HelloFresh? Hello Tummy!! Discovering Cooking with My Hubby! (A review and discount coupon)

My husband and I are not the Chef’s in our family.  That title goes to my brother who has appeared on the Food Network with Guy Frieri and inherited all of the cooking skills.   Everything we prepared was quite basic and many times consisted of more the “heat & serve” variety than true, from scratch cooking.

This past year we have been making an effort to cook more and in general be healthier.  We planted a salad and herb garden, but didn’t really know what to do with all the herbs.  We are not the most creative or skilled in the kitchen so we end up in a rut and soon tire of trying.

Enter HelloFresh! (Use code N4UXCY for $20 off)

A few weeks ago I received a Living Social email about a service providing everything included meal kits containing all fresh ingredients and step-by-step instructions on how to prepare.  They claimed that the recipes were easy to prepare and each meal took less than 30 minutes.  Hmmm, I had my doubts, but it was a good deal and what could be the harm in giving it a try.  Worst case scenario, we feed it to the dogs and cancel (which you can do by email instead of getting the “hard sell” on the phone).

The Website – The site is well designed.  It is clean, simple, without all the flash and irrelevant extras that can be overwhelming.  I found it to be very intuitive and easy to navigate.  I would like to see more nutritional information listed with the meals as I am reviewing next week’s selections.  However that information is provided on the recipe cards that come in your kit, so it’s a small quibble.

Meal Selection – Whenever I think of receiving goods using a subscription system, I cringe.  My mind flashes back to Columbia House and trying to beat the clock mailing the postcard holding delivery of the selection of the month.  How many of you ended up with tapes/CD’s you didn’t want and never listened to? (If you’re under 30, you may not get this reference, ask your parents)

HelloFresh makes it simple.  You receive 3 meals automatically every Thursday by doing nothing, but there are 2 alternates to swap out.  Personally I love this, because I hate seafood.  Changing your meals is as simple as unchecking one box and checking another.  It took all of 30 seconds to log in, change my selection and resume my life.

You can also skip a week, pause your subscription, or select vegetarian meals.

Delivery – As promised, when we arrived home on Thursday, our box was waiting for us.  On the outside it looks like a plain brown box.  Once you open it, you will find insulated padding about an inch thick lining the entire box.  Dispersed throughout the box we found 4 re-usable gel packs keeping everything cool.

I would like to see deliveries made earlier in the week.  The convenience of having these “kits’ delivered is reduced by feeling the need to cook them before they go bad.  This means that at least one or two have to be cooked over the weekend when many people like to eat out.  I think is especially true of couples like me and my husband.  Monday or Tuesday deliveries would better suit the needs of a working household looking for easy to prepare healthier meals after a long day at work.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, the meals!  If you are like me, you wouldn’t be able to tell a bag of fresh Rosemary from Thyme.  Thankfully, you don’t have to!  Everything was pre-measured, clearly labeled telling you not only what it was, but what meal it went with, and sealed.

The “recipe” cards that come with each meal are so much more than just your Grandma’s recipe cards. They start with a clear picture of everything you should have in front of you then tell you how to proceed step by step in both words and pictures.  The cards are over sized (think half a letter size paper), sturdy and laminated.  The lamination comes in handy when you get them wet or dirty, they wipe clean.

Our first box contained Pasta with Basil, Spinach and Garlic; Chicken with Mushrooms; and, Balsamic Steak with Garlic Zucchini.  They were all delicious and surprisingly easy to make. Each recipe took 30 – 45 minutes from start to finish, but I think that will become shorter as we learn how to chop, dice and slice more efficiently (I think I’ve run on long enough without reviewing each meal individually, though I most certainly could).


My husband had so much fun making them; he pulled chicken breasts from the freezer to recreate the Chicken w/Mushrooms the next day.

We receive the 2 person meal plan which is $69.99 per week or $11.66 per meal.  That may seem a little high for some, but what you are receiving is more than just “food”.

For $11.66 a meal per person, you are receiving fresh ingredients, a complete meal kit, a delicious variety of dishes delivered to your door and the ability to prepare them yourself and taste like they were from a restaurant.  No shopping, no measuring, no guessing.  Not to mention it’s like having a cooking class in your kitchen three times a week.

We are trying things we never would have thought of or even thought we would like.  Balsamic Vinegar Steak? Say what?!?!  Much less thought we could cook these dishes in our own kitchen in the time it took to watch the news.

