Posts Tagged ‘2019

25
Nov
19

new toy, instant pot

IMG_20191123_162124Device description  may vary depending on the model as instant pot now has may sizes and capabilities across it’s product line. The app may be upgraded or changed from the time of posting of this review.

The device is powered by 120 vac ( in the states)

some of the advantages of the Instant Pot are :

short cooking times

sealed in flavor

automatic pressure cooking
some what ease of use
well engineered device and quality, well insulated

the ability to sear and brown food
name brand and support,

abundance of  recipes available

available parts replacement

other functions in addition to pressure cooking

benefits of pressure cooking food
retains value *

some drawbacks of the Instant Pot

loss of cooking scents from long simmered recipes in the kitchen
a new learning curve and device to operate
slow warm up times
depressurizing method may be unacceptable

 

Being rather behind the cutting edge in this new device fad , many have branded their own similar knock off of this computer controlled pressure cooking vessel. I’ve always wanted to do pressure cooking , remembering from my childhood days that our parents used the old style stove top vessels that require4 reading and regulating a pressure indicating device.by the adjustment of heat
On of the characteristics of selecting a quality sturdy device is to first research how long the brand name and company has been in business, do they provide support and if the device can be easily maintained, repaired and reasonable priced replacement parts are available to avoid trashing the device in a few short years of service.and researching the secondary market for reselling value. as we are encouraged to pass something gone  unused along to someone else rather than to the landfill.
Just as a sideline, most every well maintained pressure cooking vessel has a safety blow off that is supposed to provide a pressure release in case of runaway pressure to avoid the catastrophe of a possible explosion of the vessel. But some may still shy away from pressure cooking food for the fear of an explosion.
Now instant pot (and I often say instapot) has taken this task and applied computer controlled heat and monitoring to pressure cooking.
First the device is well made, and easy sealing, easy lock/unlock method with audio feedback, stainless steel inner pot and a steaming rack is often included.
The learning curve consist of learning the preset  automatic control of the device and what they do , at least to me,  without a lengthily discussion, the presets can be set and modified as they are labeled on the control panel by food types and methods of cooking.

I did a few quick test with a small amount of rice and one quickly notices the cycling of the cooking, a heat up phase, pressure sealing and cooking time and a depressurizing stage.

I opted for a instant pot duo mini, since I don’t see the need for a large 6 or 8 quart pot for everyday use for 2 or 3 people. The device once sealed and a cooking mode selected, goes into heat up mode as you can hear the clicking of a relay that regulates heat application. Once steam produces enough p-reassure in the vessel, a sealing type check float valve get pushed upward and in combination with the position of the steam release valve the vessel is now sealed. Pressure builds up to the setting requirement and the actual cooking time starts.

The preheating time may not be figured into the cooking times stated, so  cooking times may not take the preheating and cool down time (if used) into consideration. So actual start to finish time may be longer than stated. When the cooking cycle is completed, The matter of choosing   the pressure release method in the vessel is to be  considered. Naturally leaving the cooker as is and letting it cool will add additional cooking and time to your recipe and that may be desirable for some recipes.

At the end of the cooking phase,.an immediate pressure release is possible by rotating the steam release valve from the sealing position to the release position, but be forewarned, the resulting plume of steam, like a steam train whistle, will result upward from the steam release valve.  If placed on a counter under overhead cabinets above, condensation and moisture can occur.as the plume of releasing steam can be very high and forceful. That aspect didn’t bother me as I used the pot on a counter without any shelving or cabinets overhead. The instructions clearly illustrate this occurrence and provide that necessary warnings as a  pressured steam release can cause burns to skin if in the path of the escaping steam.

Now, a half a chicken cut into pieces, with potatoes and carrot and onions was cooked on the “meat setting” adjusting the time to 10 minutes and high pressure. A small amount of stock was added to the bottom to initiate steam production. The total time result  was closer to 30 minutes. No searing was done beforehand as I was used to this type of chicken recipe. The chicken was close to fall off  the bones, the carrot and potato done and a juicy gravy was at the bottom of the pot. The breast was not evenly cooked due to it’s thickness so it was return to the pot for an additional; 2 minutes, as the pot was already hot, the warm  up cycle was short and the additional 2 minutes was maybe 3 or 4 total.

