Thanks to everyone at Mystery Lover’s Kitchen for inviting me over today! I love to scroll through this website and check out the recipes – rich pastries, fudge, casseroles heavy with cheese . . . yummm. I usually never get to blog about fancy desserts because I’ve been writing the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, so all my foodie posts inevitably revolve around soup.
And Julia, my new protagonist in the Zodiac Mysteries, is a San Francisco astrologer who doesn’t really have time to eat, or if she does, she eats on the run. She’s too busy solving crimes. Her idea of a gourmet meal is some lettuce and a chopped tomato wrapped up in a tortilla with tons of mayo and salt. If she wants to get fancy, she might add a few croutons to that wrap.
So, as I was musing over what to write for this post, I started thinking about soup, the American story of soup that’s embedded in our national consciousness -- the soup kitchens and soup lines of the Great Depression. The seeds of that economic failure had been planted years before in an era of prosperity that was unevenly distributed. Hmmm, sound familiar? Banks failed, factories locked their gates, shops were shuttered forever, and people lost their homes. Local governments couldn’t collect taxes to keep basic services going. There were no social nets in place, no Social Security, no food stamps, no nothing. Americans literally starved in the streets.
One popular Depression Era recipe, named after our President at the time was Hoover Stew. It was made with a 16 ounce package of some kind of pasta or macaroni, 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, undrained, 1 package of hot dogs, chopped in small pieces, and 1 can of corn or beans, undrained. Okay, the hotdogs aren’t really that appealing, but don’t turn your nose up. It was desperation recipes like this that kept body and soul together. If you’ve had family members who saved bits of string and reminded you that if you had grown up in the Depression, you’d never waste anything, you’ll understand.
As I left the supermarket the other day, pushing my cart with a few bags of groceries, I passed a woman pushing another cart. A cart that contained all her worldly possessions. I was still reeling from the shock of a $73 grocery bill for just a few items. When I got home, I checked my receipt, certain the clerk had made a mistake. Okay, the asparagus was $3.47 and the half and half was $3.79. The kitty litter was $5.99 but surprise, surprise, the little head of cabbage was only 56 cents!
I have no idea why I picked up that head of cabbage. It’s not something I usually buy on a regular basis, but it called to me. The afternoon was cool and foggy and the idea of soup seemed very appealing, so I decided to invent my own Depression era soup recipe.
Depression Era Cabbage Soup
A spritz of cooking spray
1/2 onion, chopped and sauteed
1 head of cabbage, sliced and added to the pot.
4 cups of water
3 tbls. of dry chicken bouillon
1 peeled potato, cubed
(Optional ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese and crusty bread)
Sauté the onion and cabbage for 5 to 10 minutes, just enough to soften it. Add the water, chicken bouillon and potato. Cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, let the pot cool, then purée with an immersion blender and top each bowl with cheese and serve with crusty bakery bread. Okay, the cheese and bread aren’t exactly starvation fare, but no matter what, it was really delicious. Whole foods from the earth, loaded with vitamins, very few calories and really good. Believe it or not, this was one of the best soups I’ve made in a long time.
I thought about that woman with the shopping cart and I hoped she’d be able to find a bowl of nourishing soup somewhere. Maybe it’s time to bring back the American soup kitchen. What do you think?
The village of Snowflake, Vermont is buzzing with excitement. Hilary Stone, the famous author of Murder Comes Calling, is planning a visit. Even the discovery of the body of an unidentified woman strangled in the woods hasn’t dampened the spirits of Snowflake’s avid mystery fans -- that is, until the villagers learn the murder mimics the popular novel. Could the killer be a deranged fan hoping for attention? Or is a copycat killer on the loose?
Astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought her chosen profession would bring danger into her life, but her outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of San Francisco’s recently-arrived cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The followers of the power hungry preacher will stop at nothing to quell the voices of those who would stand in his way and Julia’s at the top of his list. She’s willing to bet the charismatic Reverend is a Mercury-ruled individual, and she knows all too well that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.