recipes

Water soup, power bowls and other ways to stay out of the grocery store

“Plenty sit still. Hunger is a wanderer.” Zulu proverb

When the COVID apocalypse began, our kitchen was still well stocked from a mega-shop done on March 4. At that early date, shelves were full and it was possible to go places and buy things — lots of things. Fast forward a month and our cabinets still contain enough to keep everyone fed for maybe two weeks, but pickings are getting slimmer and are odder than I have ever experienced.

Bits of leftovers can be turned into lunchtime “power bowls.” Start with a carb (these bowls have leftover pasta coated with a bit of prepared tomato sauce). Add veggies, some fat, a protein and something crunchy. (Here, leftover green beans, oven-roasted garbanzos in a soy butter/cayenne coating, some roasted peppers and hard-boiled egg.)

On my last grocery foray, I came back with an assortment of fresh produce that was devoured within a week, a couple of cartons of eggs and an odd mix of canned goods that included collard greens and sauerkraut. There were few frozen veggies to be found, no pasta other than ramen (which I bought), no potatoes and nothing but a couple day-old loaves of rye bread (which I also bought.)

Thankfully, I have enough flour and yeast to make bread. We have plenty of rice, quinoa, oats, beans, carrots, cabbage and a few pounds of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and such like. There are a couple packages of oddly seasoned chicken in the freezer. There is dairy cheese and four or five slices of nut cheese in the fridge and a similar count of onions in the pantry.

Oddly, we have a large supply of jam, mustard, green olives, carrots and dried herbs of every kind. We also have a small collection of Peeps, foil-covered chocolate eggs, a box of gluten-free cake mix and some frosting in a tub. (Easter dinner will happen.)

Soup is a way to turn bits of food into a satisfying meal. But, don’t throw away peels and discarded bits (even onion skins) as you’re making it. Put these in a freezer bag — keeping cruciferous bits of cabbage, broccoli and their kind separate given their strong flavor. When the bag is full, dump it into a stock pot, fill the pot with fresh water and simmer for an hour. Strain out and discard the veggies, and save the broth for soup stock. Stock freezes well.

As I said, we’re eating — sometimes quite well. But, as trips to the store become fewer and less fruitful — each meal becomes more like an episode of Chopped.

I could despair (or break down and haul everyone through a drive-thru, as I did for today’s lunch). But, there is a bit of excitement and challenge to cooking in such a time.

I’ve read about things such as “water soup” a heady broth of wild-harvested Mediterranean herbs served with bread. I figure if Italian women could pull off such a thing in tough times, I can, too. There are no wild herbs here, but there are dandelion leaves (great fried to oblivion alongside garlic and dressed with vinegar, oil and parmesan) and ramps (an Appalachian wild onion that does its part to maintain social distancing.)

Also, our pantry is on its own lockdown. Nothing is wasted. We’re making stock from scraps, breads that require few ingredients and are otherwise working everything we’ve got until it’s used up. It’s not a bad thing. Again, we’re still eating — sometimes quite well. We’re avoiding the grocery stores as much as we can and leaving bread for those who cannot yet bake it when we do go.

It is enough. It really is.

God is able, blog friends! Be well of mind, body and spirit!

49 thoughts on “Water soup, power bowls and other ways to stay out of the grocery store”

