Long Reads

Learning to Cook Again, Starting with Soft Scrambled Eggs

January 19, 2016

2015 was not my best year. I spent most of it confused, sad, heartbroken, and not cooking at all. Last year was turbulent, to say the least, and resulted in some big life changes: I'm no longer married, and I'm living alone (for the first time in eight years).

It took some time to adjust, and now that I'm somewhat back in order, the lack of cooking in my life has become painfully apparent. I'm realizing now that my desire to cook completely disappeared when the ground got shaky. It was easy not to cook in the spring and summer—in those months, all you have to do is cut up produce and call it a meal.

I've pretty much been functioning that way until recently.

Now that the Greenmarket has fewer slice-and-eat produce options, and now that it's finally cold out and I want to eat something warm, I have to get back to cooking. It's obvious and natural, and you're probably thinking "Yeah, and?" but after taking a whole year off, I feel completely uncertain in the kitchen. This uncertainty has been wildly confusing: I'm a food person (!), I launched a column on this site called "Kitchen Confidence" (!), I've never been afraid to cook anything (!), I've cooked a lot of things (!). How do I feel so lost in the kitchen?

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In an attempt to jumpstart a new cooking habit, I had some friends over for Thanksgiving. I relished the time I spent fussing over dishes. I was still tidy and organized while I cooked, and the meal was really good (I'm not bragging here, I steamed lobsters, so my menu was basically fail-proof). It felt like a huge triumph, but as soon as the leftovers were gone I went right back to assembling cold ingredients and passing them off as meals.

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“I too have a hard time enjoying cooking for one and often, like you, turn to eggs when I need to. And now I'll enjoy thinking of my scrambled eggs giving me a hug when I do.”
— Lindsay-Jean H.

Popping open tins of sardines and having them with mustard and cornichons, is a fine meal, but it's not cooking. Throwing leaves and sliced vegetables into a bowl with a squeeze of lemon and an ungraceful pour of olive oil is also not cooking (and maybe more importantly: an unevenly dressed salad isn't very pleasurable to eat). Cooking requires some attention to detail, a little thought and effort, and the use of heat every once in a while. Those aren't big requirements, but I have't felt like bothering to meet them in order to feed just me.

Photo by Kristy Mucci

For me, cooking is more fun when there's another person around, and eating is no fun when I'm home alone. I like putting in the effort when I know I can share the end result with someone, but that's not possible all of the time, so I have to figure out how to enjoy this cooking for one thing.

I've been inspired by cookbooks, and a lot of recipes from Food52, and I'm finally starting to turn my stove on more frequently. The easiest thing for me to start cooking again has been eggs. Specifically Merrill's Soft Scrambled Eggs. They're my ultimate comfort food and have helped me through many hard times. I've made a morning ritual out of these eggs. I cook them low-and-slow, and force myself to sit down to a civilized breakfast at my table. They feel like a hug, and who doesn't want that in the morning?

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I'm a freelance food and prop stylist, writer/editor, and video producer.


[email protected] March 3, 2016
I am sooo sorry things have not been good for you. I am praying and hoping 2016 Brings you Happiness :)
Sandie January 24, 2016
I live alone, Kristy, and 2015 was not good for me either; relationship failure as well as awful health issues. Sometimes I just cannot cook or have a poor appetite, and it's a banana-smeared-with-crunchy-peanut-butter meal. When I am feeling ok, I do cook for myself, sometimes a few things at a time so I have meals in the fridge. And I find nothing wrong with drinking a glass of wine or 2 while cooking and listening to music.

2016 just HAS to be better!!
Kristy M. January 27, 2016
Wishing you a wonderful 2016, Sandie! You're right, it HAS to be better!
VanessaJo January 23, 2016
What a beautiful post. Here's hoping that you see more of that light at the end of the gas burner.
Kristy M. January 27, 2016
Thank you so much, VanessaJo!
Monica January 22, 2016
To the author of this post, I'm in the same boat! Didn't cook all last year, end of an 8 year relationship. Just starting to feel my way back into it. Just wanted you to know you're not alone.
Kristy M. January 27, 2016
Thank you, Monica. Wishing you the best. Here's to a better year ahead, for both of us.
Deborah B. January 21, 2016
Darn, wish I could proof before hitting "send"! It's part of the LOVE of life, not low!
Deborah B. January 21, 2016
Over 20 years ago, not long after a change of profession from the catering kitchen to healthcare, I had to relearn how to cook following a head injury. I forgot my way around the kitchen, lost the ability to taste a understand what I was tasting and how to improve it. But I relearned how to cook for a household of 2, not dozens. Losing cooking was emblematic of losing so much joy and savor in life as I transitioned to an entirely new way of cooking and functioning through my days. Now I totally kickass in the kitchen and its part of the low of life for me. But it took time and practice to fully turn the corner and to look forward to cooking every day again. I hope you will continue to reconnect with cooking and soon find the new style that will emerge from this life change.
Kristy M. January 21, 2016
Thank you, Deborah. Looking forward to turning that corner. :)
amysarah January 20, 2016
Thanks for this lovely and touching piece.

