Cooking at Home. Alone.

Since I’ve been working from home (pause while I let you know I started my own business, Socialize Me) one of my favorite parts of the day is cooking myself a small, simple lunch. There are a lot of cooking lessons I’m learning from making a daily meal for one and I’m enjoying every second of my education from them.

Despite everyone’s wild dreams about how much I must eat out (I hear all the time about it) I cook a fair amount at home. Dinners that I cook tend to have multiple components, be adventurous, they are a way to try making dishes I normally get at a restaurant. Last night we had garlic crusted fish with chard and fideos (little noodles) in spicy broth. We make almost everything from scratch, curing meats, making cheese, baking bread. Even my easy-out meal tends to be a stir-fry where I need every little component perfectly ready before I start.

Lunch since I’ve been at home all day is a different animal. First of all, I’m working, so I can’t spend my usual hour or more in front of the stove. Second of all, I don’t have too much interest in meat (I don’t think a single lunch that I’ve cooked has involved any), as it is heavy and I have to keep working afterward. Lastly, I’m cooking for one, so I tend to make a single component meal, involving my starch, protein and vegetable all at once.

One of my first meals was an eggplant curry, similar to this meaty version. A dish like this I would normally serve over rice, possibly with a cilantro salad on the side. Instead, at lunch, I simply chopped up a potato and threw it in to be my starch.

Another trick is to serve things to myself in tortillas or on bread or crackers. Tortillas are easy and quick to make and you can keep them frozen almost forever. The other day I opened a can of sardines, scrambling eggs with them in the oil from the can. I topped it off with lovely pepperoncini oil, a gift I’d been given from Italy, a little sherry vinegar for acid and some parsley from the garden. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t complete until I wrapped it in a soft corn tortilla.

Each day I start over again at noon. Open the cabinet, search for inspiration, allow the ingredients to talk to me. Cooking like this requires agility, a willingness to stop after the first bite and rummage for that tortilla, to look around and think about what will come together quickly and easily. For me, this is the perfect foil to my usual cooking and to the restaurant meals I have.

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3 Responses

  1. Hey Gastrognome, you mentioning opening the cabinet and deciding what to make reminds me of something.

    My friend Kate and I once went to class called the Urban Kitchen. It was all about “You’re an urbanite and don’t have tons of time to shop and cook, so what are the essentials you need.” Ends up the class was a total letdown and schooled us on how to make dinner for 20 but didn’t deliver on what it promised.

    So what are the essentials in your pantry that allow you to make a variety of meals? I like to cook but I’m often unprepared. I did recently figure out that having chicken broth on hand is always great, but it’s taking me all my life to figure this out. What else?

    Kinda a long question, maybe the subject of a future blog post? 🙂

    Anyway, hope your day is going well.

  2. […] One Person Pantry: 20 Essentials for Single Cooking When I posted my love letter to cooking for one, my friend Misty asked an intriguing question: What foods/staples do you keep in your pantry to be […]

  3. […] I posted my love letter to cooking for one, my friend Misty asked an intriguing question: What foods/staples do you keep in your pantry to be […]

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