I don’t like the phrase “New Year’s Resolution”. Maybe I associate it with faddishness and the inevitable January water cooler conversation that’s quickly forgotten before February. Even the word “resolution” seems to have a slightly reluctant air to it. Nope, I’m in the “New Year’s Action Plan” camp.
You can’t score if you don’t have a goal, so spending an afternoon mapping out what you want from the year and how you’re going to get it is probably the most important investment you’ll make in the next 12 months.
Psychologically it may not be easy. You’ll need to take a good look at yourself and your situation and identify the things you need to change and improve. But a quick mental flip can make the exercise exciting – like drawing up a Christmas list where you’ll be playing Santa. Of course, if you want to take a slightly more hardcore view of the exercise then look at it like your personal business plan.
The way I do it is to set out 3 major business goals and 3 life goals for the year. The key is to be specific. Don’t write “I want to be fitter”, instead write “I will be able to run 6km in 30 minutes by August”. Don’t write “I want to be richer”, write “I’ll have earned £100K by x date”. That way you’ll be able to chart your progress and know when you are (or you aren’t) on target.
Non-specific goals don’t create accountability and give you way too much leeway for slacking off.
Next break the goals down. The ultimate goal may seem pretty tough, but if you break it down into about 5 steps that you can grind through (albeit with a bit of effort), then once you finish those 5 steps you should be within reaching distance of the top goal.
Lastly, stick the paper somewhere that you’ll see it every. single. day. And sign it too. Now it’s a contract.
One of my goal’s this year is to carry on the habit of the last few months and completely cut processed sugar out of my diet (see #iquitsugar). One of my 5 steps is to create sugar-free recipes which I can whip up quickly and not feel as though I’m missing out.
As I’m sitting here in Byron Bay, Australia in the height of summer, you wouldn’t think that scones were the obvious choice, but being far from home always brings out the quintessential Englishman in me.
I basically researched this recipe like it was my job. Many a scone aficionado will tell you that the ultimate scone is all about height. I’d venture that although a certain amount of height is important, it’s a light, moist texture that really sets the men apart from the boys.
I didn’t have a circular cutter and was about to commit the cardinal sin of using the rim of a glass to make the scone shapes (which can squash them and reduce that coveted height). Then in a moment of total reckless abandon I decided to use a sharp knife and make triangles instead. God help me if Mary Berry reads this.
I also ended up soaking my sultanas in English Breakfast Tea (of course) overnight for extra juicy plumpness and you can see the other perfect scone tips in the recipe below.
Let me know how they go!
60 Second Chef Sugar-Free, Wholemeal Scones
1 cup / 150g plain wholemeal flour
1/4 cup / 40g sultanas/raisins
1 English breakfast tea bag
2 tsps baking powder
3 1/2 tbsps / 40g unsalted butter
2/3 cup / 160ml whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp stevia
Put your sultanas in a mug with your tea bag, fill the cup with hot water and leave in the fridge overnight to plump up
The next day pre-heat your oven to 200C / 390F and lightly grease some foil or baking paper with butter
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and stevia into a large mixing bowl
‘Rub’ the butter into the flour by squeezing the butter and flour between your fingers, until the whole mixture looks like breadcrumbs
T: If you’ve got hot little digits then hold onto something from the freezer for a few mins to cool them down first. You can also put the mixture in the freezer for 5 mins to firm the butter back up
Drain and stir through the plump raisins/sultanas
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the (very) cold milk
Gradually pull the flour from the sides into the milk using a knife until you’ve brought everything together into a lumpy dough
T: The dough should be nice and wet, but if you need to dry it out a little to make it easier to work with then just add another couple of tbsps of flour
T: Don’t overwork/knead the dough in the bowl as you’ll start to develop its gluten which will mess up the texture of your scones
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and very lightly and quickly form the dough into a square shape at least 3-4cm (1 inch) high
T: If the dough is really sticky then sprinkle more flour over it
In one short, sharp downwards motion use a knife to chop the square diagonally into triangles and then diagonally again to make 4 scones
Gently place them on the greased foil/baking paper, lightly brush the tops with milk (using your fingers) then cook on the middle shelf of the oven for around 12 minutes
T: Keep an eye on them as oven temperatures can vary – you want a beautiful golden brown finish
Stir a few drops of sugar-free vanilla bean paste through some mascarpone and slather it on top of your warm scones
Eat immediately and re-heat for a minute or two if you’re eating them later