Friday, September 30, 2016

Week 39 - West African

For the West African challenge, I decided to make a chicken peanut stew based on a recipe I found on Simply Recipes. That stew was based on a Ghanaian chicken groundnut stew and sounded really delicious. I remembered that I had made an African peanut stew sometime in the past, but completely forgot that it was for a previous challenge meal and also didn't realize how similar it was until I re-read that post after making this. (Even funnier, it was the Week 39 challenge also, 2 years ago.) While I guess I could have tried making something more complicated like dishes we got during our Nigerian dinner, I went for something a little easier, with more accessible ingredients, and that I was fairly sure I wouldn't screw up. I guess I also just have a liking for African peanut stew.

The ingredients for the stew we made, adapted from the original, were:

- about 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.20)
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts ($3)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 yellow onion, sliced ($0.50)
- 2 spoonfuls crushed garlic ($0.25)
- 1-2 tsp ginger paste ($0.30)
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped ($1.96)
- 4 cups water ($0)
- 2 large spoonfuls chicken bouillon ($0.50)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (not drained) ($0.75)
- 1 cup roasted peanuts ($1.30)
- 1 cup peanut butter ($0.80)
- about 1 tbsp ground coriander (whatever was left in the jar) ($0.25)
- about 1 tsp cayenne (should have used more) ($0.05)
- about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro ($0.90)

The total for this stew was approximately $10.81, which is a really good price for the amount of stew it made and how full we were. If you added another sweet potato and a little bit more of some of the other ingredients, you could probably stretch this to two meals and stick the other half in the freezer.

The steps for making the stew were:

- heat olive oil in large pot
- slice chicken into thinner pieces and sprinkle with salt/pepper on one side
- add to pot in single layer and sprinkle with salt/pepper on other side
- brown chicken, flipping halfway through, and then remove to plate
- while chicken is cooking, slice onion, peel and chop sweet potatoes

- add onion to pot and cook for a few minutes, scraping off browned bits while cooking
- add crushed garlic and ginger paste and cook another minute
- add sweet potatoes and cook for a few minutes
- add chicken back to pot along with water, chicken bouillon, diced tomatoes, peanuts, peanut butter, ground coriander, cayenne, salt, pepper, and mix together well
- bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer
- simmer covered for 60 minutes
- at some point during the cooking, chop cilantro

- remove cover and allow stew to keep simmering while removing chicken pieces (sweet potatoes should be really soft by now, but if not cook longer)
- shred chicken with 2 forks and return to pot, stir well
- add half of the cilantro to the stew and mix in well
- the original recipe said to add more black pepper here (as peppery as you can stand) but I forgot
- ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the rest of the cilantro

This stew was so good. I forgot how filling sweet potatoes can be, since we don't eat them enough, and ate way too much stew. Even after that, there was still plenty left for another meal. It was warm and comforting, perfect as we're getting into cooler weather, and so full of flavor. I think next time I would probably add some more cayenne and black pepper, and maybe garnish it with some chopped peanuts on top as well (similar to the H&H Senegalese chicken with peanut soup). I'm also not sure if it really needs the cilantro on top, which would make the process even easier (and I am always looking for easier on a weeknight!). I would definitely make this again.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sriracha Hummus

Product name: Sriracha hummus

Price: $1.99

Quick review: The main ingredients of the sriracha hummus were chickpeas, sriracha sauce, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and white pepper. This hummus was really good. It wasn't too spicy, but there was some punch to it, which we liked. It was spicier than the spicy hummus we've liked before and had a really good balanced flavor to it.

Buy again? Yes, absolutely.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yellow Magnolia Canteen

Our IDNYC membership at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is ending soon, so we spent some time last weekend visiting the garden, trying to see all the exhibitions we never got around to on other visits. One of the other things we never did on any of our other garden visits was try the Yellow Magnolia Canteen, the garden's quick service restaurant. We usually eat outside the garden, but the menu sounded interesting and eating on the premises would definitely save some time. We decided to get 2 sandwiches (both $13), which came with some lightly dressed mixed greens on the side.

The first sandwich we got was the sliced roast turkey, which came with bacon, green chile avocado spread, and pickled easter egg radishes on 7 grain bread. Between the two sandwiches, I liked this one a little more, at least once I ate all of the unexciting crusts of the bread, as the bread was a little sweet on its own. The turkey and radishes were fine, as was the bacon, although that could have been cooked a little longer. The best part of the sandwich was the green chile avocado spread, which was kind of like a spicy guacamole, and it had a nice zing to it. The menu didn't list it, but I think there was also pepper jack cheese, which was also a good match for the other ingredients.

