Lost my cooking mojo, help me get it back!

(30 Posts)
MrsPennyapple Fri 29-Mar-13 19:30:00

Today I attempted to bake some flapjack. Despite following the recipe to the letter, the top was burnt, and when I tipped it out of the tin, the top layer fell off and the rest was welded to the tin (which I had greased as per instructions).

Yesterday I made a lasagne, in itself it was fine, but the oven thermometer was suspended from the shelf above the lasagne, the garlic bread was on the upper shelf. I pulled out the shelf to get the garlic bread, and the thermometer dragged the cheesy top off the lasagne, onto the floor and the bottom of the oven.

Last week I tried to make a gingerbread loaf. Again the top came out whilst the bottom stuck to the tin (despite me having greased it), and although the texture was good, it had a weird taste to it that I can't identify.

I am feeling really stuck in a rut, food-wise, sick of churning out the same meals over and over again. I'm trying to find new things to cook, but everything I touch seems to turn to shit at the moment. The only thing that went well was the Hairy Bikers sweet & sour chicken recipe. I'm pretty much feeling like going shopping and filling the cupboards with jars of sauces. At least then I'll just have to slop it in a pan and heat it up.

I have a toddler who generally eats well, and a DP who won't entertain a meat-free meal. (He does cook sometimes but I do most of it.)

Anyone else felt like this and pulled themselves out of it? Any suggestions what I can do to try and get excited about food again?

TheAccidentalEgghibitionist Fri 29-Mar-13 19:34:02

I'm struggling to get out of a cooking rut too. I went to a shop I hadn't been to in several months today and came out feeling inspired. Went home and did some cooking.
New cookery book often inspires me to try new stuff.

retrorita Fri 29-Mar-13 19:36:37

Good Food Magazine might help?

MyLifeIsStillChaotic Fri 29-Mar-13 20:43:31

The goodfood website is my main source of inspiration. I didn't have a clue what to cook for mother's day for example, had a little trawl and found this pork recipe which everyone said was delicious. I like that there are reviews and tips - I have never cooked anything that doesn't get at least 3 stars.

sounds like your oven temperature is too hot. is it a fan oven?

I read somewhere (can't remember where) that to shop things sticking you have to use a different fat to grease the tin to the one in the dish is if you cake is made with butter use sunflower oil to grease the tin.

MrsPennyapple Fri 29-Mar-13 20:51:14

I used to subscribe to Good Food, and although I love browsing through it, I rarely cooked anything out of it. Perhaps I ought to set myself a challenge, to cook something out of it each month.

I do meal plan, which helps the finances, but does take a lot of the spontineity out of it. I suppose that's part of feeding a family though eh?

MrsPennyapple Fri 29-Mar-13 20:56:30

We bought the oven thermometer a couple of weeks ago as I suspected the temperature was inaccurate. The thermometer says about 20 degrees less than the oven knob, but it is consistently the same. I purposely let the oven pre-heat and then adjusted the temperature so that it was exactly right for the recipe.

It is a fan oven, but still has some areas hotter than others. I know to take this into account though, and generally turn things round during cooking (except cakes as I don't open the oven once they're in).

Themobstersknife Fri 29-Mar-13 21:00:48

I have found getting all my spices out onto the countertop and all my ingredients into jars and on show has really helped me get inspired! I don't really have room for it but have squeezed them in. I am a kitchen gadget addict, and I find a new gadget inspires me. I have recently bought an airfryer and have dusted off an old breadmaker and they have helped kickstart me! I also cleaned my oven! Being able to see through the glass door makes all the difference...

Themobstersknife Fri 29-Mar-13 21:02:40

I also meal plan to an extent, but I like to have options for some nights, so buy the ingredients which would work for a number of dishes, so I can choose on the day. I also love leftovers day cooking! Just making a meal out of nothing gets your confidence right up!

MrsPennyapple Fri 29-Mar-13 22:47:29

I like the challenge of cooking a meal from only what we have in the cupboards, I find I'm more inventive and quite often come up with nice things - or I think they're nice, but DP isn't keen. Earlier this week I cooked one of my usual recipes, but had a pleb moment and forgot to buy two of the ingredients. I improvised with things I had in, and I thought it came out really nice, but DP preferred it the boring old way.

I have to admit, catering for him does limit me somewhat. He doesn't like cous cous, quinoa, or any other rice / pasta alternative. He says he likes fish, but in truth he only likes cod, and any other fish he says he can tolerate it but wouldn't want it too often. (He does like prawns but I'm allergic.) He insists that a meal without meat is not, in fact, a complete meal, and if I cooked a meat-free meal more than about once a month, I think he would call the police. Oh, and he hates coriander, which makes me question his sanity, frankly.

He accepts that, ultimately, he's getting his dinner cooked for him, so if I say we're having lentil dahl, he'll eat it quietly and not complain, because he knows what my response will be. ("Feel free to cook something else" or "Well don't eat it then" or my personal favourite, "when you're cooking, YOU can decide what we have.")

Should I just say sod it and cook what I like?

Bearandcub Fri 29-Mar-13 22:50:30

Should I just say sod it and cook what I like?

YES DO IT.

MrsPennyapple Fri 29-Mar-13 22:53:09

I like the look of that pork recipe, chaotic

snoworneahva Sat 30-Mar-13 08:04:39

Yes - say sod it! He's tastebuds will adapt!

