I have a little house in Paris

The door opens onto a quiet street.

Around the corner an old bookstore.

And a tiny bistro with a zinc bar.


I have a little house in Paris with a courtyard.

Tall windows overlook the courtyard.

Fragrant herbs grow around my door.


 Grinning wolves spill water into a stone trough.

 Romulus and Remus.

Guardians of my courtyard.


I have a house in Paris.

Where enfilade rooms lead quietly into each other.

And ancient wood floors creak a complaining welcome.


In the kitchen surrounded by gleaming pots

and ancient cutting boards

I sauté  lamb and sausages.

Simmer Tarbais beans to a silky softness.

Crisp the golden duck confit.

The cassoulet bakes.

I break the crust again and then again.

table set

I’ve shined the silver.

Ironed the linen.

Polished the floors.

Edith Piaf fills my little house with songs of love.


I brush the silver dust of Paris from the balcony railing.

It is that suspended moment in time.

Not day.  Not night.


I lean out.

Far out.

I can see my Monsieur Tinny and beloved Theadora.

Tonight we celebrate our love of Paris.



You’ve seen them.  Sitting on cardboard begging.  Or huddled in a doorway in an old sleeping bag.  Trying to keep warm. Trying to survive the winter.  A warm coat could make a difference.  Warm mitts and socks would be a luxury.

You sort through closets and cupboards until you find a jacket you no longer wear. Perhaps it doesn’t fit right.  Or the style is a little dated.  But it is perfectly good.   You put a pair of mittens in one pocket.  A scarf and a pair socks in the other. Then you tie it to a lamp post in an area of people in need.  A tag on it reads; WE’RE NOT LOST.  IF YOU ARE STUCK OUT IN THE COLD PLEASE TAKE ME TO KEEP WARM.

If you don’t have a jacket to donate visit a thrift shop.  Prices are ridiculously cheap.  Perhaps you’ll find a heavy wool sweater.  Or a toque. You can make a difference in somebody’s life. Dress a lamp post today.  It could mean the difference between living on the street and dying on the street.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tara Smith Atkins has been doing this.  I read about her in a blog I DIDN’T HAVE MY GLASSES ON. If all of us who blog take her idea and write about it we could make a difference.




I started baking cakes when I was nine or ten years old.  I made quick breads.  They were the easiest.  No whipping egg whites.  No careful folding of flour. Baking utensils were basic. An egg-beater for whipping egg whites and cream.  A large white bowl for mixing.   A heavy spoon for creaming butter.   The forefinger on my right hand still has a tiny bump on it caused by countless of hours of creaming butter and sugar.

The baking of a loaf cake was also easier.  It did not require a quick oven (very hot).  Simply a nice steady heat.  As the cook I had to regulate the heat of our wood burning stove.  If the wood was cut to thin it would spit and crackle and burn too hot and too quickly.  I would test the heat of the oven by opening it and putting my hand in to feel the heat.  One that was created by medium sized logs burning steadily and quietly. I still find myself double checking an oven temperature in this way.

Savory cakes are popular in France.  The cake salé as it is known   (salé  means salty or savory) is a simple quick bread recipe.  You whisk all the dry ingredients together in one bowl. All the rest in another.  Then gently combine the two.  It takes less than ten minutes to put together and like my youthful loaf cakes requires no special equipment.

I made this savory cheese and chive bread  to serve with aperitifs.  I was celebrating a major birthday and my two sisters were traveling from Prince Albert to Vancouver to help me blow out birthday candles.   The bread is also perfect for brunch, excellent with salads and delicious lightly toasted and buttered.

This version is simple –  using just old cheddar cheese and snipped chives but it also a great way to use those left-over  odd-sized pieces of cheese you have on hand.  It is good with basil or a mix of herbs.  Or you can be creative and mix in diced ham or bacon, toasted chopped nuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or minced shallot.

