Sunday, 18 November 2018

Cooking for one

When our children started moving from home, it took us a long time to adjust the amount of consumed food. I remember huge pots of pasta, family packs of meatballs and fish fingers, enormous pans of mince-meat sauce, fruit bowls emptied within an hour. With just the two of us, we obviously did less shopping, cooked smaller meals and also used more fresh ingredients rather than ready-made. Still, it's remarkable how difficult it is to calculate a meal for one. Even when I buy what looks to me like small packages, it always turns out to be too much. I can never cook the right portion of pasta. If I cook beans or lentils I always end up with twice as much as I need. I know exactly what you are thinking now: save the leftovers and freeze. That's what I am learning to do. It's hard for someone not used to it. Moreover, I am learning to cook various things over the weekend, to use later. I like vegetable cream soups, so I steam two courgettes, a butternut squash, five carrots, a celeriac, and freeze them in separate bags. Then I take as much as I need from each bag for just one bowl of soup.

Some of you are laughing now: what's the big deal, that's what normal people do. But I am not normal. I have never had a 9-5 job, and the past ten years I would come home with hot dinner waiting on the table. Planning a week of meals for one feels alien to me. Yet it would be below my dignity to eat the same pasta with mushroom sauce seven days a week. OK, go on laughing. Changing habits at my age is challenging.

By serendipity, soon after I moved to Gatehouse I read an article about cooking for one. The point is exactly the same I am making: your food doesn't have to be boring just because you are cooking for yourself. And there are some useful tips. I particularly like the one about keeping onion fresh by using the outer skin layers.

That's a strike of genius! I am doing it now, because I only need a quarter of an onion at a time. I do the same with cabbage.

If I by mistake cook more than I can consume, I freeze it, even if it is just half a cup: I can always have it as a starter.

I eat very little meat, mostly when I have lunch in college, and then I still try to choose fish. Since I moved to Gatehouse I haven't had any meat and only cooked chicken once. Chicken fillets usually come in twos, so again I had to freeze half of it. But it is convenient to have a nice meal in the freezer. (More laughter from you, dear reader).

I have no oven, so some dishes that I used to cook are now out of bounds, such as baked fish.

I am also spoiled by fifteen years with induction hobs, so I have not quite grasped how an ordinary hob works. Takes some time to heat and some time to cool. No built-in timer. I know, very first-world problems.

This is what I had for lunch today: beetroot soup. If you think having a bagel with soup is weird, that's not my concern. 

1 comment:

Christina said...

Your meal looks delicious! What's not to like with good bread along a hearty soup?