Sunday, October 23, 2011

case of the mondays

I know that really no one likes Mondays. I think we're all prepared for a little more blah-ness than usual on Mondays. And as much as I try to give myself a pep talk and buck up somewhere between the metro and my desk, Mondays at my office always start off on an especially sour note. 

See, all of the senior staff from the DC office and the overseas office meet at 8 am every Monday via video teleconference (VTC). It's my job to get to the conference room early and make sure everything is set up properly, which is a huge joke, because the VTC system never, ever works. And rarely is anyone from IT to be found, even though it's their job to also get there early to help. Even if the entire IT staff is there, I have yet to see them fix the various malfunctions that occur. Even though it's not my fault that the machine doesn't work, I always have several angry managers staring me down as I try to figure out some crackerjack back up solution. It's beyond frustrating, and just not a great way to kick off every single work week. 

Because I'm a notorious stress baker, instead of stomping my feet or punching the VTC machine or yelling at IT (ok, that one happens sometimes), I often go home on Mondays and fire up the oven. 

Last week, I was inspired by Allie to go on a pumpkin kick. Always having success with Pioneer Woman recipes, I decided to try her pumpkin spice muffin concoction. While I wish her devotion to sifting flour weren't so fervent, I otherwise find her recipes pretty approachable, and this was no exception. 

There was a moment where I was afraid I'd bought the wrong kind of pumpkin, and did some frantic googling ("is puree the same as solid pack?" is a surprisingly easy question to answer, apparently). In case you're also naive to such distinctions, I'll save you some fretting and tell you that they are, in fact, one in the same. 

Whew. So anyways, minor pumpkin semantics aside, the muffins came out beautifully (in appearance and taste). I burned the roof of my mouth to make the taste determination, but it was worth the sacrifice. I'm not a great photographer, so you'll have to take my word (and not the quality of these pictures) for the muffins' actual aesthetic success. 

I had about half of a can of pumpkin left over, and I didn't want to waste it. I had shortbread on the brain, so I thought pumpkin shortbread would be delicious. I used this recipe, and the shortest way to put it is that something went awry. I'm honestly not sure what, sadly, but they tasted like dry, bland cookies, not like shortbread. I'm starting to learn that I really just need to stop after one successful baked good. This is not the first time I've taken on one too many recipes in an attempt to banish stress, only to see the second (and third and...) fail. 

Not to be dissuaded by the shoddy shortbread, I just stocked up on flour, sugar, and other necessary sundries today. That said, I'll be away from the office in training for the next two weeks, so I'm hoping for a hiatus from my usual Monday morning stress fest... 

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