Sunday, February 6, 2011

Setting up the Kitchen

Table for one?
Welcome to my new blog!  I've been thinking about starting a second cooking blog for a long time, but had too many ideas that never seemed to boil down to just the right one.  Recently, my youngest moved into an apartment and said, "Mom, could come up with a pantry list and some very simple recipes for one?"  That was it; I knew I had my idea.  I, too, often cook for one and would love to share those ideas.

So, who am I?  Check out the profile at the right and, when you have time, peruse my first blog, and see what's going on over there; I'll be glad to see you.  That blog is a couple of years old by now and focuses on meals that bring people together around a table in our nutty world.  I believe a lot of problems in life could be solved by slowing down, taking care of ourselves and those we love, especially by cooking with and for them.  No car-eats or choked down over the kitchen sink food, but...mostly simple things for you and your family or friends.  Occasionally I'll blog more complicated things or fun things from magazines or other sites.  And, at More Time at the Table, there is a section of recipes called "Cooking for One or Two" that might be interesting to you, as well as lots of recipes and ideas for you and guests.

 "Dinner Place" will contribute to the idea of making dinner (or breakfast or lunch)  a very real part of life.  You'll learn to cook for yourself and enjoy the meal,  how to invite a friend over, and you'll be healthier, wealthier, and wiser because of it.  Or, you can just find recipes for one or two if that's what you need.  It will take a while to get the list of recipes and posts going, but let's get started.  The first entry is about the kitchen set up and will be a work-in-progress, I'm sure.   (Please leave a comment if you think of some important item I've missed!)

Setting up Your Kitchen--What do you need?

You can make do with a hot plate, a microwave, a dorm frig and a single plate, fork, knife and spoon--and some of the recipes will be just for that.  But I'm looking at someone who has a basic kitchen:
  • A stove and oven of some sort
  • A sink
  • A refrigerator
  • A microwave
  • Perhaps a dishwasher
In order to make the best use of that kitchen and what you can cook in it, you'll need (and can take your time getting it all) the following items; use your discretion.  Shop at Good Will, garage sales, estate sales or antique shop for bargains, but buy new cutting boards and knives.
  1. Tableware (I'm assuming you'll use the dishwasher and/or have people over for a meal.)
  • 8 ea plates, salad plates, cereal/soup bowls, mugs, large glasses, small glasses, wine glasses, silverware.  (Steak knives optional)
  • 2 serving spoons; 1 serving fork;  1 butter knife
  • 2 serving bowls, which could double as mixing bowls; 1 serving platter or tray
  • 1 bread basket
  • 1 trivet or large hot pad
  • 4 place mats and 8 fabric napkins (You have to wash clothes anyway; be green.  You can use a big pack of cheap white bar or mop towels for napkins if that appeals to you. Antique stores or second-hand shops that sell linens are a great source for fine-quality napkins that will last and last.  New napkins are often made cheaply abroad.)
  • Candles (real or battery)
  • Things you collect for centerpieces as time goes by.  A plant or herbs can do double duty and you can splurge on fresh flowers for a special occasion.
2.  Equipment with which to cook:

  • 1 small, nonstick skillet (8") for omelets, eggs, grilled sandwiches, etc
  • 1 large, nonstick or stainless large skillet (12")
  • 1 2 or 3 qt saucepan w/ lid for rice, heating soup and so on
  • 1 (and later 2) stockpots 10 or 12 qt for pasta and soup or stew
  • 1 8" chef's knife (buy the best you can and this should be your only knife if it's all you can afford)
  • 1 serrated all-purpose or tomato knife
  • 1 wood or plastic cutting board
  • 1 colander (strainer)
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 set of measuring cups
  • 1 set of measuring spoons
  • 1 cheese grater (box-type is fine)
  • 1 whisk
  • 2 wooden spoons of different sizes
  • 1 spatula for nonstick pans
  • 1 ladle
  • 1 large cooking spoon
  • Can opener
  • Wine opener
  • Bottle opener
  • 2 glass or ceramic casseroles  (1 8" sq. and 1 9"x13") for oven and microwave
  • 1 (later 2) cookie sheets for cookies, heating bread or heating other things in the oven
  • 1 roasting pan, hopefully with a "V" rack 
  • 1 tea kettle (or you can use your 2 or 3 qt sauce pan to heat water) 
  • Food storage containers (plastic or glass) and/or plastic wrap, aluminum foil and gallon/sandwich bags if you use them.
3.  Electric Appliances (This is  a very personal list you can make yourself.  Only you know if you can't live without an iced tea maker, ice cream freezer, iron or hot chocolate maker.  Most people at least need a toaster. Don't buy used appliances; ask friends or family if they have anything first, then, if they don't, buy the best you can afford.)
  • Coffeemaker (if you drink coffee)
  • Toaster 
  • Hand-held electric mixer (Optional--Will you make cookies or whip cream?)
  • Crock-pot (opt)
  • Waffle Iron (opt)
4.  Fabric Kitchen Needs
  • Oven mitts, gloves or potholders (potholders can also be used for trivets)
  • 2 dish towels (1 terry; 1 plain cotton)
  • 2 dish cloths
  • 1 Apron (save your clothes)
  • Scrubbies of some sort for hard-to-clean dishes or pots
  • Place mats and napkins (see above)
5.  Basic Cleaning Supplies
  • Dish soap and/or dishwasher detergent
  • Windex or Vinegar and water
  • Sanitizing spray or cleaner (Diluted Bleach or Bleach spray like Chlorox Clean-up; There are also more environmentally friendly products.)
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop and Floor Cleaner (in a pinch, you can use dish soap) or old rags / big sponges
  • Small sponges (some with rough sides)
  • Old towels (or paper towels)
  • Garbage can (and liners if you use them)
  • Oven Cleaner (unless you have a self-cleaning oven--and sometimes even then)
     If you try to fill your pantry all at once, you'll be broke.  Buy a few basics and the things you'll need for 3 or 4 meals.  The following week, buy the things you'll need for another 3 or 4 meals.  Soon you'll have an operating pantry out of which you can easily pull together a quick meal.  You'll need, as a solo cook, to greatly rely on dry goods that are not perishable and to very carefully choose your perishable goods so you don't waste money and food.  For instance, a bag of oranges might be a good buy, but will you eat them before they go bad?  Also, sometimes it might be easier and cheaper to eat certain things in restaurants.  A big salad bar take-out meal twice a week could be cheaper than maintaining all of those vegetables for one.  Your shopping habits will also determine what kind of pantry you'll have.  Do you shop once, twice or five times a week?

