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Cookbook of the day – Going Solo In The Kitchen

Going solo in the kitchen1

Going Solo in the Kitchen

by Jane Doerfer

  • Publisher:Knopf; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (August 25, 1998)
  • ISBN 10: 0375703934
  • ISBN 13: 978-0375703935
  • You know, sometimes you either want to, or are forced to by circumstances,  cook  just for yourself. You live alone, your significant other is out of town, you’ve been dumped/divorced/downsized and just want to wallow in solitary pity, your significant other or family members don’t like some of the same food that you do, you want to take something tasty and unique to work as your lunch – you take your pick.

    Cookbooks are designed for recipes serving at least two (but usually 4 or more). So, you have to get the slide rule out and start trying to figure out how to divide a third of a cup of flour into fourths. Or, even harder, how to divide already small measurements like 1/2 tsp. It’s not as difficult if you’re used to eyeballing and estimating, as I am. For most recipes, there’s some wiggle room, the exception being baking, which often relies on exact measurements. but not everyone is confident in their ability to fly by the seat of their pants. Some people need the security of a fixed recipe to follow.

    So, it’s about time that we started seeing cookbooks for one.

    Jane Doerfer has written a practical cookbook that serves this purpose quite well.

    Want to make a single serving of mashed potatoes? No problem. How about Caesar dressing for a single salad? It’s here. How about a smaller meat loaf that won’t feed the entire block or that you won’t be having meatloaf sandwiches for a week? There’s a tidy little recipe using a pound of ground chuck and a cup of crushed crackers (plus the other things that you’ll need).

    Obviously, many of these recipes could be done with leftovers in mind. I’m not sure about making just enough dressing for a single Caesar salad, or making one of the various single serving soups since soups are often better the next day anyway and are easy to store for a week.  But who among us haven’t made soup and put most of it away only to have to eat it for a week just to use it up or end up throwing the remainder away when it gets fuzzy? In cases like this, it’s easy to double the portions so that you don’t have a gallon of the stuff left over but it’s more than just a single serving. You can actually eat it a few days later and not feel like you’re just continuing the meal that you had yesterday.

    The first part of the book is handy for singles who live alone full-time. There are shopping strategies, storing and freezing advice and pantry stocking guidelines that are helpful.

    Are the recipes groundbreaking and exotic? No they’re not. You’re not going to learn how to cut down a lot of stuff from other cuisines. But you can get some ideas on your own from some of the strategies that she employs. Plus, you might learn a little about eyeballing ingredients in the future. You’ll experience smaller measurements, sometimes for the first time. You’ll use lots of 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoons of ingredients that you would normally see in tablespoon increments. It will also help you to see proportions in a different light, which can help you when tackling larger recipes as well.

    So, I recommend this book not only for cooks cooking only for themselves, but for any cook that wants to get a better feel for measurements. It’s a side benefit that’s not readily apparent.

    A side benefit that is immediately apparent is the fact that it’s an inexpensive volume.

    And if you want to, you can present your dinner to yourself this way:

    Turkey TV Dinner