What to do to rekindle the love of cooking?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by eastshores, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. eastshores

    eastshores

    Messages:
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    313
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I know a couple years ago I posted something similar to this. It seems that once in a while, I fall "out of love" with cooking. I think this is due to me hitting a plateau and feeling (I know this is silly) I've basically accomplished everything I can. I run out of challenges, everything I can think of, I know that I could do with relative success because I've accomplished what I feel is a strong foundation. In re-thinking this, I've come up with two paths that maybe I could pursue to light the flame again:
    1. Concentrate on mastering "sides" - I feel I have a fairly limited use of dishes that can compliment main items (usually meat). Sure I can do an herbed couscous, throw together a nice pasta and sauce, roasted potatoes or vegetables or even a nice puree or salad, but there are probably much more challenging and time consuming side dishes that take things to the next level? I want to believe! This one is a bit abstract.
    2. Return to the classics and technique. I've thought of taking a disciplined approach. For instance, working through each of the mother sauces and attempting them from scratch, to include creating my own beef, poultry, or fish stocks. Work from there into more advanced areas. I've touched on things, but I've never focused on technique for the sake of technique it has always been part of a "dish". Butchering, roasting, reducing, refining, etc. This seems a bit attractive to me still.
    I hesitated in posting this, but maybe there are those like me that have hit this stumbling block. I wanted to hear, and will value the thoughts of this community!
     
  2. lagom

    lagom

    Messages:
    1,140
    Likes Received:
    164
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I would look to the classics. Not the 70's 80's dishes that we all love to scorn but go back to the basics. Like your option 2. Stocks and sauses from scratch. A classic consumme from the ground up. Drag out a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and read it, cover to cover, its a good read. Experiment, make pate from scratch, use the fat, the technique, all the steps, it make a difference. Have dinner parties with people who LIKE food, not people who just eat. Make the classics that almost nobody does anymore. It truley is exciting to serve a classic consumme and look at their faces when they taste something they never have.

    Dive into processing your own meats, farm to table, nose to tail cooking. Pick it on the hoof, cut it, roast, braise, process, eat. Near the coast? Go to the docks, get feesh seafood, stiff from rigger, fresh.

    Plant a garden, no room? Find a small farm that grows small crops of thing the grocery store doesnt know excist.

    Cook for yourself. Enjoy and reinspire.
     
    eastshores likes this.
  3. mikael

    mikael

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I know how you feel. 7 years ago i moved to a new country. And upon arrival i had nothing i slept in my buddy s basement. I didn't had any education beside high scool. No money job or anything. Then two years ago i felt like i accomplished everything. I finished my culinary education. i have a girlfriend which I share a nice apartment with and a Stable job. And belive me it's hard to feel you accomplished everything. So what i do. And I would suggest for you.is to think real hard and set yourself some long term goals like. in two years I'll have done this. Or in a year I'll have mastered this skill. I think it's in human nature always wanting to better yourself and to explore new things. And thats is why we get the feeling of emptiness when we accomplish our long term goals. Hope this helps. At least now you know that you're not alone. And others feel Like you. And sorry if my post is hard to read it's send from my phone and English is not my first language
    mikael
     
    eastshores likes this.
  4. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

    Messages:
    7,420
    Likes Received:
    645
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    It's hard to love something if you feel you have mastered it.  There is no such thing as being perfect and those who we think of as masters are masters because they believe themselves to still be learning.  

    Pablo Casals, one of the world's greatest cellists was once asked:  “Mr Casals, you’re the greatest cellist of the 20th Century and your career has been nothing short of spectacular. Why, at the age of 95, do you still practice 6 hours a day?"

    His answer was  “Because I think I’m making progress.”

    But why force it if you're not feeling it?  Sometimes the best thing to do is take some time off.  I do it all the time, not necessarily with cooking but with other activities that I love.  Breaks serve an important role in development of skills.  There is no law that says you have to love cooking every day of your life.  Pass the cooking gloves to someone else for a while.  Enjoy visiting inspiring new restaurants.  Get really good at putting together quick sandwiches so that you don't have to cook.  We all need a break sometimes, it's ok to take one.