Note:  the warm up time when pressure cooking can be reduced by setting the searing mode when starting a recipe to preheat the pot, then cancel and set pot as the recipe dictates.

The Instant pot is a worthwhile addition to our kitchen, this review only explores  a few capabilities of the Instant pot. One needs to  read about all the available bells and whistles and the benefits of pressurized cooking for the Instant Pot to be used in all it’s capabilities.  It is a system all in itself, the breath of recipes found online, in print, and within the instant pot app are plentiful,  The Instant pot app which gives you  recipes and operating instructions is  good and easy to use , but searching some categories provided by a search filter resulted in no results.

The app is free and recipes are scalable so I was able to downsize the quantity of servings to fit in the Mini Duo, the app automatically adjusted the ingredient measurements. . One item I did notice of the app was it’s inability to 2 finger zoom the recipe for easier viewing if need by the user for better legibility. I assume most recipes are written for the 6 or 8 quart pot.(the Mini is 3 quart)  Noting also, there is a 2/3 capacity limit of the pot itself .to avoid an overfilled pot resulting in  food particles spewing from the steam release port when activated.which is plainly marked on the stainless steel pot which has a heavy gauge bottom for even heat distribution,

* As far as resale value, at the time of writing, some auction  sites are a good indication of value of a used Instant Pot. The Instant Pot Mini Duo purchased by the reviewer, was from a thrift shop on-line  auction, sold at a deep discount as is and needing a steam release valve that was missing. Even with shipping and the replacement part cost, it was still considerably less expensive than a new Mini Duo delivered to my door. (this comparison is staying with the Instant Pot Brand as there is many look alikes available). If you don’t want to store appliances once you’ve’ retired them this could be a consideration to resell it to recoup some of the initial  cost later.

 

 

the unboxing

The thrift shop purchase included original box

sealing/release valve and float valve

the Mini Duo 3 quart Instant Pot

the resulting winner winner chicken dinner !

07
Nov
19

shopping update

The race to provide fresh food at your door is on..In our area  Aldi,  a global company have partnered with Instacart for shopping and delivery. So  all I have to compare Aldi to is my previous orders with PeaPod, from Stop and Shop.While both services do essentially the same thing, there are a few differences. But first let’s get this said, these are my own observations,  they may differ if you live in a different location, the platforms have have additional features or upgrades added since the last time I  used them and pricing may also differ by location. Or I could be incorrect.

Now just a few notations : (and these may also apply for none fresh food shopping services)

Ease of ordering

Lets face it we have probably started shopping on line years ago with Amazon, Ebay etc. So expectations are that the interface is clean and descriptions are accurate. Things that throw a wrench into the system is the vendor not having accurate and up to date info on items , here they may fall short , not having what you prefer, out of stock items that are never back in stock, or not offering substitutions. Instacart ordering does supply a substitution permission and the ability to select a substitution product. Instacart also connects feedback by text so you have instantaneous feed back when  the order is being shopped and the option to have the shopper call you before they check out . Your order items and cost will then vary from your original order.

Payment system:

If it doesn’t have a clear and concise payment checkout, itemized, and the ability to use either debit or credit, gift cards, and promotions , and possibly PayPal or another system then I’ts lacking. adding a tip is also favorable for a complete cashless checkout.

Customer Service

This should be a non issue if everything goes as planned, but in today’s world most online transactions beg for feedback on the shopping experience and tie in’s with social media sites.

Platforms of use

You could be considered old school if you use a desktop machine for shopping , some people may have only accesses to services  by smartphone, not to mention some companies don’t even support websites (per say) and only have an app for operation. (some apps may merely be an icon to a ULR address). Even so, the navigation and set up is usually different  for desktop browsers vs.mobile versions and could be different even if it’s a smartphone or tablet ! The point is it may be easier to use an app vs. a desktop.

Now the real world:

Transition from a brick and mortar to include e commerce doesn’t translate well at this time.on some points. For instance, getting a certain cut of meat, poultry etc. Do they offer items like Cornish hens, duck , turkey,  beef neck bones, liver, T bone steaks, lamb chops or shoulder chops,  etc. like you would find at the physical store. Meat and produce of course have short shelve life if it’s fresh, not frozen so changes are expected. But it’s a sacrifice made for the sake of not being at the store itself.  Futurist  would point out that virtually shopping could cure this.