You can serve this warm but it tastes better when it has cooled completely.  If you’re serving it with drinks, cut it into 8 slices about 1/2 thick, and cut the slices into strips.  SAVORY CHEESE AND CHIVE BREAD   …   Bon Appetite.




Proust dipped a madeléine into his tea and  wrote about the all-powerful joy of remembering the past.    I paged  my stained and wrinkled family cookbook and  “the memory revealed itself”.  I discovered my own exquisite pleasure, my own memory, “the remembrance of things past”.

My Dad  in the kitchen baking.  Eggs whisked.  Flour folded.  A fragrant tray of cake baking.  The memory, the absolute delight of watching a tender sponge cake spread with homemade jam then  rolled in gritty sugar  become a jelly roll.  The very name made it seem like a cake especially made for children.  A cake you would take on a picnic and have a jolly jelly roll time.


A teddy bear’s picnic for one.



I’m three and styling in my new blue silk ruffled dress my mother brought back from England.



Three years later and the first picnic of the season, a spring picnic. It’s chilly so the drinks were hot and we three sisters are  wearing beautiful cable-stitch sweaters knitted by Mum.  Behind us is the playhouse our Dad built complete with veranda and fake chimney.

Those were happy times  and I’ve recaptured them in the kitchen with an old fashioned jelly roll.   If you have eggs and flour and jam in your pantry  you are half way there.  It is good for the soul, and delicious with tea.


This recipe seems long enough to be a novel, but it is really simple to make. I am passing along a few tips that will ensure this dessert a complete success.  Just read it carefully before you start.

3/4 cup sugar (plus about 1/2 a cup for coating the cake)

1/2 cup water

5 large eggs (at room temperature as always)

Minced zest of one lemon

2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Scant 3/4 cup all-purpose flour measured after sifting once

About 1 1/4 cups thick jam. It should be very spreadable.

Place a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 375F.  Line an 18 x 12 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lightly butter the paper or brush with oil.

Combine the 3/4 cup sugar and the 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over low heat, then bring to a boil, and boil for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove the sugar syrup from the heat, immediately turn the mixer on high-speed, and slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl as you whip the eggs.  (The syrup must be poured slowly down the side of the bowl-avoiding the whisk-so as not to spatter.)  The eggs will turn runny and loose, then will whiten and lighten.  Continue whisking on high-speed until completely cool, about 5 minutes.  The eggs will more than triple in volume and turn pale.

Remove the bowl from mixer.  Add the zest and the juice, then fold in the flour, 1/4 cup at a time.  ( I keep a rubber spatula specifically for folding egg whites.  Over time oil from other baking can permeate the spatula and deflate your whites)

Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth with a spatula.  Bake for 10 minutes , or until the cake is pale with touches of brown at the edges and is pulling away from the edges of the pan.  Remove from the oven, and set aside for a moment.

Rinse a tea towel in cool water, then wring it out thoroughly.  Lay the cloth flat on the counter, with a long side facing you, and sprinkle on about 1/2 cup sugar in a rectangular area the size of the cake.  Carefully flip the cake out onto the sugared towel, with a long side toward you and the underside of the cake facing up.  (It may feel a little scary the first time you do it, but in fact the cake just drops easily out of the pan and onto the sugar.)  Peel off the baking paper.  (The surface of the cake that is on the sugar will eventually be the outside of the roll.)

Spread the filling in a thin layer all over the cake, leaving a 1/2 border along the far side.

Grasp the towel under the front edge and use it to start rolling the long end of cake away from you.  Once you get the first edge turned, roll carefully, then pull the towel tightly around the outside of the cake and tuck in to hold the roll in shape.  Let stand for 3 minutes.   ( I must confess.  I got carried away with what I was doing and started rolling the cake from the short end.   You get less slices but it is still good.)

Unwrap the roll and place seam side down on a long platter.  Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.  Serve with tea while reading Proust.


You can fill your jelly roll with thick custard, home made jelly, lemon curd or even whipped cream.




