I can’t believe nearly three years have passed since I left that midtown Manhattan high-rise in favor of the good life working from home, wondering where my next paycheck would come from. It took a while to acclimate to new measures of productiveness. I may have spent half the day in my cubical emailing friends youtube videos like this and this, and reading the last 30 posts in Suri’s Burn Book. But now I’m not wasting corporate America’s time, just my own. So any internet rampage, even the ones on the subject of food, just feels frivolous.
One of my favorite new routines, the kind that mixes productiveness and pleasure, is the mid-week business lunch. When Cara and I started Big Girls Small Kitchen we would meet at one of our apartments every week and cook for one another, talk biz, and occasionally internet shop in each other’s company. This weekly routine is one of the things I miss most about having a partner. So I’ve tried to continue the tradition with some of my other entrepreneurial friends who make their own hours and want to vent about work, in addition to some of the more email-worthy things that used to make the hours go by faster in my cubical.
Last month, I had one of these wonderful mid-week lunch dates with my new BFF Cheryl.
Flashback to January: I decided to attend my college’s annual women’s alumni event in New York. It was a gross cold night and as the event approached, I reeeeally didn’t want to go. It was at one of those Upper East Side stuffy social clubs that probably just started letting women through the door five years ago (an interesting choice). When I got there, I knew hardly anyone. So I did what any normal person would do: I drank too much wine.
By the time the keynote speaker came on, I was a few glasses deep and relieved to have something other than awkward networking to distract me from the bar. Cheryl got up to the podium, without a note-card in sight, and started to dish. She was probably supposed to talk about the role of women in the entertainment industry, where she’s been at the top of her game for years. But instead she dove into her decision to quit her job – one that most people work their whole lives to achieve – and her personal journey to discover, all over again, what she’s meant to be doing. I’m sure a lot of the recent grads there – those still looking for their first jobs out of college – really identified with what Cheryl was saying. I know I did. So much so that ten minutes into the speech, I was brainstorming ways to pounce on her as she was leaving the stage. And pounce I did.
Six months later, we’ve found ourselves in a wonderful friendship that feels very different than the mentor-mentee one I thought I was looking for in January. She may have three kids, all of which are closer in age to me than I am to her, and I may live in a small studio apartment in Chelsea. But we’ve found so much common ground that bonds us together. Best of all, as we both hurdle ahead on our new cobbled together careers, we’ve found one hell of a mid-week lunch date in one another.
Now enough of that mushy sentimental lady stuff: let’s talk about sausage. I made these sandwiches for Cheryl on a sunny summer afternoon after I got back from my cross-country adventure. She doesn’t eat pork or red meat, so I made my own chicken sausage patties with olives and oregano – a bit of a Greek twist. I’ve always loved derivatives of the classic BLT, and never knew why a variation hadn’t been afforded to the other other breakfast meat. People are such fools.
September is almost here, and perhaps for many of you who don’t get the mid-week at-home lunch, that means the end of summer Fridays and leisurely picnics. Before you wind down for good, take a stand and do yourself some favors. Take a walk. Find a friend that you can vent with. Eat an SLT sandwich. Drink too much wine. You never know the good things that can come of it.
SLT Sandwiches with Homemade Chicken Sausage and Lemon Aioli
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 sourdough boule, cut into eight 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup mayo
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
12 cooked chicken sausage patties (recipe follows)
1 beefsteak tomato, cored and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
4 romaine leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Toast in the oven until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, flipping once.
3. Meanwhile, combine the mayo, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
4. Slather 1 tablespoon of aioli on each slice of bread. On the bottom slices, arrange the lettuce leaves, followed by the sausage patties, followed by the tomato slices. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then top with the remaining slices of bread. Press down gently to seal the sandwiches, or use a toothpick to secure both sides, then cut in half with a serrated knife.
Homemade Chicken Sausage with Olives and Oregano
Makes about 12 patties
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1lb ground dark meat chicken (or turkey)
¼ cup finely chopped green olives (picholine)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
1. Mince the garlic cloves together with the salt until you get a fine paste.
2. Combine the garlic paste with the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. With clean hands, fold the ingredients into the meat until well distributed.
3. Roll two tablespoons of the meat mixture into a small ball, then flatten between your palms to form a 1/4-inch thick patty. Repeat with the remaining meat. You should get 12 or so patties.
4. Set a large cast iron skillet over a high flame. Coat the pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Once the pan is hot, cook the patties, gently flattening them with the back of your spatula on the first side, until very well-browned on both sides and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes total.
5. Set aside for another use or serve immediately inside SLT sandwiches.