Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beef, Barley, and Bread

If this isn’t soup weather coming on, I don’t know what is. My favorite winter soup to make is beef and barley, so rich with beef, so creamy with barley, so healthy with all the vegetables included in the mix. Time to take out the pressure cooker.

There’s nothing like a pressure cooker for tenderizing beef. My mother could get dinner for eleven on the table in less than an hour with the use of a pressure cooker. This was very important, since my mother was what my daddy called a social butterfly. We always ate supper at six, so if she flew in at five, she could still serve dinner promptly with her Presto.

Richard had a pressure cooker when I met him. This pleased and surprised me; how many single men know what to do with such a pot? That pot bailed me out of more than one tight spot, like the New Year’s Day that seventy-five people came to our open house and stayed all day. Twice, I ran out of black-eyed peas and cabbage, the traditional fare for New Year’s Day in New Orleans (The peas for luck, and the cabbage for money). Neither time was noticed, as I saved the day with the help of friends in the kitchen and my Presto.

The mermaids took our magic pot, along with everything else in Hurricane Katrina. That was okay with me, as long as we lived in an RV, but not so much after settling in Tennessee Mountain Home. Our chef friend Holly came to the rescue for our first Coker Creek Christmas. She didn’t even have a pressure cooker of her own, but she knew how much mine had meant to me. She gifted us with our current cooker, and has since become a fan of the Presto method of meat preparation. When Holly and I spent too much time getting our hair cut and shopping last week-end, her pressure cooker and her husband Don saved the day, and her short ribs.

I love the soothing sound of the pressure valve rocking while my beef becomes fork tender, and the onions, barley and garlic become silky and soft. As supper time draws closer, I add Richard’s perfectly diced carrots and celery and a bit of Worcestershire sauce. When the vegetables are just tender, a bit of salt and black pepper seal the deal. With a nice bread, supper is served.

I had been considering purchasing a bread machine for Richard, especially since I found out that our cooking-challenged friend Chuck had taken to making bread with a machine. I’ve been hesitant to give up the kitchen space for a machine that Richard may not use, so it’s wonderful that Mountaintop Mary lent us her bread maker. We have the flour and the yeast…

I can’t wait to have the combined scents of beef and barley soup and fresh yeast bread wafting through the house as I sit at the computer with Jack’s latest tales.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the cyber-soup dinner. My dad has been enjoying that bread machine from what I understand ~ who knew that one of his latent talents would bloom in later years. Gives me hope that all these little dreams that I tuck away will find their way to the surface if I just wait long enough :)