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Dinner for One


I’ve been reading Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant by Jenni Ferrari-Adler, which is a fascinating collection of essays by foodies and “regular” writers about cooking and eating alone. I rarely find myself home alone for dinner, but tonight Rob was at a work engagement until 7:30, and I’m not feeling well, so my parents generously offered to pick Sam up from football practice and take him to dinner so that I could rest. I found myself alone, and, because of Ferrari-Adler’s book, thinking more than I usually do about what I was going to eat.

I am not, like some of the essayists in the collection, given to throwing something together, or eating saltine crackers until I’m no longer hungry. (I was surprised to learn that Marcella Hazen is in no mood to create anything elaborate when she eats alone, and that she often eats sandwiches. Who knew?) I usually cook eggs, just because I like them, they’re easy to cook and clean up, and (if I have a glass of wine) I can pretend that I’m Elizabeth David and very sophisticated in an earthy sort of way. I couldn’t have any wine tonight, though, because I’m taking medication. Furthermore, a puritanical voice was telling me that there was left over rice in the refrigerator from Monday’s curry, and that it was a shame to waste it.

I would have fried myself some little rice balls with mozzarella in the middle, but it was jasmine rice, and I didn’t fancy Asian-Italian fusion. Instead, I decided to invent a sort of fried rice which is probably criminally inauthentic, but which was nevertheless satisfying in all possible ways. Here’s the recipe, in case you find yourself alone and hungry, with a serving or two of leftover rice lurking between the yogurt and the Prosecco.

Ersatz Spicy Fried Rice for One (Although you could certainly make more if you felt like it and you had enough leftover rice)

  1. 1 – 2 cups leftover rice
  2. 1 clove garlic, smashed
  3. 1 onion or 2-3 shallots diced
  4. 1/2 red or green pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon Vegetable or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 Tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste (this made VERY spicy fried rice; you may just want 1 tablespoon)
  8. 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  9. Water, as needed

Heat oil in a large saute or frying pan over medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic and pepper until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring frequently to break up lumps until rice is heated through and well mixed with onions and pepper. Add curry paste and fish sauce, stirring thoroughly to mix; you may need to add a bit of water at this point to rehydrate the rice a bit and to dissolve the curry paste. Break eggs into rice mixture and stir in until they are thoroughly cooked. Eat on the couch while watching a re-run of something you would be ashamed to admit that you like.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

12 responses »

  1. This is such a great recipe. And the re-run I watched was Little Lord Fauntleroy with little Ricky Schroeder (yes I’m ashamed). I even had the fish sauce in the fridge-one big bottle can last a lifetime. You have to start taking pictures of your finished dishes so we can see what it should look like. Everybody loves pictures and, it may be a personal quirk, but I almost exclusively buy cookbooks that have a pictures of the finished dish.(I’m also a bit competitive and want mine to be a little different from the recipe-also something I think we have in common). This blog is like a treasure mine. Really, it’s addicting. EW

  2. Oh Eric, thanks so much! But Ricky Schroeder?! At least you could have watched the original, although I suppose you had to go with what was actually being shown that night. I am picking up the gauntlet on the pictures…stay tuned!

  3. Eric Williams

    I told you I was ashamed (mostly because Ricky S. turned out to be a rapid Republican) but I guess I harbor a secret desire to have an English lawyer show up and tell me I’ve inherited a huge castle and estate in the northern part of England and hand me a House of Lords badge. And my own pony! I hated rice until I moved to SF and owing to the huge Asian population here, it was just a matter of months before I was craving rice and became adept at using chopsticks (which my father took as showing off). Dude, here they don’t give you a fork in real Asian restaurants (Thai restaurants are the exception). What am I supposed to do? Eat with my hands?

  4. Well, Eric, if I were going to live in the northern part of England and be wealthy I would MUCH rather hang out with “Brideshead” types than Ricky. They dress better, for starters. As for rice and chopsticks, I grew up using chopsticks because my dad is an historian specializing in Chinese-American history, and we were expected to use chopsticks and to know better than to order things like Sweet & Sour Pork and fried rice. Your dad would think we were all a bunch of snobs. He would be correct. How is your dad?!

  5. Eric Williams

    Such a guilty pleasure checking in on this blog when I should be sending boring solictation letters to convention planners…
    Dad’s good. Spends his retirement days drinking boxed wine (ick) and cooking in the kitchen (I must get some of my interests in this from him) and re-reading Harry Potter again and again and again… I was toying with coming to E.L for Marilyn Kesler’s retirement and dragging him with me (as they collaborated many times on the spring musicals at OHS), but, alas, this retirement concert is preceded by a gruelling work conference I’ll have in June in Las Vegas and it sadly doesn’t look like it’ll work out that I can come then. However, I will definitely contact YOU if I show my face in E.L anytime soon.

  6. Eric Williams

    Just re-read my post at #3 and see I made a typo–I meant “rabid” Republican. Rapid Republican might mean something to someone, but I’d rather not know about it.

  7. Eric Williams

    Oh, and your dad must be interested in the Olympic torch coming through SF tomorrow–there’s already protesters scaling the Golden Gate Bridge and encouraging a boycott on behalf of Tibet. Since when have the Olympic games become a platform for political dissent—oh, yeah, since forever. I forgot.

  8. Eric, I am worried that you are going to lose your job, and (selflessly) I worry that we would then be unable to take advantage of your discount when we visit San Francisco. You must be running out of posts to read by now, anyway. I will miss you at the Kesler Fandango but you had BETTER call is you come to town. I knew you meant “rabid Republicans,” I am married to one. You know we could just talk on the phone some time…..

  9. Ann,
    Don’t worry about me. I’ve been at this job for 11 years and am as tenured as it is possible to be. Nope, haven’t even read half the posts here. Taking my time and savoring them. I wonder if you have a mushroom lasagna recipe. I’ve pledged this for a potluck birthday party on April 19. I have Ina Garten’s mushroom lasagna recipe although I don’t have access to the organic mushroom place she bought all these exotic mushrooms for her showpiece, (I use a combo portabello, oyster mushrooms, shitakes and regular whites) but you might have something I could try? If so, can you email it to me at I’d be ever so grateful. tks.

  10. Eric, I do not have a mushroom lasagna, but I’d trust Ina with my life, recipe-wise. I have a mushroom-phobic kid, and so I can only cook with them if I am adding them in the end, in a pan sauce or as extras in a salad so that I can give him his shroom-less portion before I add them. I will, however, see what I can find….

  11. Hi Ann,

    Don’t put yourself out. I have made the B.Contessa’s lasagna before. I hope Sam grows out of his mushroom phobia it time. I got over my hatred of Brussel sprouts once I had them prepared in a way soooo delicious even I couldn’t deny they were real food, not little bitter slimy nasty green balls of (expletive deleted). I, too, love Ina Garten and am jealous of her fabulous house and garden.

  12. Eric, I didn’t like mushrooms or Brussel sprouts as a kid, but now I love both; I particularly like my sprouts roasted after a quick roll in some good olive oil. we are actually pretty lucky in that Sam eats a lot of things other kids won’t try; he loves curry, and asparagus and Thai food. No mushrooms or seafood, though.


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