Friday, October 19, 2012


When I begin preaching about how people should eat more whole foods, I am often hit with opposition as people explain to me that they just don’t have the time to make healthy meals. Enter scratchDC into the picture. This new company, founded by Ryan Hansan, an entrepreneur, is providing fresh, locally sourced organic ingredients already prepped and ready to cook along with the recipes that make it all come together. It is a novel concept that is emerging at a great time in DC as employment rates are up and people are truly busy.

The genesis of the idea came out of Ryan's own frustration in the kitchen.  He was a busy college student with a refrigerator full of beer and tomato sauce. If he wanted to make a good meal, he'd trek to the grocery store, find a whole bunch of fresh ingredients, and spend all night in the kitchen only to have a lot of ingredients, e.g., parsley, left over that eventually went bad. He thought there had to be a better way and the result is scratchDC.

Here’s how it works: a different meal is offered Monday – Thursday that you can order either a week in advance or for those last-minute procrastinators, each day anytime up until 9:30 p.m. Yes, they deliver the same day. Sometimes they offer a vegan meal, but, unfortunately, it won’t be every day or even every week, but when they do, you should snag it. I had the opportunity to try the Vegan Habanero Sweet Potato Patties in a Spinach Coconut Callaloo Sauce and I’m so glad I did.

Ryan Hansan delivered the order to my home at the time I requested. (For delivery areas in DC, click here.) It was a cute brown box tied with twine – I felt like I had just gotten a present. I took it upstairs and tore it open. I must admit that it was a bit intimidating as I pulled out container after container. I mean, I cook some complicated meals, but I don’t do so on a weeknight. This was test to see if this is something you can reasonably make on a weeknight and I was up for the challenge.

Inside, was a sheet called, “What’s in my bundle,” which described each ingredient and where each one was from. For example, the organic sweet potatoes were from Sunrise Ridge Organics in Kirkwood, PA while the organic spices were from Vanns in Baltimore, MD.

On the other side of the sheet was the recipe in 14 steps. At the top, it included the types of pots or pans you would need. It also specified that you’d need mouths and appetites. Cute. But, this isn’t where the cuteness stopped… The first instruction was “Hi there, we’re scratchDC and we’re so glad to be cookin with you tonight! Put on your tastebelts because it’s time to head to deliciousville.” Well, okay then.

I started off by making the sauce that consisted of coconut milk, spinach, habanero peppers, red peppers, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and onions. This simmered for 25 minutes.

Then, I spread the sweet potatoes that were already marinated in olive oil, allspice, cumin, thyme, chili flakes, salt, and pepper onto a sheet pan along with the garlic cloves and roasted them for 20 minutes. They even provided the aluminum foil.

About 10 minutes later, I cooked the habanero pepper and spring onion mix in a different pan. There was a lot going on here at once!

When the potatoes and garlic were done, I put them in a bowl along with the onions and habaneros and mashed it together along with the lime zest and coriander mix to form patties that I then fried.

To plate, I put a couple patties on a plate and drowned them in the callaloo sauce. It made 6 patties so there was enough for 2-3 people. The final step number 14 stated, “Welcome to vegan heaven. Rave about us to your friends, family, co-workers, pets, etc. and order again soon.” Ha! We dug in and absolutely loved the dish.

I was so impressed that they actually used habaneros as most companies assume that people don’t like things that spicy. Zach and I can take the heat and we really enjoyed this dish. It was bursting with flavor. From the perfectly spiced patties to the robust coconut milk-based sauce, there was more flavor in this dish than you would ever expect.

In the end, it took about 35 minutes to prepare so only 5 minutes longer than the directions specified -- perfect for a weeknight meal. Overall, I was really impressed with the timely home delivery, the detailed instructions, and the meal itself. For $21, I think it is priced well as I’m not even sure one could buy all of these organic ingredients for that price. And the service is great -- there is even a phone number you can call if you get stuck and want to ask questions about the dish! I predict this new business will need to expand soon to be able to accommodate the demand for their fresh, organic meals. And maybe if the demand is there, they’ll start offering vegan meals weekly! So, order yours today. You'll be glad you did.

(Disclaimer: I was not paid by this company – I am just very enthusiastic about it!)

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