The Return of the Doctor

When you do a food-centric blog, you find yourself writing about your meals – not surprising, I’m sure. But what happens when your own meal cooking hits a slump? For me, the answer is Nothing. No, I don’t mean there is no effect on my blogging, I mean there is No blogging. And that, my friends, is why I have been absent here for the last eight days – I’m in a slump!

Now I’m not going to suggest that other food bloggers never admit when they’re in a slump, but I will tell you that I read lots of other food blogs, and I ain’t seen one yet that spent any time to tell its readers all about the week’s failed meals. But I’m about to buck the trend, folks, and share with you my frustrations of the past week – and that just may be a food blog first! And, as an ex-manager, I’ll be the first to remind ya’ll that there’s value in mistakes – and a good deal of that value is in admitting it, and determining how to never let it occur again.

It all started about a week ago when, in an attempt to catch the benefit of the holiday grocery specials, I picked up both a brown sugar spiral ham, and a small, two rib prime rib. Now, to me this makes sense because first, both are cheaper right now than they will be all year, and two, because they both make a decent, if not special, first meal, and then serve as great sandwich fodder for bowl game watching. And I frankly love the dividend of the bones that each give you: split pea soup with the ham bone; and BBQ’ed beef ribs for the other. Of course, what goes unspoken and unthought in all this is the fact that you are setting yourself up for getting VERY tired of having beef and ham again, and again, and again. But, then, there are worse things to get tired of.

The ham I picked was not the cheapest in the market – today’s cheap hams are probably just about the most adulterated “real” meat product (meaning that they start with an actual pig rump) on the market today. After soaking in a mixture of water, salt, liquid smoke, saltpeter and god only knows how many other chemicals, they actually inject more of that liquid stuff into the ham, until it won’t hold any more – then they wrap it in a water-tight plastic seal (god forbid any of those juices leak out!) and proudly offer it for .69 a pound. Yes, I know the spiral hams are similarly processed, but at least they are dried off a bit, and some have actually spent time in a smokehouse. But let’s be serious – a food blogger isn’t going to write about a Christmas spiral ham.

The prime rib, on the other hand, may have provided the environment for creativity, and easily served as blogging fuel – or so one is tempted to think. I even decided to use a roasting technique that was new to me – 500 degrees for 25 minutes, and then you don’t open the oven door for an hour. Supposedly guaranteed juicy and rare.   NOT! This was easily the most well done roast beef I’ve ever had;  I consider well done beef to be ruined beef – and this from a guy who owns a fantastically useful and effective digital probe meat thermometer. On top of that, the quality of this beef was poor at best – I envisioned a beleaguered rancher who was forced to withhold feed from his herd for the last month before market. Marbling was nonexistent (Yes, I realize that suggests I’m not a careful meat chooser, and I’ll admit to being more interested in getting the biggest two rib pack than in inspecting it for marbling.).  Tough and overdone; how good could it have been?

But let me put the blame where it belongs – the real reason for the slump was that I had lost one or more of the necessary elements every good cook must have to be successful in the kitchen. I had no concentration – and we cooks may not spend a lot of time in consideration of concentration, but one thing I carried with me from my old restaurant days was that if you lost your concentration, you made mistakes. And I was making mistake after mistake. Frustration was taking the place of joy.

And I had lost my inspiration – what’s a cook without inspiration? Especially a cook who wants something to blog about. Especially one who lives to eat.

Now let me redirect my concentration to emptying our overfilled refrigerator – maybe then my inspiration will return.


About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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6 Responses to The Return of the Doctor

  1. ladyflyfsh says:

    Oh Doc…I feel your pain my friend! This time of year with food so in focus its rather easy to get somewhat sick of cooking and feeling less than exuberant about cooking yet another fancy meal. I’m so sorry to hear your woes about the prime rib. I have read the very same articles about cooking prime rib at 500 degrees and then letting it sit in the oven etc. My concern is most rib roasts are a minimum of three ribs so a two rib roast will be so much smaller it can’t handle as long a cooking time which I’m sure you already know.

    My local, new favorite store, has been having the best specials and prime rib was one of them. USDA choice standing rib roast at $3.79 a pound these days is an awesome deal. You can’t touch it for that at Costco! Anyway, if it isn’t at least USDA choice, don’t even look at it! (select is not worth the bother) We all know the flavor is in the fat and if it doesn’t have enough fat, it will be tough and tasteless. I got a smallish 3 rib roast at a great deal and cooked it on Christmas and it was some of the best beef I’ve eaten in I can’t remember how long. I did the 325 oven all the way even though I’d read about the high and then off method but I wasn’t willing to experiment on my new found awesome hunk of meat! Live and learn, huh?

