Tuesday, December 13, 2011

baked goods & bonding with the boss

About two months ago, my new boss started. The whole office approached his start date with some trepidation, having just adjust to the antics and whims of our former interim boss. I was especially unsettled by the fact that his first week coincided with my cross-country road trip. I was really worried that he would decide in my absence that the office didn't really need me that much. 

It turns out all of our fears, but especially mine, were unfounded. The new boss is great, and we've gotten along beautifully so far. He is wholeheartedly committed to getting me in to a job that is better aligned with my skills and experience, and he fondly refers to me as his "social director." He's also a lot more perceptive than any of us gave him credit for at first. 

Case in point? Yesterday I came in to the office mostly out of a sense of obligation. I really, really wanted to call in sick so I could try to catch up on sleep, but had one fairly important morning meeting. Upon arrival, I realized I had left at home the one crucial thing that we have to use to make our computers operate (a specific kind of access card). Without it, you might as well go home, because you can't do a thing. It made my exhaustion-induced cranky mood ten times worse. 

I was trying not to punch something and halfheartedly tossing my weekend baked goods on to the little ledge at my desk (I don't have cube walls, just a ledge) when my boss came out of his office. "Uh oh, I see someone's been stress-baking," he said. "I take it you must have had a rough weekend." And he seemed genuinely concerned about whatever it was that had me in the kitchen turning out three separate types of treats. I realize it sounds insignificant, but I appreciated his seemingly legitimate interest in my life, because it's far more than I can say for past managers!

festive muffin wrappers (which dyed my muffin tins a lovely red on the bottom)

I literally threw this butter on the floor completely by accident. See: exhaustion references

I think anything with a crumb topping can't taste TOO awful... 

As you can tell from the photos, one of the baked goods was clearly muffins. They may look like coffee cake muffins, which I really want to try and make, but it's a big trick. I know, I know, I'm so clever. But they're banana crumb muffins. Surprise!

They were pretty easy to bake, despite the whole throwing butter on the floor by accident thing. After I pulled them out of the oven Saturday morning, I honestly couldn't decide how I felt about them. I thought they might be a little dry, and thus not worth serving. I threw them in a few containers, and when I pulled one out to test them again on Monday morning, a magical transformation had taken place. I don't know the science behind it, but they were suddenly delicious, and not even a tiny bit dry, so they definitely made the "take them to work" cut.

Sunday morning, despite an increasingly debilitating fog of exhaustion enveloping me, I decided like the genius I am to make shortbread and blueberry scones. On maybe 4 hours of sleep. Before going on an afternoon-long real estate adventure. Which was to be followed by a 2 1/2 hour Christmas concert.

I'd made the Pioneer Woman shortbread cookies before for an pre-ballet brunch with a few friends, and despite the effort involved in sifting several cups of dry ingredients and cutting said ingredients into obscene quantities of butter and sugar, they turned out delicious. I take no credit for that. I believe it belongs to the aforementioned large quantities of fat and sugar. Oh, and I love the hint of lemon that you get if you toss in a bit of lemon zest while creaming the butter and sugar. As served at the brunch (see below), they're really best with homemade whipped cream and strawberries, but there's only so much I'll take in to the office!

While the dough for the shortbread was refrigerating, I tried my hand at these blueberry scones. I've never made scones before, but it didn't look too difficult. Well, either I am an idiot (possible), my exhaustion got the better of me (highly likely), and/or the recipe is not half as good as the 230 people who reviewed it claim it to be. They were just...blah, for lack of a better description. Not "inedible," but definitely sporting an odd consistency and color, and certainly not something I'd serve. So into the trash the whole lot went, inciting my serious guilt complex for wasting the ingredients. And no, I am not showing you a picture, because they were ugly as sin, and I don't want to embarrass myself. 

Anyways, I'll take a two out of three success rate in the LKTC right now, especially because for about 72 hours this past week(end), none of my stove's burners would light, so I had to get pretty creative at times. And while I imagine the bake-a-thon only augmented my sleepy state, it did help distract me from the things that have been keeping me awake at night. 

Speaking of which, I will be climbing in to bed at a dorkily early hour tonight, so here's hoping these posts soon resume some sort of more normal tone...

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