Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cooking for one?

By the time I moved to Turkey, I was sick and tired of cooking.  My kitchen in Turkey, while equipped with a oven/stovetop, fridge and coffee maker, is rather small and doesn't have any windows.  As my good friend Ray said 'there's something unnatural about a kitchen that does does not have any windows' and I agree.  I don't like chopping, boiling, and dirtying dishes in my kitchen.  I don't like putting in an hour's effort for some pathetic meal that I have to eat all by myself and don't even have the desire to eat at this point because I'm basically tired of looking at the food I slaved over.

I used to cook.  I cooked when I lived in Barb's basement in Fredericton, and I cooked healthy meals too.  I cooked when I lived on Montgomery in Fredericton, and while the cooking consisted mostly of coffee and bagels, I did, from time to time make twice-baked potatoes or smoothies.  Where I really shine, though, is at the barbecue.  I can barbecue almost anything.  My barbecued-chicken pizza, bruchetta and flatbreads (all cooked on the barbecue) are famous among my extended family.  Well, I do have a balcony here, but sadly, it is not equipped with a barbecue, so I am limited to what I can make in my small, windowless kitchen.

I have two issues with cooking and eating that makes it nearly impossible for me to cook for myself. I find it hard to cook food for just one person.  Recipes (if I even bother to use them) must be divided, and isn't it just a whole lot of work to prepare food for just one time, one person eating it?  I know you're thinking that I should just make two servings and reheat the second serving the next day for supper (I don't have to bring a lunch to school because the cafeteria at school serves delicious, vegetarian meals to teachers).  I can't do leftovers either.  I can't actually bring myself to eat the same food twice in a row.  I've tried, but I can't even force myself to do it.  The food has got to be freshly cooked.  Isn't this a dilemma?

The most action my kitchen gets is when I make my morning coffee from my one-cup coffee maker, or boiling water for my hot water bottle.  So, I decided, after being inspired by my collegue Mandy (who cooks every night of the week) that I would also cook, every night of the week.  Yes, this is the goal, a hot, healthy supper every weeknight (I don't cook on the weekends, something I remembered from an old boyfriend who told me 'You shouldn't have to cook on the weekend').  I decided, while on holiday, that when I return to Ankara, I would cook every night of the week.  Or, at least, not order takeout or visit Mehmet (the man who runs the little canteen next to my appartment building) who I saw all too frequently for my chip and pop run of shame.

Well, it's been three weeks since returning to Ankara from my sejour to Istanbul, London and Paris, and I have managed to cook a few times, and only visited Mehmet once for a snack of chips!  This is almost successful!  Proud of my efforts in the kitchen, I actually made sure to take photographic evience, just for you.

This is a chicken curry served in a tortilla bowl.  I liked this so much, I cooked it twice.  It's pretty easy to do.  You just have to fry up some pieces of chicken breast in a pan and then add diced tomatoes, chopped mushroom, curry powder, finely chopped garlic and some yogurt to make it a bit creamy.  If I was really on the ball, I would have chopped up some onion and cooked it with the chicken for extra flavour.  But I am not on the ball with cooking, yet.  Baby steps, baby steps.

I cooked these on the same night as I made the curry.  I basically just carmelized the rings of pineapple by heating them up in a pan with a bit of white sugar and a couple teaspoons of water to make them syrup-y.  I ate them warm and they were pretty good.

This was my effort at comfort food.  Eilidh and I were food shopping last sunday and she mentioned that she wanted to make macaroni and cheese.  I was intrigued.  I want to make macaroni and cheese too! I thought.  So I bought some Eski Kaşarlı cheese, which tastes kind of like aged white cheddar cheese (my favourite!) and Eilidh told me how to make a white sauce.  It's not hard, actually.  You heat up some butter in a pan, then whisk in a bit of flour and then a little milk and then add your cheese, grated, so it all melts up into a sauce.  I cooked my pasta then poured the sauce on top.  I cut up some more cheese to sprinkle on top (I didn't have any parmesan), and voila, comfort food!

So there are my efforts at cooking...I'm hoping to make more healthy food, since beach season comes early in Turkey!


  1. Nice one!! They sound delicious. I am impressed. I hope you keep up with it and enjoy it. Maybe you could dinner swap with someone else?

  2. Kirbie...You have my vote for cooking on the barbeque!!!I can't wait for summer for some of your specialty flatbread on the bbq! Great blog as ususal. Love You, MOM

  3. @Sarah, I am always inspired by your blogs to try and cook something...I'd like to try the red pepper spread you just posted.

    @Mom, I can't WAIT to barbecue this summer!

  4. Hi Kirbie,
    Your food dishes look delicious! I know you are great at baking, I remember when you made the cupcakes for the grade 4 class when you supplied at Croft. Like your teaching skills, your cooking skills will get better with practice. Keep up the great blogs! Love Ya! Jill