So Breast Cancer Awareness Month is on again and the time is right to celebrate the wonderful strong women who suffer through breast cancer, some to survive and sadly some not.

I have some experience of both sides of this coin with a mother in law who is a breast cancer survivor and a mother who was not. The three years that my mother fought her cancer were some of the most astonishing of my life, once the initial shock and horror had diminished what I saw was an incredibly strong woman with an enormous love of life. Through her treatment I had the opportunity to meet many cancer patients and cancer survivors and a recurring theme became obvious, that being unbelievable strength and as the French say “Joie de Vivre”.

One little story for you, this happened early in my mothers’ cancer journey, I was waiting to take her home after a treatment and had an hour to kill, so I wandered into the Marie Curie centre in the hospital in Edinburgh. I must have been looking a bit lost as I was approached by an old lady to see if I was OK. She had realised straight away that I was a cancer patient relative that was struggling to find perspective; she knew instinctively that I wandered in to find answers to impossible questions.

“You don’t know what to do, do you?” I must have nodded.

“Let me put it this way, if you mother wants to strip naked and run down Princes Street your job is not to stop her or strip down and join in but to hold her clothes and cheer her every step of the way. This is her journey and you’re a passenger”

That wonderful cancer survivor started me on a three-year journey that certainly had its low points but on the whole the tears were of joy and laughter.

To all those that are on their own personal journey, good luck, and to the passengers, make sure you enjoy the ride and celebrate everything that you can. To that end this weeks recipe is one that my mother loved because it is fun, a little childish and with the Pink Champagne, just a little bit naughty.

You’ll notice that the recipe doesn’t use the full bottle of pink champagne, use the rest to toast the incredible women (and men) who confront their journey through Breast Cancer with such fortitude, and cheer them every single step of the way.

Sparkling Berry Fruit Jelly

Who doesn’t love jelly? In this case a fruity and alcoholic adult version!

Serves 8

425ml Pink Champagne

6 leaves gelatine

50g caster sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

350g strawberries, hulled and halved

225g fresh raspberries

200g fresh blueberries

2 x 900g loaf tins (one to be used as a weight)

  1. Line one loaf tin with Glad Wrap.
  2. Mix fruits gently together in a large bowl.
  3. Soak gelatine sheets in water until soft.
  4. Heat half the wine till it begins to simmer, then whisk sugar into it.
  5. Squeeze out gelatine and whisk into wine mix until dissolved.
  6. Add remaining wine and lime juice, pour liquid into a jug and allow to cool.
  7. Meanwhile, lay mixed fruit into lined loaf tin, arranging bottom layer decoratively as this will be the top when turned out.
  8. Pour all but 150ml of the liquid over the fruit.
  9. Lay a sheet of Glad Wrap over the tin, place the other loaf tin directly on top, then weigh down with heavy tins and refrigerate for about 1 hour until set.
  10. Reheat remaining 150ml wine mixture and pour over surface of the jelly.
  11. Re-cover with Glad Wrap and refrigerate overnight until set firm.
  12. Turn out by dipping tin in hot water and inverting over a plate.
  13. Cut into slices with a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Serve with cream, yoghurt or fruit coulis.

The pink Champagne that I’ve used here is the Little Rosie from Mills Reef, that cheeky little number that is just itching to be quaffed.

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