In This Edition of HeatCageKitchen
- 1 The New Stove
- 2 New Plugin For Recipes
- 3 Ready To Roll
- 4 Shopping At Misfits Market
- 5 Organics For Less
- 6 Rescued Food
- 7 Amy’s First Order
- 8 Saturday Arrival
- 9 They Didn’t Have Pears
- 10 Limes
- 11 Cooking the Sweet Potatoes
- 12 The Carrots
- 13 Pros
- 14 Making The Trip
- 15 Cons
- 16 Warning
- 17 Our Next Order
- 18 Until Next Time
Misfits Market is another player in the online grocery game, with a twist. The company partners with farmers and food producers to get potentially wasted organic produce, meats, and other sustainably sourced grocery items right to your front door at a discount. Do they deliver on that promise? I ordered my first box recently. (NOTE: this is NOT a sponsored post.)
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
After last week’s blog post on soup—which I sent to two potential clients because it was SEO-optimized—I thought about the next blog. I do that a lot, and sometimes it gets away from me. (Sorry about that.) It’s chilly again today, so soup is a great idea.
I had a couple of vague ideas which will likely manifest here later. But I did what most people do now—I checked with our old friend Google, who led me down several merry paths and to more bunny trails. That’s OK, it’s time I added to my blogging repertoire, anyway.
The New Stove
The new appliances are wonderful. This morning, BF decided to bake some canned biscuits while he cooked us a delicious breakfast. But I was kind of concerned because I didn’t show him the controls for the oven. Well, he figured them out, and baked them all by himself:
The controls are simple and you just need to remember to turn the oven off when you’re finished. But today, he proudly declared his biscuits “perfect.” I was so happy for him! Next up, I’m sure he’ll tackle a cake or brownies.
New Plugin For Recipes
The first thing that sparked my interest in the research was a plugin for WordPress called Recipe Maker. It’s a thing where you type in the recipe once, it shows it in the blog post, and allows the reader to click and print. Chances are you’ve seen it nearly every *other* food blog you’ve ever read, but not mine. There’s a reason for that.
I was this many years old when I discovered WordPress Recipe Maker. It never dawned on me to look for such sorcery, and of course, nobody ever told me, either. I blame the Banana Rat, who knows all about this kind of thing.
In a Zoom call last week with overseas guru WF, she told me, “now there’s a WordPress plugin for just about everything.” So now I want to look at plugins for hours on end, just to see what I can find. But I’m busy elsewhere.
You can see a similar example of this type of plugin on AllDayIDreamAboutFood. You can click the little box that says “Jump To Recipe” and go directly to it, or you can read the whole blog first. However you get there, the recipe plugin allows you to see it in one place and print it for yourself if you like. I don’t know if Carolyn uses WordPress or not, but it’s the same thing as the one I installed here.
And today you get a recipe for keto peanut butter eggs, sugar-free, complete with chocolate. You’re welcome.
Ready To Roll
Installing the plugin into WordPress was easy. I tested it and it works great. Going forward I’ll be using it whenever I post about a recipe—which might be more often.
And who do I have to thank for this? Aunt Ruth, sort of. She emailed me after the soup post and said that she couldn’t find the measurements for the onion and celery for one of the recipes. I emailed back and told the Recipes page had the PDFs, but I attached both PDF files to the email. Then it clicked, and I went back hunting for Recipe Maker to install.
With the new plugin, I won’t need to make PDFs—it will be a section I type in, and you can print them right from the page.
Where has this been all my blogging life? Well, I have it now. But I’m still blaming Banana Rat for not telling me about it previously.
Shopping At Misfits Market
The second suggestion from this research was to order something like a meal kit (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.) and write about your experience.
I’ve not ordered from the meal kit companies. But I have been seeing ads for some time from Misfits Market. What the heck—go check it out! So I did (and had the money to do so.)
I told BF about it. He just gave me that smile he has when he’s not sure what to think about what I just said. Finally, he said, “it’s OK, that’s your thing.” Really, he wasn’t at all interested.
Organics For Less
Misfits Market is all about organic food—primarily fresh produce—that’s either surplus or isn’t “pretty.” I did write about organic recently, and how it’s distinguished from conventionally grown and produced foods.
They also stock a variety of other organic pantry items, including meats and plant-based proteins, that are either surplus stock or near the sell-by date. On things that aren’t “raw,” like baking powder or salt, that’s probably safe. Meat out of date probably isn’t, but you knew that already.
