Don’t laugh, but today (yes, we are in England in the middle of a drizzly November fog) me and my son are going on a picnic. Once a month I meet up with a group of amazing ladies, and men if they are feeling brave enough, to laugh, cry, shout and scream and give our tired and frazzled minds a break from the stresses of work and home.
We are all parents of children who have suffered trauma in their little lives and this day gives the kids, boys and girls, a chance to be themselves with no judgments, no wagging fingers or raised disapproving eyebrows. Whatever the weather, we meet either on the beach or somewhere in the countryside to run about, make dens, climb trees, splash, make as much noise and get as dirty as possible. If the kids don’t have to change their muddy or wet clothes at the end of the day to get in the car we haven’t had a good day. In the winter, if we are lucky, we will find a café that makes a good hot chocolate to finish off a perfect day before we make our separate ways home, all driving off in very different directions.
These wonderful women have kept me sane over the years (almost), mopped up tears of anger, frustration and laughter too. We all try to pick up the hurt of our children and carry it around on our own already overloaded backs. It piles up relentlessly until it weighs us down like Jacob Marley’s chains, making it almost impossible to stand up until someone else comes along and takes some chinks away, making our burden a little less heavy.
They are a bunch of funny, resilient, tough, kick-ass ladies, who I am blessed to know.
They are also warm, sensitive and fragile and could always do with a hug.
This is for Sam, Karen, Cat, Catherine, Dawn and Diane. In fact this is for anyone who needs a pick-me-up today. This is my metaphorical cuddle for you, see later! Don’t forget the wellies!
These muffins are a firm favourite and always get eaten in a flash. They are simplicity itself to make and are all a good muffin should be. Dense but light and fluffy, not overly sweet with a satisfying top. They can be made with any red berries. I am desperately trying to make valuable space in the freezer for Christmas so I used up the last few raspberries found languishing at the back and added some cranberries which give a lovely pop of sharpness to the muffins. And most importantly they are big, no little mealy mouth-sized bites for my larger than life ladies.
- Dry Ingredients
- 325g flour
- 150g caster sugar
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Grated zest of one orange
- pinch of salt
- 200g mixed raspberries & cranberries (or any red berries) I always use frozen.
- If using fresh fruit the muffins will take less time to cook, check at 25 mins.
- Wet Ingredients
- 180ml buttermilk
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg beaten
- Preheat oven to 180c.
- Grease or line a large 6 hole muffin pan.
- Keep fruit to one side.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Mix all the wet ingredients together.
- Stir fruit into dry ingredients.
- Fold the wet ingredients in to the dry mixture. Do not overwork, just mix enough until the ingredients are all incorporated, don't worry if there are a few floury bits left.
- Distribute between a large 6 whole muffin pan.
- Cook for 35 mins until a golden and a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Dust with icing sugar.