Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Solo Suppers: recipes for
A story published today in the Atlanta Journal
Constitution recommends a book for single people who sometimes cook a meal for
themselves at home. The author recommends
Solo Suppers: Simple Delicious Meals to Cook for
Here's what the story
The big 1-4 is looming on
the calendar. There's a bunch of [darn] cupids flying around buying
chocolate and making dinner plans. At least one aisle of every store is
bleeding crimson red. And there's a subliminal buzz in the air humming,
"it's a couple's world, and don't you forget it."
Yeah, well, buzz off. I mean, if you
are one of the estimated 82 million Americans who are unmarried and you
don't have a paramour at the moment, turn down the volume on that love
machine and crank up the oven.
What you need is a nice meal. I mean,
a really nice meal. One that impresses you. One that indulges your desires.
One that says, "I'm so [darn] special I can hardly stand it and that
spouse-of-the-century cousin of mine and never-a-moment-without-a-date best
friend should be so lucky."
Lucky to sit down and enjoy, say, a
swordfish steak topped with a Sicilian sauce of pine nuts, raisins and
capers followed by a sweet and creamy fruit gratin. In fact, you should cook
something really nice for yourself at least once a week and not just during
red plague season.
I know what you are saying. I'm
single, too, and the excuses are not foreign: It's too much trouble to cook
for just me. If I cook, then I have to clean up. It's no fun to cook for
one. I don't like leftovers.
Now, you are going to have to ask Dr.
Phil why you think you aren't worth the trouble. Cook smart and cleaning up
will be a snap. (And most of you have dishwashers anyway.) No fun to cook
for one? How much fun do you think it is to cook for four or six every
night? Ask your married-with-kids friends. I bet they would love to have one
night a week when they could prepare something special, just for them. It's
To remind us, so is cookbook author
Joyce Goldstein, whose latest effort is "Solo Suppers: Simple Delicious
Meals to Cook for Yourself" (Chronicle Books, $19.95). This is not the usual
kind of single survival guide that focuses on cooking and freezing or
re-manufacturing food left over from recipes intended for six or ingredients
packaged for a family. This is a book of recipes for one.
Goldstein is mindful that single
people have budgets like everyone else, and eating out or taking home 20
meals a week is too expensive. "Besides, it's a little more awkward to dine
out as a single, so you don't want to do it every day," she said.
But she's also attuned to the fact
that eating dinner alone seems to take on more meaning. What she doesn't
want it to mean is that single people are sentenced to a life of cold
sandwiches and microwaved convenience foods. "I'm always so surprised when
people act surprised that I cook for myself," said Goldstein. "What am I?
Chopped liver? The 'poor me' thing stinks. Get over that immediately. It's
about being grown up and accepting that you are an adult and you do have a
Spend a little time cooking from
Goldstein's book and single life will be delicious. After all, this is a
woman who has written a number of Mediterranean-themed cookbooks, including
"The Mediterranean Kitchen" (Chronicle, $21.95), considered a classic. And
she had to learn how to adjust her cooking volume when she became single 11
years ago after a divorce. She found, like many, that most recipes written
for four to six servings don't divide easily down to one, so she had to
re-craft and invent some recipes that worked well in smaller portions.
Her food is flavorful and fresh, like
kebabs with a peanut sauce and lamb with a Greek tomato sauce and feta. But
most of the ingredients are widely available, and many preparations are
simple. Some can be done quickly, such as her asparagus and eggs with
Parmesan cheese. Some are much more time consuming, and no doubt that will
put some single cooks off. But Goldstein doesn't apologize for that, saying
she doesn't buy into the notion that single people should "cook fast, eat
fast and get it over with."
The few recipes that might have
unfamiliar techniques — say, making a Parmesan cheese pudding in a water
bath — are just the kind of recipes that turn a novice cook into a good one.
The recipes are written for one pretty substantial portion because most are
intended to be one-course meals. Still, they are easy to reduce by using 4
to 6 ounces of a meat or fish, for instance, rather than 8, or easy to share
if a friend is coming to dinner. Any leftovers make for a light lunch the
next day, but I promise you won't have to make room in the freezer.
Goldstein makes a case for making larger batches of sauces and keeping them
in the fridge, and she gives guidance for stocking the pantry.
But most of all, Goldstein reminds
single people that we do have time to treat ourselves right. "Where are you
going? What's the rush?" Goldstein asks. "Chill out and cook and have a nice