Do you live alone? With one or two family members or roommates? Do you cook for yourself? Do you wish you did?
If you said yes to a household of three or fewer, you’re in the majority. In the U.S., the average number of people per household is 2.57. Twenty-six percent of Americans live alone. If you also answered yes to cooking, find inspiration from a lifelong food pro in Judith Jones’ new book, The Pleasures of Cooking for One.
Editor of Julia Child’s books, as well as an impressive list of other familiar cookbook writers (Marcella Hazan, James Beard, and Lidia Bastianich, for example), Jones’ career is focused on good food and food writing. Since her husband, cookbook author Evan Jones, passed away, she cooks mostly for herself, though her strategies also work well for average sized households.
Jones applies a lineage approach to cooking: yesterday’s leftover potatoes, refreshed with onion or garlic, beget tonight’s fried potato cakes. Last night’s remains of any meat gives birth to chopped meat in a sauce of onions sautéed in olive oil, peppers, chilies, and vinegar served in corn tortillas or over rice. The broth leftover from cooking lentils one day is the mother of soup stock for another day.
Home cooked food brings cheer, and Jones champions food pleasure no matter who’s coming to dinner, even if you cook for yourself alone. She writes, “the goal of a dinner—any dinner for that matter—is to give pleasure. Isn’t that what cooking is all about?”
*The Pleasures of Cooking for One, page 112
An old wives’ tale is that you can’t halve an egg. So many single cooks will pass up a recipe simply because reducing it would entail using half an egg. But all you need do to make this feat possible is to crack a large egg into a small jar and shake it up. When the white and yolk are well blended, you’ll have 3 tablespoons. So, for your half-egg, simple extract 1 1/2 tablespoons and use it as called for. Just refrigerate the remaining egg in the tightly lidded jar, and use it for a glaze or add to scrambled eggs or an omelet next time you make one. Or find another recipe that, when reduced to serve one, calls for half an egg.