I'm cooking really badly at the moment

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I used to be able to cook pretty much everything pretty much OK but at the moment it all seems to be going wrong. Anybody else go through these phases? Is it psychological? I'm afraid to put a saucepan of water on at the moment...

Ned T.RIfle II (Ned T.Rifle II), Friday, 17 February 2006 16:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I am totally defeated and demoralized by eggs these days. But I've been through phases where I couldn't cook anything right, even my reliable standards. Usually seems to happen when there is too much stuff in flux and my concentration is shot. It will pass. Stick to simple things and be meticulous until the worst is over.

Jaq (Jaq), Friday, 17 February 2006 16:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Actually one of the things I'm doing badly is scrambled eggs. Used to make the most gorgeous fluffy BUT creamy eggs. Now...well I'm feeling slightly nauseous just thinking about the last ones I did. I agree about the concentration thing. I have a lot of stuff going on at the moment. Maybe I'll just get take-outs for a while.

Ned T.Rifle (nedtrifle), Friday, 17 February 2006 18:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

dudes
you don't have to do everything awesome all the time. letting yourself fail is good for the ego. humbleness is never a fault. tonight go home and make something that you do well, don't try to reinvent the wheel. i heard charlie trotter say each task in the kitchen is just as important as any other. washing dishes takes just as much concentration as those damned eggs.

mr confidence builder, Wednesday, 22 February 2006 19:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

oh and don't forget to HAVE FUN. if it takes another glass of wine and some friends so be it!

mr confidence builder, Wednesday, 22 February 2006 19:49 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Rubbish. If friends are present it only adds to the pressure to become TEH IRON CHEF

(Views expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the parent body)

Matt (Matt), Wednesday, 22 February 2006 22:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Once I went through a weird phase where I was making amazing consommes and disastrous custards. This phase, long since passed, is now referred to by my friends as the AC/DC year.

remy (x Jeremy), Thursday, 23 February 2006 05:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

hahahaha hilarious thread. i burnt french fries in the oven last night. i guess it's just too easy to put them on the cookie sheet and put them in the oven. but since i never time anything . . .

jdchurchill (jdchurchill), Thursday, 23 February 2006 17:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Hey hey - cooked top hole sunday lunch with all the trimmings at the w/end. Chicken, rosaties, parsnips, roasted onions, sausages, yorkshire pudding...terrific. Sat with satisfaction at table surrounded by food and people eating. Lovely.

Ned T.Rifle (nedtrifle), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 12:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

couldn't really find a good thread for this, so here we go

please to help me remedy my guacamole from too much salt. i accidentally got a little overzealous in seasoning it and now i fear that overnight it's become too salty. i worry about adding more lime bc it's already quite limey... what else can i do? would stirring in a bit of plain yogurt help cut down the saltiness?

tehresa, Monday, 23 June 2008 19:42 (ten years ago) Permalink

hmmm.... can you put a little more avocado in?

Surmounter, Monday, 23 June 2008 19:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

i used all of em!

tehresa, Monday, 23 June 2008 19:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

maybe you're right, some yogurt might work! pretty harmless either way

Surmounter, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

Plain yogurt might help - I would drain it for a bit first, to make it more creamy. Definitely not more lime - I think citrus and salt play off each other, intensifying both. If you're serving with chips, get unsalted ones. Some deseeded chopped tomato or tomatillo might also help curb the salt.

Jaq, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

true nuf i was thinking tomato.

Surmounter, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

yeah unfortunately i already bought the chips and they are salted. will try more tomato. i have some plain greek yogurt that may help.

tehresa, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:12 (ten years ago) Permalink

moar hot pepper

El Tomboto, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

i mean i'm actually really into salt so if you have guests like me they might be really into it :)

Surmounter, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

oh yeah, greek yogurt is nice and thick already, no need to drain. I think Tombot has a point - have you got fresh jalapenos or serranos to add? The extra heat will help balance the salt.

Other, non-traditional things that would definitely soak up the salt: mushrooms (sauted then blended/processored smooth with some oil if needed) or eggplant (peeled, diced, quickly boiled, well-drained and blended smooth). Both will mess with the color, probably too much.