    I’ve never bought a spiral ham. I do however love ham so unfortunately since I don’t have many to cook for, I don’t get to make a ham often. Now I’m going to have ham on the brain!

    I’m actually kind of glad the holiday food scene is over now so I can go back to normal things like perfectly roasted chicken and the like.

    Happy New Year! Are you in an area near good clamming? If so, lets go dig some clams!


  2. drfugawe says:

    A happy new year to you as well.
    Yup, I learned some with that small roast. But it’s nice to hear that there’s still good beef out there. Made split pea soup with the ham bone today – that turned out nice.

    So you do winter clams? What kinds? I live about 15 miles from the coast, and generally go to either Bandon (for softshells) or Charleston (for gapers and family, and cockles). I hear talk about finding razors, but I’ve never found any. I also go to Whiskey Run for mussels. But I must admit, I’ve never gone out in the winter.

    Where are you living now? The last I remember, you were still looking for a place.

  3. ladyflyfsh says:

    Doc, I’m currently in Roseburg but undecided as to where I will put down roots. I’m having great difficulties with my knee here in this damp and cold climate. I had a TKR (will be 2 yrs in April) and my knee is hating it here. I’ve been practically crippled for the last two days and it hasn’t even rained here lately! I’m going to have to go but not sure where just yet.

    If I could have done what you did and left for the winter I’d just have stayed put in MT where I was quite happy, just couldn’t take the long, long, long winters! Was also feeling somewhat mushroom deprived there as well. I’m going to have to resign to the fact that places where tons of mushrooms live (Oregon, WA) are too damp for my knee. The climate in MT was bone dry and I got along much better there. I just need to leave for several months to alleviate the mental anguish of the long winter months. The good thing about SW MT where I lived was the sun shines practically every day all winter long which is really great.

    Sorry to hear you won’t be making your trek to MX.

    I’ve never been clamming in the winter either but I see Finspot took the kids and went out and got quite a haul which makes me think we should do the same and then feast! If we can’t leave we may as well put this bounty of food OR has to offer to good use.


  4. drfugawe says:

    Hi Mary,
    Oooo – nasty knee news! Especially for someone as active as you. Have you investigated the Bend area? Lots of sun there, but lots of cold too. You are sounding like a SOTB winter candidate too – if you get serious, we’ve got tons of advice.

    Truth be known, I’m not much of a fan of west coast shellfish – actually, I do more mussels than clams – even though the wild ones are not as sweet as the commercial ones – they sure do have a character of their own. However, the toxin levels are still so high, even now, that the State has closed harvesting of mussels.

    I find it strange that even those west coast clams which were brought here from the east coast (like softshells and butters) simply do not taste as good here as there! Strange. And that monster clam, the gaper, has nothing going for it as far as I’m concerned. Hard to dig (2 feet down), hard to clean, and you’re left with some very tough and not especially tasty meat.

    My fav clam is the cockle, but mostly because it’s so damn easy to get – you walk alone (but only on a minus tide) and pick them up – they apparently don’t bury themselves – however, I think they are probably the most tasteless of the clam family, and pretty tough too. So ….

    So, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Besides, I’m moving my garden to the middle of my back yard this year, and many, many plants must be moved – and winter is the time to do that – so I’ll not be investing the nicer winter days in any clamming trips.

    Please forgive my negativity – it’s an illness.

  5. melanie says:

    i have also found myself in a cooking slump–i can’t really get excited about it for some reason recently. it may have something to do with my lack of an oven (still without it) but i think it’s just the winter lazies. i feel so tired when it’s dark by the time i get home. i would like YOU to cook on my behalf (since i can’t) and make risotto with roasted vegetable stock–with cabbage–and let me know how amazing it is. our friend at 13 gypsies gave me the tip and i haven’t been able to try it out. let me know. i can tell you i felt excited about cooking just seeing him talk about it.

  6. drfugawe says:

    Melanie, Oooo, that risotto sounds like it’d be super! But, how about giving me some direction in making the veggie stock – I’ve never done that before. Sure, I’d love to do it and let you know how it turns out (and why wouldn’t I love it, but I feel kind’a bad about how you’d feel!). I agree with him about the cabbage though – when I make soup, if I want extra flavor, I make sure it’s got plenty of cabbage and onions – !!!! Ummm.

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