Our second sandwich was the kimchi cheesesteak, which A liked better between the two. This sandwich wasn't at all what we were expecting. We thought it would be like most cheesesteak sandwiches we've had with chipped meat, which expectation was only reinforced when the menu called it bulgogi beef. Instead they were like soft burger patties with American cheese and kimchi on top. The bread was a hero, which I found a little too crusty. The kimchi mixed with the cheese was good, but the meat didn't have as much flavor as I thought it would and there wasn't enough kimchi to counteract that and all the flavorless bread.

The sandwiches we got at the canteen certainly aren't earning a spot on any of our "best of" lists, but they served their purpose. It was relatively quick to get the food once we ordered, we didn't have to leave the garden to get food, we got to sit outside in gorgeous 70 degree weather, and it took about 30 seconds to get to the conservatory once we were done. Just what we needed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chicken and Cheese Tamales

Product name: Chicken and cheese tamales

Price: $2.49 for 2 tamales

Quick review: Similar to the sweet corn tamales I reviewed before, these chicken and cheese tamales came in a package of two in the frozen section. One difference I did notice between the two was that the instructions on the package this time didn't require wet paper towels or plastic wrap to microwave them anymore, which was a welcome change. So much more convenient, but I don't know if it's a change TJ's made overall with the tamales or if it was just made to the chicken ones.

Back when we got the refrigerated chicken tamales, I mentioned that I couldn't remember how they compared to these frozen ones. They're pretty different. These frozen tamales were made with white meat chicken, corn, cheddar cheese, bell peppers, and seasonings, and didn't draw their flavor from a salsa verde base. Between the two, I probably liked the refrigerated ones more, partly because of the salsa verde flavor but also because the masa was softer. Not sure if TJ's makes a chicken and green chile frozen version too, but I guess I'll look next time. Although the refrigerated ones won for flavor and texture (and had a slight edge in price per tamale), the frozen ones were still pretty good, and they won as far as convenience (package of two versus six, and also lasts longer in the freezer).

Buy again? Yes, although I will probably try some of the other frozen tamales first so I can remember which ones I like better. Comparing these with the frozen sweet corn ones, both are good, but I prefer these.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Curried White Chicken Deli Salad

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get this review up, but I'm pretty sure I saw this salad on the shelf during a recent TJ's visit, so it's still kind of relevant.

Product name: Curried white chicken deli salad

Price: $4.49 for 11 oz

Quick review: This chicken salad combined chicken breast with mayo, carrots, raisins, scallions, honey, toasted cashews, curry powder, and other seasonings. The result was a salad that was creamy and filled with flavor from all of the various seasonings and the curry powder. It definitely was not a bland chicken salad. It reminded me a bit of the biryani they used to sell in the frozen section (and which we miss), but in a salad form. There were probably some similar spices in the mix that contributed to that. I liked this salad a lot. It wasn't cheap, $4.49 for a little tub, but even paired with the greens, it was probably cheaper than most lunches I could buy outside.

Buy again? Maybe. It probably won't be a regular purchase since I can put together cheaper lunches at home, but it was tasty and I'd get it again every so often.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Apple Pie Cheddar Cheese

When we saw that the spotlight cheese at Trader Joe's this month was apple pie cheddar cheese, I was prepared to hate it. It sounded like it would be really sweet, and not only am I not a huge fan of mixing fruit in with more savory foods, but I haven't loved that many sweet cheeses in the past. But despite all of my bias against it, I wanted to try it, and it helped that A was pretty intrigued by it. It sounded interesting, and I figured that at least if I did hate it, I would know for sure in the future and never get it again.

As I sliced up the cheese, it smelled incredibly sweet, just like apple pie, and I was already disliking it. But once I tried the first piece of cheese, my opinion completely changed. It reminded me of eating slices of sweet apples with cheese cubes or slices from cheese plates (which I had obviously completely forgotten that I do). It was refreshing, not overly sweet, and lightly spiced. The cheddar cheese here was infused with apple cider, soaked dried apples, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, and the key, I think, was that the infusion was done with restraint. All the elements of apple pie - the comforting spices, the sweetness and tartness of apple - combined well with the cheddar cheese here, mostly because they weren't overpowering at all, but just an accent.

We ate this with the enchanting crackers from Trader Joe's, which, since they are also a little on the sweeter side, were a great fit. The suggestion on the sign at the store had been to melt it on a cheeseburger, and I'm still not sure whether I agree with that, but the cheese itself gets a rave from us.