    If you're not happy with taking a break and eating simply for a while while you wait for inspiration to come back, then go in search of it.  Join a supper club.  Take a cooking class.  Teach a cooking class to young kids who have never cooked before, it's invigorating.  Switch over to baking for a bit.  Take part in a cooking competition, or host a cooking competition!  Take a class on butchery, or fancy knife skills, or go work for a bit for a cheesemonger and learn how to make cheese.  Go volunteer at a soup kitchen and see how much joy your food can bring to someone other than your immediate friends/family.  Good luck and don't worry about it if you don't cook for a couple of months.
     
    eastshores and nicko like this.
  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

    Messages:
    1,863
    Likes Received:
    411
    Exp:
    Professional Cook
    I''ll add to the others suggestions in the same fashion. Make some wine or brew some beer. Practice vegetable and ice carving. Visit an ethnic market to see ingredients you never saw before. Travel. Recreate something from the store like saltines or graham crackers, just because. Find a culinary competition and go see it. Cook a different cuisine.

    And I will strongly second the suggestion to help in a soup kitchen. One of the most meaningful moments I ever had was when a dirty, disheveled, mentally ill homeless man looked up from the serving line with clear eyes and and a firm voice and said "Thank you. God bless you". 
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  6. cheflayne

    cheflayne

    Messages:
    4,195
    Likes Received:
    554
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    There are far too many countries and cuisines out there for me to ever get bored with cooking. I feel like I have only began to scratch the surface of culinary exploration.

    In February, I am going to Nicaragua for a month. I can hardly wait just thinking about the new gastronomic adventures that await me. New ingredients, new techniques, new dishes. Whoo-hoo!!! I feel like a kid in a candy store. Is it February yet?????
     
  7. cerise

    cerise Banned

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    31
    Exp:
    Other
    I think, from time to time, we all experience a lack of inspiration, & need to get our cooking Mojo back.  When that happens, sometimes I take a break, & wait for the creative "juices" to flow again.

    I'm a fan of fresh fruits, vegetables & seafood.  I like salads, soups & vegetables in any form.  The fresher, the better. Take a walk around the Produce & seafood sections of your market, or go to a local farmers' market.  Try a new Seasonal fruit, vegetable or seafood, and challenge yourself to use it in a different way.  Sometimes, less is more. Have you tried Molecular gastronomy or foam? Have you made homemade pasta?  There are unlimited ways of preparing pasta dishes.  How about risotto?  Give it time.  The passion will come back.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
    eastshores likes this.
  8. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
    eastshores likes this.
  9. eastshores

    eastshores

    Messages:
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    313
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    You all have had expectantly incredible responses and I thank you all. I have taken them all in. I told Lagom.. I've ordered the book and got a copy for my brother :)

    I'll read it.. but I do think I'll take a break. I have a lb of transglutaminase sitting in the freezer and I've not had the passion to do anything with it. Again thank you all for your insight.

    Edit: I will look into serving the homeless. Lately I've wanted to find any elderly or needy people that needed a meal to share.. but liability reared it's ugly head.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  10. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Travel
     
  11. cerise

    cerise Banned

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    31
    Exp:
    Other
    Meanwhile... here's some eye candy.

     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  12. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

    Messages:
    4,344
    Likes Received:
    83
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    For the past year and a half I focused on setting a goal, something basic, to make a flaky tart crust that stays flaky on the bottom.   And I'm there.  Nothing to it. But it took awhile and some experimentation using leftover tart dough.   And now a whole world of tarts, quiches and perhaps pies have opened up to me with my newly found flakyness!
     
  13. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

    Messages:
    1,128
    Likes Received:
    101
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I agree with joey , sometimes traveling (if you have the money) can be an amazing way to gain new inspiration. 

    Ill tell you the truth this year was an awful year for me. I had quit a job in march to get some new found culinary education i learned alot and in march started working. 

    A chef took me under her wing and taught me  a whole lot , we are great friends now but the restaurant closed in 5 months. I worked at another place for 2 days , and quit because it was horrible, and started working an italian restaurant 2 months down the road my contract ended with the restaurant and i decided to take a break and rethink some goals. I had left a job after 16 months of hard work and good pay just to gain more experience in the field, not knowing how it would go. 

    I got accepted into college to get my degree in management, the italian restaurant called me back 2 days ago offering me my job back, and im finally making money <_< , i was almost in debt. 

    Of course though , it didnt help that i quit college to take a year off to get my head straight , and lost 2 jobs almost one after the other. 

