This morning to kick off our 2013 we walked part of the Bruce Trail. To be honest, we walked a very small part of the 840km of trail and if I were to be pedantic then our walk should really be described as an amble.
But with the snow on the ground, the sun shining through the trees and hot chocolate and fudge to snack on it was the perfect start to the New Year.
Although I do have to start to question whether I have been in Canada too long, and am perhaps turning into a “northerner”? As why else would I even consider going out on a day when temperatures have only topped a wretched minus 6 and further more found that the cold no longer takes my breath away or reduces me to a shivering wreck within moments of setting foot outside of the house.
Today there really is only one way to begin, and that is with Happy New Year.
Whilst I have never really managed to write let alone follow New Year’s Resolutions, I do find the carte blanche and possibility of new opportunities brought with the New Year very exciting.
“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come” Alfred Tennyson
The sort of “new start” which when my husband turned to me on 1st January 2011 and announced dramatically that that year would be a year of change, I readily agreed! And, so it was, as by September of that year we moved to Canada (to date I still believe that quite probably his need for change was driven more by his impending 40th Birthday and early onset midlife crisis than by any higher and more prophetic power).
Even though this morning there are yet to be any such grand announcements (although as the children are still refusing to get dressed favouring instead Christmas toys and books and I have been side tracked – yet again – by my blog, I do sense him growing a little grumpy!), having sold our house in England, at the back of my mind I do have a niggling feeling that whilst 2013 may or may not be a “year of change” it is sure to be a year during which we will have to make a number of major decisions.
However, before I even begin to contemplate any such decisions, I really should decide what to wear today, as with the sun sparkling on the snow the day is just too inviting to miss.
It is possibly not an officially recognised tradition, but in our house, a piece of shortbread after I have tunelessly warbled along to “Auld Lang Syne” is as much a pre-requisite for welcoming the New Year as forcing one of our guests out into the cold so that he may ring the doorbell, bucket of coal in hand, to ensure good luck for the coming year (the superstition of course dictates that it is a dark haired stranger, but in the absence – and somewhat surprisingly they don’t seem to come knocking at the door – any man will do!).
So, today, even though the house is still bursting with leftover cake and chocolate from Christmas, I am making a batch of shortbread ready for tomorrow night.
For this shortbread recipe you will need:
100g (4oz / ½ cup) softened butter
50g (2oz / ¼ cup) sugar
(6oz / 1.2 cups) plain or all purpose flour
25g (1oz / ¼ cup) semolina
Heat the oven to 170°C / 325°F / Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a 7” round tin with baking parchment.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium sized bowl until light, fluffy and pale in colour.
Whilst I tend to use my Kitchen Aid for most baking, I always make shortbread by hand. I find using an electric mixer overworks the mixture and much prefer the crumblier texture achieved by hand mixing.
Sift the flour and semolina and add to the butter and sugar.
Using a fork stir in the flour and semolina.
The mixture will be particularly crumbly at this stage (it will firm up as it bakes).
Press the crumbly mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top (I tend to use the back of a spoon to do this).
Cook for 35 – 40 minutes (until a very pale straw / golden colour).
Leave to cool for approximately 5 minutes before cutting (still in the tin) into pieces (I make 12 pieces) and sprinkle the top with sugar.
Remove from the tin when completely cool (if removed from the tin whilst still warm the shortbread pieces may fall apart)