Lots of people say that roses remind them of their mothers, and they do for me too. We used to have a few hours wait between when our flight from Heathrow arrived in Bangkok and our connection to where we lived in Malaysia. We'd wander around the glossy airport; my mum, my sister and I, looking at all the expensive stores, trying on pointless perfumes and reading the back of books. The place we'd always visit was the natural skincare store L'Occitane for their rose hand cream. Papery skin, after a long flight, the prospect of a couple of months in dry heat, that floral scent was always like a throwback to springtime europe. We'd buy a small bottle each, and go to the foodcourt, where each stallholder was still dozy and the European backpackers slept on their gear. Mum always ended up wearing that same black sweater to travel - our dad and us had tried dozens of times to find something similar, but always failed. Too brown, too formal, too thin, and she was happy with that same one anyway.
We had roses in our house in Belgium. That was my first time with a rosebush of my own. The garden in that house was crazy - it was divided by shrubs and hedges into small sections, each with their own character. It was sloping, everywhere, which made it hard to mow the lawn and the grass was often left long in some areas, so they looked like meadows. We all did a lot of work in that garden, my dad did the patio himself one summer, and my sister and I would rake up after he'd trimmed the hedges, and we built a little run for Prune, with chicken wire, just after we got her. My mum's place was the spot by the back door in the kitchen, on cold fall days when we'd be out tidying leaves, she'd be there, watching out of the window and waving. Too many trees, she used to say. They make the garden dark and wet, and when the leaves fall it's a mess. She joked that we should cut all the trees but leave the rosebush, where it was, frail but thorny, standing out on the patio. Standing out through summer storms, autumn winds, bitter winter frost, but unfailingly blooming bright in late spring. It reminded me of her.
On Mother's Day and for her birthdays we've always bought her flowers. Apparently my dad has always done it, since Layla and I were very young, and I remember he'd often arrive home, late evening from London with a bouquet of flowers. Just like that, a surprise. They'd grace our dining table in some mishappen vase or the other, whatever we could find. He started to travel more, the flowers appeared less, my sister and I would organise them when he asked. Somehow Layla or I would scrounge a bouquet from somewhere - carrying the battered blooms back on buses, I'd take them to the last lesson of the day with me because they didn't fit in my locker. My friends would ask, why the flowers? I'd remind them it was Mother's Day on Sunday and they'd just give me funny looks, but I knew that the flowers would soon be in the skinny vase on the kitchen window sill. My mum likes them, any kind, she says they add something to the house. A little beauty every day, makes things brighter, or words to that effect. They enliven our kitchen for a few days and after they're gone, the sill suddenly seems very cold and empty.
Mothers are like that too. Like the bouquets of flowers we buy them. Quietly resilient, cheerfully defiant. Even with the best intentions, we put them through hell. She wants the best for us and we'll pick off the petals. None of us notice that they're wilting until the water in the vase is almost empty and we'll do everything we can to revive them - fresh water, a spot in the sunshine. They bring so much to the house, they are the very heart of it. We know the bouquets will never be enough. But we buy them, as we always have, to see her pretend that she had no idea it was Mother's Day and that we'd been arranging flowers, and she'll open yet another card and put it in the kitchen drawer, we just need to feel like we've tried. There's no real way to show our gratitude. But there's something nice about watching her standing by the window sill on which the vase sits, cradling her mug of coffee in her hands, looking out at the first few buds on the cherry tree.
To you, Mum. Happy Mother's Day, from all of us xx
So I'm back, with more frozen/creamy goodness in time for Mother's Day (Sunday in the UK). I know I made something similar recently but you may now be aware of the fact that my mum shares my passion for coconut? Mango is her other favourite fruit... and mango and coconut are so great together, as you probably know from some tacky beach resort somewhere. Also my mum has been on this health kick thing recently (she's taken up running!!! I am quite proud) and I didn't want to sabotage that by bringing out some cake, did I? dessert ain't no fun if mum can't have none. Anyway, for Morher's Day, I present you the easiest recipe on this site, with the smallest ingredient list, ironic considering all I just said about mothers but hey sometimes the simplest things are best, and I'm sure they'll agree. Mine would 100% stand by that.
To all the mothers, aunts, grandmas, sisters, you're loved more than you'd ever know. And we express that through flowers and ice cream. Happy weekend to you all xx
Mango and coconut ice cream
Makes arouuund 1.25L / 5 cups-ish // Gluten + dairy free
2 small, ripe mangoes (or one super big)
2 cans (800ml) (2 2/3 cup) full fat coconut milk
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on how ripe your mangoes are (the mangoes in Europe are never ripe enough tbh but taste as you go)
1 vanilla bean
teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 beach umbrella (jk)
Prepare your mangoes - peel the skin and remove the flesh from the stone. You probably know how to do it better than I do. Chop the flesh into chunks and set aside.
Pour the coconut milk from the can into the jug of a blender. Split and scrape in the seeds of the vanilla bean, add the ginger if you wish, and the maple syrup, then the mango chunks.
Blend on high till smooth and sunshine yellow. I have a crazy strong blender so this took all of 5 seconds, but if yours is less so, just keep blending till there are no more chunks of mango. Taste and check sweetness - it dulls once frozen, so keep it sweeter than you'd like.
Allow the whole jug to chill in the fridge for around 3 hours (thug life, chilling in the fridge)
Once totally cool (totally cool) , pour the liquid into the bowl of your ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Pour into a freezer proof container and freeze till firm if you'd like, otherwise you can serve the ice cream straight away.
You may need to let it sit out for 10 minutes before scooping if it's been in the freezer.
If you don't have an ice cream maker, feel free to make popsicles. Or a slushie-shake type thing.