My most recent cooking funk and how to escape...
- lifespan Apr 27, 2011 03:37 PM
Do you ever find yourself in a cooking funk? Uninterested, uninspired, bored with the process...
What do you do to get out of the funk?
Occasionally I do get in a rut or funk. The funk comes from cooking for a motley assortment of eaters in my household: 4 adults (husband, adult brother, elderly parents) and my 10-year-old daughter. Quite often, my daughter is the easiest to please. I have one vegetarian, 3 people with sodium/HBP issues, 2 with acid reflux issues, and 4 with high cholesterol. My parents are Scandinavians with the traditional love of bland food and distrust of spices more interesting than black pepper.
Nonetheless, I press on, and usually inflict my cooking preferences on them within reason. When I get bored, I challenge myself by changing things up with new "rules," i.e., two weeks with no pasta dishes, or no chicken, or a new vegetable every day, etc. Something to get me to think outside the box, which gets me searching for new ideas and then I get inspired again.
Or I go on strike and eat out.
I most definitely get that way at times. One thing I do is to pull out a few cookbooks I haven't looked at for a while and read them cover-to-cover. It reminds me of dishes I've wanted to make and never have. I also find myself with renewed interest when the seasons change: maybe I'm just tired of cooking the same seasonal foods over again for several months. This time of year, a trip to the reopened farmers' market gets me going again. My other inspiration is having company and a reason to cook and share with different people.
Like Terrie H, I too go through the cookbooks -and all the back issues of Bon Appetit and other food magazines that I've stuck index cards in to write recipes on- and visit the Farmer's Market. Also visit restaurant supply stores and any really interesting food emporiums.
I usually get in that funk when I'm just plain old tired of being the one cooking all the time. So I make sure we go out for dinner at gastronomically interesting places, especially if we can get even a little bit out of town and go to some gem of a restaurant where food is obviously their passion.
So take a break! We all need one once in a while!
Great suggestions already. Mine will overlap a bit. I think a fallow period is sometimes a good period of regeneration.
1. Date night, once a month. You and a loved one (spouse, friend, kiddo) or even solo, to a new restaurant. New flavors, new inspiration, out of the kitchen. (If family needs feeding at home that night, leave a salad and a re-heatable standby, maybe a DVD also, for them.)
2. Dig through those trimmed-out recipes/saved links/cookbooks for inspiration. Or choose a fresh seasonal veggie or a locally-known specialty meat or cheese as a starting point, and search for recipes.
3. Buy a couple of new spices and challenge yourself with them. (Penzeys, etc.)
4. Shop at a different grocer than usual. (You'd be surprised at how a new store layout and slightly different selection can stimulate ideas.) Or time to visit the farmer's market, if it's not your usual.
5. Sprout your own leafy or bean sprouts. (I love sprouting, and the daily -- very brief -- involvement with living foods in your kitchen is very energizing.)
6. Replace that (knife/cutting board/colander/etc.) that slows down prep and that you've been meaning to upgrade. Not a huge expenditure, just a little perk.
I get into a funk as well. Lately, though, I've really been enjoying my subscription to Saveur Magazine. This month has some great Mexican Recipes. Last month was The Sandwich Issue, before that it was Sicilian. Somehow, whatever I'm craving is on the cover( or maybe I'm craving it because it's on the cover). I always get some interesting new ideas or recommendations. There's an article on Måzi's Piri Piri Sauce, which I can't wait to try.
It's just fun to read, and gets me out of my same old - same old.
What works for me is buying an ingredient (or two or five) I haven't cooked with before and then experimenting with different recipes.
I am a member of a cooking/recipe website that has 'get a random recipe' button at the bottom of the page plus we discuss what we're having for dinner that night. and they have a featured recipe of the day.. sometimes I just want someone else to tell me what the heck to make... and it's fun to commit yourself to whatever the radom recipe is or try the 'recipe of the day' even though it's something you wouldn't normally make
Growing your own herbs can be exciting - both to watch them grow and harvest. I would also go to your grocery store and choose an ingredient you have never worked with before. Let it really inspire you to come up with something intriguing. Whenever I see anything new I practically fling myself at it whether I have a recipe in my mind for it or not - I will when I get home!
yea, I get in the same funk. I do what others do, read recipes etc.
When I cook for my family it is a challenge (they don't live w/me, kids are adults now) but that is who I love to cook for. 4 are no/low carb including one diabetic (me) 3 are vegetarians (2 will eat fish, 1 won't eat fish but will pick through a chicken dish if the chicken pieces are not recognizable as chicken)
Usually when a funk hits, that's the time to go on a diet. LOL
When my late husband used to deploy for the USN I was in a funk. I would eat popcorn for dinner for days in a row. Instead of fighting it, I wallowed in misery. After a while, it became boring and I reverted to normal. But I found the most effective cure for the funks was not to fight them, just ride along. Pretty food pictures did not help, reading menus and recipes did not help. Time was magic.
One time I was so uninspired that I decided to buy and cook the first meal that I saw in a TV program that I was watching. That was kind of fun, I believe that it was only steak and bread.
Otherwise, as with the other posters, I get my cookbooks out and flip through them until I find something that inspires me.
You know this so call funk will happen to you no matter if you are tired of the same work out, the same restaurants, or the joy of slaving over a hot stove while knowing it's just so easy to order from Pizza Hut. It's a human condition that force us to make a change, any change. I get tired too and when I do I will just not cook a few days. Then the feeling comes back and you can really help it along by going shopping while really hungry. Try this, have only a small salad or even just fruit for lunch, no three pm cookies or snacks. By six o'clock you will be at the right frame of mind to get out of this funk. Go to Fresh Market or even Treader Joe's and get one or two ingredients or condiments you don't usually use in your cooking. My last funk I killed it with a curry butter miso sauce over pasta, something I have never done ever. It give new life behind the stove, a new heart beat and a new outlook on life that says, eat pasta kill that FUNK.
If that doesn't work start dialing Pizza Hut, it works for me.
I've been in a funk since I got really fat by making a home-cooked dinner every night for a spoiled, ungrateful crowd. Then I had a health crisis that mandated I lose a lot of weight so I did. Took the home-cooked-meal-for-granted and eliminated it. Lost 20 pounds quickly and I plan to do it again in a week or two. I see stuff and get motivated or get a craving but I know that Dinner as we grew up with is not good for me, especially if I"m cooking it.