“Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two.” By Christina Lane. The Countryman Press, 2015. $24.95

I had notions of romantic dinners and candlelight when I picked up “Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two,” but as I flipped through it, I had a hard time getting into the mood.

I kept bursting out laughing instead.

Maybe I’ve been cooking for too many people for too long to appreciate author Christina Lane’s niche market of “for two” cookbooks (she also wrote “Dessert for Two”), but I kept thinking these recipes require a lot of time for not much payoff.

And once I saw the recipes that way (16 ingredients, prep and oven time of about an hour – for two carrot cake muffins?) I couldn’t unsee it. “Thanksgiving Dinner for Two?” “Two Mugs of Hot Chocolate?” “Two Mugs of Eggnog?”

Do people really cook this way? Haven’t you ever wanted leftovers to take to work the next day?


And then there was the one recipe where I think I actually snorted out loud: “Baked Bacon,” which is, er, putting four strips of bacon in the oven. Lane’s thoughts? “So meaty!”

I almost felt bad about my cynical take on the cookbook, but I lived alone for decades, so it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with small-batch meals. This cookbook, despite its beautiful pictures and high quality production, takes a decent concept and doesn’t quite deliver. The recipes are either unnecessary (I’m good with hot chocolate and bacon, thanks) a bit too precious (“Homemade marshmallows”) or seem like something you would automatically double even if you were serving only two people.

But I do see the wisdom of small-batch sweets – sometimes cooking dozens of cookies at a time is too much. So I went with the gingersnaps, which Lane says is a favorite family recipe: “I loved anything my grandmother made, but these cookies have to be my all-time favorite.”

The snaps were great, but next time I’m doubling the recipe.


Yield: 1 dozen cookies


1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1 large egg white

2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium-size bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the egg white and molasses and mix well.

Add the remaining dry ingredients on top and beat until just combined.

Have ready a shallow bowl filled with extra sugar for rolling the cookies.

Roll tablespoon-size chunks of dough into 1-inch balls. You should get about a dozen cookies. Roll each cookie in sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes.

Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will be very soft, but they will firm up as they cool.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.