Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Produce Box arrives in Charlotte!

Once I became a mom, I started looking more in to what I ate and realized that the diet of my early 20's wasn't very ALL.  I started looking into more veggies recipes and in doing so, ways to obtain said vegetables. I tried a few delivery services but me finding a location near me wasn't always that easy.  Plus, the times weren't always the most convenient. Having three kids makes things a bit of a challenge ESPECIALLY when pick up times are during nap times.  Being a mom, nap time trumps pickup.

I even went the farmer market route when I was selling in the craft barn, but it was hard to break away some days from that area.  Also, I once saw them breaking open packages of strawberries that said the grower was in California and then they packaged them like they picked them in those green papery boxes.  Not cool farmers market lady.  I saw you.

About a month or so ago, I was contacted by a produce company out of Raleigh, NC that was moving into Charlotte.  They asked me if I wanted to check them out and I thought sure, why not.  

The Produce Box is a bit different from other companies out there.  Most of their produce is local from NC.  I say most, because obviously in the winter time, everything isn't from here.  This past week, mushrooms were in a box and they were from Pennsylvania.  The company is VERY upfront on where the items are from and can be seen by clicking on items.  Did I mention that they deliver to your house and it is included in the cost??  How awesome is that?!  You just have to leave a cooler with ice packs on your porch.

It is a subscription service, so there is an annual fee to be a member.  There are a variety of boxes to choose from every week as well as additional add on items: meat, cheese, bakery items, etc. Every week on Fridays the menu is posted and you have until Sunday to place your order.  You can choose from a variety of boxes, create your own box, donate a box to a family in need, or skip a week.  Skipping is a breeze. Just a simply click of a large button.

This past week I actually got a chance to stop by a drop off and see how it works in person.  Chatting with the employees I got an even greater understanding of how fresh it is. During the week, the farmers inform The Produce Box of what they have available. Thursday and Friday the company creates "menus" and builds the boxes. Options are posted on Friday, orders close on Sunday evening, then Monday produce gets picked. Tuesdays boxes are assembled, Wednesday it gets delivered to the Neighborhood Coordinators (their delivery people) Once in their hands EVERY SINGLE ORDER is hand checked (with gloves on).   Any substitutions happen then. If a tomatoes is bruised, it gets swapped.  If you order a substitution, it gets done then. I was insanely impressed with the amount of care going into everything.

I have ordered a few times with them and thought I would show you what I have received! Instead of changing things around, I went with a box as is.  No substitutions or additions.

Both weeks I ordered the sprout box.  Each box arrived with a flyer inside. One side of the flyer has info about the items:  where they are from, how to store them, when to eat them, etc.   I LOVE this, because I literally get stumped every time I go shopping.  I have no clue how to store lettuce correctly.  Now I do!  The back of the flyer has recipe suggestion for the produce.

This week I received:  leeks, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, tangerines, and Bibb lettuce. Inside the lettuce clam shell there were two little lettuce heads.  Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious.  Those tangerines....nom.

So, there you go!  If you are living in NC and want to check out this great service, check them out and sign up!  Click here to learn more and sign up. If you use the coupon code HOUSE you can save  $5 on your first order!

**I received some sample boxes in exchange for my review.  All feelings of being healthy and photos are my own


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Strawberry Pie! aka, I picked 4 gallons of strawberries yesterday

I LOVE this time of the year.  It is just the perfect temperature to throw on some shorts, go outside, and pick a million strawberries. Well, when the sun is behind some clouds that is.  For years now I have been going to a localish farm, Lineberger's Maple Springs Farm, in Dallas, NC.  It is maybe 20-30 minutes from my house.  The only issue is peak strawberry time is right around the same time as Aidan's birthday.  Puts a bit of a bummer on getting tons because I never have any time to use them all!  This year V is in school three days, so I actually have some time to accomplish recipes!! Yesterday I put the girl to work and we picked 4 gallons. (Please note that by me saying I put her to work and we picked 4 gallons means: I picked 4 gallons and she stole all my berries out of my basket and placed them in hers.  Then she ate them.  Only a few though.  I was on berry to mouth watch)

I always do strawberry vanilla jam and strawberry muffins, but this year I wanted to try something else. Mainly because I had a pie crust sitting in my fridge begging to be used. Enter...the strawberry pie.  I found a few recipes and tweaked them it a bit.  
ONE: I felt the sugar content was crazy high for most recipes considering the strawberries were insanely sweet on their own 
TWO: I felt lazy and didn't want to make a crust since there was one already in my fridge
THREE: Buying a pouch of glaze sounds gross and wrong so I wanted to make my own.  Those pouches just look WEIRD at the store.

So, I just pulled ideas from here and there and got this:

  • Pie Crust (I used one of those pre-made refrigerated ones)
  • 5 cups of strawberries cleaned, and quartered  (might increase to 6 cups next time to really fill the shell) For me with the hulling aspect, I just cut the top off and quarter.  I don't get all fancy trying to cut the stem off and "hull" it out. I am a mom of 3.  When I process strawberries I need FAST, not fancy. The straw method seems like it might work, but I haven't done it for fear of "different" and the kids not eating them.
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Whipped cream for garnish-optional
  1. Bake pie shell according to box and set aside to cool completely. I tried to get all fancy with the edges, but yeah. It didn't happen as you can see. While the shell bakes, begin the glaze. 
  2. In a medium saucepan add 2 cups of the cut strawberries.  You want to mush the strawberries down so they are pretty crushed. To the mush add: sugar, cornstarch, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice. 
  3. Heat this over medium and stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves.When stirring really get in there and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. It will start gelling up there first.  You do not want it to burn!  Once it is all together and gelling (roughly 5 minutes for me), remove from heat to cool.
  4. While that is cooling, cut the remaining strawberries.  Stir the glaze every now and again to help the steam escape.  Does it help with the cooling time? Not sure. Just made me feel like it did.
  5.  Once the glaze is completely cooled, add the remaining 3 cups of strawberries to the glaze and mix it up.  I really got in there with a spatula and made sure it was all covered.
  6. Pour strawberry mixture into the cooled shell and take the pie into some natural lighting so you can get a good picture to share to Instagram to make your friends drool, then cover it and put it in the fridge to cool for a few hours.
  7. Use whipped cream on the to if you want to.  I went fancy and used Redi-Whip in a can.