Buy Again? Maybe. It'll only be around for a little longer (if they haven't already sold out) since it's the spotlight cheese, so we might already be out of luck.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Goddess and Grains

When we go to Panera, we usually get the You Pick Two combo, and we both usually get the Thai chicken salad. Although we've tried other salads from time to time, that's been our go-to for a long time. On a recent lunch visit, we both decided to try something new. We don't think these salads are brand new to Panera, but they were new to us.

M's review of the Green Goddess Cobb with Chicken:
I like traditional Cobb salads a lot, except for one component - blue cheese - so whenever I see some variation of a Cobb salad that doesn't include blue cheese, I jump at the chance to try it. The Panera version of the Cobb salad has no cheese at all, and instead mixes chicken with a bunch of different greens (arugula, romaine, kale, radicchio), tomatoes, pickled red onions, avocado, bacon, a hard boiled egg, and a green goddess dressing. The dressing was packed with herbs and really tasty (Panera's website tells me it's mostly tarragon, chives, parsley, and watercress), although I personally prefer some of the green dressings at places like Chop't a little more. I liked the salad, and there was a decent amount of both avocado and bacon, which was nice to see. My only constructive criticism would be more onions and more dressing, but otherwise, it was really good. I might mix things up on future visits and get this sometimes instead of the Thai chicken if it lasts through the fall.

A's review of the Ancient Grain and Arugula with Chicken:
M has a bit of an aversion to mixing fruit with her savory foods, but I don't have that much of an issue with it. This salad consisted of "chicken raised without antibiotics, arugula, ancient grain blend, red grapes, and fresh apple and cabbage slaw tossed with white sweet balsamic vinaigrette dressing and topped with roasted and salted pumpkin seeds." This was a really fresh and tasty salad. The grapes and apples weren't so sweet to overpower the rest of the salad, and the grain blend added a nice crunch to the mix. The chicken was a touch on the bland side, but it had enough seasoning to at least not be a complete bore. Overall the salad was tasty, but I don't know that I would consistently get it over the Thai chicken salad.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Week 38 - Acid

For the Week 38 acid challenge, I originally intended to do something with balsamic vinegar, but I just wasn't feeling very inspired so I started looking into recipes starring lemon. What I eventually found that I liked was this recipe from The Kitchn for a chickpea casserole with lemon, herbs, and shallots. I thought the lemon would be front and center since it was in the title, but while there was lemon flavor, it wasn't really a lemon-focused dish. One of the alternate interpretations of the acid theme was to use acid-forming foods, which would include most dairy products, so even if there wasn't enough lemon in this dish, it still fit the challenge using that basis.

I made a few deviations from the original recipe (as usual), and the ingredients I used were:

- 3 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained ($2.25)
- 4 large shallots, finely chopped ($0.99)
- 2 large spoonfuls of crushed garlic ($0.25)
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked ($0.50)
- juice and zest of 1 large lemon ($0.49)
- about 5 hearts of palm stalks, finely chopped ($2.50)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 2 large eggs, beaten ($0.20)
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese ($0.90)
- 3/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt ($0.75)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided ($2)
- 1/2 bunch of parsley, leaves finely chopped ($0.90)
- a couple tsp of dried rosemary ($0.10)
- Italian bread crumbs, about 1/2-2/3 cup ($0.50)
- olive oil for drizzling ($0.20)

The total for the dish was approximately $12.58 (although I'm not entirely sure on the cost of the hearts of palm as we bought the jar a very long time ago), which was enough for a filling dinner for two, quite a few spoonfuls of rice mixture to snack on while prepping, and some leftover pieces of casserole for another lunch.

This was a relatively simple dish to put together even if it took some time to get everything together. The basic steps were:

- start rice in rice cooker (so that it'll be done once the ingredients for the chickpea mixture are ready) and preheat oven to 375 degrees
- drain and rinse chickpeas, and add to large bowl
- prep produce: chop shallots, juice lemon, zest lemon, chop hearts of palm, chop parsley
- mix chickpeas with the chopped shallots, crushed garlic, brown rice, lemon juice, lemon zest, hearts of palm, and salt and pepper
- additional prep: beat eggs, grate parmesan cheese (could probably do all the prep together but we don't have enough counter space for all of that)
- mix beaten eggs and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese with the cottage cheese and yogurt, and stir until mixed well together
- add parsley, rosemary, and egg mixture to chickpea mixture, and combine well
- grease 9x13 baking dish and add combined mixture to baking dish in flat layer
- add remaining parmesan cheese and bread crumbs to the top, and then drizzle with olive oil
- bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, and then let stand for 5-10 minutes