Best of all, we are enjoying learning new things and having fun doing it together!

Feel free to comment below with your own experience or questions about ours.

Fresh from the garden – Zucchini Turkey Burgers!

So our garden is in full swing.  Right now we’re getting 4-5 cucumbers a week, there are about 3 dozen tomatoes in various stages and today we pulled our first zucchini and one lonely beet.

Turkey-Zucchini Burger with Spinach and side of pressed sour cream cucumber salad

In the past I haven’t cooked a lot.  I know how and I’m actually pretty good at it (my brother is a professional chef, so next to him my cooking is the equivalent of making toast), its just not something I have particularly enjoyed in the past.

Today I am making Zucchini Turkey Burgers.  I don’t have a recipe, I’m just making it up as I go along.

First I took one of the 2 zucchini’s we picked this morning and coarsely grated it.  

Then I picked some Sage and Sweet Basil and chopped up about 4 large Basil leaves and 8 Sage leaves.     
I combined the zucchini herb blend with a package of Ground Turkey and smushed it up in a bowl.
I’m letting it set for about 4 hours to let all the flavors incorporate. 

I don’t know if letting it set will do anything,
but that’s how long I’m leaving the cucumbers to press for our side salad.

A dash of pepper, then I’m going to fry them in a little Olive Oil and serve them up on toasted onion buns.

Need to Calm My Nerves

2 years of therapy and today all I want to do is crawl into bed and cry.  It is taking every ounce of control I have not to let the tears flow today at work.

Evidently, my mother has remarried and I received an email from my new Stepfather (as he signed it).  Since I don’t know him, I am assuming his intentions were most likely good.  Probably a misguided attempt at facilitating some sort of reconciliation.  I’m sure he did not realize how much anxiety this would cause me, at least I hope he didn’t as that would be cruel.

I don’t understand how someone could expect I would want to communicate with them, when I am sure every thing they have ever been told about me is negative, cruel and blatantly untrue.  There is no way i would ever convince him I am not the evil, conniving bitch I have been made out to be, so what is the point?  It makes me very uncomfortable.

I have been blamed for everything wrong in my mothers life from her marrying her second husband (how this could possibly be my fault , I’m not sure) to my breaking up the same marriage.  What’s ironic, is that while my own father refused to communicate with me but, I still communicate with that husband.

I don’t see how I could be the center of all that is bad in her universe.  Why should all the blame be placed on me?  I don’t know how you could end up with 3 children, all with problems that they either take prescription medications for or choose to self medicate with alcohol and drugs and honestly think that you have no responsibility for these problems.

No one is saying her life was easy.  Growing up with a narcissistic, domineering mother and a pedophile father could not have been easy, but at some point you have to admit that there may be something wrong with you and maybe you should get some help.  After all, everything that goes wrong can’t be someone else’s fault.  At some point you have to break the chain, otherwise the pattern continues generation after generation.

I was 24 when I decided to break the chain.  The moment came suddenly, it didn’t have a build up, just cruising along and EPIPHANY!

On this particular day, we were out at a psychic fair and were heading back home when my mothers “wife” had to stop by her work and pick up her check.  Now her wife always took forever at everything she did.  She was slower than molasses.  We were in a 2 door car, mom driving, my brother was visiting from Seattle (his first visit since he left town right after graduation), it was September in South Texas which can still be brutally hot.  My mother pulled up under an awning just far enough for her to be in the shade, leaving my brother and I with the sun bearing down on us through the rear window.  We were in a 2 door car with little wriggle room in the backseat.  For an agoraphobic, this was torture.  I had anxiety attacks before when I felt trapped, especially in the backseat of 2 door cars and had always been told to stop being such a drama queen.  To make matters worse, as she always did when stopped, she turned off the engine so there was no air and the backseat had no windows.

Now this might sound petty and you may not understand why I remember this one event so clearly and my heart still races recalling it reliving the anxiety I felt that day; I think anyone that has a moment that single-handedly changes the direction your life is heading in, tends to remember that moment.  This moment was mine.

