No Where But Up

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It’s been a great month, being out of work. You’re not going to catch me dragging around because I’m gainfully unemployed. Granted I have to watch each and every penny we spend and it’s put my frugal ways through the ringer, and there have been a handful of days when I’m not exactly giddy and jigging, but in all I’ve been having a great time. Hanging out with Ted, sewing, taking trips to the library to catch up on some long-awaited reading, unpacking and organizing our new house in a way I didn’t think I was going to be able to until summer because of the office rule of no time off during tax season. I’ve done some cooking and some eating and made some things that I have never made before: ricotta, pasta, pita. It’s been quite a little adventure.

Part of not working is being home alone all day, because all of my friends and family work, of course. I spend many long hours alone with the cat, who is reluctant to use his words most days. It’s given me a lot of time to think about my next move in the world of the employed, and who I want to be if I ever grow up. I have specialized myself in administrative work, which translates roughly to sitting in a chair, in an office, in front of a computer, for about 8.5 hours of every day. Sometimes more. To be honest, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of sitting all day. I’m tired of hammering away on a keyboard in the confines of a fluorescent hell all day. I’m tired of wearing heels and having to be neatly pressed with perfect hair and being something that, well, I’m not, all day. I sit and work the day away in an office, dreaming of coming home and making dinner, going to the grocery store, baking muffins or cake, and having friends over to eat all of the loveliness with me. I love to feed people. It’s what I do. A week or so ago I got to spend an afternoon teaching a group of ladies how to make ravioli and realized how passionate I am about food and cooking. I got some compliments about my kitchen skills and food prowess that did a lot for my ego. It made me start thinking.

I’ve slowly come to the realization that I’ve misaligned my work life with my dream life. And after making a couple of tearful apologies to myself, I decided that I really DON’T want to go work in an office again. I DON’T want to be an administrative assistant, I DON’T want to be an executive assistant, and I really don’t want to push paper anymore. And I don’t care what it costs me. So many years of being a cog in the machine has given me stress issues that I have difficulty sorting through and a big fat secretary’s ass that I’m quite frankly tired of. And speaking of tired, I want to come home tired every day. Not just mentally drained because of X conference call or Y unruly coworker or Z office politicking, but really, truly, physically tired. I want to stand up for a change. Literally, on my feet, and move around.

And so, without further ado, I’ve made the decision that I’m hopping back in to the food industry. And no sooner had I made this decision than an offer of a potential position came my way. I’m trading up, going from administrative assistant to kitchen and catering assistant, if all goes according to plan. How’s that for a life change? Swapping my shoes from Choos to Danskos, hanging up my slacks and putting on my apron. And you know what? I can’t wait.

I meet with the general manager of a little Italian delicatessen-slash-ravioli factory tomorrow, after having met with both the kitchen manager and the deli manager last week. And if my meeting with the GM goes well, I think I’m going to have a new job quicker than I might think. I’m mostly ready; I had dreams of having the summer off and frittering away my time in the garden and reading books on the Plaza with a homemade picnic, but there are bills to pay and a cat to feed. We can’t rest on our laurels forever.

Tomorrow around noon, when you’re heading out for lunch or opening your leftovers at your desk, please send a happy thought in my general direction. I’m going to be giving the sales pitch of a lifetime about myself, with a side of this lemon pudding for the small staff of the deli to enjoy and as an example of my handiwork. If I can spread my sunshine and happiness about this development, I’m going to do it. And how am I going to do it? With food, of course.


Meyer Lemon Pudding
Makes 6 servings

3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 1/2 c. milk (I used 2%)
3 extra large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. finely grated Meyer lemon zest (or 1 tbsp each lemon + orange zests)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (or 1/4 c each freshly squeezed lemon + orange juice)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Lemon zest, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch.  Add the milk, egg yolks, zest, and salt and whisk until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first and constantly toward the end, until thickened (total time on the flame is about 6-7 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the citrus juice, butter, and vanilla extract.  Divide the mixture into 6 serving dishes and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate, loosely covered (to avoid a watery pudding) from 3 hours to 3 days.

Before serving, gently whip your cream with the powdered sugar until it forms soft peaks, dollop atop your puddings and dust with the lemon zest. Serve chilled.

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