When I was in my 20s, I wrote a cookbook called “The Single Guy’s Cookbook & Guide to Entertaining.” My friend Mark (you may remember him as “Sidekick Mark” from previous posts) and I were at sushi one night talking about how impressive and economical it was to cook dinner for a date. Recite to her a little poetry you’d written with a glass of wine by the fire afterward, and she was yours. The recipes were simple and good, the advice intuitive… a book that was basically a guide for all those guys who burn toast or ruin a salad.

Jon's dinner

So it is with our friend Jon. Recently separated from his wife, he’s the guy who invites us over for dinner, and then asks what we’re having. He’s the guy who sends me pictures of what he’s preparing for dinner so I’ll feel sorry for him and invite him to our house instead. When his parents are in town visiting, he invites them to our house. He’s one of our favorite people and we love his kids, so we don’t mind. But I feel an almost philanthropic instinct to feed him.

Jon was over recently and asked, “Do you have any simple meals to cook on your blog? Things that would be easy for me to make?” I stared at him for a moment, then said, “Have you ever looked at my blog!?” He replied that when he went to the recipes section he couldn’t tell which ones were easy and which ones were hard. I needed to make it simpler for him.

For a time, also in my 20s, I taught English as a second language. Sometimes I’d go off on a grammatical or etymological tangent, and the blank looks on my students’ faces would alert me they had no idea what I was saying. It’s like that with cooking and guys like Jon. For example, in explaining how to make a pasta, I might say, “Bring salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti…” But even this seemingly innocuous instruction is loaded with potential landmines. “Whoa, wait… how much salt? How do I ‘bring it to a boil’?” “Where do I get spaghetti?” You have to remember that before we can walk, we need to learn to crawl. (I often think I should launch a brother blog to Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise… something, perhaps, like “The Single Guy’s Food Blog & Guide to Entertaining”…)

Here, Jon, are some of the simplest recipes on the blog — including your favorite, “crack cheese” (aka queso fundido). Any are suitable to serve to a date, although double check to make sure you’re not having a vegetarian over before serving ribs. I’ve included an extra line space between each recipe link so you don’t get confused. Let me know if you need any clarification on anything:

Pa am tomàquet

Queso fundido & margaritas


Cobb salad

Best burger (with six variations)

Bistecca alla Fiorentino

Hawaiian soy glazed ribs

Buttermilk fried chicken

Sauteed whitefish

Spaghetti with butter, pepper & parmesan (REALLY easy!)

Spaghetti with tomatoes & sausage

Ultimate Bloody Mary (for the morning after)

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chuck Buck
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 20:22:38

    Sean….Jon’s a tough case, but you are doing a great job….and we appreciate it. Hope he’ll do some cooking the next time he comes out here.

    About to do the Margarita recipe again. Old folks in Florida love it.

    Jon’s rents


    • scolgin
      Oct 17, 2011 @ 20:33:49

      I’ve given up, Chuck. I just tell him to pick up a nice bottle of wine and come over here. (“The children, Jon!!! Think of the children….”)


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