Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

201108291141.jpg Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone , edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler, was the August Kitchen Reader selection and was chosen by Anni of anjeme.

I struggled to decide how many stars to give this book. On the one hand, a book full of short food-related essays was just what I needed this month. I especially identified with many of the stories in the first half of the book.

I squealed with delight when I came across a brief description of my beloved Madison Farmers Market in one story. I called Dan into the room to show him the paragraph where Amanda Hesser mentioned the restaurant we ate dinner at on New Year’s Eve. I loved every peek into what the writers eat when they are home alone.

But my enthusiasm waned as I passed the half-way mark and continued until the end of the book. It may just be that short stories have never really been my “thing,” and the novelty of reading them had started to wear off. It may be that the way the stories were arranged and ordered put every essay I really identified with towards the beginning of the book.

I’m not sure what it was, but it certainly made it difficult to give a star rating to the book overall. I really wanted to give it 3.5 stars, but am sticking with whole numbers and didn’t think rounding up to 4 would be accurate… so three out of five stars it is.

Have you read this book, and if so, what did you think? What kind of writing isn’t really your “thing”?

I enjoy some short stories, but really prefer longer essays and stories where I can take more time to get to know the characters and the setting. But I’d definitely take short stories over poetry any day.

Coconut Chai Ice Cream


I have been trying to convince Dan that we need an ice cream maker for months. It came up every time I found a great ice cream or frozen yogurt recipe. It came up whenever we thought about having ice cream for dessert but didn’t want to spend the money. It came up when our friends made currant sorbet and wine slushies.

Truth be told, I think Dan was getting a little sick of the “let’s get an ice cream maker!” line.

But the final straw came three weeks ago at Wegman’s. We pushed our cart of onions, garlic, pasta and yogurt down the frozen foods aisle, searching for something to satisfy our ice cream craving. Carton after carton of ice cream was pulled out of the freezer, examined, and returned. Why? Because every single one had corn syrup as one of the first four ingredients.


It didn’t matter whether it was ice cream or frozen yogurt, low-fat or full-fat ice cream. Every single brand and every single flavor had corn syrup as a main ingredient. I refused to buy anything that had such an unnessary, over-processed ingredient, and we left the grocery store without any frozen treats.

As luck would have it, my friend Megan texted me the very next day: “Do you want an ice cream maker?” She had gotten the KitchenAid ice cream attachment, and was looking to get rid of her freestanding Cuisinart machine. I squealed a little, and responded with a “YES. I’ve been trying to convince Dan to get one for months!”

I broke it out and made two types of ice cream this weekend: peanut butter chocolate chip and coconut chai (surprise, surprise). The peanut butter batch ended up somewhat grainy and needs some tweaking. But the chai? Perfection.


Coconut Chai Ice Cream

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 quart

Coconut Chai Ice Cream

I imagine that this sweetly spiced ice cream would also make a terrific milkshake. If you'd like, you can use light coconut milk to cut out some of the fat, but it will make the texture less creamy and more icy in the end.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant chai powder OR 3 tablespoons chai tea, ground to a powder


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, mix the water and sugar. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  2. Mix in the coconut milk and chai. Refrigerate until completely cooled, at least 1 hour.
  3. Pour the coconut milk into your ice cream maker, and process according to the manufacturer's instruction.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?