How to Survive January
1. Make a New Years Resolution that you already do. A bit like adding an item that you've already done onto a to-do list for the instant smug satisfaction of immediately crossing it off again. Resolution could be: Go running (you completed the London Marathon in record time last year) or Bake a Cake Each Day for 2013 (not a problem my friend!).
2. Set yourself the challenge of cooking every single recipe from the cookbook(s) you received at Christmas. And if you received Jamie's '15 Minute Meals' try cooking at least one recipe within the fifteen minutes without:
a) the house burning down
b) making your own, simplified alternative ('cheese on toast' is not 'Camembert Parcels')
c) ordering take-away and requesting an express delivery
3. Pretend it's still Christmas. Turkey sandwich and leftover Christmas pud anyone? ....Hello?
4. DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR THE JANUARY SALES.
5. AVOID LOOKING AT PICTURES OF CELEBRITIES ON HOLIDAY IN EXOTIC BEACH LOCATIONS.
(Apologies for the somewhat aggressive capital letters of the last two points but strong emphasis is much needed)
6. Reorganise the cooking utensils drawer (This is a survival list, not a fun list).
7. Watch a highlight package from the Olympics. Remember the summer of glory? Of Jess and Mo? Relive the joy! The excitement! That 2012-y feeling!
8. Go for a lovely long walk. Take a flask of tea, a tasty piece of cake and have a winter picnic. With our soggy weather, you may also need waterproofs, thermals and a bivvy bag:
Hampstead Heath, New Year's Day
9. Enter this month's Tea Time Treats baking challenge: Citrus fruits for a zingy January
10. Bake some Warming Winter Brownies:
30ml brandy (optional)
50g dried cranberries
250g golden caster sugar
200g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
100g blanched almonds or pecans
1. If using the brandy, place the cherries and cranberries into a small bowl. Gently heat the brandy before pouring over the dried fruit. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and mixed spice in a bowl and set aside
7. With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions
- Complete with brandy, chocolate and lots of juicy dried fruit, this really, really does not fit the category of 'simplified, healthy New Year bakes' that you may expect to see in a January blog post
- I'm off skiing today. My answer to surviving January. As I write this I have packed my ski insurance, my helmet and a week's supply of emergency mini mars bars. Essential packing sorted I think.