Not Every Night Can Be A Dinner Party

This post originally appeared on my food blog.

There was a time that I planned our entire weekly menu based around my blog. I had a wall covered in post-it notes, an editorial calendar and I checked my stats multiple times a day. I spent my day browsing food blogs and messaging my foodie friends for inspiration.

Some days, I miss reading fifteen new food blogs a day, emailing with readers or planning guest-posts. On the flip side, my career today is so much more fulfilling that it was at the peak of my blogging. Back when I launched This American Bite, I was waiting for a green card which meant I wasn’t allowed to get a job. We were living in LA and had just one car. My wife left at 5.45 AM for her 90-minute commute that covered just 24 miles and I spent most of my time at home with our son who was six months old.

If the weather permitted, we’d walk around the block five, six or seven times for a stroller-induced nap and I could listen to a podcast. Sometimes we would get adventurous and stroll the 45 minutes to the nearest grocery store but really, my entire day revolved around cooking for my family.

Fast forward to today and I’m Director of Strategy at a digital marketing agency; my wife and I have three kids; we sit on the boards of three local charities, and when my wife and I can snatch an evening together, I feel as blessed as the day we stood together under the chuppah (wedding canopy) 8 years ago.

Our lives are busy.

Last weekend, the kids were asleep, my wife was taking a nap and I had the chance to turn the pages of a “Food and Wine Magazine” that I never got around to cancelling. In that moment I was struck by how much I miss recipe development and writing. How much I miss planning my adventures in foodie-land. How I miss checking my blogs stats, talking to other food writers and connecting with people like you.

Yes, I miss you.

When I left my corporate job at the end of 2014 I thought it would usher in a new age of writing. It didn’t. In fact that career change didn’t go to plan. 15 months later I was having a brutally honest conversation with the CEO about my need to put my family first. (“If you need to take your kid to soccer, pay someone to do it for you” wasn’t what I had in mind while my children grow up before my eyes). I was lucky in finding a new role very quickly. I love the company I’m at now and the work-life balance I’m able to enjoy.

This recipe, although thrown together in the midst of the school-night ritual, after the soccer match and before the ballet class, is not only delicious but represents the balance I am trying to find.

Not every night can be a dinner party. Not every night can be a culinary adventure. The sheer delight my 6-year old expressed from a plain old tuna melt just last week made me realize that it’s just as important to make the quick and easy comfort foods that everyone loves.

This is a meal that everyone loved the first time. It’s quick and it’s easy, I made this warm salad again. This time, for the family.

We celebrated our daughter’s fourth birthday over Labor Day weekend. My in-laws flew in with my brother in law and his family and 11 of us flocked to an Air BnB in Branson, MO. There was a weekend of laughter and unity that we seldom get to enjoy together and I didn’t step into the kitchen all weekend, but before the family flew home to California they spent one night in our home and I had the blessed chance to cook for everyone.

We all shared one meal. In our home. Together.

Not around the table. Not on a candle-lit patio. We shared a meal on the couch, in front of the TV, some of us standing around the kitchen, because all the kids had fallen asleep and it was exactly what we all needed to connect with each other and enjoy that moment.

And the food was delicious.

This was the meal we shared, because when all said and done, family comes first.