Thursday, August 25, 2011

table for one

image via

There's a particular culinary phenomenon that only occurs with us single folks: not wanting to go to the trouble of cooking only for ourselves.  Working in churches, I often chat with wonderful women who cooked all the time for most of their lives, but now that it's just them, they don't want to cook anymore.  This makes sense in a lot of's certainly fun to cook for someone and eating alone can be a daunting thing after being so used to company at mealtimes.  There are also people a bit closer to my age who just happen to be single and find cooking to be way too much trouble and recipes only geared for family cooking (i.e. "serves 4-6").  

To both groups of people, I share a bit of wisdom from my great friend Ashley.  We were having a discussion (via text, actually...which is sometimes my generation's version of a heart-to-heart), and I was saying that I was cleaning house for my friend coming to visit.  I commented that I only seem to really clean when I have a friend coming over.  She concurred, and then said something profound: "I wish I'd be my own friend and clean just for myself!"  As minister-folk tend to say, "that'll preach!"  

The same could be said of cooking.  Yes, it's a lot of effort to tailor recipes to a single portion. Yes, eating alone can be lonely and cooking can remind you of that fact.  Yes, it can be more rewarding to cook for others than ourselves.  But, you know what?  You're worth cooking for, all by your lonesome.  So, I encourage those of you who find yourselves flying solo, embrace it.  Be your own friend, cook things only you like and make any regular weeknight special by treating yourself to a nice homemade meal. 

 I'll share my craving and creation tonight.  It's really simple.  As my random stream-of-consciousness would have it, it rained today, which of course reminded me of Belfast.  I immediately craved tea and through a Facebook chat with a friend over in that wee dote of a town, champ was suggested for dinner.  Champ is a staple of Irish cooking with (you guessed it), potatoes.  It's essentially mashed potatoes with lots of scallions.  But that thought reminded me of something I would make on particularly rainy, sleepy nights in Belfast.  I would simply make some divine mashed potatoes with whatever yummy vegetables in them I felt like.  (It helped that a green grocer stand was seconds from my door.)  I'd also add a bit of bacon or proscuitto.  I'd call that mashed masterpiece a meal, get a glass of wine and be all set for a little solo supper.  Today's rain awoke that memory in me and so I decided to make it.

Broccoli looked great at my grocery store (and you can buy broccoli in one teeny head: very solo-dining friendly).  I also used a small onion, 3 potatoes (Yukon gold I think) and 3 cloves of garlic. *A little tip on produce purchasing, especially if you're just cooking for you: it's nearly always cheaper to buy loose produce than the pre-bagged/packaged stuff.  And let's be honest, do you really need a 5 lb bag of potatoes?

Having procured my produce, I trimmed up my little trees nicely...

And sliced my halved onion...

...and tossed them with the garlic, some evoo and salt and pepper.  I roasted it, turning every 5 min or so, for 20 minutes at 400ºF/204ºC.

Here the veggies are all golden and roasted.  Try to resist eating them all right off the baking sheet (though, when I roast brussels sprouts, they rarely all make it to the plate from the baking sheet!).

While those veggies were roasting, I chopped the potatoes in large pieces (I never peel potatoes when making mashed potatoes...I like the skin on them).  I boiled them for about 15 minutes, until fork-tender. 

I drained the potatoes and then returned them to the hot pot for a few minutes, so all the extra water evaporated (soggy, gluey mashed potatoes are no way to treat a friend, and remember, you're you're friend).

I mashed 'em up...

...adding 3T of butter and about 1/3 cup of milk (but adjust as needed to get them as creamy as you want them).  Now, dreamy fluffy mashed potatoes with roasted veggies in them are divine just on their own.  But, I tend to think that bacon makes everything better.

I crumbled two slices of bacon.  Mmm.

Then, I added the roasted veggies, bacon and a combination of smoked gouda and parmesan (as much as you like, whatever cheese you happen to have) to my mashed potatoes and incorporated it all together until it was one cute little pot of love-yourself-happy.  It made enough for a generous serving for me and leftovers for another meal (it's fantastic as leftovers, I promise!).

All it needed was a nice little pat of butter melting silkily on top...

...and a crisp pinot grigio to wash it down with!  Now, that's a way to dine solo, friends.

Bon appetit,


  1. I recently made Eggplant Parmesan just for myself. It took forever (or seemed like), but it was fun to sit down and eat it and then put the other servings into individual portions for future lunches and dinners. "Freezes beautifully" - (line from Steel Magnolias.)

    My sisters and I were together last weekend and we made it together. They raved about it.

    I tend to make a dinner salad at night with spring greens, steamed vegetables, feta cheese and a dressing of evoo, dijon mustard and lemon juice. Some toasted walnuts on top are good, too.

    Your potatoes sounds yummy - I will definitely try that. The roasted vegetables look so good, too.

  2. Eggplant parmesan sounds good! Did you use a recipe? (Share if you did.) I have a good friend in Birmingham (who's the original Steel Magnolia and she freezes everything!

    I like your salad idea, too. Feta's not something I eat a lot, but I think I just need to get used to it. What veggies do you steam?

    Hope you've had a great weekend, Lynn!