Care And Feeding Of A Writer, Blue Apron Edition #cooking #Zen #BlueApron

Hey all! Longtime followers of my blog know that I use cooking as relaxation. A few months ago I signed up for the meal service Blue Apron, and each delivery gets better and better. Here’s the rundown of the recipe I made today, accompanied by some bad photography. I’m a lover, not a photographer.

This recipe is called Nepalese Chicken Tarkari  (did you know there were chickens in Nepal? I imagine them as large, robust fowl, well suited to the high elevations and bitter cold. Maybe they wear fur coats.). Here’s what all the ingredients looked like straight from the box:


Why yes, that is an R2D2 salt shaker.

Here’s the recipe card they send me, so I knew what I was doing with all these bits and pieces: IMG_20160407_125019

I washed my veggies, seared my chicken, and made the rice and sauce. You can get the full recipe on Blue Apron.


Action shot! You can just hear that chicken sizzle!

And you know what? Overall, it was pretty good. The inclusion of fresh ginger root in the sauce reaffirms my belief that ginger is one of the more underutilized foods out there. My only gripe is that the rice involved wilting the spinach in a separate pan, then draining, cooling, chopping, and adding it to the rice. I feel like there were a few unnecessary steps in there, and if I make this again I’ll just chop the spinach and toss it in the rice from the get-go.


Looks yummy, huh?

The star of this meal was the spice blend used on the chicken and in the sauce, a finely ground mix of curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves. Overall, this dish was easy to prepare (even with the multi-pan spinach rice), and I I can well imagine making this again. Another win for Blue Apron!


Lunch, conquered again.

Care And Feeding Of a Writer: Cooking Hacks

Let’s face it, writing can be stressful. From wrestling with your rough drafts to crafting query letters, writers are constantly wondering if what they’re doing is good enough, relevant to their careers, and the perennial nail-biter, will I get paid for this.

Okay, maybe stressful is an understatement.

Just like Britt, the heroine in Changing Teams, cooking is my Zen.

I don’t set out to master multi-step gourmet recipes (though those can be fun, too), but I do like to eat well and use a variety of fresh ingredients. However, that comes with it’s own set of stress: buying fresh herbs gets expensive, and much like poor-ass Britt I don’t have the time or the climate to maintain my own herb garden. Here are a few tips and tricks (read: hacks) I’ve picked up along the way that both help my budget and up my taste quotient.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with these products or companies, other than I’ve purchased and eaten them.

Lemongrass paste: Lemongrass imparts a citrusy, herby flavor that just can’t be mimicked. Instead of buying a whole stalk that will dry out before you use it, try this paste. Saute it with some chopped garlic and butter, and add it to white rice for a quick, flavorful side dish.

Ginger paste: Much like the lemongrass paste above, ginger paste is more economical than purchasing a whole root, and will last much longer. Use it in everything from stir fry to marinades.

Freeze dried chives are up there with canned tomatoes and frozen corn in terms of year-round freshness. it only takes a moment to rehydrate them, and they taste identical to fresh.

I love love love this chili paste! You get the flavor of the chilies along with some heat. It’s a great way to spice up everything from salsa to shakshuka.

Those are some of my favorite ingredients for gourmet cooking on a budget. What are some of your favorite cooking hacks?