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  #31  
Old 07-02-2016, 01:58 PM
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This seems like a great service for beginning and intermediate home cooks. I know I struggle with home cooking, even though I'd have no problem whipping something up if given the recipe. A big issue is meal planning - It's hard to shop for a week's worth of meals in advance if I want some variety. The best I can do is plan out a single dish for the week and make that in bulk, and I have a hard enough time even doing that. It's also a lot harder to find time to plan new dishes now that I'm out of school and have less free time. Having someone curate my meals and send them to me cuts out a lot of the mental cycles I'd devote to preparation.
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  #32  
Old 07-03-2016, 12:21 PM
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Hm, this would be something I'd be interested in, if it were available in Canada. Take a lot of the guesswork out of meal prep.

Unfortunately, I'm kind of a killjoy when it comes to things I can't eat (like peppers and onions), so this probably wouldn't be as good for me as I'd like.
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  #33  
Old 07-06-2016, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LBD_Nytetrayn View Post
Hm, this would be something I'd be interested in, if it were available in Canada. Take a lot of the guesswork out of meal prep.

Unfortunately, I'm kind of a killjoy when it comes to things I can't eat (like peppers and onions), so this probably wouldn't be as good for me as I'd like.
I'll bet there's some similar service available in Canada, though I don't know of any off the top of my head.

Blue Apron accommodates picky eaters to some degree; you get to choose 3 of 6 options for every delivery, although you're limited to certain combinations (i.e. you can get meals 1, 3, and 4 in one delivery, but you can't get meals 1, 3, and 6). Hito and I have used that already, as he vetoed one option for this week's delivery that included shrimp (weirdo). I've seen comments on some of the recipes where people suggest substitutions for people who like a recipe except for one ingredient, though obviously if you do too much of that then you're sort of defeating the point of the whole thing (as you're still paying for, then throwing away, the ingredient you don't want).
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  #34  
Old 07-10-2016, 09:54 PM
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Whatever, this is krelbel's food blog now I guess!

New Blue Apron shipment arrived, so I got to cook sweet chili chicken stir fry with tinkerbell peppers and green beans over coconut rice for lunch yesterday. Yes, the rice I'd been practicing for!

Previously, on krelbel learns to not just let rice sit in warm water:

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Originally Posted by krelbel View Post
Thanks for the suggestions though guys, I'll keep that in mind next time I try. Actually, we have some rice on hand, I might try just cooking it by itself for practice before it shows up in a recipe again.
So I've practiced making rice maybe 5 times since then, so I was ready. And the rice came out perfectly, hooray! Now, I wasn't entirely inexperienced going into this, as I used to make stir fry back in college times. But this one was fancied up a bit compared to what I used to do, with coconut rice instead of normal rice (same preparation, just coconut milk powder added to the cooking water), and a sweet chili + mirin sauce and scallions/ginger/garlic for flavor. It was delicious! If I got that exact dish at a restaurant, I'd be raving about it (though I would wonder why the chef is so awful at french cutting green beans) and would definitely come back to the restaurant to order it again, and I don't think I've ever thought that about something I've cooked before!

Next up (Tuesday or Wednesday, because busy): I get to burn the hell out of some empanadas.
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  #35  
Old 07-12-2016, 02:39 PM
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Whatever, this is krelbel's food blog now I guess!
I expect to sign up for Blue Apron in the next few weeks, so that won't be true forever.

There's so much that argues for it... I dislike the amount of food that gets wasted when I cook, whether sauces and spices or unused vegetables, and it would actually be a cost savings since we do carry-out and restaurants a LOT. I also couldn't menu plan myself out of a paper bag so choosing from a pre-selected set of meals sounds perfect. And if the recipes are as beginner-friendly as they say, maybe I can convince my partner to help out, too.

I was concerned about packaging waste, and a quick check on the BA site tells me you can return wrappers and cooling packs to them free for recycling. Very nice.