Jaq, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:30 (ten years ago) Permalink

i already put in 1/2 a fresh jalapeno... a little nervous about adding more but i bet it could handle a little bit.

tehresa, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:31 (ten years ago) Permalink

(it was 2.5 avocados, btw so i am not sure about proper pepper amt)

tehresa, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

That always varies so much, peppers are all so different depending on where they were grown etc. To keep the heat down, don't put in any of the seeds or the whitish membrane from around the seeds.

Jaq, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also, the heat will develop over time, so I'd add the extra pepper close to when you want to serve it.

Jaq, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

good tip!
yeah, my mother taught me early on: no seeds or membrane!

tehresa, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:42 (ten years ago) Permalink

ummmm how long is too long to marinate chicken breasts with a lemon-based marinade? it's been at least 24 hours? are they going to be ridic?

tehresa, Thursday, 26 June 2008 23:40 (ten years ago) Permalink

what is wrong with my cooking lately?!?!?

tehresa, Thursday, 26 June 2008 23:40 (ten years ago) Permalink

Mmmmm, chicken ceviche ;)

24 hours is a while, but what can you do? They might be a bit lemony, but will be fine tasting, I'm sure - are you grilling them?

Jaq, Thursday, 26 June 2008 23:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

just cooking in a skillet i think

tehresa, Thursday, 26 June 2008 23:45 (ten years ago) Permalink

i forgot they were there.

tehresa, Thursday, 26 June 2008 23:45 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, if they turn out to be too lemony to eat after you cook them, you could use them to make a base for soupa avgolemono.

Jaq, Friday, 27 June 2008 00:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

My cooking has been all crap for a while now, but mostly it's because I am not doing it enough.

Nor am I starting up again just yet...

I should ask for recipes that require no tools or cooking whatsoever. Also, I should go buy a knife.

Casuistry, Sunday, 6 July 2008 17:20 (ten years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

Today my potato leek soup was sort of bland and last night my made from scratch spaghetti sauce that I roasted tomatoes for was also sort of bland. I've been using salt while cooking, fresh herbs, and making everything from quality ingredients, where am I going wrong?

JacobSanders, Sunday, 30 September 2012 04:51 (six years ago) Permalink

- fry onions for longer
- include smoked paprika

?

let's get the banned back together (schlump), Sunday, 30 September 2012 05:46 (six years ago) Permalink

Hm herbs usually do make a soup, esp a plain one like potato leek, but sometimes it just needs salt, I think!

frances boredom coconut (Trayce), Sunday, 30 September 2012 07:34 (six years ago) Permalink

I always figure that when something doesn't taste quite as good as I had hoped, it was because I was stingy with the salt or the fat. You can easily add more salt, but even adding a little butter probably wouldn't hurt either?

these albatrosses have no fear of man (La Lechera), Sunday, 30 September 2012 13:46 (six years ago) Permalink

it could also be that your tastebuds have been so desensitized by processed/oversalted and over-flavored foods...

barthes simpson, Sunday, 30 September 2012 14:08 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm always really shitty when it comes to timing things while cooking - like all the sautéed veggies will be mush by the time i finish the grains, etc

clouds, Sunday, 30 September 2012 14:17 (six years ago) Permalink

I was reluctant to add too much salt in the potato leek soup because I spilt the water with chicken stock. I figure the stock had enough flavor?

JacobSanders, Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:26 (six years ago) Permalink

Maybe black pepper? Or a little sour salt or lemon? Sometimes rich things need a bit of brightening up.

Jaq, Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:42 (six years ago) Permalink

taste and salt, taste and salt

call all destroyer, Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:42 (six years ago) Permalink

lemon also a good idea

call all destroyer, Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:42 (six years ago) Permalink

Fresh herbs are nice but dried ones can be more flavorful or add depth.

Jaq, Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:44 (six years ago) Permalink

taste and salt, taste and salt

― call all destroyer, Sunday, September 30, 2012 2:42 PM (40 seconds ago)

^^^ tasting as you go, crucial

xp -- yeah, I have a dried Italian herb blend that I get in Atlanta at Dekalb -- I really love it, put it in so many things.

Death Grits 2 (WmC), Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:48 (six years ago) Permalink

tasting as you go, crucial
Why don't I ever do this????

JacobSanders, Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:55 (six years ago) Permalink

i dunno, you gotta do that!

these albatrosses have no fear of man (La Lechera), Sunday, 30 September 2012 20:05 (six years ago) Permalink

I was reluctant to add too much salt in the potato leek soup because I spilt the water with chicken stock. I figure the stock had enough flavor?

