Cooking for one is great if you like leftovers, have a dog, entertain often, have another single friend who loves to eat and who loves your cooking or, in the worst case scenario, you like eating large portions.
Otherwise it sucks.
Having recently found myself a new member in the Cooking for One Club, I find myself in the category of liking leftovers. My friends are scattered about the globe and my neighbor is an outstanding cook in her own right and needn’t be intruded on by my culinary creations . . . well, at least not yet.
My family origin is Eastern European and we live to cook and feed others. Our recipes do not serve 4 or 6, they serve the masses. Imagine a large pot of heaven for all who stop by with plenty of leftovers for the week.
I remember asking my mother for her stuffed cabbage recipe and she began with “four heads of cabbage, six pounds of ground chuck” etc., etc. I had to laugh out loud as I was simply trying to make enough for two people. She had no idea how to make it for two people and I had to take the recipe, as she knew it, and get a calculator out to reduce the amounts accordingly. All in all, it was a wonderful mother-daughter moment and certainly an insight into the remainder of her recipes I would eventually obtain.
If I don’t join the Cooking for One Club I will be forced to join the Eating Out To Much Club or worse, the Eating Out Alone Club. This will be evident to all as in a short time I will have to ask for a table for two (me and my big ass) and only then will it ultimately lead to the My Clothes Are Too Tight Club.
Cooking for one is a test of my ability to buy and cook the right ratio of food without making waste. It also tests my love of cooking and the amount of time, effort and worth involved. Not to mention I always enjoy being observed by others while I cook, that includes my dog Lulu who never misses a chance to act as a faithful sous-chef (and floor cleaner). She is enamored by skills. Oh how I loved to be watched in my kitchen displaying my knife skills with a handicap of nine fingers (see now you want to watch) and the ability to execute a meal with ease.
My menus as of late have confused my friends who cannot believe I would possibly take the time to prepare chicken chili over rice with creme fraisch and cilantro, entrecote with a mushroom wine reduction sauce or linguine with pancetta and peas tossed in a lemon butter sauce. They themselves are not cooking such creations for their households of two or more.
Fortunately, I don’t anticipate a lifetime membership in the Cooking for One Club. For the time being, I’ll embrace it to ensure my culinary skills don’t dwindle to dangerous zones which could result in an over-abundance of oven burns, shredded knuckles on a micro-plane or worse, chopping off a finger tip with my chef’s knife all because I refused membership.
So, as much as cooking for one sucks, it does test my innate urge to produce for the masses, sharpens my math skills to reduce recipes to single serving portions (with some leftovers) and keeps me from eating out too frequently. Not to mention, preparation of small portions should also keep me from joining the dreaded My Clothes Are Too Tight Club.
I’d love to hear advice and experience from others. What cooking and food storage techniques do you use? What recipes work best? Do share.