Think about this the next time you go to your local grocer. Whether it’s HEB, Randall’s, Kroger or Food Town for my Texas readers, or Rouses, Winn-Dixie, or Walmart for my non-Texas readers, look at all the lovely produce that’s pretty and perfect. It’s especially true in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and The Fresh Market. Few if any irregularities exist in the avocados, apples, limes, lettuce, tomatoes, and zucchini, much less any other produce.
So, what happens to the veg that isn’t as pretty? Chances are it’s discarded and becomes landfill waste. Even though it’s of the same nutritional quality as the aesthetically and cosmetically perfect veg, it’s tossed out. But if you’re going to cut them up and eat them, or cook them, or make guacamole anyway, what difference does it make? Apparently quite a bit.
An estimated 40% of fresh produce is discarded and goes to waste because it’s not cosmetically perfect. Why does this happen in uber-efficient America? Enter Misfits Market, and several other vendors like them.
Many grocers and suppliers donate to food pantries and charities that help people who are in need, This is frequently called “food insecurity,” or not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Neighbor E used to volunteer at a local food pantry in Clear Lake, packing boxes and helping with the grunt work. Local grocers donated all manner of things, including The Fresh Market (this was before they closed their Texas operations.) He was also gifted some nice things that were extra, some of which he kindly shared with me. I loved making coleslaw, since he, like BF, doesn’t like cabbage.
You’d think that all these growers and producers would be taking advantage of food pantries to gift food to those who need it. Unfortunately, most small farms and producers don’t have the logistics to get everything everywhere before it goes bad, especially on a weekly basis. That’s where companies like Misfits Market help people buy quality food that isn’t the most attractive.
Founded in 2018, they just published their first annual report. They just opened their Texas facility last June, which explains why we’re now able to buy a box. The company also supports hunger relief programs, putting their money where their mouth is, literally. I like that.
Amy’s First Order
When you sign up, you’ll see a variety of pre-selected produce in your cart that comes to the required minimum of $30. You can add, subtract, and edit what’s there, as long as it comes to at least $30 before you apply any discounts.
There was no way I wanted beets! So those were replaced with a salad bag, extra avocados, and one or two other items. You can “shop” the website’s “aisles” and select from other available produce, meats, and dry pantry items. (More on the meat order later.) I clicked the button, and I was charged the next day when it shipped—from San Antonio, or Fort Worth, I’m not quite sure. The FedEx app first showed SA, but later it was FW. So, it came from somewhere in Texas.
My first Misfits Market package arrived that Saturday. The delivery lady from FedEx said, “I see a lot of these.” So, it must be popular around these parts. I offered to open it so she could see the contents, but she didn’t have time. Thanking her, off she went.
BF was at work the moment I opened the box:
There was a lining in the box to help keep everything at cold temperatures throughout the 72-hour trip:
And the cold pack on top to continue the refrigeration:
I stashed that in the freezer to use later. Why not? Then I removed the top layer:
Not everything was wrapped in a package, but that’s OK. But everything on my list was in the box, like the purple sweet potatoes:
No kidding, those aren’t something left by Broc. . .I mean, Buddy the puppy. And Fuji apples:
A bag of carrots that maybe was too far gone:
Some sugar snap peas, another one of my favorites:
Organic, but not locally grown, like most of the produce in the US:
A bunch of avocados—a bag as well as two loose ones:
I’ll be enjoying avocado anything I want for a while. Guacamole, anyone? And some bagged salad:
I bought a similar bag of salad from Walmart the night before, and of course, HE wouldn’t eat any. “It doesn’t have Thousand Island Dressing on it,” he said. We had a bottle in the fridge, but he wasn’t budging. So, I enjoyed both myself, although not all at once.
They Didn’t Have Pears
I was supposed to get some Anjou pears, but they were out of stock. That’s OK, since it’s past pear season, and I knew that. I guess the website hadn’t been updated. The company refunded the $4.19 to my account. The company doesn’t substitute things and thank heavens—I would have tossed any beets that they sent.
I forget where I found it, but I also had a $15 discount code. I may have got it from Honey, since there was no benefit from Rakuten.
I drink limes all day long. What I mean by that is that I just stopped drinking iced tea in 2012, right after I left Boeing (long story and I still don’t.) Because I’d been adding limes instead of lemons to my iced tea for several years, I just kept drinking water with fresh lime and Sweet ‘N Low. Now I’m used to drinking this. It’s confusing to people here because I don’t drink Coke as BF does. I keep a small bowl of cut limes in the fridge all the time, on top of the iced coffee maker. Running out of limes is like BF running out of Coke or milk, it’s not a happy occasion.
