Sunday, August 23, 2009

Single Serving

After returning from our work trip in Chicago and Dallas, Derek turned right back around this morning and flew to Michigan, which will be followed by Virginia, Arkansas, and North Dakota. He's traveling more for work in the next month than he has in the past 5 years combined! So, for the next week and a half, I'll be cooking like a single girl. Cooking for one if very different than when you're preparing a meal to share with someone. I feel like I can be more relaxed about what I cook. There's no pressure to serve a dinner that's formally composed, and I can just cook whatever I feel like eating.

I grew in a house with two excellent cooks, but when I went away to college and moved into an apartment style dorm I had my own (shared) kitchen for the first time and had to prepare meals for myself. My first semester I subsisted mostly on baguettes toasted in a very hot oven with cranberry horseradish jam and brie. Luckily my 18-year-old metabolism prevented all this bread and cheese from turning into the dreaded freshman 15. My junior year I studied in London, and for the first time discovered the joys of cooking with someone. My roommate in London was Deanna - who happened to be visiting me from New York this passed weekend. Despite only having a toaster oven and hot plate to work with in our closet-sized London flat, Deanna and I whipped up fresh stir-fries with tofu and vegetables and bell peppers stuffed with rice and cheese. Both of these meals are still part of my repertoire and I wish Deanna and I could still cook together like we used to.

Post-college I moved in with my best friend, Lucy, and learned about meal planning. Every Sunday Lucy and I would plan our menus for the week, compose our shopping list, and buy all our groceries together. We experimented and tired new creative twists on the classic dishes we grew up with. We loved making fancy pizzas and quesadillas. Once I started living on my own, I discovered that my own cooking and eating style isn't quite so organized. I tend to have cravings or find inspiration for dishes and need to make them right away, and I love being inspired by new ingredients I find. As a single girl, I tended to focus on one simple dish that I would make over and over again until I perfected it. I had a love affair with caesar salads and spent many a lonely night with pimento cheese sandwiches.

It wasn't until I found someone I loved that I really discovered how much I love cooking. I dabbled in it before, but sharing a meal with someone you care about and seeing how much that person enjoys what you've made them really is what turned me into an avid cook. And I'm very lucky that the someone I love is willing to eat just about anything I put in front of him and that he also believes in healthy, conscious eating.

But this week - I'm reliving my single days! I'm expecting to make simple, delicious meals from a fridge full of late August produce. This weekend has been very hot, so tonight I was craving a meal that was light and refreshing. I used these crisp, fresh cucumbers that I got today from the CSA.

I turned these into a light and fresh chilled cucumber soup. It was simple and civilized - and probably something Derek wouldn't like too much.

Chilled Cucumber Soup
serves 2 - or 1 with leftovers
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth
1 tsp chopped mint
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
  • Combine cucumbers, yogurt, vegetable broth and mint in blender and blend until combined
  • Add lemon juice slowly, tasting and adding more if you'd like
  • Add salt to taste and blend again
  • Chill at least 30 minutes before serving
On the side, I made a salad of roasted golden beets tossed, wheatberries, sliced mint, and soft cheese tossed with lemon juice and good olive oil.

It was a beautiful and fresh dinner. Exactly what I wanted and just the right size.

Meanwhile, Derek found a restaurant in rural Michigan that reminded him of me - but apparently Shirlene is neither clean nor green.

No comments:

Post a Comment