Special Dish for the Week: Bone Broth Soup with Carrots and Soba Noodles

Over the past several months, soothing my tummy and adding nutrition to help my body heal whatever has gripped and irritated the nerve along the full length of my left leg—which is causing me much physical distress and leading to a good number of personal insights for the story that I am working to capture in my book project—has been this Special Dish for the Week:

Bone Broth Soup with Carrots and Soba Noodles

Bone Broth Soup with Carrots and Soba Noodles Dish

It’s really rather a basic soup, made more exotic by the addition of Soba Noodles made with buckwheat flour.

I cook the soba noodles directly in the soup, as the last ingredient that I add to the soup for the last 30 minutes of cooking time. The noodles cooked this way thicken the soup somewhat, which adds for me a pleasant texture to the soup.

The noodles could also be cooked separately, drained, rinsed and added to the soup, also, towards end.

I make my bone broth from scratch, and as I chop, I add the following ingredients:

Bone Broth Soup with Carrots and Soba Noodles Ingredients

  • 8-10 cups bone broth, or water, or half and half
  • 4-8 cups of mushroom broth from soaking gourmet mix of dried mushrooms (optional, fibrous rehydrated mushrooms discarded)
  • wakame flakes
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 carrots, finely cubed
  • cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • garlic cloves, grated
  • 1-2 tsp mustard seed powder
  • 1-2 tsp thyme
  • 1-2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2-2 tsp unrefined sea salt

I serve the soup with a glass of Gabbiano Chianti red wine, that a long-time friend gifts me during a recent visit.

Bone Broth Soup with Carrots and Soba Noodles Dish

Living Life Alive in Summary

I am thrilled to be writing again!

Over half a year has passed since I last posted on my website. In that time, I have been doing less cooking, less writing, and no posting—all, mostly on account of the excruciating pain in my left leg, which has yet to resolve, however, in the past month, at last, I have managed to strike a balance between the pain relief medication, the pain level, and the distressing side effects of that medication.

So, with no resolution in sight, and no evident cause for the pain—which, admittedly, feels like a tooth ache throughout my whole body, all day and all night, every single day, sometimes easing into a feeling of walking on broken glass while having a barbed wire pulled through the inside of my foot (and I don’t think that I’m exaggerating much when I say this)—thanks to the pain relief medication, with all its own troubles, I have been somewhat more functional and eating more in the last month.

Amazingly, through all this time, I feel fantastic in my mind and heart. Funny things happen when I choose to feel content, regardless of my physical circumstance.

Being barely functional, I have managed to live some fantastic experiences:

Camping by the Rustic Skookumchuck Hot Springs

I camped by the rustic Skookumchuck Hot Springs near Pemberton, pampered myself at the domesticated Harrison Hot Springs, and enjoyed catching the sun with some long-time friends in Vernon;

I cycled with the new Mobi shared bike system we now have in Vancouver, as well as cycling with our own bikes a few times with some friends to the lovely cabin on the majestic Galiano Island;

Cycling With the New Mobi Shared Bike System

Cycling, Hiking & Being Around the Majestic Galiano Island

The Writer in Her Native Europe–Dubrovnik, Croatia

my friends, relatives and eager readers of my story (hand-delivered to them in the Boobs anthology) in my native Europe were such a joy to visit with again, as was seeing the Pet Shop Boys in concert when I returned to Vancouver (they were the first band I ever saw back in high school in Toronto), and, while it was nearly impossible for me to write while standing up, with the pain from my leg screaming in my brain, reading several books—such as Pope Joan—while standing up at night, proved to be a sanity-saving proposition. I have also never taken so many baths, which together with the hot tub and steam room at my local YMCA, were comforting to my body and soul in general.

The Writer at the Pet Shop Boys Concert

Historical Fiction Novel, Pope Joan, Gives the Writer Reprieve & Healing Tips

Temporarily losing my ability to speak more easily during this timeframe has been disappointing; realizing that I am able to choose not to feel frustrated and to feel curious instead has been wonderful. With more sleep again, and while managing the number of sources and intensity of my pain, I feel encouraged in my approach to retraining myself to speak more fluidly–in that, my less dystonic speech is more consistently back again.

