Next week is Administrative Professionals Week. As much as that may seem like a cheesy Hallmark holiday, may I please encourage all you working folk out there to do something for your administrative staff? I’ve been an Executive Assistant for over 10 years, and it is behind-the-scenes-helping-others-look-good-organizational-planning-and-forecasting work I (usually) enjoy. However, it is, by and large, thankless work.
Just for a single appointment to “hold,” and for the executive to be prepared for it, requires several things to go seamlessly. Now imagine all that has to be done for a successful trip: airline reservations, car services, multiple appointments, restaurant and hotel reservations — all of this in cities that are sometimes unfamiliar to both assistant and executive.
Sadly … and I choose that descriptor intentionally … well-executed in-office meetings and out-of-town trips often go unnoticed and unrecognized. Attention is usually only brought to the assistant when mistakes are made or when things go awry.
So please take a moment before the end of the week to write a thank you note, get a gift card, do *something* to recognize the staff that keep you looking good and equipped with all you need. I assure you that a small gift for your administrative staff is money extremely well-spent. Good support staff are worth their weight in gold. “Thank you” and recognition go a lllllllooooooonnnnnnggggg way!
Looking for ideas for something homemade? Perhaps you might bake a loaf of Orange Blueberry Bread to take to your office staff — or for anyone who deserves a “thank you” and a little recognition:
Orange Blueberry Bread
Yield: 2 loaves or 1 fluted Bundt® cake. Recipe can be halved to make just 1 loaf.
Preheat oven to 350-F.
- 2 sticks (1 cup / 8 oz.) butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- Minced, grated or microplaned zest of 2 oranges (approx 2 Tablespoons)
Cream together in a large bowl — stir together, incorporating some air until light and fluffy. Can do by hand or use a mixer.
- 4 eggs
Add one at a time to butter-sugar-zest mixture above, stirring well after each addition
In separate, smaller bowl combine:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
I don’t sift the flour, but stir these ingredients with a fork, to break-up lumps. I’m efficient like that — easier to wash a fork than a sifter. 🙂
Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-zest-egg mixture. Stir only enough to combine. You don’t want to incorporate more air into the mixture at this point, as you will begin to develop the gluten-strands from the flour, which will result in a tough bread versus a tender one.
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup sour cream + 1/2 cup low fat milk; or 1 cup low fat milk; or 1 cup whey that you have leftover from making homemade Greek Yogurt from last week’s post; or any combination of these liquids. Adding something sour like sour cream or buttermilk or whey will give the bread another dimension of flavor. I like how sour helps balance out sweet … all about the balance in life!)
Stir half of the liquid into your batter. Stir only enough to combine.
Add other half of dry ingredients, stirring only enough to combine. Finish with other half of your liquid, stirring only enough to combine.
- 1/4 cup orange juice — squeeze the oranges you zested (above) or use store-bought juice
Stir into batter, and reserve the rest of the freshly squeezed juice for glaze (below).
- 2 cups frozen blueberries (or fresh). If using frozen, do not thaw — add frozen. I picked mine last summer and am VERY excited to get out and pick more in just a couple months!
Stir berries into batter.
Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper (or grease and flour the pans, or grease and flour 1 Bundt® pan). Distribute batter into pan(s).
Bake in a 350-F oven for 60-70 minutes. Insert wooden toothpick or skewer to test for a moist crumb (versus liquid batter). Loaves should also be slightly browned and pulling away from edges of pan.
Allow to cool about 15 minutes before removing from pan(s).
While loaves are cooling, pour remaining juice from the 2 oranges you zested into a small pan. If using store-bought juice, add 1/2 cup juice to a small pan. Add 1 Tablespoon sugar. Simmer on low, until volume of liquid is reduced by half. You should have a lovely medium-thick syrup after about 10 minutes.
While loaves (or Bundt® cake) are still warm, brush with glaze. Slice and enjoy warm. Or later, once cooled. I betcha you guessed — these freeze and thaw beautifully, so make 2 loaves … one for now and one for another time.
As the tagline says: Make a lot. Freeze some. Now go play!
Mr. Batch and I have been burning the candle at both ends recently — all good stuff though. Hover over the images below to reveal the captions. His first PhD student has successfully defended her thesis, and we couldn’t be more proud!
I attended the Easter service at Third Presbyterian Church, where my parents sang in the choir over 40 years ago when they completed their grad studies here in Rochester. That afternoon, we joined friends for an Easter dinner together. Coconut cake recipe forthcoming.
And we’ve undertaken a huge plumbing project to replace the galvanized steel pipes in one of the bathrooms of our almost-100-year-old house. Galvanized steel rusts from the inside out, which meant water couldn’t get through the pipes and into the sink for running water, nor could it get out to drain away. Luckily the plumbers were able to go through the ceiling and one wall (versus busting up a beautiful tile floor in the bathroom), but there is dust EVERYWHERE and our kitchen is fairly useless. Cold cuts, grapes and raw veggies, anyone? 😜
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