June 24, 2010

Cooking for Two (or more)

"What are those?" Clara asked, peeking into the drawer as I pulled out the measuring cups.

My dear friend's six-year-old daughter was spending the evening with me for one of our "cooking classes." Once every couple of months, Clara comes to my house with her apron my mom made for her, a step stool to stand on, and the desire for an evening away from "the monsters," her term of affection for her brothers.

It was my little cup full of corncob holders she had her eye on. I pulled one out.

"These are to stick into the end of an ear of corn so you can eat it easier," I said, demonstrating.

"Oh, but why do you have so many?" she asked. "There's only one of you."

"Well, that's true, there is only one of me," I said, "but sometimes I like to have people over to eat with me. Like you."

What Clara didn't realize was that her practical question about cooking for one was something I had been thinking about myself a lot lately. Because I enjoy being in the kitchen, chopping, sauteing, baking, I have never minded going to the trouble for "just me." Besides, I like leftovers.

But whether or not it's too much trouble to cook for one, the idea of eating alone is more difficult. Food is not just a source of nourishment; it's a conversation starter, a way of life, a political statement, a form of entertainment, a hobby, a spiritual landmark. When I eat alone, there's no one to talk to about it, no one to take home leftovers or swap recipes with, no one to sit lazily with long after the food is gone sharing memories of past meals or dreams of future ones.

So while Clara was here, making pancakes and bacon with me for "Breakfast Night," as she dubbed it, I resolved again to quit eating alone so often. Just because I am single doesn't mean I can't share more of my meals with others. It may take more time to invite people over, but if I had a family it would be an easy decision to make meal time a priority.

And eating with others doesn't mean special shopping lists or fancy napkins. It means inviting someone to my home, even if she's only six, and eating pancakes together.

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If you find yourself eating alone a little too often, invite a friend, or even your husband and kids if it's been a while since you sat at the table together, and enjoy some pancakes. Here's my favorite pancake recipe from my well-worn Pillsbury Cookbook.

Pancakes
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat griddle to medium-high heat. In large bowl, beat eggs; stir in buttermilk and oil. Add remaining ingredients; stir just until large lumps disappear. For thicker pancakes, thicken with additional flour; for thinner pancakes, thin with additional milk. Lightly grease heated griddle. A few drops of water sprinkled on griddle sizzle and bounce when heat is just right. Pour batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto hot griddle. Bake until bubbles form and edges start to dry; turn and bake other side. (I like to add blueberries or chocolate chips, too!)

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Today, I am joining Ann Kroeker for Food on Fridays when she discusses all things food. Since I am a bit of a foodie myself, I plan to join her discussion often. Stop by and visit her yourself, too!

10 comments:

Aimee said...

I'd love to come! Do you invite families of 7 ;)?

Ann Kroeker said...

I love "Breakfast Night" because I love breakfast food and it gives me an excuse to enjoy some favorite recipes more than once a day!

I love your thought--to share meals with others, whether one friend, a family, or a six-year-old girl. I know that my kids love it when they get individual attention from a loved and trusted adult in their life. My next-door-neighbor and dear friend has done that before, inviting one of my kids over to have lemonade and talk about flowers or guinea pigs or some weird seed pod she found (she's a gardener and animal lover, so she loves talking nature with curious kids).

I think our culture could benefit from this simple shift in thinking--inviting people to share a meal, no matter how simple.

This post is about so much more than pancakes. Thank you for linking to Food on Fridays with a recipe for a rich life!

Billy Coffey said...

We try to have breakfast for supper at least once a week. And I'm with you on friends and family gathered at the table. There's nothing like it.

Laura said...

Charity,
You are the sweetest. This brought tears. Little Clara will remember your time together forever. What a blessing you are.

Christy said...

Sharing a meal is a wonderful thing. I need to remember to make it special. We love breakfast for dinner! Fun fun fun!

Charity Singleton said...

Aimee -- I think my record is a family of six, but I'd love a family of 7!

Ann -- It is interesting how sharing a meal has become more about high hospitality than sitting on the porch drinking lemonade. I think it's the consumer monster that realized there is profit in making stuff for entertaining. I have to resist the urge myself to not always go overboard when others are coming to eat with me.

Charity Singleton said...

Billy -- I could eat breakfast food for dinner just about every night, I think.

Laura -- Thanks. I'm actually the one blessed when Clara comes to visit. This time, she told me about the money she is saving to buy two chickens and a goat for a needy third-world family. SHE is precious.

Charity Singleton said...

Christy -- I think you have hit the nail on the head: "sharing" is what makes meals special.

Craver Vii said...

I like that picture of the corncob holders. Good food for thought here. My family shares a meal with our best friends at least once a week. Sometimes we find ourselves eating together three times in one week. There is something special about that.

Charity Singleton said...

Craver -- I love hearing that families eat together with friends. As a single person, if I want to eat with other people, I have to eat with friends. But I think families benefit from eating with friends by letting the children see adults interacting with each other, by children "hosting" other children, but adults supporting each other as parents and people. I LOVE that you eat with your friends.

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