Oh, grow up.

I’m relearning, in my recent enthusiasm for podcasting, something I’ve long contended: If you really want to know who’s reading/listening to a media outlet, check the advertising.

When I first started reading right-wing political magazines, I noticed the back-of-the-book ads were for things like The Great Courses and Increase Your Word Power flimflams, the intellectual equivalent of Charles Atlas’ don’t-get-sand-kicked-in-your-face-by-your-liberal-friends pitch. The lefty mags had personal ads for what sounded like a whole lot of lonely academics with nose hair, handmade jewelry and leather elbow patches on their blazers. And from what I’ve been able to tell, millennials (who are the natural audience of podcasts) simply can’t do a damn thing for themselves.

Caveat up front: Every time I’ve ventured an opinion that maybe young people need to brush up on their adulting skills, I get one of them jumping down my throat about the five jobs she works for practically nothing, and “we’re not all Lena Dunham, you know!” Noted. Noted, noted, noted. I’m just saying.

Anyway, the ‘casts I subscribe to offer some truly weird services, like various incarnations of the Clothes of the Month club — these are services where you fill out some online forms, and every month, a box of outfits appears on your doorstep. You try everything on, pay for what you like and send the rest back. How mystifying, and yet also seductive. Also, a waste of money; of course everybody has “no time to shop,” but seriously, find time to shop if looking good is important to you. It’s not that fucking hard.

Blue Apron is a similar one, only for food. Blue Apron delivers pre-portioned food boxes with easy-to-follow recipes, for those who want to cook at home but pay the same price they would at a restaurant, or at least I assume so. I honestly don’t know how you put together boxes featuring everything individually packaged, including the spices, all refrigerated, all with the usual buzzwords (“sustainable,” “locally sourced”), and deliver it to someone’s front door without charging an arm and a leg. Seriously, folks, have you considered the alternatives at your local fast-casual restaurant? You might be surprised.

It turns out keeping people from the necessary adult step of shopping for food and figuring out how to cook it themselves has a price beyond mere dollars and cents. It’s driving their employees insane:

August 26, 2015, was, by all accounts, a stressful day at Blue Apron’s facility in Richmond, California.

As the sun rose over what would be an unusually warm Wednesday, a 21-year-old employee made a phone call to a supervisor at the $2 billion food startup’s Bay Area fulfillment center, where tens of thousands of meal kits are packed into cardboard containers and shipped across the continental United States. The supervisor didn’t pick up the phone that morning, so he left a message.

In it, he said he planned to quit his job at Blue Apron later that day. He also said he planned to bring a gun to the warehouse and shoot his manager, as well as other people at the facility. In two messages, he named three people specifically who he wanted to put bullets into when he got there. Around 8:30, en route to work, the supervisor called the police.

Police apprehended the man, who did not have a gun, later that morning. But at Blue Apron, the day was just getting started.

While company security and a Richmond police officer on patrol monitored threats outside the warehouse, inside, Blue Apron management was meeting with representatives from California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health at the conclusion of a two-week inspection by the agency that would result in nine violations and proposed penalties totaling $11,695 for unsafe conditions that put workers at risk for fractured bones, chemical burns, and more. This penalty came on top of $13,050 following a forklift accident earlier in the year, giving Blue Apron the most OSHA violations in the fast-growing, $5 billion meal-kit startup industry, and among the most in perishable prepared-food manufacturing in California. (Like many companies, Blue Apron appealed these findings, and had some of its violation classifications downgraded to “general” or “other.” One of its cases is still open.)

Just after 4 p.m. on the same day, the police were back at Blue Apron for the third time, following a noontime patrol. They were prompted by yet another call from a security guard, concerned that “a weapon might be brought.”

This time the problem was a 26-year-old man who, after being fired earlier in the day for groping a female co-worker, had then threatened the person who let him go. He was later arrested for sexual assault, as well as for violating his parole on an earlier robbery charge.

“I definitely remember that day,” said David Reifschneider, who was general manager of the facility at the time. “It’s not what happens on a typical day in a typical warehouse.”

Forgive the extra-long excerpt; it’s well worth reading the entire piece. It’s the classic story of our century so far: “Disruptors” have a big idea, regular old people suffer in its incarnation. I wonder when “disruptor” will give way to the more accurate “motherfucker.” What’s wrong with learning about food in your own way, eating out, eating in, learning what you like, what it takes to make it appear on your table? What is the need for this packaging-heavy, labor-intensive step? If your life is so busy that this is what it takes to put a home-cooked meal on the table in your house, maybe you need to reconsider your life. Or maybe I’m full of shit, but man, the thought of human hands in a California warehouse putting one tablespoon of vinegar or soy sauce into a tiny bottle just makes my heart sink.

