“Another advantage to cooking for yourself is that you have only yourself to please.” –
, from The Pleasures of Cooking for One Judith
In my lifetime, I’ve had ample opportunities to cook just for myself or one other person. As a single woman in my 20s, a meal was often pre-packaged and microwaved, or from a take-out container. As a divorced food writer in my 40s, I learned to adjust my favorite family-sized meals to satisfy my needs. As The Picky Eater’s wife, I followed those same adjustments, allowing for meals sized for two instead of one. Now, as a widow, I’m once again cooking for myself.
In my experience, the freezer is my best friend for one-or two-person cooking. It allows me to prepare favorite dishes, such as this Baked Ziti, and divide it into smaller containers to bake for future meals. If I have leftovers, I’ll divide them into individual portions to freeze. For example, a turkey dinner’s leftovers can become a quick microwave TV dinner when divided and frozen in individual containers. Leftover pies and cakes can be cut into single servings, lined up on a baking sheet, and frozen until solid. Then pop the frozen pieces into a freezer-safe container or bag, and dessert is ready anytime!
Also important is having a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. This gives me the freedom to follow my meal-time cravings without resorting to processed or take-out food. The
book mentioned above is full of great
pantry suggestions, as well as teaching readers how to take one ingredient,
such as a pork loin, and create multiple meals. (FYI: Judith
Jones is the editor who put Judith
Jones ’s Mastering
the Art of French Cooking out for the world to enjoy.) Julia
Perhaps the best thing about cooking for one is, as Jones said, you have no one to please but yourself. Dinner can range from a full meal to just cheese, bread and fruit—whatever fits your appetite at the time.
One of my favorite simple meals is Jones’s Welsh Rabbit. The name can be confusing since rabbit is not an ingredient. Instead, this is a simple meal of a rich cheese sauce poured over toasted bread. You can use either beer or wine in the dish, as well as your favorite melting cheese. In this case, I used an ale with some gruyere.
Adapted from The Pleasures of Cooking for One by
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons beer, ale or white wine
1 egg yolk
A pinch of dry mustard
5 or 6 drops Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Pinch of salt
2 ounces grated cheese of choice (cheddar,
or any good melting cheese)
1 slice toasted bread
Melt the butter in a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the beer, egg yolk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Stir until the sauce becomes slightly thick. Stir the cheese a small handful at a time, making sure each addition is melted before adding more. Pour over the toasted bread and serve.