    1. 🙂 I’ve heard on the news about India’s stay-inside campaign. I hope you guys are still able to get out enough to get some sun. Vitamin D is a good thing. I’m making the whole family sit out on the deck on sunny days. We look like we’re on a cruise ship — all lined up in our chairs. Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, there is complete lockdown here for 21 days.
        I have come to my village (countryside) and we are having a plenty of sunlight here. thankfully, going to farms is not prohibited.
        That’s so nice that u people are spending a quality time with your loved and dear ones.
        Blessing to u too Nora and your family members.
        You all stay safe, well and blessed.
        Best wishes!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great encouragement, Nora! I am finding that looking for ways to be creative is enlivening my days. My interest in bread making, for instance, is bringing joy. Good stewardship really is its own reward. God truly is able! Blessings of health to you and your family; of body, soul, and spirit! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is true! We are making surgical masks now, out of scraps. They’re pretty cute. I’ll post a picture as soon as we have a handful done. We’re all going to look like we’re wearing the play clothes from “Sound of Music,” but it could set a trend! Blessings, Jacquie!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🙂 I suspect I might be fired for slowness, bobbin mayhem, wavy stitches… They’re solid enough that they can stand up to machine washing, but it doesn’t pay to look too closely.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your “chopped” meals sound much like the dinners my Nana served us growing up. The food shortages of the Great Depression and World War II forever shaped her approach to cooking. We had some pretty interesting but tasty meals at her table.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 🙂 My grandmother, who always lived with us, was the same kind of cook. So, oddly, I feel like I’ve been training for this moment my entire life! Kitchen magic! And, God has not lost the recipe for manna. Blessings!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Trying to stay away from stores must be hard when there are several people to feed! Sometimes I wonder what it must feel like to be REALLY hungry, and I am so grateful that I have always had food on my plate…
    The other day I used cooking pasta water to make a vegetable soup. The starches released in the pots added a little thickness to the soup.
    As for reusable masks, I have spend this past week making several to be handed out around me. I followed a pattern from the newspaper. The mask was supposed to be tied with ribbons, but after putting it on I realized it would be better with an elastic around the ears, especially for people like my ageing mom or my friend with multiple sclerosis who have problems using their hands or raising their arms behind their head. I would love to see yours!
    Take care and stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can sew, but I don’t actually like to. Mine involve bias tape and need to be tied. I hadn’t thought about older people not being able to do that. My mom lives with us. She’s only going out for walks, so she doesn’t really need one. I’ve heard complaints about the elastic cutting people’s ears — it’s hard to win. I wore mine to the grocery store last night. It was hot and unwieldy with my glasses, but was a bit of a fashion statement. 🙂 If I couldn’t sew at all, I think I’d wear a bandana!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get what you are saying about the elastic… I have to fix the mask I just made for my sister-in-law. Not being able to visit people and try the masks on them makes it even more challenging!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True. With the pattern I’m using, the top ties have to be high above the ears for it to sit properly on the nose. It has darts for the chin and nose, which helps. I’m still thinking a triangled bandana is not a bad option. We’ll all look like cowboys! Blessings!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. No waste. I love it. Even perishable are items eaten before they go bad, or skillfully transformed into something to broth up another meal. Creative. Mindful. Impressive. Frugal. I’m a fan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Thank you! It actually makes good stock. The onion skins give it a caramel color that’s a bit unusual, but it’s fine unless you’re making something pale. Mmmmm. That made me think of Greek lemon soup. So good! Have a blessed Thursday!

      Like

  5. Hi Nora, sorry about the short supplies there. Here the stores are mostly full of food items, but still lacking in things like TP & wipes. Shopping for vulnerable older friends this week I went to several stores. Weird to see everyone wearing face masks (myself included) but hopefully they will help. Blessings & Easter hugs (from a distance!) Virginia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 We have food. It’s just an odd mix. There are few carbs of any kind in stores, but my husband did find some ramen this week. That was a nice variation on rice. We also got some more potatoes. It’s all good! Blessings, Virginia!!

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  6. What a sweet post, love the idea with the broth!!
    Could you tell me on the garbanzo beans do you buy those in a can or frozen and then oven roast them? I’ve been wanting to cook (experiment😂) with those but I’m clueless when it comes to using them so I’ve refrained from purchasing!
    By the way the power bowl you made looks good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Thanks. It was tasty. I usually buy them canned, but occasionally, I will boil them. They like a light coating of oil and whatever sauce you’re using, then roast them on a cookie sheet at moderate heat until they have a crispy texture. You might want to start with one drained can, but once you have it down do a couple of cans and store them for future meals toppings or snacks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice!!! Thank you so much, super helpful…I actually used some Garbanzo beans a few weeks ago and made homemade hummus, my husband liked it but I wasn’t too much of a fan and I’m not a picky eater LOL

        Liked by 1 person

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