My daughter Kate is living in a co-op house at school this year. Basically, it’s a commune with some structure imposed by the university, which owns the house. It’s a vegetarian group, and all the residents share cooking duties. She’s eaten more vegetables in the past month than she probably did the 18 years she lived here. But she’s learning how to do all this stuff I tried to show her over the years and she either ignored or didn’t care to learn: How to cook rice, plan a meal, etc. Good. Life is full of challenges large and small, and mastering rice is one you need to learn. The failures teach you plenty. I have no idea what Blue Apron teaches you; maybe how to make it all a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Let’s give these poor hard-working kids a break, maybe? A night off from work, maybe a cooking club with their friends. They can figure it out together.

OK, then, back to the topic of the hour and many hours before and to come. If nothing else comes of this fucking election, I hope it leads to the utter flushing down the public toilet of Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and much of the right-wing media-sphere. Guys, you had a good run, but the party’s about to be over. Hope you saved your money.

Hello, Tuesday, dead ahead. Dentist appointment and deadline for me — how about you?

Posted at 8:18 pm in Current events, Popculch |

64 responses to “Oh, grow up.”

  1. Julie Robinson said on October 3, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    At about 10, our kids learned to do their own laundry. At about 12-13, they were responsible for fixing one meal a week. Etc. I’m exhausted by all the people who claim they don’t know how to cook. Then learn, dammit. It’s not all that difficult.

    Has anyone else read A Man Called Ove? Ove is one cranky old guy, chiefly about incompetent people who don’t have basic life skills (at least that’s what we think at first). When we meet him he’s upset about new neighbors who don’t know how to back up a trailer, later by someone who doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. At times I feel a lot like Ove. I mend, I iron, I cook, I balance my checkbook and do my own taxes. Just basic life skills, but people seem impressed. Whut?

    Feeling cranky and Ove-like because my volunteers “forgot” so I had to do their job today instead of mine, in an already too-busy week.

    But read A Man Called Ove. It will charm you. Movie coming too.

    And couldn’t agree more about the flushing that needs to happen.

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  2. Deborah said on October 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Little Bird learned to cook a bit when she was a teenager and didn’t want to eat when and what we were having, plus we worked late a lot so she was on her own for meals a lot. Not proud of that, but those are the facts. I’m not sure exactly when it hit her but she eventually became enthralled with cooking and now she’s darn good at it. I on the other hand was the casserole queen in my former life (when I was married to my ex). I used to spend my Sunday afternoons cooking casseroles for the week that I would freeze so that my ex could pop them in the microwave so he could eat earlier than I got home from work. He liked to eat at 5 or 5:30, I didn’t get home until 6;30ish or later. Anyway, whatever happened to family meals where everyone sat down together and had conversations about their day?

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  3. David C. said on October 3, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I thought the only ones who ate Blue Apron meals were the hosts of podcasts. Sort of like the only ones who use SA8 are Scamway distributors. I hear the ads and think who would do that. Same with the Five Four Club. Aren’t their mailboxes stuffed full of catalogs that will allow them to pick out their own clothes without a personal bot. If they aren’t, I can send them some, plus I’m colorblind and still manage to dress myself. It does give the venture capitalists something to waste a shitload of money on though.

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  4. alex said on October 3, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Just like lead wine goblets were supposedly responsible for the downfall of ancient Rome, I suppose resentful Trump-voting skanks hawking loogies and dribbling drug-laced bodily fluids into meal kits could just as easily be the end of American civilization. Better to be slightly off the grid of consumerism, I suppose, and buy washable produce instead of assembly-line slop. And get your vaccinations.

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  5. susan said on October 3, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I especially like the podcast ads for undies (??), $400 sheets that hey, they’re just like the $1,000 sheets but such a deal (??), and mail-order mattresses (???). Who buys a mattress through the mail, for xrist sakes? Oh well, skeevy old men buy mail-order brides, so there’s that. Podcast ads are the weirdest products/services. Who on earth buys this shit? Does anyone buy this shit?

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  6. Bill said on October 3, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Gannett is buying the Chicago Tribune and other papers (TRONC),
    I despair.

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  7. Colleen said on October 3, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    My mother always told us “if you can read, you can cook”. I think many of today’s young people have learned helplessness, since they have so often had every little thing done for them by their helicopter parents.

    And they should really stay off our lawns….

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  8. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 1:35 am

    I agree with this article that the Dem love for Biden is out of proportion to the real Joe. I can still remember how disappointed liberals were when Obama picked Biden, but now you’d think he’s a liberal lion.


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  9. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 1:59 am

    A profile of the producer of the motherfuckers, the new president of Y Combinator, the Sili Valley startup accelerator: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/10/sam-altmans-manifest-destiny

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  10. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 2:14 am

    Oh, and fun little game while you read that long New Yorker profile: count the women.

