I find the hardest part of cooking for one (besides the utter loneliness) is amounting for food. Somehow I always purchase too much. Because I hate waste and have no dollars, I make sure to store all my food in a way that minimizes waste and maximizes convenience. Recently I bought a ton of vegetables right before going to Los Angeles for a long weekend; opting not to come home to rotten food I julienned everything, froze it, and am still enjoying carrots, asparagus, and zucchini. Similarly, if I have herbs that are on their way out I blend them with butter. Rotten bananas are reborn as bread and so forth. I don’t throw stuff out.
For me, it is essential to have food prepped ahead of time. If I don’t feel like cooking, there is no one else to do it for me. Take-out is amazing on occasion but it’s certainly not something that would satisfy my mind, body, spirit, and wallet on the regular. Cleaning and breaking down produce when I buy it feels annoying but saves my ass later on. Bagged lettuce is a rip-off and spoils faster; I buy romaine, cut it, wash it, and bag it.
Eating lunch on the go is also something I hate to do. Fortunately I worked in sandwich shops for a couple of years and am skilled at brown bagging it. For vegetarian lunch: clean and cut seasonal vegetables, broil or sauté with salt & pepper; use in pasta, omelets, and veggie wraps. For chicken: boil in salted water until cooked, drain, and shred; use in tacos, chicken salad, and quesadillas. Condiments will save you from boredom: pesto keeps forever when covered with a layer of olive oil, mash some chickpeas with oil and flavorings for humus (it’s not difficult), blend canned chipotles in adobo with mayo. Always pack yourself a cookie- you deserve it!
Something that I grapple with as a sommelier-in-training and single person is wine waste. I open bottles for myself and can’t drink them fast enough. I keep some around for cooking and pour the rest down the drain. I am trying to feel less guilty about the latter.
I think what’s so painful for me about cooking, eating and drinking alone lately is that I miss my family. Those are things that I have always shared with them and they continue to share with each other on the east coast. Even though we talk about it on the phone and video chat, it’s not the same. We don’t have the same wine available on each coast and my mom can’t ship me her new favorite homemade ice cream. When I sit down to a single table setting and glass of wine from a bottle I can’t finish my heart aches for New York. Then I remember that I am in beautiful San Francisco, doing my own thing, and missing them doesn’t ruin my love of food and drink, and cooking soothes my soul.
Below are some things I ate and drank alone this week…
RECIPES FOR GROUND TURKEY
Meatballs and a “Juicy Lucy”:
Combine ground turkey, chopped fresh fennel & parsley, red chili flakes, and garlic in a bowl. Pull out enough for a burger patty. To make a “Juicy Lucy” form a burger patty, make an indentation in the center and fill with white cheddar, form patty so cheese is enclosed in meat, pan sear until cooked through. With remaining meat mixture: add an egg and some breadcrumbs. Form meatballs and cook all of them. Store half in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.
Fennel fronds grow naturally in San Francisco (as does rosemary). I found this on the sidewalk. Take that NY.
2010, Torrontes, Argentina, Crios. Clear with a pale gold core and translucent rim. Clean with med+ intensity and youthful aromas of honeydew melon, lemon/lime zest, and tropical fruit salad. Dry, med+ acidity, moderate alcohol, flavors of honeydew, lemon rinse, and white peach. Good quality, drink now.
This wine paired well with the turkey burger. The freshness of the herbs complimented the crisp fruit aromas and flavors of the wine.
BREAKFAST IN BED
Banana Oat Pancakes:
Mix 2/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, pinch salt, cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine 6 oz milk, 1 egg, and 2 tbsp oil. Combine wet and dry ingredients with 1 sliced banana, leaving the mixture lumpy. Heat non-stick skillet over medium flame. Test skillet by flicking water on it. The water droplets should dance and disappear in a matter of seconds. Spoon batter onto skillet and flip when edges brown and pancake bubbles. Make yourself a short stack and store the rest of the batter in the fridge. Eat in bed with a cappuccino the size of your face and watch Netflix.