)

Add a little coconut oil, and fry four eggs to order

 

 

Step 6 – Plating the meal

img_4010Remove steak from oven, slice into strips

Spoon two generous servings of the kale and sweet potato hash onto the plate

Add a few strips of steak

Top with fried egg

 

(This was my husbands plate, he likes his steak and his eggs well done. I like my steak medium and my yolks runny. It is easy to remove the steak part way through cooking and slice a piece of it off, and put the rest back if you so desire. Eggs can be fried to order).

 

Quick Analysis

Assessment: My husband praised my efforts! Okay, he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so it figures. But it really was delicious, one of the best meals I have cooked this challenge.

Total time: approx 45 minutes

Mess factor: this was a messier  undertaking. I don’t know what it was, I only used two pans and a baking sheet, but my husband cleared the plates and commented on the explosion of chaos in the kitchen. It didn’t take long to clean up though.

Waste: a BPA free bag, and the bag the steak came in. About a pint of vegetable scraps for a veggie stock at the end of the week, egg shells for the compost heap.

What’s Left Over for the Week?

1.5lb green tomatoes (on my windowsill ripening)

2 acorn squash

4oz green peppers

1lb green beans

1 bunch red beets

1 bunch yellow carrots

1 head lettuce

1 bunch scallions

From the South Shore Organics Local Market

8oz ginger

1lb limes

1bu cilantro

1bu basil

8oz feta

2 eggs

From the Fish Market/Store

12oz shrimp

32oz organic long grain white rice

Week 1 Summary & Meal Kit Comparison

For the October Cooking Challenge, we wanted to do a comparison between what we offer, and the meal kit companies out there. We are all busy, my household is no exception, and we need help! So I laid out some ground rules, and got to work. Looking for recipes and planning out my basket, then making a shopping list literally took me around 45 minutes. Here are the recipes I made:

Meal 1 – Sweet Potato and Chard Calzones, with a salad

Meal 2 – Tandoori Chicken with Spaghetti Squash and Green Beans

BONUS Meal – Vegetable Lo Mein

BONUS Meal – Vegetable Lo Mein Lettuce Wraps (the other option was a soup)

BONUS – Veggie Stock

What was left over from my delivery?

4oz of Atwells Gold Cheese (saving for a quiche)

1 bulb of Garlic (will keep)

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Value Comparison

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Sustainability

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Let’s Be Honest. How Much Time Did it Take?

It took me about 45 minutes to take the list of basket contents, and formulate a plan with recipes, and I looked online to make sure my ‘add-ons’ were within budget.

The few extra items I needed from the store, I got when I was going for something else.

In other words, I did not feel like it was a massive time investment. What took the most amount of time this week (and was the most fun), was photographing my food!

Summary

The food was good. Not cordon-bleu-five-star-dining good, but tasty and satisfying.

Breaking down the delivery into meals at the beginning of the week, choosing recipes, and sourcing the extras, was very, very helpful. Usually I just wing it. I am versatile enough of a cook to get away with it. But the ‘what’s for dinner tonight’ scramble is no fun whether you are versatile or not, and I found that I had a much better handle on our meals. It was nice not to scramble. And I spent less money.

Check in tomorrow for this week’s plan.