I do all my veggie soups with straight stock! Tho the strength is a vague thing as I usually get lazy and use massel vegan "chicken" stock.

frances boredom coconut (Trayce), Sunday, 30 September 2012 22:19 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm always really shitty when it comes to timing things while cooking - like all the sautéed veggies will be mush by the time i finish the grains, etc

― clouds, Sunday, September 30, 2012 2:17 PM (Yesterday)

I do think getting all the parts of the meal to finish at once is the master-level indicator of home cooking. Everytime I do it right I feel like a flame juggler.

The Most Typical and Popular Girl Rider (Crabbits), Monday, 1 October 2012 03:01 (six years ago) Permalink

I have made **four** disappointingly bad meals in the past month (meals intended to last multiple days), and every time it was due to undersalting. It's like I never made "add more salt to things" my pasts' most successful New Years resolution. It's like I learned NOTHING.

The Most Typical and Popular Girl Rider (Crabbits), Monday, 1 October 2012 03:03 (six years ago) Permalink

my one weird trick for syncing meals--every sunday i make the same breakfast. eggs over easy, hash browns, bacon, toast, and tea. and every week i try to get better at getting everything on the plate fresh and hot at the same time. obv every new meal presents a different challenge but this forces me to think a lot about the process.

call all destroyer, Monday, 1 October 2012 03:11 (six years ago) Permalink

it is weird everyone here being so pro-salt. i love salt, it is my favourite food, & w/cooking - especially basic stuff, rice or w/e - i feel like you just have to add incrementally more until something ends up being delicious & salty. but i figured most people disagreed, or thought this was illicit, or thought you shouldn't go so crazy with the salt, or had alternative, more complicated strategies. the saltiness + the deliciousness of food is an arrow streaking directly & diagonally forwards on a graph, to me.

i really like the stage of needing to do a bunch of shit at once when cooking. like ideally if it's only for a couple of people, & the kitchen isn't too hot, but having to chop the fuck out of a pepper while being conscious of the rice having absorbed its water & being in danger of burning, hearing mustard seeds pop & having to draw water from the tap at maximum speed to boil a kettle - it is the feeling of being alive.

unprotectable tweetz (schlump), Monday, 1 October 2012 03:13 (six years ago) Permalink

I was under the impression the longer you cook a sauce or soup on low heat, the more the bring out the flavors?

each flavor cooks at a different heat

each flavor needs to be cooked a certain amount to be coaxed out of the food

for example, penne alla vodka:

cook the onions on super high heat for one minute, then slowly on medium with constant movement for five to six

that's a classic onion preparation but the idea is puncture the cell walls, five or six minutes of letting the cells sweat out the water and let everything else cook down into sweeter sugars

then you raise the heat to nuclear (oil should be splattering everywhere) and then the tomatoes go sliding in. similar idea, break the cell walls you even let them start to uh, not burn or crisp, i forget the word, really kinda dehydrate and then you add the vodka and it sucks up the heat by vaporizing and in the meantime it chemically cures the tomato, which you keep on high simmer while the pasta cooks just to dehydrate. and then adding the unrinsed salty pasta to the cooked-down tomato (as the pasta finishes) adds the salt that finally breaks down the remaining cell walls of the tomato, inside which the tomato sugars are caramelizing, and the salted pasta grabs the oily tomato sauce and the boiling water stuck to the pasta loosens the tomato-tomato molecule bonds so it's nice and creamy (or something)

so the point is not low or high heat, it's just dependent on what you're making

now that's a sauce, not a soup

but with a soup i think you generally want to bring to boil for same reasons, and then cook for like an hour or two on a simmer, and then TOSS everything in there and start again on medium heat, adding the things you want to cook in roughly order of time it takes to cook them, then simmer high at the end super briefly if you're adding anything back in (like chicken from the soup stock) and let cool.

otherwise what you're talking about is making a stock and not a soup, if you're starting a soup with stock then you could cook briefly at high simmer or slowly on low simmer depending on what you are trying to do w/ each vegetable / grain / meat texture

the late great, Monday, 1 October 2012 22:54 (six years ago) Permalink

when i say TOSS i mean DISCARD everything that's been slow cooking for 1-2 hours, or if it's stern stuff that takes 1-2 hrs to cook perhaps blend, but that would be some seriously tough veg

you may want to experiment with starting off salty and never adding any more salt until finished, that's traditional in italy i think

also in a stock you add the spices (except salt) after the boil, i think, because you don't want to break down their flavor by cooking at boiling heat, and the aromatics go in the soup proper and not the stock (say cilantro) so don't slow cook away the aromas!

the late great, Monday, 1 October 2012 22:58 (six years ago) Permalink

That's one of the most informative postings I have read on ilx, thanks!

