Eating alone, in fact being alone, was something I really used to struggle with. I felt that if it was only me at home it wasn’t worth making any effort and I’d often let myself go without dinner. Not only was that really unhealthy it would leave me feeling hungry, frustrated and tired- especially the next morning. When you’re prone to having low moods and anxiety you really want to try and have the very best start to a day you can. To wake up feeling fresh and with a positive attitude, ready to tackle the demands of the day ahead. Going to bed on an empty stomach is unlikely to facilitate that, you will probably have a poor nights sleep and wont wake up feeling rested.
Now I have learnt that being alone can be very rewarding and when it’s only me at home I relish the thought of cooking for one. It’s actually a real treat. I can have exactly what I want, eat it on a tray on the sofa while watching something that is probably only female suitable. That’s what life should be about, embracing the little things. Spoil yourself when you’re having a night in alone, treat yourself like you would a loved one. Run yourself a bubble bath, light candles and download a new cd that you’ve been wanting to listen to. Watch a film without your phone in your hand, embrace your own company. I can honesty say I really do enjoy my own company now, something which has long been a struggle, but it’s only come from changing my outlook to being on my own.
Don’t save all the good things in life for when there’s two or a group of you, learn to savour them alone. You can treat yourself to that really nice cut of steak; after all you’ve only got to buy one portion. Or why not try out a tricky recipe you’ve been putting off, no one will know if it doesn’t look quite like the picture. Often I’ll batch cook and freeze the rest for nights when I’m feeling lazy. Learning to take pleasure from the simplest of things will make life feel so much more special. So let’s embrace the art of being alone together.
An all too familiar scenario when it’s just me to cater for is staring at an open fridge and wondering what to cook. I think to myself while my stomach rumbles away, I’ll just have a slice of toast while I decided. The first slice spread thick with cream cheese, cracked pepper and snipped chives will barely touch the sides, in fact I’m even hungrier! There goes my plan of what to cook, it’s instant gratification I want now.
I’ll notice a rouge avocado, beautifully ripe, another slice goes into the toaster, this time I pile it high with creamy avocado smashed with chilli flakes, sea salt, zesty lime and a touch of garlic. Ohhhh is that a wedge of Comte I spy? Left over from the cheeseboard last weekend, a third slice goes under the grill, topped with thick slices of nutty cheese and a shake of Worcestershire sauce. It bubbles and cracks, straining under the intense heat until melted, gooey and utterly delicious. I eat it spread with very the last spoon of chilli jam I manage to scrape from the jar. I’m feeling rather full but think I can manage just one more before I nest on the sofa with the latest book I’ve been desperate to read. The final slice. Decision, decisions. Do I throw a curve ball and go for Nutella with slices of juicy, ripe strawberries or go for the homemade jam I’ve just spotted at eye level. That prosciutto and creamy, mozzarella is looking pretty tasty too. The winner is the jam, maximum satisfaction for minimum effort.
I hope some of these combinations inspire you on your next night in. If your fridge is like mine there’s always odds and ends of ingredients wrapped in foil parcels, rarely enough for a meal, always enough for a slice of toast. Make or buy yourself a really good loaf, it will make the experience even more enjoyable. See if you can eat them all, I dare you!
1 loaf of good bread, I used sourdough, cut into thick slices. *i’ll be posting a recipe for sourdough bread soon.
1/2 a really ripe avocado
Big pinch sea salt
Juice 1/2 small or 1/4 big lime
1/4 tsp garlic purée
Pinch chilli flakes
Fresh black pepper
Mash all the ingredients together, taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to.
REALLY GOOD CHEESE ON TOAST:
3-4 thick slices of Comte, cheddar or other hard cheese.
Few shakes of tobacco
Few shake of Worcestershire sauce
Chilli jam or chutney
Heat grill to high. Toast one side of the bread until deep golden, lightly toast the second side. Lay the cheese on the lightly toasted side with the sauces, grill until golden and bubbling. Serve with the chutney.
POACHED SALMON PATE:
This one is one of my favourites, it reminds me of a pate I used to buy in M&S. It makes a great starter too and requires a little extra forethought than some of the other toppings.
2 poached salmon fillets (You can buy these ready poached or of course make your own)
100g soft cheese
1 tbsp chopped dill plus a few fronds to serve
Salt and pepper
Remove the skin from the salmon and mash with the rest of the ingredients until combines but with some nice flakes of salmon. Spoon into a ramekin or small dish. Scatter with the dill and chill until ready to spread over hot toast.
WARM TOMATOES & BASIL:
Handful cherry tomatoes
1 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
Few fresh basil leave
Heat grill to medium. Halve the tomatoes and mix with the vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper and a glug of good olive oil. Tip onto a baking tray and grill for a few mins, turning occasional, until just starting to lose their shape. Toast the bread, rub with the garlic clove and drizzle with some oil and sea salt. Spoon on the tomatoes and tear the basil on top.
FIG & PROSCIUTTO:
1 really ripe fig, cut into 6 wedges
2 slices Prosciutto
Drizzle the toast with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Top with the figs, Prosciutto and a squeeze of agave.
BRESAOLA & ROCKET WITH MUSTARD BUTTER:
1 tsp really soft butter
1 tsp dijon or grain mustard
2-3 slices of bresaola
Mix together the mustard and butter and spread onto toast. Top with the beef and rocket. Season with a little salt and pepper.
GOATS CHEESE, HONEY & BLUEBERRY:
Drizzle of honey
1-2 tbsp blueberries
About 50g soft goats cheese
Spread the hot toast with the goats cheese and a good grinding of black pepper. Top with blueberries and drizzle with honey.
NUT BUTTER & RASPBERRY:
1 tbsp peanut, almond or other nut butter
A few raspberries
Spread toast thick with the nut butter and top with the raspberries.
CREAM CHEESE & QUICK PICKLED CUCUMBER
2-3 tbsp cream cheese
A few thin slices of cucumber
1 tbsp vinegar
Put the vegetables in a small sieve and sprinkle with a big pinch sea salt leave for 10 minuets then press down to squeeze the water out. Mix with the vinegar in a small bowl, add some black pepper, leave for 10 minutes more. Spread the cream cheese onto hot toast. Drain the veg and layer on top.