But buying limes in Houston grocery stores isn’t the same as buying them in Central Louisiana. They’re expensive because lemons are more popular here. Good luck getting a slice of lime in a restaurant—IF you can get lemon, they bring a garnish slice. Only one Mexican restaurant gave me enough lime slices once, and it wasn’t the local establishment. With more Hispanic folks moving into the state, we may see more lime availability and better pricing.
Even though I’d bought a couple of bags in the prior week, I still ordered more from Misfits Market. I have enough to last a while. They’re different sizes, and still green, but will ripen in the fridge over time.
And, BTW, if you didn’t know—they sell limes green in this country so that people can tell the difference. Ripe limes are also yellow, but bright green when you cut into them. So, if you’re buying limes for juice, look for some that have a little yellow on them, or are kind of yellow. Those are ripe and juicy.
Cooking the Sweet Potatoes
Unlike BF, I prefer sweet potatoes without the stuff people add to it in the South—marshmallows, pineapples, etc. I think that baked, split, and served with melting butter and salt is good. But my favorite is the sweet potato French fries. I frequently buy sweet potatoes for this reason. They are usually locally grown, even in Winn-Dixie. BF knows someone who grows them, and we’ve both bought from the man and been gifted some. My new nickname for this man is “Mr. Sweet Potato Head.” (Well, I couldn’t resist.)
Make the sweet potato French fries: cut them, put them on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, drizzle a bit of olive oil on them, a bit of salt, toss, and bake at 400F for 40 minutes. If you have the convection setting on your oven, use it. You can also use an air fryer (Neighbor E now has a small one for himself.) Just don’t overdo it.
So I cut these little oddballs for the same purpose:
Did the same thing, cut, olive oil, and salt:
Baked them, and this is what happened:
If you burned them, how can you tell?
They tasted the same as the regular locally grown ones I buy. There is the novelty of the purple coloring, and they are organic. I did over-cook them a little bit because I didn’t take them out of the oven right away. Even though the countertop oven shuts itself off, it doesn’t cool right away, so they keep cooking for a bit. There was some burning, and the dogs enjoyed those. Or, as I call it, “Cajunizing.”
As I mentioned, the carrots looked a bit past it, but I wasn’t about to throw them away if there was some part that was useful.
Just to use up these carrots, I cooked deer roast in the Instant Pot last night with this recipe from Corrie Cooks.
First I cut the ends off and got to the “good part,” sampling them to make sure they didn’t taste bad:
Then cut them into smaller parts to put in the IP.
Instead of the fresh thyme, I substituted Everything But The Leftovers seasoning from Trader Joe’s, sold in the fall. It worked well in this dish. The seasoning is modeled on their very popular (and inexpensive) Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend and is quite good. BF really enjoyed the dear roast this time, so I must get more of that seasoning mix when it comes back around later in the year. If you can’t wait, you can find it on eBay, and of course, it’s also being sold on Amazon.
OK, so what are the good things about Misfits Market? First: it’s a great example of American-style capitalism. Find a need and fill it. They’ve done that well and grown in the process. Misfits Market delivers to nearly every zip code in the US. Amazingly, including ours.
For the organic consumer: you’re able to buy “not so perfect” organic produce and other products at a discount of as much as 40% off regular retail prices in exchange for getting the “not so pretty” agricultural products. Like those funny-looking purple sweet potatoes.
You choose everything in your shipment—there are no surprises.
They ship it right to your door. However, I haven’t compared prices to my local vendors, partly because organics aren’t widely available. Sure, I got some organic celery last week, but there isn’t enough availability here to do an apples-to-apples comparison. I do think the sugar snap peas were a good price at $3.45. (BF doesn’t like those, either.) If I were in Houston, I could compare it to HEB or Kroger and get a better idea.
The company uses eco-friendly packaging, which includes insulation made from recycled plastic bottles:
Unfortunately, we don’t live where curbside recycling is available. I’m not even sure where we can recycle this stuff. The box was nice enough to re-use in the house or burn with other paper waste. The lining? I’ll try to find a recycling place that takes it or use it for something else.