More in the not-too-distant future!
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  #36  
Old 08-02-2016, 10:49 PM
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I subscribed to Blue Apron a couple weeks back because of this thread. It's not bad! Some things I learned:

Mise en place: This is a lesson I have to relearn whenever I start cooking again. It's really easy to mess up a recipe when you start cooking still have ingredients waiting to be prepped.

Portion sizes: The portion sizes are a lot smaller than I'm used to cooking. Though they look small, I've never felt hungry after eating one. Having said that, I've never felt stuffed, either. I feel sated.

It's also helped me get a better understanding of calorie amount in relation to portion size. Knowing that the portion sizes for blue apron dishes hover around 700-800 calories, I now recognize I've been habitually underestimating the amount of calories in my own cooking and in restaurant portions.

The food is pretty good, but many of the other competing services offer discounts for first time users, so I think I'm going to suspend my subscription for now and cycle through them to see what I like. So far, I'm looking at home chef, hello fresh, plated, and peach dish.
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  #37  
Old 08-11-2016, 08:38 AM
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Blue Apron's been treating me okay - only one meal's been semi-wasted (and that was just the veggie portion) because I've been pretty deliberate and directed about making time to cook.

I am DEFINITELY getting a little tired of summer squash and tinkerbell peppers, though, those can leave rotation at any time.
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  #38  
Old 08-11-2016, 03:42 PM
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I was really excited to get back into the Blue Apron routine this last weekend, after needing to skip a delivery. And this delivery did not disappoint; my favorite recipe by far was lemongrass chicken burgers. This recipe was so delicious and so easy, I can definitely see myself buying these ingredients outside of a Blue Apron delivery to recreate it myself. The burger itself was packed with flavor and moisture (ground chicken, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil), in fact there were so many liquid ingredients that it was a bit difficult to form into patties, but they held together just fine in the pan and were DELICIOUS. The rest of the burger was simple and paired beautifully with the patty; a thick slice of tomato, bunch of cilantro, and a mixture of hoisin sauce and mayonnaise, all on a toasted potato bun.
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  #39  
Old 08-11-2016, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rufferto View Post
Mise en place: This is a lesson I have to relearn whenever I start cooking again. It's really easy to mess up a recipe when you start cooking still have ingredients waiting to be prepped.
Yeah this is a lesson I've learned from a few of my Blue Apron recipes; often they'll have you start something that takes a while to cook, then have you do a bunch of the chopping/mincing while that's cooking, with the assumption that it will take you a certain amount of time to complete said chopping/mincing before whatever you have going finishes cooking. Since I'm still very new, it takes me a lot longer to do the prep work (though I'm getting faster, but trying not to rush to avoid chopping my fingers off), so I learned early on that it can help to reorder the recipe a bit to do some more of the prep ahead of time, before the point where it's called for in the recipe.

Another (probably obvious) Blue Apron Pro Tip to make things easier on whoever needs to do the cleaning up: In the prep instructions, they always show a nice tidy picture with individual small bowls for each ingredient you've chopped up, implying that you should place every ingredient in its own tiny bowl. This makes for a nice picture, but I've found it worthwhile to glance ahead in the recipe while doing the prep to consolidate bowls. For example, that tasty burger recipe above calls for mincing garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. The picture shows three tiny bowls, one for the garlic, one for the ginger, and one for the lemongrass. But then the same step has you tossing all three of them in a pan at the same time. Well there's an easy optimization there; just put them all in the same bowl, and you've cut down on two bowls you need to clean. Even better, just mince all of them together at the same time, and you've cut down on the amount of mincing you need to do. My prep (and cleanup) times got a lot more reasonable once I started looking for little optimizations like this.
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  #40  
Old 08-11-2016, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krelbel View Post
Another (probably obvious) Blue Apron Pro Tip to make things easier on whoever needs to do the cleaning up: In the prep instructions, they always show a nice tidy picture with individual small bowls for each ingredient you've chopped up, implying that you should place every ingredient in its own tiny bowl. This makes for a nice picture, but I've found it worthwhile to glance ahead in the recipe while doing the prep to consolidate bowls. For example, that tasty burger recipe above calls for mincing garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. The picture shows three tiny bowls, one for the garlic, one for the ginger, and one for the lemongrass. But then the same step has you tossing all three of them in a pan at the same time. Well there's an easy optimization there; just put them all in the same bowl, and you've cut down on two bowls you need to clean. Even better, just mince all of them together at the same time, and you've cut down on the amount of mincing you need to do. My prep (and cleanup) times got a lot more reasonable once I started looking for little optimizations like this.
Gamers... Always trying to min-max everything. (But that seriously is good advice.)
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  #41  
Old 08-11-2016, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kylie View Post
Blue Apron's been treating me okay - only one meal's been semi-wasted (and that was just the veggie portion) because I've been pretty deliberate and directed about making time to cook.