Up until this point my mother and I had for the most part, been good friends.  We had a lot of fun together and spent a lot of time together.  Up until then, what I knew I considered normal for everyone.  Then my mind started flashing to being teased (at home) when I started getting breasts, that when I got my period I was so afraid of being teased, I didn’t tell anyone for 6 months; being taken with a fever & chicken pox out camping and boating in an aluminum boat; being told for as long as I can remember that I was proof contraceptive creams didn’t work; never receiving a real compliment (mothers compliments were like a double edge sword, (she would say, “you don’t look half bad in that shirt, considering it came from QVC”). All the years of sarcasm and insult humor that as a defense against, i also developed.  Insult humor is not necessarily hurtful at the moment uttered, but it build over the years and the only when to deal with it is to develop the same skills to deflect it.  I have spent the last decade trying to retrain myself, some days it works, some days it doesn’t.  Of course, my 2 brothers that she raised are exactly the same.  It’s very hard to have a serious conversation with either of them.  When they hear your mother calling you a bitch and a slut on a regular basis growing up, even jokingly, that stays with them.

On my wedding day, she told Jerry he could go ahead and leave, no one would blame him and then proceeded to tell some of his Aunt’s & Uncle’s (whom I was meeting for the first time) that they should know they are getting a real bitch in the family.  I can’t believe Jerry actually stayed.  His family didn’t want to hurt my feelings so I didn’t hear about this until a while after my wedding

You never knew what mom you were going to get.  Her moods would change in an instant, at least towards me.  The boys were always treated differently than me and even between the 2 boys, there is a clear hierarchy.

My mother hated her mother and had a difficult relationship with her until the day she died and I think by having me, she had the opportunity to re-enact the relationship she had with her mother, but this time she would assume the role her mother had and try to make me feel like she did.  I think this was her way of working things out from her childhood.  Hence, the abused becomes the abuser.

My mother blames my youngest brothers problems on his father, my middle brothers problems on her father and my problems, I’m not sure, so we’ll just say because I’m a bitch.  However, I think it is far more likely that like her mother and her grandfather (maternal) and her children, she suffers from a psychiatric disorder.  Otherwise it miraculously “skipped” her generation.  Studies say that children that are predisposed to a psychiatric disorder by genetics, are 4 times more likely to develop a disorder if raised in a household with an untreated or uncontrolled disorder.  The common denominator between everyone in the household is the Jodrey genes so I don’t think blaming the fathers will work any longer.

At the very least, growing up my mother was manic depressive/bi-polar.  On the high end of the scale, I wouldn’t rule out a borderline personality disorder.  I can forgive someone for past mistakes, but only if they own those mistakes and are getting treatment.

The past 2 years I have worked very hard at making my self a better person.  I sat down and wrote out a list of everything I don’t like about myself, everything I do or say that may be hurtful to others and anything else I could think of.  No one asked me to do this, I just decided that i wanted to hold a mirror up and write down everything that was reflected that I could change and be the better for.   It wasn’t easy, but I felt stronger acknowledging that in addition to being far from perfect, I could be mean unintentionally.  If someone can’t admit their flaws, they can’t work to change them.

Everyone has regrets in their life, but you have to move on.  My mother won’t let anyone do that.  She always jumps to the past.  She will still throw something I did when I was 16 years old up and get pissed and ruin the day.  In the past, just talking to my mother required a 12 pack and an extra pack of cigarettes. If the phone rang and those items were not in the house, Jerry would run to the store.  I used to binge drink to deal with stress.  Coincidentally the last time I binge drank and got out of control was the last time I saw my mother in the Bahamas in March 2008.

I don’t “blame” my mother, but I do think she needs to claim some fault.  Only the 3 of us who spent our lives being raised by her have seen all the sides of her personality.  She’s pretty good at just showing people what she wants them to see.

The only thing I have blamed her for is my relationship with my older brother.  We were friends before he fled to Seattle, but after that I am fairly certain, she started slowly and managed to drive a wedge between us to the point I was not invited to his wedding because as she told me, he said “it would be uncomfortable with me there”.  Which I have no idea what that meant.  I believe she started it, but he is a grown up now and needs to make his own choices.  She seems to be happiest when the kids aren’t talking to each other and our only contact is going through her so she can filter who hears what and how they hear it.  She takes that to the extreme of not even giving us each others address or phone numbers if we ask.  That doesn’t matter much for me, I’ve had the same phone number for 11 years, my brothers moved around a lot and used no contract cell phones, etc…

One thing I do find curious is how my older brother always seems to move to the opposite side of the country that she is on.  He is planning a move to Oregon now from South Carolina and she is in Maine.  When she was in Texas, he was in Seattle.  The only time he lived near her is when he was trying to get his life back together.