Making The Trip
Everything is packed to withstand a 72-hour trip from the packing facility to your door at a refrigerated temperature, and that lining helps. Understand that the contents may very well be a bit banged up on the trip. The box really shouldn’t sit out for long periods, particularly in warmer weather, even with the ice packs or cold packs. Bring it in as soon as you get it, if you can, to avoid spoilage. If you work away from home, it’s best to get your delivery on Saturday, if you’re going to be home, of course.
The bigger benefit is that that food that would get tossed out is re-sold. This offers healthy and high-quality food to a wider group of people who might not otherwise have it. By sourcing food that wouldn’t sell in a regular grocery store, it’s going to dinner tables instead of to landfills. By buying from Misfit Market, you’ll contribute to the fight against food waste in the US. You can read more about their mission to offer good food at better prices on their FAQ page. They discuss their sourcing here, and their farmer-to-customer process here.
Unfortunately, I’ve found Misfits Market’s website to be a bit wonky. Signing in is difficult and changing browsers doesn’t help. If you put the wrong password in, it keeps looping around to the login page. The site doesn’t tell you that the password was wrong. It took several tries on a different browser to access my account this afternoon.
Additionally, I can’t figure out how to go back to the “shop” function, but I guess it must be in the window of a shipment. In my case, the billing date is a Wednesday, and so I have until Tuesday at 10:45 pm to change the contents of the next box. On Wednesday morning, they charge me, and the shipment arrives on Saturday.
As I mentioned, the carrots disappointed me. A sharp knife made them salvageable.
While Misfits Market does claim to be 40% off regular retail, I haven’t really compared prices with local grocery stores. I wonder about buying groceries that are shipped and trucked from Fort Worth, TX all the way to central Louisiana. I’m not saying it’s a bad service—it isn’t, it’s actually a good idea that checks a lot of boxes. But is it socially responsible? Well, that’s kind of a conundrum—I don’t know if it’s better or not, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again.
Shipping was $6.99, so not too bad, and in addition to sales tax of $1.57 for Louisiana. The box went many miles to arrive at my door. Most produce is shipped from elsewhere into every grocery store in America, and I realize that. But Misfits Market also works directly with farmers and producers, bypassing grocery stores and bringing quality foods directly to America’s doorsteps, wherever they may be, helping to improve the food chain.
I’m thinking the Pros outweigh the Cons on this one, but that’s just me. If you’re considering ordering a Misfits Market box, may I suggest a little more reading so you can decide for yourself. Signup is free, but they do ask for a payment method.
Misfits Market is a weekly subscription service, so you must pay attention and cancel this week’s box if you don’t want it. (The company also offers the option to buy and donate a box of food to a family in need instead of buying the box for yourself.) Otherwise, they charge your card and you get another box of produce and things you weren’t ready for.
I’ve skipped this week’s order because I wanted to see what was in the first box before the next one. And I wanted to make sure I had the money for it, too. If you decide to order, be aware that you are signing up for regular weekly deliveries, and you have to cancel them manually. Should you not want to continue, you’ll have to cancel your subscription entirely.
Our Next Order
We’re planning a “meat box” for the next order to see what that’s like, probably next week. BF likes to cook breakfast for us, and that generally means bacon and eggs. Since bacon has been on the high side around here, I’d like to see what Misfits Market has in the way of bacon, ground beef, and other items. If we like it, we’ll buy some to stash in the freezer, right next to the Texas Tamales.
For meat, you must order a minimum of $30 “cold pack” items. That is, to make it cost-effective, certain items like meat and plant-based protein must come to the $30 minimum, which counts toward your overall $30 minimum. But if you order less than the $30 minimum of produce or other things, you’ll still need to order $30 of “cold pack” items to make the box. You could order more, of course. Just watch your total, which is easy on their web site’s shopping interface.
I’ll let you know about our “meat box” in a future blog post.
Until Next Time
No, BF wasn’t particularly impressed, even though most of the contents, if not all, were organic. He just doesn’t appreciate it when I buy organic for us. Oh, well. Maybe the meat box will give him a little more to look forward to next time.
If you want to try new things, or make your grocery shopping a little easier, Misfits Market might be a good thing for you. I do have a referral code if you want to try it, and you’ll receive a $10 discount on your first order. That code is COOKWME-GK3IAXCZOGR. Again, it’s a subscription service for weekly deliveries, not a one-time purchase like Amazon or other online retailers, so you can’t just order once and go back later.
You also choose what’s in your shipment so that there are no surprises, and you don’t get something you didn’t really want. Like beets. And they ship it right to your door.
More to come on this blog. Meantime, enjoy!!