cooking doldrums

mabeldingeldine_gwOctober 16, 2012

Have you ever been in a cooking slump? I am in one and can't seem to climb out. My DH and I traveled all summer, and I've been in a slump ever since. Part of the slump is a new boss and slightly longer days.

Have you ever been in a slump, and if so, how did you escape from the doldrums?

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Come here and look at all the pictures on the WFD threads.
Or sit and sort through all my "to try" recipes until one looks "just right".

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:00PM
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That's a tough one. I hope somebody has some good ideas on getting out of the slump. I could use some.

Maybe make a project of learning a new cuisine, such as Indian or Portuguese. Get a good cookbook or two, stock up on the necessary ingredients and prepare a new recipe every day or so. Repeat the best ones occasionally for practice and to lower the learning curve.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Much as I enjoy cooking, the fact is I've been running a household since I was 12 yrs old, and almost 50 yrs is a really long time. I realized a long time ago I love to cook, but I DON'T like having to make dinner every night, 7 days a week. One's a hobby, and one's a chore.

I agree with jimster - another cuisine is a palate-refresher.

In our case, being foodies is our hobby. We go out as often as I can talk my DH into it. Whether it's $5 quesadillas or $30 filets, doesn't matter. Dining out is a major line item in our budget. We live in an area where there's a lot of interesting options at all price levels.

Tonight (Tuesday) we're meeting some family members to try a new Ethiopian restaurant. Our city is a hotbed for the Ethiopian/Eritrean community. Although we've tried six of them over the last few years, there's still another half-dozen to visit.

Thursday is our weekly dinner with my MIL. I'm thinking German food, because I've been craving potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream, neither of which DH or MIL likes. Although that day is supposed to be the hottest day of the week, so maybe something lighter, just CA bistro food, and do the German food next week.

By the weekend it will be 20 degrees cooler, and DH has been longing for homemade lentil soup, LOL. We just discovered a restaurant with great Chinese roast duck to go, and we love using duck bones for a great stock! Sometimes just soup and sandwiches for dinner is enough of a "break" in routine.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Just cook easy stuff until the doldrums disappear. I pretty much stay in slump mode all summer but the cooler weather of fall always snaps me out of it.

OR, you could treat yourself to some pricey kitchen gadget...

OTOH, it doesn't really have to be pricey...maybe just some pretty new towels for the kitchen...anything that makes you feel good being in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:16PM
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It's so easy to fall into the cooking doldrums when your days are too long to start with.

For the past 4 years, between owning 2 houses, trying to get one ready to move into, and one ready to sell, DH working unbelievable overtime, me starting a new job... I wasn't overly excited about cooking either. Now that DH is retired and we've unloaded one house, moved into the other, I'm a lot more relaxed and find I'm enjoying and doing more cooking.

But it doesn't sound as if that answer will work for you. I think, given your situation, the answer is planning. Plan meals where you can do the 'heavy' cooking one day, then use the leftovers for quick redo's other nights. A roast chicken (and why not buy one already cooked at the supermarket?) can be a nice chicken dinner one night, and the next can come to the table as: bbq sandwiches, chicken pot pie, chicken salad, etc. Roast beef and mashed potatoes tonight? Tomorrow they can turn into shepherd's pie, or a quick stew or hot roast beef sandwiches.

While you're planning, think about those really quick meals--things like stir-fry (and don't limit yourself to oriental flavors, there--I often stir-fry an Italian mix of veg, sausage, etc, and toss in some pasta for a quick, fresh meal), omelettes, hot sandwiches (DH's one meal he cooks for us is: deli roast beef, jarred gravy and Stovetop--even he can get that dinner on the table in about 15 minutes!).

another quick trick I use a lot? Buy the vegetables you need for recipes at the supermarket salad bar!!! They're already cleaned and ready to go. One store near me even has grilled chicken on the salad bar, so I run to the salad bar, then grab a can of water chestnuts and I've got everything I need (there's always rice in my pantry) for a quick stir-fry dinner. I also use the salad bar for salads--buy a head of lettuce, and pick up the extras at the SB. Yes, having a lot of the work done for you does cost a littlem more, but there's no waste, and with just 2 of us empty nesters now, I'd never have ALL the salad things on hand at once, anyway.

I'm sitting here right now, considering a dinner challenge. My kitchen is full of my living room furniture (having just shampooed the rug)--not sure I'll be able to cook tonight, depending upon how long this takes to dry. AND I have a meeting tomorrow at dinnertime. So, I'm thinking that while I do usually cook these days, tonight would be a good night to go out for something that would leave us with easy leftovers for tomorrow. DH never turns down pizza, so perhaps Pizza Hut will do us tonight. But that's not something we do often. I honestly cannot remember the last time we had a pizza--think it may have been the last evening I had a meeting, which would have been a month ago, now.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Oh yes, round about 25 years of marriage/cooking I ran out of interest and ideas. Got rid of the husband, but still not much cooking.

Took about 10 years of doodling in the kitchen, cooking for myself and the misc. kids who came and went before I really got back into it again.

Mostly because about 5 years ago I found some good forum friends, great recipes and lots and lots of advice and help. It got me back to cooking, baking and canning, and now it's fun again. My DD is even peeking at the posts on the forum and being a bit more adventurous cooking now.

I really got re-started with baking. It's very satisfying to bake something sweet and successful, and enjoy it for a few days, it gave me some confidence that I badly needed.

Take it easy for awhile, I doubt either of you will starve if you keep it simple or buy prepared foods and nuke them. Save your energy for the holidays.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:04PM
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If you haven't looked at Pinterest, try that. I've never seen such an amazing collection of wonderful pictures and recipes that are really affecting my enthusiasm for cooking again. I think it's doing the same thing for my gardening slump.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:14PM
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One thing that stokes my interest for cooking is to keep a cookbook on my bedside table. Lots of nights I am too exhausted to read but I find it relaxing and inspiring to leaf through a beautiful cookbook.

I go to our local library regularly and always pick up an audiobook to listen to in my car and a new cookbook. This also allows me to test-drive recipes before investing in a cookbook.

Good luck! Hope it helps to know that most of us have been there.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:11PM
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I agree with several of the above suggestions. I check WFD, I grab a cookbook, or I make something new. Sometimes I work on a recipe that I just can't get right, trying to figure it out, something to stretch my mind a bit.

I think we all get "cooking doldrums". I get busy and have egg sandwiches for a week at a time, or cold cereal, or whatever. Eventually, though, I pick up a cookbook or read a recipe and it's time to start cooking again!


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:02PM
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These are all great suggestions, thanks! I do think the long days are part of the slump, and in talking about it with DH last night, he pointed out this is the first year we haven't had a garden bursting with veggies to use up. I think that's a part of it -- bad enough to let supermarket veggies get past their prime, but home grown veggies? Never!

I do like the idea of dabbling in a new cuisine, so I will try that. I'm thinking Indian, as I love it and there are not an abundance of Indian restaurants near me.

We love to eat out but after our summer-long travels, we've been trying to eat at home to plump up the budget a bit -- we want to do it again!

Thanks, all, I just love GW!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 8:10AM
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