We really liked this. I've never really made much with cottage cheese, but the combination of that with yogurt made this casserole feel so light and airy even though a small amount was pretty filling. I'm glad we added the hearts of palm which weren't in the original (some people had suggested artichokes, but we've had hearts of palm in the pantry for a long time), and I'm wondering what other vegetables I could add to this next time. The only other change I would make would probably be to ditch the fresh parsley. For the amount of added work with the washing and chopping, and the need to get fresh parsley in the first place, it really didn't add much parsley flavor to the end result. I think I'd rather substitute some dried parsley or just leave it out all together, since the rosemary combined with the Italian bread crumbs seemed to add enough flavor. This was a pretty successful casserole, and we definitely want to make it again.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


After filling our bellies with spaghetti, we loaded up our luggage and set out on foot for the Brugge train station. It was time to journey to the last city on our trip - Brussels. We were sad to leave Brugge, since we really loved our short time there, but at least we got one last walk through the narrow streets in on our way to the train.

Since we were pretty full, we didn't buy any food for our train journey, but that didn't mean we didn't eat any snacks. We broke out the Haribo Smurfs that we had bought in Antwerp, and got our first taste of that berry-flavored goodness. I've mentioned these Smurfs before in my favorite food memories from 2010, so you can probably tell how much we liked them (well, I especially did).

We really like Haribo gummy candy, especially the European versions since somehow they just taste better. After tasting these Smurfs, we looked for them in every shop we stopped into in Brussels but we didn't find any more bags to bring home. Now, 6 years later, you can get Haribo Smurfs here in the States, but they just don't taste exactly the same as the German versions. But it's better than nothing for one of our favorite candies!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Three years ago today, we had recently returned from our road trip through Pennsylvania (need to get back to recapping that...) and went out for dinner at our first Laotian (or as they describe it, Laotian-inspired Southeast Asian) restaurant, Khe-Yo in Tribeca. At the time, it had just recently opened, and we couldn't wait to try a cuisine that was mostly new to us. Usually, unless part of a trip recap, we would skip restaurant recaps that are this old, except: (a) it was three years ago today and it's nice to relive the experience, (b) this is one of only two Laotian restaurants we've ever been to, and (c) some of the same dishes are still on the menu so it isn't entirely out-of-date.

The meal started off with some complimentary snacks - some sticky rice along with bang bang sauce and some other sauce that we can't remember. We had read some reviews of Khe-Yo before going, so we already knew that the expectation was that you would pick up balls of sticky rice with your fingers and then dip them in bang bang sauce, which was exactly what we did. The first taste we had of the bang bang sauce was really exciting. It was a giant burst of flavor, a combination of spice from the Thai chiles, garlic, fish sauce, and citrus from lime, and maybe some other herbs. It reminded us of the hot sauce we get from the Isaan Thai restaurants, which makes complete geographic sense. We loved this, and it started off the meal on a very high note.

Back when we went to Khe-Yo, the menu started off with a salad section with three options for laap (chicken, duck, and fluke). (Currently only the duck remains on the menu.) We elected to try the chicken one, since that was often our baseline for evaluating various Thai restaurants, and we were curious to see how this one would differ. It arrived covered in what looked like cracklings with thick chunks of romaine hearts on the side.

The laap itself was really well-flavored and we liked it a lot. The addition of bean sprouts was different, but the crunch was welcome. The cracklings ended up being fried chicken skin which gave it a different, crunchy texture along with some additional saltiness.

We got two appetizers to continue our meal. The first, we had been eyeing ever since we first looked at the menu, and that was the crunchy coconut rice (nam khao), which came with spicy kaffir lime sausage and baby iceberg lettuce. Similar to everything else we had tried, everything here was packed with flavor. It was basically pieces of sausage and rice balls, which sounds simple, but it was really, really good. Not surprising that this one is still on the menu three years later.

We also got the pork belly and shrimp crispy rolls, "homestyle," which came with a lot of accompaniments. There was some vermicelli, various salad ingredients and lettuce for wrapping, and a sauce on the side with carrot in it. One of the really nice things about the accompaniments was that they included perilla, which added such a unique flavor and was perfect to go with the rolls, making them seem so fresh and clean despite being fried. As for the rolls themselves, we remember them being on par with good spring rolls from Thai restaurants, but unfortunately, it's been too long to remember any specific elements of the flavors.

