Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Fashionable Frugality

Since returning to the US in June, Tayta and I have noticed a recession-induced reality: frugality is fashionable. People seem to be thrifting, consigning, and "repurposing" (we called it recycling) like never before--and they are talking, blogging, even bragging about it! I read in a recent article in Time, those who save the most money are now the "popular" ones; says a woman in a neighborhood mom's group, "Saving is like a sport in our group..."

Maybe this is my time to shine. Today I took Active Son to a thrift store by campus to buy him some winter sweaters . In a brief stop we snagged him a beautiful wool sweater from Cabela's and a cotton zip-up from Old Navy for about $4 each. I'm also working on a recycled denim quilt for his dorm room. I've found many clothes for the kids and myself in other around-town thrift and consignment stores and ebay has helped me save lots of money in the new shoe department.

In the spirit of our re-kindled frugality I offer two new hearty lentil recipes which we've embraced. Both are great cold weather comforts. The first is a recipe from my much used, much stained, and much-loved copy of More With Less, by Doris Janzen Longacre. My kids love this dish. Really!

More With Less

Lentil Barley Stew/Casserole (my version)

2-4 Tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups water
1 cup lentils
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup barley
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary (or thyme)
1/2 cup grated carrots

Saute celery, onion and garlic until soft. Add water and lentils and cook for 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, barley and seasonings and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Add grated carrots and cook 5 more minutes.

I cut the amount of liquid in the original recipe so it turns out more like a casserole, served on a plate rather than a stew served in a bowl. But, you could increase the tomatoes by a can, add a pinch more salt, and serve it as a stew.

The second recipe, for French Lentil Soup, was found on an advertisement laying around my mom's kitchen. I don't know how authentically French this soup is, given the source of the recipe, but it is very good--thick and hearty. We ate it tonight with quick-under-the-broiler flat bread topped with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes.

French Lentil Soup

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
a little canola oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 (or more) teaspoon pepper
6 cups broth
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup lentils
3 T brown rice
fresh parsley for garnish

Brown onions and garlic in oil. Add chopped carrots and spices and saute a little longer. Add broth, lentils, rice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour (mine simmered while I was at the thrift store with Active Son), until lentils and rice are cooked. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the soup and return to the pot of soup. Serve with fresh parsley.

I double both of these recipes as the leftovers make nice lunches.


Woman of the House said...

Having always been frugal, it feels funny to me to currently be at the height of fashion! lol I think in some ways this recession has brought some much-needed correctives to many people. I hope it sticks in the long run.

Your soups sound delicious!

Jodi said...

This book was a popular bridal shower gift among my friends many years ago. Speaking of recipes, I'm so glad it's apple season so I can begin making that delicious apple pie you posted about awhile ago.