Monday. For those of us dancing the 9-5 ceilidh, Monday can be a weighty, gloomy time, a time when the rest of the week hoves into view like a parade of grey clouds spelling out “here we go again.” Like many people I have a variety of tactics in order to ease those tuneless Monday morning blues.
Denial: Trying to tell yourself you’re just going for a nice walk when your inner psyche knows you’re on your way to the office is fairly useless and likely to make things so much worse upon arrival at your place of work.
Escapism: Listening to a great audio book before and after work can be helpful but the gluttonous world of fictional goodness can be hard to maintain over long periods surrounded by the dreaded beast of reality.
Doggedly doing one task after another while continually glancing at the clock and trying to will it to move just a little faster: depressing as hell.
Tonight I tried something new. My idea was to sneak up and surprise Monday. Monday expects me to eat something quick and bland when I get home, because this matches the whole start-of-the-week theme. But instead of pasta or steamed veggies, tonight I had this:
You can do this, too. Look Monday straight in her pointy little face and laugh. Then meet me in the kitchen.
Step 1. Make your strawberries and cream. Get yourself a small mountain of strawberries (a pound or more). Slice up the larger ones and leave the wee ones whole. Whip up some whipping cream. Combine the strawberries and the whipping cream, smashing and mashing the berries and you mix.
You will need to overwhelm the cream with the strawberries, so they are not lost in the white clouds but bursting forth with red juicy exuberance. Once the strawberries are all mixed in, sprinkle some caster sugar on top and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Step 2: Make your shortbread. For the Balmoral Shortbread, I’ve used the recipe from Catherine Brown’s book, Classic Scots Cookery. (Apparently Queen Victoria was quite fond of these biscuits). The recipe is straight forward and not for those who are afraid of butter - a lot of butter. We’re battling Monday here people! This is not the time for counting calories.
Begin by mixing 250 grams butter with 125 grams caster sugar. Squidge it up really well. Then add 375 grams sifted flour a little at a time, until you have a firm yet pliable dough. I ended up having to add extra flour because my dough was too sticky to roll, but just feel your way through it.
Roll the dough on a floured surface (about a ¼ inch thick) and cut into wee rounds. Put them on a cookie sheet and use a fork to create a little definition before popping them into a 350 F oven until they are lightly browned. The recipe says 30 minutes but mine didn’t take that long so I would advise keeping an eye on them. I overdid some and they don’t taste as nice.
While they are baking, the heavenly scent of butter merging with sugar will begin to plume from the kitchen and this will cause you to lumber around your house in a dreamy state of pleasure.
When they are done, removed them from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar while they are still warm. Let them cool on a rack. Don’t try to eat one right away because the butter makes them very hot. Trust me.
There you have it. I hereby give you permission to eat this on a Monday evening instead of a proper meal. It will do you good. And believe me, when confronted with such brazen extravagance, Monday doesn’t stand a chance.