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Cooking While Drinking


scottmcl
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No, I don't mean, "Let's get drunk and cook."

Rather, I find that having a few (or way) too many cocktails while watching Turner Classic Movies (or whatever) will suddenly jog my memory of those fennel bulbs sitting in the vegetable crisper. "Gosh, I was going to try braised fennel," I suddenly recall, and gingerly stumble my way to the kitchen.

On rare occasions, I might even be inspired by the liquor to experiment successfully. For example, using leek greens in just about anything to be eventually strained or put through a food processor. Hell, why just use the leek whites and throw the rest away? Or taking those left over Turkish white beans, giving them a nice puree and making a tasty crostini.

Am I the only one oddly inspired to cook by a few stiff drinks? Is this only a fetish of single male cooks? Any other tales of successful culinary adventures while good and sloshed?

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Some might consider a bit of ribald laughter and a glass of wine a desirable addition when cooking. Not everyone

shares that philosophy. My wife's family considers cooking a very serious matter, to be conducted

without frivolity (and best done by women). Drink wine in the kitchen? Absurd.

My MIL noticed that while I was helping serve a backyard dinner, I was not wearing shoes (and was

somewhat wine soaked). I don't think she approved.

Since then I have imagined cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws, and emerging from the kitchen,

three-sheets-to-the-wind, carrying the beautiful turkey, wearing only a leopard print thong.

(idea stolen from La Cage Aux Folles?) I think the in-laws would plotz. They already think I am

hopelessly weird. And possibly dangerous.

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There is a reason we have a fire extinguisher at every cooking appliance we own. :blink:

Speaking of which, First Alert has a new extinguisher on the market (well, since late this spring): the "Tundra". No need to learn to Pull-Aim-Squeeze-Sweep...it operates like a standard aerosol can. About $20 at the hardware store.

There have been other can-type extinguishers, mainly using organic AFFF-type wetting agents that are especially good at knocking down oil and grease fires. Tundra uses a different type of agent. What makes Tundra particularly interesting to me are that it's also rated for electrical fires (unlike AFFF, which is water-based), and that it operates for up to 30 seconds, about 4x the spray time of a typical household 5-B:C dry-chem type. The manufacturer claims that Tundra meets UL711 (handheld extinguisher) specs. The contents are claimed to be nontoxic, but the MSDS shows that they're contact irritants and should be rinsed off.

Ol'I says "check it out" but expressly disclaims any liability, especially for injury or property loss, arising from this posting.

-> Tundra website <-

Dorky product video

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I was cooking Valentines Day dinner and for a change was going out of my way to avoid the cooking wine and realized, when I got to that point where all the burners are going and something's in the oven and you need to the get the good glasses down, that I'm probably a better cook after a couple of glasses of plonk. Maybe "better" is not the right -- reliable reports are that this meal was pretty good -- but smoother. Like I don't have to think, I just move from pot to pan to appliance and back without thinking or worrying or plotting or forgetting. It's like being in "the zone" and all the sauces are moving in slow motion. (Music helps, too, though it completely wrecks my wife's ability to function).

This is not to say that too much pre-dinner refreshment is at all recommended. Or that adding wine to the chef results in better food. Just that it seems somehow to make the whole process more intuitive and smoother and less stressful, and the pieces come together more easily and enjoyably.

Anybody else get this? Or is it just me?

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Having a glass or two while cooking seems to make it less functional and more convivial, more organic. I'm more likely to be more fully engaged, tasting and seasoning more, veering away from marching lockstep with a particular recipe. Of course, taking pulls from the neck of a bottle of Popov vodka while reheating my frozen pizza tends to upset that delicate balance and tilt it more to the pathetic and potentially criminal.

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Things I've done while cooking under the influence:

  • Drained a pint of bordelaise down the drain because I didn't put another pot under the strainer.
  • Lit a candle with a kitchen torch; dropped the candle's base into a bowl of risotto, breaking the bowl; then in the confusion poured hot wax all over myself, the table, and the rest of the risotto.
  • Tossed pizza dough into the foyer chandelier.
  • Spilled taco marinade on the (hardwood) hall floor while carrying the marinated steaks out to the grill.
  • Slipped on taco marinade on the (hardwood) hall floor while carrying marinated steaks back from the grill.
  • Hit on my employees.
  • Hit on my friends.
  • Hit on a bottle of Laphroaig.
  • Hit on my cousin.
  • Hit on my wife.
  • Drank the wine I'd intended to use for a braise.
  • Lit way too much tequila on fire while still on the burner directly beneath the running vent on the microwave, causing fire to get sucked up through said microwave vent, melting enough of said microwave to render it inoperable.

Oddly, the only times I've ever cut myself or burned myself (other than with the wax) has been while sober. So yeah, I guess I kind of am in the zone while drinking.

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I was cooking Valentines Day dinner and for a change was going out of my way to avoid the cooking wine and realized, when I got to that point where all the burners are going and something's in the oven and you need to the get the good glasses down, that I'm probably a better cook after a couple of glasses of plonk. Maybe "better" is not the right -- reliable reports are that this meal was pretty good -- but smoother. Like I don't have to think, I just move from pot to pan to appliance and back without thinking or worrying or plotting or forgetting. It's like being in "the zone" and all the sauces are moving in slow motion. (Music helps, too, though it completely wrecks my wife's ability to function).

This is not to say that too much pre-dinner refreshment is at all recommended. Or that adding wine to the chef results in better food. Just that it seems somehow to make the whole process more intuitive and smoother and less stressful, and the pieces come together more easily and enjoyably.

Anybody else get this? Or is it just me?

I think everything you say applies to the relationship between booze and life generally.

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I think everything you say applies to the relationship between booze and life generally.

I don't know. There are very few times outside the kitchen when I'm striving for rapid, rational action while not cutting my fingertips off where I think "if only I had martini in me, things would be going so much more smoothly."

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..Like I don't have to think, I just move from pot to pan to appliance and back without thinking or worrying or plotting or forgetting. It's like being in "the zone" and all the sauces are moving in slow motion. (Music helps, too, though it completely wrecks my wife's ability to function)...

Nothing scientific, and no data to back me up except introspection, but to me, alcohol has always been a “continuity enhancer”. In small amounts, it helps blend the perception of time and space in a way that allows everything to flow together more evenly, more integrated, and ultimately, more pleasing.

I don’t think this is as simple as “having a nip to relax” when there is a job to do. I think it’s the perception of time and space that opens up in ways I find especially beneficial for creative mediums like cooking or playing an instrument.

You noted that listening to music helps as well, another continuity-enhancer. By punctuating the airwaves with regular beats and expressive sounds, I find music also enhances the perception of everything merging together into a more cohesive and effortless present moment.

Which is a long-winded way of saying nope, you are not alone in your observation here. But if you are anything like me, you may have to keep reminding yourself that this phenomenon is something to be enjoyed, not analyzed. Noting it in the moment is fine, but I've shattered the zone by thinking about it too much.

(twilight zone meets)

(forbidden zone meets)

(time zone)

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