I share a birthday with someone very special.
Only a day apart.
I still remember the first time I met her.
She welcomed me with a big smile, warm soft hug and a gentle kiss on the cheek.
What was really nice about her on that particular day was, she really made me feel WELCOMED. We chatted the night away over a few glasses of wine. I felt connected with this woman who was sitting in front of me, this person who could easily be my mother. I felt the sense of comfort; sort of thing you get from your own home, family.
She is ever so pretty.
She dresses very well with good fashion sense. She takes a good care of her home.
She is generous and kind; so kind she will probably give you her last penny providing a decent valid reason.
She is strong, strong enough to hold the waves of emotions to protect the others around her.
She is just quite lovely.
And whatever the weather her beautiful personality shines through.
Gifted woman of her own kind, this is H, Toby's mum.
She has turned 60 last Sunday.
It has not been all plain sailing for her.
Along the way, there was a boat that she had to work hard to cross the river, there was a ship that gave her a break of swimming in the ocean and then there was a raft that made her fight through the storm.
Last couple of years of her life has been somewhat of a tough journey. But like many other times, she composes herself and stands courageously.
She brings everyone together and tries her hardest to care for her beloved FAMILY.
English strawberry pavlova with vanilla cream
for meringue (basic meringue from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver)
6 egg whites, large organic
300g caster sugar
pinch of salt
350ml double cream, whipped
1 vanilla pod, seed scraped (vanilla essence is fine too)
1 lemon zest, 1/2 juice
fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
When making meringue, always ensure your bowl is completely grease free.
Put egg whites in the bowl with a little pinch of salt. Whisk the mixture whilst gradually adding sugar. Whisk them until it becomes stiff and glossy.
Line the baking tray with a greasy proof paper and pour the mixture to create a meringue nest.
Bake them in the oven (150º) for around an hour.
I made individual ones for this occasion and baked them for 40mins top.
Prepare strawberries in the bowl with lemon juice.
Whip some double cream with vanilla to add some flavour.
When ready to assemble, mix in the mint leaves to strawberries.
Cover the meringue with vanilla cream, top with strawberries and finish them off with zest of lemon.
If you like your creams to be sweet, just add some icing sugar when whipping the cream. You can also substitute strawberries with any other seasonal fruit of your choice.
She says she is very lucky.
I think, the luck just has found its way to one of the most deserved person.
Hope it carries her through the warm ocean so she can enjoy this wonderful life for little easier.
It is not that difficult to have a heart of gratitude for someone like H.
A mother, wife, nanny, sister and a friend, very very special friend.