the dog barks, the cat meows.

I am wary of people who do not have pets. All white houses with tidy opaque walls, minus a furry friend ambling around sends a signal, “this person can’t be trusted.”

It’s not difficult to fall in love with most, especially babies. Their wonderful energy and clumsy activity screams — “I need to be loved.” I cuddle and coo showering them with attentive pats, and yet with a full heart I turn and say a reluctant good-bye.

Sadly, we lost our family dog, Lulu last year. While her furry companion, Dakota is still with us, the loss of her is dramatically noticeable. We’ve had a lot of loss this year. I’ve been thinking about another addition to our home. We have space and love in our hearts to do so, but it is such a huge commitment.

Recently, I worked from the local South Paw Cat Café at 749 Bayridge Drive, Kingston. A chance to enjoy a quiet coffee, a sweet somethin’ and a work space surrounded by beautiful felines. Perhaps, even fill my fix for a new pet, or convince me I should bring one home.

The café opened a little more than a year ago, and has helped re-home over 40 cats through their partnership with Kingston Animal Rescue. Every time a cat is adopted a new orphan takes its place, typically eight cats are in residence at one time. As an animal lover, I was bewitched by the idea of a cat café, but also didn’t know what to expect. It was a pleasant surprise. The café is set up like most—you are greeted by a window display filled with delicious food, great staff and drink choices. However, the difference is that the tables are all located within a glass room. You are encouraged to make a purchase, and then slip inside to meet the feline stars of the show.

The tables are generally packed with cat lovers of all ages. In fact, sometimes you have to wait for a table. I learned it is not a place you go to finish work. Visitors at each table want to talk to the cats just as much as you. It’s the place where cat lovers seek out companionship and affection. I saw teens on dates, families, and met a friendly senior admiring the activity around us. I found myself being swept up by the energy in the room, adorable cats sleepily wrapped around each other, bathing or jumping from one hammock or scratching post to the next. It was such fun. I wanted to take them all home.

However, I do not have patience for people who take in pets when they can’t afford the time or money to care for them responsibly.

As a kid, I had very short-lived pet ‘experiences.’ My family got rid of pets as often as the seasons changed.  It was very traumatic. I would fall in love with a stray, be permitted to re-home and give it a name and then it would be gone. From memory we did seem to have a cat, but then they would have kittens. If we got a dog, and it didn’t respond the way it should we’d get rid of it. I blame my parents lack of care – no vets, no pet training, just old-school thinking.  If our pet was sick, Dad took care of it. Yes, it sends chills just thinking about it. Mom grew up on a farm, Dad was the man of the house, so I suspected felt it was his job. But, it was terrible. The pets would be shipped off to someone else. I’m certain it was traumatic for him too, but we never talked about it. We were simply told, ‘they ran away.” I feel terrible reflecting back on it. But, I also find that a lot of pet lovers purchase a new pet and still do the same. Either get fed up with them or love them so much, but can’t afford vet bills. This is not proper pet ownership to me.

This obviously affected me, therefore as an adult, any pet that is mine, is mine until they die. I’m notoriously responsible about vet visits, dog walks, cuddles, and doing your bit to keep your pet healthy. A pet fills a void and provides unconditional love, they trust in you to protect them, keep them safe. It’s your responsibility to act responsibly. Don’t get swept up in the gift giving season, or the sweetness of pet ownership, it’s a lot of work. Something I’m certain is the reason that many furry friends find themselves at Kingston Animal Rescue.

But, if you’re serious nothing beats cat and dog people. So, what makes them so attractive?

Firstly, it proves that you can give love to something other than yourself. Plants are great, (and you should be able to keep them alive too), however, a pet — is a living breathing activity that requires patience, beyond attention, and suggests you are capable.

Dog vs. Cat lover? I have dog friends that think cat people are weird, and cat people who think the same of dog owners. So, what if you enjoy both? I often say I fall in love with cats who think they are dogs. Then again, I’ve loved dogs who curl up and behave like a cat too.

