Blog entries tagged with "cooking"

Another year of boxes

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022 at 10:25pm

Time continues to pass with things pretty much staying the same, which means that I am still getting food delivered in boxes.

Another year of boxes

This isn’t quite another 52 weeks because one box went missing from my doorstep and I paused delivery when I was away.

Overall I’m still happy with it for both adding variety to my meals as well as the convenience. I was thinking that I would have to change things up once we returned to working from an office, but that doesn’t look like it will happen…

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Fifty-two weeks of food in boxes

Sunday, July 25th, 2021 at 05:08pm

Almost a year ago I posted about getting meal ingredients delivered in boxes. That was after five weeks, so this is the fifty-two week update:

Fifty-two weeks of food in boxes

My position on it is pretty much the same as it was last year, it might not be the most economical way, but the variety I get for the convenience is worth it. I have found that I am much more selective with their menu, it is rare that I am happy with the automatic selection, I am going in to each week and adjusting the selection based on preferences and some failures.

One notable failure involved parmesan. You know how cheap parmesan smells like vomit? Well the parmesan provided is ok when you mix it into the dish at the end of cooking, however there was one meal where the parmesan was baked to make parmesan crisps. This was a mistake, it stunk out the entire kitchen, that went straight into the outside bin and I had the meal without the crisps.

Another failure of a sort is that I haven’t been happy with any of the Indian curry meals, they don’t seem to have enough flavour enough for me, it is as though they are not suited to a quick cooking time. There are other meals that have a spicy warning on them which I ignore, it is as if they are targeted at a broader audience.

Undercutting all this is the knowledge that this only works for me because I am working from home. Despite the convenience of working from home I still miss going into an office, if only for the random conversations we would have over lunch…

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Five weeks of food in boxes

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 at 05:18pm

Back at the start of July I realised I was tired of the same few meals as I kept going back to the couple that are both easy to prepare and are ok to be made in bulk and frozen. I didn’t feel motivated enough to cook new things completely from scratch, so I succumbed to the marketing and decided to try one of the meal kit services.

There are a few different services around the world, with a couple available in Melbourne. I’m not going to name which one I went with, but it was one that I was seeing marketed a lot on podcasts and YouTube. I used the discount code from one of those to get the first few weeks at almost half price.

So how has it been?

Five weeks of food in boxes

It has definitely been worthwhile, both in forcing me to get away from my desk to cook and bringing back some variety. The variety has meant that I have eaten things that I haven’t had for a while (in a number of cases confirming that I don’t like it, I’m looking at you pumpkin) or had never tried (sliced pears in tacos).

For future weeks there is an automatic selection of the meals you will get, but up to a week in advance you can go in and change the meals. Some of the meals cost more and you can add additional meals for additional cost. I have been altering my selection to avoid meals I know I won’t like (pumpkin) or that I know were a pain to cook.

Generally the meals in the box are two or four portions. I live alone so I opted for the smallest box of three meals, intending to get six lunches or dinners out of it. Splitting the meals does require additional planning and some trial and error. For example cook all the rice because that is ok to microwave the following day, but for a salad you prepare all the dressing, but keep half aside to be mixed tomorrow.

You also need to plan ahead of time as there are a number of “pantry” items not included. Some last a long time like olive oil or salt, but others like butter or eggs do not.

Another thing I have heard people say is that you then have the recipe that you can use in the future, that is true and in many cases you just need to source the items yourself instead of them turning up on your doorstep. However there are some recipes that are not so easy to reproduce, I could go buy a bottle of Kecap Manis or a jar of Sichuan garlic paste, but what is in the Mexican Spice Blend or the Southeast Asian Spice Blend?

Currently the price is working out to $12 per meal which is more expensive than if I sourced the ingredients myself, but it is so much more convenient and varied. It is also a lot better than getting takeaway for around the same price…

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Bringing back the ham

Friday, December 22nd, 2017 at 07:11am

For the first time in a few years I will be making an Alton Brown baked ham (update December 2023: recipe on Alton Brown’s site) for Christmas lunch. To prepare I went to double check the recipe from my own blog post, to find that Food Network had changed their URLs without putting redirects in place.

I have updated the broken links, but am also putting the important details here, including values in metric:


  • 1 brined ham, hock end
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • bourbon in a spray bottle
  • 2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies


  • Heat oven to 120°C (250°F)
  • Prepare ham by scoring the skin and tenting with foil
  • Cook for 3 to 4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 55°C (130°F)
  • Remove skin and fat from ham
  • Heat oven to 180°C (350°F)
  • Apply mustard, brown sugar, bourbon and crushed cookies
  • Cook until internal temperature reaches 60°C (140°F), approx 1 hour
  • Rest for half an hour and then carve

To have it all done and then at my sister’s place for lunch, the prep work needs to be done the night before and started in the oven at 6AM on the day.