We all have disasters though - I usually have mine when I cook for a friend or an event. Get stuck in again, it's only food, it's only dinner...

Xiaoxiong Sat 30-Mar-13 09:20:34

I go through a rut every so often where everything seems to go wrong. I cremated a batch of chocolate chip cookies the other day which I haven't ever done before and haven't felt like cooking again till yesterday.

I was inspired again by reading back through the archives of a new-to-me food blog I stumbled upon called Alexandra Cooks and now I have loads of new ideas again. So try a blog first, they're free and have lovely pictures.

Ones I love for inspiration:
The Wednesday Chef
Smitten Kitchen
101 cookbooks
Casa Yellow

MrsPennyapple Sat 30-Mar-13 09:44:16

Thanks Xiaoxiong, blogs are a great idea! Money is tight so ideas for free are very welcome. I will have a look at those.

Thingymajigs Sat 30-Mar-13 11:19:02

I wouldn't worry about flapjacks. They are very tricky. After several fails I finally succeeded by using Soupdragon's recipe, used baking paper to line the tin, cooked it at a lower temperature for a slightly longer time and left it in the tin for hours before cutting.
My DP is the same. He won't eat rice (some school dinner trauma apparently), couscous (because it looks like rice), anything Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese... (anything foreign basically), mushrooms, anything without meat, lemon in savoury food, sweet potato, veg other than carrots and peas. It's irritating to say the least and I haven't even started on ds2.
I get around it by letting him pick 3 certain foods that he can't/won't eat at all and I omit those from his meals but everything else he will eat or at least try. If either DP or ds2 don't like the meal then they get themselves a slice of toast. This works really well and DP's tastes are starting to alter as a consequence. He is even becoming more adventurous on the rare occasions when he cooks. Although he does try to make every meal focused around chorizo.

MyLifeIsStillChaotic Sat 30-Mar-13 12:56:54

The pork recipe was delicious, I'd recommend it. But, I had to cook chicken for dh (the other 6 of us ate the pork) as that is the only meat he will eat <sigh> I know exactly what you mean about pandering having to incorporate everyone's requirements. He likes veggie alternatives like quorn burgers, but I don't like the kids having processed food all the time. The kids and I often have one meal and he has another (all cooked by me though)

I often get cook books out from the library for a bit of inspiration.

MrsPennyapple Sat 30-Mar-13 22:37:47

Whimsical I get cookbooks out of the library sometimes, but then I somehow forget that I can do that! The last time I did it was the Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies book. I liked it so much I bought it anyway - so not a money saver on that occasion, but it's a fantastic book. Only made one thing out of it so far (the first recipe actually, chicken and leek pie) but damn that was a good pie.

Thingy Your DP sounds even worse than mine! It is incredibly limiting though, isn't it? At least mine will eat forrin stuff. He claims he's not a fussy eater, but he has ridiculous "rules" - like you can never just have bangers & mash, there always has to be peas or carrots or something. And veg always has to be plain and boiled. I love carrots roasted, but think they are incredibly bland and boring if boiled. But no, he wants them boiled. Until they are soft, of course. He once recoiled in horror when I added the peas to the same pan that the carrots were cooking in. Said they'd "taint" the carrots. Wtf?

When I was growing up, my siblings and I were each allowed ONE THING that we never had to eat. (Mine was corned beef.) We always had to eat everything on our plates, no exceptions. So imagine my surprise when, being an adult, I discovered what a fussy eater my mother is! I mean, she doesn't even like mashed potato, for goodness sake!

But I digress... I am going to look at some of those blogs and get some inspiration.

Thingymajigs Sun 31-Mar-13 11:13:12

Same with my DP. He doesn't like it if I cook broccoli in with his carrots.
This isn't as bad as it probably reads as he's quite compliant about trying new things but any amount of fussiness is annoying when trying to cook for a whole family. Don't let it stop you enjoying cooking though.

MrsPennyapple Sun 31-Mar-13 11:39:09

I know it sounds like I'm having a massive rant about DP! He does always eat what is put in front of him, but it spoils my enjoyment of a meal if I know he's eating it purely because it would be rude not to.

Anyway I don't have to worry about it today, he's cooking roast beef for dinner :-)

dreamingofsun Sun 31-Mar-13 12:19:05

he sounds like my husband. the way i've found to get round this is to do a meat free meal and then cook something really easy meatwise for him as well, eg meat free rissotto with a chicken portion for him.

MrsPennyapple Sun 31-Mar-13 12:25:28

We have a standing joke that when I want to cook something veggie, I offer to slap a slice of square ham on the top smile

I may start doing a bit of chicken just for him, it's a good idea.

bakingaddict Sun 31-Mar-13 12:25:46

Most flapjack recipes will tell you to bake for 20 mins. I find 12-14 mins for flapacks is the optimal time if you like them slightly chewy. 20 mins and they go like bullets.

MrsPennyapple Sun 31-Mar-13 12:32:14

Thanks for the flapjack tips. This recipe said 25-30 min, so I set the timer for 25, and the top was already overdone. (At 180 degrees.) The rest of it is alright, it's not rock hard but it is a bit firmer than I'd like. I will give it another go at some point, I have plenty of ingredients left.

My mum used to make flapjack, and always left it to cool slightly in the tin, so I did wonder but the recipe said turn it out of the tin, then leave to cool and cut up. I stupidly ignored my common sense, I don't know why I keep doing that, I should really start listening to myself instead of always assuming I'm wrong and the recipe is right.

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