One of the more interesting dishes we got, and one which certainly seemed more Laotian-inspired than traditional, was the chili prawns (goong phet) with ginger scallion toast and Thai basil. The prawns were huge, and there were enough there for both of us to have two, as well as a slice of toast each. The toast was thick like Texas toast, and soaked up all of the curry flavor. It was just such an interesting dish, and we liked it. This is still on the menu, so I guess other people liked the flavor as much as we did.

Although everything we had at Khe-Yo was good, our favorites were probably the laap and the sticky rice with the bang bang sauce. What we loved most of all were that the flavors were so vibrant and nuanced. We've always intended to return, but with all the restaurants in the city, just haven't gotten back there yet. We did have another Laotian food adventure in DC this year that we'll recap at some point (hopefully soon), and hopefully we'll also make it back to Khe-Yo at some point.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Farewell Spaghetti

On our last day in Brugge, we stopped by L'Estaminet for lunch before preparing to leave for our next destination. We don't usually return to the same restaurant 2 days in a row when we have limited time in an area, but after our experience the day before, we really wanted to return to try the spaghetti that everyone else there was eating.

I decided to go for Leffe beer this time, and A got a Stella Artois. We loved how everywhere you went in Belgium, they made sure to give you specific glasses to match the beer you were drinking, which isn't always the case at home.

We both got the spaghetti, which arrived piping hot and in a very generous portion. The bowl was filled with pasta, topped with sauce, and then finished off with a layer of melted cheese on top. After snapping some pictures, we mixed it all up and dug in.

The spaghetti was really good, and the sauce had so much flavor. It was no surprise why so many people (including people who looked like locals) would get this. The dishes we got the day before were good, but the spaghetti was better. It was hearty and comforting and perfect for ending our time in bolognese-filled Brugge.

Monday, September 19, 2016

De Vlaamsche Pot

After our wafel, we wandered around Brugge some more, looking for dinner. Nothing really caught our eye on the streets we were on, so we made our way back to Cambrinus, the place we had gone for dinner the night before. They had such a large menu, and we had tried so little of it, so we were sure we could find some new and delicious food there. Unfortunately, they told us they were reserved for the rest of the night, so we had to go somewhere new. We looked through our Rick Steves guidebook, and he suggested a Flemish spot called De Vlaamsche Pot so we headed over there. Luckily, they were still open and not booked for the night, but we did have a short wait for a table. We had no idea Brugge would be so packed at dinnertime!

The restaurant was located in a narrow townhouse with lots of cute decor. It was dimly lit, with lots of red tablecloths and checkered napkins. When we sat down, they gave us large leatherbound menus, and we couldn't wait to figure out what we were going to order.

To start the meal, we both got beers. A got a Chimay tripel, and M went for the Westmalle tripel. Even though both of these beers are fairly easily found in the US, this was, as mentioned, back in the years prior to the major craft beer explosion in the US. Because of that, we both opted for a "locally" brewed beer. Both beers were very crisp and refreshing, and they were good to pair with the meals that we each chose.

We both chose to go with one of the set menus. (We can't remember whether the menus had lots of a la carte options, but the 3 course set menus seemed like a fair deal for the price and covered exactly the dishes we wanted to eat, so we went with them.) M chose the Noordzee menu (literally "North Sea"), €31 at the time, which was focused on seafood. The appetizer course on that menu was the tomato with shrimps. In addition to a lightly dressed lettuce-based salad on the side, the appetizer came with a large pile of tiny shrimp, topped with dressing and some chunks of tomato. This was really good and tasted really fresh, and it was fun eating so many small shrimp. We don't really want to think about all the work that went into preparing such tiny shrimp, but that probably made it worth the price.

A got the Vlaamsche menu (literally "Flemish"), €28 at the time, which started off with farmer's pate. The pate came with a side of lingonberry jam/sauce and salad, as well as a bag of pumpernickel bread. The pate was wonderfully rich and creamy. When spread over the slightly sweet pumpernickel and layered with a little bit of the sweet and tart lingonberry jam, it was very delicious. The salad was refreshing and definitely necessary to help balance the heavy, rich flavors of the pate.

The main course for the Noordzee menu was waterzooi met zeevis (with sea fish). Waterzooi is a classic Flemish dish, and it's basically a creamy stew traditionally filled with potatoes and seafood (although these days it's available with chicken too). According to Wikipedia, waterzooi originated in Ghent, a Belgian town we passed through on the train on our way to Brugge, so we definitely wanted to try this local specialty. 

