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Quick-Draw Cuisine Stirs Reply


November 8, 1989

HUNDREDS of you responded to our October 11 story on what single people eat (``Solo Cuisine is Chicken Hurry,'' p. 14). We were delighted so many took time to write us about favorite quick meals, and unconventional ones. Along with the nearly 250 responses - from Maine to California, Minnesota to Florida, and everywhere in between - came food for thought.

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Topping the ``unconventional meal'' responses, and ranking high in the the ``quickest, most satisfying meal'' category were: popcorn (No. 1, no contest), cereal (oatmeal was big), and peanut butter (in sandwiches, on crackers). A few of you admitted to polishing off a whole pint of ice cream and eating cold pizza for breakfast.

As for the quickest, most satisfying meal, many sent recipes for meals they said were convenient, nutritious, and easy to clean up after. Among them were soups and stews, pasta (noodles, various sauces), potatoes (mashed, baked with toppings), vegetables (stir-fried, steamed), microwave or frozen dinners, rice dishes, salads, and sandwiches. Mexican food was popular - store-bought and homemade burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, nachos, chili, and more. Chicken dishes were favored, as were breakfast foods for dinner.

Three cheers for one-pot meals! Many mentioned these neo-casseroles. They start with pasta or rice, then add whatever is handy - vegetables, meat, seasonings, cheese, even pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine-nuts. In fact, the ``mix-ins'' concept seems to suit many people's needs for convenience, balance, and variety.

Canned soup as a sauce in disguise was big. An oft-mentioned (and longtime) favorite was non-diluted cream of mushroom soup over rice or breast of chicken. Making big batches of something - chili, say - and freezing individual portions for future meals was also popular.

There were more than a few responses that made us laugh - intentionally, we hope. Several people commented that singles need to treat themselves better when it comes to how they eat.

We've included a partial list of cookbooks readers may find useful in their quest for simple, nourishing, quick meals.

Many thanks to everyone who wrote! Based on the meal-preparation times some of you included, you could have prepared several meals in the time it took to fill out the coupon.

We couldn't possibly print all the responses, alas. A sampling: Tips from readers

Thank goodness for: baked potatoes, Quaker Oats, yogurt, peanut butter, and ice cream. Ming Ivory, Omaha, Neb.

Fall Special: In one pan I saut'e apples cut in rings and onions. In another I cook bacon or sausage. I drain and combine the two. It is wunderbar. Paige McHugh, Cambridge, Mass.

Ruiz's [brand] frozen beef burritos. You can recognize all the ingredients in them, which is more than can be said about most frozen foods. Also, salads, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and Waldorf salad. (Not all at the same time.) German potato salad. I make a week's worth at a time. It reheats very well. Mark Ammerman, Whittier, Calif.

Cold pasta - I cook up a week's supply on Sundays. When I feel ambitious, I ``nuke'' it in the microwave, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Elree Harris, Salt Lake City

Stir-fry and rice. I bought a good cast-iron wok and an electric rice-cooker. With stir-fry, you only make as much as you need for one meal and voila! no leftovers or over-eating. It's the only thing that's good made in a small amount, infinitely variable, and really well-balanced nutritionally. Patricia C. Sharp, Livonia, Mich.

Once a week (usually a Friday night) I would pretend I was having company for dinner and make myself a wonderful meal. Maggie Holter, Cincinnati