Adventures in Food, Episode 2: Stuff in My Pantry

All right folks, its time for another installment of Adventures in Food. This episode takes place in my pantry and features all the random stuff I’ve bought.

All the random stuff I've boughtHere’s the rundown of my recent impulse and adventure buys:

Trio of sea salts- Himalayan pink, grey, and cyprus flake. I searched for a while for this assortment of sea salts, and finally found one at a reasonable price at our local big box store. My favorite so far is the cyprus flake sea salt, but mostly because I haven’t decided how to use the other two.

Quick Cooking Bulgar, aka Barley– as featured in a previous post.

Paprika– a Hungarian paprika, a generic cheapo paprika (not pictured) and a jar that my mom got me that I haven’t opened yet. Why so much paprika? One word: Chickenpaprikash (ok that’s two words).

Minnesota Wild Rice (you have to say it “minn-ee-soooh-tah”- its more authentic that way) and Farro– Surprisingly, I found these both at a local big box store. I’ve also purchased Quinoa, but I’ve since used that up and moved on to other grains. The wild rice does have an earthy flavor, and kinda smells boggy when cooking it (what I imagine a bog to smell like since I’ve never actually been to a bog). I’ve used the Farro in quite a few recipes, trying to get a feel for it: Risotto, roasted cauliflower soup and just plain.

The Sauce That Killed Kenny– This is a hot sauce that a friend gave us. It sat on my shelf for a while until I started trying spicy foods. Now we add a drop or two to stir fry and sauces to give them a little kick.

Currants– I’ve had these for a while; unlike most of the stuff listed I actually had a recipe in mind when I bought the box… I think the recipe used like 1/4 cup of currants. I like to add them to salads with or instead of dried cranberries.

Curry Powder– Curry is my newest addition to my spice collection. I always thought that curry was too spicy for me, but since I started trying spicier foods I worked up the courage to buy it. Now its one of my most frequently used spices (I’ve been cooking a lot of Indian food lately).

Specialty Mustards– I discovered the jam, jelly and mustard lady at my local farmer’s market- she ensnared me with her free samples and cute little jars. I bought a sun-dried tomato and garlic mustard, and later a cranberry mustard that I was planning to serve at Thanksgiving with the turkey but it got lost in the shuffle.Very tasty but at $7 for a small jar, they’re a sometimes impulse buy for me.

Garam Masala & Tumeric– (the tumeric is the goldenrod yellow spice in the recycled container). These were my first ‘outside my comfort zone’ Indian spice purchases.

What random impulse food purchases have you made?

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Barley & Lentil Vegetable Soup

The finished product- Yum!Winter is back again, and snow on the ground means that a hot bowl of soup is the perfect meal. Cooking in the kitchen seems to make my chilly apartment warmer (nevermind that I have the heat cranked up to 80 degrees). I thought I’d try this hearty soup to use up some of the barley that’s been sitting in my fridge forever.

I found my inspiration for this soup on AllReceipes.com but as usual I quickly deviated from the instructions to develop my own creation. This is a simple but hearty winter soup loaded with veggies and healthy grains (and my favorite legume- lentils <3).

Barley & Lentil Vegetable Soup
Makes 12 Servings

Time: Approx. 15 min prep, 45+ min cook time, 1 hr total

12 cups vegetable (or chicken or beef) broth (low sodium is preferable)
1 1/2 cups uncooked barley (I used quick cooking barley)
1 1/2 to 2 cups uncooked, rinsed lentils
3 large carrots, chopped (Ok, I cheated on this- I used peeled baby carrots)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 zucchini and/or squash, chopped
1 1/2 onion, chopped
5-8 peeled garlic cloves, chopped (feel free to use more… or less)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (you can also used diced canned tomatoes in sauce)
4 1/2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
3 teaspoons dried parsley
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tsp cumin
Pinch of Garam Masala (optional- I had some on hand and thought it would be interesting)
1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (a couple of good shakes)
Hot Sauce- to taste
Salt to taste, use less if your broth and canned tomatoes have a high sodium content

 

  1. In a large stockpot (and I do mean large!) begin heating your broth on medium high. I used about 3 tsp low sodium chicken bouillon powder mixed with the water- you can add more but that’s all I had left!Stock Pot I microwaved my water prior to adding to the stock pot to cut down on cooking time.
  2. Chop your vegetables so that they’re roughly the same size. If you have a food processor, I highly recommend using it here- it will shave off loads of prep time. I used my Cuisinart with the slicer blade to do the heavy lifting. The pieces were a little larger than I would have preferred if I

    chopped by hand, but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make when my stomach is grumbling. Also- feel free to substitute your favorite veggies for the ones listed above. The garlic, carrot, celery and onion are typically considered the core “aromatics”- so try to use them if Chopped Vegetablesyou have them on hand. (I promise you won’t taste the onion).

  3. Add in the barley and rinsed lentils. Stir to mix the ingredients together. Your pot should be pretty much full now.
  4. Add the bay leaves and spices and stir.Spices Since the recipe already called for curry, I thought an Indian flare might be interesting, so I added cumin and garam masala (a blend of spices that has a kind of sweetish spicy flavor).
  5. Let the soup cook on medium high until the mix comes to  a boil, stirring occasionally- for about 15-20 minutes. Cover loosely. The barley and lentils will absorb the liquid and thicken the soup.
  6. Once the soup has reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium low. Simmer the soup for another 15-30 minutes, until the barley and lentils are tender and the soup has thickened.Soup Cooking
  7. Let the soup cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve with a hearty crusty bread or cornbread. Enjoy!

    Pot of Soup

    Yummy Soup!