Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cooking in Miniature

I've been looking at my refrigerator. It's small. Not the smallest I've ever had in an apartment, but not really big enough for someone who cooks from scratch. I've also been reading Cooking for Two 2009 from Cook's Illustrated magazine. It occurred to me that an answer that would allow me to tackle a variety of projects, but still have a theme, is to work on scaling recipes for two people.

I always cook large amounts of food. It's partly because I cooked for a family with two growing boys for so many years. And it's partly my Italian heritage. We Italians seem to have a mission to feed the world. You couldn't walk into my grandmother's house without her offering you food. But now there's only two of us to cook for. So, I cut recipes in half and we still end up getting 2-3 meals out of them because everything is super-sized.

Cooking in Miniature would go right along with Weight Watchers, too. I'm learning what portion sizes I need to eat if I want to be a healthy weight. And they're a lot smaller than what is served in restaurants or found in cookbooks. I think if you made recipes from cookbooks published during my childhood and divided them up into the number of servings the recipe says it makes, you'd think you'd stumbled upon a kid's cookbook because the portions would seem so small.

I think miniaturizing recipes is the perfect challenge for me at this time in my life. The question remains, though, whether to revisit the basics or go international. Maybe I could alternate. Choose basic techniques to practice one month, including using them in recipes. The next month, I could visit a new cuisine. I think I'd get bored with just practicing basic techniques, so alternating would allow me to improve my basic skills and stretch my cooking comfort zone.

I think I may have found my challenge. But, there's one more thing I want to think about before I start planning it. When my Amazon order gets here, it will be easier to figure it all out.

I've got food simmering on the stove. I took stuff I had in the fridge and put it in a pot. It's black beans, salsa verde, vegetable stock, and roasted spicy vegetables. It didn't work for what I originally planned, but I put some of it together, spooned it over a steamed corn tortilla, and topped it with a poached egg, making huevos rancheros with a green sauce. It's not too dry to eat as a soup, especially if you top it with some cheese. I may try that for lunch tomorrow. I think of it as a serendipity recipe. It's serendipity that I found another use for the ingredients since my original idea didn't work.