Price consciousness:

If you yourself have been transitioning shopping from brick and mortar to online service, it’s easy to spot the price differences, I both have seen prices more than or less than what is considered fair. Some on line free shipping may hide the shipping in increased prices or quantity minimums to offset the free shipping..  Of course most vendors have a minimum order amount to prevent small costly orders

Difference delivery processes.

If a store offers in store pickup or drive up in addition to normal shipping, and either same day or next day shipping,  this further splits the decision on what you can get. To be accurate you can use filters  for searching by delivery type  , or wait, till your done filling your cart and go through your shopping cart to find out what you can’t get or have to pay a premium for. depending on the shipping method and certain trigger price  point for free shipping. Add to that, special offers and add-ons for subscribed members. !! WHEW  !

Aldi transaction 

  • Season’s Choice Frozen Brussels Sprouts

    $1.25 · 12 oz

    1x

    $1.25

    Replacement for 1x 1 lb Brussels Sprouts, Package (Limit 6)

  • Tri-Color Grapes (Limit 6)

    $6.59 · 3 lb

    1x

    $0.00

    Reason: out_of_stock

  • Boneless Half Pork Butt Roast

    $2.29 · ~ 4.85 lb

    4.85 lb

    $0.00

    Reason: out_of_stock

 

Found

Stonemill Sea Salt Grinder

$2.55 · 3.15 oz

1x

$2.55

Broccoli, Package (Limit 6)

$1.89 · 1 lb

1x

$1.89

Cauliflower (Limit 6)

$2.85 · each

1x

$2.85

Black Angus Choice Top Round Steak

$5.99 · ~ 0.98 lb

1.1 lb

$6.59

 

Black Angus Choice Beef Country Style Ribs

$4.89 · ~ 1.4 lb

2.18 lb

$10.66

Kirkwood Fresh Young Chicken

$0.95 · ~ 6.22 lb

6.34 lb

$6.02

Kirkwood Fresh Chicken Leg Quarters

$0.89 · ~ 5 lb

5.45 lb

$4.85

Priano Prosciutto Italiano

$4.39 · 3 oz

1x

$4.39

Bone-In Center Cut Pork Chops

$2.99 · ~ 1.6 lb

1.6 lb

$4.78

 

Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour

$2.09 · 5 lb

1x

$2.09

Boulder Reclosable Sandwich Bags

$2.55 · 100 ct

1x

$2.55

Willow Facial Tissue

$1.25 · 160 ct

4x

$5.00

Countryside Creamery Pure Irish Butter Salted

$2.75 · 8 oz

1x

$2.75

Clancy’s Honey Wheat Pretzels

$4.39 · 24 oz

1x

$4.39

here the itemized from aldi

Without getting long winded, as long as there is one or two competing services, I may utilize either, until the penetration of either Jump bike or other transportation service to our area becomes available (in how many years?)  for those quick rides  to the store vs. Uber or Lyft.

recent order from Target:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13
May
19

Spring celebration

an Easter celebration for 2019

Thanks to Colette and Emma for hosting the dinner. Later A visit to James and Joseph’s

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01
Apr
19

BOWL OF HAPPINESS

Some chicken wing tips resulted in some tasty broth for soup.

img_20190311_165605

 

CHOPPED RICE MACARONI ADDED TO THE SOUP

DONE !

14
Jan
19

Shopping/delivery

Since most non refrigerated groceries can be shipped (ie Amazon,Wal-Mart or Target etc.) most  retailers offer grocery pick up service, and all of this is done  either through an online website or app or both.

As once though of as a luxury, a personal shopper and delivery is now in the reach of many consumers.  The savvy consumer has done their homework and figured their own labor cost and time, vehicle and travel cost. The price of convenience should be factored in, traveling in inclement weather, safety of travel, parking and carrying groceries.

Not to mention that most restaurants who cater to the stay at home or office employee sign on with one of the many gig tech services , Uber eats, Postmates or Door Dash for delivery service.

