Not bad … but not gourmet …

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1My first meal in a box is Meatballs and Tomato sauce with Asparagus and Creamy Rice

It seemed straight forward for an all thumbs cook. What could go wrong? As I said in my earlier piece, I was a bit concerned with the portions, but in this first meal, the plates were about as filled as most of our meals. Here is a webshot of the menu.

I started off half an hour earlier than the preparation time by washing the produce, then cutting the asparagus into 1” pieces after trimming off the woody ends. Then I fried the pieces in olive oil. I have never prepared asparagus that way. In my family, we ‘bile’ everything until it is limp. But I fried ‘em gently ‘till they were tender, and dumped them into a bowl to wait.

Next, I learned to pit the olives by smashing them and pulling out the pits. A little video was included to show me how to smash garlic to remove the skins. Geesh! All the years of peeling garlic when all I had to do was smack them hard with the flat of a knife and toss the skins. Who knew. But two cloves looked a bit skimpy, so I added one more just to make sure I had enough.

Then I squished the free-range egg into the hamburger along with panko, (bread crumbs) like you make meat loaf, and rolled them into eight balls. I think I should have taken the time to make ten balls, but eight worked out better mathematically, and put them into the same skillet I used for the asparagus, and began frying the meat balls.

Brown rice went into a saucepan with a couple of cups of water and a big pinch of salt. When the rice began to boil, I turned the heat down to simmer, put a lid on it, set the timer for 30 minutes, then went back and turned the meat balls over with a pair of tongs before dumping in a small can of tomato paste and half the garlic, and let that simmer for a bit.

When the timer went off, I checked the rice … I over cooked it a tad, but it wasn’t bad. In went a couple of tablespoons of white cheese. It was about the consistency of yogurt. I suppose cream cheese thinned with half and half would substitute, but what the hey! It came in the package. That was followed by the smashed olives, the fried asparagus, and the juice of one lime. I think if I ever do rice like this again, I’ll go with capers and skip the lime, but I faithfully followed the directions.

It all came together half an hour before dinnertime. I should have heeded the times in the stiff sheet with the recipe on it. My concerns about portions vanished. It looked good on the plate, and tasted pretty darn good. I was pleasantly surprised.

Value wise, it is expensive for a home cooked meal. Without the discount, it would have been around $10 a plate. With the discount, it came to about $6 a plate. The only people I can see going this route would be those who are very busy, but want to prepare a meal at home without a huge amount of menu planning. And I really hate meal planning, so I suspect that I will be doing this every two or three weeks.

I can’t see real foodies who live in their kitchens buying into this, however. As good as the meal was, it wasn’t gourmet.

I still have two more meals, and will chronicle them as I prepare them.

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