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May 11, 2005

Better Eating for Lazy People

About a month ago, while visting a kitchen and bath remodeling store (don't ask), Kathleen and I noticed that, sharing the parking lot, there was an outlet of Designed Dinners. Kathleen had read about them, but the concept was new to me: pay these guys $185 and get the ingredients for 12 entrees for four people each.

Before you arrive, a chef has done essentially all of the prep work, including creating any sauces, toppings, marinades, etc., and the results are set up at a number of refrigerated serving stations. You show up and move from station to station, pulling the indicated amount of each ingredient and putting it into one or more Ziploc bags, as described in the sign over each station. You tag all of your bags with the preprinted labels they provide (each of which includes full cooking instructions for the dish) and then pile them all up in a box to take home to your freezer. The whole selection process takes about an hour and a half in a very friendly atmosphere, with complementary wine, cheese, and cookies, and several other customers to chat with. There's plenty of hand-holding for those who need it; it's a very service-oriented establishment.

For those with families smaller than four people, they offer the option of "splitting" each entree into two packagings, with two servings each. Some dishes can't be split (like casseroles or roasts), but most can.

It's pretty convenient and, we've found, helps make it easy to eat a wider variety of food at home. There's nothing there that we couldn't have made ourselves (given a recipe), but the thing is, we never would have. We're just not sufficiently motivated about cooking to put this kind of thing together (or to spend the necessary prep time).

On a scale of one to three, we've rated almost every dish we've eaten so far with two stars. The only exception was a fettuccine where they didn't recommend pulling enough sauce. Nothing's been worth three stars, but a steady diet of twos is pretty good.

The biggest problem with this program is finding enough room in your freezer.

May 04, 2005

Waste Not, Want Not

I always wondered what happened to all that stuff...

May 01, 2005

Folding T-Shirts as if by Magic

I am in the middle of my every-eight-or-nine-months-whether-I-need-it-or-not T-shirt laundry. I have over 250 T-shirts in active rotation, and I'm obsessive (and lazy) enough to want to get through wearing essentially all of them before I do the laundry. One downside of this (aside from the need to own more hampers than most large families) is that when the laundry comes, it comes on big. So far, I've done about nine large loads, and I estimate that there are still another five to go.

The most tedious part of the process, of course, is not the washing or drying, but the folding. And folding. And folding. Thus my great interest when, while playing games Saturday night, our friends Dean and Stephanie mentioned T-shirt origami, a very cute technique for folding a T-shirt neatly in a quick and initially baffling set of motions.

This has, as was obvious in retrospect, been blogged many times, but it was so new and relevant to me that I couldn't resist.

(By the way, after extensive research, I have determined that, while much cooler, the origami technique is neither as fast nor as convenient in result as my standard approach. Hold up the shirt with thumb and forefinger by the shoulder seams with the front facing you, then use the other fingers to fold the sides in; finally, swing the bottom of the shirt away from you, setting it down on the table as you do so, and complete the fold. With a little practice, this goes very quickly indeed...)