11/8/2010: Power Outage Prompted Brattish Behavior (but I still got dinner on the table)
I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited when I realized this cookbook would be first on my list. I bought it back in my college days, but found the recipes rather boring (not nearly enough cheese!) so I didn’t use it much. However, Chris helped me select the recipe below since it looked cheap and relatively tasty. Read on to see how it went.
The Recipe: Toasted Barley with Mixed Vegetables
Other Menu Items: Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter and Slivered Almonds; Whole Wheat Bread; Chocolate Bread Pudding
The Power Goes Out (Otherwise Known as “Why Yes, As A Matter of Fact – I AM A Big Baby”):
What is it about power outages that make me feel so….well….POWERLESS?
I got home from the grocery store around 5:30 last night. Chris helped me put everything away, and I sat down at the computer for a quick Facebook check-in before starting dinner. All of a sudden…no light…no wireless Internet…no STOVE.
For the next half an hour, I alternated between pacing around the candlelit house and slumping down on the couch with an audible sigh. Essentially, I behaved like a bored child who’s been sent to time out in a room with no television. I am not proud of this.
Luckily, just about the time I resigned myself to my fate, the electric company came through, and the power was restored. By this time it was close to 7:00, so I quickly got to work on dinner. Chris is a patient man.
Cooking It Up:
Due to copyright laws, I don’t think I can post the actual recipe on my site. But luckily, it’s almost impossible for me to leave a recipe alone, so I will describe it to you here as I made it, substitutions/improvements intact. After all, it’s no longer the same recipe, right once I’ve messed around with it, right?
First set a 10-inch nonstick skillet on medium heat. You could use pan spray, but I like olive oil better, so I added about a tablespoon. Then you toast 1/2 cup of pearl barley (not instant) in the heated pan until it’s a light golden brown, about 6 minutes depending on heat level, stirring all the while. Then you add 14 oz of some combination of stock and water. I used about 8 oz of veggie broth with 6 oz of water and part of a vegetable bouillon cube ’cause that’s what I had. You also add chopped vegetables, and here’s where I strayed. The recipe called for a 3/4 cup combination of chopped carrots, green peppers and mushrooms. Well, those of you who know my family know that Chris won’t touch a cooked mushroom with a 10-foot pole, so I’m always looking for worthy substitutes. In this case, I threw in some chopped parsnips and turnips (love those root veggies!), plus more carrots than the recipe actually called for. Season with salt, pepper and some fresh or dried dill. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook on low for 50 minutes or until everything’s tender and the liquid is gone. Garnish with green onions.
While the barley was cooking, I had time to whip up the bonus recipe of the day – Chocolate Bread Pudding. I made mini chocolate cupcakes for our recent Halloween gathering, not realizing that the original bundt cake recipe would end up yielding around 90 OF THE LITTLE BUGGERS!!! And they weren’t that great (mainly because I cooked them too long) so we had a lot left over. Never fear – a quick Google search brought up a number of fellow cooks in the same situation, and one of them posted a great Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe using stale or dry cupcakes. Voila! Problem solved (I hoped).
When the barley was almost done, I threw on some frozen Brussels sprouts (no fresh available at Marc’s, and I had my heart set on them), drained them, toasted some slivered almonds in butter, and tossed the sprouts into it. Yum!
The barley was delicious and changed my opinion of this cookbook. The recipes might not sound inspiring at first, but the authors really seem to have a way with simple ingredients. Toasting the barley gave a great nutty flavor to the dish, and I think the addition of the parsnips and turnips were an improvement on the original as well. It smelled fabulous while cooking!
And the chocolate bread pudding was pretty darned fine as well! It’s rare that I have time to put dessert on the table, especially on a week night, so I felt very productive indeed. (Not to mention that I avoided throwing away somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 mini cupcakes!). Click here to go to the Tender Crumb blog for the chocolate bread pudding recipe.
Until next time,