Table for One

I had a moment of unglamorous clarity recently. At dinner one day, I suddenly became conscious I was eating beans, straight from the can, while standing up and trying to type an email. While such scenarios happen more often than this bachelorette would like to admit, in that moment I realized while much of my life centers on food – the growing, quality, politics, nutrition, preparation – I could do a better job of bringing these lessons home with me.

Suddenly several dozen memories of myself eating peanut butter from a spoon and calling it “a meal” came to mind. (Spoonfuls of peanut butter are great, for the record. I’m getting at something else here.)

I’ve noticed that when I’m cooking for other people, I enter into the full joy of it and have a ball. When I am just cooking for myself, I rarely get beyond scrambled eggs.

Having people at my dinner table makes me plan, prepare with intentionality and love; to sit down and enjoy. Or at least, to put the canned beans into a bowl before I eat them.


In my opinion, I think a lot of the worlds’ problems can be solved by eating homemade meals with others. We are forced to get out of our heads, to get busy with ingredients, and to share our time and bounty with others. It’s this love-laboring, these tiny acts, that add up to a great deal in the grand scheme of things.

So this week, I have a challenge for you…

If you normally eat alone and on the run:

CHALLENGE #1: Invite a few friends for a meal. Make something you’ve never made, use real plates and silverware, linger at the table. Bon Appétit!

And if you are reading this and are a parent of what feels sometimes like eighteen children, and eating alone sounds like heaven:

CHALLENGE #2: Create a meal for one and go all out – get a babysitter, make something you really like, use cloth napkins. Sit. Breathe. Enjoy.

And afterwards, come back here and let me know how it went in the comments. Impress me with your insight or make me laugh out loud and I will send you a small gift in the mail! (Offer is good between now and next Tuesday March 26th)

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.

11 Responses to Table for One

  1. Anne says:

    Thoughtful and true, Brie. Fresh food and water must be savored. Thanks for the reminder and challenge.

  2. Farmer Marie says:

    Brie, I am a FARMER and I do the beans out of a can routine (or the peanut butter on an apple – at least I slice it up nice and sometimes put it on a plate…)

    I do try to make a point, at least ONCE a week, to create a nice sit down dinner – complete with a glass of wine (if I feel like having one) – and as a green freak, I always do use cloth napkins anyway, but make sure to pull out a nice, crisp clean one. A long time ago I gave away my daily non-breakable set of plates and now use my old wedding china for ME – every day – and pull out the fancy antique ones for the holidays or company. Maybe I need to pull that out more often, too.

    We work hard – loving ourselves as much as we love others and our farms is something we don’t see the in connection of how we feed ourselves. But, if I toil for hours a day, days a week, weeks a year and years of my life, raising the best tasting, most nutritious food for my customers – why the heck should I be stopping someplace along the way home from my CSA delivery to eat something less? (thankfully, there is a grass fed beef place on the way home, but still!)

    Sometimes it’s because we’re pooped. So try making a pan of lasagne from scratch of course, then slicing it up into indie servings and putting them in clear containers in your freezer to pull out at 8pm and defrost in a pan of water before you slide it out into a casserole dish and the oven. (step away from the microwave ladies) Set the oven timer for 15 mins, go check your email, take a quick shower or whatever and then come back, reset the timer for another 15 mins and make a salad – you know you have some fresh cut or steps away in the garden – and feed yourself – nourish yourself. By the time that next 15 mins goes by, you’ve already whet your appetite with good stuff, and your main dish should be warmed up.

    You can do this with a pot roast – grass fed pot roast can be reheated up to 4 times and still not dry out if it’s made right – or any one in a number of other dishes. But Brie, you are right on – we need to stop and smell the roses – or, stop and eat the fruit of our labors, anyway.

    And, last spring, a group of farmers started a once a month Farmers Funday Sunday potluck dinner at rotating farms. We need to learn to say “no, I’m sorry but I’m busy”, to some of the demands we are so eager to say yes to – because we care about educating, helping, promoting, etc. Be busy taking care of ourselves – one day a month, one day a week, one hour a day. It will help us go a lot longer in the long run. 🙂

    Thanks for all you do – looking forward to seeing Joel again here later this month in Dallas.
    Eden’s Organic Garden Center/CSA Farm

  3. Cyndi Lewis says:

    Great challenges Brie! I have noticed that I put effort into preparing meals for the family but if it’s just me… yah, spoon in the peanut butter!

  4. Cap'n says:

    Great post breezie- love your writing an thoughts!

  5. Erin Herner says:

    that’s really true. this morning I had canned applesauce (homemade), but straight out of the quart jar. 🙂 saves dishes, I guess.

  6. Sophia says:

    Wow, this is such a good post!!! But why am I not surprised?!?…I can always count on thoughtful and insightful posts from the Polyface Farm Chicks! Anyway, I well remember the days before I was married when scrambled eggs for dinner was usually the best I would do in terms of a proper meal ( I was never one for junk and/or fast food). Now that hubby is gone (he passed away a little over 3 years ago) I usually prepare the same sorts of meals that we used to eat together; however, there’s now the tendency to eat standing in the kitchen rather than sitting down at a “table for one”. But more and more I’ve begun to sit for a proper meal…even if it’s while putting in a movie/DVD (I don’t get TV)…and, though I am not an outwardly religious person, saying grace first. I call upon the words we used to use as a family which are: “God bless the poor and the hungry and all those whose work as brought us this meal.” What I always loved about this part of grace is that it calls to mind ALL those who contribute to our nourishment, especially the farmer and including the cook… and all those in between. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Just yesterday, right before making the family’s meal, I stood eating some homemade fermented-in-my-kitchen sauerkraut right out of the jar. Had I not had to cook for the rest of them, it surely would have been my meal. A sublime one, if not so balanced.

  8. dmossgirl says:

    This is something that has oft bothered me as well. As a single woman, often with little motivation to sit and eat, I notice I shovel food into my mouth far too rapidly, just seeking a little fuel for the furnace, rather than really enjoying the precious, gracious, delicious, truly life-giving nature of food.
    In fact, 2 sayings I’ve learned often drive me to seek company even if it’s inconvenient, rather than eating alone. From Thailand, “food is not delicious if eaten alone”, and from Israel, perhaps more sobering: “Those who eat alone die alone”.

    So I try hard to invite over friends at least once a month, particularly those who are also single and likely to eat dinner alone. Any excuse is a good one – this Thursday, it’s just the fact of it finally being spring, officially, and it will be pot-luck, with the unifying theme of “foods that remind you of spring” or, failing some specific spring-like food ideas, just whatever people have on hand.
    I’ll make dilled potato-egg salad and maybe some homemade pizza, and whatever everyone brings, we will enjoy to the fullest.

    Anyway, thanks for this reminder to let what I believe about food actually play out in real ways in my everyday life!

  9. Webby says:

    My mother is alone many months of the year as my father travels as a missionary. She has one big cooking day whenever she needs it and she will make several meals and then partition them up in serving size container and freeze them. Then she has the choice of lasagna, lentil stew, venison roast – or a myriad of other options – when she runs out – she cooks again. Although she still will occasionally eat eggs for a meal and of course a piece of dark chocolate for dessert! Blessings in your endeavers!

  10. Rick Zamborsky says:

    Hello Brie, Thanks for the very true statements and fivegreenacres(comment above) i do that too. Love the Kraut from the can..;).. Brie thanks again and you are so right. cooking for others rocks and then to see the enjoyment of the group(most of the time:)… We all love a good challenge.. Have a great week and year! Spring break this week here in Reston and snow coming down as I type this.. Good Ole VA. 🙂

    Regards and great post!
    Rick Z.