It brings to mind a conversation I had not long ago with an old friend (and wonderful cook) whose marriage has been in painfully bad shape for years. She couldn't quite bring herself to end it, and I asked what was holding her back. Of course it's emotionally complex and hard to articulate, but one thing she jokingly said really struck me: "...but then who would I cook for?" And I got it! The thought of not cooking/sharing a meal with someone everyday is such a great metaphor - for the anxiety of being alone, loss of that intimacy, even a sense of home. Maybe that resonates with you too. Scrambled eggs is a good place to start.
Kristy M. January 21, 2016
Completely resonates.
mcs3000 January 20, 2016
Beautiful post - thinking of you, Kristy. Your work is so fantastic.
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Thank you, friend.
Annada R. January 20, 2016
Love of cooking is intimately tied up with love of sharing the proceeds of cooking for me too. Thank you for pouring your heart out, Kristy! I hope you find strength day after day and cook up a storm.
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Thank you so much, Annada!
Nancy January 20, 2016
Kristy, this was a brave post and engaging from the opening words. I wish you strength in your new, day by day, journey. If you haven't already, you may want to read My Kitchen Year, by Ruth Reichl, facing her seemingly empty life after Gourmet suddenly closed and she was out of work and out of an identity.
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Thank you, Nancy. I read that book cover to cover one day this fall, and it's what made me decide to host Thanksgiving. I keep going back to it for reminders to keep cooking.
luvcookbooks January 20, 2016
Even though it's titled "scrambled eggs", this is a story about starting over. I hope you have the occasional glass of wine with your suppers. ;)
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
I'm not yet, because I don't like drinking alone, but a glass of wine every once in a while is good for you, right? :)
tamater S. January 20, 2016
Kristy, I loved reading this post. You're keeping it real here. Everyone had felt this way at one point or another. I wish you the very best, and hope you'll keep in touch, maybe post recipes that incrementally over 2016, that help you feel happy, or nurtured in some small way. {{{{{{BIG HUG}}}}}}
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Thank you so much for the kind words and the big hug! I'm looking forward to cooking more, and sharing more.
Diane C. January 19, 2016
You can ALWAYS cook for me. =)
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Even better: we cook some of your grandmother's recipes together. :)
Kristen M. January 19, 2016
K, thank you so much for sharing this with us. Now that you're cooking again, I hope it becomes one of the brightest, most soothing moments of your day. I remember in one big breakup the joy and freedom I felt as soon as I realized I could cook exactly what I wanted, and only that. xo
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Thank you, K. I'm looking forward to cooking more of exactly what I want. xoxo
Mary January 19, 2016
I too experienced a disinterest in cooking after my husband died. It will get better as you create new rituals for yourself, rituals that you will have to change in the future when you meet someone worth cooking with or for. i am a far better cook now. Cooking for yourself removes barriers of trying to please someone else & I found that it led to more creativity. Hang in there!
Kristy M. January 20, 2016
Thank you so much for sharing, and for your kind words, Mary.
Kate January 19, 2016
I went through a tough time this past year and the only thing that kept me going was making– and eating– a good meal. So many hugs to you, Kristy! Much love and many a good meal to ya! Xx
Kristy M. January 19, 2016
Thanks for the kind words, Kate. Wishing you many good meals, and fewer tough times. xo
Erin J. January 19, 2016
Sometimes I don't notice how upset I am about a given life-moment until I realize that I've stopped cooking. Wonderfully, there's wonderful therapy to be found in your pots + pans. Can't wait to see what you cook up next!
Kristy M. January 19, 2016
Thank you, Erin!
liz A. January 19, 2016
ah, your story resonates with me so much lady. thank you for sharing it. i'll never stop smiling at how these tiny meals can bring up such feelings of comfort within us.
Kristy M. January 19, 2016
I love how you put that, Liz. Thinking that way makes me smile, too.
Posie (. January 19, 2016
This is wonderful, and such a nice reminder that there a simple, solid, concrete things (like cooking) to reach for when things feel rocky. I always turn to scrambled eggs when I'm casting about to how to feed myself...lately, I cook mushrooms in butter until very golden brown, then scramble eggs right alongside them in the pan. A little thyme, S&P...perfect dinner.
Kristy M. January 19, 2016
That sounds so perfect!
Kenzi W. January 19, 2016
I love this—and the acknowledgment that seemingly small requirements (heat, effort, minimal attention) can sometimes feel like the biggest things in the world. Thank you, k.
Kristy M. January 19, 2016
Thank you, k. xo