Food Glorious Food

I’ve always been a foodie.  In fact, my love of gardening started in the 1970’s with growing fresh herbs for all the dinners Martin and I prepped at home.  That was followed with growing my own produce and finally, gardens to fill the senses.  But, food, glorious food was always at the center of my enjoyment.  And at the center of family time.  Dinners out were not the normal routine for us when we could make it better in our own kitchen.

As our daughters grew and moved out of the house, we empty nesters adjusted to smaller meals.  Then, after decades of cooking together, Martin’s move to memory care left me cooking for one.  At first I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to continue cooking for myself.  But, after years of delicious home cooked meals, the alternative of processed, frozen dinners or take out left, well, a bad taste in my mouth.  With Covid, of course, fewer restaurant options remained and eating out solo as I’d done when I traveled for work was also unappealing.  What to do?  What to do?

At one of the occasional meals I have at Rachel’s house I savored a yummy chicken chili made in a crockpot.  I lamented the idea that such a meal would leave me with so much extra food.  Then, Rachel to the rescue!  

“You could get a small crockpot used for appetizers or smaller meals and cut the recipe.”  

What?  Feeling out of touch with the conveniences of today, I was amazed to find there are crockpots for two.  Of course, I bought one for $30 along with Pamela Ellgen’s book, “Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook for Two”.  One of my favorite recipes is Chicken in Mango Chutney. Spiced with cinnamon, ginger and curry I love the smells that fill the air.  Another who knew is mango comes all diced in a can!

The crockpot revelation gave me the impetus to alter my frame of mind about cooking for one.  I discovered the website, which offers the ability to modify the number of servings for many recipes.  Since most recipes can’t be reduced all the way down to one, I cook a meal and freeze the other half or have it for dinner a couple nights later.  That gave me another idea.  

Maryland crab soup with focaccia bread

Instead of looking at recipes as that’s too much for me to eat, I began looking at whether or not the meal could be broken into smaller portions and frozen.  Yes, I know I didn’t want to buy frozen meals at the grocery store, but my hesitation was based upon too much added salt and/or sugar along with ingredients the names of which I can’t pronounce.  During my current Michigan winter I’ve found a big pot of soup, stew or chili freezes well and provides a cozy comfort food dinner on bitter cold nights. Grandma Merlino’s spaghetti sauce can also be made as for a crowd then divided and frozen for future pasta dishes.

Other favorite comfort foods include lasagna and enchiladas, easily made in a casserole dish, divided and frozen.  As my days fill up with activities outside the house, these dishes along with the crockpot provide ready meals upon my return.  Paired with a salad I can still eat an enjoyable healthy dinner.

Speaking of salads I upped my game from the usual greens to making some interesting additions.  With winter comes a dearth of fresh greens, tomatoes and cucumbers.  Roasting root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets and whole cloves of garlic) to be added to kale, spinach and arugula along with chopped nuts, dried cranberries or other fruits and some feta cheese makes for a nourishing winter salad.  I also started adding a touch of maple syrup not only to my chili recipe, but also my balsamic vinaigrette. It provides an earthy nutty flavor.  Dried lavender buds, reminiscent of a summer day, is another favorite addition to the vinaigrette. Summer fare may also include salads which are not limited to greens. Three bean, asian noodle or fruit salads shake things up a bit.

Shrimp with three bean and asian noodle salads

On days when I find myself without a meal plan I turn to my egg carton and vegetable bin for a quick frittata in a small fry pan.  I add anything I can find including some roasted root vegetables, peppers, shallots, potatoes, celery or asparagus.  What’s left can be re-heated for breakfast or even a lunch. 

Never one to count calories I try, not always successfully, to simply eat healthy.  My one guilty pleasure is bread.  Any kind of bread, but especially a hard crusted bread or a moist muffin.  So, I indulge in a baking day making anything from crusty rosemary bread to carrot pecan muffins to focaccia bread.  Again, the muffins freeze well.  Breads can also be frozen, but should be used within the month.

Carrot pecan muffins

Eating for one, which started out as a depressing thought, has turned into an exploration of my senses as I experiment, discover and enjoy what food, glorious food has to offer.  It gives me something delectable to look forward to at the end of the day. And, the results have been very satisfying indeed.


32 comments on “Food Glorious Food

  1. Good morning, Kathy!

    I so enjoy reading your blog, and swear we must be soul-sisters because you hit on topics that are I am currently experiencing in my own life. As in other articles you’ve written, I can relate to this blog. I had an herb garden several years back while I was still working, and would share the wealth with co-workers and neighbors; however, when I became a caregiver to my husband, the garden took a backseat to everything else that took precedence. My husband passed away almost a year ago, and I’ve done exactly what you have done regarding meals, but I did not know about the smaller crockpots, so thank you for that information. I’m still making many of my old recipes, and freeze the additional quantity, which makes it nice when I don’t really feel like cooking. There is a website I found called “One Dish Kitchen”. Though the recipes are supposed to be a serving for one, I find most of them actually wind up being two servings, or a dinner and maybe lunch the next day. If you check it out, I highly recommend the “Easy Risotto Recipe”. Add some shrimp and it’s delicious!! Wishing nothing but good things for you on this new journey both of us have taken on.


