The cold that was making me so miserable has gone, but as a final hangover it's left me in a bit of a reading slump. I'm struggling to concentrate on anything longer than a newspaper article so at the moment Knitting in front of old films is more appealing than picking up a book. I hope this changes soon, meanwhile I've got some cookbooks to look at which feel like a good half way measure.
I bought Solo a couple of weeks ago because it's full of the sort of good I ought to be reading, rather than the food I am eating, and because I don't really enjoy cooking for one.
The thing nobody tells you (or maybe they did and I just forgot it) is how young you are when you start to get old. Since hitting my forties a lot of things have changed; I'd never had indigestion before a miserable day last year, now I've had it twice! I react differently to sugar, and to bread, reheated food disagrees with me - everything takes more thought, the days of eating whatever I feel like whenever I feel like it are behind me. My partner has a whole different set of dietary do's and don'ts (auto correct tried to change don'ts to donuts which has a nice irony to it) which also makes things interesting.
In short, cooking which I've always found a pleasure, has increasingly become a chore when it's just for me, and I'm hoping that some of Johansen's enthusiasm will help me readdress that. Cooking for others is easier - recipes are so often family sized 4-6 people, or more and sizing down isn't always easy (and there's the pleasure and praise of the people you share the food with to motivate you). It's not just recipes which are family size either, a lot of pre packed meat, fish, and veg, and pre packed is often the only choice you can find, comes in larger sizes than one person needs or wants.
The recipe which sold me the book is for Scallops and Sherry. Scallops are expensive, they're also quick to cook. I don't know why I'd not really considered them the perfect treat for one before, but they are. You only need a few, and what nicer thing to cook for yourself, assuming you like scallops as much as I do? The same is true of mussels, I cook them for 2 quite often, but never just for myself, but if I'm getting them from the market getting half a kilo isn't a problem. I'm on the fence about cauliflower, but willing to be convinced that roasting it will change my feelings about it, and so it goes on. There are things I know I'll like here, things I know I will try, and beetroot yoghurt which I won't.
The chapters break down into light bites and things on toast, easy weeknight suppers, one pan wonders, make ahead, salad mezze and tapas, simple pleasures, lazy weekends, and sweet things. The flavours are of the bold, clean, fresh kind that I associate with Johansen, but the main appeal of this book is her hope that you'll consider it as a sisterly companion in the kitchen, and thatblike any good sister she encourages you to take care of yourself, reminds you that you're worth the effort, and is reasonable on the subject of buying a tin of soup when you really can't be bothered.
It's a perfect book if you're customarily cooking for one, or two, people. Sizing up is much easier than sizing down, if you're cooking for more, and I just really like it's attitude (that's the recipe for crêpes cherry jubilee talking).
I would be very interested in this, as a solo cook myself, especially if it has quick recipes (for weeknights - sometimes when I get home I can hardly manage toast and an egg). I don't know if it will be available in the US, though I did see a GBBO cookbook at the library. Luckily there's Book Depository.ReplyDelete
It does, it's just generally a really nice book with a lot of good stuff in it, all with thecquantities geared to cooking for 1. It definitely understands that sometimes it's hard to find the energy. I like that with a loaf cake it tells you how long it keeps rather than how many slices it makes too. It's a funny thing really, given that for most of our lives we cook for one or two that so many cookbooks are geared towards much larger numbers.Delete
I think the computer ate my comment! I hear you about food weirdiness in your forties, it's really annoying.ReplyDelete
There used to be no cookery books that catered to single people (Delia's One is Fun being the exception) - maybe that's changed since I'd have thought there was a good market for them.
I've seen a few old ones - like the Delia, but they've never really appealed to me. I don't know why it's been such a gap in the market really - or why so few books have recipes geared towards 2 people either. More of us live alone than ever, but even if you have a family you're only likely to be eating together for a relatively few years before it's back to 2 again.Delete
The food weirdness is annoying, and frankly not something I was expecting. It feels like half the repertoire of recipes I spent the last 30 years acquiring are useless to me now (it's not quite that bad, but getting there). Never mind, I just need to learn some new ones.
RE: scallops - I remember how my BIL (who likes his food) would buy steak in a big chunk when my sister was away, and just slice off a one-person-steak every day for himself while she was gone. Good meat like that doesn't have to be such a rare treat when you're on your own, provided you don't overindulge. :)ReplyDelete
You're right, it doesn't, I just hadn't realised how much I'd absorbed an 'it's not worth it for one' kind of attitude, and also how little we really seem to talk about cooking for one - what are we all eating when nobody else is watching?Delete
I also find it annoying that supermarkets do seem to realise that many people (I think its now 30%) live alone, and most food is packaged for couples and families. Even single portion meals are man-sized, and more than I would eat if I had a choice. This could be contributing to the obesity epidemic.ReplyDelete
We have a decent market with a few butchers and fishmongers in town, so if I can get there it's great because I can buy mince, chops, mussels, whatever it might be, in suitable quantities for one (a single chicken breast from there is half the price of the supermarket, and much less packaging too). But unfortunately I can only shop there on the one day off a week that isn't Sunday. I'm sick of the amount of prepackaged food I have to buy in bigger quantities than I want through lack of choice - it means there's almost always something going past it's best in the fridge (at the moment it's an uninspiring leek) then there's all the times ready meals provide the cheaper, trouble free, and actually less packaging, option which feels wrong too. There are a lot of us cooking for one - we deserve better!Delete
Count me in as a solo cook too. Well, not so much cook but one who toasts a lot. My appetite has diminished greatly over the years and can now manage only a small starter sized plate and even then, sometimes, can't eat it all. I also think that medication plays a part in what I now feel is palatable - I cannot stomach minced meat for example, yet that is what I cooked most in the early years of my marriage. Tinned fish is one of my staples now. I shall investigate this book, it might be just what I need, thank you.ReplyDelete
It's worth a look to see f it tempts you. Portion size is an issue, even when it comes to buying loose ingredients- which is when toast suddenly starts to look so good... I get fed up with eating different versions of the same thing for days on end. This book has been a bit of a lightbulb moment for me in wondering why solo cooks are so often badly served.Delete