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  11. Linda said on October 4, 2016 at 4:45 am

    Colleen @7: Many parents rather take a perverse pride in how inept their kids are, since it means they are not sad latchkey kids who developed domestic competence out of necessity. As a latchkey, I learned to cook whole meals and clean a house by the time I was 13.

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  12. ROGirl said on October 4, 2016 at 5:47 am

    My father was a member of Robert Owen Coop back in the 1930s. I have a picture of the group sitting on the front steps of the house wearing their coop t-shirts.

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  13. adrianne said on October 4, 2016 at 6:12 am

    If you can read, you can cook. True. I taught myself basic cooking skills by checking Marcella Hazan books out of the campus library and throwing myself into it. Not that hard, and saved a ton of money.

    Rudy Giuliani has been a fraud, cheater and liar for years. He had one good moment during 9/11, but has been downhill ever since. And let us not forget, he ran away from challenging Hillary Clinton for U.S. Senate in New York in 2000.

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  14. Suzanne said on October 4, 2016 at 6:36 am

    I am not in majority here about Blue Apron. I think it would be great in a busy week. I can cook, love to cook, but how nice it would be sometimes to have all the ingredients right there without having to think about what I have on hand, what I can substitute because I’m out of something or it is impossible to find here, and pop it out of a box and make something good. No, I wouldn’t want it every day, but sometimes, I think it would be great!

    I also have to stand up for millennials. I’m late 50s. I went to high school and worked 20 hours per week as a cashier in a store as did my brother and sister. None of us really did extracurricular stuff other than work. There was no time. However, now, try to get into college with only good grades and a part time job on your resume and It will be a tougher sell. Kids make spreadsheets for their volunteer work & extra curriculars so they can see where the gaps are at a glance. It’s a different world. I easily got into college with scholarship on my HS credentials but I can almost guarantee my kids would not have been so fortunate had they followed my path.

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  15. Deborah said on October 4, 2016 at 8:56 am

    As I’ve said here many times my mother died when I was 14. She taught my sister and me how to cook when she was still strong enough to be in the kitchen. I don’t make any of the things now that she taught us, like how to fry chicken or pork chops and how to boil frozen vegetables. I’m not a great cook and a big part of it is because I don’t have skills for slicing, chopping and whipping, things like that. Following recipes is easy, but what do you do when you realize you don’t have one of the ingredients that you thought you had when you’re right in the middle of it? That takes something I don’t possess. Little Bird is good at these things, she likes to do all of it, she reads about it and watches videos. I don’t care about it that much, to spend the time to practice and learn more about it.

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  16. Kirk said on October 4, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Nothing is easier than throwing stuff into a Crock Pot, but I know at least one person who keeps taking the lid off to see how it’s going and then wonders why it never gets done — and she can read.

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  17. Jamie said on October 4, 2016 at 8:59 am

    As curmudgeonly as this post is, and as much as it plays on the stereotypes of millennials as adults failing to launch, it raises a valid issue about the perceived “responsibility” of these meal services, which is suspect. However, it lacks basic research. How hard would it be to look at the website and find out how expensive these services are per meal? The answer is they are cheaper than nice restaurants and healthier (although not always cheaper) than the fast casual ones. Ironic that a blog writer lambastes millennials for being too lazy/busy/preoccupied with life to learn to cook for themselves, when a blog writer is too lazy/busy/preoccupied with writing about it to research whether it’s actually more expensive to use a meal service than to eat out.

    Yes, it would be better to learn to cook for oneself, but one part of these meal plans is instruction. They walk you step-by-step through the process of taking fresh ingredients into a balanced dish, usually with three dishes (entree and sides). My friend, who is nearing retirement and definitely not a millennial, is using one of these services; he is actually learning to create food from scratch, which is a skill he never had before. If you never learned to cook at home, these services can give you the skills and confidence to start. With the elimination of home ec courses in schools, many students graduate without the ability to prepare a healthy meal from fresh ingredients unless their parent(s) were active in teaching them to do so.

    So maybe a little less millennial bashing, a little more careful research, and a little more empathy. Where people choose to invest their time each day is a personal choice. I shop for my own groceries, and I’m an accomplished home cook. Not everyone wants to spend their time in this way, but I like it. I also recognize how much bad produce I throw away because I had ambitious meal plans that didn’t pan out. Food waste is a real problem, and one perk of these services is they give you only exactly what you need to prepare the meal. As with all services, there are perks and drawbacks.

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  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 4, 2016 at 9:20 am

    But may not quite get Boyle’s Law.

