Good Soup & Pure Hearts

“I live on good soup, not on fine words.”



In my research into mythologies concerning roosters, I discovered that the origin of chicken soup came from trying the harness the energy of a rooster.  It was thought that by eating a rooster, the symbol of the sun, the recipient would be infused with vigour and vitality.  I was reminded of all the chicken noodle soups my grandmother and mother made to ward off colds and flues.   In the deep winter months, when the snow rested comfortably over the earth, the fragrant aroma of homemade soup coming from the kitchen provided a wonderful sense of belonging, of safety.  Every spoonful held the power to protect and fortify.

Soup, which comes from the French “soupe,” is one of those ubiquitous meals that accommodate any occasion. I confess, however, that I have taken this commonplace dish for granted.  I have changed my mind now that I have done some research on the subject.  Considered one of the world’s oldest food, soup has a rich history dating back almost 5,000 – 6,000 years (and some experts think it could date back 20,000 – 30,000 years – who really knows?) when the idea of “boiling” came into fashion with the invention of waterproof containers, thought to be made of clay. From that moment, soup became a global success, without the help of social media.


Soup has a universal appeal. It is simple to make, delicious to eat and easily digested.  Every culture has embraced the idea of combining a nutritious assortment of ingredients to come up with traditional recipes.  These recipes came over time and are now readily available to us:  Russian borscht, French onion, Chinese won ton, New England Chowder, Manhattan Chowder and the list goes on. It’s easy to stop in at the local grocery store to buy the soup of the day.   It is always delicious.  But I have another idea.

This winter, I will follow in my mother and grandmother’s footsteps (and all those who came before) by making soup in my kitchen.

Beethoven once said, “Only the pure of heart can make good soup.”   I rather like that thought.

Pumpkin Soup


World Food Day – My Commitment

“The freedom of man, I contend, is the freedom to eat.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Community Garden City Hall

Community Garden City Hall

This morning I received a message in my e-mail inbox advising me that it was World Food Day.  This is the day that we come together as a global community to declare our commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime.  This initiative is especially significant for Canadians because World Food Day celebrates the formation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which transpired on October 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada.

We all believe that every person should have access to food, but it is difficult to comprehend, as we walk down the aisles of our grocery stores lined with lavishly stocked shelves of food, how debilitating it is for families to live with chronic hunger.  It is easy to think that hunger is something that happens far away, that it will never occur to a neighbour or, even more devastating, to our immediate family.

The statistics confirm that hunger is an ever-present concern even in the richest countries of the world. The good news is that it is possible to end hunger in our lifetime.  Consider the magnitude of that possibility.  The results over the past decades since the establishment of World Food Day in 1979 are heartening. Even more encouraging, our earth produces enough food to feed its entire population.

My commitment to World Food Day is the elimination of food waste in our family.  According to World Food Day Global  one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption (approximately $1.3 Billion Tons annually) is lost or wasted.

We can end hunger.

“It is not enough to be compassionate.  You must act.” His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Æbleskiver & New Journeys


I am feeling the lightness of decluttering.   I confess that my “bite-size” approach to reorganization that I spoke loftily about in my last post became more of an enormous feast that offered course after course, each more tempting than the one before.  The lazy days of summer, sipping ice tea and reading a good book, morphed into a greater adventure of looking back, remembering, reconnecting. Clearing away the “stuff” seemed to give greater significance to my “life events.”  One thing that has become clear to me these past couple of months: our ability to accumulate is far greater than our capacity to de-accumulate.  Perhaps it is because our “things” are connected to recollections of good times, festivities, achievements.  They are the link to our past, and letting go is a sign of forgetting.

In the first two or three decades of our lives, we are in the state of accumulating memories – graduations, weddings, births, careers etc. There is a sense of movement, of fresh opportunities.  But in the last decades of our lives, we recognize the significance of passages and transitions.   So it came as a surprise to me that “letting go” of stuff was the beginning of a new journey.  Soren Kierkegaard believed that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” When you have years to look back on, there is a great understanding how to live forward.  I found that I best understood this when I came across my grandmother’s recipe for Æbleskiver (Ebbleskeever as spelled by my grandmother), found in a cookbook published by the women in her farming community who came together to share recipes.