Every evening through the bitter cold Saskatchewan winter my mother read Charles Dickens to us.  The Old Curiosity Shop, Little Nell and her Grandfather was as real to us as the neighbors next door.  That was the year I turned  nine years old and discovered what I thought was an Old Curiosity Shop

Nine years old meant I could go downtown by myself.  I could spend all the time I wanted walking up and down Prince Albert’s Central Avenue.   Looking at books in Adam’s Book Store.  Buying a cherry custard ice cream at McConnell’s. It was off a side street I found a shop with a  dirty window crowded with other people’s memories  – walking sticks, stone crocks, faded photographs and mysterious objects I couldn’t identify.  I had discovered my Old Curiosity Shop. When I opened the door a bell tinkled.  The shop was dusty with forgotten pasts.  It smelt of mildew.   Of neglect.   It was wonderful.

The floor creaked.  Bare light bulbs hung from the high ceiling. There was no order.  Clothes tumbled out of trunks.  China plates and bowls teetered precariously.  Ancestral photographs frowned at me.  And then I found the silver.  Tarnished black.   It was wonderful.

A bundle of elaborate silver spoons had been thrust carelessly into a green glass canning jar.  The aging price sticker said five cents each.  I had a dime.  I could buy two.  I knew what I could do with them.   Armed with an old tooth brush, silver polish and soft flannel I had been polishing my mother’s silver candlesticks and tea service for several years.  I loved polishing silver.

And that was the start of my obsession with silver  – preferably old, along with my acceptance that all silver will tarnish and life is too short to be polishing your silver with commercial polish every Saturday.  This recipe for cleaning silver is safer (no chemicals), cheaper (house-hold ingredients) and better for your silver.  It returns your silver to incredible brilliance with damaging it.




Aluminum foil, glass dish or plastic bowl, tongs,   1 cup boiling water, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon sea salt. 1/2 cup white vinegar.

Line your bowl with the foil.  Add the baking soda and sea salt.  Pour in the white vinegar(it fizzes).  Pour in the water.

Lay your silver items – not touching – in the bowl for 30 seconds.  Longer if they are badly tarnished.  Remove with tongs and rinse under running water.  Then polish with a soft cloth.  (try to avoid touching the silver with your fingers as they will tarnish your silver)


This amount is perfect for silver jewellery and small items. I made up the amount times eight (8) so I could clean large items.  If you find it not working after cleaning several items simply remove the discolored  foil and replace it with new foil.

Dear friends I did research on this method and I was confident I wasn’t harming my silver.  It is important not to leave the silver in mixture for any length of time. If your have valuable family heirlooms you might want to research this yourself, but it does work a treat on silver plate.  My understanding is continuous use of commercial silver polish actually removes the silver.  This method does not.  The hot water quickly cools but the mixture continues to work.

I absolutely promise your silver will gleam.  I had not polished any silver for almost a year.  It was so tarnished that as I dipped first one side of a silver jug and then went to turn it to the other side the difference was like black and white.    Gather up your collection of silver and polish it all in one go.  It  is like having your own butler from Downton Abby is shining away in the pantry







I joyfully share with you my best tried and true recipes.  Many date back more than fifty years so one could say they have been tested over and over again.  But it takes more than a good recipe to make a good cook. It requires cleaning.  And I have been so remiss for not addressing this important facet of cooking.

It’s a given to start ” mise en place”.  All your required ingredients lined up on your counter.  The other given is you start with A CLEAN KITCHEN.  Dishwasher emptied.  Counters cleaned.  Unnecessary items put away. The next step is to fill your kitchen sink with hot soapy water and line up your drying rack or trays.  You absolutely most clean and put away as you go.

In one of Thomas Keller’s outstanding cookbooks he writes about what he looks for when hiring chefs to work in his restaurants.  They are required to cook several dishes.  If when they are doing this they don’t clean as they go he won’t hire them.    Who do you think cleans behind a chef?


