Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vegetable Barley Soup and January Gray

It has been a strange January with temperatures ranging from well below zero to 50 degrees, and not much snow until today.  We spent January skiing when the sun came out, ice climbing in Ouray, doing our best to enjoy the chaotic Winter X Games, and celebrating more stable jobs (I am working 15 hours per week in a clinic, and Steven is now a full time salaried employee at the school).  This January seems to be Gray.  Gray skies, gray attitudes, snowless gray streets.  So here is looking towards a February full of blue sky, more snow, health and positivity.  We are crossing our fingers for more snow in the near future, and preparing for a busy February and March.

This soup is basic.  It is the perfect cure for winter blues or grays, and is quick enough for a weeknight meal.

Vegetable Barley Soup
Adapted from Picky Cook
  • 2 large or 3 small leeks, cut in small half moons
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 carrots, large dice or half moons
  • 1 large russet potato or 3 red potatoes, peeled and 1 inch dice
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 cups vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Minced parsley for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat olive oil, add leeks and allow to soften.  Add garlic and a pinch of salt, cook until fragrant (1 minute).
  2. Stir in carrots, celery and potato and cook about 5 minutes.
  3. Push vegetables to the side and add 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Stir tomato paste in oil until it begins to stick and darkens (1-2 minutes).  Incorporate into the vegetable mixture.
  4. Add barley and cook stirring 2 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle paprika and oregano over the mixture and stir. 
  6. Add stock and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.  
  7. Simmer 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft and barley cooks through (this will take an extra 15 minutes at altitude). 
  8. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice.  Serve topped with minced parsley.

View from the start deck at the X Games SuperPipe.  We got to slip between riders.
Learning the basics of digging a snow pit during a weekend avy safety course.
Clouds in the valley.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Links: Resolutions and Recipes

Photo Credit
Oh resolutions.  Last year I resolved to bake more cake, which I did.  I am not a fan of the "eat healthier" or "lose weight" brand of resolutions.  However, I do find that January is often a time where my body needs a cleanse.  I am not talking about the only drink smoothies kind of cleanse, but rather just a fresh start to the year filled with winter greens, hearty grains and low in saturated fats and meats.  Just taking how we usually eat and amping up the greens.  Today's links are resolution friendly and tasty.

Eat more dark, leafy greens: Kale and Chickpea Salad, and 14 other kale recipes
Be more creative with vegetarian cooking: Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
Include winter squash in your diet: Butternut Squash and Shiitake Ragu
Lower your calorie intake (without being hungry): Spiced Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk
Cleanse the right way: Bon Appetit's Food Lovers Cleanse

In other news, we spent last weekend at the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival.  Here are a few pics:

Hiking In (Ed and Mike in Front)
The Competition

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lemon Risotto and a Merry Christmas

Monty, our tree in Aspen
Happy New Year, and I apologize for the month-long break!  Hopefully you are all relishing in the quiet that comes with the turning of the calendar and having a much needed time to recuperate. We celebrated the turn of the year at my sister's home/work, Emerald City Trapeze Arts and their Gala Luna Blanca, then proceeded to regret certain decisions as we began 2013 with an evening of flying and driving that landed us in bed at 3:00 Wednesday morning.  The beginning of the trip home was spent first with friends and then at our separate families, where I baked and made candy until my feet hurt.  We reunited on Christmas Eve for an afternoon celebration with Steven's family.  After hopping a late-night ferry we awoke Christmas morning and spent lazy hours transitioning from coffee to mimosas and from gifts to a noonish brunch.  Then the real cooking began.  We celebrated Christmas dinner with my parents, sister, sister's boyfriend, 3 uncles, 2 aunts, grandma, and aunt's brother, as well as 3 dogs and many cats.  We cooked an adapted "feast of the seven fishes," a traditional Christmas Eve event in Southern Italy.

The Menu

7 Fishes
Fresh Oyster Shooters
Smoked Salmon
Mixed Seafood Risotto (squid, scallops, shrimp)
Calamari stuffed with Geoduck Clams
Poached Halibut

Vegetable Sides
Eggplant and Tomato Ragu
Sauteed Asparagus
Green Salad


Lemon Risotto
I am positive this is not the "traditional" menu, but it was a very fun adaptation compared to the typical American Christmas dinner.  I slightly adapted my lemon risotto recipe by stirring in seafood in place of lemon and using fish stock, but I am giving you the original because I like it better than the adapted.  

Lemon Risotto

  • 2 quarts chicken stock, low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 shallots, small dice
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to garnish

  1. Heat stock to a simmer in a large saucepan, and continue to simmer over medium-low heat
  2. Heat a dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil and 1 tbs butter and allow to heat for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add shallots and saute until soft, 5-6 minutes. 
  4. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute.
  5. Stir in rice and cook until translucent, 2 minutes.
  6. Pour wine over mixture and stir until evaporated.
  7. Add 1 1/2 cups of stock and stir.  Simmer until absorbed.
  8. Continue to add stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and adding more liquid when the previous is absorbed.  
  9. While the rice is cooking whisk together egg yolk, cream, and lemon zest.
  10. Continue until rice is al dente (soft with a little bit of a bite), you may not need all of the stock. 
  11. Stir in egg/zest mixture, rosemary, remaining butter and lemon juice.  Cover and allow to sit 10 minutes.
  12. Serve topped with freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese.