Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones

It's hard to review a cookbook, especially one that you haven't actually cooked anything from.

But what I can tell you is that this book was basically not at all what I was looking for and I was more than a little disappointed. Which isn't exactly the book's fault, because it was clear I was not at all the target for this particular cookbook.

See, I mostly do single serve meals for myself because my husband and I eat such very different things. Plus, I do about half of my work from home, so I can make my own lunch if I wanted. So I've been actively looking for recipes and cookbooks that focus on small portions and cooking for one or two people. This book seemed perfect.

Only the thing is that it's written by a woman with a fantastic food pedigree (she has one recipe that she designed specifically for a meal with Julia Child when she worked for her). Meanwhile, I only own a handful of pots and pans and barely know how to do much more than brown hamburger.

Most of the time, I can find a way to take very fancy recipes and adapt some of the flavors and techniques into things I can manage. At the least, I learn a bit about what goes well together for future reference. But in the end, I don't cook with a ton of spices and ingredients because it's expensive and an indulgence I don't need. If food was important to me, the way it seems to be for Jones, then that would probably be different. I would make it a priority.

But the thing people with money never seem to realize is that every single ingredient you add to a recipe is a much larger cost than you would think. First, there's just buying the item in the first place. Then, there's the fact that unless you're using it up in this recipe, you're going to have to store it. If you don't have a large kitchen, this is a huge problem.

Lastly, there's the problem of waste. Last time I made one of my favorite recipes, I had to spend twice as much per ounce on some of the ingredients because I bought the smallest sizes possible of things like horseradish that I just don't use before it goes bad (unless I'm making the same recipes nearly every day). I still ended up throwing away half the bottle. And I don't really believe in wasting food like that, I'm trying very hard to curb my food waste.

So when a recipe calls for something like cumin, then there's really not much for me to do because there's no way that I have the money, space, or need for an entire bottle of cumin. And the majority of people that I know are the same way. This cookbook was basically for a social and economic class of people that I don't belong to. Some of the food sounded pretty great, but the only recipe I really wanted to keep was the Hollandaise for One, because I love hollandaise and the only ingredients are butter, egg, lemon juice and salt. Although the last time I bought lemon juice I had to throw out almost the entire bottle of that, so who knows.