The Joy of Dining Solo

I love to eat with friends and family.  I love to mmm and sigh along with fellow foodie companions at the dinner table.  I love to ask “how is your hummus wrap?” and I love to be asked the same in return. 

I love it. 

However, there’s also something special to be said for dining solo.  The pleasure of not having to cook for anyone but yourself.  The joy of adding your favorite ingredients without a care for what anyone else would think.  The sheer giddiness of going against the rules and mixing together ingredients that food critics would scoff at.  And seeing the result of your imagination (which, by the way, doesn’t have to look pretty unless of course you want it to).

Step #1: I felt like a kid in the kitchen today, as I threw random ingredients together into a pan, not entirely knowing what the end result would come out to be.

1/4 cabbage + 1 carrot, shredded…tossed in a frying pan with a splash of water to aid in the steaming process

Step #2: I had some leftovers that were in dire need of being used, as they were officially on their last leg two days ago.  They joined the pan after the cabbage had been adequately wilted down.

1 c. leftover brown rice + frozen peas, 1/2 c. black beans, 2 egg whites, cumin, and lots of garlic powder

Step #3: I let the egg white bind together the ingredients and cooked the mix for a good 5 minutes or so.  Then I plated it and ate it at my own pace while sitting on the floor of the deck.  Because that’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do when you’re dining solo.

I wouldn’t expect you to recreate this meal, but I would love it if you’d take the time to dine solo at least once within the next week.  Take your time.  Make whatever suits your fancy.  Eat wherever you want to eat.  Have fun in your kitchen and don’t take it too seriously.  And, of course, if you have family that requires that you really can’t dine solo, deem one night as experimental night.  It’s okay if your family has the pizza barn’s number close at hand as they peek cautiously over your shoulder.  Just have fun experimenting in your kitchen!

Question: Do you enjoy dining solo once in a while?  Do you like to experiment in the kitchen?

Comfort in the Kitchen

Cooking is such a comforting activity for me.  It doesn’t matter if I’m whisking an egg or chopping a crisp green bell pepper.  Once the apron is on, I slowly meld into a feeling of complete bliss.  Comfort. 

And there’s something even more special about making a big batch of soup.  Along with baking muffins, it’s one of my very favorite things to prepare (and eat! :mrgreen: )

Brazilian Black Bean Soup—courtesy of Moosewood Cookbook

  • 2 c. dry black beans, soaked
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 c. chopped onions
  • 10 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1-1/2 c. orange juice
  • black pepper, to taste
  • cayenne, to taste
  • 1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes (original recipe calls for 2 plum tomatoes)
  1. Place the soaked beans in a kettle or Dutch oven with 4 c. water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender (about 1-1/4 hrs.)
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet.  Add onion, half the garlic, cumin, salt, and carrot.  Saute over medium heat until the carrot is just tender.  Add remaining garlic and the bell pepper.  Saute until everything is very tender (another 10-15 minutes.)  Add the sauteed mixture to the beans, scraping in every last morsel.
  3. Stir in orange juice, black pepper, cayenne, and optional tomatoes.  Puree all or some of the soup in a blender or food processor, and return to the kettle.  Simmer over very low heat 10 to 15 minutes more.  Serve topped with an artful arrangement of sour cream, cilantro, and salsa.

Basic Corn Bread—courtesy of Moosewood Cookbook with some tweaking 😉

  • 1 c. cornmeal (I use stoneground, 100% cornmeal)
  • 1 c. flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk (or 1 c. milk with 1 T. lemon juice)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. sugar or honey
  • 3 T. olive oil (original recipe used melted butter)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients separately (including sugar or honey.)  Stir wet mixture with dry, mixing just until thoroughly combined.  Spread into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

This soup is a bit on the time-consuming side, but it’s mostly hands-off work.  Besides, today I wanted a meal that took a bit of extra time to prepare.  I was in no rush—no rush at all—and it felt good to simmer, spice, and saute.  And when the meal was complete, I plopped myself down onto a chair on the deck, and enjoyed the cool, breezy spring night while eating dinner.  Comfort. 

Question: What is one of your most favorite ways to “unwind”?  For me, it’s baking muffins, making soups or being active outdoors.  It really does the body and soul a world of good. :mrgreen: