Monday, November 15, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemony Frosting

I was going to post another soup recipe today, but I had such the day from hell that I couldn't possibly think about celeriac and cauliflower.

This is how it went:

4:00 a.m.: sudden powerful leg cramp in my right leg, going up the length of my thigh.  Thank you, pregnancy.  (But I guess I shouldn't be complaining, right?)

4:30 a.m.: continued tossing and turning, unable to get pregnant self comfortable, even without considering leg cramp.

5:00 a.m.: heart pounding.  Can't get back to sleep.  Consider going for a run, but decide against it, since husband has to be out of the house early this morning, and I have to take child to school (adding an extra half hour to my commute), and it would mean risking not being back in time to get child ready AND take shower.  Watch minutes tick by, one by one.

5:50 a.m.: finally get out of bed, fetch child, make lunch and snack, make breakfast, go shower.

7:10 a.m.: out the door with child, note that it's raining, so a run at work is also unlikely.
(interlude: traffic on highway, hooray for Mondays and trucks.)

8:25 a.m.: arrive at work, decide to go for a run anyway, despite a late morning meeting with new boss.  Take usual route, and realize that I need to find a bathroom half way in.  Luckily, know all port-a-potty stops on all run routes.  Stop at the next port-a-potty, do business, discover: no.friggin.toilet.paper.  Goodbye, bandana.  Mentally note that this had better not be an indication of how the rest of my day will go.

9:15 a.m.: try to bathe in the ladies' room at work, feeling completely disgusting.  Decide to go without underwear today because of the whole no-toilet-paper ordeal; stow underwear with sweaty running clothes.

11:00 a.m.: boss-in-waiting (New Boss) arrives for meeting we had scheduled over a month ago, with no follow up questions about his responsibilities in the spring (he will "figure it out," he says, and I realize that he is going to get someone else to do this work for him, and that I will have to train this other person), but announcement that he will be attending a meeting I'd previously scheduled with Boss' Boss.  Not good.

2:00 p.m.: meeting with Boss' Boss and New Boss.  Informed that they will be hiring a faculty director to work in my program alongside me, because they are concerned about "faculty involvement" (never mind that I correspond with close to 100 faculty members currently, on a regular basis, and both seek and implement feedback).  Informed that New Boss will be using my office while I'm gone, and that a student will be using the old (currently unoccupied) faculty director's office, meaning that a recent graduate with no experience will have a private space, while my program coordinator/assistant has no space of her own and is treated like a receptionist/secretary.  Know that this will be a slap in the face to said program coordinator/assistant, and that I will have to break this news to her.  Then informed, by Boss' Boss (who has never been anything but supportive of me), in front of New Boss, that we need to discuss my "attitude" towards faculty members, whom someone said I think are lazy.  Here is where I lose it: never, in my 12 years of working at this university, of building this program from the ground up, of recruiting a few hundred faculty members to work with me, of earning the respect of faculty members with whom I now work as colleagues, have I been accused of having an attitude problem, and NOW?  Break into tears, in front of New Boss and Boss' Boss.  Epic fail.

3:00 p.m.: leave meeting, feeling like I have been slapped in the face, mentally composing letter of resignation.  Wonder if any of this would have happened if I hadn't been pregnant, realize that the answer is "probably not."  Feel completely dumbfounded.

4:00 p.m.: leave the office to begin the hour and a half drive home so that I can pick up child on time.  Try to compose myself so that I don't get myself or child killed on the way home.  Apologize to Bean for suggesting that she has a role in this mess.  Bean kicks back, agrees that we need to go to yoga teacher training together.

9:00 p.m.: spill seltzer all over myself while writing this blog entry.

OK, I get it.  I should not have gotten up this morning.  So much for the bright side of life.

I'm really hoping that this week gets better.  Luckily, on Friday I'm getting together with some other women from a working moms group I co-founded over two and a half years ago, for a dessert recipe swap.  I think I'm going to make these cupcakes again, which I made for my class last week.  All I need to do is make it through four more days at the office.  I can do that, right?  Boy, I hope so.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

1  1/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
3 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. canola oil
1/3 c. molasses
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. soy milk
2 T. soy yogurt
1 1/2 t. lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line the tins, and break out two medium bowls.  In the first, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  In the second, whisk together the oil, molasses, maple syrup, soy milk, yogurt and lemon zest.  Mix in the dry ingredients in two batches.  Then, fold in the chopped crystallized ginger, pour into the tins, and bake for 18-22 minutes.