Owning a dog tends to be more of a social endeavour, frequently more work with training, walking and socializing. They force you out of the comfort of your own home. Science claims dog owners are more extroverted.

Cats seem to be the stars of Instagram and Facebook. Also, cat people seem to score higher on intelligence. While they are more introverted, they tend to be more sensitive and open-minded. Although, at the South Paw Cat Café, cat lovers typically have a lot to say to other visitors.

Studies have also shown a direct comparison with which animal you prefer and how it reflects your politics. Liberal vs. Conservative. I don’t believe that the pet you identify with reflects your entire world view, but not being a pet owner affects my view of you.

There is plenty of room in this world for dog and cat people whether they should share the same space or not is a different story.

Check out South Paw Cate Café online at www.southpawcatcafe.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Their Insta-stories are adorable and help you get to know each cat available for adoption. As for me, I’m considering fostering, perhaps a cat, or a dog to make sure it’s the right next step for me. I’m looking forward to this next adventure.

For the Love of Food at the Waterfall Café

Kingston Heritage & Frontenac Gazette

Nothing but passion is behind the door of the Waterfall Café in Yarker.  This unexpected eclectic foodie haven is nestled next to a tumbling waterfall, giving great joy and pleasure to many.

The charming Waterfall Cafe seeks new owner.

The charming Waterfall Cafe seeks new owner.

Years ago, owner/chef Eric De Poe discovered this gem and repurposed the historical site at 2810 County Road 6 as a labor of love.

“I am not a trained chef, but I’ve been cooking since I was twelve,” explains Eric. “It’s my Mother’s fault really…it all sparked one morning I had slept in and came downstairs demanding breakfast. She took one look at me and made it clear that I was left with the choice of going hungry, or cooking for myself. I’ve been cooking ever since,” he laughs.

A natural love of flavor and a keen interest in food carried through to his University days and beyond.

“I always wanted a restaurant. I would walk by the windows of one, and peer inside, full of ideas and with a dream of having my own one day.”

Eric De Poe, Owner Waterfall Cafe

Eric De Poe, Owner Waterfall Cafe

That fortuitous day arrived when he fell for the old charm of the tearoom, at the foothill of the waterfalls of the Napanee River.

Waterfall cafe is a short drive from many natural attractions such as camping, cottage country, geo-caching, and a rugged gorge experiencing lots of traffic from tourists and locals alike.

The story begins on a weekend break from the big city—Eric found what became a great love. Overnight in cottage country, one dark and stormy day, he crashed in on a real estate tour of the crumbling building. Something about the quaint space and the countryside enticed him to buy it. Totally unexpected, or was it?

Those early years, it was a one-man show. Eric worked a full week in Toronto and travelled to his little oasis to shop, chop, bake and wash the dishes at his little café. Living the dream as they say.

He enthusiastically tackled new recipes, expanding and learning the business.

His good fortune continued—he met the lovely Barbara Linds, also a busy executive and single-Mom living in Toronto. It was love, especially when she too fell for his charming café. Thankfully she also had a good sense of humour—for he claims what sealed the deal, was her passion for his tearoom.

On their wedding day, he jokingly recalled that when searching for a partner; the ad read: Intelligent man seeks intelligent and creative woman—must love tearoom! The two have been busy at the business ever since, working their day jobs and commuting to the café, until they finally relocated to Yarker.

“We hired a very talented design team to help re-construct a loft apartment upstairs and a huge mural (located on the outside wall) symbolizing the importance of this historical area,” says Barbara. “We engaged the community, meeting with it’s members for their input on what the mural should look like, and held a big celebration when it was done.”

Mural in Yarker by Bon Eco Designs

Mural in Yarker by Bon Eco Designs

Carolyn Butts & Hans Honegger of Bon ECO designs made a sculpture of wood, foam and tire strips to celebrate the industrial past.

Their efforts continued with the re-design of the loft, which is magazine worthy, styled as an urban Manhattan apartment, with natural light and views of the cascading waterfall below. The café runs on geo-thermal heating and cooling.