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  19. Joseph Kobiela said on October 4, 2016 at 9:21 am

    For a good laugh this morning, look up Pearl before swine, Rat is my hero.
    Pilot Joe

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  20. Peter said on October 4, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I’ll give my son credit for keeping a level head when there’s a problem – a couple years back he was coming home from college when the car engine blew. If that happened to me, the first call would have been to Dad. He coasted the car to a mile marker, called Geico, who sent the tow truck; by the time the truck arrived he had all his items packed up so he could carry them, had the car towed 98 miles (because Geico won’t charge for a tow of 100 miles or less) to a repair shop he found on Google, then had the tow truck go one more mile to the train station, caught the next train to Chicago, got on the L, and called me to pick him up from the L station. “What happened?” I asked, “Long story”, he said.

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  21. michaela said on October 4, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Outing myself here (longtime reader, extraordinarily infrequent commenter) as a 44-year-old Blue Apron user. I both know how to cook and enjoy it. I’m also a single mom with a demanding job. I use Blue Apron every 4-6 weeks as a way to break up the grind of meal planning and grocery shopping. I make a TON of decisions every day – while my kid’s dad is reliable and trustworthy, he’s not much help when it comes to thinking big – and it’s a total luxury to outsource some decisions and tasks every now and then. I’ve pondered doing one of those clothes shopping boxes, too. Life is full, and it’s worth it to pay a premium occasionally for someone else to do some thinking on my behalf. The BuzzFeed expose definitely gives me pause about Blue Apron, though.

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  22. BigHank53 said on October 4, 2016 at 9:56 am

    I’ve used Blue Apron. A co-worker was (and maybe still is) a subscriber and got a handful of trial memberships to give to friends. I gave them a whirl for a three day package of dinners.

    Good things: you have all the ingredients ready to go. It’s delivered to your house. The instructions are clear and lavishly illustrated. I can see where my co-worker really liked it–both he and his spouse grew up in households where not a lot of cooking took place, and being cooking-impaired as an adult (more on this later) can be as embarrassing as illiteracy–and as tough to fix.

    The bad: It’s expensive, and not just in the obvious way. That fresh cilantro and frozen fish has to get to your house in the back of a toasty UPS truck. There’s a lot of insulation and freezer packs in each box. They’re big. The insulation is some kind of shredded cellulose, but it’s sealed in polyethylene: landfill. Everyone can use a couple or six freezer packs for their cooler, but who needs twenty? Or fifty? More landfill. I’m no expert on shipping costs, but I do know it makes a lot more sense for Kroger to send one freezer truck to my town than it does for UPS to drive around all day dropping off dinner for sixty people.

    That was actually one of the main reasons I ruled it out; I just couldn’t deal with the sheer waste involved. I am also fortunate enough to live in a place where I can easily get my hands of top-shelf ingredients–rural Virginia in a college town. There’s enough money to create the demand and enough cheap land that farming is viable.

    Folks not being able to cook isn’t new. It wasn’t that long ago that it was a marker for being upper class: it meant you had servants to do your cooking for you. Factory-prepared meals (a military spin-off, believe or not) got a foothold because they were easy. And tasty, in a lowest-common-denominator grease’n’salt fashion. I knew someone back in the nineties who didn’t cook, and she was in her early forties. Another friend had grown up with a single mom who had little interest in (and less time for) cooking. He did the usual guy thing and bought a grill, and was always hanging over my shoulder when I cooked. I found him an Asian cookbook that had photos of all the ingredients before they were added to the dish–peeled or chopped or what have you–and I swear it was like giving a kid a Lego set: Look, here are all the parts! I just have to put them together!

    So I can see the appeal of Blue Apron. But color me unsurprised that a Silicon Valley startup should abuse its manual workers. From the Amazon warehouse abuses to Uber exploiting its drivers to AirBnB shrugging when renters turn into squatters or owners refuse to rent to dark-skinned people, the common thread that runs through market “disrupters” is ripping people off.

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  23. Suzanne said on October 4, 2016 at 10:08 am

    My son claims I never taught him to cook (I didn’t, but I didn’t teach my daughter either, really. She hovered while I was cooking and asked questions). A few years ago, I bought him Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I don’t think he ever uses it, but at least I can tell him that he has the book and can teach himself, if he so desires! And then tell him to quit complaining. It’s a great beginner’s cookbook, well illustrated, and explains the basics in detail.

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  24. Pam said on October 4, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I’m surprised Blue Apron hasn’t moved to Mexico.

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  25. Judybusy said on October 4, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I was the oldest girl in a farm family. My mom worked full-time as a nurse, so starting around 13 I cooked a lot of meals. I continued this as a young adult because I genuinely loved cooking. So Deborah, it’s Little Bird’s call, but I am happy I learned to cook as a kid. I often made meals for 6-7 during harvest. I’ve planned my weekly menus for over 25 years, and shop to the list. We’ll switch stuff around, or some nights, we’re just tired and order pizza. There is also a delivery service called Bite Squad we can use, but it’s pretty expensive, and if we’re spending that amound, we might as well go out for a casual bite to eat.

