November 30, 2007

Alone in the Kitchen

Earlier this year, I read Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. It's a collection of essays about cooking & eating alone, the things people only cook for themselves. So, it made me think about the things I make when I'm alone.

My solo cooking is often repetitive...I'll find something I really like, then cook it again and again...for months at a time. After a while I'll stop cooking it all together. Like potatoes and eggs. For such a long time, I ate that almost everyday for either breakfast or lunch. It was nearly ritualistic. I'd pour frozen hash browns (the chunky kind, not the shredded kind) into a dry, non-stick pan and cook them until they thawed. Then, I'd drizzle them with olive oil. When they were brown and crunchy, I'd sprinkle them with Emeril's seasoning & dump them onto a plate. That got topped with a couple of eggs, over-easy. I mixed it all together before eating it.

Of course, that was before I did South Beach for about a year. Now, potatoes & eggs are a rare treat.

Another dish I'd make a lot was pasta with peas: frozen peas sauteed in butter with herbs de provence, then poured over spiral noodles & topped with parm.

I've also gone through a toasted pumpernickel & cheese phase, a buttered noodles phase, a white rice with soy sauce phase, a saltines with mustard and cheese slices phase, a ramen noodles phase (I'd boil water with the seasoning packet, crush up the noodles, then add them to the broth, turn of the heat, & let sit for 5 minutes), a hard-boiled egg phase (with the yolks slightly undercooked), and this summer a fried eggplant phase.

My favorite solo meal, though, is a soup-for-one that I call Bean & Greens: In a medium saucepan, saute a small onion (chopped) in some olive oil with a bit of fresh garlic, then add a can of reduced-sodium chicken broth, a can of cannellini beans, (I also sometimes add a handful of whole-wheat macaroni when the broth boils), and either a handful of spinach or a small chopped zucchini. The soup gets topped with grated parm. It's quick & makes just enough for one big hearty bowl.

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