The falls next to the Waterfall Cafe

The falls next to the Waterfall Cafe

Sadly, this love story is coming to an end. (Not for Eric and Barbara, who even today, smiling, he brushes by her with a kiss). Their future continues with many exciting projects on the horizon. “Eric works expansively at everything,” smirks Barbara. “I can’t see him retiring anytime soon.”

But, it is time to close the doors of the Waterfall Café as they begin this new chapter. The café and two bedroom apartment is up for sale, or lease.

The delicious earth-friendly dine in/ take-out menu of home-style chicken and ribs, vegetarian stacks, salads, and homemade pies served with a smile—all creative visions of Eric De Poe.

“It’s been a slice!” said Eric, “I’ve loved cooking for you.”

The community and tourists will miss pub nights, jazz evenings, author readings and weekend stops at the Waterfall Café.

“We hope to pass this along to someone who will serve great food.” (A local chef, baker or individual interested in canning and in need of a commercial kitchen would benefit from this space.)

Chef Eric will continue to serve up Friday – Sunday, and holiday Monday’s until it closes on Labour Day. Drop in to say farewell, or take a peak inside…maybe it’s long been your dream to own a restaurant too? For more information about the Waterfall Café visit http://www.waterfallcafe.ca  or call 613-377-1856.

If you have any restaurants or foodie business suggestions that I seek out, please email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or Follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

The Magic of Pasta

As featured in Kingston Heritage and Frontenac Gazette

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My favorite memories often include (my family) and pasta. The perfect mound of flour as I make a well, add the eggs, salt, and olive oil—lightly beating them together, with the silky pasta dough in my hands.

Making pasta is about sharing and community. I envision Italian families cooking together at the pasta table; Nonna waving her dusty flour covered hands around, nattering about the old country. Despite not having an Italian lineage, it should be a time of family and friends, swapping stories, cooking techniques, and laughing with each other. Food tastes better when there is a healthy dose of love in it.

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta,” said Frederico Fellini. Dining in or out there is a real pleasure in a plateful of warm pasta, sauce, and a table of good company. Pasta in all its forms spaghetti, rigatoni, penne, fusilli, rotini, linguine, lasagna, and pappardelle blended with simple ingredients beautifully fills the belly and soul.

Is there a difference between dried pasta vs. fresh? Dried pasta is not old fresh pasta. Dried is made of little more than semolina flour, water, and salt and can be stored at room temperature for almost ever. Fresh pasta made of eggs is slightly more tender and takes less time to cook. The delicate texture is best with light sauces made with tomato, cream, oil or butter with herbs. One of the very reasons why I like freezing my summer garden herbs (a tip from my friend Lesli) is to add to fresh pastas in the winter.

When I am short on time, I purchase fresh pasta to make a quick dish from my favorite retail kitchen: Pasta Genova and Pasta Tavola.

For the past 27 years, Pasta Genova has served up fresh pasta, sauces, and pizza dough made on site. The small red, white and green building located at 234 Wellington Street, between Queen and Barrack Streets. It holds a special place in Kingstonians’ hearts with its helpful staff and variety of pasta, sauce, breads, deli meats, cheese, imported Italian favorites and premium olive oils.

Another favorite of mine is Pasta Tavola. You can purchase their homemade pastas and sauces in many specialty food retailers in Kingston such as John’s Deli, Pan Chancho, Tara Foods, Wendy’s Mobile Market, and Limestone Organic Creamery. Pasta Tavola is an artisanal ravioli and pasta company based in Belleville at 109 North Front St. They produce hot oven-ready meals, fresh pasta and sauces made from local ingredients. Pasta Tavola products contain no artificial fillers, additives, preservatives, or chemical seasonings.

