As of last Saturday, I have officially been self-employed for twenty months. Quitting a job I LOVED in favour of something I wasn’t sure would work out was just about the third bravest thing I’ve ever done (the first being when I moved to Europe by myself, the second was accepting a date with someone nearly ten years older than me, which, when you’re barely past twenty, seems practically geriatric).
As it turns out, the first two things were pretty much the smartest moves I’ve ever made, so I’m feeling pretty confident in my decision, and I’m thrilled with how this work-from-home thing has turned out. I mean, I spend my days writing about food, planning parties, cooking, Skyping with Julie (and Amy and Renee), and working on a book! What could I possibly complain about about? Oh, I know - how about my inability to find a daily schedule that works, or at least one I can stick to.
Every Sunday night the following questions run through my mind: should I write in the morning and cook in the afternoon, or vice versa? Am I going to write at home, the coffee shop, or the library? Should I waste time grocery shopping during my ‘working hours’ or do it in the evening after dinner? Do I have time for lunch with a friend (the answer is always yes, even when I really don’t)? Do I walk the dog at 6:00am when my eyes are barely open, or should I do it over my lunch hour when I take a ‘creative’ break from working? Which music should I cook to today? When I’m tired of listening to music should I watch a movie while I cook? Should I use the laptop at the kitchen table or the big computer downstairs where the comfy chair is? Which days are supposed to be the sunniest? Will I be free to take pictures then? What should I make for my lunch?
Clearly I have a problem. No one day ever looks the same, and I spend just about as much time trying to organize myself as I actually do working, something I need to sort out soon. But then I ask myself if there’s really any point because in less than three weeks the boys will be home from school for the summer and I’ll need to create a new work schedule – or lack there of – for the next two months.
Despite my wayward ways, there is one thing I do every single morning regardless of what I’m working on. Around 10am, without fail, I open my email and watch the Everyday Food with Sarah Carey video that miraculously appears in my inbox each day. In an age of competition-based food shows and post-Oprah daytime television, I miss my food TV fix, and this little email provides it in the form of a five-minute cooking video. The recipes are simple and family-friendly, and I cook from them often, to varying degrees of success. I almost always find something worth tucking into my back pocket, including this shrimp Caesar salad that has been my workday lunch of late.
I may not be organized, but I am well fed, and this recipe is almost always the answer to the last question I ask myself each Sunday.
- 2 whole-wheat pitas, split in half around the perimeter
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into 1" pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a baking sheet, brush both sides of the pitas with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, salt, and pepper, and bake until golden brown and crispy, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let stand until cool. When cool, break into bite-sized pieces.
Turn the oven heat to broil. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp and remaining teaspoons of oil and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange shrimp in a single layer on the same baking sheet you baked the pitas on, and broil 4 inches from heat until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, cheese, anchovy paste (if using), and 1 tablespoon of water. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss lettuce with as much dressing as desired. Garnish with shrimp, broken tortillas, cheese, and fresh ground pepper.