    I appreciated michaela’s and BigHank’s comments abut the pros and cons of Blue Apron. That decision making aspect is a major reason why we plan the menu for the week. I would be so stressed if I didn’t have that, and know (90% of the time!) that I had all the ingredients on hand.

    Peter, great story about your son.

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  26. Heather said on October 4, 2016 at 10:47 am

    As a former fashion/shopping writer and personal stylist, I can see the appeal of those clothing subscription services. So many women have no idea what looks good on them, how to put an outfit together, what their style is, etc. When you don’t really have any idea of what you are looking for, going shopping can be totally overwhelming. They basically have to look at everything in a store, which quickly gets exhausting, and then they don’t really know what to choose even after that. They usually end up buying nothing, a black sweater they’ve got four variations of at home already, or something totally wrong for them that they’ll wear once.

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  27. Deborah said on October 4, 2016 at 10:49 am

    One thing I’ll say that my mother taught me about cooking many moons ago that I remember, that is the confidence to be around hot stuff like boiling water and sizzling oil. That takes some getting used to and my mother taught us to just be brave and face it. As a youngster I hated to drop the chicken into the frying oil, I got burned a few times by throwing it into the pan and getting splatters on me. But eventually I learned how to place it into the sputtering oil carefully. Now I hardly ever fry things for health reasons.

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  28. LAMary said on October 4, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I’ve been cooking since I was twelve and my sons know the basics of how to cook. The thing is: they are both interested in learning to cook. I know families who either eat out or get take out for every meal. The kids grow up thinking cooking is not their job. It’s scut work.
    I get a CSA box once a week and I’ve moved up to the larger size so older son can bring some to his girlfriend’s house and cook there. I had to increase the size of the box because he was taking all the cool stuff like rainbow chard and leeks.

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  29. Charlotte said on October 4, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I liked the idea of Blue Apron for folks who are afraid to cook — Roxane Gay, for example, blogged beautifully on Tumblr (the seed of her next book) about using Blue Apron to prod herself out of her picky eating habits, and to develop some skills of taking care of herself that she’d neglected due to a host of issues. It’s a book I’m really looking forward to reading … the fear of cooking thing I find interesting. I have a couple of younger women friends who have asked me to teach them to cook, but have never followed through for various reasons. I’m 52, and what I’ve seen in my friends in their 30s is a weird reluctance to experiment, to learn by trial and error. There’s a perfectionism that really trips them up and makes them impatient with the learning process. I went to a lot of different elementary schools as a kid, but my family were Francis Parker people from Chicago (my grandmother worked there into her 90s, my mom and her siblings all attended k-12, my aunt taught there for 30 years), so the biggest influence we had as kids was very much an old John Dewey experiential education model — go make something. See how it turns out. If you don’t like it, try again. Which seems inverse to the testing model that came after …

    What really struck me about the original article though is what BigHank noted — the waste. I call it the Keurig effect — everyone wants everything individually portioned and to their taste, but what that gets us is a huge pile of garbage and a lot more fossil fuels burned up … which is too bad, because I think there are lot of attractive things about the meal kit model.

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  30. Jolene said on October 4, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I learned to cook as a kid at home and in 4-H. Always liked it and was good at it. I became a fairly adventurous cook and havd given many successful dinner parties. But now I’m living a more solitary life, and it’s hard to get inspired about cooking for one. My fantasy is that I’d have a personal chef come in every few days and make things that I could heat or put together quickly. Of course, there are all sorts of things that I can heat or put together quickly, and I do that. But I’d eat better if there were someone else to chop the vegetables.

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  31. john (not mccain) said on October 4, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Reminds me of the time a 30-something friend of mine was over for a visit. We had a cheap frozen pizza, like Jeno’s, and decided to fix that instead of ordering out. So I get it ready, he takes a bite and goes “That’s really good! What did you do?” I was sort of confused and said “I just fixed it according to the directions on the box.” It turns out that, for some people, even that is too much to ask. He would just turn on the oven and throw a frozen pizza in.

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  32. Heather said on October 4, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I’m a good cook, self-taught by reading cookbooks. But since I don’t have time to make a “regular” meal from scratch, and since I am not usually incredibly hungry at night, I often just make some steamed/roasted vegetables or something simple like that. Last night for some reason I decided I had to use up some sweet potatoes and ended up making gnocchi. My previous experiences with gnocchi haven’t gone well but these were really good.

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  33. Crispy said on October 4, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I’ve never used Blue Apron. But I love the online shopping offered by the supermarket chain where I shop. Sit at your computer whenever you want and buy everything you need. They have recipes for ideas if you need ’em. Spend more than $100 and the supermarket shops for you AND delivers your groceries for free. It’s great.

