I made soup tonight. I used one can of soup. Plus all the vegetables in my crisper drawers about to go bad, diced small. Plus all the tomato glop that surrounded the canned tomatoes I used a few weeks ago. (I freeze the liquid left over for just such an occasion as this.) Plus some salt and pepper, some “better than bouillon”, and three handfuls of barley. It came out great.
My soup reminded me of one of my favorite stories about my mother-in-law (love) Cat. We all called her Cat, or else Grandma Cat. She was a wonder. A real, three dimensional human being who maintained her sense of fun through troubles and hard times. She was a generous person as well. She spent her time between her retirement and death helping her various family. Cat lived a sort of nomadic existence, visiting whoever needed her help the most at the time.
She was often at my brother-in-law’s home. They had six children and two working parents. When each child was born, Cat would stay awhile. Her grandchildren loved her but she would be there long enough to start to be more parental and they would start to rebel. She fought the towels on the floor fight and the pick up your room when I say so fight. And she would cook, sometimes stuff they loved, and sometimes stuff that was good for them.
Cat didn’t easily let food go to waste, and- like I did today- she would round up the fridge leftovers and odds and ends and make soup. Her disrespectful grandson coined the phrase, “Grandma made soup out of our garbage.”
It became my favorite story from her funeral, and I am proud to follow in her frugal footsteps.