I live with a roommate and her two cats, but for most purposes I live alone. She and I get along fine, and share our space and pantry amicably, but I end up cooking for myself a lot. Cooking for one can be rewarding and frustrating – halving or quartering recipes can be tricky, trying to figure out if extras will freeze so I’m not eating the same soup for ten straight meals, doing all the shopping and chopping and carrying gallons of milk to my third floor apartment. I was grateful for Thanksgiving with family in no small part because all I have to bring is cheesecake, but I’m still getting a belly full of delicious food that I didn’t have to make for myself (and in no way resembles a recent night’s “feast” of a box of Stouffer’s frozen mac & cheese and two servings of tater tots).
Most days I do pretty well. I try to stock up on frozen veggies when there’s a sale to I have healthy options most nights, I’ve mastered about a dozen yummy egg dishes, and I can be pretty happy with a baked potato or spaghetti-butter-cheese on nights when dirtying multiple pans seems exhausting. And yet, there are definitely days when I want something more interesting but am completely lacking in inspiration.
Into the breach steps Judith Jones’ “The Pleasures of Cooking for One.” Most famous as the publisher responsible for Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” Jones is an accomplished food writer in her own right. After her husband passed away in 1996, she’s been cooking for herself, and this book shows she hasn’t lost an iota of her taste. She scales down “real” recipes, for meals like stew and souffle, so they can be enjoyed once or twice without leaving the chef with a week’s worth of leftovers. Lighter, quick meals are also suggested, along the lines of traditional salads or omelettes. She provides strings of recipes featuring the same ingredient, so cooks can take advantage of sales or bargains without eating the same food for an entire week.
I read a small pile of cookbooks for one person recently, and this was definitely my favorite – the most practical but also the best looking recipes. Recommended!