I am DEFINITELY getting a little tired of summer squash and tinkerbell peppers, though, those can leave rotation at any time.
i will take this excess summer squash off your hands
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  #42  
Old 08-12-2016, 07:50 AM
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let me know where to back up the truck
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  #43  
Old 08-29-2016, 09:15 PM
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Just made the mexican beef quesadilla. The quesadilla itself is fine, but the real standout is the side. It's corn and shishito pepper tossed in a lime and creme fraiche dressing. There's only four ingredients, but damn if they don't go well together. Each ingredient adds something that just works. You get some sourness from the lime, some tang from the creme fraiche, sweetness from the corn, and a hint of spice from the peppers. It's really damn good.
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  #44  
Old 10-10-2016, 11:05 AM
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We signed up for Blue Apron!

The first dish we made was this one. It was pretty good! Although I've been very spoiled by restaurant udon and didn't care for the texture of the noodles in this, the fish and cucumber marinade were great together.

Even better than the dish itself was working together with J to make it. He is completely inexperienced with cooking, so he set up the ingredients on the "workstation" and read off the recipe while I did the preparation. And then we ate the meal together. Just a nice little mini-date. And we'll be having them three times a week for a while.
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  #45  
Old 10-10-2016, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosewood View Post
We signed up for Blue Apron!

The first dish we made was this one. It was pretty good! Although I've been very spoiled by restaurant udon and didn't care for the texture of the noodles in this, the fish and cucumber marinade were great together.

Even better than the dish itself was working together with J to make it. He is completely inexperienced with cooking, so he set up the ingredients on the "workstation" and read off the recipe while I did the preparation. And then we ate the meal together. Just a nice little mini-date. And we'll be having them three times a week for a while.
That sounds great! Hito and I skip all the fish dishes because he's really picky regarding fish (doesn't like much that isn't halibut or chilean sea bass, which are both far too expensive to show up in Blue Apron meals, and can't stand the usuals like catfish/cod/salmon/shrimp that are always the fish entry on the menu). It would be nice if their fish selection was a little less spartan, but I guess meal prices would have to go up if they were to regularly toss around $30/lb fish fillets.

I've kept up with this since starting it in June, and still really enjoying it. Still doing almost all of the meals myself (as I'm using this as an opportunity to learn how to cook), but Hito and I cooked one of the meals in the last shipment together, similar to how yours went, and we had a great time.

Remember that it's easy to cancel deliveries as long as you do it at least a week ahead of time; three times a week may turn out to be too ambitious given your budget/schedule/appetite. I find that three times every other week works out perfectly for me.

Another Pro Tip: the recipe cards that come in the box are really nice, but the recipes online (like the one you linked to) not only have short videos accompanying various steps you might not know how to do (which I find really handy), but also a surprisingly useful comment section at the bottom of each recipe. I like to spend a few minutes skimming the comments for a recipe before doing it; often they'll suggest easy modifications that help a lot in the end result.
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  #46  
Old 10-10-2016, 06:30 PM
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Yeah, I really love the "mini-date" aspect of these. It takes a lot of the stress of cooking away and I can just enjoy a nice time together working toward the same goal.
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  #47  
Old 10-11-2016, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krelbel View Post
Remember that it's easy to cancel deliveries as long as you do it at least a week ahead of time; three times a week may turn out to be too ambitious given your budget/schedule/appetite. I find that three times every other week works out perfectly for me.
I didn't realize that you could cancel that frequently but as long as you stay signed up I'm sure they're just as happy!

