Just as we were adjusting to the “let down” that creeps in after a whirlwind of holiday happiness, an Arctic chill has wrapped us in a frigid blanket of ice, snow and thick inversion air that has us housebound. And it seems as if our post-Christmas budget is as frozen as the backyard.
So do we just hunker down and wait for the spring thaw while we battle the winter blues? No! It’s time for a budget-friendly get together that will warm our bodies and lift the spirits.
You’ve undoubtedly read the wonderful book, “Stone Soup,” to your children. There are several versions available in your local library in case you need to check this out and re-read to your children one night by the fire.
Basically, two wanderers have nothing left to eat, but as they travel with their large cook pot curious onlookers gather to watch them prepare their soup which begins with only water and two stones. Well, the townsfolk can’t imagine a tasty soup with such meager ingredients, so one-by-one they each bring what their pantry has to offer — carrots, potatoes, leeks, ham, onions, corn, kale, beans. The list grows as does the “soup.” By the time all have contributed, the “stone soup” is a delicious and unexpected meal to be shared by all.
You’re not the only household trying to get through a cold and dreary night. Organize your own neighborhood “Stone Soup” night, with the emphasis being on your neighbors. We’re all trying to save money right now, so this dinner is meant to keep the car in the garage and walk to those neighbors whom you’ve meant to visit — the sweet lady who is recently widowed, the single mom with the two children who just moved in this summer but you haven’t had time to visit, the family with the new baby. Call your block neighbors and plan this inexpensive way to connect over a simple bowl of soup.
If you’re hosting the soup party, a yummy dessert of Peanut Butter Macaroons is made with only four ingredients! You can’t prepare any sweet treat as simple and inexpensive as this. It’s from my book, “Peanut Butter Sweets” by Gibbs Smith. It’s a perfect ending to a meal of soup and rustic breads.
Your family and neighbors will remember this “stone soup” evening long after the walk home. It might be zero degrees outside, but everyone will be filled with the warmth of a shared experience, and isn’t that what chasing away the winter blues is all about?
Peanut Butter Macaroons
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1 (16-ounce) bag shredded coconut
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1⁄3 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in large bowl and drop by teaspoonful on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.