Monthly Archives: August 2009

What We Eat When We Eat Alone

I happened to stumble upon this today on my Google Reader (thanks Mary for sharing!) via Serious Eats. http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/08/cook-the-book-what-we-eat-when-we-eat-alone.html

Deborah Madison is famous for Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, one of the first restaurants to have a farm to table menu inspired by Chez Panisse (if you ever have the opportunity, go, well worth the experience) in Berkley. Now she’s taken on what was supposed to be a humorous commentary on eating, but in actuality from the reviews provides a much needed anthropological study regarding our eating habits. In one of many recent Twitter conversations, responses to Nancy Lesson’s post featuring items in her pantry, particularly the  non-Organic/local/sustainable food, people confessed their love for all things processed. Tweets professing love for: fake cheese, Otter Pops and other various items containing hydrogenated oils  and high fructose corn syrup. Foods we eat alone when no one is looking. “Foodies” eating dinners of chips, gummy candy,  and microwave burritos from Costco. Yeah, we admit it, we all have certain items we eat when we are alone. My comfort food, Taco Bell Nachos BelGrande. A good friend of mine eats tortillas with butter and cinnamon while standing in the kitchen. In the “Good Fight” on Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw admitted her SSB, “secret single behaviors,” we all have them, things we do alone when no one is looking.

So what are our SSB when we eat alone? For me, some meals are a mish mosh of what looks appealing at the market, possibly wheat thins with some sort of dip and gummy candy, an assortment of prepared salads from the salad bar or leftovers. Meals usually are very simple, broiled fish or chicken severed with a vegetable or salad of some sort. My challenge is to find recipes proportioned realistically for one, not four, one. Secondly, buying said ingredients in a single serving so that I can keep within budget for groceries and that no food goes to waste while keeping up with my rather busy lifestyle. I adore cooking and baking, there is nothing better than sharing a wonderful home cooked meal with friends, but for nightly meals I am bored.

Last night I had some Spanish cheese & crackers, tomatoes with olive oil & salt, blueberries and white wine. Today for lunch was leftover over chicken from the JFC: Joule Fried Chicken on a day old baguette from Macrina Bakery with tomato and spinach (left over from the previous week, luckily still fresh). I’m still learning to cook for one or rather eating alone. I won’t reveal all of my SSB, over the years, I’ve acquired many.

I’m looking forward to reading Madison’s book, hopefully to gleam some ideas for my own rather dull cooking regime and to also jump start a new blog, soon to be announced.

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CSA Inspired

A week ago a dear friend sent out an email to a few friends saying they had an abundance of fresh produce from their New Roots CSA & her brother’s Tiny’s CSA who was out of town. Simple gathering, bring some meat or fish to grill, beverage of choice and hang out on a Friday night. When I arrived with my Wild Alaskan Salmon steak in tow and a chilled bottle of Pinot Gris, I realized she wasn’t kidding, a plethora of fruit was on the counter waiting to be transformed. Red cabbage, carrots, summer squash, zucchini, dragon lingerie beans, a variety of cucumbers, peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines.

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Summer Squashes & Cucumbers

Our host stated she had no specific plan or recipes for the fruits and vegetables, however she had some ideas. We discussed a coleslaw for the red cabbage, she was out of mayo, I said no problem, we’ll do a vinaigrette based one. I started to slice into the extremely crisp cabbage contemplating ways to make it pop. Asian inspired was perfect, light and simple. I shredded carrots into the slaw, the vibrant colors already coming together. The dressing was easy, a culmination of basic ingredients: sesame oil, peanut oil, cider vinegar, peanut butter, garlic, salt, pepper, Siracha for a kick and honey for a bit of sweetness. The dressing came together beautifully, no specific measurements or recipe, all to taste. Added some chopped up cilantro and sesame seeds to the slaw. Just a bit prior to serving I mixed in the dressing.

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Asian Inspired Coleslaw With Peanut Dressing

I’m actually not a fan of zucchini nor summer squash, so it may have been my first time cooking the summer vegetables. Instinct told me, grilled is best with lots of olive oil, a few different kinds of salt, heavily doused in Herbs de Provence and some Thyme. While I prepared the coleslaw the squashes marinated.

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Grilled Zucchini & Squash With Herbs De Provence

The vegetable that was completely new to all of us, the dragon lingerie bean. A cream colored bean with flecks of purple, I had to ask the experts what to do with them. Thanks to Alice of Sweet Savory Life she suggested pan sauteing them with a bit of garlic, salt, pepper and butter, finishing off with a squeeze of lemon. These were one of the big hits of the night since not only were they novel to all of us, but also incredibly delicious.

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Pan Sauteed Dragon Lingerie Beans

The fruit was turned into two different desserts; one gluten/dairy free for my friend Devon. I decided a crisp would be perfect, a combination of white nectarines and plums. The topping was super basic: quick oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, it turned out as it should, golden brown with fruit bubbling away. Topped with some freshly lightly sweetened whip cream. The other dessert to me is the epitome of a summer BBQ, grilled peaches lightly dressed with some brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and vanilla, grilled to perfection.

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Plum Nectarine Crisp With Whipped Cream

Friends, good food, wine and an amazing sunset, really could not of asked for a more perfect evening. Summer is coming to a close in less than a month, I honestly hope to have more nights like this one. Cooking for friends, it fuels my soul.