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Archive for November, 2008

Hey! I’m making soup! Beef, mushroom & barley

Holy crap! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a recipe, mainly because my rampant cooking has been quelled of late by Rob’s sense of frugality. Stupid frugality. Well, here’s a meal (or 4) that won’t break the bank, and your house will smell deliciously beefy for days.

If you’re a preemptive cook (unlike myself), you may have quarts of beef stock sitting in your freezer. I didn’t — yet this was still done in one day. One glorious, aromatic, and beefy day.

Stock:
3-4 lbs beef short ribs, bone in
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1/4-cup parsley stems
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
Cold water

1. Preheat oven to 450. While you wait, deal with the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. When oven is heated, roast short ribs for 30 minutes, at which point they’ll be nice and brown and much of the fat will be rendered. Get rid of that.

2. Place meat, veggies, herbs, and salt/pepper in a big pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Go play video games.

3. After about 3 hours, when meat is fork-tender and begging for shredding, pull it off the bone and reserve. Continue to simmer the bones etc. to your heart’s content. It just gets better.

4. When stock reaches the desired beefiness (I took off the lid and let it reduce for an hour), strain and allow fat to separate. If you’re smart (I’m not), you’ll have enough time to refrigerate and pull it off in one big chunk. I just skimmed it with a 1/4-cup measuring cup. Reserve 2-3 tbsp, and get ready to make soup!

Soup:
Lots of brown mushrooms — I think we got about a pound — sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, chopped
(And here’s where normal people would chop a carrot, but I HATE them and therefore did not)
Meat! (Cooked in stock, shredded a bit with a fork)
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups pearl barley
2-3 tbsp stock fat or olive oil
Beef stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1. Heat fat/oil over low-medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, and mushrooms until softened.

2. Cover veggies with beef stock. Add reserved meat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. This can basically sit forever. About 45 minutes before serving, continue to step 3.

3. Add celery, tomatoes, dried mushrooms, and barley. (I add the celery now ’cause I like it to have some texture. If you want it way mushy, cook it with the mushrooms and stuff.) Simmer until barley is plump and tender — about 30-45 minutes.

4. Season to taste. Add parsley, and serve.

I’ve never really been into cooking soup, but this is hearty enough to be a meal in a bowl — AND it makes a ton, cheaply. Hell, it’s worth it just for the smell in the house. Yes, I hate winter, but I LOVE winter cooking. Cheers!

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OW! MY PHALANGES!!

I have injured my hand! Specifically, some phalanges — as well as the interphalangeal joints closest to my fingertips.

Oh, these silly things are bound to happen as soon as I decide to get a manicure for the first time in months. The manicurist will be appalled by my discolored phalanges, especially because one of them got cut open a little.

How did I hurt my phalanges? It is a cautionary tale. Take heed!

A few weeks ago, I worked from home at my computer in the kitchen. Rob brought my office chair down for me, presumably just for the day — but having it there led me to realize something: being on wheels in the kitchen is AWESOME! Just think of the possibilities: I need a napkin. ZOOM! This belongs in the trash. ZOOM! Rob looks lonely over there and would probably like to be crashed into. ZOOM!!!

When you combine superb kitchen mobility with a couple of Friday night cocktails, however, the fun really begins. I liken our new game to pinball — with yours truly acting as ball. I propel myself at warp speed into the center of the room, and Rob pushes me into things. We are extremely intelligent people.

Because he was clearly afraid that I was winning (I was!), Rob thought it would be a good idea to push me out of the kitchen and into the hallway. Wheeeee! But I don’t go down so easily. I attempted to propel myself back into the kitchen by grabbing the doorjamb — at the precise second at which Rob decided to shut the door on me, crushing my wee phalanges in the process.

Ow!

I made a conscious decision not to scream, so as not to disturb the neighbors. I calmly said, “Rob, my fingers,” thinking that he must at least feel them in there — but the door kept closing.

“Rob, MY FINGERS.” Nothing.

“DUDE!!!!!!!” Now he gets it.

Once freed, my phalanges were burning and bloodied. We put them on ice and hoped for the best. Now they are a bit ugly and sore, but not too bad — I’m thankful that I was able to type this tale! I was lucky, no question about it. Kitchen pinball is a dangerous game, and not to be taken so lightly.

So the next time you find yourself flinging your significant other about the house in an office chair, please be mindful of phalanges when closing doors. Because that, my friends, is the dangerous part. Slamming into cabinets, the stove, the table etc. is just harmless fun.

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