    Liked by 1 person

    • We may well be soul sisters! You’re Kathy and I’m Kathy and we’re on a similar path. I’m sorry about your loss. I understand how other things can also take a backseat. This blog and my gardening also went by the wayside. Thanks for the info on the “One Dish Kitchen”. I’ll definitely check it out. Wishing you well also. K


  2. Hello Kathy- I just want you to know that I enjoy your blog very much. I am sure there are many people that do- keep on writing please! Across the miles from Cincinnati,Sue


    • Hey Cincinnati Sue! Thank you for the encouragement. It’s been hard getting back in the blogging saddle after such a long interlude caregiving. I have tons of subjects I want to write about. I’m also working on updating my blog site, which, since WordPress totally revamped the platform, is a bit of a challenge. But, stay tuned. I plan on continuing to write. K


  3. Hi Kathy, my husband has stage 4 cancer. Sometimes I don’t care about my future after he’s gone. No one knows how long we’ll have and after reading your blog it’s a motivation to get moving on taking care of myself. Life does go on after a spouse dies and I’m going to keep going. Please continue blogging . Your posts and comments really encourage me.


    • Diana, I’m so sorry about your situation. I know from experience it’s sometimes difficult to care for oneself or think about the future. But, it’s something I found I had to do for my sake. I’m glad my posts offer you some encouragement. Sending love and light to you. K


  4. Wonderful ideas! Some I do for myself now, and others you mentioned are appealing. It’s easier to pass by a quick food purchase when you know there is something delicious waiting at home to be enjoyed. One of my favorite soups to freeze in winter is (cheap) hearty and warming and usually includes ham cubes.


  5. I have two apps that i use (of course) to save on line recipes, to half recipes and to give me a shopping list. The first one is Anylist. You can import from some sites and change the number of servings and it creates a shopping list. The other app is calle Recipe Keeper and you can also change portion sizes and generate a shopping list. I prefer Anylist because i can keep other lists in the same app. It is difficult to add links to other sites in WordPress so we can share recipes. Maybe other readers have some ideas.


    • Thanks for bringing up the App. I also use Anylist. It’s a great time saver for shopping and storing my usual grocery items as well as adding items for different meals. Maybe I need to do a blog on shopping for one, which was also a challenge at first. K

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Kathy, reading your blog is always an inspiration. Thank you for sharing the road that you’ve traveled. I love the idea of smaller crockpot meals, but have no clue which cooker to purchase. Could you share which brand and model you have that’s working so well for you?! Take good care!


  7. Kathy,
    You are amazing! I have learned so much from you on your blog! Thanks for all the inspiration & encouragement you give to others. What a fabulous way to look at coooking for one! How about sharing some of your recipes with us? I would especially enjoy your homemade & carrot muffin recipe!
    Blessings to you Always,


  8. Good to know cooking for 1 is ok
    ..I even made Christmas cookies and froze them…taking out just 2 or 4 at a time. Good to use them up in a month or so.


  9. To be totally honest, I’ve always hated to cook, but kudos to you and other foodies who replied. For many years my spouse and I worked different (and l-o-n-g) hours so rarely ate at the same time. I often relied on prepped food or takeout and even more so now–although I have the time to cook. Pricier, yes, but we don’t spend much on “non-essentials” these days.


  10. I’ve always been a big fan of leftovers (and, fortunately, so is my husband). I don’t mind eating the same thing two – or even three, if it’s good – nights in a row, but I also like the idea of freezing extra to have later. I thinking cooking for one would be hard, both to stay motivated enough to cook something good and healthy (I remember having popcorn for dinner more than once when I was a student 🙂 ), and dealing with a large amount of food. The small crockpot you got sounds like a perfect solution, and that Chicken in Mango Chutney sounds heavenly.


    • Never had popcorn for dinner! It was hard to stay motivated at first. Now, I’m totally engaged if I plan for old favorites as well as new dishes to try. Like you, I like leftovers so I don’t mind eating the same meal a couple nights later or even for lunch the next day. K


  11. What great motivation to keep on cooking to take care of ourselves! My husband and I are adjusting to being empty nesters this past year and I’ve been feeling a bit lost cooking for just two after years of family meals. I think I will now have to retire my mega size crockpot and reward myself with a smaller one. Thanks for the tips. I love reading all your postings!


  12. Yes,yes, yes! I understand and have been going through the same. I love homemaking, especially cooking for loved ones, and being single really taxes your inner strength to find joy in other ways. I have company over, although not as often as I’d like as groceries are so expensive, but neighbors and other single friends do appreciate it. Just 3 weeks ago I made a conscience effort to start cooking 1/2 batches vs. just filling up my freezer.


    • Lori, If you enjoy having company over to share a meal, you might have some like minded people who could become a dinner club. That way the dishes and cost are spread out. Martin and I belonged to a dinner club for years. The host prepares the main meal and the other attendees bring appetizer, soup or salad and dessert. We met once a month and each month someone else hosted. It was fun. The host for the month chose a theme for everyone to follow. For instance, in March we chose Mardi Gras as the theme with cajun cooking. K


  13. Kathy, I’m another foodie, with a preference for simple meals made from fresh local ingredients, and I’ve been cooking for one for several decades. I usually make 2-3 servings of whatever I’m cooking, which allows me to cook dinner on some nights and eat leftovers on others. For most of my adult life I hewed pretty strictly to recipes, but the pandemic forced me to up my game and become a more creative cook. I’ve become a fan of pizzas, which can be topped with whatever is on hand, and quesadillas, which similarly lend themselves to a variety of fillings. Typically, on a day that I’m baking bread, I’ll make a little extra dough to use as a pizza crust and then cut the finished pizza into three two-slice servings. My freezer is always full of good wholesome foods that can quickly be assembled into simple, delicious meals. (For example, during the summer when fresh basil is plentiful, I make batches of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. The cubes get stored in quart freezer bags, with one cube equal to one serving in whatever recipe I want to use it in.)


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