The Shipyard Food Trucks

If you visit the North Vancouver Shipyards on a late Friday afternoon, you will encounter vivid multi-coloured food trucks cautiously navigating the narrow dockyard roads to find a space to settle. It is “set-up” time for the Shipyards Night Market event that features a marvelous variety of delectable repasts.

The preparation is fascinating. Everywhere I look, there is an efficiency and determination in creating a welcoming space that will entice passers-by to stop by and share an epicurean moment. These trucks have evolved into more than merely a pop-up restaurant that serves fast food. They offer gourmet cuisines that tempt us with specialty ice creams, sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, pizza’s, falafels, pastas, cakes, cookies and, my personal favourite, a donut “hug”.

We have come a long way from the Charles Goodnight’s 1866 Texas chuckwagon that was used on cattle drives and the Walter Scott’s 1872 small covered wagon that served sandwiches to journalists in Providence Rhode Island.

The evolution of food trucks speaks to the way our society embraces a new way of sharing food. We enjoy being in an open market atmosphere that offers diversity and experimentation.

Food grants us life and much more – community, entertainment, celebrations.

Bon Appétit!

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe from my Grandmother’s Recipe Book 1955

Thanksgiving Day brings back poignant memories of family get-togethers on autumn days that bestowed a gentle chill and vibrant colours. Kitchens became the hub of activity that produced tantalizing aromas hours before the actual dinner. It was impossible not to indulge in sampling.

Preparation – that was the best part of the day, the heart of the celebration. For when we prepared the food, we acknowledged the blessing of harvest time and the seasons that gave us the gift of life. We felt the kinship that comes when we work together to create compassionate communities that support, encourage and bring out the best in all of us. Most of all, we recognized that thankfulness was universal and belonged to all days.

For me,  pumpkin pie was the quintessential symbol of Thanksgiving. The mixture of spices and the distinct warmth of golden-orange spoke of summer hours spent in vegetable gardens.

As we celebrate another wonderful day of gratitude, may we continue to create memories that reflect the joy of living and generosity of family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my kitchen to yours.

We Are Farmers At Heart


My grandparents, on both sides of my family, were farmers. Their lives were governed by the seasons, the weather, the markets and the lives of animals under their care. Only a few of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren remained on the land. We have moved into a new era of food distribution that removes us from the source.

And yet, there is a wistfulness every time I pass by a community garden. I remember the spring planting, the summer growth, the fall harvesting and the spirit of a farming community.

We are all farmers at heart, as reflected in the rise of urban gardening, and our search to reconnect to the soil that sustains our lives. With every plot of land allocated to farming we reaffirm our need to return to the land. We are all farmers at heart!

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