Today turned out to be unexpectedly perfect. Exhausted after a week of reading, thinking and writing interspersed with running, cycling and swimming, I wanted to really treat myself today; give my body a rest and provide it with a few too many treats. I had no plans as to what I would do, however, and I was worried that the day would pass in a lazy mish-mash of indecision and pottering.
So I started my day with a slow wander into town. I browsed some dusty bookshops, took in the smell of warm city streets and the hoards of people out enjoying a Saturday in the city. York somehow reminded me of Paris today, and I allowed myself to be carried by the people and the noise and the very urban magic of it all. I've become addicted to Sophie Dahl's sumptuous new cooking program, the first episode of which was called 'Selfish', about having a day totally to yourself to mosey around, buy treats and cook selfish, indulgent food. Without realizing it, this is exactly what I was doing; I was having a selfish day, allowing myself the time to walk a little slower, the frivolity to spend a little more in the shops, and the indulgence to cook up a delicious lunch purely for me, with the radio on in the background and the front door open allowing the day to infuse into my flat.
Then I decided to bake. A silly idea really, since Daniel is away and so there's no one to share it with! I made scones, which are one of my all-time favourite treats! I used to make them with my Gran when I was little, and I recently discovered the easiest and most perfect recipe for scones, which I will share with you! It's based on Nigella's recipe for Lily's Scones, but every time I make them I add a different ingredient to flavour them, and I've come up with some good combinations (and some not-so-good ones!!). They're really low in fat, and sugar and egg free, yet so perfectly light and fluffy that it's hard not to eat a few too many at once (I've had three today...):
500g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
4.5tsp cream of tartar
50g cold butter, diced
25g Trex, in chunks (this is just vegetable fat I think, or 'vegetable shortening' in the US)
75g dried fruit/grated cheese
Oven at 220C
1. Mix flour, soda, salt and tartar together, then rub in butter and Trex with your fingers until you get a really fine, sand-like consistency (this takes almost no time at all)
2. Add milk and mix briefly, then add fruit/cheese
3. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead into a dough and roll out about 3cm thick
4. Cut out circles or divide mixture into about 12, then put on a greased baking tray and brush with milk or egg.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top
I added dried apricot to mine, and replaced 25g of flour with wheatbran for an extra healthy batch of scones! They are dangerously delicious!! Also good with dried cranberries and oatmeal, or cheddar and a teaspoon of mustard!
Then, I headed to the park with my book, and lost myself in the glorious sunshine and a great story, before meeting some friends in a beer garden. It was fantastic to have a whole afternoon outdoors, to leave studying and real life back in my flat and escape for a few hours.