Soup Weather



Image courtesy Old Design Shop


We had the first snow this past Sunday. Huge half-formed flakes escorted by grey rain fell from the sky the better part of the morning.

Most Sundays or Saturdays, Oakley and I walk with a friend, but the cold damp weather vetoed it. I did a short yoga practice and made a pot of refrigerator soup.

No need to immerse appliances in boiling water to make stock. There is no real recipe for it. If you want to be fancy, call it soupe bonne femme, the good wife’s soup. Go through your fridge. The half serving of peas, celery that’s gone limp, half an onion from a salad made a few days ago can go in the pot. You found a couple of carrots that have seen better days? Peel, trim, chop, and introduce them to their colleagues in the pot. Cabbage? Chop it finally and add that. Of course you can add potatoes, pasta, rice, whatever suits your fancy.

For stock, I used a generous tablespoon of bouillon paste and water to cover. I also poured in a can of crushed tomatoes. Salt. Pepper. Garlic, either fresh or powdered.  If you want to make it a whole meal, canned white beans or chickpeas will round it out as will leftover bits of roast meat or chicken if you need to use those up.

Simmer until everything is done. The longer, the better in order to blend the flavors. Serve with some good bread or crackers, perhaps some cheese, and enjoy at a table with an outside view. Accompany with gratitude for being inside and having a full belly, and follow up with fruit for dessert.

Simplicity, Frugality, and Sadomasochism

Changes are on the horizon here in the soybean field. Not official, but in the works. The changes are for the best and the highest, so no worries. Details to follow when all is complete.

There will be some adjustments and tradeoffs, certainly, but worth it. The trick is to implement them without suffering. A small amount of discomfort, perhaps. However, it is very possible to live quite nicely within the lines without hurting oneself.

Simplicity and frugality share some points on the Venn diagram. So do frugality and sadomasochism. Simplicity and frugality help their practitioners become free from mental clutter, debt, and consumerism gone insane. The frontiers between frugality and sadomasochism, on the other hand, drive the need to scrimp and save to the point where one’s life is taken over by the need to hoard toilet paper beneath the bed because one has found a great deal on it and purchased a year’s worth.

Simplicity asks “What makes you happy? What are you willing to give up so you have more room in your life for it?” It might be debts. It might be the butt-ugly lamps inherited from an ancestor. Or it could involve performing a ritual to release a long-held grudge.

Sadomasochism has no time for that. It demands the twine scraps be knotted together and balled up. It requires that the bags get stuffed into sacks for storage.

Your Money or Your Life is a good starting point for saving money and consuming consciously. You keep a list of what you spend during a week, then evaluate it to see what you need, or don’t. Example from real life (not in the book, but to give an idea): do you really need to make three latte runs to Starbucks a day (yes, a day) or maybe you could have one a week? Amazing what people spend their money on without awareness.

The Tightwad Gazette has some good pointers in it: making your own salad dressings and other condiments; organizing the kitchen, valuing time. Some of the advice is downright tacky (gag gifts, potluck wedding receptions, homemade gifts), dangerous (buying a case of canned foods that had lost its labels or forcing  children to finish their meals in ways that plant seeds for eating disorders in their teen years) or dated (the newsletters compiled in the book ran from 1990-96). The author also made some nasty remarks about overweight women spending too much money on their hair and nails to compensate for their weight. Very mixed.

If getting one’s hair and nails done is something that helps a woman feel good about herself, no matter her size, and she budgets for it, it falls under simplicity. It is a reflection of her true self, and not acceptance of what consumerism gone amok preaches.

For me, hair yes (tried to cut my own when I was in junior high and looked like I’d undergone chemo for a month). Never really been into getting manis or pedis. Not me. Not worth the money. Books are. Ecologically responsible cleaners are. Good food for me, Hubby, and Oakley is.

So we make our adjustments, and get ready for the next adventure.