Last night I cooked common meal. It was a pretty small meal (for me, anyway) with only about 45 people. I made up two different fruit toppings for the fish - peach-tomato salsa and blueberry-corn relish. The fish itself was just tilapia, which is very mild. I baked it in the oven, which was great - very quick and easy - took just 15 minutes to cook 12 lbs of fish. While the result was not as tasty as my pan-friend pecan encrusted tilapia, it sure was a lot less labor intensive...

The blueberry corn relish was the surprise hit of the night. It's very simple - just corn cut off the cob and quickly cooked, blueberries, chiffonaded basil, and a vinaigrette of olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Crunchy and fresh - definitely more than the sum of its parts. The peach salsa would have been better (or at least more what I wanted) if I'd used my original recipe. But there was a Zingerman's event in the common house in the morning, and there was a big bowl of peaches with chiles leftover. So we used those, but it just didn't result in the fresh taste I was looking for. Still good, just not what was in my head.

On the side, I served some leftover cucumber-feta-mint salad also from the Zing thing, some green salad, and boiled potatoes tossed with olive oil and parsley. Dessert was a Texas Sheet Cake, something I'd never heard of until someone in my eGullet "Cooking for 40" thread suggested it. It was reasonably tasty, although not all that interesting, but certainly simple and fast, which is a big plus when it comes to common meal. It's a very thin cake, cooked in a jelly roll pan. It's a little bit chocolate, and a little bit cinnamony, and a lot sweet.

Speaking of my eGullet thread, it's very odd. I have fans. People read the thread regularly, and if I've been slacking on keeping it up and do a big catch up post, I get comments saying how glad they are that I posted, that they'd been wondering what I'd been up to. Here's a recent comment:
Tammy, I just read from page 1-7 and I am bleary-eyed to say the least.I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these, and I am so glad you have beenposting all your meals. I have been cut and pasting them into a folderfor future reference. Thanks! Pages 1-7 equates to over 200 posts, that she sat down and read in one sitting! Wow.

Eric thinks I should start a separate blog that's a more public food blog, and put all of my food related posts there. What do you all think of that idea? I kind of feel like eGullet meets my public blogging desire, but it could be fun to do something for a potentially broader readership. Eric thinks I could just point LJ people there and stop posting food stuff to my LJ, but I said I'd still want to double post, cause I like having things in one place. I just created a Vox account (tammylc, just like here) so I could use that as my food blog and keep this as my journal...

If I get a job at Zingerman's, it seems like I'd definitely have lots of content to put in a food blog. Yes, I'm back on that trip again. I have an appointment Monday morning to talk to Grace, the managing partner of the Deli. I want to learn more about a) what kind of jobs there are there, b) what openings there are or that are coming up, and c) how much the pay and hours would suck. I'm growing increasingly bored with my job. They love me there, and I do good work when I can get motivated to do so, but that's not really often enough for me. And, as my paunch grows every paunchier and my body is starting to show the ergonomic strain of sitting at a computer all day, I'm actually thinking I might like a job that got me back on my feet and out from behind a desk. We'll see.
So, I've been pondering this whole career switching idea for a while now. Do I want to do something in the food industry? If so, what? Am I (and [ profile] eviljohn willing to accept the lifestyle consequences (both financial and in terms of evening and weekend time)? So this truffle making is a little excursion into that side of things to see how it feels, but I've also been thinking about what such a job could look like.

I've never really thought of myself as running my own business, but that's the direction my thoughts are leading me. It would have to start as a little something on the side, obviously, and then maybe it could be self-sustaining someday. Ideally, I'd like to be doing a few things - maybe a little bit of catering, a little bit of special event stuff like these truffle sales, maybe teach some classes. But mostly what I'd really like to do is run tastings or other food related events. Things like wine tastings, or a blue cheese tasting, or foods and wines of a particular region, etc. I'd procure the supplies, research them so as to be able to tell people what they were tasting and why it was interesting, and create a fun environment for people to try and taste and learn and talk about food. A lot like the tastings that Zingerman's does at the Deli, for people who've been to them or read about them, but done in a private party environment. It's been suggested to me that companies might be a good target for something like this as well, either for employee appreciation, or for schmoozing clients.