Lemony Frosting

1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. margarine
3 t. lemon zest
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar

Cream together the shortening and margarine, and add in the powdered sugar in half-cup batches.  After each batch of sugar is mixed in , add a splash of lemon juice.  After 2 cups have been added, beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.  Add powdered sugar to get the right texture, and frost the cupcakes.  The lemon goes beautifully with the ginger; you could also do a lemon cream cheese (vegan or not) frosting, which I imagine would also be a good complement.
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  1. Your day sounds outstandingly awful. And the cupcakes sound wonderous.

    You made the cupcakes, not the day. So you can great wonderous things.

    And don't you just hate crying in front of men when you're hormonal?!?!?!?!


  2. Oh that is truly a horrible day. I am sitting here with a carrot cake in the oven, wishing I could rush right over when it's ready and make you a nice pot of tea to go with it.

    It can only get better from here. The dessert swap sounds awesome. :)

  3. Oh, I'm so sorry.

    It's not your fault. It's not the bean's fault. It's the fault of a system which still believes that a pregnant woman, and ultimately a mother of a small child, is somehow a burden on an employer. Never mind that you've been demonstrating the opposite for more than four years.

    As someone who is regularly (and rightly) accused of having a bad attitude, I can say that they have no idea what they're talking about, or they're truly trying to justify something to themselves.

    (You could always flee. We'll open a whole life wellness center and I'll teach childbirth prep and whole grain baking while you teach yoga and vegan cupcakes.)

  4. Oh my gosh, that day sounds like it sucked.

    I got fired up just reading out your boss and your "attitude problem". It's such a catch 22 because although you know you know that you have never had an attitude problem, when you are accused of something you didn't do you then actually do seem to react in a way that makes them think, "See, I knew she had an attitude problem". There is no way to defend yourself without looking like you're proving your point. I say epic fail on the part of your boss not you!

    Love your blog by the way.

  5. Those cupcakes look awesome! I might just have to try them!

  6. Isn't it terrible when a Monday turns out like that? Because you've still got four days to make it to the endzone of the weekend. Sounds like a pretty terrible day (though, is it wrong of me that I laughed about your poor bandanna...lucky you HAD a bandanna).

  7. Long time lurker just dropping by to say hi and oogle your cupcakes. Definitely wondering how I can amend the recipe to drop the sugar (without just leaving out the sugar which resulted in some highly suspect pumpkin muffins last week ...). And deeply sympathetic to your bad day. Here's to hoping both bosses realize what jerks they were.

  8. Rachel, usually I'd recommend either agave or fruit juice (2/3 cup agave minus 1/4 cup liquid to replace 1 cup sugar, or 3/4 c. fruit juice concentrate to replace every 1 cup sugar) but in this case the molasses and maple syrup really do impart a "dark" flavor to the cupcakes. If you come up with something, I'd love to hear it! Thanks for de-lurking!

  9. Aw, that does sound like a craptastic day. And the meeting sounds terribly awful. Sorry you had to go through that. (hugs)

  10. Thanks so much for the comment! I unfortunately am only limiting sugar because I am a 'borderline gestational diabetic' (i.e. passed the test, still presumed guilty because of pregnancy #1) and so both agave and fruit juice concentrated are off limits. The good news is that I actually think that my palate has adjusted a bit and I am happier to be eating less sweet food (at least for another couple of months). I sometimes substitute unsweetened applesauce, sometimes cream (the fat helps slow down the sugar absorption). Definitely going to try and play with those cupcakes though, and maybe just try to balance the sugar with soy protein (although that also tends to result in completely inedible items ...)

  11. Nothing worse than crying in front of your boss at work. Ug. I would definitely blame those pregnancy hormones. You are KILLING me with these recipes. Yum, yum, yum. I need to quit my job so I can bake more.

  12. Oh dear my friend, your day sounds horrible!!! Hope you have an absolutely fabulous time Friday with your friends that helps to make up for the shit day you had today. Thinking of you & sending love...Yum-o to the cupcakes too:)

  13. so sorry about the really crazy day. and yes, while I hate to say it, I think that the bad boss mtg is rooted in your pregnancy. it is really hard fot those worlds to mesh. I am seeing it over here too, but manifested a bit differently. still, people don't know what to do with us. hang in there.

    and I am totally going to try to make these cupcakes.

  14. So, did you submit the letter of resignation? Hang in there lovely lady. Not sure why they are aren't appreciating your talents but they will and um those cupcakes look MmmMmmmMmmm nom nom nom.

  15. Love the lemon frosting!!

  16. sorry about your day...but seriously those cupcakes looks YUM. Hang in there...*hugs*

  17. Oh man. Really nothing worse than losing it in front of Boss AND Boss's Boss. But all in all, that sounds like a DAY.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE gingerbread, so I'm totally going to steal this recipe, mmmkay? :)



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