A Cook's Thought

Æbleskiver, which means apple slices, is a traditional Danish pancakes that comes in the shape of a sphere.  It is a pancake of sorts, but it has the lightness of a popover.  There is a special pan, generally made out of case iron which allows the heat to penetrate the batter.  I have heard that there are electrical pans, something that my grandmother would never have imagined.

I have never made, Æbleskiver.  Maybe it’s time I tried.

A Community Cookbook

Cookbooks & Drinking Tea


Everyone seems to be in some stage of de-cluttering, down-sizing, and reorganizing these days.  I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, not only because those imposing promises made to myself on January 1st seem to lose vigour around January 15th.  I find that the first two weeks of January are best used to recall the glow of the holiday season while resting with a cup of tea and a good book.

February is an entirely different matter.   Spring is around the corner.  The hint of colour is rising from the dark earth and a fine mist of rain has come to the West Coast of British Columbia.  Now is the time to focus on the task at hand.  Yes, I am in the de-accumulation phase of my life-cycle. Every year, I take on a specific project, more of a “bite-size” approach.  I have spent years accumulating; so a few years to do the opposite seems only fair.  Besides, I enjoy the decision-making process of sorting through my inanimate things that, as we all know, hold precious memories.   My current assignment: to tackle my bookshelves filled with cookbooks.

Cookbooks have an enormous storage capacity for every kind of recollection, from birthdays, weddings, anniversaries to farewells and funerals. They travel with us through the course of our lives, accumulating exponentially with the evolution of food preparation.

I have made myself a pot of tea, a blend of rosemary, lavender, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper; and have settled down in my favourite chair with my cookbooks gathered together, some on the floor and others on the coffee table.  It will take some time to go through them all, for I expect to recall many “cooking” adventures.

As Ruth Reichl once wrote: “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” 


The Year of Family Farming

“People in my neighbourhood are so disconnected from the fresh food supply that kids don’t know an eggplant from a sweet potato. We have to show them how to get grounded in the truest sense of the word.”

Ron Finley


The United Nations has designated the year 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF).

My grandparents, on both sides, were farmers.  From a young age, my parents were experts in milking cows, separating milk from cream, and churning butter.    Chores included feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs for breakfast and afternoon baking.  The family vegetable garden, a vital source of food, was tended with meticulous attention to detail.  Times were not easy; it was, after all the 1930’s, the decade of the Great Depression.  Everyone helped to keep food on the table.

Fast forward several decades, family farming is still essential for offering a way out of poverty and hunger.   There are 500 million family farms world-wide. They come in a variety of forms – peasants, indigenous peoples, traditional communities, fisherfolk, and pastoralists.  Bottom line, family farming is the primary structure of agriculture in both developed and developing countries.

My grandparents were farmers, but very few of their offspring became farmers.  We have lost touch with the land and have placed reliance on our efficient food distribution services.   There is a growing awareness that we need to find our way back….

“An estimated 26 percent of the world’s children are stunted, 2 billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies and 1.4 billion people are overweight, of whom 500 million are obese.”

2013 The State of Food and Agriculture




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World Diabetes Day


“Diabetes is a lousy, lousy disease.”

Elaine Stritch

The World Health Organization is on a mission to raise global awareness of diabetes. Today has been designated World Diabetes Day.  The WHO statistics are sobering:

  • 347 million people worldwide have diabetes.
  • 80% of people with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries.
  • Diabetes is projected to become the 7th leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030

With both sides of my family high risk for Type 2 diabetes, I consider food choices judiciously.  I love looking at recipes for decadent chocolate cake, or sharing an order of Nachos, or sipping a hot chocolate with heaps of whipping cream. But that is not an option for me. (I did splurge once or twice for cream tea)  Instead, I choose alternatives and relish in the reward of having my doctor say that my blood sugar in within normal parameters.

A kitchen is vital to  healthy living – it is where the choices are most profound and life-altering. There are so many amazing foods that can prevent dangerous spikes in blood sugar: beans, oatmeal, fish, and non-fat yoghurt, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and peppers.  Taking the kitchen is about taking hold of the future.

“Millions of Americans today are taking dietary supplements, practicing yoga and integrating other natural therapies into their lives. These are all preventive measures that will keep them out of the doctor’s office and drive down the costs of treating serious problems like heart disease and diabetes.”

