Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Small portions

When it comes to writing I love small portions. My favourite genre is children’s picture books. This is not simply because of the size, of course, but I do enjoy being able to hold the entire story line in my head and reworking it in the middle of the night without the need of pen, pencil or keyboard. The same is true of my blog posts. I always try to keep them below 600 words. They’re more manageable that way. Unfortunately the opposite is true when it comes to cooking. Quantities seem to expand in my saucepan but this is not good.

At the moment I’m trying to adopt the style of shopping and cooking that would have been more familiar to Mum’s generation than to my own. When I was a kid Mum went to the shops every day. She bought just enough for that evening’s meal and there was rarely anything left over. Of course, Mum didn’t have the luxury of freezers or supermarkets plus she had no microwave to reheat food... and now neither do I. 

While Rod’s resistance is so low following his treatment there are a lot of restrictions on his diet. He’s not allowed anything raw so salads are a big ‘NO’. He’s not allowed soft cheeses, lightly cooked eggs, pâté, but the most debilitating rule of all is no reheating of food. I had never noticed how much reheating I did from chicken that becomes chicken soup to vegetables that turns into a tasty curry. The rest would be thrown into the freezer and packed in little bags with twist top ties. Nothing was wasted. 

Now when I make a soup I have to use half a carrot. Half a carrot! It’d be quicker to munch a quarter of a raw carrot each and be done with it. I only need to add one potato and a mere handful of assorted vegetables. All that chopping and cooking and swooshing up... it hardly seems worth it. Soups in my house have always been grand amorphous affairs, growing ever more voluminous with each extra carrot and leek that I chuck in... and, before my kids log on to comment, yes, my soups are usually a strange orange colour and just a tad gloopy but they’re always very tasty and highly nutritious [at least, that’s what I always used to tell them.]

My problem extends beyond soups. I seem to be incapable of buying and cooking the correct amount of meat for two portions of stew. Stew should be cooked long and slow in a vast pot with herbs from the garden and root vegetables for flavour. Who wants to do all that faffing about for one meal? 

And as for puddings! I’m now mixing 2 oz flour with 1 oz butter and 1 oz sugar to make a crumble which is sprinkled over one cooking apple. No more left over crumbles for lunch next day.

I know this stage of Rod’s recovery won’t last forever and compared to the fact that he’s still neither allowed nor strong enough to go out and about and mix with groups of people, the food issue is a minor irritation, but right at this moment it’s driving me crazy. 

So has anyone got any bright ideas for small portion cooking? All recipes and helpful suggestions gratefully accepted.


  1. How lovely to hear you chatting away about small amounts of cooking....can you see I´m smiling. And whilst I´m smiling I love your new picture. But back to your topic of small amount of cooking. Living in a hot climate does mean waste if you are not careful, so I do cook smaller quantities each day. We are not great ones for too much in the freezer for reheating, but I love the prep of food each evening, so I don´t mind doing it. Sorry I´ve not added much to your question, but wonderful to hear you talk. Take care of yourself and your precious Rod. Fluffy hugs x

  2. Thank you so much, Pauline, for your comments. I do believe I really could see you smiling and thank you so much for all those fluffy hugs you've been sending me. They really do help.

  3. I can understand how frustrating it is trying to cook for two - I know how difficult it is for me now most of the kids have flown the coop and got familieis of their own- but at least I can freeze the vast quantities I still cook.
    But I had two thoughts.
    1. This situation is temporary so it's not impossible to freeze leftovers for use in a few weeks / months and just think how much time you'll save then when you can use them.

    2. I know you fortunately have a close supportive circle of friends. How about if you offer to cook for one of the families one day ( i.e. you can cook large amounts and give them a meal as well) and the next day they will cook for you two as well and you'll have a day off.
    I'm not suggesting you do that every day but even if you do this once a week it will cover two days of meals.

  4. In some ways having to focus on small portions and the right food helps to keep you focused on each day - like you say, just enough for today - but not just food, health and strength and getting better.And patience and hope and energy! Until the day comes when you can spill over again!
    At least you don't now have worms to contend with!
    With love, Julie

  5. I love the new picture Ros - brilliant choice. Adore your yummy (orange) soups too. Sorting out some recipes and will email them to you. And ditto Pauline's words....... "lovely to hear you chatting away again" - really lovely. Lots of love and sunny thoughts. x x

  6. That is a major dietary restriction! I do a lot of reheating - like you say with soups an dstir frys... Good luck with the daily shopping & cooking!

  7. What a lovely thought, Ann. It's a shame I wouldn't be able to benefit just now as Rod isn't allowed anything cooked away from the house and delivered.

  8. Hi Julie and thanks for the reminder. It's patience that's the elusive skill. Must practice. And yes it's a relief not to have the worry of a binful of worms!

  9. Hi Rifka, glad you like the new picture. It was your idea after all ;-)

  10. Thanks Jemi. I'm certainly looking forward to the day I can make masses of soup for reheating once more.

  11. Hi Rosalind! Hope Rod's starting to feel better. I wish I could be help but I can barely fry an eye for one! :) Good luck with the cooking...

  12. Love the new picture! I'm not sure if it would contravene the new rules, but could you prepare more than one dish at a time, but cook them as required? For instance, could you chop up the other half a carrot and throw it into a container in the fridge with the other chopped up bits of vegetables, so that when you're ready to cook, you only need to add some stock/rice/something and you're ready to go?

  13. Hi Rosalind,

    I hope Rod's feeling better each day.
    I wanted you to know I mentioned you for a blog award on my daily blog today.
    As for me, I'm terrible at small portions-funny, I put up a recipe on my blog today that makes dozens of muffins. lol. I freeze everything. Cheers~

  14. Hello Rosalind, I have not spoken to you before, but am a friend of Rifka's and feel I know you very well. I don't know if cooking in foil is acceptable, but if so this is a lovely way of cooking single portions. Simply make a parcel of your ingredients, place a chop or some fish in the centre, of your foil, add some vegetables of your choice, season and add a drizzle of olive oil or soy sauce, then bake in the oven. Open the parcel at the table and enjoy the lovely aromas!!! I suppose if foil is banned, cooking parchment may be acceptable, and of course the good old Cornish Pasty would be an alternative.
    Best wishes to you and Rod - I hope this has helped.
    p.s. I love your blog!

  15. Thank you to all those who have continued to give me 'small portion' advice. Had to put them on hold for a while though as Rod's back in hospital with another infection. I'm hoping they'll be able to finally find out what's causing these infections and get them sorted.

  16. Hi Gill, how lovely to hear from you. Thanks for the suggestion. When he comes back out of hospital I will try that one as he is allowed to have things cooked in foil.

  17. Hi Ros, Glad to hear that my suggestion is helpful, but so sorry to hear that Rod is back in hospital again. Do hope that it’s a short stay and that he’s back home with you very shortly.
    Lots of love to you both.

  18. So sorry to hear that Rod is back in hospital. Hope they soon have him back home with you.
    I'd love to be able to help with the 'small portions' problem but my culinary skills are non-existent. My food usually goes from freezer to microwave to plate.
    Sending hugs.

  19. Hi Shirley, freezer/microwave/mouth is my preferred cooking method too. It's what I'm living off while Rod's back in hospital what's more!


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