The author of the new book Julia’s Child, a fictional story about a Brooklyn “mompreneur”, reminds us that Plan B—the kind where you leave the big city and never look back—is possible. Turns out that she left a financial career on Wall Street and moved to New England, where she’s a food journalist, author, and mother of two boys.
How much did becoming a parent shape what your business is?
Being a parent has certainly affected my choice of writing topics. When you’re immersed in fiction, it’s sometimes tricky to separate your home life from the little “world” you’ve created for your book. So I wouldn’t want to take up with a dark and brutal project when I know I’ll be clapping along with Elmo in an hour. To that end, Julia’s Child is a fun book, full of motherhood’s humorous problems.
My husband noticed that I was quaking under the strain of producing top notch lunches for my school-aged boys. He—brilliant man—began making a pot of beans and rice every week. He puts it into their thermoses at least two, sometimes three times a week. So far there haven’t been any complaints.
As romantic comedies have proven for years, no woman wants to be known as super-sensitive. But whether I like it or not, I have that sort of skin that turns red and blotchy if you even look at me funny. It took me a long time to find two products that never irritate. Yonka’s Lait Nettoyant for cleansing, and Guinot Gommage Grain d’Eclat for exfoliating. A spa told me that it is the only exfoliant they’ll use on a bride on her wedding day. (Or on hypersensitive types like me.)
What do you do in your “spare time”?
The trouble with writing from home is that you never can define “spare time.” I sneak off and work on my novel when the family doesn’t need me. At night, when I’m too fried to write, I read novels. And I tell myself that it’s “research.”
Also, I love my organic garden. Now that there are only a few patches of snow in the yard, it’s time to plant peas.
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck?
When we gutted our kitchen, I had the contractor build one of the countertops short at the end. I wanted my kids to be able to help out in the kitchen before they reach my height. And now it’s one of the most popular spots in the house.
What’s your mom uniform?
When my kids outgrew the I-might-spit-up-on-you-at-any-moment stage, I thought that meant I could go back to wearing nice clothing. But it was only sort-of true. Because I’m a food writer and a cook, I still can’t wear anything that needs to be dry-cleaned. So I buy cute tops but they have to be 100% cotton and washable. I favor tights and jean skirts and—of course—boots. Because here in the mountains, we’re looking at another month of chilly weather.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine?
I live on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont, which is not the most convenient spot if you’d like to go to a mall or an airport. However, we can buy the most wonderful food from farmers nearby. So I cook dinner every night.
The four of us eat dinner together every night, and my husband cleans up. I have these two crazy kids who eat absolutely everything. (I take no credit for this phenomenon, I’m not sure how it happened.) So I might cook Italian, stir-fry, chili, Mexican… whatever we haven’t had lately. My younger child’s approach to spicy food is: “quien es mas macho?” Results vary.
Any rules about TV/screens?
Well… we don’t own a TV, and therefore don’t have to make rules about it. It’s put a dent in my ability to answer pop culture trivia questions, but other than that, it’s a blessing.
You feel your best when?
My perfect day is one on which I’ve added a thousand words to any writing project, and tried a new recipe. Bliss.
For all the writing I do about organic food, I have a weakness for dumping Milk Duds into hot popcorn. There is nothing natural about Milk Duds.