DINNER FOR ONE
Dinner for one is always a drag. Cooking for two or more people is more fulfilling, but since I live alone, I’m stuck with having to cook for just me. Back in the 1990’s I was pretty conscientious about cooking. But at some point around the turn of the new millennium, I slacked off and got lazy. A lot of that had to do with my work schedule. Working long hours outside in all kinds of weather in archaeological trenches is not very conducive to coming home in the evening and getting all enthused about spending a long time in the kitchen. So on my shopping excursions I would do something like buy a few bags of cheese or meat filled tortellini in the refrigerated section, a couple of jars of Italian sauce and then for dinner open a bag and a jar up, throw in some garlic and chili powder, mix it up and pop it into the microwave. Or I’d open a can of thick potato stew with pieces of frankfurters, add some curry powder and nuke that. It was fast, easy, filling, required minimal clean up and very unhealthy.
I ate like that for longer than I’d care to admit. My excuse was that I was just too tuckered out to start cooking when I got home. When my daily routine changed though, due to the back and knee problems caused by all the years of that wonderful archaeological work and I was taken off of the field work, with more regular hours, I didn’t change my eating habits. That is, until I woke up one day and realized that eating all that processed garbage was eventually going to kill me. So I went back to cooking, leaving all that processed food behind. These days I eat salad once, sometimes twice a week and usually cook two nights during the work week, making enough at each cooking session so that the next day I can enjoy the leftovers. I am not a great cook, I keep it simple, but it has to have good ingredients and it has to taste good, preferably very spicy. That is very important. On Saturdays I allow myself the luxury of my continental breakfast at the bistro and in the evenings my lasagna at my favourite Italian restaurant. That’s a bit more carbohydrates than I would prefer, but everything thing there is homemade in the truest sense. Since going back to really cooking I feel so much more healthy and much happier about what I eat. And, to keep my weight in check, most of the year I try to maintain a low carb diet, leaving out the sugar, chocolate (the hardest part, because I am a chocoholic), cakes and pastries, and potatoes, noodles, and especially bread. Living in a country where there are more different types of bread than in the rest of the world combined and wonderful fresh rolls and pastries, I didn’t think I could live without bread. But I manage. I will indulge in a bit of rice, and if I have noodles I use rice noodles. Of course, there are two occasions during the year when I do indulge in forbidden fruits, one being whenever I am in Paris (abstinence there is ridiculous) and around the holiday season in December, when there are just, as in Paris, too many wonderful things to enjoy. Hell, you only live once. And when those two occasions have passed, it’s back to living more sensibly. A lot more sensibly than I used to…
Steaming in the pan are chicken pieces spiced with pepper and chili powder, sautéed in oil, onions and fresh garlic and simmered in a tomato sauce spiced with oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary and a touch more chili powder and fresh garlic, with leeks, carrots, sliced olives, mushrooms, green peppers and zucchini slices, later served over a small portion of rice noodles. Photo taken in January 2015.
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