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  34. alex said on October 4, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I took an interest in cooking, I think, because my mother was a foodie and was always introducing us to new things. She served me my first paella in the early 1970s and it made me overcome my foolish childhood aversion to shrimp. It’s still one of my favorite dishes and it can be prepared so many different ways.

    She also learned Hungarian cooking from my dad’s relatives and passed a lot of that along to me as well, simple basics such as making a roux, caramelizing veggies and braising meats.

    I don’t think I’m an outstanding cook but basically competent. Heather and I have a mutual friend in Chicago who’s outstanding. I’ve seen her prepare magnificent things on the fly from scratch and I’m absolutely humbled.

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  35. alex said on October 4, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Just saw some verse over at Slate and just had to copy and paste:

    I pity the party of Pence.
    He’s not just pretending at dense.
    His thoughts are as deep As lobotomized sheep
    Dry-humping electrical fence.

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  36. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Instead of focusing on manufacturing jobs which aren’t coming back (because of automation as much as anything else), we need to be focusing on improving conditions for workers at places like Blue Apron, making it easier to unionize, for one.


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  37. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    We may not have Spy around any more, but we do still have Graydon Carter to share stories of the short-fingered vulgarian.


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  38. Little Bird said on October 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I’m glad I learned to cook! It means I get to eat good food! And since most of the time when I was a teen and had to cook for myself I had Saratoga ribeyes, cooked very rare…. I was happy to have it. Looked forward to it even!

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  39. Connie said on October 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    My mother taught me and every kid in the neighborhood how to make chocolate chip cookies. Many of them came to her funeral visitation to tell me how much that had meant to them.

    My daughter’s high school boyfriend was useless in the kitchen. Once she was making Kraft mac and cheese. She handed him the pan and told him to put three quarts of water in it. I found looking sad with a pan in one hand and a measuring cup in the other. He asked me how many ounces were in 3 quarts. I smiled and said Connor, the only thing you need to know is that you are holding a four quart pan. His face just lit up.

    BTW 96.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on October 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    My husband’s office has a Keurig, and his very benevolent boss lets them all order whatever they want for it, so he looked at getting tea. They were something like $5 for 10, which I grant you is not as much as Starbuck’s, but more than I buy a box of teabags for. So instead of the cost and waste of Keurig, he takes in teabags. As I do, with a little hot pot I keep in my office along with a mug. Very little waste, very little cost, delicious hot beverages.

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  41. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    The NYTimes chased a minnow, and let the whale swim away.


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  42. basset said on October 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I can see the value of a clothing subscription service, if only to avoid the buying experience – which, for me at least, generally consists of trying not to look in the mirror and being repeatedly told that whatever I’m looking for is desperately out of style and I should get this ill-fitting and much more modern garment over here.

    Come to think of it, though, the subscription would probably send me the same stuff… I can order generic buttondowns and khakis on my own. What IS the deal with these tiny spread collars and huge necktie knots, anyway?

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  43. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Okay, since I’ve complained about the Times, let me say this is very good follow up article on the Trump taxes story: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/us/politics/donald-trump-taxes.html?

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  44. Bitter Scribe said on October 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Giuliani hired a mobbed-up dirty cop to be NY’s police commissioner. How can ANYONE take that guy seriously???

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  45. brian stouder said on October 4, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Alex for thread-win at 35!

    I’ve always viewed cooking as a means to an end; very utilitarian, really…but I see the art, and the possibilities.

    Much like people who are good with fixing mechanical things, or building wooden things (I can do those Sauder particle-board assemblies!) – people who can cook especially well (for reasons that escape me, by and large) are somewhat wizardly.

    Pam is a country girl, and she’s a great cook, as is her mom. My mom was a transplanted New Yorker, and she could cook a thing or two, but it wasn’t any higher on her list than it currently is on mine (a chore)

    Aside from all that, I’m looking forward to watching Pence get Kained tonight(although not like Sumner was…but we digress)

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  46. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Jeff(tmmo), you might find this interesting in light of the Claremont Flight 93 article.


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  47. Sherri said on October 4, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    An interesting view of the vote in Colombia, from someone who was an election observer: http://crookedtimber.org/2016/10/04/notes-from-colombia/

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  48. Sue said on October 4, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve run the gamut. I went through a ‘6 ingredient’ phase, where I wouldn’t look at a recipe that had more than 6 ingredients. On the other hand, one time I swear I used every pot, pan, bowl, strainer, small appliance and utensil in my entire kitchen making a Rick Bayless recipe.
    But I have never ever been tempted to make ‘parsleyed eggs on the half shell’, because really, Anna, that’s a stretch.

