Stay Flexible – Going Gratin

Earlier this year, I took a new job. I liked the job I had at the time, wasn’t planning on making any changes and certainly wasn’t looking for anything new. The fact is, an opportunity was presented to me one morning in an inviting manner and after the shock and surprise settled, I accepted the challenge.

Being Flexible can Bring Great Results

Being Flexible can Bring Great Results

Let me be clear. I like to plan. I recognize that despite best efforts, we really have little control but all that said, I still like to feel as though I’m in the driver’s seat and have minimized my risk. Yet, I stand here today on the slippery slope of a steep learning curve putting one foot ahead of the other, taking massive amounts of notes and loving the opportunity.

Change can be good. All change is difficult but this change has me stretching and growing and learning new acronyms faster than my teenage boys consume pita chips. I’ve been told that when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations where we have an opportunity for growth, it can be one of the best things for us. Stay flexible and open to opportunities that you may not have considered. Ask me about it in 6 months.

Some research suggests that the average worker masters a job within three years. Beyond that, both the learning and the mastery of skills slows. While three years isn’t a rule, it is an interesting point of reference to stop and think about what we are learning at work. Are you open to opportunities and willing to flex your plans a bit?

Tonight I found myself with another opportunity to exercise flexibility. After dreaming about a yeasted olive oil crust all day, I arrived home to realize that every recipe required the dough to sit alone and rise for 45 – 50 minutes. Our tendency is to eat far too late as it is and so with zucchini and gruyere, I set out to find a new challenge. The result was a terrific casserole that we hadn’t planned on but that fed us and used so many of the onions and squash that we have available right now.

Zucchini Gratin
adapted from Ina Garten
Feeds: 5 easily

It's Squash Season

It’s Squash Season


  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 large yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced
  • 2 pounds of squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used yellow squash, zucchini and patty pan)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyere


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan and cook the onions over low heat for 20 minutes or until tender but not browned. Add the squash and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until it makes a sauce. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 10-inch baking dish.

Using the season's bounty; squash and sweet onions

Using the season’s bounty; squash and sweet onions

Combine the bread crumbs and Gruyere and sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.

Meets with Teenager Approval

Meets with Teenager Approval

Are there places in your life where you’re open to change? 


Leave a comment


  1. I have been at my job for 9 years. You might say I fear change.

    I’ve applied to 3 jobs in the last 3 years which I didn’t get. I’m comfortable, maybe too comfortable but I wouldn’t want to trade my current job with a crappier job, I’m only looking to upgrade. I have a few fantastic clients that I would be sad to leave.

    But with a comfortable, easy job, 10 minutes walk from home, I get more hours a week than some because I don’t have to commute. I can go home for lunch or to hang out the washing, or check on a rabbit and generally, I believe I am happier for the short commute.

    Your gratin looks delicious and often the yummiest things come from adapted recipes.

    • Amen on the commute! I believe shortening commutes is one of the single biggest benefits that employers can focus on.

  2. Ema Jones

     /  July 1, 2014

    Celebrate with yummy summer salad recipes..

  3. Your recipe sounds wonderful for summer….all the best on your new endeavor! And I agree that change is good and makes life interesting.

  4. Best wishes to you in this new challenge! This recipe sounds wonderful! Thanks!

    • Thanks Cindy. The recipe rocks and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I think one of the reasons that it worked so well is because our onions are so sweet. I also didn’t think I’d like the nutmeg but it totally works.

  5. BRAVO!!! Very proud of you, Tammy!!!

  6. I used to envy my friends who after 20, 25 and 30 years are still at the first teaching job they landed. Now I realize that I have lived many, many lives, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. Great that you are experiencing the growth of this new job.

  7. Thank you for the inspiring words, for sharing your journey…change is good, yet scary too…emerging to your new greatness and success will be worth it…best to you!!

    • Thanks Rena! So nice to see you here. I love the changes that you are going through and how you inspire others along the way.

  8. I was thinking recently that I get into my routines a little too much and am most likely missing little opportunities and cues for change. Thank you for confirming the need for some healthy growing kind of change in my life! Beautiful recipe!

    • Routine is great also but it is really good for us to stretch. Try putting a foreign language app on your smart phone as a start. You can be learning a new language in a few minutes a day.

  9. It’s great to hear about your new challenge! I think it’s important for people to continue to stretch themselves – I can’t imagine life without continual challenge.

    Your recipe looks wonderful, too, and I can’t wait to try it!

  10. I’ve re-invented myself several times ~ attorney in NC, moving to NJ, attorney in NJ, running a DV program in NJ, moving to VA/MD, running an AmeriCorps program in MD, moving to FL. Now, I’m content to coast on the coast! 😎

    That recipe looks YUMMY!

  11. Tammy, once again you’re spot on.

    Change always comes when least expected and is for the best, most of the time. Obviously there are many instances where a change in one’s life finds more fear and pain than most but all in all, change should be looked at as being good.

    My recent heart surgery changed my life one thousand percent in only three months. Fortunately for me, it was all for the better. Full of enthusiasm for my writings, even wrote one story the day after in the hospital. I’m full of life with more energy, more fun and more . . . Uh, I’ll let your imagination take over here.

    Now for my wife who now has a husband of 41 years who is full of change and teenager energy, the change may be more trying. I’ll ask her in 6 months too if the change has been as au gratin for her as it has been for me.

    Best wishes. . . PS. The ‘Gratin’ looks ‘Grate’. Perfect weekend for a change of taste.

    • I had not heard about your surgery and am glad that you are doing well! Health changes definitely unleash us in new ways. Hope you liked the gratin.

  12. I was once presented with an opportunity to work in a new job. I loved the work but the owner of the business was a walking-horror. I couldn’t get on with her and she made life extremely difficult. After no end of grief to the point where I felt like I was going to throw-up every morning on the way to work, we had ‘a meeting’ and I left. Fortunately, this is a rare example of how these sorts of opportunities unfold. Good luck with your new challenges xx

  13. A classical French type gratin that I love! I Will make this dish when my yellow courgettes are fully grown! Good for you on getting a new job! X

  14. Hi Tammy–Change is inevitable, and it moves unpredictably–in a blink, or over a span of time, and sometimes in cycles. I am glad that you’ve got this job challenge to stretch you–and it came unexpectedly. For myself, I think about a longer arc of change: it’s been almost 10 years from sale of my catering company to the publishing of the cookbook.–with many fascinating steps, twists, along the way.

    I can use this zucchini recipe–our garden is doing well this year, and my produce bin is filling up with summer squash!

    • When the squash comes rolling in I always need recipes. I used an AZ sweet onion and that made it really delicious.

  15. Congrats on your new job. I pretty much changed jobs every 2-3 years (within or outside the company). It did seem that by that time, I had really mastered the area, spent some time at very high productivity, accomplished all the things that called to me, and then it was time to let someone else put their mark on it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: