Barley is another staple I like to keep in my pantry. According to Wikipedia barley is a versatile cereal grain. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base for malt for beer and certain distilled beverages and as a component of various health foods. It is also used in soups and stews and can even be used in bread! There are two kinds of barley, two row and six row. Two row barley has a lower protein content. I love adding barley to soups and stews. Pearl barley refers to covered barley that has been processed to remove the tough inedible outer hull and then pearled or polished. Barley may be pearled to varying degrees and labeled as regular, fine or pearl. Pearl barley is available in several forms; however, kernels or berries are the most common. Pearl barley may also be purchased flaked, cut or ground. It has a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries. Barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Storing barley is very easy. Pearled barley can be kept at room temperature for a longer time since most of the oils which could go rancid have already been removed. It should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, in warmer months it should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. If refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container, raw/uncooked badly may be stored for about 6 months.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on the TasteOfHome.com website. It makes a nice big pot of soup and freezes well. Perfect for those cold winter nights. Make a salad to go with it and you’ll have a complete meal!

Cobb Hill Barley Soup

1 pound chicken or turkey Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup medium pearl barley
1 large carrot, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
6 cups chopped fresh kale

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, barley, carrot, celery, sage and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in kale; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and kale is wilted.

Makes about 3 quarts of soup.

 

winter squash, produce, farming

Produce at a local farm.

Thanksgiving week was spent on the west coast visiting our daughter and son-in-law. I always enjoy seeing other parts of the country and while we were on the west coast we took a side trip to Eugene, Oregon to visit a friend of my husband’s. They’ve known each other since the age of four! He is an arborist and an avid gardener. It was fun to tour his garden and see how things grow in Oregon. I had no idea that this part of Oregon had such a mild climate. Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon and is home of the University of Oregon. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, about 50 miles east of the Oregon coast. Temperatures are pretty moderate; the average low in the winter is just above freezing. Summer temperatures average in the 80s.

garden, tomatoes, vegetables

Amazing to have fresh tomatoes in November!

heirloom tomatoes, tomatoes, vegetables, garden

This was an heirloom Russian tomato that was delicious!

After leaving Vermont where my garden is put to bed I was surprised at the number of vegetables still growing in this west coast garden! There were still tomatoes on the vine!

vegetables, broccoli, gardening

Broccoli ready to be picked!

vegetables, west coast garden, cauliflower

Beautiful cauliflower

Lots of kale, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots not to mention raspberries still available for picking!

raspberries, west coast garden, gardening

Surprise to find raspberries in November!

lemons, west coast gardening

The color is a little off but these are Myer Lemons!

There was even a Myer Lemon with lots of fruit growing in their garden! I was quite impressed. The dirt in the garden was rich, dark soil with not very many rocks. Quite a bit different from my Vermont garden!

row cover, garden,

Quick demonstration on making a row cover.

row cover, winter protection,

A wonderful, inexpensive row cover!

While we were touring the gardens our friend showed us how to create a simple row cover using hog panels! Each panel was cut to form about a six foot section with the side cut to form prongs which stuck into the garden. The panel was then formed into an arch and would be tied to stakes which were placed in the ground. It could then be covered with plastic to protect your plants. Very simple and quick! I’m going to have to give it a try next year. It was such fun to have a tour of a west coast garden! We even had time to take a hike on a nearby butte. Very educational to hike in the woods with an arborist, I look forward to visiting our friends again!

This time of year I am always trying to think of things I can make to give as presents. One idea is a good homemade Italian Salad Dressing Mix. This can be made up and placed into a jar. Include a recipe for salad dressing and for a marinade and the gift recipient will have two ways to enjoy your gift! Here is my homemade alternative to packaged store-bought Italian dressing mixes, it makes about 2/3 cup:

1 ½ Tbsp dried oregano
1 ½ Tbsp dried basil
1 ½ Tbsp garlic salt
1 ½ Tbsp onion powder
1 ½ Tbsp salt
¾ Tbsp paprika
¾ Tbsp dried dillweed
¾ Tbsp dried rosemary
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper

Combine all herbs and spices thoroughly.

To make an Italian salad dressing, combine 1 ½ Tbsp of the herb mix with ¼ cup vinegar, 2 ½ Tbsp water, and ¾ cup oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well. Let stand for at least one hour to blend flavors.

To make a marinade, combine 1 ½ Tbsp of the herb mix with ½ cup red wine, 2 tsp thyme, ½ pound sliced fresh mushrooms and l large onion, sliced. Delicious on steak!

I love leftover turkey. Unfortunately this year we won’t have any leftover turkey since we’re spending the holiday with my daughter and her husband on the west coast. However this is one of my favorite recipes, it’s adapted from a recipe I found on the TasteOfHome.com website and works perfectly with leftover turkey! It also freezes well.

Curried Turkey Vegetable Soup
Makes about 2 quarts and serves about 6

2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup diced potatoes
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh carrots
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast
1-1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 package (9 ounces) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions: In a Dutch oven, sauté onions in oil until tender. Stir in flour and curry until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, parsley and sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in the turkey, half-and-half, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until spinach is wilted and soup is heated through. Serve hot.

Today I’m taking a day off from writing and spending the day with family and friends on the west coast. It will be a fun day with new friends and family. I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you are enjoying a wonderful day! I am very thankful to be spending time with loved ones, what is one thing you are thankful for this Thanksgiving? Please let me know!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recipe using leftover turkey! See you then!

Now that my garden is put to bed I can concentrate on other ‘gardening’ activities inside. Forcing bulbs inside is a good way to have blooming flowers mid winter. They also make a great present, who wouldn’t appreciate a gift of bulbs when the world is white outside! Tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, crocus and lily of the valley can be forced into flower in late winter or early spring.  A pot of tulips on your windowsill in February can brighten your spirits!

It is a good idea to keep the same variety in one pot as the blooming times often vary. Bulbs are also planted much closer together than you plant them outside. With the exception of narcissus bulbs, bulbs must be given a cold temperature of 35-48 degrees F for a minimum of 12-14 weeks. You can either keep them in a cold frame, an unheated attic or cellar or even a refrigerator!  In the refrigerator the pots should be covered with plastic bags that have a few holes punched in them.

Since I didn’t want to have to put my bulbs in a cold spot for weeks, I am gong to force paper white narcissus bulbs. I found some very healthy looking bulbs at the local nursery.

First I rinsed the gravel to get rid of the dust. I filled each of my bowls with gravel about 2/3rds full. I then nestled the bulbs in the gravel ½ to 1 inch apart, placing the pointed side up.  Then fill in gravel around the bulbs, leaving the top halves exposed. Place them in good light and add water up to the base of the bulbs. Keep the water level at this height.  I then placed the pots in a cool area. Within a few days roots will appear. When green shoots appear, move the pot to a cool, sunny spot. Sit back and watch them grow and bloom. It’s nice to enjoy a little bit of spring color for your home when everything outside is covered with snow!

 

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