So you know when you’re in a super great relationship? Things are all puppies and daisies and rainbows, and you cook and bake to impress him and things are all la-di-da-di-da. And when you’re not knocking boots his socks off with your crazy skills in the kitchen, he’s taking you out for romantic meals at places you’ve always wanted to go to but could never trick anyone into taking you to. And then he gets your magical presents like a KitchenAid and you start going crazy with this whole baked goods thing. Fast forward a year later, and you step on the scale, and your perky little 105 pound nurse chirps your weight, to which my response is “Clearly, you had crack for breakfast, which not only explains your back ribs poking through your scrubs, but how you got that number when obviously I weight ten pounds less than that.” Either that or I just silently screamed HOLY LORD I AM A COW! in my head and blamed it on my 15 pound purse. Which was technically sitting on the floor but whatever, the strap totally could’ve fallen onto the scale. Click Here For Unlimited Easy Dessert Videos According to Tom, all of this Happy Weight is actually a result of age (he should know). But I ask you, why should I embrace my oncoming senility when I can just blame Tom? That’s what I thought.
So it’s not that I don’t know how to eat well, I’ve just completely lost all self control. After I had Parker, I dropped my baby weight pretty quickly due to the fact that I was always home and able to regulate myself. These days, we’re out gallivanting around town, and if I’m going to be paying for food, it’s gonna be something tasty that I can’t make at home. (Okay, so technically Tom pays for it a lot, which is all the more reason I should be ordering items worth the money spent.) This soup is an attempt for me to get back on track. The barley keeps you full, and those dried porcini add flavor you can’t get anywhere else. And that touch of soy rounds out the savory flavor. The original recipe doesn’t call for the spinach, but I picked it up from the farmer’s market Saturday, and I figured this was as good of a use as any. Plus, you can portion it out into containers ready to grab for work. Well, that’s what I would do if I were magnificently organized, which I clearly am not.
So here we go. Back to post-baby days! But don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of fatty McFat stuff to blog about, plus the fiesta that will be Parker’s second birthday party on Saturday. (Clearly, I was suffering from a momentary loss of sense when I planned this thing. Pool party? Really, Meleyna? We both know you’re not squeezing into bikinis anytime soon.) Oh, which reminds me, you’re totally getting him this, right?
Mushroom and Barley Soup adapted from one of my favorites, Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times
about 3/4 cup (lightly packed) dried porcini mushroom 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used spray simply because the whole point was to make this healthy) 8 ounces mushrooms (I used cremini) 2 carrots 3/4 cup pearled barley fresh thyme and/or a bay leaf 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) soy sauce two cups baby spinach, roughly chopped (optional)
Before you start chopping, soak the dried mushrooms in one quart (four cups) of very hot water. While they are steeping, quarter your mushrooms and peel and dice your carrots.
Pour (or spray) your olive oil into a medium saucepan and heat to medium high. Dump your chopped veggies in, turning to coat in the fat. Let cook for about three minutes, stirring every so often so the mushrooms don’t burn. You want good color, but black is not what you’re going for. Season. At this point add in the barely, also stirring to coat in the oil, and cook until you begin to smell it toasting. While this is happening, pull the dried mushrooms out of their water and chop them up into bite sized pieces. Add these to the pan, along with your herbs.
Pour the mushroom soaking liquid through a sieve into the pot, along with five cups of stock or water, into the pot. Bring to a boil, then drop back to a simmer and let cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Pull out the bay and the thyme stalks. Off the heat, stir in the soy and spinach. Taste for seasoning–you may want more salt or soy.
Serve hot, perhaps with some grated Parm.