I know that Morgan and York and Zingerman's both offer services in this vein. I've no idea if there's a market for it, and how well they're advertising to and filling that market.

I'm feeling down today. Hormonal, situational, I'm not sure why, but I'm just feeling delicate. We thought we'd found someone to rent our condo - she was really eager and really interested and seemed like a great person, so much so that we were going to overlook a mediocre credit rating and a not-exactly-glowing former landlord reference. But then she didn't return my calls all weekend and when I finally got ahold of her today she had "taken another place" and that was that. Probably for the best, given the history, but still - I was looking forward to having one less thing to stress about. Our newspaper ad had expired while we were doing the credit check and landlord check and all that, so now we've missed two weeks of potentially interested parties. The ad goes back in tomorrow, and then I'll have to deal with missing work to run over and show the condo.

Not that I really mind missing work. I'm in another one of my hate my job phases. Well, that's not exactly true. I don't hate my job, I just don't get excited by it most of the time. I have a really hard time getting motivated to do the work because it doesn't interest me. I continue to ponder career change options, but the weight of keeping health insurance for the family is a heavy one. And if I'm going to leap, I really should do it sooner rather than later, because if my company actually managed to get back into financial shape, I'm supposed to be getting an 18% raise, and that will make it even harder to leave.

I should be more cheerful - I'm going to see Great Big Sea in concert tonight with [ profile] scottij and [ profile] sueij. And I'm planning a fancy dinner for my wine club in April that should be a lot of fun. Maybe it's the weather - after a glorious couple of spring days we've got freezing temperatures and snow again.
We asked fellow food writers and editors for their favorites. And judging by their replies, it's clear many of them had been asked the same questions, such as, do you add eggshells along with the eggs to batters? Do you have to crack walnuts out of the shells first? Does the turkey need to be washed with soap and water? Is it OK to feed spoiled food to the dog? Could we rerun recipes from last week? (No need to call. The answers are: No, yes, no, no and no.)

But wait, there's more:

Unbelievable that people would be this clueless. But further gives weight to my thoughts that somewhere in my future food-related career I'd like to teach or organize cooking classes for absolute beginners and "how to boil water" types. There's obviously a real need for such a thing. Of course - how to target them to the audience that needs them is the real issue.
I'm not just feeling boredom and malaise about my parenting (see last post). It's sort of a whole life thing right now. I think I need a big change - something to shake me up and get me excited about something. I'm not going to have another baby (probably not ever, but certainly not right now). I've got no relationship trauma pending (at least that I know of).

I could take up a new hobby, I suppose, although I'm not sure what it could be, or where I'd find the time.

I think what I really need is a new job/career. I've been playing around at the edges of a career change for a couple of years now. I have a job that's fine, but that I'm just not very excited about. We're in the midst of a big organizational redesign, so it's possible things might get more interesting. But I don't really think so. I just don't have the passion and drive about the work to make it interesting for myself.

My attempts to get something with Zingerman's have gone nowhere, sadly. I'm most interested in trying to move into some food related career, as that seems to be where my passion is right now. But I'm hamstrung by a need to make a reasonable amount of money. Daycare is expensive - right now, half of my monthly net income goes to pay for daycare. I can't take much of a paycut and still have it make financial sense for me to work. And then there's the health insurance factor - unless Eric gets a job with benefits that seems like it will be long term and reliable, I'm responsible for making sure we all have coverage (stupid country, grrr). So I feel very stuck. I read today that the women who runs Everyday Wines is opening up a kitchen store in Kerrytown, to be called Everyday Cook. She's got a lot of really ambitious plans that echo things I've been thinking about myself - cooking classes, bulk cooking sessions a la "Dream Dinners", etc. I'm going to go try to convince her to give me a job.

If that doesn't work, I don't know what I'll do. But I need to do something.
One of my fellow research associates at work is leaving to pursue another opportunity. She's only been at CSW for about a year, whereas I've been there, oh, going on four years now. I'm taking over for her in the middle of a major project, so we've been working together a lot during the past week.