    But i ended up getting back on my feet , started studying again , and started getting inspired reading , and getting my head straight. Traveled , and realized i needed to focus. 

    Now and again i look at my tattoo ( its food related ) on my wrist and realize i wouldnt have gotten it if i wasnt serious and on the right track. 

    Now with a job (with decent pay and a good position), new goals, and also back to studying i risk having less of a social life , but im hungry for that stressful dinner rush. 

    These last 2 months of no work made me realize that working outside of the kitchen for me is boring <_< and i rather be hauling ass on the line, sweating , swearing , crying , and or bleeding then be working in an office or doing something that doesnt involve food. 

    I think everyone is correct here...

    Take some time off to think , get inspired, study, read, and if possible travel. The world is too large and the culinary field is huge their is always something to learn and to inspire oneself. 

    This year is about to end and a new year is about to commence , i plan on it being a great year with alot of hard work , but with alot of reward. 

    I set my goals and now im power hungry. 

    Eastshores you are a great cook, and when time goes by sometimes we hit a dead end , a mental block , etc.... i have always found its best to not stress too much (even though its easier said then done) and to just relax. 

    Life is like a game of chess , you can only make a move after your opponent. Let life make its next move , while you just think about yours. 

    Remebering i was out of the kitchen for 2 months with no set goal on when i would be back , getting close to debt and no job offers , as well as a bit uninspired, until i got a call for work ( and i wasnt even looking ). Life works in strange ways....

    ALRIGHT I RANTED ENOUGH , AND HAVE NO IDEA IF I HELPED.... but i hope my advice helped you or anyone else on the forum. 
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
    eastshores likes this.
  14. chicagoterry

    chicagoterry

    Messages:
    963
    Likes Received:
    85
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    If you can't travel right now ethnic markets, restaurants and cookbooks always provide all kinds of new flavors and ideas to try. I simply adore a new cookbook if it's the right one and I'm probably the happiest in an ethnic market with a good produce section, surrounded by people speaking languages I don't understand, all of us ogling the food.
     
  15. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Kaique, your story really moved me. Every little bit helps, like this famous song that contains a lot of wisdom, like not diving deep into your problems but to look at them from a distance. I always play it when times are rough.

    This one is for people who find themselves in times of trouble...

     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  16. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,644
    Likes Received:
    557
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    For me to get excited about cooking, I have to eat something new that makes me want to be able to make it.  I cook because I like to eat. And cooking well is the best path to eating well. 
     
  17. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

    Messages:
    1,128
    Likes Received:
    101
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I found is was also great therapy typing that all out. 

    I read it a few times after typing it out , smiled , and think it just might help others as well. 

    The song is great too Chris , liked it a whole lot. 
     
  18. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,230
    Likes Received:
    388
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I can offer several comments:

    1.  You're normal in my eyes.

    2.  The plateau is a false illusion... ask me how I know.  :)

    Two things I do when I get in that mood is:

    1.  Eat out more.  Eat a good restaurants.  The better they are the quicker you'll get inspired again.  Or, the more broke you will become and you'll get inspired to cook again out of necessity.

    2.  Eat out more.  Eat fast food.  The cheaper and greasier it is the quicker you'll get inspired again.  Or, the more decrepit your health will become and you'll get inspired to cook again out of necessity.

    Why I ought to package this great advise into a book.  I could make it a multi-purpose book: inspiration to burned out cooks; health improvement; and the next fad diet.  I could call it the "Eat Out Diet".  What a great idea, huh?

    ... and to reiterate some good advise from post #2... here is what I do: "Drag out a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and read it, cover to cover, its a good read."
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  19. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    get outside of your house, your neighborhood,your strip mall after strip mall after strip mall of food landscape.....push and explore outside of your comfort zone....i know florida and there are still old florida treasure spots of a by gone age to be found and enjoyed. you have to hunt for them, but they are sooo there.....pm me, i will share my 'bestest' treasure spots. Quiet towns with small boondock restaurants, fish fresh off the boats, crabbing, fishing and small diners that serve breakfast all day long with waitresses named flo and myrtle still live on. Don't even think about asking for a double mocha decaf latte with almond milk! ....have pie for breakfast......cookbooks don't always do it, but people always do.
    Did i get too OT?
    joey
     
  20. cerise

    cerise Banned

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    31
    Exp:
    Other