We aren't, to put it mildly, accustomed to cooking at home, and part of our intention when we decided to sign up was to develop better habits, to take efforts to cook at home rather than grabbing take-out or eating at restaurants. Not getting in there and making the meals 3x a week is a literal waste of food and money, which is a good motivator. So we'll stick with the weekly deliveries for now.
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  #48  
Old 10-17-2016, 09:18 AM
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Double posting for some minor Blue Apron comments:

I was getting concerned about the preponderance of vinegar-based slaw--it's nice now and then, but not something we'd want to eat every week. Luckily, as autumn goes along they're changing up the vegetable sides to squash, carrots, things along those lines.

Grilled Brussels sprouts are so good. Much like asparagus, it's amazing how much nicer the "nasty" vegetables are when they aren't boiled to death, like they were when I was tad.
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  #49  
Old 10-17-2016, 09:38 AM
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Another great way to prepare brussels sprouts is to roast the fuck out of them at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes. They get really crispy and sweet.
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  #50  
Old 10-17-2016, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosewood View Post
Double posting for some minor Blue Apron comments:

I was getting concerned about the preponderance of vinegar-based slaw--it's nice now and then, but not something we'd want to eat every week. Luckily, as autumn goes along they're changing up the vegetable sides to squash, carrots, things along those lines.

Grilled Brussels sprouts are so good. Much like asparagus, it's amazing how much nicer the "nasty" vegetables are when they aren't boiled to death, like they were when I was tad.
Yeah, Blue Apron likes using seasonal ingredients in their recipes, and keeping the cost of each meal below a reasonable limit, which tends to result in similar elements between consecutive meals. I'd like to figure out a way to fancy up the simple cucumber salads they've used as sides for several dishes, because I love a nice cucumber salad, but they tend to be a bit boring going by the Blue Apron recipes alone.

Part of the fun of Blue Apron, as you get more used to their recipes, is doing your own little modifications to their recipes. A simple way to start is by taking some of the extra garlic you get in every one of their shipments and add it to a dish that doesn't have garlic in the recipe. (I've also used the extra garlic to make my own garlic rice throughout the rest of the week, after really liking the garlic rice recipe I learned in one of their recipes.) So far I've mostly stuck to modifications suggested by people in the comments on the online recipes, but I'm sure as I get more comfortable I'll continue to improvise.
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  #51  
Old 10-17-2016, 03:04 PM
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Another great way to prepare brussels sprouts is to roast the fuck out of them at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes. They get really crispy and sweet.
Seconding this, but first you chop up a piece of raw bacon and sprinkle it over top of the sprouts.
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  #52  
Old 10-17-2016, 05:48 PM
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Seconding this, but first you chop up a piece of raw bacon and sprinkle it over top of the sprouts.
add some chopped up shallots and toss in balsamic vinegar and baby, you got a stew goin'
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  #53  
Old 10-17-2016, 06:30 PM
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add some chopped up shallots and toss in balsamic vinegar and baby, you got a stew goin'
Damn, that's a lot of balsamic vinegar.
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  #54  
Old 10-17-2016, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosewood View Post
Double posting for some minor Blue Apron comments:

I was getting concerned about the preponderance of vinegar-based slaw--it's nice now and then, but not something we'd want to eat every week. Luckily, as autumn goes along they're changing up the vegetable sides to squash, carrots, things along those lines.