While some of the things we have tried in therapy have bombed and sent me into a deep depression (contacting family), for the most part everything has been good, especially 2011.  Everything isn’t perfect, but I never expect it to be.  Jerry is a wonderful husband that keeps me strong and he has been so supportive of everything where so many men would have bailed.

I needed to vent and I’m not sure my train of thought stayed focused, but I mainly wrote this to calm my nerves and hopefully dispose of the urge to cry.  Writing things out usually stops the anxiety and the nightmares that stress cause.

if I skipped around too much, that’s the ADD and I’m not in the mood to go back and edit.  Sometimes reading it right after I write brings the anxiety back.  Maybe I’ll proof it later…  It’s just for me anyway

Can’t get my brother out of my head….

My brother keeps popping into my head during the day, when I’m trying to sleep and even into my dreams.  
All the news about Sandusky and his victims keep my brother in the fore front of my mind day and night, but that isn’t the only thing making me think about him.
The main reason I’m worried about him is him possibly relocating to Oregon.  It is too close to Seattle where everything went to hell several years ago.  I don’t think it is healthy for him to go back to an area of the country where so many things went so drastically wrong in the not so distant past.  I think he needs help that can’t be found in a bottle.  I personally do not have a problem with people smoking, having been around stoned people and drunken people since a very early age; I’ll take the stoned people any day!  They are much mellower and less prone to violence than drunken people, they just stink more that drunken people.

When he was still a pre-pubescent he was molested by a pedophile. I don’t know how far the abuse went, other than a few passing, small comments, my brother have never discussed it with me.  Many years after the abuse, he out cried to my mother while watching some made for TV movie one evening.  By this time he was late into his teens and not interested in counseling.  My mother called me to tell me about it, and from then on proceeded to broadcast the information to everyone she could find contact information for; Aunts, Cousins, Family, Friends, etc…
Now, one could argue that I also am broadcasting the information; however, I do not use identifying information in my journal so the only people with the knowledge required to deduce identities, are already privy to the information anyway.
I often ponder what could have been different had my brother out cried about the abuse sooner.  Maybe he would have gotten counseling, never gotten into drinking and drugs.  Maybe we’d still be close and mom wouldn’t have been able to drive a wedge between us?
My brother started using marijuana by high school and graduated into other drugs.  As soon as he graduated, he went to Seattle, and that is when I feel I lost my baby brother.  I know when he was in Seattle he fell deeper into drugs and other unsavory enterprises.  I don’t know much about his life in Seattle, my mother likes it best when everything goes through her, so everything I heard about him was through her and vice versa.  Remember, this was 1996, most people had not even heard of email!
He did get married while in Seattle, but my mother told me I was not invited because he would be uncomfortable?  Whatever that meant…  At this point I did not even have a phone number for my brother so talking to him was impossible.  My mother always refused to give us his phone number.
Finally one day, she gave him my number because he needed help (and of course by help, I mean $$).  By this time my grandmother was living with my husband and I so they figured we were rolling in money.  After that he would call periodically and I would leave messages for him.  He was working 6 days a week as a Chef, so his hours were crazy while I had normal hours, so touching base was difficult.
After I hadn’t spoken to him for a while, I got a call from my mother saying that my brother was exhibiting signs of schizophrenia.  He was in the right age range for onset of symptoms, and he was talking about getting in trouble from the captain if he didn’t have his reports on the aliens submitted in time?  That is the only example of his rambling I can remember, but it was some weird stuff.  Mom started calling all around Seattle trying to get police to pick him up or at least do welfare checks, she called state hospitals and god know who else.  At this point, I don’t know if she actually made all those calls or just kept calling me telling me she did, because she likes to maintain drama between her kids so she can maintain control. 
Once we got him out of Seattle and to Maine, he got better.  I was told he was delusional because of the harder drugs he was taking in Seattle, but once he got away from his wife and other bad influences there, he mellowed out. 
I saw him in the Bahamas for Spring Break 2008, but never spoke to him again after that.  The only good thing that seemed to come out of that trip was that I stopped binge drinking cold turkey.
I haven’t spoken to my mother since March 2009 and as of then all I knew about him now, was that my mother told me he was a severe, yet functional alcoholic as long as you didn’t “let him drink brown liquor”, that evidently is when he got irrational and had a tendency for violence. 
I would like to be able to text/email my brother.  He moves around quite a bit being a Chef so regular mail is out and he never checks his Facebook when I’ve asked for his number, so…
Well this entry has already gotten much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll have to write a sequel later