On the most beautiful weekend yet of Fall, I found myself cursing and crabbing, throwing a tantrum like a child. What gives?
It started with the cars. My main mode of transport decided it would be a great time to hemorrhage antifreeze on Saturday morning, just as we were getting ready to go to an event. Then the Jeep I had spent the previous day running around getting registered decided it wouldn’t play nicely either. The easy fix that was supposed to get it on the road–well, it fixed that problem alright. But the Jeep decided to throw a few curveballs after that. End result: a weekend with no transportation.
I shouldn’t be all that upset by this. I have been living without a car for a few weeks now, as The Big Guy and I have been sharing my Chevy Blazer. But weekends are sacred. They’re for time spent with family, getting out of the house and doing stuff together. This is not what I had in mind.
So Sunday The Big Guy had to work on the Blazer at his friend’s house, fixing some seal or something-or-other. I don’t know. I’m really not that handy with cars, despite a (short) defiant phase in my late teens when I declared I would become a woman mechanic. Ha! In any case, he was off spending more money we don’t have on a car that doesn’t deserve it and I was home alone with the kids, again.
Seeking solace in the computer–and inspiration for the pumpkin puree I had made a couple days ago–I flipped open my laptop at the kitchen table, walked away for a few minutes, and when I came back, the screen was frozen. Whatever, it does that every so often. It is a computer, after all. I turned it off, turned it on, and then the dark cloud formed over my head. A storm was brewing.
It was stuck. First it loaded reeeeeeeeally sloooooooooowly. But then it never got to the main window, despite logging in. So I shut it off again, then on, and the endless loop of “disk read error” began.
Eventually, I had the brilliant idea to run a self-diagnostic. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but it was better than sitting there doing nothing, right? It was going just fine with the laptop passing every test with flying colors… until the damn thing started beeping loudly at me, like some late-80’s video game. “Error Code: 0142,” it proclaimed, instructing me to save this code for Tech Support. Of course, there will be no Tech Support. Oh, no. Because I think it’s a rip-off for Dell to charge for more than 1 year of support, so I didn’t pay for it. Whatever happened to standing by your product? Yeah, that disappeared a long time ago… And now, the joke’s on me.
I typed the code frantically into my cell phone web browser, hoping it was a fluke. Instead, I found “failed hard drive.” No!!! No! No! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!
The laptop is not quite one year and five months old. I guess the lifespan of technology dwindles by the day.
What choice did I have? I threw ingredients in my bread machine for a yeasted pumpkin bread and got to work firing up my ancient desktop. Sure, I can’t get the colors to display properly on the monitor. And it’s as slow as molasses. But at least it works.
By the time I got the pumpkin bread into the oven, I had the desktop humming along. Just like a five-year-old computer should. Yay for a back-up plan!
The pumpkin bread, by the way, smelled fabulous. It helped immensely in mending a terrible mood, as baking always does for me. It’s my chance to take charge of a situation, when everything else around me is spiraling out of control, and turn it around. Works every time! Unlike my Dell laptop… I mean paperweight.
If you don’t have a bread machine for the kneading, you can do it by hand or with a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead until you have a smooth ball of dough and then cover and let it rise somewhere for an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Then you can proceed with the rest of the directions.
I may not have a laptop right now, but at least I have pumpkin bread with a cinnamon walnut swirl. It will have to be enough.
- ½ cup whole milk, slightly warmed in microwave
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp butter, softened
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
- ½ cup toasted walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
- ⅔ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- Put all the Pumpkin Bread ingredients in the bread machine pan as directed by your manufacturer (in my case, that's wet first, then dry, or exactly in the order I've listed).
- Select dough cycle. Watch during the first five minutes and add flour or milk as necessary to achieve a dough ball that gathers together nicely.
- Once dough cycle has completed, lightly flour your work surface. Transfer the dough to it, lightly flour the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Mix together the cinnamon walnut swirl ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
- Roll out the dough to about a 10"x20" rectangle.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon walnut swirl mixture evenly over the dough and press it in with the rolling pin.
- Starting on the short side, roll up the dough like it's a cinnamon bun. Pinch the seam and fluff up the dough, so to speak, by gently pressing in the ends, so that it fits in your loaf pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap, set it inside your oven, and turn the oven on to warm (170 degrees Fahrenheit). Once the oven reaches temperature, turn it off. (You can also set the bread in a warm, draft-free place to rise.)
- Let it rise for 35-45 minutes, or until it puffs well above the top of the loaf pan.
- Bake in a 400-degree Fahrenheit preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until you hear a hollow sound when thumping the bottom.
- Remove from loaf pan immediately and cool on a wire rack.
I bet you’re sitting there scratching your head wondering where Muffin Monday went. It is Monday, after all. So where did it go? I had to take a break from it this week, as I had other more pressing issues to deal with. It will be back next week, however–and hopefully, my computer issues will be solved, too!