Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's Been Some Week...

...or Midnight Baking Session #834.  I couldn't decide which to name this post.  Pick whichever strikes your fancy at the moment.  Neither will be wrong.  So, it's been a busy week, a strange week, a sad week, a happy week.  Just think...the week isn't even over yet.

I don't talk about the Day Job too often.  I don't think this is particularly the correct platform.  I've typically kept a pretty obvious boundary between my work-life and the rest of my life.  Here's the 2-minute version of what's been going on:  On April 25th, I found out that the corporate office of the company I work for decided that our store would be closing.  Despite being the Number 1 store in the company for fiscal 2011, according to a report that measured certain metrics, we weren't profitable enough in the space we were in.  It was totally unexpected.  In fact, I spent much of the past two months being either pissed off and angry or resigned (I get that it's a numbers game, but it still sucks).  As the store slowly emptied out over the past couple of weeks, it started to sink in how sad it made me, despite the fact that I took great joy in taking down another wall or moving fixtures from one shop to another to condense down.  I found myself humming "Another One Bites the Dust" every time I walked back to the stockroom with another handful of fixturing.

Well, the end finally came.  Our last day of business was this past Sunday and we were done, final checks in hand (those of us who were left), keys turned over to the construction team (they really should be called the de-construction team) this past Tuesday.  And I finally cried.  I had been holding it in over the past week, covering it up with Queen.  I let it sink in that the people I've worked with over the past 2 years weren't just co-workers, but friends.  They were joyful guinea pigs for baking experiments and went along with potluck meeting ideas...even the ones who claimed not to cook...I will not forget Pam's stuffed mushrooms.

Let me share a few more thoughts.  It was strange waking up Wednesday morning.  There's a certain mindset when you wake up on your day off, it's another mindset when you think, "I've nowhere to go to tomorrow."  I am not happy to be out of a job...a girl's gotta pay the rent.  But I am beginning to be a believer in the 'things happen for a reason' camp.  I've had more than a few people tell me it's time to push the food business forward.  It's time to follow the passion.  And I absolutely believe that to be true.  I also decided to pursue something else I've been wanting to do for a while.  Volunteer at a museum.  I met with the events manager at the Fowler Museum on UCLA's campus this afternoon and I am thrilled to pieces to report that I have orientation and my first day as part of the visitor services group next Friday.  

:::Deep breath:::  Okay...back to business.  As a last hurrah and 'thank you' for working with a great group of women, I baked treats...not just once, but twice.  And with another Girls' Night on Wednesday, I baked a third time.  Tomorrow may bring something else, as I bought cherries and have clafoutis on the brain.  Though this time around, I won't have the usual group to share it with.  

Cherry Almond Shortbread
(Adapted from the Classic Shortbread recipe in Martha Stewart's Cookies)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped cherries (I used fresh Bing cherries, you could substitute dried)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon almond extract

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and line an 8 x 8 square baking pan with parchment.  Toast the almond slices either atop the stove in a skillet or in the oven for a couple of minutes.  In a bowl, sift together the flour and salt.  In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add extract and mix.  Alternately add the flour, cherries, and almonds to the creamed butter.  Using a wooden spoon, mix all ingredients until well-combined.  Press mixture into the baking pan, spreading into the corners.  Flatten and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.  After chilling dough, transfer to oven and bake until golden brown around edges, about an hour.  Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.  You may need to use a knife edge to loosen shortbread from pan.

Cherry Almond Shortbread for Girls' Night

Red Velvet for the best team I could have!

Raspberry Scones


  1. Good luck at the museum!
    I really need to try my hand at both shortbread and scones! Yours always look so good!

    1. Thanks!...I'm really excited about the's been long in coming, no thanks to me holding myself back. Make the shortbread...any's butter-licious and so worth it!