Cooking for One: The Non-Chef’s Self-Discovery in the Kitchen

I am not a cook. I have never pretended to be a cook.  Nor do I I consider myself to be gifted when it comes to the artful act of food preparation and presentation. While I probably should have learned more from my random perusing of the food channel (sorry Barefoot Contessa. It just hasn’t clicked). But I do like food. And I certainly like eating. And cooking more broadly interests me, but personally, I have been intimidated by kitchens. The act of cooking and the act of eating are not mutually exclusive, as I long have imagined them to be…. especially when life so often hands us lemons.

Four years of college, and my meal plan that stuck by my side for most of it, proved to be a protective mechanism and buffer from my kitchen dependencies. My health-conscious/carb-loading desires were well suited by a swipe into the all-you-can-eat dining hall. Yet even when I moved off campus I continued to neglect my exploration of the kitchen by convincing my parents to sponsor yet another round of meal plans. I felt I would forever be attached to the salad bar, forever craving the collage of options. I never failed to crave the ease of it all. Even if the seats were always a tad bit sticky.

SweetLemonMag-Cook for one

I watched passively in my off-campus residence as my roommates utilized the fully stocked kitchen. I tagged along on the trips to the grocery store, bewildered by the certainty of my roommates. They strode the produce aisles with self-assurance and confidence while I meandered within the parameters of my edible comfort zone, the prepared food, frozen food, and the cereal aisles). How did they do it? Perhaps I had allowed my mom to prepare by lunches for too long. (I still manage to think back fondly on the freezer burnt peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, resultant of the assembly lined production).

Shortly after graduating college, however, my relationship with kitchens and the appliances that come with them began to change. Perhaps I had finally internalized my years of observation. Things really got serious when I got a job as a summer camp counselor. I would be responsible for bringing my own lunch, a significant leap in the right direction. The first week I skimped, bringing prepackaged and processed items Finding easy outlets in single packed yogurts, cheese sticks, and chocolate milk. I was embarrassed, and not surprised to find that the repetitiousness of my lunches rivaled by kindergartners.

I’ve gotten better at it. I finally understand the utility of Tupperware. Fish is no longer something to just order in a restaurant. A salad bar can exist in my fridge, and preparing large quantities of vegetables, rice, quinoa, pasta to then store and dole through the week. The beautiful colorful arrangements I have so often stumbled across at Whole Foods or cooking blogs no longer feel out of reach. What I thought would have entailed mutually assured destruction (me and cooking) have evolved into a symbiotic relationship.


SweetLemongMag - Cook for one 2

So may I formally apologize to the friends of mine who have already seen evidence of this via snapchat, but steps are being made in the right direction. I now welcome the recipes and tips as I step away from the microwave. So cheers to quinoa, Tupperware, sauteed onions, the diverse uses of Greek yogurt, and frozen banana. You can mash up frozen bananas to make fro-yo! I urge you to try it!

Happy eating, happy cooking and lots of #lemonlove.


By Janine Wilkin

eatinghome meals
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1 Comment

  • Reply July 27, 2013

    F.R. Wilkin

    Cooking is chemistry. I always say~_/)~~~~Loved it