Both pasta companies make small batches of handmade pastas and sauces. They also each offer cooking classes to teach you how to make pasta at home. You should sign up quick as classes fill up. Pasta Genova does not have a website, dropping by their Wellington St location is best to learn more about their classes. Pasta Tavola hosts classes in Belleville and Ottawa, check out their website for more information at www. Pastatavola.ca. If you want a quick, easy meal for friends and family drop in to pick up an oven ready meal or fresh pasta and sauces from either of these locations. You will not be disappointed!

Pasta Genova
234 Wellington St.
Kingston

Tuesday – Friday
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m – 5 p.m.

Pasta Tavola
109 North Front St.
Belleville

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

http://www.pastatavola.ca

 

If you have a restaurant suggestion or foodie biz suggestion, please contact me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com or on Facebook & Twitter.

Eat Well & Learn

As featured in Kingston Heritage and Frontenac Gazette:

Ian Arthur_chezpiggy

Chef Ian Arthur is a renaissance man: a self-taught chef, educated in International Development Studies, with interests in politics, activism and promoter of all things local, especially food.

He is Executive Chef at the beloved Chez Piggy restaurant, located at 68R Princess Street, Downtown Kingston. Simple ingredients can make any dish take on a new life. A quick study, Chef Arthur has a way of identifying tastes and creating a menu that is exactly what you the customer desire. This kind of palette requires a lot of experience, although it appears he is a natural.

Ian began his career as the “salad boy” at Chez Piggy, and in 2008 returned to help run the kitchen as Sous Chef then four years ago took over as Executive Chef.

Introduced to the love of food by his mother, Janette Haase author of From the Seed to Table, a local how-to book for aspiring gardeners. Ian learned the difference fresh ingredients could make when cooking. “Fresh elements, simply prepared to showcase their natural flavors, are the cornerstone of Ian’s food philosophy,” states his website. His degree in International Development fueled his already burning desire to understand people, culture and at times the inequity that exists.

What is local? It can mean different things to many people. The farm to table, farm to road movement is alive in Kingston. People are considerate of where food comes from, and Chef Ian Arthur wants to help further this movement by teaching us how to source it, and eat well.

“I am excited about the value of agriculture and the ripple effects it has,” said Chef Ian. “Buying local means that you are feeding that back to farmers and in turn fuelling the local economy. I buy into this philosophy, and I want everyone too.”

“I get out to meet the Farmer and see where things are grown and produced. Recently, I was visiting Lemoine Point Farm, where Jessie Archibald gave me a sample of his homemade prosciutto. It was the best prosciutto I’ve ever experienced before, better than anywhere else in the world.”

A passionate chef. He has learned this by traveling in search of culinary experiences. “My favorite food in the world is Spanish food. It’s about tying three main flavours together, to get high-quality food. Dishes such as aglio e olio, which is pasta with garlic, olive oil and blistered PADRÓN peppers. French food is about taking a million things and still making something amazing, but not as simply.”

“I get bored really easy, which is why I keep busy. As the Chef, it’s all day every day, but it’s fun! When I do have time, I like reading. I read lots of different things. I just read, Dan Barber’s Third Plate and enjoyed his perspective, he asks the right questions and challenges you to really think about food, the book is really a movement.”

Ian knows the importance of absorbing this knowledge and introducing it into his kitchen. “Our team works together; they are very supportive of my ideas, even when they aren’t always convinced, they give it a try.”

Recently, Chez Piggy introduced Sunday roast dinners from now until March 29. Ian believes that Sunday is made for sharing with friends and family so he wanted to start a new tradition. For $20 enjoy the experience of a family style roast, soup or salad, and finish up with a slice of homemade pie. Best part, you can avoid the clean up at home.

Chef, Ian Arthur

Chef, Ian Arthur

Chef Ian shares his convictions readily through his website Ianarthur.ca where he provides recipes, opinions and principles of good food, even a selection of cookbooks that he actively uses or considered to be his “textbooks” for teaching him.

He is involved in community. He is one of a group of chefs who annually participates in Guilty Pleasures in support of food security non-profit, Loving Spoonful. Last week, each Chef prepared a version of a meal that included a component of the Chef before them. The concept of the event being what to do with leftovers and the ease of re-using food in new ways to create something equally as exciting—fresh, not wasteful.

