Hopping off the Mommy Track

Donald Reilly, The New Yorker collection, 12/03/1990

Donald Reilly, The New Yorker collection, 12/03/1990

Life is full of surprises.

Just a few blog posts ago, I was whining about my dismal chances at employment  because I’ve been out of the traditional job market for 15 years.

Then, out of the blue, somebody offered me a job. A right-up-my-alley job, working for a magazine with smart people in a flexible, family-friendly environment.  A job that came my way because someone was familiar with my freelance journalism and thought I would be a good member of the team.

A job. A real, honest-to-goodness, too good of an opportunity to pass up, job.

I was and remain flattered.

The job offer coincided with a number of great opportunities for me: some unexpected, meaty freelance work, a meeting with the journalists who founded the Solutions Journalism Network, a TV appearance to analyze our local school board race, an interview for someone else’s book and two book promotion events of my own.

It must be the weather.

According to weather watchers, Seattle is close to setting a record.  We’re closing in our first rain-free July in 50 years.


All this sunshine can be a bit overwhelming for us, despite the fact that Seattle apparently sells more sunglasses per capita than any other U.S. city.  We count on gray, rainy days to get things done.  There is an unstated rule that sunny days are for having fun, but that usually doesn’t mean going 30 days without working or paying bills.

Rain or shine, I’ve been busy and I’m going to get busier.

This has resulted in some flakiness, like buying conditioner instead of shampoo for both me and my dog and wondering why he and I weren’t sudsier.

From redbookmag.com - How to get a dog clean

From redbookmag.com – How to give a dog a bath.

I’ve spent a lot of evenings eating take-out food or thrown together meals from refrigerator scraps, which is not my preferred style.

But, true to my promise and time permitting, I am making a dent in my Yotam Ottolenghi canon of recipes.

The Grape Leaf, Herb and Yogurt Pie from Plenty was to die for.  I couldn’t find Camargue red rice, so substituted Himalayan red rice instead for the Mango and Coconut Rice Salad. It kept me going for much of the week, “Let them eat steak,” said I (who am allergic to beef), happy to eat this hearty salad as a substitute.

Though the kids proclaimed it “slimy,” Jeff and I were blown away by the Roasted Aubergine with Fried Onion and Chopped Lemon from Jerusalem. Not too many self-respecting American kids admit to liking eggplant. I wonder if it would be a different story if we used the more melodious word aubergine. We served our aubergine with Turkey and Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion and Cumin, barbecued instead of fried, and garnished with a creamy sour cream and sumac sauce.  Can you tell that I have the British edition of Jerusalem?   Courgette sounds much more exotic than zucchini. Actually, it sounds like it could be the name of a character in “Les Miserables,” but I digress.

Goodness, will you look at the time. It’s after midnight and I need to go to bed because, well, I have to get up for work in the morning, which is why I won’t be typing out the recipe for Turkey and Courgette Burgers (I couldn’t find an acceptable link). Time management and preserving my cooking integrity will be among my new challenges. Which is good, because I was getting bored with my old challenges.

It’s nice to know that eggplants have the potential to be aubergines.  They can be main courses, side dishes, delicious dips, or even serve as metaphors, as the circumstances require. Each permutation can be delicious (or slimy) in its own way. It all depends on your perspective.

English: eggplant Français : aubergine

6 thoughts on “Hopping off the Mommy Track

  1. alison, love this blog and loved the book — although I have to admit I gave it to someone before I’d quite finished it. (She begged, I delivered.) I love the succint way you describe our difficulties with all this seattle sunshine. I’ve been trying to say the same thing in far too many words in far too many desperate attempts. “But we are supposed to ditch everything and go to the PARK when it’s like this! Or go kayaking. Or sailing. Or hiking. Or just go and sit on a blanket in the shade. We’re not supposed to WORK.” But you nailed it.
    Plus, I’ve been intrigued with both “Jerusalem” and “Plenty” for over a year (can you tell I live a few blocks from the Book Larder?) but because I have a slew of cookbooks I rarely use, I just go and peruse them for fun (usually while waiting for takeout from Uneeda) instead of plunking down the cash to add another cookbook to my rarely used collection.
    And now I think about stealing that recipe for “aubergine.” All I ever do to the poor thing is chop it and roast it with veggies for ratatouille, or grill it for sandwhiches with goat cheese and roasted red peppers. (To die for, even with the nasty gluten free bread I’m required to eat now.) So a new recipe sounds like fun. Good, slimy fun.
    Congrats on the new job! Those “flexible, family friendly yet still interesting positions” are not easy to find, I’ve been told by many moms looking. Awesome!

    • How nice to think someone begged you for my book. Makes me want to play the Sally Field video all over again. I highly recommend that you make the aubergine recipe. We were looking forward to eating the tiny bit of leftovers the next day, but alas, the anti-eggplant contingent that cleaned up the kitchen that night “accidentally” through them out.

      Thank you for your nice words. They were a ray of sunshine, which will come in handy once it starts raining again.

  2. Congratulations! Onward and upward! Regarding the Ottolenghi, I’ve had my eye on two of his eggplant recipes, the one you mentioned and a second one of baked eggplant topped with ground lamb. They’re on the list–after the PMC, biking in France, and life opens up a little. Himalayan red rice is terrific, by the way. Ken

    • I’d take a bike trip to France over a new job any day! Maybe you can buy some Camargue red rice while you are there.

      Have a great trip!

      I’ll be counting on lots of Garum Factory great food for real life to get me through this transition.

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