Mum’s the word

Categories: Reflections and opinions

Jenny Chandler, cookery writer, mother and Borough Market chef, drops a few hints about her dream breakfast for this special Sunday

For most of us mothers, some time, thought and appreciation are more touching than any luxury pampering kit, ‘Mum in a million’ mug or bunch of chrysanths snapped up on the garage forecourt. A homemade card, a day off-duty or a meal prepared by the family will be quite enough to make our hearts sing. 

You’ll be pleased to hear that a bit of indulgent eating has always been tied up with the traditional Christian Mothering Sunday celebrations that gave us today’s, largely more secular, Mother’s Day. In the Downton Abbey era, Mothering Sunday was the one and only day of the year that every servant had a holiday; the time to go home to their ‘mothering’ church where they were baptised. It was the family get-together of the year and the story goes that everyone gathered wild flowers from the hedgerows for their mothers as they made their way home.

Other classic names for the day are Mid-Lent Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, as the church allowed us to break the Lenten fast with simnel cakes and puddings. So, all in all a day of joy and a very good excuse for a feast. While a full-blown Sunday lunch cooked and served up by the family would be an absolute treat, most of us have to be a little bit more realistic. Small children, sharp knives and hot ovens aren’t always a good mix and I just can’t imagine the carnage in the kitchen afterwards.

Dispel the myth
I’m hoping for a leisurely breakfast, but do let me quickly add, I’m also hoping that it will be downstairs. I feel that I should dispel the myth that all mothers yearn for breakfast in bed, particularly where young children are involved.

From my experience, the excitement of setting the tray and the expectation of mummy’s look of sheer delight can lead to a dawn chorus wake-up call. Worse still, the breakfast usually has to be shared, which leads to mountains of crumbs down the bed, jam on the sheets and there’s probably a good slop of coffee on the stair carpet. No, give mum a lie-in while the kids spend a ridiculous amount of time laying a beautiful table, adorning it with a few flowers (provide a suitably small vase or the garden/window box could be decimated) and serving up some fabulous homemade treats. 

My dream breakfast (Imi you’d better be reading this!) would, weather permitting, be set up in the garden, but the kitchen’s just fine. Imi would love to be involved in the cooking so some homemade honey granola with a tangy rhubarb compote and a bowl of Greek yoghurt would be quite manageable.

Direct operations
Muffins would be another option, as I’m sure that Imi would be able to direct operations, and a simple muffin eaten slightly warm from the oven is difficult to beat. These need not be sweet either; I often use up the misshapen but still delicious remnants from my cheese board with a few herbs—but for now here are my recipe for granola and rhubarb compote.