One reason that I'm happy to participate in NaBloPoMo is because it's going to help me to get some posts out of my system that I've been working on for a while. This is one of those posts.
So here's my secret: The past two months are the first time in my life that I've had to cook for myself. I have lived by myself, but by the time I did I was dating Jason so I was always cooking for the two of us. And before that, I always had roommates around. So while I wasn't directly responsible for cooking for anyone, there was always a crowd to help eat the leftovers.
And when Jason and I were living together, there were times when I would completely luxuriate in the idea of cooking for myself. But now that cooking for just myself is pretty much a fact of life, I am beginning to look at it differently in many ways.
During most of September, I found myself eating pretty sporadically. A meal a day was really sustaining me most of the time, and I would usually cook too much or not at all. Most of this month was a blur anyway, and I often ate just whatever would keep me going. And when I was cooking, I would completely miscalculate the amount that I could eat, and that excess of food around the house would just help push me further into the funk that I was already in.
In October, however, I started to get the hang of things. I bought a microwave -- spunky and red. I haven't owned a microwave in years, but when I was at mom's house for a couple weeks recently I realized that it really does come in handy sometimes. And it was just the thing that I felt would help my singleness be a little easier. To tell you the truth, I think I've used it once. To melt butter. Oh ya, and then this morning to reheat my coffee (please, please James Freeman don't be reading this blog post right now). But for some reason I feel better having it in the house.
I bought a small 3.5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven - perfect for small batches of soup and other deliciousness. This one now sits, all happy and blue next to my beautiful 6.75 quart dutch oven, which is much better suited to having friends over and making something substantial. I bought the little blue dutch oven two weeks ago, and I think that I have used it every day that I've cooked since then. Pretty great investment already. The soup that I made here is a chickpea and spinach soup that was delicious -- the recipe can be found in Mark Bittman's newest book, The Best Recipes in the World.
So as I get into this rhythm of cooking for myself, I've had a series of small successes.
I've learned how to make a mean risotto for one person. After a stressful day, it's very therapeutic for me to stand at the stove and stir and stir and stir. I have always seen cooking risotto as an act of love. It's not something that can be rushed, and for me to make it for myself, I feel like I am saying that I'm important enough to take the time to make it.
I was able to prepare a "small" batch of cocido, a Mexican beef soup that I learned how to make from grandma. Once the recipe's perfected, I'll pass it on. This is a soup normally made for a crowd - and I successfully made it for two people with only a bit of leftovers for lunch the next day for each of us.
I'm remembering the art of making delicious sandwiches. The one here is a lamb sandwich with arugula and a fantastic spicy mustard that I bought from the Mountain View Farmers' Market.
I definitely don't want to say that this has all been a walk in the park. Last night I had popcorn for dinner. And there was a time a couple weeks ago when I ate pumpkin pie for three meals in a row before being saved by a friend's invitation to lunch. But, when it comes down to it, cooking for one can sometimes be just what is required to get through the tough times.