Andrew Weil

What happens after World Food Day?

“Considering that food is a requisite of human survival and well-being and a fundamental human right…”

Resolution 1/79 World Food Day

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


October 16, 2013 was World Food Day – a day that has been set aside since it came into existence November 1979 at the 20th General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.   It was to mark the founding of the FAO in 1945.

I confess that I paid little attention until this year when I read about the 2nd Annual Welfare Food Challenge, which invited people across British Columbia to live for one week on the food purchased with $26 dollars.  This corresponds to the amount that a single able-bodied person on welfare has to spend on provisions in our province. Many across B.C. took on the challenge and found it difficult, if not impossible to achieve a nutritious diet that was filling and satisfying. While this challenge served to spotlight welfare rates, it was also a pointed reminder that many in this world suffer from hunger.

We live in a time of rising food prices; all of us are focusing our attention on the weekly grocery bill and looking for creative ways to feed our families, especially when we have demanding schedules.  Sometimes we chose the convenience of prepared foods provided by our local grocer or deli. We walk a delicate balance.

You may wonder if I took up the $26/week challenge.  Actually, I took up a longer term challenge – to rethink everything that I have ever thought about food and how it relates to my daily interactions from my early morning coffee to my late night snack.   It is a journey worth the effort.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Cream Tea & Other Things

“Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.” 
Sydney Smith, A memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith


Those who follow LadyBudd, know that this past summer I took few weeks to go on an adventure with my family.  It was our “Industrial Revolution” tour that took us into Wales and England.  The culinary highlight of the trip was embracing the gentile tradition of cream tea, also known as Devonshire tea, Devon cream tea or Cornish cream tea.  It is tea consumed with scones, thick clotted cream and a generous amount of jam.

What better place to go than the Pettigrew Tea Rooms, located at West Lodge, Castle Street, at the entrance to the green expanse of Bute Park and Arboretum adjacent to Cardiff Castle.  It was a perfect afternoon, complete with sunshine and a mild breeze that carried the aroma of freshly baked cakes and pastries.  There we were, amidst the chatter and laughter, the clatter of silver teaspoons against china, partaking in a ritual that some believe dates back to the 11th century and the Benedictine Abbey in Tavistock, Devon.

Food and drink is all about tradition, ritual, belief, convention and folklore.  We require these essential elements to sustain our bodies so that we can turn our attention to other things.   There are many “other things” we need to accomplish within our lifetimes, from building our careers to establishing a family unit.  We need to eat and drink, preferably on a regular basis to fuel our activities, and get us from point A to point B, whatever form that takes.  It is no wonder that the food cycle attracts our attention.

It is time to return to Taking the Kitchen!

Just in case you are  in the neighbourhood, Pettigrew Tea Rooms is offering A Christmas High Tea, complete with Traditional Mulled Wine! Pettigrew Tea Rooms Christmas 2013

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” 

 Fran Lebowitz

Mark Bittman – Here’s a thought!


“1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry. 1 billion people are overweight.”
Mark Bittman (Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes)

The more I consider our connections with food, culture and health, I realize that my choices, however small, do make a difference.  Today, I celebrated the shared moments with my family and friends that involved “breaking of bread.”  It is the noblest of undertakings.

My Commitment – Recycle Recycle Recycle!

It’s official!  I’m on the committee for the collection of organic matter.  This was not my intent when I agreed to attend the first meeting of the trial program that would be implemented in our strata community.  Coming in a few minutes late and sitting in the front row was not the best strategy for maintaining a low profile.  And contributing enthusiastically in the discussion was another signal that I would be an excellent committee candidate.  Before long, I heard myself agreeing to participate in a committee of three to launch the initiative.

I recycle, but I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of recycling is limited to reading the signage on the recycling container.  My two committee buddies, however, are a wealth of information.  Our first official committee meeting was held Thursday, June 29th.  Once we had the details lined up, they (the experts) gave me (the novice) a guided and informative tour of the recycling area.  Garbage has never been so exciting.

I am in charge of the communication.  Our trial is made up of passionate recyclers who love our world and want to make a difference.  As we go forward, I will be documenting our progress via this blog.

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“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” 
― David Brower