Online shopping and delivery, now many years old, is adapted to about any type of retail operation and the next logical step is to apply this to the grocery shopping experience. Persons with no access to personal transportation or unable to operate a vehicle, could compare grocery delivery service option to using public transportation. (Note: some low-cost transportation may be available through your city’s own local bus senior services that provide door to store and return service for person meeting certain requirements and the participant would be subject to the providers schedule).

Persons relying on other than an owned vehicle for mobility, such as walking/biking to the nearest market,  grocers may offer delivery services provided you are within their service radius. One factor that may limit the use of grocery delivery is that some consumers may like to select their groceries in person. As more items are packaged, choices can be graphically represented on-line for ordering. Produce and fruit though,  can be fickle as consumers like to select their own fruit and vegetables relying on their senses as for instance one might select a fruit less ripe depending on the time line of their menu or use.

One popular grocer delivery service is Peapod, in this location, tied to the Stop and Shop retailer/grocer. Trying this service is a no brainer, an email and password register the user to the site or app. You can also browse the site without registration. If you already shop at Stop and Shop, and use the loyalty card, the option to add that card is available to track all your purchases.

It should be noted that the Peapod service (to my knowledge and online research) does not rely on gig tech employees but full-time employees of the retailer . Most groceries delivery services have split the process into 2 operations, the personal shopper and delivery driver. Wether or not one person does both or two separate persons split the transaction is unclear. In locations offering grocery pickup a picker is already in place.

As the competition increases the retail delivery services are doing their best to sign up users to their platform. With Peapod, an up front discount is offered which resulted in 1/2 off of the delivery cost. Most of the prices for items I shopped for are inline or slightly above what is at the store itself. Stop and Shop may be considered higher priced by some standards but from what I assume is that it may have a higher percentage of union full-time employees that provide many employee benefits, but that discussion is beyond the scope of this article.

For now, I wanted to purchase  mostly refrigerated items like meat and fish etc.

After submitting the Peapod order, I received the usual expected email confirmation. Navigating the online site is no different that other online shopping sites. The discount can be gained by utilizing discounted delivery time windows available shown when the order is placed.  No problem if one of your family members is home during that time slot. They do promise notification before 30 minutes either by text or email but no a big factor if someone is already at the residence. There is an option for unattended delivery, but I believe a storage container is required and with the safety of food temperatures involved, person to person delivery is preferred . An email lets you know the order is on the way with confirmed items and final total as this will vary from the original order as stated by the website. I suppose there is some thought as with the delivery of the items some consumers would reject some items  on inspection and have the order modified but I didn’t have the cause to reject anything as all was in order. This is paramount to the online shopping and delivery process. GETTING THE ORDER CORRECT! No problemo

I did research tipping for this service from other online sources, as I don’t think is was plainly stated on the Peapod website wondering if the drivers are able to accept a cash or electronic payment transaction for a tip.

One thing I noticed is that a written signature (pen on paper) is required at the time of delivery as for one, the final price of the order may be different from original order as stated on the paper printed receipt that delivery person brings with the order , and two, it allows one to add a gratuity  by writing, a smart device is not required at delivery, as I have gotten accustomed to receiving an email or notification that the delivery (or in the case of a ride hailing service) that I have completed the transaction and the option of adding the tip electronically is available after  the service/delivery is complete. It also should be noted that a smart mobile device or app IS NOT required to place an order. I don’t know if an order can be initiated by voice phone call.

The Peapod delivery person is more than happy to enter your residence to carry the groceries, that may or may  not be an advantage to the consumer. I was happy to assist the person and carry in several bags. The delivery person is attentive to the quality of the delivered items verifying that, for instance, a carton of eggs was complete and not damaged. (the grocery items were delivered in the plastic type bags that you would bring home from the store.)

So what’s the bottom line ?

As with other services there are many options to consider whether a service will fit your budget and lifestyle. Budget conscience persons will factor in all the variables. More retailers have bridged technology with the brick and motar shopping experience  to customers who expect different levels of services.

