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The Slop Shot.

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Not slop like food. Slop like in a game of pool. The shot that someone like me, who doesn't play pool unless I'm drunk enough to stand public humiliation for not being able to play pool might make. The impossible triple bank shot that gets in the three right balls that no one but maybe the best 20 pool players in the world could do more than once...I've done that in cooking. Made something once that turned out better than my real cooking abilities would ever consistantly let me do. And it taunts me. It p1sses me off.....
For me it is making baguettes. I have been baking bread for a long time and my baguettes have gotten better as my method has improved and I find the right ingredients and figuring out my ovens and whatnot. A few years ago I went through a phase where I was making bread at home. We were living for a while in a house that had this beautiful trophy kitchen in it. With a Thermador gas range with convection oven that was begging to be used. I had to get up and drive my kid to the bus stop every morning around 6am, so I would make my dough the night before, put the dough out in the garage overnight to proof and then come home, cut the dough up, roll out a couple of loaves and go back to bed while the dough proofed. One day I came home from dropping the kid off, rolled out my dough, went back to sleep, got up and threw the dough in the oven as usual. It came out perfect. Not just good. Great. Exquisite. It looked perfect. The weight felt perfect. It smelled fantastic. From the perfect amount of gloss on the outside to the thin yet crispy crust and windowpane interior. I devoured the first loaf before I realized it. I was so excited I called my wife at work who thought I was having some sort of manic episode. "Thats wonderful honey. Its great that your bread turned out so good. I love your bread but I'm at work right now. Can you call me a little later?" It was obvious that she just did'nt understand the importance of what I had done. I had done it! I had made a perfect loaf! Then I went to work trying to figure out what I had done to make THAT loaf turn out sooooo much better than anything I had done up till then. Or since.
It drives me crazy. Its out there. Or moreso, its in me. Somewhere inside me I have the ability to do that again. Its like the cooking universe is taunting me.
Telling me that its out there and I can do it IF I can just figure it out ..
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
post #2 of 5

Reminds me of a short film I saw ages ago...

I don't remember the name but it was about the perfect cup of coffee.

A guy was trying for ages (..YOU NEED A MONTAGE) to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Weights, different ratios of beans, all kind of brewing techniques...but mostly the beans. Nothing worked.

He finally gets frustrated and chucks all the coffee beans in the house.

(another montage about his becoming more and more angst <read psychotic> about 'letting go')

Finally he runs through the house, gathering all the leftover coffee beans that have been left behind in cupboards and jars, brews them up and ...

Well...you can kinda guess.

The frustration level of not being able to replicate it because you don't have a clue was priceless.

I'm beginning to think that conjuring up consistent food magic is something far beyond our humble human abilities.

It's too bad. If we were a trout or something <making homosaphien icecream with eyeball...BAHAHAHAHA!> then we wouldn't have the higher intelligence to worry about it.

post #3 of 5
Peachcreek, re-read your post, your answer is right there. Most professional bakers I've met are a nightmare to deal with if their schedule gets messed up--even for 5 or ten minutes. They've got this series of tasks to do, alloted themselves X amount of time for each task, and each task is inter-connected. Thier minds are clicking like a clock,and when their in rythm they're happy people, and when they're out of rythm they are nasty people. If s/he fails to take 30 seconds to cover the top of the slowly rising dough, it'll form a crust on it, ruining the dough and loosing the time to get to that stage. Your anology of a pool player is very accuarate, the true hustler "sets" himself up for the next shot or even three shots down the line, and if he screws up the first shot, he won't get the chance at the next two or three shots.

From your post, even though it was a hassle to get your kids up and at the bus stop at 6 am, you found a pattern, a rythm that fit in with your surroundings and let you take advanatge of time and use it to make good bread. So great was your rythm that you would get up early to just to find it, and you did.

Find the rythm again and it's like hustling pool for $100 a ball, constantly winning all the time. It's a good feeling, and you know it, because you've been there before.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 5
It's all about control and confidence.
Any task that is a chore will almost never turn out perfect.
It's fact, I've studied with Phillipe Stemphlete, a 70 yr. old. Master Master Baker from France. The only secret to baking is to make sure the yeast is always chasing you. Once the opposite happens it becomes a chore.
With any formula you prepare, you must have confidence! You must know it is going to come out great. Questioning and wondering will usually lead to mediocracy.
Just my 2 cents.
I ground(instead of chop) chocolate for a pecan torte. The dust burned a little and the chocolate melted. Burndt Chocolate Pecan Torte has been on many of my menues and has been published.
post #5 of 5
That was the most difficult task at the restaurant, doing things the same way twice. I have a natural talent for opening the cupboard door and being able to make dinner. I just watch the ingredients and intuitively can pull them towards a savory finished plate. it can be very frustrated to those around me who want to "write it down" as I can't recall how I got to the completed product. I've never felt any need to remember exactly how I made something, as next time I make it I expect that the quantities and ingredients maybe a little different.

I went through my bread making while the kids were being taken to the bus stop also. But, last night as I was cleaning up after mixing up tons cookie dough, I wiped down the mixer. I couldn't help but reflect how for we had come together. It's harvest gold, has scratches in the finish, a couple of dings in the bowl. Besides the trails and errors of bread, the celebrations in my life that it participated in, holidays, graduations, babies and weddings; it was set on a conference table in a construction settlement claim so I could make a point about the viscosity of drilling mud (we won) and was one of the few things saved after our house fire. Our mechanic took it apart and put it in the parts washer, doused it with diesel, cleaned it up, soldered a couple of the brass bushings together and it's worked for another nine years.

Last night I realized that there are not many possessions in my life that have actually played such a role. I also decided that I won't act on the hankering I've had a couple of times for one of those new ones that would color co-ordinate with my new kitchen. The old harvest gold girl is part of the family.:smiles:
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