When I stayed at my Nan’s house as a small child, the highlight of the trip would be crawling into bed between her and my Grandad (if he was there and not out driving round the country in his Volvo fixing lifeboat radars) for morning tea. She kept a tin beside her bed filled with biscuits for this morning ritual. ‘TV AM’ would go on and we would do Busy Lizzie’s morning exercises from under the covers whilst I dropped crumbly crumbs of hobnobs, rich teas or those buttery Danish swirls that only grandparents, vicars and school teachers favour all over the sheets. It was my favourite treat and I still love it when someone brings me a cup of tea and a biscuit in bed to wake me up in the morning.
Even better is breakfast in bed.
Every weekend when my Dad would come home from wherever he had been working during the week, he would get up on a Sunday and make the breakfast, taking my Mum up a tray as she snoozed amongst the papers. The contents varied, one week a bacon sandwich, perhaps a full English or, if Mum was on a diet, half a grapefruit and a bowl of muesli. When we were young children we were usually up at this point, taking full advantage of the unchecked access to the TV remote, but as I became a sleepy, grumpy teenager my tray would sometimes arrive too. Such luxury and a clear signal to me that I was loved and spoilt by my mostly absent Dad.
My husband hates breakfast or tea in bed. He can’t stand the crumbs and, like his parents, would rather be up early getting on with the day, fuelling up for a long walk, cycle or excursion. So I lie there, hoping someone is going to show me how much they love me by bringing me my breakfast and it rarely arrives. This upsets me disproportionately and, now that my husband is away and doesn’t even bring me a cup of tea (which in his defence he has always done, although he never gets back into bed with his own one to drink it with me), I confess to feeling a little unloved and lonely.
I’m usually up before my son and come down to make my own tea, but I don’t tend to keep biscuits in the house anymore (too tempting) and I don’t take my tea back to bed as I don’t trust myself not to laze about in there, missing my brief opportunity for some morning peace and quiet to journal, roll out my yoga mat, unload the dishwasher, feed the cat and make the packed lunches. I live in fear that all of the hundreds of little chores that there is only me to take care of at the moment will go undone and that the whole day will get off to a bad start.
Sometimes at the weekend, if I ask nicely, my son will make me a cup of tea and bring it up to me with a randomly selected treat on the side (to be fair a Percy Pig is good at any time of day), and even though in my head this is not something one should have to ask for, it feels like the nicest thing anyone could do for me. When he goes to stay with my parents now, he climbs into bed beside them and eats biscuits with the tea Dad has made for my Mum and I get one too in the other room to enjoy in peace. They do Sudoku, or he plays on their iPad and I hear them laugh, chat and banter with each other and it fills my heart up to see that small family connection passed down to a new generation.
It’s a signal to me of the warmth and love that can only come from the little things in life. It only takes a cup of tea and a biscuit. Who cares about the crumbs?
Perhaps it is time to re-stock the biscuit tin, but I would really rather there was that person there who loves me unconditionally to make it for me.
Interrupted family food for thought:
- What are your personal and family morning rituals?
- Where do they come from?
- Can you create new ones with your family to share so that whatever time zone you happen to find yourself in, you will be starting your day the same way?
- Send a jar of homemade jam, tea bags/coffee, granola to your absent partner, so they can enjoy a taste of home when they wake up in the morning.
- Teach your child to make your favourite morning cuppa and a slice of toast as soon as they are able. They will happily make it for you if they think it will buy them an extra hour on the Playstation or in front of the TV!
Easy Spill-free Breakfast in Bed
Hels’ Homemade Granola with Greek Yoghurt and Seasonal Fruit
The granola can be made in a big batch and shared with your partner or stored in the cupboard for breakfast in bed making volunteers to tip into your favourite bowl. Poached seasonal fruit will store in the fridge for a week so can be made in advance of your lazy weekend lie in. I like rhubarb and orange in the spring, fresh berries in the summer and spiced plums in the autumn and winter.
2 cups porridge oats
1 cup of whole nuts (I like a mixture of almonds and pistachios)
1 cup of mixed seeds (whatever is in the cupboard – my favourite mix is pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, flax and hemp)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Himalayan rock salt
½ cup of extra virgin coconut oil
½ cup of maple syrup
1 cup of dried fruits (I like 50/50 chopped apricots and cranberries)
- Preheat the oven to 160C
- Line a baking tray with parchment
- Mix oats, nuts, seeds, spices and salt together in a large bowl
- Gently heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat until melted and combined.
- Pour over dry ingredients and mix until evenly coated
- Spread mixture evenly over the tray
- Bake for 10 minutes then turn and repeat for 10-20 minutes until golden.
- When the granola is cool, stir in the dried fruit and store in an airtight container
Rhubarb, Ginger and Orange Compote
200g Rhubarb (trimmed and chopped into 3cm pieces)
Juice and zest of one orange
1 cm fresh root ginger (grated)
1-2 Tbsp of caster sugar
- Heat the rhubarb, orange juice, zest and ginger in a medium size saucepan over a low heat.
- Stir frequently until softened but some of the rhubarb is still holding it’s shape. I don’t like it super mushy, but it still tastes good if it is!
- Add sugar to taste and continue to stir until dissolved.
- Leave to cool and store in the fridge in an airtight container
- Spoon over yoghurt, granola, ice cream, custard or turn into a delicious crumble.