A few weeks ago, Spoon published an article about how to hack the Blue Apron subscription box and turn chicken pot pie into a much more college-friendly dinner of chicken and waffles. At the bottom of the article was a link to try Blue Apron and get two meals for free.
I’d obviously never turn down free food (or the chance to try something new related to food), so I signed up for my first week. Long story short, they really get ya with the week-ahead-planning thing, so I ended up paying in full for a second week as well (oops).
The recipes, in theory, were great. I had Trinidadian chicken curry with grits, pretzel bun burgers with sweet potatoes, butternut squash risotto, and more. I got to try endives and radicchio for the first time, and I learned a lot about myself and about cooking in general. Check it out.
1. Knife skills are really, really important.
I know what it means to chop, dice, slice, and julienne — but that doesn’t mean I can do it myself, as evident by this Blue Apron experience. My “small diced” onions were so ridiculously inconsistent that I almost wanted to throw them away (but real talk, food waste is bad).
#SpoonTip: Find out how to use a knife properly to avoid the unfortunate experiences that I had.
2. Frying shit is hard.
My previous history in frying was pretty much just making latkes during Hanukkah. When I found out I was supposed to fry cod AND chicken schniztel, thanks to Blue Apron, I was apprehensive — and rightfully so.
I’m not sure if I’m incompetent or if I just don’t have the proper frying pans, but I burnt the schniztel to a crisp (like, literally) and the rice flour coating stuck to the pan instead of the fish.
3. My palate is not quite as diverse as I thought it was.
I always joke that my palate is far more refined than my friends’, but after this experience, I’m not so sure. Here’s one thing that I did learn, though: I hate fish. It might be a mental thing (is that possible?), but I just can’t do it. The cod with udon noodles and shiitake broth dinner turned into a plain ol’ bowl of broth and noodles for me.
4. There’s a big difference between being able to taste good food and being able to make good food.
Believe me, I know good food when I taste it. I pride myself on always picking the best restaurants when I go out with friends and family. When it comes to cooking good food, though, I’m kind of the worst. It’s definitely not easy, and I have a newfound respect for anyone in the culinary business. I think I’ll just watch (and taste) and leave the rest up to the professionals.
5. Cooking is messy AF.
Like, when are you supposed to wash your hands? I’m chopping one thing and then cracking an egg somewhere and then zesting something else and my hands are getting gross. If I washed them as frequently as I wanted to, my hands would turn into stumps and I wouldn’t be able to cook anymore.
6. There’s pretty much never a good time to do the dishes.
Seriously. During? After? Before isn’t really an option… One of the worst things about cooking, in my opinion, is that you put so much effort into making the dish, and then you inhale it in five seconds flat.
If I take my time and savor my food, then my dishes are just sitting in the sink longer, and I’m regretting that I didn’t do them while I was cooking. However, if I try to multitask and do some dishes while I cook, something inevitably goes wrong and burns and sets off the fire alarm (sorry, roommates).
7. Seasoning is just as important as the Food Network makes it sound.
Yeah, I watch pretty much every show on Food Network, and they ALWAYS stress the importance of seasoning your dish and tasting your food while you cook. I don’t know why I thought I was better than the stars (like, really?), but I definitely need to learn the right way to season so I don’t have bland grits and excessively mustardy potato salad in the future.
8. It’s fun to try new ingredients.
Never would I ever have picked up collard greens or rice flour at the grocery store. Guess what? I actually liked them. Thanks to Blue Apron, I have a new arsenal of secret ingredients to pick up at the store, and an entirely new Pinterest board devoted to finding recipes for them.
9. Failure sucks, but it shouldn’t stop you.
It took my boyfriend and I five meals (out of six) to finally get it right. We have one meal left (pretzel bun burgers — saved the best for last, obviously) and I’m excited to try it out. This whole adventure has been quite the learning experience for me, which I was definitely not expecting when I signed up to get perfectly portioned ingredients delivered to my door.
The moral of the story is this: try new stuff, especially while you’re still in college and you can do weird shit like this. You won’t regret it.
Blue Apron is extending a special discount to Spoon readers so you can try your own box. Click here to try Blue Apron and get your first two meals free. #winning