JacobSanders, Monday, 1 October 2012 23:06 (six years ago) Permalink

all i did is just get some *simple* books (like nigel slater level) and followed them religiously and after awhile you get the sense of timing of heat and salt and that's kinda it to cooking

the late great, Monday, 1 October 2012 23:14 (six years ago) Permalink

welp

We demand justice: who murdered Chanel? (Matt P), Monday, 1 October 2012 23:24 (six years ago) Permalink

it's like i just learned a new language.

We demand justice: who murdered Chanel? (Matt P), Monday, 1 October 2012 23:25 (six years ago) Permalink

the language of heat

We demand justice: who murdered Chanel? (Matt P), Monday, 1 October 2012 23:26 (six years ago) Permalink

literally cooking is all salt and heat! (and acid and oil i guess)

the late great, Monday, 1 October 2012 23:34 (six years ago) Permalink

one of my favorite exercises is the thai flavor wheel:

start w/ a pinch of chili, then taste a drop of lime, which cuts the oil, then a taste of salty to break down the acidity and further cut the oil, then sweet to bring out and balance the salty (not sure what sweet was, maybe a bit of palm sugar or coconut milk

then to make a curry you do the same thing in different order, to make soup you do a different order, to do salad you do a different order (salad iirc was garlic + salt + chili -> add lime -> add sugar -> add fish sauce (aromatic) finish)

so that's the originary vocabulary for thai cooking, i think every cuisine has an equivalent (french has oil or egg or cream, lemon or vinegar, onion and garlic, italians have different oils and vinegars)

the late great, Monday, 1 October 2012 23:41 (six years ago) Permalink

i think cooking as a kind of math actually

the late great, Monday, 1 October 2012 23:42 (six years ago) Permalink

You're not wrong. I think that's why I love it so.

Jaq, Monday, 1 October 2012 23:45 (six years ago) Permalink

See I dont, really! I wing everything with instinct. Tho I guess I do think about reactions and whatnot. So, chemistry rather than math for me.

frances boredom coconut (Trayce), Tuesday, 2 October 2012 00:25 (six years ago) Permalink

you mean amounts or the temperatures and order in which you the parts of a curry or whatever?

the late great, Tuesday, 2 October 2012 00:37 (six years ago) Permalink

i prob do things more instinctively too, but then i tend to loosely follow recipes and only really improvise when i'm sure.

Know how Roo feel (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 2 October 2012 10:58 (six years ago) Permalink

I mean reactions and heat and stuff, its hard to explain. I know when something's brown enough/caramelized enough/soft enough/flavoursome enough somehow?

frances boredom coconut (Trayce), Tuesday, 2 October 2012 11:01 (six years ago) Permalink

from looking and feeling

the late great, Tuesday, 2 October 2012 19:32 (six years ago) Permalink

that's experience too

the late great, Tuesday, 2 October 2012 19:32 (six years ago) Permalink

I think there are very generally sensory cue-driven people and precise science-driven people when it comes to cooking. I'm in the former camp, but I respect the latter if that approach works for them. You just have to figure out what works for you (ie experience).

these albatrosses have no fear of man (La Lechera), Tuesday, 2 October 2012 19:40 (six years ago) Permalink

hey i paid way more attention to / thought about how heat and salt work and made the best version of a dish (my own recipe) i've ever made last night. thank u late great and thread!

We demand justice: who murdered Chanel? (Matt P), Tuesday, 2 October 2012 19:55 (six years ago) Permalink

np, i tried to mash up three recipes, spilled a box of couscous all over the floor, dumped a pot of kale + cooking water all over the counter, and ended up with 2x as much dressing as i needed for kale and vegetables. yay me!

re: recipes i think the key is not so much precise amounts of spices and ingredients or certain amounts to the minute of cooking but more *the order of things* and the relative amount of time it looks for something to *be done*

you can only tell if a steak's done by look, smell, feel, etc, ditto toasting couscous

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:20 (six years ago) Permalink

which i over toasted in my haste

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:20 (six years ago) Permalink

cooking is just str8 up practice imo

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:43 (six years ago) Permalink

and trying shit; like over the summer i made a terrible pork chop on the grill but tonight i made a rad pork chop in a skillet. like you gotta find what works for you.

