Cooking and shopping

I went clothes shopping yesterday even though I had vowed not to until I reached my goal weight (~ 2 pounds to go). It was a case of spring fever, stirred not by the arrival of spring but by the continued failure of spring to arrive.

I tried to ward off the shopping urge by cooking up a couple of tasty things in the morning since my freezer stash of MREs (isn’t that what the military calls them? Meals Ready to Eat) was diminishing. For dinner I made a sweet potato–kale–chickpea stew that was a little disappointing. Too many sweet potatoes. I followed a recipe that I won’t use again so I will not pass it on.

For lunch I made up my own vegetable-barley soup and that was outstanding. Let’s see if I can remember what I put in it.


Practical Mystic’s Vegan Borsch

Contrary to conventional wisdom, borsch does not have to contain beets. It is just good vegetable soup. However, every borsch I have tasted in Russian and Ukrainian households is scented with dill and includes cabbage, which is why this vegetable-barley soup tastes like borsch to me.

Chop and sauté in olive oil:

1 fat leek

2 cloves garlic

1/2 small cabbage

2 stalks celery

2 huge carrots

1/3 lb mushrooms

1 t. dried basil

1/2 t. pepper flakes or to taste

When leek and cabbage are wilted and you smell the mushrooms add:

2/3 cup barley

1 can crushed tomatoes

about 6 cups vegetable broth or to desired consistency

a bouquet garni of a few sprigs of fresh parsley and dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for half an hour or until barley is tender. Remove bouquet. Stir in more chopped fresh dill and parsley. If you’re not vegan you can serve it with a dollop of sour cream but it is really fine without.

Eating this soup for lunch with my husband just seemed to fortify my shopping urge, however, so I gave in and headed toward the outlet mall.

Confession: This is not the first time I’ve broken my vows and gone clothes shopping. However, on the first excursion 10 days ago to the nearest mall I saw absolutely nothing I wanted to wear. Truly. I am no fashionista but I apparently do not dress the way women in this region do. Besides, in the local stores the plus sizes, what they now call “Women,” are right out front, crowding out the size 10 petites that I hope to fit into. Sadly, obesity is the new normal in small-town northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

My fondest hope is to wear fitted little jackets. The local stores weren’t even showing fitted little jackets.

I came back determined to wait out the weight loss, go for a true spree in April to Oak Brook Mall near Chicago, and buy me some real clothes. But then I thought of the outlet mall in Michigan City, 35 minutes in the other direction, and I decided to just go look without any expectations at all.

Although there, too, many, many ugly clothes were on display, the veil was lifted from my eyes and I began seeing things I wanted to wear. I ended up buying a pair of jeans, a pair of dress pants (10P!), a little green top (M!) and not one but two fitted little jackets (12 but that’s okay) before I ran out of shopping steam.

Such irreverent preoccupations for Holy Week. We didn’t make it to the Maundy Thursday service but it was good to see the new Pope commemorating by washing the feet of juvenile delinquents. This evening we will go to Tenebrae, I promise.

No sign of spring except me

No sign of spring except me


7 thoughts on “Cooking and shopping

  1. Pingback: My Next Big Thing | the practical mystic

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