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The Secret to Happiness is in Sharing

Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving

I write often about the fact that sharing food is a central concept to enjoying it. Gathering around a table to break bread and share the events of the day has been an integral part of society since the ancient Greek and Romans started it. As a cook and a lover of food, I get a kick out of seeing others enjoy my preparations and also being able to sit down and savour someone else’s hard work.

Food isn’t the only thing that is fun to share; friendship works exactly the same way. One of the easiest friendships to have is with a dog, and I have been privileged to know many four-legged friends in my life. Dogs don’t judge friends; once they have decided you are a companion they stick by you for life. I am partial to Labrador Retrievers, who are famous for their gregarious nature and ability to be thrilled with whatever you want to suggest to them. IMG_2550 They can be running or swimming at full speed one moment, and then relaxing and ready to nap the next. With their dense soft fur, they are eminently huggable, and will often encourage this kind of behaviour, being touchy-feely animals. They are also big lovers of food, another worthy trait in a friend, I think. I highly recommend at least making use of a dog that belongs to someone you know even if you don’t have your own. They say time with a dog lengthens your life, so how bad can it be?

In this post I’d like to salute my current companion, Ella. She is featured this week in a photo contest, so here’s your chance to think about dogs you might like. Hopefully you’ll vote for my lovable Brown Girl, but even if you don’t I’m sure this few moments will put a smile on your face. Vote here (no registration required)

Take time out to simply Be Happy and Live in the Moment. It’s Ella’s philosophy. Doesn’t she look like she’s enjoying life?

Ella & me selfie Knox Mtn 2014

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Sharing something special

Do you have recipes that are family secrets? Is there some “secret sauce” or “Aunt Mabel’s noodle casserole” that you are sworn not to share?? In today’s world of the Internet and cookbooks at Costco and chefs on Twitter, how could there be any secrets left, I wonder… I would love to know your feedback on this.

The closest thing I have to a secret recipe is one I was given by a charming English lady at a bed and breakfast in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. It is for traditional English marmalade, and I wanted it to preserve the memory of the full English breakfast she served my companion and I on our cycling holiday along the south coast. I have made it every year since, and I cherish every spoonful.

Mahone Bay, a picture-perfect town south of Halifax, Nova Scotia

It could be said that keeping this recipe close to my heart doesn’t matter much, as I have found that many people don’t even like marmalade.Certainly a recipe that takes 3 days is a harder sell.

day 2 - separating the pips, pulp and peel, then chopping the peel finely. Sticky work!

But I like the idea of having something special that I can share with those special people. My Aunt Myrna makes marmalade on the Sunshine Coast, along with her many other efforts to preserve and share from her kitchen. My Mom makes it, too – most often when she hasn’t been able to visit me, as I am happy to share. (I can’t eat 10 jars a year.) And every once in a while I run into another avid fan and I get to share a bit of sunshine in a jar with them and know they will smile over their next piece of toast.

This year's harvest - the big jar stays in my fridge!

They say that many cultures are unified by the traditions of food, even when other elements like religion or politics can divide them. No wonder we use the word “comfort” when we speak of food; it is not only sustenance for our physical system, but emotional sustenance as well. (Anyone who got their heart broken and consumed a tub of Haagen Daz in one sitting can attest to that!) Perhaps the traditions surrounding food are part of what keep any secrets or special ingredients a part of family and cultural history.

Do you have favourite foods that you can only get in one place? Are there secret recipes or ingredients that you use? Please share your opinions and comments!

By the way, I am happy to trade secrets, if you happen to be a marmalade fan 🙂

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