Eating Alone

Tiny home-kitchen. Two-burner propane stove.

Eating Alone

I’ve been in two, serious, back-to-back, long-term relationships since I was 19. I’m 32 and six months single.

I came of age as a cook, and as a writer, with a partner. Cooking for someone else at least five nights a week sincerely influenced my culinary decisions. It challenged me to find ways to make two very different men like vegetables more. It pushed me to impress, both my men and extended friends and family, with my culinary prowess. It was a way I attempted to show two very differently, indifferent men, that I loved them. Every meal I put in front of them, I handed a little piece of myself to be taken inside them. Love, infusing food I’d made with these hands, now, a part of my love.

Venison Tenderloin, homemade sauerkraut, Brie, fresh herbs, garlic toum
Venison Tenderloin Sandwich, homemade sauerkraut, Brie, fresh herbs, garlic toum

Unfortunately, good food and love need more, to keep a forever-relationship, forever.

For the first time in my adult life, I’m really alone. One room cabin, 40 acres. Middle-of-nowhere-Deerton-Upper Peninsula wilderness-alone.

In the past, when single people have talked to me about challenges cooking for themselves, I fear I’ve been a bit flippant in my response. “I love cooking for myself,” I’d say with just a hint of disbelief and a total lack of context. “I cook something delicious just for myself, and it’s a treat. I’m glad to give you some recipe ideas,” I would finish with what I fear might have been a hint of bothersome self-assuredness. I couldn’t fully understand their perspective, because I’d never been in that position.

Eggs N' Greens with Brie Toast
Eggs N’ Greens with Brie Toast

I get it now. It’s damn hard to cook a nice meal for yourself when you live alone. By nice, I mean put the time and energy to buy groceries and create something delicious and soul-satisfying, just for yourself. When we cook for others, we’re aware of many things: the need to impress, nourish, sustain, and nurture those we’re feeding. We put all of that into the food, and the flavors, etc. answer. But there isn’t always incentive, to do that for ourselves. Food becomes fuel when you’re alone. You eat standing, perching, laying down, but not sitting around a table. At the moment, I don’t even have a table.

I try. I’m a food writer. I love food and flavor is really important to me. Every aspect of good eating is important to me. But somehow, other things take precedence. I don’t eat as regularly. I read or watch a movie, trying to remember mindfulness with each bite. Trying.

Why are we less likely to nourish ourselves, than others?

Rhubarb, Honey, Rose Petals
Rhubarb, Honey, Rose Petals

In a rural setting, it becomes an interesting challenge. The closest grocery store is a solid 25 minute drive away. When I’m hungry at home, I’m also all the way home, and not likely to jump in the car just to get myself a meal. So I end up with interesting concoctions and combinations of snacks and half-meals that I often consume standing, then sitting, then walking around as other agenda items momentarily take precedence over eating. It’s not like that, when you eat with others. You focus more, on the meal, atmosphere, conversation, their reactions, the play of light across food, wine, faces.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. I chant, a mantra. But before I know it my eggs are getting cold, and the buttered toast, chill. However, I’ve managed to sweep, play with the puppy, and hang clothes on the line, so there’s always a tradeoff.

Sit down and eat your damn eggs. I remind myself in something approximating a mental-stern-mommy-voice. They’re still good, even cold.

I’ve learned that eggs are a single person’s best friend. They’re a simple-to-cook, locally sourceable, healthy, versatile protein option. They’re adaptable to any cuisine theme. They’re comfort food.

Sunny-side up local eggs with smoked sea salt and polenta
Sunny-side up local eggs with smoked sea salt and polenta
Eggs N' Greens with Brie Toast
Eggs N’ Greens with Brie Toast
Avocado, Garlic Toum, Soft Boiled Egg
Avocado, Garlic Toum, Soft Boiled Egg

 

 

 

 

 

***All recipes are adaptable to adding many more people to your meal!

Soft-Boiled Eggs and Toast—Arguably, the Ultimate Comfort Food (Shailah, I know how you feel about yolks)

  • 2 local eggs
  • Good bread for toasting
  • Butter
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste (I also like to use garlic salts, dill, tarragon, turmeric, etc. depending on what flavor mood I’m in)

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Slowly lower in eggs, one at a time, careful not to jar. Let boil for approximately 4 minutes, depending on how runny you like the yolk.

Run eggs under cold water and carefully remove shell. Sprinkle eggs with desired flavors.

Toast bread, and then butter. Cut into dippable/scoopable slices.

Eggs and Greens
Eggs and Greens

Eggs and Greens

  • 2 local eggs
  • Good bread for toasting
  • Butter
  • Large handful of greens (chard, kale, spinach, micro greens, mustard greens, arugula, wilted lettuce, etc.) –The greens melt down into next to nothing, so use a generous handful.
  • Minced Garlic (Add garlic towards the end of cooking process for a more full flavor)
  • Salt/pepper/spices to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos/ Soy Sauce
  • Water—not always needed, but might be necessary to keep greens from sticking. Sometimes, I also just add butter.

Melt greens in oil with spices and Braggs/Soy Sauce. When greens are melty, make a well in the center and add eggs and garlic. Cover, making sure to keep a bit of liquid in the bottom, and cook until eggs are sunnyside up (whites are cook and there’s a film over the yolk, but yolk’s still runny). Scoop eggs, greens, and pan juices into a bowl.

Other Egg Meal Ideas:

  • Sometimes, I cheat and use packets of Indian curries our food coop carries. The ingredients are good and healthy, and they don’t have a bunch of preservatives. There’s different options, and you can add to them. Ditto with the organic ramen/noodle packets. I add cabbage, peppers, zucchini, seafood, leftover sausage/chicken/venison/beef/pork, chopped nuts, etc. And of course, eggs. They can be cooked however you’re craving eggs, and added to the curry/noodle dish.
  • Hard-boiled, or even soft-boiled (using the yolk as part of the dressing) eggs are delicious on most salads.
  • Plain old eggs, bacon, and toast is a perfect comfort food.
Local Eggs
Local Eggs

Author: Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills is a freelance writer/writing consultant/English Professor/Creative nonfiction writer from Michigan's Upper Peninsula living on the island of Isla Mujeres in Mexico.

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