barley casserole

My sisters and I have a daydream about one day opening up a bakery/diner in Des Moines. We'd serve muffins and delicious breads in the morning and for lunch we would have a Casserole of the Day. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be capitalized or not, but in my head it is because it's just that great of an idea.

Since both Sarah and Kathleen have the delicious treats down on lock, I figure I should try to make my name in the savory department. That's really where I do most of my shopping anyway. So sometimes I like to pretend I'm testing out recipes and that I need to make casseroles, you know, because I'm a team player. This is how I came upon the Barley Casserole recipe. It floated onto my monitor while searching Epicurious for how to use up some mushrooms without having to go to the grocery store. It had me at casserole.

At the bakery I am going to suggest we serve it with a dallop of thyme sour cream. No charge. Because that's just the sweet kind of place we pretend run.

adapted from House & Garden | January 1965
by James A. Beard

serves 6 as a side dish, fed me twice as a main course. don't judge me.

1/2 pound mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped very fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
Salt, pepper
Cayenne pepper
2-3 cups chicken broth

Slice the mushroom caps and chop the stems. Heat the butter in a skillet and add the chopped onion. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes and add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat the broth to boiling. Add the barley to the skillet and brown it lightly, mixing it well with the onions and mushrooms. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a buttered 8x8 casserole. Add enough boiling broth to cover the mixture and come 1/2" above it. Cover the casserole tightly and bake in a 350°F. oven for 35 minutes. Taste the barley for doneness. Add more broth, if necessary, and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed and the barley tender.

I have been grating a layer of Parmesan cheese on top of the casserole when I take it out of the oven so it has a gooey top layer. Next time I think I'm going to try incorporating asparagus spears as well.


no meal slaw

Right ok. Here is a post about what I've been eating. I have been insanely busy, have had no time to cook, and therefore have nothing to post lately.  I sound angry right now, but I'm not. Promise.

Here's the deal. I work a full-time job as a designer at a dying wedding studio. Then on nights and weekends I work with my business partner Heather on the baby Cakewalk Studio. Oh, the circle of life.  So basically I sit at a desk all day, then meet with H. to freak out and brainstorm about how to, oh I don't know, turn our little career hopes and dreams into something that may hopefully someday (fingers crossed, please God soon!) turn a profit. That mixed with shooting Small Chicago and trying to see friends leaves a girl on the run quite a bit.

And so I've been eating a lot of this kind of stuff. You start to feel really frazzled and weak, realize you haven't eaten a meal yet that day, then poke your head in the fridge and see what you got. Mix it all up and hope it doesn't taste like a butt. Today it was this slaw, and it actually was pretty enjoyable to eat. Which leads me to....

Slaw From Stuff in The Fridge
via Desperation + Poverty
package of chopped cabbage & carrots
dollop of mayo
squirt of sriracha 
splash of soy sauce
some apple cider vinegar
a few sesame seeds


old flames, new twists

They say you never forget your first love. I think I agree. Long before I ever knew about avocados I loooooved cucumbers. They were my absolute favorite.  Picking a warm, small cucumber from my parents' garden, taking it in to the kitchen and having my mom peel and cut it up for me... just thinking about it makes my heart swell. So perfect.

Back then I liked them plain or in fire and ice, but lately I've found a new way to enjoy them. It stemmed from my recent obsession with Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes. I'd been making it about once a week, and finally realized the thing I loved about it was the cucumer raita. Yogurt, cucumbers, scallions and salt are such a delicious combination.

So here you go. What avocados and cherry tomatoes were to 2009, cucumber, yogurt and scallions are to 2010. Get with the times.


other people's food

What is it about food made by other people that makes it taste so tasty?

I went home for Easter this past weekend and raked it in. A freezer full of delicious homemade bread, bagels, and buns from my sister Sarah; multiple jars of soup from my mom; a Le Creuset (!!!) dutch oven and small frying pan that had been a wedding gift to my parents; a gorgeous quilt made of old suit fabric; old, hand tatted pillowcases made by long-ago relatives. Seriously. Is it fall? Because I did some heavy RAKING!

So yeah, here is a picture of me eating some Mom curried pumpkin soup, heated up in my new dutch oven (just because I wanted to use it), and served with some Sarah bread for dipping.