All by myself.

Eating alone. A sporadic pleasure for most of us these days. I’m not talking about sitting in a Little Chef up the M11, cringing into your bacon buttie, but those rare occasions when you only need to feed yourself. When the necessities of meat and two veg, food groups, nutritional values and portion sizes don’t matter, and you’re free from the demands of bickering family, and dreaded friends with made-up dietary requirements.

While feeding other people is one of the main reasons I love to cook, the times when I can just cater to my appetite are some of my favourites in the kitchen. And best of all, you can put whatever you like in your mouth – something which still gives me a childlike feeling of naughtiness.

Last night for instance, after a filling (and fattening) day judging at the Great Taste Awards, I simply ate an entire punnet of blueberries, washed down with a very cold glass of white wine. Perfect.

A few nights before that I cooked a whole heap of English asparagus, then sprinkled it with sea salt and dipped it in fantastic Glenilen Irish farmhouse butter. The asparagus season is so short, this tends to be a signature meal around this time of year, and really, there’s no need to dress it up with anything else.

Staple solo favourites of mine include proper American grilled cheese sandwiches – pan-cooked rather than done in a toastie machine, poached eggs (doing these properly for lots of people is a pain) and a Vietnamese salad that I always make if I’m in a bad mood. By the time I’ve finished chopping everything, I’ve inevitably forgotten why I was annoyed in the first place.

Other, slightly more shameful indulgences are entire bowls of frozen peas and sweetcorn (a student hangover, and sometimes the only thing I fancy if I’ve been in the kitchen all day at work), a ball of buffalo Mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and torn basil, eaten with Charentais melon, and, most bizarre of all, bowls of brown rice noodles smothered in so much chilli sauce it makes my eyes water.

Not exactly gourmet, but when you spend all day thinking up recipes, it’s rather difficult to cobble together a shopping list that makes any sort of sense.

Does anyone else share my guilty pleasures? Or is it all healthy,  balanced meals for one?!

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “All by myself.

  1. tsi

    Although I have so many guilty pleasures, too many to list, it helps to remind myself that one of the few perks of being an adult is being able to eat what you want, when you want. Like chocolate for breakfast…

  2. Maureen

    I never seem to get as far as cooking when I’m alone. A naughty take away and a tub of ice cream does me! I’m starting my diet soon though so maybe I’ll be doing some nice salads now the weather’s better – any more salad ideas TF?

  3. You’re not alone! I love cooking for myself. More importantly, i love snacking while cooking for myself.

    Indulgences include, cracker/toast/carb of some description with cream cheese and lashings of sweet chilli sauce, very mature cheddar, with a crunch, on its own, home made nachos…the list is endless really. I’ll be trying the mozarella trick from now on though…it sounds a little more sophisticated.

  4. Doughface

    I agree with the toastie with ketchup…yum!

    Also, when my boyfriend’s not around I indulge myself in…wait for it…tofu! When he’s around i have to provide something filling and meaty so to be allowed to eat tofu is, in fact, a treat!! If i had the patience i would make the Japanese dish of agedashi tofu but I can never be bothered with deep-frying.

    Another guilty pleasure that I keep well hidden for moments when I’m alone is mashed potato with soy sauce…a hidden gem!

  5. Izzy

    I share you’re guilty pleasures! I love a bowl of hot sweetcorn and baked beans. Embarassingly good. I think we might be kindred solo diners! My favourite dinner for one has to be a peanut butter and jam sandwich. On – dare I say it – SLICED WHITE BREAD! Only when I’m by myself can I indulge my American roots with such unashamed joy.

  6. Egrace

    That’s struck a chord – I’m eating alone tonight and can’t wait to tuck into my Waitrose ready meal for one (mixed bean thing with grilled halloumi – mmm – glass of vino and the telly – bliss!
    I do love a ridiculously big bowl of pasta pesto too – adding veg is just a pain and nutritional value just goes out the window. And once or twice a year I’ll pour over a toasted bread, mayo base, grated cheddar cheese, grated carrot and lettuce sarnie… it’s the small things!

  7. Summer22

    I hear you – loud and clear! My absolute favourite is when the house is empty and I can swap dinner for an ice cream sundae, complete with choc bits and caramel sauce. But on those days when it’s all a bit too much, a steaming bowl of fresh peas with salt and butter is perfection itself.

  8. Pheobe

    My guilty food pleasure is a cheese and tomato ketchup sandwich, melted in the microwave for 2 minutes and eaten with a knife and fork! (And when drunk)

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