The first trip to the store--$100. or so
  • Salt and pepper grinders(these are disposable and in the spice section)
  • 1# packages of flour and sugar
  • Whole wheat rolls, buns or tortillas/wraps (can freeze and use one at a time)
  • Peanut or almond butter and jam or honey
  • Whole wheat pasta and/or brown rice (You can also buy quick brown rice or frozen, cooked brown rice you can heat in the microwave.)
  • Tea, coffee or cocoa (your choice)
  • Jar of Marinara sauce (I'll blog a great home-made one for you, too.)
  • 1 jar Dijon-style mustard
  • Spinach or Leaf Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce (your favorite greens)
  • 1 onion; 1 bulb garlic (or buy a small jar of minced garlic for the frig)
  • Your favorite vegetables (fresh or frozen)
  • Your favorite fruit-3 or 4 pieces
  • Olive oil, small container
  • Vinegar (white, red or balsamic)
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salsa
  • 1/2 # of your favorite cheese
  • Tortilla Chips 
  • Nuts of some kind
  • Whole grain cereal or oatmeal or granola
  • Milk
  • Yogurt (Buy plain and add your own fruit or jam or honey; flavored, sugary yogurt is expensive for the nutritional content.)
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • A protein you like:  canned tuna, fresh or frozen chicken, sausage, hamburger, tofu
  • 1 frozen desperation meal
  • Pint ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt
  • Dish soap
  • Bath soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Plastic Wrap

First Meal (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Snack)

                                                          1 serving

1 tsp (teaspoon) butter or olive oil
1/2 cup  chopped vegetable(s) of your choice or mixed ( example: onions; spinach; zucchini; red peppers)
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
1  large whole-grain tortilla
1T grated cheese
1/8  c salsa

  1. In a small skillet, heat butter or oil over medium heat and saute vegetable(s) about five minutes, stirring often, until tender. 
  2. Meantime, in a mixing bowl, beat two eggs with a sprinkle each of salt and pepper until well-mixed. Pour into the skillet.  Stir well and cook until eggs are set as you like, stirring again a time or two to let uncooked eggs reach the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Spoon eggs and vegetables out onto a tortilla (which you can heat for 12 seconds in the microwave wrapped in a towel or paper towel) and top with salsa.  
  4. Turn bottom of tortilla up and fold in each side to make a firm package.
For a larger meal,  you can add some cooked potato to the taco (easy to chop and cook 1 potato in the microwave with a bit of water, covered, for 4-5 minutes) or add a piece of fruit for dessert.

What else can I make from that stuff?
  1. Peanut Butter Toast or Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly
  2. Grilled Cheese Sandwich  (WikiHow to make one.)
  3. Pasta (follow directions on package) and Marinara with hamburger ( kind of a Bolognese Sauce)
  4. Chicken Spaghetti and vegetables (if you bought chicken)
  5. Salad and dressing  (click to learn how Jamie Oliver makes a salad and dressing)
  6. Yogurt and fruit w/ jam or honey or a smoothie
  7. Omelet (plain, cheese, meat or veggie) and toasted roll with jam or honey and fruit (Coming soon) 
  8. Fried Egg Sandwich and fruit
  9. Sauteed chicken and vegetables with a whole wheat roll (Coming soon)
  10. Grilled Chicken Sandwich and salad or Leftover sauteed chicken sandwich if you made 2
  11. Cheese and fruit 
  12. Chicken and rice
  13. Meatloaf (if you bought hamburger) and vegetables
  14. Nachos

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,


    1. What a fantastic idea! So many people are alone and cooking for one is a different beast isn't it! I love this idea and am following you on twitter and I've attached this blog to my blogroll...


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