Get up. Pee. Brush teeth. Drink water, take supplements.
Go downstairs. Start coffee. Let dogs out. Let cat in. Sip coffee. Let dogs in. Feed dogs. Sit down to the computer.
Sip coffee. Check email. Sip coffee. Check work email. Sip coffee. Visit The Facebook. Make more coffee. Get down to writing/recipe research/yoga class design/etc.
It takes a lot to get us out of our routines. From dogs to children to adults, we are all of us creatures of habit. When I was a horse owner, even the horses knew what to do and when; it got so that I didn’t have to put halters on to move them from pasture to pasture, and they stood in the same spot every day for dinner.
The dog knows when it is 5 p.m. just as if he had a watch strapped to his wrist. And could tell time. And had any understanding of the concept of “time.”
But I digress.
Routines provide a sense of structure that can be comforting and predictable. “Predictable” is often used as an epithet, but predictability is what our lives are based on. This keeps the trains running and makes sure that the grocery store has enough toilet paper on any given day (or your own personal bathroom at home, which is why most people in the U.S. go shopping every week).
Sometimes, though, routines call to be busted up. Routine-busting can be because you are compelled to do something differently because whatever is going on forces you to make a change.
If something is gone awry, it might be because whatever routine we have fallen into no longer works, or our routine is suddenly disrupted. We might call it something else, but it’s that transition period between the old and the new – not the the old or the new itself – that causes us such turmoil. Once that period of transition is over, we fall into a new routine until the next thing happens.
This transition is both full of promise and scary as hell, simultaneously. Parents know that the first night with a new baby is joyful and nerve-wracking. Travelers know that coming into a new country for the first time is anxiety-producing and thrilling, often in equal measure.
On a daily, more microcosmic level, this idea of routine versus no routine (or a shook-up routine) is the difference between cooking and making dinner.
Making dinner is that thing that happens between 5 and 7 p.m. every night where you have the gaping maws of your family staring at you, opening and closing like baby birds who have forgotten that they possess opposable thumbs and can get their own damn snack before dinner.
Making dinner is why there is food in boxes that you add milk and butter to in order to get something resembling macaroni and cheese. It’s why there are rotisserie chicken soldiers, hot and ready, when you walk into the store at 5 pm, desperate because it’s Monday and you know everybody at home is hangry and you just need to shove something in their face so there is no arguing.
Cooking is something altogether different.
Cooking is wandering through the farmer’s market and seeing what looks good.
Cooking shops for each meal separately, not all at once, once a week.
Cooking has a sip of wine and is often alone with music playing and maybe a snoring dog (because it’s not necessarily 5 pm yet so the dog isn’t drooling and staring at you).
This recipe is in between making dinner and cooking. There is some leisure to it, but it doesn’t actually require much hands-on attention. There is only one ingredient in this that might require a leisurely trip to a store, but everything else can be thrown into the cart with all of the other groceries.
Leftovers are just as good as the day before and so make excellent brown-bag lunches that will make all of your co-workers drool. I imagine you could also make a ridiculous sandwich with this on some crusty bread with arugula.
Harissa And Orange Spiced Pork Shoulder
Full disclosure: as much as I would like to say it’s mine, this idea is taken from another recipe and adapted with amounts added. The other recipe is a video and doesn’t really specify anything but cooking times, so I made some adjustments to that and also the ingredients based on what was available.
4-5 pounds pork shoulder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave, maple syrup, or honey
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups orange juice
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Optional: lime wedges and fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine harissa, tomato paste, vinegar, agave, and garlic in a small bowl. Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper, then rub the harissa mixture all over the pork shoulder (hands work best here). At this point, you could let the pork shoulder sit for a few hours (or overnight), or you can proceed.
Place pork shoulder fat-side-up in a Dutch oven or similar oven-safe, heavy cooking pan with a lid. Pour orange juice around the pork shoulder and throw in the thyme.
Cover pork shoulder and let it roast, covered, for 2 1/2 hours (or so).
Increase heat to 400 degrees and add cannellini beans to the pot. Cover and return to the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour.
When ready to serve, remove pork shoulder and slice. Return pork shoulder to the pot, or arrange on a platter and serve with sauce poured over.
If desired, squeeze fresh lime over the pork shoulder and garnish with fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley.