Monday, January 20, 2014


I don’t know how single people do it. Between the cooking and laundry and housecleaning, the last two weeks of living alone have been exhausting. I suppose it would be easy enough to let things slide a bit, let the dishes pile up, choose my shirts from a pile on the end of the bed, but I fear my standards are too high these days.

My newfound inability to lower my standards has also spread to my cooking. Take this past weekend, for example. On paper, eating salads for dinner on a weekend is Lonely Person 101, but, as I continue to find to my delight, a humble salad need not be dull (and doesn’t require anything as gauche as dressing from a bottle)

Saturday night, I roasted a small chicken to give me something to build meals around for the week. For a side: a roasted butternut squash and arugula salad with wild rice and simple French vinaigrette. Sunday night was a good bunch of the now-ubiquitous kale, some more of the squash, a crumble of soft goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, dried cranberries, all brought together in a warm, bacony vinaigrette, served just hot enough to wilt the tough leaves a bit.

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette with thyme and shallot

4 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped into large bits
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
A small shallot, finely chopped
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, fry bacon bits over medium-high heat until they’re brown and crisp and have rendered off their fat. Using a slotted spoon, scoop them out of the skillet and spread them on a piece of paper towel to drain, and then add to the salad with your greens etc.

Pour out all but two tablespoons of hot bacon fat from the skillet, reserving the rest in a jar. Add shallot and thyme to skillet and cook until shallot is softened. Remove the thyme and then add the vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon mustard to the pan and whisk until mixture is emulsified. Taste, and add extra fat or vinegar for balance, then pour over your assembled salad.

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