Yesterday, on the last day of February, the world observed “Rare Disease Day“—and although I don’t consider dystonia to be a “disease”, presently referring to my diagnosis as a condition, the effects of my condition do cause some “dis-ease”, to me and to those in contact with me. Hence, I do appreciate that one day in the year is designated for raising awareness of less common conditions that many people live with, while some thrive more than others.


a neurological condition that affects movement and speech

it does not affect intellect or ability to enjoy life if given the opportunity”

The Writer, Living Life Alive, Maggie’s Way

For the occasion, I am penning a 500 word summary of my dystonia story—a remarkable feat in light of my having embarked on telling my story in over 100,000 word book. The synopsis was inspired by the Chicken Soup for the Soul – Dystonia Edition writing contest by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Canada. My good writer friend, Rena Graham, offers her editorial skills to help improve my summary-story, as does another good friend from Belgium..

Today, on the first day of March, I begin my 2017 birthday month celebrations. My day was a lovely balance of working on my income taxes, receiving another installment of my acupuncture trial, and visiting with a lovely friend.

Feeling grateful for all who’ve reached out in mutual support.

living life aliveMaggie’s Way

Special Dish for the Week: Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

When I am left to my own devices and take a day to myself, I often end up in the kitchen, delighting in the amazing flavours of my culinary creations, which this week is another one of my bone broth soups—and which this week I share as one of my Meals on Bikes with a friend who can use this kind of TLC to help heal the injured body and wounded soul—for this Special Dish for the Week:

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Similarly to when I made my Beet Greens and Chickpea Soup last summer, I once again stock up with beets and chicken bones at the downtown farmers market to make this summer’s version of this soup.

Oddly, the mushroom farmers are missing from the market this year, so I use my grocer as a back-up supply of shiitakes, among other mushrooms. I feel fortunate to love the taste and texture of mushrooms, as they are said to be super healthy, including their ability to produce and deliver their own vitamin D.

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Ingredients

Beet and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Ingredients

I make my bone broth from scratch, and as I chop, I add the following ingredients:

  • 8-10 cups bone broth, or water, or half and half
  • 1 cup red lentils, pre-soaked
  • wakame flakes
  • 4 small onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 beets, finely cubed
  • 3 carrots, finely cubed
  • 6-10 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and finely cubed
  • cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 – 1 in. ginger, grated
  • 1/2 red Thai chili pepper, or a teaspoon tip of sambal oelek that I usually have on hand now since my culinary adventure in Bali
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
  • drizzle of coconut milk (optional)

I serve the soup with a glass of siegerrebe white wine from the Sea Star Vineyard on Pender Island, that another friend generously supplies from their reserves.

Highlights from Boobs Book Signing Party at Friends For Life

Boobs Book Signing Party at Friends For Life

Boobs Book Signing Party at Friends For Life

I had so much fun being with my guests at my Boobs book ‘signing’ and poetry ‘reading’ party at Friends For Life (FFL) on Saturday June 4, 2016.

I truly loved ad libbing, performing, sharing the stage with musician friend, Enrico Renz of the Red Herring band, and with poet friend, Jon Ballam (PhilosopherPoet), who collaborated with me on some readings.

The 25 guests were my beloved friends from most of my various walks of my life. We had all sorts of writers / poets, artists, musicians, cyclists, professionals / engineers, public / customer service providers, and lovers of life in our midst

Guests at Boobs Book Signing Party at Friends For Life

Guests at Boobs Book Signing Party at Friends For Life

The Poetess, Moving as in a Dance

The Poetess, Moving as in a Dance

And I had some fabulous assistants throughout the day and evening—helping me deliver and take back my “party supplies”, serving food and cleaning up, giving a tour of the FFL house, and making the whole evening look and feel glamorous.

I feel grateful that they made this night possible, together with others who were there in spirit, including the book’s publisher Caitlin Press.

It was all so wonderful.

The feedback that I received at the event, in my guestbook, and online afterwards, was a mix of praise: for me, my readings, my writings, and the event, and of gratitude: for my invitations and for me sharing my talents.

The Writer, 'Reading" from Boobs

The Writer, ‘Reading” from Boobs

“The musical accompaniment was superb!”

“I really enjoyed the evening and it was a beautiful place to hold your Boobs book signing party.”

“Thank you so much for including me in this inspiring evening.”

“Thanks for the lovely evening and for being you!”

“You are bursting with radiance tonight, Margota!”

“You shine!”

“Bloom on!”

The nutritious and delicious food was devoured and the wine flowed aplenty! I served refreshments consisting of:

The Writer Presenting 'Signed' Copy of Boobs to Beloved Reader

The Writer Presenting ‘Signed’ Copy of Boobs to Beloved Reader

The house’s famous brunch table was adorned in white tablecloth, beeswax candles from my Honey Lady at the West End Farmers Market, and potted mini red roses (of course)—gently thorned.

