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Review: Fun and Interesting Meals from Plated


On something of a whim I took advantage of an offer from this site called Plated. Buy 2 plates, get 4 free! My initial order I had to cancel, which resulted in an account credit of $70-80 after paying around $20. Not a bad deal in my book. A little later, I took advantage of that “free” money to try out the service.

I ordered two different meals/4 plates. When you’re ordering, one recipe usually makes 2 “plates” (some might make 4). The actual amount of plates would depend on how much you and/or the other people that enjoy the dish want to eat, of course. I would mostly classify the recipes as gourmet homestyle, occasionally ethnic or fusion. They send you a recipe card–more like a recipe poster–and most of the ingredients to cook it. You will probably have to supplement it with things like olive oil, butter, pepper, or other basic cooking ingredients that most people have available in their kitchen.

Although many things sounded delicious, the price was important to me (not all plates cost the same), so my final decision was tomato-braised chicken with fennel and steak gyros. Once the order shipped, it got to me overnight. Considering that some of the food they send is perishable, that’s a very good thing. I thought everything was very well-packaged and everything from my order was present and accounted for. I actually decided to do an unboxing and first impression video, which you can watch if you’re interested in this part of the process:

But I made it before I’d fully experienced my meals, so I wanted to go a little more in-depth here.

Steak Gyros: This was pretty easy to make and turned out to be delicious! I did overcook the steak just a tiny bit, as they recommend having it rare and mine was closer to medium-well, but that didn’t hurt it. It was good-quality steak and the seasonings they provided gave it a great flavor. The naans that came with the order were so tasty, I wished I had more of them. I did alter some of the side/sauce aspects of the recipe (I explain this a little in the video). Overall I was very happy with this one.

Tomato-braised Chicken with Fennel: First I should say that I HATE black licorice, and so I don’t like strong fennel flavors that much, but I love chicken, and I’ve had recipes with fennel that I did like, so I decided to try it out. This one was slightly more interesting to cook because I’ve never made fennel before. This used the leafy part as a garnish, but also the root as one of the main ingredients. Cooked in oil and tomato with a rather interesting mix of spices, I actually really liked the end result. I would have liked there to be more chicken, and I must admit I was a little disappointed by the cuts I was provided because there was a lot of fat on them. So it wasn’t perfect, but I liked the flavor of the dish. It also came with couscous, which I had never made before. That part turned out to be incredibly easy and although couscous doesn’t have much flavor on its own, I like it. Also, between the fennel bulb, a yellow onion, and the chicken, the yield for this recipe was HUGE. I’d say it could feed four people, maybe adding another side dish.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed my first experience with plated despite one or two things that weren’t perfect. (And expecting perfection is silly, really.) Promotional deal aside, this is not exactly a budget-friendly service. For the amount of food I got for the money, I probably would have been better off just getting a similar recipe and getting the ingredients myself. BUT, you’re not just paying for the food. You’re paying to have it bundled and ready to cook, as well, and for the convenience of having it delivered right to you. They also make efforts to send sustainable and ethical ingredients, which are worth paying a little extra for if you can afford it. Also, if you can’t afford to order frequently, you can always skip a few weeks to save up for your next order, but make sure you keep an eye on your account so you don’t accidentally get one when you didn’t want it. The default is every one or two weeks, depending on what you select. I’m not in a position to afford this very often right now, but I’d be interested in doing this regularly in the future, after my income grows.

Why you should try it: I think the best reason to give Plated a try (other than the great first-time deal they offer!) is to experiment with a recipe you might never have tried otherwise. I doubt I ever would have made gyros if left entirely to my own devices, and now I know I might like to use fennel in cooking other dishes. I might have done that eventually, but without this incentive I doubt it. I made the recipes on my own, but this could also be fun to do with friends and family, if you like to cook together.

If after all that you’re intrigued, and you want some free plates, use my referral link below:

https://www.plated.com/invites/7c742d

Happy cooking!

Lonely (Relaxing) Dining: Life Alive, Central Sq.


This morning I scheduled a massage to use my living social coupon. It was at 10am, which is usually a time when I’ve just gotten up and am introducing myself to the weekend, on Saturday mornings. I rarely leave the house that early on a weekend day. Only if I have a specific reason.

Since I was so close I decided to go to Life Alive afterward, which is an organic vegetarian eatery with AMAZING smoothies. I had a “Sufi Poet” salad (I have no idea why they call it that), which was light but substantial enough for me, with really good flavors, and reminded me how much I enjoy dried cranberries on salads. I also got a Coconut Alive smoothie, and it was just perfect.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

So, I sat on one of their little loveseat benches and read my book while consuming this delicious food. I ordered a demi salad, and it was still a pretty good size. I don’t even think I could finish a full sized one. I’ve been wanting to try their other, cooked dishes. I really want to get The Fool. Anyone ever had it? Did you like it?

It was rainy today, and a little colder than I was prepared for (I didn’t have any socks on–oops), but not too bad, since the rain was that misty drizzle type that gets you a little damp at the most. Not like Friday, when it was pouring down all evening. Glad I wore boots then. So as I was walking between the massage place and central square, I was in a really good mood, despite being kind of cold. After my nice lunch I was still in a pretty good mood, although it was starting to rain a bit more. Shoe shopping was really the only thing to do before heading back home.

