Meal for One

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So on the subject of eating alone again. It's an interesting topic I'm exploring. It doesn't necessarily happen all the time. I eat together with my roommate a lot, a post I plan to get to one of these days (fabulous setup, having a roommate who loves to cook as well).

The main reason is, after five years, I'm single again, have been for a month or two now. It's... an adjustment. A lot going on. There is a bit of fighting and trying to be friends and be amicable with each other. It was for the best for me.

And with such separation comes change in all forms. Change in your morning routine. Change of living situation. Change of pace. Change of clothes. Change of attitude. But one change I wasn't ready for was the changes in the kitchen. Things shifted, my meals are different, my approach is renewed, patterns have become unhinged. I find myself making meals I used to eat back in college. Reliable meals that were simple and made for solace.

In the longest time I found myself eating raisin bread and jam every day again. I love it. So why did I stop eating it? What about being coupled made me abandon some of my old eating habits that I found so much pleasure in? Top Ramen has returned again, and as before with the flavor packet throw away. Use chicken stock, throw in some chopped mushrooms and green onions, then slowly pour in bits of a whisked egg for a faux egg drop soup. Simple and easy. Of course, I now intermix it with soba and udon dishes, all of which are delicious.

I also find myself cooking a lot more. Partly as distraction, partly as therapy, partly as a sort of mode for quiet contemplation. There have been moments of break down while making a pot of pea soup, a tear or two falling obsequiously into the dish giving it a bit of salt and sad soul. Other days I'll be happily popping mounds of cookie dough in the oven, enjoying the copious amounts of ME-time with a good book or catching up on a TV show I've been dying to see. And of course the day of me making ice cream and getting so frustrated for no apparent reason I just threw a spoon across the kitchen while screaming every obscenity known to man and some that weren't that would make most people go spontaneously deaf, and hoping my roommate and cats would be aware how I was in acidic emotional bitch mode.

I'm finding comfort not in food (Captain Crunch does do that for me, though) but in the process. The method and steps of one teaspoon of salt boil for 30 minutes preheat oven at 350 finely chop the onion marinate the chicken stirfry on high heat churn the sorbet open a can of tuna gives a sort of rhythmic serenity.

Tonight was a special night though. Not sure how. It just was. I was back after a raucous and irresponsible weekend with friends in San Francisco and had the place to my lonesome. I was just sort of in a quiet space. No TV. No book. No one around. Nothing.

So I went and cooked. I cooked a meal for one. I used what little I had in the kitchen and threw together pure awesome. Elise had just given me some fresh produce from her garden so I went into the kitchen and put together a simple and low maintenance meal that still seemed to be healthy, colorful, and full of the happy effervescence, that heady drug of joy I sort of lacked at the moment. Then I plated it, set out the good napkin, a placemat, got myself a nice beer with a bit of lime. All for no reason but I wanted to have a special meal for Just Me.

And it was a good meal. Damn good. And I was pleased with myself. I was happy.

I know that in the end, everything works out. And, if you're lucky and a bit creative, there's a good meal along the way.

Damn Good Meal for One
3 chicken breast tenders, or, 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
dried oregano
1 lb. of tomatillos
2 serrano chiles, stemmed
1/4 cup of white onion, chopped
dried cilantro
1/4 cup of wild rice
cherry tomatoes

1) Heat the oven to 350F. Place the chicken onto a pan lined with foil and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Bake for 30 minutes or until juices run clear.

2) Place rice with 1/2 cup of water and a small bit of olive oil or butter. Bring to a boil, then simmer at low heat, covered, for 40 minutes.

3) Place tomatillos, de-husked in a sauce pot. Add the serranos and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then place heat at low and simmer for 5 minutes. Take the tomatillos and chilies out and place in a blender with 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the onion and puree. Add cilantro and salt to taste.

4) Chop up the tomatoes into halves and drizzle with olive oil.

5) Plate the chicken and pour on tomatillo sauce/salsa. Serve with the wild rice and tomatoes.


  1. Hmm that sounds like such a good meal. Sometimes I think making a quiet reflective meal for yourself is good for the soul.

    As much as change has been touted as being a good thing. People rarely say the intervening process is easy. But I think the ways we deal with each instance of change is how we grow.

    I love ramen, too! I'm not single, but I keep some around and make it for myself once in a while.

  2. Sorry to hear that you and Rob have parted ways.

  3. Beautiful post. I remember the moment I realized all the favorite foods I had given up in my first marriage in order to please, to be easy, to accommodate. Like you I rediscovered some old favorites; while others no longer held their charm.

    It's true- what you wrote about process. Enjoying the process of preparing food for oneself- it nurtures our spirit as well as our body and helps mend us in those bruised places.

  4. I am with you. I am also single and find that cooking is my zen. I love pouring a glass of wine, turning on some Brandi Carlile and prepping the food. And, you can cook for two and make an addition meal for the next night! Enjoy!

  5. Awesome! Homemade salsa verde with chicken, tomatoes, and rice. Doesn't get much better than that.

  6. Break up hugs for you. I am glad you are finding solace in the kitchen.

    On a lighter note... sometimes I do the same thing when I'm stressed or procrastinating. I may not be able to control my life, but I can control this cup of flour!

    Some people have a tangentially related compulsion to clean house in these times. I wish I could be so productive! I'm lucky I even get the dishes done.

  7. A great post, Garrett. Sorry to hear about your breakup. It really resonated with me, because I went through similar questions and changes. I found that I was re-experiencing things I had almost un-knowingly given up while in a relationship. And I also learned the good - and bad - things about my connection with food. I'm still changing some of those connections, several years after my "big breakup."

    And, after a time of hurt feelings and anger sometimes, my ex and I are very good friends. Not without our bumps and bruises, but very good friends. He and I are there for each other in lots of good and helpful ways. I wish that for you and Rob.



  8. *hugs*

    Being alone isn't always fun. But neither is being in a miserable relationship.

  9. Sorry to hear about your break-up, but glad that you are able to find some solace in cooking and in returning to old favorite comforts!

  10. hell yeah for DAMN GOOD single meals! hang in there garrett!


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