Sunday 22 March 2020

Mother's Day

If ever a celebration was warranted, it’s Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis from Virginia in the US originally initiated the special day to honour her own mother who lost nine of her thirteen children before they reached adulthood. Later, she was deeply saddened and totally disenchanted that the day she intended to devote to mothers became a means of ‘profiteering’ and a ‘Hallmark holiday’, after the company who first released Mother’s Day cards in 1920.

Image result for darina allen with mother

Mother’s Day evokes so many memories chatting to some friends, we agreed that most of us were total pests at some stage during our teens. In later years one looks back with regret for the torment and annoyance we caused our long suffering parents and hopefully we have found the courage and humility and the right moment to tell them how sorry we are for the hoops we put them through. Invariably we don’t remember just how abominable and unreasonable we were until our children are going through the same phase.

Mother’s Day gives us all, young and old, the opportunity to let actions speak louder than words. 

If cooking isn’t your forte, you could treat your Mum to a slap up meal in anything from a ritzy restaurant to the local cafe depending on the finances. If you are broke as well as culinarily challenged, then it’s time to get creative and offer your services. How about a practical ‘gift token’ to wash and valet the car or clean out the fridge?

If you have green fingers, a pledge to weed the flower bed or dig the vegetable patch will be greeted enthusiastically. You might even manage to buy a few fresh herbs to plant into a tub or hanging baskets. An offer to do the washing up every evening for a week, or even once would win you serious brownie points. Most mums loathe ironing with a passion, so that’s definitely another way to show your devotion, if you hate ironing then grit your teeth and cheer yourself up that you are developing life skills – that’s the sort of Mumsie remark that my daughters hate! I am one of the rare people who love ironing but rarely do it.

A homemade card from my eldest daughter, Lydia.

If you have the cash, newspapers, magazines and the internet are bursting with ideas for special Mother’s day gifts over and above the usual cards and flowers – a voucher for a Spa treatment . . . a ticket to her favourite retro gig, a Louis Vuitton bag. . .

And NO I don’t want an expensive tub of anti-aging cream. I’m totally happy with my wrinkles – honourable scars built up over the years. If I could make a wish it would be that all mothers could be released from the beauty industry’s insistance that we must look ‘forever young’. So let go of ‘aging anxiety’ and embrace your natural beauty.

Flamboyant gifts are all very fine but this is a cooking blog, so one of my late Mother’s delicious recipes. How fortunate were we that she loved to cook, this is what memories are made of.

Image result for ballymaloe scones

Mummy's Sweet White Scones

Tender and delicious scones with crunchy sugary tops – one bite transports me back to the kitchen of my childhood.

Makes 18-20 scones using a 7 1/2 cm (3inch) cutter

900g (2lb) plain white flour

175g (6oz) butter

3 free-range eggs

A good pinch of salt

50g (2oz) castor sugar

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

450ml (15floz) approx. rich milk to mix


Egg Wash (see below)

Crunchy Demerara sugar or coarse granulated sugar for coating the top of the scones

First preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board. Don’t knead but shape just enough to make a round. Roll out to about 2 1/2cm (1inch) thick and cut or stamp into scones.* Put onto a baking sheet – no need to grease. Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one in crunchy Demerara or coarse granulated sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve split in half with homemade jam and a blob of whipped cream or just butter and jam.

Egg Wash

Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This is brushed over the scones and pastry to help them to brown in the oven.