‘Can I help please Mummy?’ A warm hand strokes my arm, soothing and irresistible. I am making a start on weekend lunch with my brother, his wife and my nephew. Within minutes she has turned a vague plan for lunch into a garden party. My kids always inject new creativity into my life, but we had an extra refreshing burst of inspiration when Ocean Spray sent us some colourful cranberry products to try. Two amazing and utterly spontaneous cranberry infused puddings burst through the grey weekend, Cranberry Fruit Salad and Cranberry, Blackberry and Apple crumble.
Ocean Spray unlocks the key to a really uplifting weekend. Cranberry juice has such an invigorating taste, cutting through the everyday, reminding us to enjoy those unexpected moments with family, the refreshing cuddles, revitalising smiles and fresh ideas that come when you take a moment to truly be with your children.
While I make some salads for the grown ups, she suggests cutting out sandwiches to make her younger cousin smile. I dig out the cutters my Mum used to use.
Keen for another task I suggest she collects some flowers from the garden to put in a vase. I used to love doing the same for my Mum. ‘I only picked the ones that were on the way out!’ she says. I kiss her forehead and tell her they are beautiful.
Next I offer her the task of the fruit salad. Unlike me, who would just chop everything wildly and throw it in a bowl she prepares a work of art, neatly arranging fruit after fruit in layers and slowly drizzling in Cranberry juice. She reminds me so much of my mum here, she used to delight in making us wait for pudding while she carefully are arranged it.
Lunch is lovely. The kids start at their own table, with sandwiches, hummus and crudités, and craisins to snack on. They gradually join the adults at the picnic table, so by the time it is pudding time we are all snuggled up together. I can never get it right, sometimes the kids want their own table, sometimes they want to be with us, but our lovely lunch is a perfect mix of the two.
And of course some of the colourful moments are arguments over food, or Mr G sneaking his DS under the table, or sneaking from the table to play hoopla. Family life is all about appreciating the lovely moments are sweetened by the struggles.
My nephew refusing our explanation that cranberry juice is ‘red apple’ juice is a pretty funny moment. We happily wash our lunch down with it though. It’s a really refreshing accompaniment, the kids love it and the adults are impressed that it has a refreshing, energising kick, without being alcoholic.
Once upon a time I shared a house with my brother and Mr A, so there is always banter when we get together. As L serves up the fruit salad, my brother and husband are debating such nonsense as how old you have to be to legally buy malt loaf, which Mr A has added to the table.
We all agree the cranberry juice gives the fruit salad a wonderfully refreshing taste. The natural sourness of the cranberries with the sugar is a great match for fruit.
Afterwards, fuelled by a great lunch we all head to the park. We laugh so much as my uninhibited 3yo nephew strips off naked to make the most of the paddling pool, splashes through the autumn leaves floating in the pool, and ends up wrapped in my brother’s jumper.
The cooking continues into the weekend. My brother and family depart and we head to Emily, A Mummy Too ‘s house. While our boys engage in a noisy movie party in the living room, the girls hide in the kitchen and make popcorn.
‘Can I pick the blackberries in your garden please Emily?’
‘We could add apples and make a crumble’ says Emily.
‘And what about some craisins?’ I say
‘Sounds delicious!’ says L.
Minutes later the fruit is simmering on the stove.
‘The lovely thing about being a parent,’ says Emily. ‘Is you wouldn’t do this kind of stuff, movie parties, blackberry picking.’
‘We would never made crumble today if you had t suggested picking the berries,’ I say to L.
It doesn’t last long, everyone wants in! I catch this one stealing the last bits, and we have a cuddle, and agree he can finish it off, IF he gives me a last taste too. Look at that gooey, sticky, ruby red, yummy crumbly goodness!
Emily was clever enough to get L to write our Cranberry, Blackberry and Apple crumble recipe down as we went along, all of us adding ideas and flavours – a real joint effort. I share it here because, it is incredible, the best, most colourful crumble we ever tasted.
The Best Cranberry, Blackberry and Apple Crumble
For the fruit layer:
3 packets of Ocean Spray Craisins
4 green apples
100g dark brown sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
1tsp lemon juice
For the crumble
300g of flour
100g dark brown sugar
Handful of oats
tsp of cinnamon
1. Bring the above ingredients to a simmer, and cook until the apples are just soft. Meanwhile make the crumble.
2. Rub the crumble ingredients together until well crumbly.
3. Transfer the fruit to an oven proof dish and then sprinkle the crumble mix on top.
4. Bake at 180 degree C/Gas 4 for 25 minutes.
What colour do children bring to your life?
I’m working with BritMums and Ocean Spray highlighting the everyday moments of colour that give each of us a little lift, just like Ocean Spray adds colour to our day and delights us all year round. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit Ocean Spray for more information.