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  49. Hattie said on October 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    The kids nowadays…

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  50. Charlotte said on October 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    When I was in college my mother managed a tennis and swimming club — one of the kids who worked for her was about 21, and soon to be orphaned. His dad had died some years before, and his mom was dying of cancer (it was Lake Forest, we had a really crazy cancer rate). Because his mom was so sick, he stayed home from college that semester, and my mother did a weekly cooking class for him and a couple of his friends who were around — because as she said, “he’s going to have to know how to take care of himself.” Cooking, laundry, balancing a checkbook … and it was fun. I’d usually call home that night because everyone was there in the kitchen together, having a good time …

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  51. Dorothy said on October 4, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    The older I get the less I like to cook, but if we want to eat, someone has to do it! Fortunately my husband is a pretty fine cook, but gets home much later than I do. Our kids like to cook. In fact our son does most of the cooking at his house – his wife was raised on food that was overcooked or burnt, and didn’t know any differently. She still only eats scrambled eggs if they are crispy. Yech!

    I remember popping over to visit my next door neighbor at our first house – my kids were little so I was probably around 30 years old. I was sort of stunned to see that Donna wrote in her cookbooks! Notes about dishes she tried – how Frank liked it or didn’t like it, etc. It never dawned on me to write in a book, which is just a dumbass reaction on my part. If you own the book you can do anything you want to it! It was just a revelation to me. Isn’t that weird?!

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  52. Sue said on October 4, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    For some reason it seems disrespectful to write in any book, even a cookbook. I have cookbooks covered in splatters, pages stuck together, but by golly, not a scribble in sight.
    My husband wrote a note next to one of the recipes in my second-hand ‘Preserving Summer’s Bounty’ cookbook and I still cringe when I see it.

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  53. nancy said on October 4, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Lots of us grew up thinking of books as sacred texts. I’ve known people who routinely scribble in margins, etc., but it took a lot for me just to get used to highlighting a textbook in college.

    That said, I routinely pencil notes next to recipes. I tend to forget stuff between the times I make a special dish.

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  54. Judybusy said on October 4, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I would never write in any book other than a cookbook, and mine are covered in notes. I write the date when I first made the recipe and why it was good or not, and what I tweaked. “Put in more garlic” is likely the most common adjustment I make. Mmmm, garlic. We kinda panic when there’s less than a head in the house.

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  55. Deborah said on October 4, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    My husband does a lot of cooking too. When we first got together he did all of the cooking because I was still recovering from being the casserole queen from my former life. We had a lot of pasta with fresh vegetables on it, which was delicious but high in calories. He gained a lot of weight in those years, from that and the bad food he ate while constantly traveling for work. When he finally left the architecture firm he worked for for many years he lost a lot of weight. He’s now down to his college weight of 165 (6′ tall) so he’s pretty proud of that. He still has a bit of a belly which he’s trying to get rid of but between you and me, it may never go away.

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  56. LAMary said on October 4, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I just got a new cookbook from Amazon. I had to. The title is “Poole’s.”

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  57. LAMary said on October 4, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Commissioner Bernie Kerik from Paterson, NJ. You have to wonder why.

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Sherri, I am still trying to figure out for myself (before I even think about trying to convince anyone else) where the crease is between the degree to which the culture of our country has changed, in bad/not good/unpleasant ways, and where there is always a present element in conservative thought that sees both change as bad per se, and longs for an ideal that maybe never was.

    The crudity and coarseness of public discourse is worse, but are we less harsh and crude at home in quiet, private ways? There are more diverse audiences everywhere we go, and yes, if you are used to assuming a homogeneous group of listeners, you have to change — but that’s not a bad thing! (Especially if it means you have to stop using old worn lecture notes or sermon outlines that are rooted in World War II metaphors are such.)

    I could ping-pong that division and keep leaping that fence all day. The same forces that have opened up our political life to Obama and Clinton have also empowered Trump and Sanders. There’s a big debate going on just beneath the media surfaces about which direction each party is going to take *after* this election, regardless of outcome. Sanders is offering a vision of a more Democratic Socialist DNC, and Trump is proposing a more nativist, protectionist yet vigorously mercantile RNC. I happen to think both are unrealistic economically, let alone socially. But there’s strong tugs in each direction.

    I’m doing a public lecture Thursday night about Victoria Woodhull, born in this county, delivered in the building which hosts one of but two memorials to her life (the other is in Tewkesbury Abbey in the corona behind the apse, which I hope to visit someday). She was the first woman to make a creditable run for the Presidency, in 1872, when she couldn’t vote, but made a good show of campaigning and stirring consideration of women in politics (she and her sister, among many other notable firsts, were the first to publish “The Communist Manifesto” in English, even as they were the first women to hold seats on the NYSE).