I went to DSW with a $10 coupon. I was looking for shoes I can wear to work, something fairly comfortable but nice and pretty, maybe a little different. The ones I found are bright green, so I think I succeeded there. I also got some stuff for play, because it was drastically reduced. There was a red leopard wallet the tag on which said “compare at $40.” I looked at it and thought, I would never pay $40 for this. You know how much I actually paid for it, according to my receipt? $7. So. Yeah.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

 

If you think I saved that much and still paid a lot, think again…

As for cooking adventures, I haven’t been having them much lately. Nothing worth posting about anyway. I have a brief post to write about a stir-fry I made the other day, which was pretty good, but otherwise all I’ve been making is things like eggs, bagel sandwiches, salads, etc. No one wants to read about that. If you think you do, you’re wrong.

I’ve actually been feeling quite unenthusiastic about food lately. Not sure why. Every time I think I really want a particular thing, I usually decide not to because the more I consider it, the less sure I am that I want it. Most of my food choices lately have been solely based on money, and occasionally on going out to hang out with someone. The  only thing I’ve really been excited about, in general, is smoothies. I was really happy about going to Life Alive today, though, so that was something.

I got beans the last time I went shopping, intending to make chili before it got too hot to enjoy it, but then I lost interest. I think I’ll get more chicken and make tikka masala instead.

 

Rambling through Boston: Brattle Book Shop


http://www.brattlebookshop.com/

Recently, I decided to check one of many endeavors off of my “like-to-do” list (not a bucket list, as for me that would be comprised of things that would be a little harder to accomplish), and I hopped on a train to downtown Boston to explore the Brattle Book Shop.

Brattle Book Shop is a used bookstore just a stone’s throw from Boston Common. It’s been around since 1825. Seriously. You can get more info at the link above.

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The first thing you’ll notice about Brattle is the outdoor section of the bookstore. In the alley next to the building, shelves line the walls to the right and left. Luckily it was a sunny, somewhat mild day when I decided to venture there, so I was able to browse these books for a little while. The books on the left side shelves are all $3; the other side, $5.

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I didn’t take the time to scour every title. I rarely have the patience for that. I just scanned a good number of shelves until I had found a few books I wanted to buy. There was quite a range of books, from totally obscure titles that could only interest a niche audience to very popular books, like volumes of Harry Potter and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Toward the back of the outdoor area, they also had this stack of cool painted doors, all book-themed designs. I’m not entirely certain what they use them for, but I’m guessing they use them to close up the shelves when the store is closed, and maybe during the winter. I snapped a picture for reference. I’m sure there are many better pictures out there, but here you go…

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Here are the books I picked up:

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The first one I spotted was the Marguerite Yourcenar book. Granted, I had no idea who Mishima was, even though he was[is] very well-known (as Wikipedia told me), but I read Memoirs of Hadrian in college, and as a result have dubbed Yourcenar one of my favorite writers. I just had to get it. Tove Jansson was a name I remembered seeing quite a bit when I was working at the Harvard Coop. The Summer Book seemed like it would be the perfect thing to read in the coming months, so I snatched that one up. The last title is an illustrated edition of The Three Musketeers from the ’50s. It’s not valuable or anything, or it would have been in the rare book room instead of the $3 wall. As you might have guessed, it’s an abridged version. it just seemed like a fun thing to own, and I thought the illustrations were pretty cool.

I decided three books was a good amount. I stepped inside to pay, first having a quick look around the inside of the store. I didn’t take too much time inside, but I can say that they had a very wide selection, on shelves reaching up to the ceiling. Fiction was on the first floor, along with a few other categories. Scholarly books were mostly on the second floor. The rare book room was also on the second floor. I didn’t check it out this time around, I think I was just to nervous at the prospect of being in a room with so many valuable books. I did have a glance over the huge posters they had stuck all over the wall leading up to the second floor showing some of the rare books they  had sold and the prices they’d gone for. I think the least expensive one was $250. They even once had a first edition Cat in the Hat. Cool.

I would recommend this store to anyone who might be looking for rare books (to buy or not), and to anyone who enjoys weeding through shelves to find something unexpected, unfamiliar, a discovery for your home library. It’s definitely a worthwhile book-lover’s outing. In addition, it’s surrounded by many restaurants as well as being very close to the Boston Common. You could get a book, then grab a sandwich or something, head on over to the grass and settle in for a picnic with your new literary find. Hell, that sounds lovely. I think I’m going to do it sometime this summer.

Who Knew Clownfish Grew Up to be Bastards


If you live in the Northeast like me, you’re currently experiencing a storm they’ve decided to call “Nemo.” That’s a pretty terrible name for a snowstorm, but, really, are there good ones?

While I’m toasting my pita “chips” (just a cut up pita, no decorations) for the canned hummus I hope will be edible, I thought I would write a post. Give you something to read while you’re stuck inside, assuming you haven’t lost your power.

Anyway… I had birthday brunch plans tomorrow morning which are now cancelled. And some other tentative plans for today(?) that I knew would not be happening once I saw the forecast on Wednesday. Yes, my own birthday. It’s tomorrow, and although my Saturday evening plans should still pan out, that’s still a 2/3 disappointment rate for how I hoped things would go. People keep telling me that it’s not a big deal, I can just celebrate later, and also that I should have my birthday in the summer. I am aware I’ve been making it into a bigger deal than it should be, but how often does one’s birthday fall on a Saturday? That’s the time when the actual DAY of your birthday should be filled with awesome. It’s just going to be filled with snow with a little bit of awesome tacked on – which will be so much less awesome because I’m going to have to wear something totally different than what I was planning. No way those shoes will handle the snow.

I don’t want to explain why I was so upset when my birthday plans had to change. To summarize: after certain aspects of my birthday celebrations for the past two years, I really just wanted things to go well and not have any problems.

But on to other things. Although I’m still bummed, I’m not really upset anymore, and as I can’t do anything about the weather, I will just have to get over it.

My pre-blizzard activity was … Read the rest of this entry

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