Inside the creamy stew, M found a giant boiled potato along with a piece of fish and what looked like a large langoustine. Although it didn't look like there was a ton of stuff in the stew at first glance, the waterzooi was incredibly filling. M regretted a little bit getting the wafel earlier when she was hungry, but only because the waterzooi was that filling. From what we remember, the flavors of the waterzooi were really good. It was very rich and creamy and filling and heavy though, and we hadn't really prepared for that.

The main course for A's menu was carbonades a la Flamande (apparently stoofvlees op z'n Vlaams, in Flemish), or Flemish beef stew. Similar to waterzooi, carbonades was a Flemish dish we had heard a lot about. The beef stew came with a side of applesauce. A's big reason for picking this was because it is such a well-known Flemish delicacy. It was an extremely rich and meaty stew, but it was also so full of flavor. He doesn't remember much about the applesauce unfortunately, so he can't really comment on that aspect.

For anyone getting carbonades, they came around with a giant metal bowl of fries to fill up your plate, and would gladly refill them if you asked. The fries didn't seem like the double-fried fries like what you get in Amsterdam with the sauces, but they were still good. They were thicker cut so they were more potatoey. The outsides were stiff but not fully crisp. They soaked up the carbonade gravy very well.

The third course for both of our menus was dessert. For M, it was supposed to be homemade vanilla ice cream, and for A, an unspecified "Brugs Room dessert." We were both so full though after our appetizers, entrees, and all that bread and fries that we couldn't imagine eating dessert too. Lucky for us, they let us substitute tea for dessert. They probably made out better on that deal, but our stomachs were thankful.

Every table got some Dumon chocolates to end the meal, which seemed fitting as they were the main chocolatier that we found in Brugge with multiple outlets, and we were really happy to round out our very Flemish meal with them.

De Vlaamsche Pot was a very solid restaurant that specialized in classic, Belgian cuisine. The food was incredibly filling but also very flavorful. In fact, the carbonades were so good that it inspired M to make her own version, and A thinks that the stoemp she made with them was better as a side than the fries served here. We would recommend De Vlaamsche Pot to anyone who wants to try some traditional Flemish food. We're glad we had the chance to try these very classic dishes.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Plenty of Potatoes

I've been going to Costco since I was a kid (although it was Price Club way back then), and it's one of my favorite stores. One thing I've heard sometimes though is people wondering what people with small households do with all the bulk items. It makes sense that if you live in a tiny closet of an apartment in the city that you might not want to buy 36 rolls of toilet paper or 9 boxes of tissues or 12 cans of corn at a time (although we do), but I think, space aside, people wonder more about perishable food. We recently bought a 20 pound sack of potatoes there for $9.99, and I thought it would be interesting to track how a family of 2 people could use up 20 pounds of potatoes before they all rotted.

Our 20 pound bag of potatoes came with 23 potatoes. Here's what happened to them:

- Loaded baked potato salad, same recipe as the picnic challenge, for Labor Day weekend BBQ: 7 potatoes (this was actually what prompted the purchase in the first place)

- Sugar browned potatoes for the Nordic challenge: 2 potatoes

- Soup, made in the same style as the caldo verde from the Portuguese challenge, with kale and kiolbassa (half for dinner and half to be eaten at some later date): 5 potatoes

- Kiolbassa vegetable saute: 2 potatoes

- Soy chorizo tacos (like these): 1 potato

- Buttermilk mashed potatoes (frozen to be eaten at some later date): 2 potatoes

- Garbage: 4 potatoes (3 were wet or moldy when we took them out of the bag on day 1, and 1 got too soft before we could use it on our last day of cooking them)

For us, the key was really finding some uses for the potatoes that could then be frozen and eaten later. If we hadn't had to throw out those 4 potatoes, we probably would have made a lot more mashed potatoes and put that in the freezer, or maybe a second day of soy chorizo tacos. Even if you divided out the price for only usable potatoes, it comes out to about $0.53 per potato, which is slightly cheaper (currently) than buying that many potatoes by the piece at Trader Joe's. We would normally just pick up a potato or two at a time, but since we needed them for the baked potato salad, this just made sense.

That said, even taking out all the potatoes we froze and brought to the BBQ, it still felt like all we had eaten for a couple of weeks was potato. This is only the second time we've bought the giant bag, and while it's doable with a lot of meal planning and prepping for the future, it's definitely not easy to go through that many potatoes before they go bad if you're a small household and not solely meat and potatoes eaters. So interesting keeping track of this though!