When I cook at home, I usually make a whole wack of food so that my manfriend and I have leftovers to take to work for lunch the next few days. But now that I'm working with a dorm-sized fridge and just one eater, I've cut things back a bit. This recipe uses the stuff that's in my pantry and cooks up a bit smaller than my usual soup stylings. It also looks quite unappetizing when photographed unless you happen to love poopy green colors the way I do, so please use your imagination for illustration.

Split pea soup
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 big cloves of garlic, minced
1 t basil
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 cup split peas, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup brown rice
5 cups veggie broth (I used Imagine's No-Chicken broth plus an extra cup of water)
1/2 a package of frozen spinach
1/2 t liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste
sambal olek or sri racha for extra spice

Saute the onions and carrot in olive oil over medium high heat until the onions are wilted. Add garlic and spices and cook a few minutes more, then add peas, rice, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about a half hour, or until rice is cooked and peas are soft.

In the meantime, prepare your spinach according instructions and stir into the soup when done. (The soup could easily accommodate a whole package of spinach if you like; I just wanted to save some for a pasta sauce.)

Finish the soup with liquid smoke and remaining seasonings (if you so desire). This would also be great with a potato or two, with thyme and/or smoked paprika if you have it on hand, or with curry spices instead of basil and oregano.

This makes more than enough for two people and could probably feed 4 moderate eaters if you serve a salad and bread.

Since I last blogged at you, I've temporarily relocated for a 10-week job away from home. My new employer provides housing in the form of a cute little studio apartment a stone's throw from my office, which is excellent. Less excellent are the wee little fridge, wee little stove, and wee little countertop. But this wee setup is going to force me to get creative with my cooking while also simplifying things a bit. I couldn't bring every single staple with me and I haven't bought very much since I got here on Saturday. Here's what I'm working with:

Olive and canola oils
Garlic and onions
Ginger and scallions
Cumin, cayenne pepper, and curry powder
Liquid smoke!
Apple cider vinegar
Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Canned beans and tomatoes
Quinoa and rice
Miso and tofu
Bogus sausage
Broccoli and carrots
Red cabbage
Frozen corn and fresh grape tomatoes
Bananas and apples
Steel cut oats

On my first night here I was fed tasty Indian food. But the next night I made a spicy miso soup with some baby bok choy I'd brought with me from home, carrots, and sauteed tofu. I ate the leftovers the next day.

For last night's dinner and today's lunch, I sauteed onions, garlic, and a little red cabbage, and cooked quinoa with the vegetable mixture. When it was nearly done, I stirred in canned garbanzo beans and added broccoli florets on top to steam in the pot. I finished it up with crumbled fake sausage and the last of the Christmas pesto (yes there is such a thing). Pesto was my solution to not having any herbs yet. Fortunately, I discovered tonight that a colleague has four basil plants in his office! They kind of make his studio smell like cats, but at least now I can harvest fresh basil on the job.

Tonight's dinner/tomorrow's lunch followed a similar formula to last night's meal: some sort of bean + some sort of rice or grain + veg + seasonings. It wasn't, strictly speaking, a one-pot meal, since I had to cook the brown rice in a separate pot. But I sauteed onions and garlic with cumin and cayenne pepper, added canned black beans, tomatoes, and frozen corn, simmered it all with the cooked rice, and finished with scallions, liquid smoke, and a dash of cider vinegar.

I suspect I'll be doing a lot of this type of cooking while I'm here, especially since I am so enamored of the vintage Copco cast iron lidded casserole I brought with me as a (heavy) afterthought. I found it at a thrift store a few months ago and had never used it. But it's sure to be the most frequent One Pot for my one-pot meals. If I ever cook in broad daylight (hard when it's dark at 5), I'll take a picture for you.

I'm missing cinnamon, red pepper flakes, basil, and chili powder. Along with cumin and ginger, those are the key herbs and spices for me. I'm also missing greens, and I'm hoping I can find a good source around here for bulk spices and organic veg.

What are your staples in the kitchen?