15 February, 2011

Can the Internet cause ADD?

Most of us can't write our mysteries without the inevitable research.  Since a living/breathing expert is not always handy, I often (most of the time) turn to the Internet for facts and figures.

It may be a flaw in my character, but I can't seem to stop researching once I get started. I jump from page to page, using those handy little hyperlinks the "experts" so thoughtfully provide.  And I swear I'm developing a new disease: Research ADD.

The other day I was researching Swedish towns, looking for a likely name to use in my current manuscript.  I found a site listing town names and from there, it was all down hill, at least in terms of writing productivity.

My navigation went something like this: town names -> country information -> things to do-> cultural festivals -> regional foods -> recipes -> gravlax.  Once I'd landed on recipes for this delectable treat, I felt compelled to discover gravlax's origins. 

It wasn't a total waste of 15 minutes -- you never know when I'll be able to work the fact that the word gravlax comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which literally means "grave" or "hole in the ground" and lax which means "salmon", thus gravlax means "buried salmon" -- but it only augmented my word count by 1: Borgholm (the name of a city).

Obviously, I have no self-restraint when it comes to research.  I'll happily follow links, red herrings, and footnotes for hours, and, by the end, I've usually forgotten what I started out looking for. 

Is it just me?  Or do others suffer from Internet-acquired ADD?

In case you want to ponder this question over a nice glass of wine and some hors d'oeuvres, here's how you make gravlax.

Homemade Gravlax

Gravlax is essentially smoked salmon, minus the smoke.  You can finish this recipe with a couple of hours (3-5) of smoking in your barbecue or smoker, but the salmon is delicious on its own.  Or with a bagel and cream cheese.

One 2-pound salmon fillet, skinned
¼ cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1-2 bunches fresh dill (the more, the better)
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

   1. Rub the salmon fillet all over with the salt and sugar, and sprinkle with the pepper.
   2. Place half of the dill, stems and all, in a glass or other non reactive container, big enough to hold the salmon flat (it can be cut into pieces to fit as necessary), lay the salmon on the dill, and cover with the other half of the dill. Cover with plastic wrap, and place a board or plate, large enough to cover the salmon, on top. Place bricks or heavy cans on the board to compress the salmon.
   3. Refrigerate for 2 days, draining off  the water that collects daily. Check to see if the salmon is finished after 2 days. The texture will change, and become denser, and it will look like smoked salmon when finished. If it is not all the way through cured, give it one more day of curing.
   4. Discard the dill, rinse off the salt and sugar, and slice on an angle, as thinly as possible, with a very sharp knife.

Gravlax freezes well so don't be put off by the amount of fish called for in the recipe. Portion it already sliced in the freezer and you'll be ready for drop in guests or Sunday brunch.


  1. Yum! Just reading this made me hungry!

  2. My condolences. I thought it was just us ADDers who respond that way to Internet research.

  3. Hi,
    Your post about ADD is hilarious! (checked funny and intersting)

    I am an aspiring mystery writer also, and a fellow Guppie.

    I love to do research for my novels. Today I spent an hour researching Native Americans and the history of lawyers in a specific region.

  4. Internet-acquired ADD? So that’s my problem! Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one who suffers from this. I fact, I’m writing my WIP right now. That is I should be, but stopped for a “minute” to check Facebook where I saw a comment you wrote about my rescue dog. That led me to your wall to check out your dog (a real beauty), which led me to you your blog, which led me to the recipe for gravlax. I always wondered what gravlax is so I researched it a little more. As you said, it means buried salmon. The fishermen fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high tide line. Which is leading me right back to my WIP about a culinarily challenged guy who writes a cooking column. So I guess Internet-acquired ADD isn’t all that bad! Now back to work. Thanks, Tiger.

    "School's Out Forever" http://tiny.cc/9gw27

  5. Sorry, I love Sweden and all things Swedish, except most of the fish dishes. But I love this post. Yeah, I think I have that, too. You never know what you'll be able to use, right?