10 Steps To Happily Cooking For One – ME

This is a selfish blogpost. It is all about me with the intention of sharing a personal process that all great cooks go through. I have been cooking for others for more than 40 years. And now with a quieter life, I unabashedly love to cook for myself.

Using my creativity to cook for others still feels special. But under those circumstances, I am focused on what they like, what they need.  Were my people active or were they sitting in front of a computer during day? What foods can I use, what can I not.   Will we share memories in the dinner’s dishes or explore new ingredients and flavors?  This would drive my meal design.

My family rarely had the same dish twice, even when made with exactly the same ingredients.
I particularly remember the carrot cake for my daughter’s birthday.  I just couldn’t bring myself to leave the house only to get the right kind of sugar.  Surely I had something in the cupboard that would work.  This is where I learned that rice syrup is not suitable as a major sweetener for a cake or muffin.  The “carrot cake” expectation was a flop.  The dense batter merged into a sluggy dough.  I refuse to use an overdose of baking powder because it buzzes my tongue, therefore didn’t use enough to lift the batter into even a dense cake.  Clearly it was a “pudding”.   We celebrated with delicious carrot pudding.

Now when I’m alone and I want a little carrot cake or carrot pudding, will I make it for just me ?
Here is my thought process on that question.

If I make a full size cake, I’m in trouble because I will eat the entire thing myself. But because I don’t need a recipe, I know how to make only two muffins and because it is quick, yes, I will make the treat.

But do I really need this desserty or breakfasty item?   No.  I don’t.  And aren’t there going to be too many dishes to wash for making only two muffins?   Yes, there will be a bowl, a grater and a whisk.  But, I can wash them in ten minutes while the muffins bake.  I will be done with entire project way before I could drive to a store and back.  And if miraculously I did find a fresh muffin in the store at 5:30 pm, I would be traveling two miles, fighting traffic, and purchasing many more items than two muffins.  I wouldn’t be able to control the kind and quality of fat, flour and sugar.  Since I’m not eating wheat right now and I’m hypersensitive to cane sugar, I would probably feel sick, not satisfied.

Well, I could just have a piece of chocolate.
Now what about savory food?  What about that need for vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and proteins?  Will I cook something as necessary as real food for just me?  My pots are big and memories too vivid of feeding a family.  But, eating is important.  And I really like to eat.

10 Steps To Happily Cooking For One – ME

1.Wash my hands.

2. Put on an apron and squeeze a folded hand towel into the apron string that is double wrapped around my waist.

3. Slip into my cooking shoes.

4. Pick out great music for this moment:  I like Chis Jacome Burton

5. Select a grain or a protein:  or if it is a big cooking day select both and make several dishes to last me a few days.
Now I am cooking for 4.  My 10 inch skillet and 1. 5  and 3 – quart pots are the perfect size. Maybe I can entice company from the smells coming from my kitchen.
Here is the important difference between cooking for myself and cooking for others.   I ask, “What is best for me? Am I going simple or complex? Do I lean towards pungent in these dishes, bitter, sweet?  And I don’t want to forget that I need and therefore I want to eat naturally fermented pickles with both simple and serious meals.  My body is trained to select ingredients. Thanks to staying in the heart center, I have no fear.  New combinations start to excite my palate, and I am fully engaged in a creative process that circles back into me as nourishment.
Don’t forget salt.
Along the way, I wash, dry, and put-away the tools, the board, the bowl or pot that helped me put the dish together.  I won’t even start the fire until the cutting board is clean if I’m using meat.  The point is.  This is a dance.  And for me, music helps the dance to complete the cycles in the kitchen.
The best part of cooking for one, ME, is that when I sit down, I feel like I have given myself a big gift – attention.  Satisfaction lands calmly, because I chose the elements that my body was asking for this day.   I use enough of them to be satisfied. I don’t need anyone telling me to stop – too much oil or throwing me the command – add more salt.