This morning broke gently as Fin eased the door open a crack and whispered that it was seven o'clock and time for me to get up. Then he flicked on the fairy lights and smiled, retreating backwards like someone walking away from royalty, anxious not to show their back.
I turned over to the empty side of the bed, stretched and remembered that tonight it would be warmed by Nick again. A Christmas feeling stole over me and I found myself in perfect charity with the world as I drifted through the morning routine and kissed Fin goodbye outside his classroom.
Even the grey morning seemed softer today as I peddled hard up the hill, moist air clinging to my skin and droplets settling on my hair. Workmen skulking under luminous hoods grinned as I flashed past all black wool and felt rose, legs pushing me as fast as they could go towards the evening when Nick returned.
The housework flowed like rosewater sprinkled before a bride. Nesting, nesting, with the vacuum cleaner humming, while the dishwasher swish and clunk told me that all was well in the kitchen again.
Later, when all my lists were crossed through and fresh sheets lay expectantly on the bed, I went to my clean kitchen and put on a clean pinny. Goldfrapp turned up just a notch too high for neighbourliness, I stood at the kitchen window and sang to the fat blackbird in the bush, to the passer by in the street, sang for the joy of being alive and the delicious ache of anticipation.
While I sang, I baked. Something savoury and light, crisp and moreish. I baked a song into these crackers, a little piece of my swelling heart. An early valentine for my soul's reflection. Boy did they taste good.
Cheese Crackers (SCD) makes 15-18
4oz Ground Almonds
2 oz Grated Parmesan or Gran Padano
Large Pinch Sea Salt
1/2oz Butter or Coconut Oil
2 tbs Yogurt
Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 150C fan assisted (or 160C without fan).
Put everything except the yogurt into a food processor and process until it looks like dry breadcrumbs.
Add yogurt a tablespoon at a time and pulse until the mixture forms a loose crumbly dough. Don't process too much or the oil will start to come out of the nuts.
Tip onto a large piece of baking paper (to fit your largest cookie sheet) or a silpat, form into a rough square with your hands and cover with another sheet of baking paper or some cling film.
Roll to a thickness of about 3mm or quarter of an inch between the two sheets and don't worry if the edges look a little rough - they will still taste great.
Mark into crackers with a sharp knife and bake for 8-10 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Turn the oven down to 110C fan assisted (or 120C without fan). leave crackers to cool on the tray in one piece.
When cool, cut into pieces where you marked them before and put back onto the tray spaced apart. Bake for 10-20 minutes until golden brown, but not nut brown or they may taste burnt - they should snap when you break a bit off, but they will crisp up on cooling.
Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container for up to three days. If they go a little soft, just put them back in a low oven for 10 minutes and cool again.