Where do recipes come from?

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Recipes are not easy to come by. We professional cooks spend years perfecting techniques. Let me take you through my thought process, as I created a condiment / side dish to go with our dinner the other night. I even managed to use ingredients my wife doesn't care for, yet I still got her to eat it.

15:00 hr Sunday: Eileen (my wife) is making a shopping list. I rattle off the first five things that pop into my brain.

15:30 hr Sunday: I open the bags from the grocery store excited because I can't remember what I asked her to get. I combine this with what is oldest in the fridge and needs to get utilized.

15:45 hr Sunday: I find a half-finished growler from Lost Nation Brewery, still bubbly. Use it or lose it, I say, so I drink up.

16:00 hr Sunday: I start a nice, inexpensive pork-shoulder roast, cover it with my Ghetto Fennel Pollen (recipe below) and then steam some potatoes.

16:15 hr Sunday: Time to start the condiment: I have a half head of bok choy, good bacon (pork with pork anyone?), shallots, and copious fresh tarragon.

16:16 hr Sunday: Action time. Cut three slices of bacon and render nice and crispy in the Aga Oven.

16:18 hr Sunday: Wash and slice bok choy to make a slaw. Looks funny--I don't like it. (note to self: be sure to spin-dry the bok choy like salad greens.)

16:21 hr Sunday: Break out food processor and pulse the bok choy for thirty seconds. Looks good; transfer to steel bowl.

16:21 hr Sunday: Stir bacon. Note the multi-tasking.

16:22 hr Sunday: Slice a couple of shallots very thin--like match sticks--then stir bacon.

16:25 hr Sunday: Bacon is crispy; add shallots and cook one minute, just to soften and sweeten. Use good judgement.

16:27 hr Sunday: Add two tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar to bacon shallot mixture; bring to a quick boil. Add two tablespoons olive oil.

16:28 hr Sunday: Chop a bunch of fresh tarragon, about two tablespoons. Add bacon mixture and herbs to cabbage. Taste.

16:29 hr Sunday: The beer still tastes good; now it is time to taste the food. Add a little maple syrup, salt, pepper and more tarragon.

16:30 hr Sunday: I now have some version of cabbage/slaw/condiment to go over our pork, and on the leftovers (which will become a sandwich).

That's it. Use what you have, taste your food, stay close to things that work, balance your flavors--sweet, sour, salty and bitter. And sell it. Make primal noises when you taste it or say things like "this reminds me of when we were in Paris on our honeymoon". Paris, Maine is where most northern New Englanders honeymoon. 

If you'd rather we do the cooking, we still have plenty of offerings up here before the end of the ski season. Everyone's favorite après scene at the Wunderbar is over for this year, though Timbers and Castlerock are still booming. 

Cook with confidence, 

Gerry Nooney