There is now a (not the best quality) copy of the entire episode on YouTube which could be used as a reference in addition to the recipe and the episode transcript.

Relevant to all this is that I am excited about Good Eats coming back as Return of the Eats early next year, and if the Eat Your Science Tour ever comes to Australia I will be there…

(similar to how it was automatic to get a ticket to Brain Candy as soon as I heard there would be Australian shows, I will miss the Melbourne show as I will be in Sydney that week, so I am going to the Sydney show instead…)

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A public announcement

Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 10:19pm

A few weeks ago I ordered some books online. While the trigger was Paranormality by Richard Wiseman, I also ordered two other books of his: Quirkology and 59 Seconds.

Quirkology was quite an interesting read, but it is 59 seconds (which I am currently halfway though) that surprised me. Most of this was because I didn’t fully realise that it was a self-help book, albeit a self-help book that is backed by peer-reviewed research. This should be the only kind of self-help book.

Take motivation for example. Research from large scale scientific studies found that techniques such as focusing on a role model, thinking about bad outcomes of missing the goal, trying to supress unhelpful thoughts, relying on willpower or fantasizing about reaching the goal are not effective.

On the other hand making a plan, telling other people, thinking about good things of achieving the goal, rewarding progress, and recording progress all signifigantly increases the likelihood of achieving the goal. Most of these involve writing, which other studies have found to be considerably more effective than simply talking or thinking about something.

So here are parts of a plan that I am sharing with the world to achieve a current goal of mine: losing weight.

  1. Reclaim the habit of cycling to work. I will allow three exceptions: it is raining enough that I would be soaked through, I need to head somewhere directly from work (ie not enought time to ride home to get the car), or mechanical issues that make the bike unsafe.

  2. Exercise every day. At bare minimum this is the above cycling to and from work, but on the weekend this means at least a 30 minute bike ride or going to the place mentioned in the next point.

  3. Going to the gym (yes, some would be very surprised to know that I know what one of those is) at minimum three times a week.

  4. Eating better. This fairly broad and covers avoiding take away and soft drinks, cooking for myself (but avoiding fats and sugary sauces) or resorting to healthy frozen/prepackaged meals.

As an aside, finding appropriate frozen/prepackaged meals has been an interesting journey. Many pasta type meals include parmesan for that delicious aroma while heating, but are actually passable. I would say that those that include rice are preferable. But then you get to those with “potato”, while not hard, I would consider these to be dwarf bread.

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Mmmm… Chocolate self-saucing pudding

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 at 09:31pm

Today was my turn to provide cake at our weekly meeting. I was considering making pikelets but it seemed like too much effort so I fell back on a chocolate self-saucing pudding.

Since I had to dig around for the recipe, here are the ingredients for future reference:


  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 2 tablesoons margarine, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk


  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water

Bake at 160C for around 30 minutes. Serve with a scoop of icecream.

For work I added 50% to the pudding ingredients and another 150-200% to the sauce which works out nicely for 10 people.

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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 at 07:13pm

For a while I have been half-heartedly looking for a cooking probe thermometer like I have seen used on Good Eats. I finally got tired of looking at australian places with no luck so I turned to eBay. The result? Just over a week since winning the auction I have in my possession a Polder 362-90: Cooking Timer / Thermometer (shipped from the US) which is the actual model used on the show.

My next challenge is to follow through with the menu I planned now I have one less excuse…

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Planning a menu

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006 at 10:57pm

In a few weeks my parents are going away which will mean that I will need to fend for myself (yes I still live at home) so in preparation I have been thinking about possible food options. For a while now I have been intending to try things that I have seen on Good Eats which gives me a short list of meals (in alphabetical order):

As well as these I am also planning on giving Angel Food Cake and Overnight Cinnamon Rolls a try. If I am successfull with the second I am tempted to make them fresh (ie baked on the spot) when it is my turn to provide cake for our weekly tech team meeting…

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Ham I Am

Sunday, December 25th, 2005 at 10:55pm

Every christmas since I saw the Ham I Am episode of Good Eats a few years ago I lobbied to try out the city ham recipe. This year I was successful and it looks likely that I will be asked to do it every year…

On a side note I found the episode transcript significantly more useful than the recipe as the commentary contains crucial information.

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