 

Here’s the order figures:

PRODUCE
Broccoli Organic
1 HEAD Qty: 1 @ $3.49 $3.49
MEAT
Peapod Chicken Thighs Boneless Skinless Value Pack Fresh
APX 2.5 LB Qty: 1 @ $4.98 $4.98
Peapod Premium Cut Bacon Maple Sliced
16 OZ PKG Qty: 1 @ $5.99 $5.99
Peapod Premium Italian Sausage Hot Fresh
APX 2.75 LB Qty: 1 @ $9.87 $9.87
Peapod Turkey Thighs Fresh
APX 1.8 LB Qty: 1 @ $5.38 $5.38
Perdue Oven Ready Chicken Whole Seasoned Roaster in Cooking Bag Fresh
6 LB PKG Qty: 1 @ $2.57 $2.57
Pork Rib End Roast Bone-In Fresh
APX 2 LBS Qty: 1 @ $4.98 $4.98
USDA Choice Beef Shank Center Cut Bone-In Fresh
APX 1 LB Qty: 1 @ $3.49 $3.49
USDA Choice Bottom Round Beef Roast Boneless Fresh
APX 3 LB Qty: 1 @ $14.97 $14.97
SEAFOOD
Peapod Raw Shrimp Simple Peel Extra Large – 26-30 ct per lb Frozen
2 LB BAG Qty: 1 @ $13.98 $13.98
DELI
Land O Lakes Deli American Cheese Product White (Thin Sliced)
APX 1/2 LB Qty: 1 @ $3.00 $3.00
DAIRY
Peapod Greek Yogurt Plain Nonfat
5.3 OZ CUP Qty: 1 @ $.79 $.79
Peapod Sweet Cream Butter Salted Sticks – 4 qrtrs
1 LB BOX Qty: 1 @ $2.99 $2.99
Peapod White Eggs Grade A Large
1 DOZ Qty: 1 @ $1.69 $1.69
PRODUCT INFORMATION & OFFERS
Peapod by Stop & Shop Welcome Brochure
1 EA Qty: 1 @ $.00 $.00

 Here is the final delivery:

Amount charged:

Customer Care: 1-800-5-PEAPOD Get unlimited FREE deliveries with PodPass! Search “PodPass” on Peapod.com to learn more Order Information Delivery Date 01/11/2019 Standard Substitution Peapod Savings Weekly Specials 1925 You Saved $19.25

Grocery Total Grocery Sale 85.94

Delivery Fee 9.95

Delivery Discount (5.00)

Fuel Surcharge 0.22

Grocery Total Due $91.11

In Stock Size Delivered Item Price Total Price

Product Information/Offers Peapod by Stop & Shop Welcome Brochure 1 EA 1 0.00 0.00 Dairy

Peapod Greek Yogurt Plain Nonfat 5.3 OZ CUP 1 0.79 0.79

Peapod Sweet Cream Butter Salted Sticks – 4 qrtrs 1 LB BOX 1 2.99 2.99

Peapod White Eggs Grade A Large 1 DOZ 1 1.69 1.69

Deli

Land O Lakes Deli American Cheese Product White (Thin Sliced) APX 1/2 LB 0.52 LB 5.99/LB SALE 3.11

Meat

Peapod Chicken Thighs Boneless Skinless Value Pack Fresh APX 2.5 LB 3.17 LB 1.99/LB SALE 6.31

Peapod Premium Cut Bacon Maple Sliced 16 OZ PKG 1 5.99 5.99

Peapod Premium Italian Sausage Hot Fresh APX 2.75 LB 2.75 LB 3.59/LB 9.87

Peapod Turkey Thighs Fresh APX 1.8 LB 3.04 LB 2.99/LB 9.09

Perdue Oven Ready Chicken Whole Seasoned Roaster in Cooking Bag Fresh 6 LB PKG 1 2.57 SALE 2.57

Pork Rib End Roast Bone-In Fresh APX 2 LBS 2.69 LB 2.49/LB 6.70

USDA Choice Beef Shank Center Cut Bone-In Fresh APX 1 LB 1.13 LB 3.49/LB 3.94

USDA Choice Bottom Round Beef Roast Boneless Fresh APX 3 LB 3.09 LB 4.99/LB 15.42

Produce Broccoli Organic 1 HEAD 1 3.49 3.49

Seafood

Peapod Raw Shrimp Simple Peel Extra Large – 26-30 ct per lb Frozen 2 LB BAG 1 13.98 SALE 13.98

Amount charged may be lower after any valid coupons and credits are applied.

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