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Cooking for one
By Johanne McInnis

        Recipes for those tired of making too much food

        Although I come from a small immediate family, we had plenty of uncles, aunts and other extended family members so Christmas and other holidays were packed with tables full of food and plenty of leftovers. With marriage and two children, I ended up cooking recipes that always made 6-8 servings. Again, plenty of food and stuff left over for lunches the next day.

        I accepted a work assignment in Ottawa a few years ago and noticed that a lot of the recipes I had were useless for just one. If I cooked the regular recipe, I'd eat the same thing for three days or end up with a freezer full of plastic containers. I tried shopping for one. It was almost impossible at times. Most supermarkets didn't sell just one pork chop or a chicken breast?

        Cooking for one can be a great mystery as most recipes are made for several people or for entertaining crowds. Good luck trying to figure out how to reduce half a teaspoon of salt by one sixth?? I think this may lead many single people to buy the prefab, boxed or canned "stuff" that you can find in any grocery store. The stuff you pour out of a can, into a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Zoodles anyone?? Yes, they are indeed quick and no fuss, but major yuck! Now I know short of going completely organic and chewing on lettuce leaves, nothing is 100 per cent completely good for you. However, I can assure you that if you are reaching for the box of "product A", the one where you add water and hamburger and voilà you have that fast and hot nutritional meal, you are being downright ignorant to what is going into your body. These preboxed, processed meals have less nutritional value then the cardboard they come in and because they are processed they are usually extremely high in fat and salt. Two things your body doesn't need an abundance of. Again, I'm no health nut, my friends will attest that I eat greasy burgers dripping with cheese and side order of fries loaded in gravy and ketchup every once and awhile, seriously.

        I know cooking for one is not as easy as it sounds but please take my advice. First of all markets such as the Farmer's market in Fredericton, Moncton, and the City market in Saint John have butcher shops where you can buy for one, they will even wrap things up in freezer bags for you AND most grocery stores have fresh produce ready and available for consumption for "one". You can grab 4 mushrooms or one apple or 1 green pepper, etc. So there really isn't any excuse why you can't shop for the more healthy items. And it's really cheaper in the end to shop and cook this way, honestly.

        Now I've heard the arguments and the whining.

        "I don't have time, I need something that is simple, quick and won't mess up all my dishes." No sweat my friend! Here are three books I highly recommend you purchase if you are cooking for one. Christmas is right around the corner so don't hesitate to drop a hint to a family member that you want one of these:

1) Going solo in the kitchen by Jane Doerfer
2) Cooking for One (Cook's Essentials) published by Southwater Publishing
3) Cooking outside the Pizza box (Easy recipes for today's college student) by Jean Patterson and Danae Campbell

        And if you can't get out and buy a book try the Internet, as there are plenty of websites that are dedicated to those of us who eat alone over the kitchen sink. You are now loaded with the information you need so come on what have you got to lose? That box of Kraft dinner can wait. Here are two recipes that can be made in less then 20 minutes.

        One is for seafood and the other steak. I do hope you will try them out and leave the can of Beefaroni to gather dust in your cupboard.

        This first recipe is quick, super tasty and easy to make. Basically throw everything in the same pan and serve with pasta or rice.

Basil tomato shrimp

2 tbsp oil
1 garlic clove, crushed or (1 tsp of the jarred variety you can buy at supermarkets)
10-15 shrimp, de-veined
1 (14oz) can tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine, chicken stock or apple juice
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried basil

* In a large skillet, add oil and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly 30 to 60 seconds.

        Add shrimp and sauté until it turns pink (about 1 minute). Turn shrimp over and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl. (If you don't remove it, the shrimp will be tough)

        * In same pan stir in remaining ingredients, break up tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 7-10 minutes). Add shrimp and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice.

        Makes 1 to 2 servings.

Stir-fries are a quick and healthy way to get your veggies and they taste so good!

Beef and pepper stir fry

1 tbsp soy sauce
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 lbs steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips (you can buy this at supermarkets, pre-cut)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 or 5 mushrooms quartered
3 tablespoons cold water
1-teaspoon cornstarch

* In a re-sealable plastic bag combine the first five ingredients. Seal and refrigerate for 10 minutes. In a frying pan add oil and vegetables and stir-fry on medium high heat 5 minutes. Add beef and cook for 5 minutes. Combine water and cornstarch until smooth; add to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice.

        If you would like to ask a food related or cooking question or if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail Johanne at: