Class teaches seniors to downsize Making meals for one

Ingredients

Linda Tallent and Fanzi Reichlin put together a meal during class at the senior center. Below

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Ingredients

1/2 of a one-pound package of linguine

1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli flowerets

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Prepare the linguine according to package directions in a saucepan. Add the broccoli during the last four minutes of cooking. Drain the mixture well in a colander.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it’s well browned, stirring often.

Stir the soup, milk, cheese, black pepper and linguine mixture in the skillet. Cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling, stirring occasionally. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

Margaret Dravis, Linda Tallent and Fanzi Reichlin have many things in common and two of those things drew the trio together at the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center Thursday afternoon – their love for cooking and the difficulty they share cooking for themselves.

“It’s hard to downsize,” said Donna Elzenga, who organized the Cooking For One class at the center. “It’s hard to come down to cook for one or two after coming from a family of six. It’s hard.”

There was a lot of head shaking in agreement.

“You can freeze it or eat it for a week,” said Tallent, who lost her husband two years ago and moved to Enumclaw. She volunteers at the center and specifically came to the class to learn to cook for herself and to make new friends.

“I don’t like having 15 meals the same,” said Reichlin, who came from Black Diamond for the class and said she’s been trying to downsize her meals for 25 years. “I like variety.”

Elzenga has offered the class before and thought it was time to dust it off again. In about a half hour, she taught the three ladies how to prepare a simple, nutritious, inexpensive chicken and broccoli Alfredo.

“They’re simple, too,” Elzenga added. “This one took a pot and a skillet.”

“You don’t have to cook in big quantities,” she said. Elzenga also noted how important it is to get out of the mindset that you don’t have to purchase large quantities, either. Meat, vegetables and other food items come in smaller packages. It’s hard, she said, to think that way after years of buying to feed a crowd.

Thursday’s recipe was made with pasta, chicken and broccoli, but a cook could easily substitute shrimp, sausage, tuna, other vegetables and any variety of pasta. The recipe Elzenga used calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup; to make it healthier she suggests fat free or a reduced-sodium variety.

Elzenga noted her recipe serves four, but isn’t a large batch, especially if the pasta is cut back. And, an added bonus, it was relatively inexpensive, less than $8.

“It’s very good and it was quick and easy,” Dravis said, sampling the group’s handiwork. Pairing it with a salad would make it even better, she said.

It was a dish, they agreed, they could make at home.

The hardest part, all three said, is eating alone.

Elzenga plans to offer the class monthly, featuring different recipes each time. For information, call the senior center at 360-825-4741.

To comment on this story, view it online at www.courierherald.com. Reach Brenda Sexton at at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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