My dear readers, I owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. You would not believe how much I have gotten done today, and it is all because of you and your expectations that a new column will arrive to amuse you on Tuesday.
Let me explain my writing process, and you’ll see what I mean.
Every two weeks, knowing that a deadline is looming, I set aside an entire day on my calendar for the purposes of column writing. I refuse invitations, turn down work and do my best to discourage any interruptions or time-consuming temptations.
I get up bright and early that day, type “amuse-bouche” at the top of a blank page on my computer and start looking for a topic.
As a general rule, unless I have recently taken a trip or had a really great culinary adventure, nothing comes to mind. But no fear, my process allows for that. Since inspiration can come from anywhere, I get busy opening myself to it.
First, I go work out. There are lots of motivational sayings posted on the walls of my gym and I’m always hoping one of them will actually motivate me, though it hasn’t happened yet.
Next, since it is close to the gym, I stop at Grocery Outlet for a few items. You never can tell what you’ll find there, maybe even something to write about.
Nothing doing, but I do score four bags of incredible bargains (I totally love that store). After I get home and stow everything away, I shower, wash my hair and put on makeup, dawdling over my toilette while continuing to ponder column subjects.
Inspiration hasn’t struck yet, and since I’m in the bathroom anyway, I decide to tidy it up.
In doing so, I see that there are dirty clothes in the hamper, so I gather them up and carry them to the washing machine, stopping en route to make the bed. Once the wash is going, I realize I am hungry, so I fix lunch.
Naturally, that causes me to notice the dishes in the sink and the general messiness of the kitchen. I know I’m going to have to test a recipe once I get the column written, and I obviously can’t do that in a dirty kitchen, so I proceed to load the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. For good measure, I clean the fridge.
I pop outside to take the recyclables to the blue bin and see that the patio needs sweeping and the paths need raking. As I do that and a little light weeding, I wonder if I can squeeze out yet another column on my love-hate relationship with Woody, my oak tree.
You’ll be relieved to hear that I decide ‘no’.
By then, it is time to move the wash into the dryer. On my way back from the laundry, I pass the broom and mop hanging on the wall. I figure I might was well finish the kitchen job correctly, so I grab them and tackle the floor.
That is a bit of a tactical error, I discover, as I can’t get back to my computer to start writing until the floor dries. But no matter, as I don’t yet have a topic. Instead, I go into the living room to read the newspaper and surf the web. Google and I have found some great column ideas that way.
An hour or two later, much better informed about the president’s latest tweets but still without a topic, I remember the clothes in the dryer. I dump them onto the dining room table to sort and fold.
Of course, that causes me to notice the junk mail strewn on the table. So after I put the clothes away, I return and sort through it. I don’t really expect to find a column in there, but you never know.
No luck, but I do discover a bill.
I go online to pay it, and while I am there, I check my email and discover several that need replies. As I am tapping them out, the untidiness of my desk bugs me. So I tackle that next.
I’m having an amazingly productive day, but I have a nagging feeling there is something else I should be doing.
I look around, trying to figure out what it could be, and can’t help noticing how beautifully clean my house is. The kitchen looks particularly inviting.
Which is good. My stomach is rumbling and it’s nearly dinner time. Aha! That’s what it is. I need to test a recipe to go with the column.
Because amazingly, even though I still haven’t figured out a topic, during the course of the day, it has somehow written itself.
Is this a great process, or what?
Roast Pork Shoulder
From In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
On days when I am not feeling particularly inspired or innovative about what to cook (which is most days), I turn to my friends for ideas. The very best thing I ate this month was at a party at my friend Leigh’s house, where she made this succulent roast pork.
The recipe she followed, from Melissa Clark’s cookbook In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, is simplicity itself. I think its true secret is time. Slathering the meat with the flavorings and allowing them to seep in overnight elevates this easy dish and makes it gourmet dinner party fare.
5- to 7-pound boneless pork shoulder
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) olive oil
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1-1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
If the butcher hasn’t done so, carefully cut the skin from the pork shoulder, leaving a thin 1/8-inch layer of fat.
With a mortar and pestle, mash together the garlic and salt to form a paste. Stir in the oil, rosemary, mustard and pepper. Rub this mixture all over the pork. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or for at least two hours).
Bring the pork to room temperature while preheating the oven to 325 degrees. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan, skin side up.
Roast, uncovered, for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork tender and reaches 180 degrees on a meat thermometer. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.