Our kitchen in ROXY’S BISTRO was extremely small.  We did all the prep in this space and served up to eighty covers a night.  When I tell you CLEAN AS YOU GO I know it works.



So when you finish sauteing the onions and garlic and have added it to your dish that pan goes into the sink, washed, drained and dried and PUT AWAY.  It just takes a few minutes and your kitchen work area is clean and tidy.

This WASH AS YOU GO is doubly important when cooking dinner.  When you finish dinner you will just have a few dishes and perhaps a last minute pan to deal with.  WASH AS YOU GO and START WITH A CLEAN KITCHEN is not about being a clean freak.  It is about being calm, happy and organized and more professional in your attitude towards cooking.   Bon Appetite


PS from the chef.

Among treasured mementos in my kitchen is an autographed menu from THE FRENCH LAUNDRY.  It’s inscribed “To Virginia.  It’s all in the details.  Thomas Keller.”  This also applies to the life you live and how you live it.  An organized home  makes every day living easier, calmer and you a happier person.








We live out in the country wedged between the mighty Fraser River a few minutes walk  north of us and the Pacific Ocean a short drive to the west.   This enviable location does come with a problem.  A micro-climate with ground fog rolling across the farm lands and over my tomato plants.

There is a secret to growing tomatoes in this will-of-the-wisp summer.   You plant them in big black plastic nursery pots. Then position these pots against a south wall preferably with a large overhanging roof.  If you are fortunate this will give the tomatoes some protection from the heavy dew and ground fog.

The only supermarket tomatoes I buy are  Campari tomatoes. Eight small tomatoes in a precious plastic box.  They have real,  honest-to- goodness tomato flavour. I harvested seeds from these tomatoes.  Early spring I started them indoors and then transplanted the strongest into pots.    I ended up with six rather straggly plants left over and no more pots. Off to the compost heap with them.  Until my good husband rescued them and planted them in the garden.  They grew.  They grew, and grew and produced tomatoes.   Better tomatoes then the plants coddled in protective pots.

The summer was unique.  We had months and months of nothing but sun.  The plants in the garden loved the heat.  Not so the tomatoes planted in the pots.  Day after day I would harvest the garden grown tomatoes.   A couple of pounds of these dazzling red darlings filling my basket.  The final one day harvesting of the Campari tomato plants netted over forty pounds.  All from six spindly almost thrown-away plants!

This was the summer of enjoying tomatoes every day.  Tomato, bacon and lettuce sandwiches (vegetables from the garden and our own bacon) – divine.  Tomatoes baked in cream with thyme – sublime.  And then tomato soup.  Tomato soup so superb you’ll never go back to your old recipe.    One big roasting pan filled with tomatoes, shallots, garlic, carrots, onion and the zinger – jalapeno chile.  You roast it.  Puree and then eat.  FIERY ROASTED TOMATO SOUP – it just doesn’t get any better.







If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England.  There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:

Gave,  once,  her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.




remembrance day 3 soldiers


And think, this heart,all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given,

Her signs and sounds; dream happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends;  and gentleness,

In hearts at peace,  under an English heaven.



remembrance day many soldiers




My uncle,  Bertram Henry Henderson.  Killed in action October 27, 1944.



My older sister and myself with my Uncle shortly before he was shipped overseas.






Our Uncle’s grave continues to be looked after by the Belgian Family entrusted in their care more than 70 years ago.  Member of that family continue to maintain contact with our family.


( The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)




There is a back story to the blog THE BICYCLE GHOSTS posted on All Saints’ Eve.  First of all – it is not a fairy tale.  The lovers really existed.   And like many of my blogs the story continues to unfold as I reply to your comments.  Do not neglect to read them.  You may just miss the best parts.

A friend called me today.  She wanted to know if there was a reason for the bicycle  thread.  The bicycle was often the means of transportation during the underground warfare against the enemy.  It did not require gasoline.  It was quiet and it was readily available. And a tiny slip of what appeared to be young girl  (peddling down a back road)  could perhaps travel  unnoticed.


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