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:44 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah it took me a while to get the hang of grilling chicken breasts without carving them open to see if they're pink inside and now I am QUEEN OF ALL I SURVEY

and there are days where you just wing it and think you're gonna make something amazing that just really turns out like boiled garbage. circle of cuisine. new delicious dishes are born, they grow and change, others die slow deaths in yr stomach/trashcan/dogbowl

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:52 (six years ago) Permalink

my best bad cooking effort: I tried to make sweet potato homefries and they burned all to fuck but they were still kind of edible and so mr veg and I sat at the dinner table eating forkfuls of these weird blackened chewy sweet potato worms and just looking at each other like 'WE WILL NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN'

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:53 (six years ago) Permalink

chicken breasts are a national lie

barthes simpson, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:53 (six years ago) Permalink

boneless skinless = agreed

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:54 (six years ago) Permalink

they have their uses

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:56 (six years ago) Permalink

they are good ... for me to poop on

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 02:57 (six years ago) Permalink

Dark meat all the way with skin and bones

JacobSanders, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 03:18 (six years ago) Permalink

if it quells your ire we buy breasts on the bone & I occasionally use them for boneless skinless cooking on a grill pam when it is too hot to use the oven

jeez u guys

i love dark meat too!

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 03:22 (six years ago) Permalink

leave the skin on dammit, helps keep the precious poultry juices inside the meat

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 04:18 (six years ago) Permalink

crispy salted chicken skin mmmmm or just peel it off before serving

the best is a whole chicken + a weeks leftover chicken

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 04:18 (six years ago) Permalink

YOU ARE NOT THE CHICKEN BOSS OF ME

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 04:51 (six years ago) Permalink

we regularly barbecue the chicken with the skin on

leaving the skin on a filleted breast is kind of pointless, surely - the juices are going to come out the cut side anyway

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 04:54 (six years ago) Permalink

wait why did you filet the breast?

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:11 (six years ago) Permalink

i guess for scallopini or whatever you take the skin off but i so rarely eat chicken filet

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:12 (six years ago) Permalink

because I don't want to turn on the oven - it's hot as hades here already

I can cook the filets quickly and easily on the stove on a grill pan

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:13 (six years ago) Permalink

and by filet I mean just take the breast off the bone, I don't mean like paper thin slices or anything crazy like that

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:14 (six years ago) Permalink

if you grill pan w/ skin side down the juices will trap between the crisping skin and the meat, be sure to cover with a heavy lid to keep the juices steaming the chicken

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:16 (six years ago) Permalink

you can kinda brown w/o cooking the inside with the skin down too

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:17 (six years ago) Permalink

if I ever leave the skin on, I'll try that :P

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:34 (six years ago) Permalink

:)

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:34 (six years ago) Permalink

if you know what;s good for that chicken

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:35 (six years ago) Permalink

*eyeroll*

lol

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 05:42 (six years ago) Permalink

Ive gone right off skinless breast meat for anything, in the old days I'd pan fry those fuckers and always wonder whyfore chewy. Now I do whole roasts, and if its stir fry or curry, thigh meat all the way. Im not a dark meat fan in the "eat the meat off the bones" sense when it comes to the whole bird. But thigh meat is best in stew situs. All that fat.

Breasts are good poached but I'm still working that one out.

frances boredom coconut (Trayce), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 06:30 (six years ago) Permalink

how do you poach? i haven't done that yet.

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 06:54 (six years ago) Permalink

except fish in an oven

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 06:55 (six years ago) Permalink

Just slip a breast into water or stock (usually stock) with maybe some slivers of garlic and a bay leaf, then simmer gently for maybe 5 mins then let it sit covered in the liquid with the heat off, for another 10? Im never sure how long, i seeem to still overdo it and it goes tough.

frances boredom coconut (Trayce), Wednesday, 3 October 2012 06:57 (six years ago) Permalink

covered, right?

the late great, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 18:29 (six years ago) Permalink


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