On display around the room, for my guests to peruse and enjoy, I had my photo poem postcards in frames and in a booklet, and photo poem wall pictures.

My guests very generously donated with their RSVPs and to the event’s donation box—painted black with the red Depeche Mode rose.

It was truly a fabulous and fun evening.

The Writer / Poetess Taking White Wine Time Out

The Writer / Poetess Taking White Wine Time Out

The Evening’s Readings:

Maggie (Margota), reading:

“I Am an Enigma” (16-01-29)
Excerpt from “Reclaiming My Thorns” from Boobs anthology

Jon Ballam (PhilosopherPoet), reading
Poems from Boobs anthology:

“First Class After Lunch—Mid-1960s” by Marilyn Belak
“Radiant” by Miranda Pearson
“Breasts” by Kate Braid

Maggie (Margota), reading:

“Befriending Fear” (15-12-31-rev16-01-25)
“Vampirellas (The Immortal Breasts)” (15-08-24-rev15-08-27)
“Releasing” (15-06-27-rev16-05-26)

Jon Ballam (PhilosopherPoet), reading
Poem written for
Maggie Wojtarowicz, Margota—Poetess:

teach me to whisper

Jon Ballam (PhilosopherPoet) and Maggie (Margota),
reading duet of Maggie (Margota) Poem:

The Missing Sun and The Ephemeral Moon” (15-06-13-rev15-07-15)

Maggie (Margota), reading:

“Mistress P” (15-03-04)
“Seek to Find” (15-09-20)
“With Eyes Wide Open” (16-04-18)

Boobs Book Signing Party at Friends For Life

Maggie’s Boobs Book ‘Signing’, Poetry Reading & Friends For Life Community Engagement Party Notice

Maggie’s Boobs Book ‘Signing’, Poetry Reading & Friends For Life Community Engagement Party Notice

See about Maggie’s story below.

You’re invited to my book ‘signing’ (Maggie’s way) party for the Boobs anthology, in which my story, “Reclaiming My Thorns”, is published. You will experience ‘readings’ (recitals) from the book as well as poetry to music, while getting yourself acquainted with Friends For Life (FFL or ‘the house’ and some of its members), which supports those of us diagnosed with life threatening conditions.

You will be greeted at ‘the house’ with several treats for your senses: refreshments for the palate, music and lyrics for the ears, photo poem postcards and pictures as visuals, and lots of love for the soul!

Maggie / Margota 'Reading' from "Reclaiming My Thorns" in Boobs Book

Maggie / Margota ‘Reading’ from “Reclaiming My Thorns” in Boobs Book

This event is intended to engage the greater community around Friends For Life (beyond the current members) through mingling and seeing the interior of this beautiful heritage house in the West End at 1459 Barclay Street.

I would love to host about 15-30 guests* — and I ask for a small RSVP donation to help cover the costs of the event and give a donation to the organization, with an option to pre-pay if you wish to purchase your copy of Boobs ($25 per copy). I will have a few extra copies at the event.

* guests include current and potential FFL members, and individuals living with and without life threatening condition diagnoses

Saturday June 4, 2016

Greetings @7:00pm
First ‘reading’ @7:30pm — from the Boobs book
Second ‘reading’ @8:30pm — poetry
Farewell by 9:30pm

Please RSVP at: http://boobs-signing.eventbrite.com
(by invitation – please email me to receive yours)

If you have any questions, please see FAQs on invitation at Eventbrite or email me.

I look forward to spending a lovely evening with you!

Please feel free to follow my writing journey at https://www.facebook.com/Margota.ca/

About Maggie’s “Reclaiming My Thorns” Story:

Maggie's Thorny Rose Tattoo

Maggie’s Thorny Rose Tattoo

In her story, “Reclaiming My Thorns”, Maggie Wojtarowicz (who writes as ‘Margota’), likens her life to a rose whose thorns are the challenges she has experienced.

Having lived with a movement condition that was diagnosed as dystonia when she was a child, Maggie navigated through her teens with her body increasingly restricting her ability to speak, be still, or move, without attracting unsolicited commentary – while surviving the well-intentioned but misguided treatments of her uniqueness. Believing the medical wisdom of the time, that her condition could not be organically improved, Maggie persevered in her desire to practice as a Professional Engineer, while moving on her own at 24 from Ontario out to Vancouver, BC.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-thirties and lost both breasts, she gained valuable insight that led her to retraining herself to speak without triggering the dystonic spasms. As part of her newly reconstructed cleavage, Maggie also acquired a rose tattoo to remind herself that even a thorny life can be beautiful.