Grilled Brussels sprouts are so good. Much like asparagus, it's amazing how much nicer the "nasty" vegetables are when they aren't boiled to death, like they were when I was tad.
Creamy coleslaw or bust.
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  #55  
Old 10-17-2016, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krelbel View Post
Yeah, Blue Apron likes using seasonal ingredients in their recipes, and keeping the cost of each meal below a reasonable limit, which tends to result in similar elements between consecutive meals.
hahaha, this is what's been happening when i've cooked since i moved, since even though i just buy stuff it's always either like "oh hey eggplants are still cheap" or "i bought this huge cauliflower and i can't put it all in one dinner"

as for brussels sprouts, my roommate cooked them once with onions, apples, and vinegar. it sounded kinda weird but i really liked it

as for vegetables in general...well, i get why people get upset about well done steaks even though i don't eat steaks, because i certainly have strong feelings about obliterating vegetables in a steamer or whatnot
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  #56  
Old 10-26-2016, 06:33 AM
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Did anyone else try this week's Crispy Catfish? So good, and had more kick than usual. I wouldn't have thought all these flavors work together but they're really good.
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  #57  
Old 10-26-2016, 07:23 AM
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We did! So far the food's been on the bland side of spicy but that little bitty pepper was a powerhouse--both of us had our eyes and noses watering just from cutting it up.

The only complaint is that the coconut milk sauce's consistency didn't turn out well. Never did manage to get the base perfectly smooth, and I stirred it a lot.
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  #58  
Old 10-26-2016, 08:57 PM
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Lumber says that he whisked it instead of stirred and that worked well. I remember it being smooth so I figured he did something a little different.
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  #59  
Old 10-27-2016, 09:02 AM
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Seconding this, but first you chop up a piece of raw bacon and sprinkle it over top of the sprouts.
This is truth.

One thing that I have noticed about Blue Apron is that, for exceptional reasons, none of their meals use bacon fat as a source of flavor.

So far by my count, and I say this as someone who is not a particular lover of bacon, about half of their meals need bacon. They're drawing a lot of inspiration from french country-style and American soul food - especially stuff with vinegary greens that often get fat from lardons or egg yolks*, and these are moments where bacon is perfect and not just That Okay But Disappointing Thing Internet People Won't Shut Up About since bacon or fatback in small amounts serves to create a vinaigrette rather than just grease the food up.

Even more so because BA's target audience tends to be suburbanites of certain demographics who are very fat-conscious and so their recipes do not generally have the fat content necessary to actually execute on some of the plans. You don't cook collards if you don't have significant fat going with them, for example - some tough or fibrous starches or greens need fat, and lean proteins can't necessarily provide it well.

If you haven't Blue Aproned and are considering it, and pork is within your dietary range, definitely consider keeping a small amount of fatback on hand for whenever they suggest cooking a green.

*they don't use egg yolks for the same reason they tell you to overcook all your proteins
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  #60  
Old 10-27-2016, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Kylie View Post
This is truth.

One thing that I have noticed about Blue Apron is that, for exceptional reasons, none of their meals use bacon fat as a source of flavor.

So far by my count, and I say this as someone who is not a particular lover of bacon, about half of their meals need bacon. They're drawing a lot of inspiration from french country-style and American soul food - especially stuff with vinegary greens that often get fat from lardons or egg yolks*, and these are moments where bacon is perfect and not just That Okay But Disappointing Thing Internet People Won't Shut Up About since bacon or fatback in small amounts serves to create a vinaigrette rather than just grease the food up.

Even more so because BA's target audience tends to be suburbanites of certain demographics who are very fat-conscious and so their recipes do not generally have the fat content necessary to actually execute on some of the plans. You don't cook collards if you don't have significant fat going with them, for example - some tough or fibrous starches or greens need fat, and lean proteins can't necessarily provide it well.

If you haven't Blue Aproned and are considering it, and pork is within your dietary range, definitely consider keeping a small amount of fatback on hand for whenever they suggest cooking a green.

*they don't use egg yolks for the same reason they tell you to overcook all your proteins
I've had quite a few Blue Aprons and I think maybe once they sent a single strip of bacon.

I'm into your bacon idea, I'll give it a shot.
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