Recipe: beef and barley soup
There has been a steady influx of messages since Tuesday afternoon alerting me that urb was ranked in the Times of London’s 50 of the world’s best food blogs. You’ll have to flip to page 4, because I’m #39…
GET OUT! I am floored. I don’t think I’ve ever been ranked #anything in the world. What’s even better is that I am in the company of many of my favorite food blogs. This is quite the honor. I was speechless for all of two minutes!
So there is this rather long meme about marriage that Heather recently wrote up, and while I don’t know the woman (nor she me) I thought the questions would be fun to answer and perhaps a little informative – for me as well. Oh, and I tag every damn (in the good way, remember) one of you with a blog. Let’s get on it… there’s a recipe waiting.
What are your middle names?
His: Kane, Mine: S-ih
How long have you been together?
How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Lemme see… a month?
Who asked whom out?
I asked Jeremy if he had anything going on Friday afternoon and he lied to me and said, no, he didn’t have anything going on, when in fact he had a math recitation, which he skipped – it was the only class he ever skipped.
How old are each of you?
He is 35 and I’m 37. I knocked him clear out of the cradle…
Whose siblings do you see the most?
Seeing as my sister died 5 years ago, we see Jeremy’s brother more often.
Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
We’ve weathered graduate school, my sister’s death and all of the headache of the aftermath, and then my cancer – all with flying colors as far as being a couple goes. Basically, Jeremy is a treasure.
Did you go to the same school?
Why yes. We both went to Caltech for our BS degrees (me: engineering and applied science, he: physics) and then we suffered Cornell for our PhDs (me: geophysics, he: astrophysics). This made my mother immensely happy.
Are you from the same home town?
Nope. I’m from Williamsburg, Virginia and Jeremy hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Who is smarter?
That depends – Jeremy is infinitely smarter when it comes to abstract and advanced concepts. He is an academic super-star and he has an amazing breadth of knowledge spanning economics, the sciences, music, politics, medicine. The man used to be a navigator in Search and Rescue – we NEVER get lost (meaning, he never gets us lost). I’m more intuitive when it comes to physical/mechanical systems and practical design. I’m quicker, more creative, and less constrained by conventional thinking.
Who is the most sensitive?
Jeremy’s parents never criticize their children. My parents criticized us all the time (per the Chinese parent handbook) – I call it boot camp. Jeremy is very sensitive to criticism whereas I could care less. But I’m the one who bawled my eyes out when Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom. That said, all of my girlfriends adore Jeremy as he is an astute observer and far more sensitive and caring than any heterosexual man.
Where do you eat out most as a couple?
That would have to be Sushi Tora in Boulder.
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
New Zealand – three times. And we’ll do it again.
Who has the craziest exes?
I have the dorkiest exes.
Who has the worst temper?
Oh yeah, I’m all over that one :)
Who does the cooking?
Who is the neat-freak?
Just two weeks ago I forced Jeremy to take me to his office so we could find the surface of his desk.
Who is more stubborn?
Who hogs the bed?
Definitely Kaweah. How a 55 pound dog can shove two adults off a queen-size bed is beyond me, but she and her jiggy legs and bunny dreams manage it.
Who wakes up earlier?
Me. I hate to sleep and he loves to sleep. He tells our friends he hasn’t slept in for 16+ years.
Where was your first date?
The Pasadena Bakery in Old Pasadena. Oh, the days of youth and hormones.
Who is more jealous
Neither one of us has ever been jealous of other people… But Jeremy does get upset when I ignore him in favor of the dog or when I accidentally call him Kaweah.
How long did it take to get serious?
No time flat and it’s been that way ever since.
Who eats more
Who does the laundry?
Jeremy. I’d also like to point out that this amazing man cleans the bathrooms, vacuums, does the dishes, and fluffs my pillow every night.
Who’s better with the computer?
Jeremy is better at system administration, programming, computation, and hardware. I am better at web design, interfaces, graphics, satellite imagery, and parsing data from NASA.
Who drives when you are together?
Jeremy drives unless he’s had a drink or we need to get someplace fast.
Right. Susan posted a scrumptious soup way back in November that immediately sent me scribbling beef bones on my grocery list for the coming week. We cook all sorts of foods, right? And yet there are those foods we eat, but we never think to cook for some odd reason. Beef and barley soup is something I have always loved. I bought it in cans. I ordered it in restaurants. Never once tried to make it at home until lovely Susan stuck the idea in my head. [Thanks, hon!]
seasoned oxtails and short ribs
I more or less followed a fusion of Susan’s recipe and several others from online sources and a soup and stews cookbook. Of course, I made this soup back in November and cannot remember what the heck I did. Thankfully, I am OCD enough that I jotted the notes down in one of five notebooks that document everything I do because I knew Future Me would be glad – and I am. You can make this process much easier by using beef broth and a leaner cut of meat, but I liked the sound of the roasting bones (something I had never tried before) and Kaweah quite liked the smell of roasting beef bones in the house. She kept strolling into the kitchen, raising her snout into the air with a casual wag of the tail.
rehydrating porcini mushrooms
mise en place: diced vegetables and the barley
While the roasted bones were simmering in water for the broth, I prepped the rest of the ingredients. [I have a pound of crimini mushrooms listed in the recipe, but I forgot to buy them, so did without.] When the broth was ready, I stripped the beef from the bones and removed any excess fat. Kaweah used to chew on beef bones all the time until she shattered (we’re talking 14 fracture planes) one of her molars at the age of 2. Little Miss Power Chewer had her tooth removed and the Cornell veterinary dentist said no more beef bones for our gap-tooth hillbilly dawg. It was a sad day.
garlic paste and seasonings
stripped beef from the bones
Aside from making the broth, this pot of soup comes together rather quickly… and deliciously. If you like to de-fat your broth like I do, this nifty ziploc bag trick is a huge time saver. After sautéing the onions and seasonings, everything gets dumped into the pot and simmered until done.
sautéed onions with seasonings
adding all of the ingredients
The whole ensemble is a satisfying bowl of homey flavors that play nicely together. I love the chewy pop of barley in my soups. This recipe is the perfect après ski meal to curl up with in winter – and there is still plenty of winter to be had around here. I relish it.
hearty and wholesome
Beef and Barley Soup
adapted from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
2.5 lbs. beef bones (I used 1 pound oxtails, 1 pound short ribs)
1 tsp salt plus more to taste
3-4 quarts water
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
2 medium cloves garlic
2 medium onions, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
3 tbsps olive oil
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, diced (I must have forgotten these)
5 medium carrots, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 cup pearl barley
4 tsps lemon juice, fresh squozen
Preheat oven to 425°F. Rinse the beef bones and pat dry. Season the beef bones with salt and pepper and roast them in a baking or roasting pan for 90 minutes. Soak the porcini mushrooms in boiling water. When the mushrooms are rehydrated, strain and reserve the liquid. Rinse the porcini mushrooms of any sand and grit and then chop them up. Mash a teaspoon of salt into the garlic to make a paste. Set aside. When the beef is done, remove the beef to a stock pot (including any fond from the baking pan) and cover with water (about 3-4 quarts). Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 4 hours. Remove the beef from the broth and strip the meat into a bowl. Discard the fat and bones. Strain the broth and then de-fat the broth. In the empty stock pot, sauté the onions in olive oil over high heat. When the onions soften, add the garlic paste and seasonings, stirring until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms (both kinds, or just the porcinis if you forgot to buy criminis like me), carrots, celery, barley, beef, broth, porcini liquid, and lemon juice. Bring the contents to a boil then reduce to simmer until the barley is tender to the bite. Serve hot.