Tag Archives: chicken soup

A Special Spoon

A Special Spoon

I started the two day process to make chicken soup tonight. I use a combination of recipes: from Julia Moskin of the New York Times and Ron’s 97 (soon to be 98) year-old Mom, Mother Mary as I love to call her. There is nothing that brings more comfort than a bowl of homemade chicken soup.


When we were recently in Santa Clara, California, Ron was fighting a bad cough and chest congestion. Moms never stop being mothers and Mother Mary immediately set to work to cook Ron a pot of her very special and delicious chicken soup to make him well again. She keeps two packages of organic (and she will only use organic, bless her!) chicken legs in the freezer in case of sickness and to prepare a pot of her famous and delicious “cure”.

The broth is so thick and filled with goodness that it completely congeals in the fridge. Heat it up and the kitchen is filled with that amazing aroma of pure, beautiful and healing food. Mother Mary learned how to make chicken soup from Aunt Mae, a generous woman who adopted Ron’s family and loved each and every one of the family members as her own, even though there was no blood connection.

Mother Mary told me years ago about a special wooden spoon that she uses that was gifted to her when Aunt Mae passed away. The spoon is well over one hundred years old and holds the energy of the two amazing women who cooked wholesome and nutritious food for their families, friends and loved ones over the years. I never had the privilege of meeting Aunt Mae, but I know that preparing incredible food was and is the most powerful expression of love from Mother Mary (as I’m sure it was from Aunt Mae as well).

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry's

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry’s

Mother Mary gifted me with this spoon on our last trip. It is the only material thing I ever want from her and she generously passed this special spoon, this legacy, on to me. Every time I hold this spoon, I feel the incredible love and energy of both women. I will cherish it always and think of them every time I use it to make special food for my family, friends and loved ones, just as they have done for over a century.



Mother Mary

Ron and I are both so fortunate to still have our amazing mothers. My sparkplug of a Mom is 85 years young and living independently on our family farm east of Innisfail, Alberta. Ron’s Mom, Mary, turned 97 this past December and still lives in their family home of over 65 years in Santa Clara, CA and still takes total care of her home, herself and everyone in her life.

Mother Mary is an inspiration to all who know her. She’s an excellent driver and cruises all over Silicon Valley for her medical appointments and to pick up the organic groceries she prepares her legendary food with. An example of her eternal optimism, she bought a new car after an accident shortly after her 96th birthday (which was NOT her fault, by the way). She is still traveling every February to visit her oldest daughter and son-in-law, Mary and John, in Ajijic, just outside of Guadalajara, Mexico.  She brings her youngest daughter, Claire, with her now and Ron and I try to get over to the mainland to share some precious time with Mother Mary and some of the family.

Mother Mary in Ajijic

Mother Mary in Ajijic

Mary and Jake raised six children in their modest bungalow. Their home was filled not only with their own children, but with all the kids’ friends. Everyone was welcome and still is in Mother Mary’s home.

Mary made my Mom welcome back in early March. Our Moms got on the phone and conspired to meet, so Ron and I picked Mom up in San José, they spent a couple of days together, then we took my Mom down to Palm Springs with us for the Indian Wells BNP Tennis Tournament. It was very special to see these girls together, forming a new friendship, and learning that their lives shared many parallels that had much in common.

My Mom and Mother Mary

My Mom and Mother Mary

Neither of these women had easy lives and both started with extremely difficult childhoods. What could have made both of these women bitter had the complete opposite effect. Both chose to not be victims but rather the victors in their own lives. These women are my heroines.

I’ve been learning some of Mother Mary’s recipes over the years, watching her make them and listening to her explain, writing some of them down, taking photos of others so that her food will live on. It’s embarrassing when we visit twice a year because she won’t let us do ANYTHING for her, from food prep to even the dishes after one of her sumptuous meals. We spent almost a week with Mary and she treated us to a couple of her famous dishes and our favorites: Portuguese Omelet (with carmelized onions and flat leaf parsley), French Toast (with Trader Joe’s Cracked Wheat Sourdough Bread), Lamb Stew and her “Boiled Dinner” of corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, onions and carrots. The leftover corned beef made of the best road food sandwiches ever – we enjoyed them for days after we left Mother Mary’s.

Lamb Stew

Lamb Stew

Corned Beef "Boiled Dinner"

Corned Beef “Boiled Dinner”

The last thing I wanted to do was bring illness into her home, but I succumbed to a bad flu/cold while we were visiting this last trip. Mother Mary immediately made a pot of chicken soup for me, which I feasted on every few hours for three days. I absolutely attribute her soup to my quick recovery. It was so delicious that I hated for it to end. She uses her Aunt May’s recipe which is filled with goodness. She started with three pounds of organic chicken legs that she cleans with salt before cooking. She covers with water and boils for one hour. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add celery, onion, carrots and, five minutes before serving, add some white rice and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Mary maintains that you need to sip on a small cup of this broth every few hours for the soup to work it’s best magic. Heat it up, with or without chicken taken off the bone, in the microwave to reheat. Mother Mary’s penicillin – it really works!

One of the things that Mary requested of us was to take a trip to Grass Valley to see her younger sister, Rosalie, who recently broke her leg and is scheduled for surgery in the near future. Rosalie is over 90 years old, as is their brother, Tony, and all of them are bright and in amazingly good health. A special cousin of theirs, affectionately known as “Little Mary” accompanied us that day and she is unbelievably healthy and beautiful – believe me, it’s shocking when you learn that she’s 84 years-old! Each and every one of these Portuguese seniors looks at least 20 years younger than their actual age indicates – they share some very special “fountain of youth” DNA!

Mother Mary, "Little Mary" and Aunt Rosalie

Mother Mary, “Little Mary” and Aunt Rosalie

Never does a birthday or special occasion go by with Mary not sending a card and letter to acknowledge people and let them know she’s thinking of them. She demonstrates kindness, generosity and tremendous thoughtfulness to everyone who knows her. She is grateful for her extraordinary health and her ability to share with others and does so every single day. WE are incredibly grateful for both of our beautiful and precious Moms. We love them both with all our hearts and always will. xox