I often feel a little overwhelmed at work, and like I really don't know enough about the work we do to be doing it. But working with her has made me realize that I actually do have something of a clue, and that's kinda cool.

Work has been pretty good lately. I've been very busy, doing a lot of labor market research and number crunching of various kinds. The senior partner I'm mostly working with these days is one who wants the data, but then goes off to write the report herself, without any input from her researchers. For this new project I'm picking up, I'll actually be working directly on the report, with input from the senior partner. While in many ways that is harder than just generating data, it's a satisfying kind of hard, and I'm looking forward to doing it. Right now the steering committee is reviewing the draft report, and I'll be incorporating their changes, cleaning up the final report for submittal, and then producing a shorter, executive summary style report for them.

I'm still looking for a chance to do something else, as I don't think I'll be happy at CSW long term, but for now it's good. I've been getting the Zingerman's job postings a couple times a month, but there hasn't really been anything that looked like a good fit. Although I did ask my neighbor if he could bring home the more detailed posting for the Catering Office Sales Supervisor.


Mar. 28th, 2005 02:15 pm
It's another one of those days. Those "I don't think I like my job, what do I want to do with my life?" days.

So, what do y'all think I should do to make money and simultaneously find personal fulfillment? What do you think I would be good at?
Important observation about self - I don't like it when things change midstream. Especially when the changes are externally imposed.

I was really enjoying working on this poverty paper. We had a clear set of research questions, which I was methodically going through and researching and answering. I was having some trouble fitting my answers into the frame that someone else had been developed, so was developing a framework that I thought suited the material better, with the blessing of TPTB. We had a clear deadline, and clearly defined product.

Then all of our deadlines got pushed back and the whole thing became much more amorphous. We're re-evaluating the questions, the structure of the paper, the goals of writing it in the first place. Everything is in flux. So I don't even want to go near it now, because a) I just know that it's all going to change again and b) I don't even know what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with it now anyway. And neither does anyone else. And once again, my supervisor is MIA, so I can't get any direction about any of it.

I'm incredibly frustrated right now. Is it any wonder I don't want to come to work?
We did a one-word check in exercise to begin and end our staff meeting. One word about how we're feeling - about the meeting, generally, whatever. At the beginning, my word was "pregnant" - it sorta takes over your life. At the end of the meeting, I copped out and said "still pregnant." What I wanted to say was "disconnected," but amidst a sea of "optimistic," "excited," and "ethusiastic", I just didn't have the guts to come out and say it.

I work with people who have a great deal of passion about the big picture of what we do. And I just don't share that passion. We did a lot of budget and markets work during the meeting, talking about what the next year looks like. And I see less and less places in that year where I'll have something to contribute.

According to our new economic model, I'm supposed to do 121 hours of billable work each month (tied with the other research associate for most billable hours required monthly, in fact). That's my contribution to keeping the company afloat and helping it prosper. But here I am, with virtually no billable work to do, and only tenuous indications of anything coming my way in the future.

I'm a good worker. I have a lot of skills and a lot to offer. And I just feel so completely underutilized and unfulfilled. It makes me sad and frustrated. Today I realized that there's a list of things that I used to have some hand in, that have now been entirely handed off to other people. Tracking proposals. Editing other people's work. These were things that I was good at and that I enjoyed. Things that I made a real contribution to and that were really appreciated. I developed the process we're using to manage proposals to this day. I developed the style sheet and style guide that we enabled us for the first time to give some consistency and structure to our printed work. I used to matter. I used to be able to make a difference. And now I feel like I don't.

I hate this.

I suck

Jan. 7th, 2004 03:18 pm
I'm eating too much, and posting to LJ too much, and surfing the web too much. I'm doing all of these things because I am bored. I am bored because I don't have work that I find interesting to do. But there isn't any work around in my company right now that I do find interesting. And of course, being that I'm 24 weeks pregnant, it's utterly the wrong time to be looking for another job. Wah. And given that I'm the one providing health care for both of us right now, I'm kinda stuck here anyway. Stupid country, stupid health care system. Stupid, boring job. Stupid me, and my excessive need for mental stimulation and inability to exercise anything resembling willpower. Again, I say wah. And it's only goddamn Wednesday.



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