Thanks Mum!

This is a little tribute to Mum. I spent most of the Christmas Holidays staying with her and I am eternally grateful and I really do sincerely appreciate everything that she does for me. We were incredibly industrious over this time with various projects. We had far too much to do, and not enough time, so we were constantly on the go. I have written about most of the recipes we tried and even some Christmas crafts we made over the holidays, plus some of my crazier food ideas – some that may not have gone according to plan – such as the Turkish Delight Strawberries, (they did look nice but weren’t how I imagined them). We made some Christmas treats, such as the Strawberry Cream Cheese Santas ; the Strawberry Santa Hat Brownies ; we made the annual Christmas trifle ; also the annual Christmas Cakes (iced with almond and royal icing) that were rather special as they looked like lit candles ; Mum tried elderflower cordial for the first time ; and we made a lovely fruit salad soaked in the elderflower cordial. We had our first crop of edamame beans which was great ; we went raspberry picking twice ; tried a lot of fine wines ; made lavosh bread ; sat in the sun and shelled walnuts to make some spicy walnuts ; we enjoyed lots of fresh summer fruits chopped up for breakfast ; had a roast dinner ; and lots of pasta dishes ; and we enjoyed fish and chips on the beach front followed by a paddle in the sea. We found time to go for lots of walks ; some shopping ; Mum showed me how to crochet ; I did some gardening for Mum (from which I was promoted to Head Gardener – I thought that meant that I could make executive decisions but it really meant that I had more work to do). So time just went far too fast, we had more ideas and recipes that we didn’t get time to try. To make the most of the time available, one morning Mum was up by 6 am and made “Double Chocolate and Banana Muffins” (an Alison Holst recipe) and had also made plum jam from fruit that would have gone off quickly in the hot weather, she had also found time to do a cryptic crossword all by 7.15 am.

About my food photography: – over the holidays Mum has been very accepting and gracious about this even though I must be trying her patience when she is busy cooking, and I should be helping to prepare the food too. Instead, I am hovering over her shoulder like an annoying mosquito with my camera at the ready. But she doesn’t complain and helps to find better lights for the photographs. Rarely, she will have her “get a life” look on, which is very similar to the “you need to get out more” look. But, I do like taking photographs of food. I like to remember all the wonderful times we have shared cooking and baking. I was particularly pleased with the Strawberry and Cream Cheese Santa photos. I joked to Mum that when my holidays had finished and I had gone home, she will cook her dinner or do some baking, and will stop and look around think there is a step missing – this will be the photography session. And funnily enough, since then, this has come true. In my absence, Mum has taken her own food photos. I thought this most amusing as Mum got out her camera to proudly show me pictures of her first potato harvest, and she had arranged the potatoes nicely on a bed of potato leaves for the photo. Plus she had photos of the potatoes in the pot, scrubbed and ready to cook! I had a good laugh at this. Mum is also now accepting of my notebook in which I keep a record of all the things Mum and I have cooked. Mum initially thought I was going overboard, but we have found it most useful. Mum will often ask me to look up how we made this or that or what recipe we used, or what ingredients we used. This notebook is invaluable when she asks about something we cooked and it is something she made up out of thin air – now we can look back in the book and recreate what we did, or add tweaks here or there. Now she thinks it is not so crazy afterall, and actually rather helpful.

At the end of my holidays, as I was preparing to leave and packing the car, Mum was preparing and packing food items into a silver insulated bag. It would be a hot trip home and the bag would make sure the items would stay cool in the car. These items are what I call my “takeaways”. This time I had: yellow tomatoes Mum had freshly picked, Mum’s freshly picked beans, Mum’s freshly picked courgette, Christmas Cake (that Mum and I made), raspberries (Mum and I picked these locally and froze them), corn cobs, lettuce, broccoli, turkish delight, bottle of red wine, and most of the batch of double chocolate and banana muffins Mum had baked. She had wrapped each banana muffin individually in cling-film so I could freeze them and take them out of the freezer for lunches or morning teas as needed. So thoughtful. All the vegetables had been washed and dried and the raspberries had an extra ice pack around them and were wrapped in newspaper to keep them frozen. The corn had most of its outer layers removed so I had less wastage when I got home and they were ready to cook for dinner. Mum also offered me pumpkin and strawberries but the insulated bag would not shut if these were added. A week later, my brother called in to see me on his way home from Mum’s. He had a package of items from Mum for me – among them were Mum’s freshly picked beans, all ‘topped and tailed’ and washed so they were ready to put straight into a pot. I thanked Mum for these later, which is when she look surprised and said they were not for me after all, but were for my brother. That will teach him for not listening and anyway, it’s too late now, I’ve eaten them all.

I had told a friend that I was having a great time at Mum’s over the holidays and didn’t want to go home. She replied: “your Mum is a treasure. Cherish her properly and leave the garden spik and span before you go. Especially after choc muffins!”

I do cherish my Mum very very much. Mum is always giving her time and energy to others and she is so very thoughtful, Love and hugs.


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