Why recipes for one person? Because we all deserve to eat well even when we are on our own!
My grandmother was a fabulous cook and made everything that she put on the table for her husband and four children from scratch. She cooked and baked daily, and seasonally canned and froze produce for use later in the year. My grandfather was a meat, potatoes (or Yorkshire pudding) and two veg kind of a man and those were the building blocks around which my grandmother planned meals. My mother continued this cooking from scratch tradition, with the addition of a green salad with pretty much every meal and interest in (and access to) the ingredients for more cosmopolitan, international fare. Eventually, I continued this dining tradition with my son, and documented this culinary expression of maternal love via the quite intricate weekly menus and convoluted recipes that I posted for six years on my now defunct blog, On The Menu. I loved doing this but, since my son left for college, I have no interest in eating or preparing three-course meals for myself, or even (some nights) preparing proper meals at all. After nearly twenty years of cooking like I have, the burning (well...sort of) question is: how do I want to eat and cook now that I am on my own?
When my grandfather died, I was intrigued to see how my grandmother’s cooking style adapted to her new single life. By then, I had graduated college and lived on my own, more often than not my dinner was a salad assembled at the deli on my walk home from work, a piece of fruit, a container of yogurt, or a bag of Doritos; I couldn’t quite see the point of cooking just for myself, though I did host many a dinner party where I made elaborate meals. My grandmother, on the other hand, cooked a delicious dinner for herself every evening, though she soon did away with the strictures imposed upon her by my grandfather’s desire to eat in a certain way. Though this seemed a lot of palaver at the time, I enjoyed watching her cook with intent, making little treats for herself or effortlessly turning a small frying pan of just picked vegetables from the neighbor’s garden into something fragrant and buttery-delicious into which crusty bread demanded to be dipped.
My mother makes proper meals for herself even though she lives alone, planning ahead and working from a stocked pantry and a freezer full of items, such as soups and stews, that she has cooked in large quantities and portioned for future dinners for one person. This makes sense and is certainly something that I will keep in mind as I move forward in my quest to cook properly for myself as a new empty nester. I also have a friend, an excellent cook when hosting a dinner party, who lives alone and who makes a delicious vat of something every Sunday which she then eats throughout the week. Though this seems sensible and easy, and certainly good for the budget, this manner of cooking doesn’t speak to me, nor does the idea of becoming a "Sunday prepper" like another of my friends. She cooks proteins, vegetables and grains en-masse on Sunday afternoon and divvies them into individually portioned containers, whose contents she then mixes and matches into different lunch and dinner configurations of the same ingredients throughout the week. That being said, I do often find myself roasting all leftover veggies on Friday night as a fridge clear-out in anticipation of the arrival of new groceries on Saturday. This new habit contributes greatly to the quality of my lunches, with an occasional handful going into whatever dinner dish I feel lacks veggies.
I really do like to eat a variety of meals and to eat well, and I enjoy the creative outlet found in planning, making and plating meals. I therefore intend to document my efforts to adapt my love of cooking to my now empty nester's kitchen in order to keep myself accountable to proper eating habits. I hope that some of the ensuing recipes will whet your appetite, that you will want to try them for yourself, and that you will let me know what you think. I also hope that you will be kind enough to share what you make for yourself with me so that we can build a community of one person diners here and will be happy to repost any of your recipes that I recreate.
Contrary to my prior blog, On The Menu, which was all about intricate three-course dinners for my son based on the contents of our weekly CSA box, this new (to me, anyway) style of cooking for one will be less convoluted. Each meal will (as often as possible) get cooked in one pan and (for the most part) take less than thirty minutes from fridge to table, usually twenty as I am very often ravenous after work and want my dinner, not counting UNSUPERVISED long oven times for items such as stews. At the beginning of this blog I timed myself to prove that I was not wrong on times, and added how long it took to make a dish at the bottom of each recipe to prove my point. I soon stopped doing it as I found it took away from my pleasure in cooking. I have reverted to the 20 to 30 minute general rule and anything under 15 minutes has its own section -- enjoy! Last but not least, remember that the microwave (gasp!) is your friend when cooking for one, especially fish!
To get started with a chronological look at all recipes posted so far, please click the button below.