He is a busy guy. In the summer, he supports the Chef demo’s in Downtown Kingston Springer Market Square in addition to all of the charity support Chez Piggy restaurant continues throughout the year.

After their holidays, Chez Piggy delayed re-opening due to some flooding. They have now returned and are offering up winter wine pairings. This special menu features three courses with wine for $40 per person.

Chez Piggy is open Monday to Friday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m./Dinner 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information about Chef Ian Arthur visit Ianarthur.ca. Follow this tuned in Chef on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Send me your restaurant or foodie biz suggestions to ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog LadydinesAlot.com, or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Food is the Language of Love.

free-valentine-039-s-day-fruit-cakes-pictures-wallpaper_1600x1200_89857Food plays a huge part in Valentine’s Day, the celebration of love. Communing over a table as a group, or a couple to enjoy a meal is one of the best gifts of all.

“One cannot think well,love well, sleep well if one has not dined well,” said Virginia Wolf. This statement is entirely my mantra too.

There are several opinions on the history of Valentine’s Day. One is the story of Valentine, a physician who was believed to be a gastronomist, who made his medicines more palatable by blending them with spices, honey, and wine. Valentine incarcerated for his religious beliefs, and legend has it that he sent a note to his love before his execution on Feb. 14, signed “from your Valentine.” Each year until 1969, a feast day was celebrated in his honor.

Cupid the sweet little cherub and hearts are other symbols of the season. All stories over the centuries have evolved and merged in the holiday we celebrate today. But, no one can argue that the best triggers of the season is sharing food of the senses in all it’s forms, whether chocolate, wine, berries, pasta or more.

More than mere words, nothing says, “I love you” than sharing a meal.

If you don’t fancy your kitchen skills, there are many unique ways to enjoy the season as a couple or a group outing in Kingston. Let these fantastic chef’s do the cooking for you!

Cozy up in the newly refurbished Aqua Terra by Clark Day (located in the lobby at the Delta Hotel, 1 Johnston Street). The dining room features large windows with views of the Kingston harbor and city. They have a new look, but thankfully the menu is as delicious as ever.

Theatre Kingston presents a special Elizabeth- Darcy dinner package with le Chien Noir Bistro (69 Brock Street), the delicious French restaurant includes a ticket to the show at Frontenac Inn and a 3-course meal for $60/ per person. Call the Grand Theatre box office for details at 613-530-2050. Tea and scones are served post show with an artist. A unique Valentine experience, show closes Feb. 15 – reserve now.

Olivea Restaurant (39 Brock Street) and Casa Domenico (35 Brock Street) are among my favorite Italian locations, fresh pasta and sauces and a perfect setting across from the Springer Market Square. Enjoy a glide-and-skid before or after dinner with your sweetheart.

Pan Chancho (44 Princess Street) is offering dinner service until 9 p.m. at present. Chef’s from sister restaurant, Chez Piggy and Pan Chancho have teamed up. Get in quick to enjoy wonderful food in this intimate setting for a limited engagement.

Curry Original (253A Ontario Street) makes my list too. It’s hubby, and my favorite date night location—warm spicy authentic Indian food in a beautiful limestone building.

Days on Front (730 Front Road) located in the little mall, don’t let the location fool you, inside you will find a superb menu and attentive staff.

For the budget savvy try Harper’s Gourmet Burger Bar (93 Princess Street), or dine at Golden Viet Thai (206 Wellington Street) for cheap Thai food at it’s best – eat in or takeout available.

I would welcome your selfie’s and feedback on any of these suggestions. It’s been two years since I started writing this column, thank you for your emails and restaurant ideas. Sharing food creates a special bond between people. This Valentine’s day, I toast you, toast the food you (we) eat together, and best of all, toast life.

“From your Valentine,” a.k.a Lady DinesAlot.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or foodie biz, please contact me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow my blog at LadyDinesAlot.com or on Facebook/Twitter.

