Monday, January 4, 2010

A solitary pleasure

I love to cook, and I live alone. Living alone can make cooking problematic, in that there are often tremendous quantities of leftovers, and I don't actually have a very high tolerance for eating the same thing for a week straight. Sure, there are ways around this. Many (not all) recipes for four servings are easily halved. Things can be frozen (although my freezer space, due to poor kitchen design, is comically small - seriously, I cannot even fit a regular size frozen pizza in there because the wall was built partially over the freezer door, thus preventing the door from, you know, opening). I have friends over for dinner, or I deliver baked goods to my neighbors (who, I'm pretty sure, think I'm playing some strange version of Hansel and Gretel with them).

There are cookbooks for people who live alone, but many of them feel sort of tragic, in the "here's how to stretch a chicken, a potato, and a carrot into a week of meals, you sad, rejected individual, who must be a miserable human being since you have no one else to cook for" sort of way. But I've recently found two that aren't, and I love them. The first is Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express. This isn't necessarily a cookbook for one, but as Bittman does not give a standard ingredient list, but rather just tells you what goes in the recipe, and how to prepare it, it's easy to adjust these recipes. (This might not be the best sort of cookbook for a novice cook, something that he acknowledges.) The other was a recent Christmas gift, Suzanne Pirret's The Pleasure is All Mine. This is a cookbook for people who are, like I am, sort of hedonistic about their food, and I love that Pirret makes no apologies for being so. I've only tried a couple of the recipes so far, but they were great, and the recipes are written in the same snarky, insouciant voice as the accompanying essays. It's a great deal of fun.

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