    Obviously, the tie to Hillary Clinton is there — though we scheduled this long before anyone could be certain who would run. But there’s also the word “sex” in the title of my talk. Not for search engine optimization, but “The Dilemma of Sex in the writings & speeches of Victoria Woodhull” has as much to do with a level of decorum and restraint that has to do more with a woman’s right to say “no” – in marriage – as it does with saying yes to anyone at any time. The evidences I’m working from are more oblique and indirect than I’d like . . . but major social change seems to always work that way.

    Meanwhile, it seems all too easy to co-opt our Victoria for one cause or another today, even as her context at the time makes her concerns (in my humble opinion) pretty specific. Is Sanders’ popularity just about “more progressive values” any more than Trump is simply “more conservative ones!” I don’t think so. There’s a realignment, and yes, some anxieties that are bubbling up out of the lower levels of the social soup that are stirring this pot enough, without sticking in canoe paddles to push us up or down some creek. I can’t tell if there’s a Republican consensus around much of anything right now, but they’re going to have to find one soon, or float down the creek spinning in lazy circles, paddle-free.

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  59. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Either way, leading figures in both camps want to overthrow the social/political order. I’m just trying to figure out why that particular wish has become so common in the 2010s.

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  60. Andrea said on October 4, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    After college, a bunch of girlfriends and I would get together every Thursday night to cook and watch thirtysomething. Since we mostly either lived alone or with one roommate, cooking for one person was a kind of a hassle, so we usually ate a lot of cereal, baked potatoes, ramen soup, etc. But on Thursdays, we would take turns hosting and the idea was to challenge yourself to make a dinner for 4-6 people. I learned a lot of the basics that way — meatloaf, chili, lasagne. It was fun and social and gave us a reason to buy things like spices.

    I do a lot of cooking still. This week I am taking a staycation while the rest of the family is at work and school. I’m trying to find a balance between getting things done around the house and doing relaxing things for me, like working out, reading, or getting a facial. One of the many tasks I have set for myself is to stock the freezer with food that is ready to go, or nearly so, to help with the crazy nights when we don’t sit down to eat until 8:45 p.m. Sadly, that happens all too often, with three busy teenagers and two working parents.

    So far this week, I have made a double batch of homemade marinara sauce, citrus-marinated chicken breasts (frozen uncooked but in the marinade), and a cauliflower soup. All went straight to the freezer. I have plans for a few more things. A quiche, maybe, and some chili? Taco meat, for sure. Check back in with me on Monday and we will see what I managed to accomplish.

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  61. Jolene said on October 4, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    The New Yorker is selling 12-week subscriptions for $5: Print, digital, or both.


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  62. Deborah said on October 4, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I’m definitely going to have to do research about Leo Strauss. I really want to try to understand intellectual republicans especially those who support Trump, because I don’t get that at all.

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  63. Dave said on October 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I don’t understand how Trump can be up five points in the polls in Ohio. Or anywhere else.

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  64. brian stouder said on October 4, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    OK – just for fun, I completely disagree with the premise (emphasis added below) of this passage from Jeff’s last post:

    The crudity and coarseness of public discourse is worse, but are we less harsh and crude at home in quiet, private ways? There are more diverse audiences everywhere we go, and yes, if you are used to assuming a homogeneous group of listeners, you have to change — but that’s not a bad thing! (Especially if it means you have to stop using old worn lecture notes or sermon outlines that are rooted in World War II metaphors are such.)

    I think our political discourse has been much, much worse – just in living memory, let alone if we look at 19th century American politics.

    George Wallace wasn’t blowing dog-whistles, he was being flatly racist and proudly revanchist in 1968 (let alone 1972) – and he was surfing the (ever-present?) waves of American hatred and racist fears, right before he took a bullet (and one election after Martin Luther King was murdered, and Robert F Kennedy was murdered, and the draft took the best part of a generation of young folks and threw them into a major ground war on the other side of the planet.

    And speaking of ‘worn lecture notes’, it is worth remembering that the mid-60s’ were only as far removed from the Second World War as we are NOW removed from the OJ Simpson trial, or the opening of Cleveland’s rock & roll museum, or the rise of Newt Gingerich as Speaker of the House…

    http://www.infoplease.com/year/1995.html (Uncle Google gave me this source)

    by way of saying – it amazes me how screwed up we were in the mid-60’s (and onward) – especially considering the proximity of the catastrophic Second World War, and the (TOWERING!) threat of a third World War – mostly over in hours, thanks to ICBMs – and “brinksmanship” always, always in play (Cuba and Berlin, in the mid-60’s; Vietnam all through the decade; Korea the previous decade)

    All in all – I’d say America’s current political mish-mash, as represented in the 2016 elections cycle, is weak tea(so to speak) indeed

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