Wild Within

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“When did they start making these so small?” my friend asked, as we all wriggled into our seats, juggling movie popcorn. “Sssshh,” I swore I heard from the darkness.

On Sunday, my three best friends and I went to the movies. The occasion is significant. The situation hasn’t presented itself in more than twenty years. Why so long? Mainly, we are all working Mom’s, we’ve lived in separate cities, at times even countries, and we are time poor. No excuses, just fact.

Years ago we’d squeeze as many of us into the back trunk of a car (cause we fit then, and to save on admission) to enjoy the all-night movie-marathon at the drive-in. Today, we opt for movies, snacks at a comfortable cinema for an afternoon matinee. Wild. Nah. But, it beats the norm, at home, in our sweats, and we are, seeing a movie…entitled, Wild.

The film, Wild stars Reese Witherspoon in a powerful drama based on a true story of Cheryl Strayed. After years of reckless behavior, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Cheryl (Witherspoon) makes a rash decision. After the death of her mother and with no experience, she sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own.

At the same time Cheryl was making her hike across the PCT, I was hiking and backpacking in the Pacific (Australia and New Zealand). These days, my wanderlust is fulfilled at the movies.

Going to the movies has long been a source of entertainment—a place for hanging with friends, and today the dynamic sound, space, and even the snack-bar menu is larger than life. You will find the old favorites, warm buttery popcorn, red licorice, Maltezers, and today you can get hot dogs, nacho’s with cheese/ or salsa, and even a cup of coffee!

Given that our Mom’s ‘Day Out’ was, in fact, three free hours for a movie including driving time, meant it was minus the lazy lunch elsewhere. We lined up for our snacks at the theatre.

My friend, Helen loves movie popcorn. Not simply popcorn, but movie popcorn. She claims it tastes better than all others. I had the hot dog combo. I slathered ketchup, mustard and not going to lie was looking for the sauerkraut and onions until I remembered I was at the movies, not a ‘vendor-dog-stand’. Admittedly, I love hotdogs from a street vendor probably as much as Helen loves movie popcorn. Something about the street pollution mixed with the smoky grilled hotdog gets me every time. Even though, I know there are way better things for me, I have to stop to purchase one.

Recently, I learned that my hot dog might be healthier than her movie popcorn. The Examiner reports, “Movie popcorn can have 1,000 calories or more,” With its flavored butter, it all adds up —I believe you should make an informed decision to eat or not to eat.

In true “Mom” fashion, we took our seats just as the film was about to start. The stars aligned once again, and we scored great seats. The middle rows, four seats anchored on the end in case of emergency calls from home, or a quick washroom break. Yes. We are the ‘tommy texter’s’, he is not a teenage boy, but more realistically a Mom desperately trying to unplug from home.

I took a bite of my ketchup filled hotdog, flanked by my friends. The movie opened with Cheryl (Witherspoon) sitting on a mountaintop, clearly in pain, taking off her hiking boots, and socks to reveal a septic toe. I took one look at my hot-dog and her bleeding blistering toe, (magnified on the large screen) as she ripped off her toenail. Suddenly my hotdog wasn’t settling too well.

The movie is a powerful journey as a young woman discovers and embraces her grief. There were tears, laughter and dark moments too. Great book, now a great movie, made all the better enjoyed with good friends. I can’t recall who said it, but the saying goes, “life is a journey, best shared with friends.” Isn’t that the truth.

I had left them all behind in 1995 to start my own journey, alone. But, they were never far from mind. Truth is they’ve always been there. I take them with me and am blessed to count them as friends still. We vowed not to let another decade pass till we make a trip to the movies altogether.

May the next twenty years be wild, and may our butt’s still fit in the seat.

Movie Hot Spots in Kingston:

The Screening Room
120 Princess Street, Kingston
http://www.screeningroomkingston.com

Landmark Cinemas
120 Dalton Avenue
Kingston
http://www.landmarkcinemas.com

Cineplex
Riocan Centre, 636 Gardiners Rd, Kingston
http://www.cineplex.com

If you have a foodie biz or restaurant suggestion, email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com.