Drawing on the stark contrast between her experiences with her cancer condition – invisible unless she chooses to share it – and her very visible neurological condition, Maggie reconceptualizes her thorny challenges to have a gentler and more forgiving side to them. Using humour, Maggie diffuses the sombreness of her conditions and shares her newly gained perspective for living an even richer life.

The story was recently published by Caitlin Press in an anthology entitled Boobs: Women Explore What It Means to Have Breasts.

More on Maggie’s story publication and book availability.

Special Dish for the Week: Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai

A conversation with a couple new acquaintances from Authors for Indies event inspires this Special Dish for the Week, which I then make and share at a potluck with another new group of lovely acquaintances—many of whom easily on their way to becoming friends:

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai

I find a couple more foodies, recently, who also love Thai food. One of them eats raw vegan foods, which makes me curious: how does one make raw vegan Thai food?!

A quick Google search reveals that Pad Thai is quite a popular option, especially if there is a zucchini spiralizer on hand—which I don’t (yet!) have. I julienne some of my veggies and chop others—some by hand and some in my electric chopper (blender)—for varied texture.

I am reminded of the Rainbow Life Salad with Quinoa I made last year, also very delicious!

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai Ingredients

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai Ingredients

I prepare the dressing first, using the following ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (alternate: almond butter)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds (alternate: white sesame seeds)
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 4 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves
  • chopped cilantro stems
Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai Ingredients Combined

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai Ingredients Combined

I let the dressing stand while chopping the following veggies:

  • 2 carrots, chopped or julienned
  • 1 small red cabbage, some chopped and some thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, julienned or spiraled
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
  • sesame seeds for garnish

I pour the dressing over the chopped and sliced veggies, and mix lightly.

I let the dish sit in the fridge over night, to soften the veggies and to allow the flavours to intermingle.

I garnish with sesame seeds just before serving.

The dish turns out very delicious, nutritious and colourful—and it is a hit with the potluck guests, some of whom ask for the recipe.

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai Dish

Raw Vegan Rainbow Pad Thai Dish

Meal ideas & recipes from http://ohsheglows.com/2013/07/01/rad-rainbow-raw-pad-thai/.

Highlights from Boobs Book Launch Party at Heartwood Cafe

The Writer 'Reading' from Boobs at Book Launch

The Writer ‘Reading’ from Boobs at Book Launch

On Friday April 29, 2016, at Vancouver’s Heartwood Community Café, I did my first public book launch ‘reading’ from my “Reclaiming My Thorns” story published in the Boobs anthology for an audience of about 70 people.

My ‘reading’ was accompanied on a guitar by a musician friend, Enrico Renz of the Red Herring band—also a first for me—and it proved a great success for the audience and for me. It made my dance-like movements when I speak appear more in-place and gave gentle echos to the silent pauses in my speech.

I say ‘reading’ in quotes, because I needed to memorize the roughly 7 minute speech / excerpt reading, as my dystonia condition still does not allow my eyes to stay open and my voice to work at the same time (i.e., no reading out loud for more than a few words at a time).

The Writer Presenting 'Signed' Copy of Boobs to Beloved Reader

The Writer Presenting ‘Signed’ Copy of Boobs to Beloved Reader

But I was able to see—and with much gratitude, to enjoy—so many in the audience tear up as well as laugh throughout my ‘reading’, reassuring me that I was being heard: literally and figuratively.

I ‘signed’ my story in others’ copies of the book using my “authorstamp package” (i.e., autograph, Maggie’s way), and I had my copy signed by the other anthology contributors reading their stories with me and others in attendance.

I also say ‘signed’ in quotes, because my “autograph” consists of my “authorstamp” and a bookmark that includes a photo poem on one side and my story of why I use an authorstamp on the other.

Why Authorstamp Bookmark

Why Authorstamp Bookmark

I had a lot of fun performing at this event and feel so grateful for the table-full-and-a-half of friends who joined me and my co-contributors to enjoy the readings, the venue, and each other!

Boobs Book Launch at Heartwood Cafe

Boobs Book Launch at Heartwood Cafe