Friday, May 29, 2009

His own personal silo--a comparison and parallel

When I saw this photo Gene took of the red winged black bird, it struck me that the wise bird had found his own private silo that Farmer Gene had supplied. I was also thinking (unlike this bird) how I could share and write about my own personal silo, a soup that Lauri Colwin shared with the world in her book Home Cooking. Like the bird, who thinks black oil sunflower seeds are the ultimate comfort food, so nutritious and healthy, I feel this way about soup. This recipe is truly a great basic one that you do math with, add, subtract, multiply and divide. Add some Geometry with cornbread (circles, triangles, diamonds,squares) and you have southern comfort at its' finest. I elected to try adapting the recipe to a quick one and used my pressure pan. It worked beautifully. The original Colwin recipe took three hours, mine took 25 minutes, plus a little additional time to cook the carrots through, since I added them after pressure was released. Even though my son in law, David is not here to share this soup now, in his honor I left the corn on top so he would not have to subject himself to a vegetable he does not care for. Although, I don't know exactly why I did it this way, since David is not fond of Barley either! Maybe I added the corn like this because it's cute this way, and colorful! And maybe I made it with Barley because I want David to learn to like it, Kelly likes it!

Beef, Leek and Barley Soup

Adapted from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking

1. Trim two big, meaty short ribs and put them on the bottom of your soup pot. (I used 4) Although you do not have to, I brown the ribs and drain any fat accumulated
2. Add 1/2 cup of barley, three big cloves of garlic chopped, two chopped onions, and three leeks cut lengthwise and then into segments–use both the white and the green parts. Be sure to wash the leeks carefully, as they are sneaky in hiding dirt. You can also add mushrooms and any other vegetables you may like. Grind in a little black pepper.
3. Add about eight cups of water or beef stock and let it simmer on the back burner for at least three hours while you go about your business. You can also add lima beans, cubed potatoes, peas, corn, string beans and chopped tomatoes at any point, or the second day, should you have any leftover.
Before serving, skim off the fat–there will be a bit, as short ribs are quite fatty–take the meat off the bones, chop it and put it back in the soup.
My Notes: 20-25 minutes is sufficient if using a pressure pan. Use quick cool method of releasing pressure, by carefully taking the locked pan to the sink and running cool over the top lid until the safety valve has dropped and the pressure level has returned to normal.
I cooked mine under pressure for 25 minutes, released pressure and returned the soup to a bare simmer and added: 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice; 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thin; 1 large ear of cooked (cooked because it was reserved in the fridge from a previous meal) corn kernels, cut from the cob, 2 large carrots, scraped and in medium dice and 1 cup wild mushroom blend. Keep soup on a low simmer until carrots are just tender.
Other suggestions: Green beans, diced potatoes,lima beans, peas are also good choices. You may have to add more broth if you load it up with a lot of extra veggies.

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