Blue Monday. Soup It Forward.

Bye, bye January. Go away, gray cloudy frosty days and leave me warm mugs of soup!

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In a nonsensical formula, someone came up with the idea to name the third Monday in January, Blue Monday —the bluest, most depressing day of the year.

Yeah right? Who are they kidding? Every day in January requires sheer effort to get dressed and venture outside.

I wrangle the dogs for walks, but the truth is they’d rather not leave their comfortable spot by the wood burning fire. One wriggling further into the blankets, the other spins up onto his back, legs straight in the air, tongue drooped to its side with a…”maybe-she’ll-think-I’m-dead, not a chance I am going out in this,” expression. Perking up only when I retreat to the kitchen.

Nothing beats the winter blues of January than comfort food. Melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and caramel coffee cake, fresh baked cookies making a kitchen warm and inviting. But, nothing quite heats up a kitchen than a slow cooking soup.

The magic of soup has long been a cure for the common cold and a heart-warming pleasure on a cold day. Soup means friendship. It lift’s a melancholy mood like a warm hug. The intoxicating, soupy smell wafts through the house, bubbling away on the stove and settling in our bones while filling our bellies.

The dogs sit wide-eyed on their mats by the stove, hopeful of something dropping to the floor as I chop and dice away. I pat the meat; add butter to the pan, tossing about fresh sprigs of herbs, garlic, a squeeze of orange ensuring the right balance for a flavor-packed broth. (bones vs. meat! Salt vs.. No salt.) Chefs have long argued the difference between broth and stock?

Soup recipes have evolved and moved from country to country, like the timeless chicken noodle, which I make with a whole chicken (a recipe passed down to me in New Zealand, by my Faroese friend, who got it from her Austrian mother-in-law.) Soup is transient, and while it tastes similar, it often takes on different forms given the place it originated.

“Is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of soup?” That’s what Sharon Hapton thought when searching for a way to give back to the community, and found the inspiration to start Soup Sisters. She had seen the results of gifting a bowl of soup and its profound comfort during difficult times. In 2009, she founded Soup Sisters a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to providing comfort to women and children in need through the making, sharing and donating of soup to domestic abuse shelters.

Soup Sisters has twelve chapters across Canada. This organization sparked not only a movement, but also a cookbook filled with one hundred cherished recipes from chefs and home cooks entitled The Soup Sisters Cookbook. A collective melting pot of soup recipes fro across the globe, it has pride and place on my shelf.

Each recipe arranged by season, and there are also pantry and fridge-stocking tips, illustrative guides for soup preparation and recipes for homemade stocks. Soup leftovers are perfect for freezing, but in true Soup Sister form they encourage you to enjoy a bowl and pass one along to a friend.

Eva’s Heritage Borscht soup contributed by Karen Anderson, and it’s one of my time-tested fav’s. I made this for my friend when she came home from the hospital. I lovingly boiled the pork side ribs, removing the tender meat from its bone, prepped the beats, carrots, onions, green beans, cabbage, tomato juice and vinegar—fusing together all the flavors in one perfect bowl of soup. Add a swirl of sour cream and sprinkle with fresh dill for a satisfying meal on a winter day.

The cookbook includes French onion layered in cheese, a Budapest Night Owl with Hungarian paprika, sweet garlic and ‘sunchoke’, which features Jerusalem artichokes, along with the squash, pear and parsnip with ginger soup. Hopefully by the time you get finished the winter soup suggestions, spring will be here in full bloom.

Until then, wrap up warm on those dreary days and serve up soup for the family, friend or neighbor. Nothing changes a blue day sunny like a bowl of hot steamy soup.

To learn more about Soup Sisters visit http://www.soupsisters.org or email info@soupsisters.org. With every sale of this cookbook, a much-needed bowl of soup will find its way to someone in need.

If you have a restaurant suggestion of a foodie biz email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, or follow my blog at LadydinesAlot.com.