Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

The key to a tasty soup is the base. A good stock or broth goes a long ways to a successful kettle of soup. And nothing makes a great broth better than some nice soup bones.

beefbarleysoupSoup bones or lack thereof can make or break a good soup such as vegetable beef barley, one of my favorites. The recipe I use is my dad’s. He used to make it a lot when I was growing up.

I made a batch of it the other day, starting off by simmering some nice soup bones in a couple of quarts of water. The bones contained some nice meat, which I cut into small pieces for the soup. The bulk of the other ingredients came from my garden, including the carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and onions. (For those who are not avid gardeners, most of the ingredients for this soup can be found at farmers markets this time of the year or the supermarket year-round.) A final touch to the soup are the homemade egg noodles.

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup
2 quarts water
2 to 3 pounds beef bones with meat or small chuck roast
4 carrots, sliced ½-inch thick
½ head of small green cabbage, chopped coarsely
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small rutabaga, diced
1 14½-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
½ cup pearled barley
Salt and pepper to taste
Homemade egg noodles (optional)
Place beef in water and cook until tender. Remove from pot and let cool. Add the remaining ingredients to pot and bring to a boil, adding cooled meat cut into bit-sized pieces. After soup comes to a boil, simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until vegetables are tender.
Note: To add homemade egg noodles, beat 1 egg with a fork and then add flour so the consistency thickens but is not too runny. Drop into soup a tablespoon at a time. After about 10 minutes or so, they should be done and the soup can be served.

Baked Apples

The calendar says it’s the first day of fall, and anyone who likes to dabble in cooking with home-grown apples know that means it’s time to pull out their recipes for pies, crisps, crunches and the like.

appleoatmealAnother good way to make use of abundant apples is to bake them. And that’s exactly what Therese did recently. And although she baked them a little too long, they were delicious nonetheless.

The apples she used were some large greenish-yellow ones that I scooped up along the Greenway on one of my bike rides along the Red River. I think the apple tree from which they came was probably in someone’s backyard before the Flood of 1997 and now all but forgotten, except for me.

My favorite way to use the baked apples has been on my morning bowl of oatmeal, since they contain a bit of butter, some brown sugar and a little cinnamon.

Baked Apples
4 tart green apples
½ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well. Do not cut all the way through. Stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Also cut a ring of the peel off the middle of each apple. Next, place apples in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender.

Boiled Dinner

The approaching of fall can dismay summer lovers, but to those who love the chill in the air and the thought of a hot bowl of a boiled dinner, it can’t come too soon.

boiledI’ve always been a big fan of boiled dinner ever since my childhood. My dad used to make it several times a year, much to my liking. It was so good that my late Aunt Harriet Hendrickson used to call my Uncle Curt and tell him he’d have to fend for himself when my dad was making boiled dinner.

I made a batch the other day, with some leftover ham, cabbage, carrots and onions from my garden and a nice rutabaga and some potatoes from the supermarket. The result was excellent with a splash of vinegar.

Boiled Dinner
1 ham bone with about 1 pound of meat
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small rutabaga, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small cabbage, chopped coarsely
3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil then simmer for about 2 hours. Serve with a splash of vinegar if desired.

Tater Tot Taco Bake

Anyone who makes homemade salsa probably gets a kick out of the Pace Picante commercial in which a couple of cowboys mock a co-worker who is eating his chips with a sauce from “New York City.” I can’t help but chuckle every time the commercial pops up on the TV.

c0f6d287cb0452e5beb9a7cb10035463This time of the year, most gardeners have been well into salsa-making. My favorite is a fresh salsa that’s been a favorite ever since I came across the recipe.

Of course, the salsa is great with chips, but it’s also good on things such as enchiladas, tacos and burritos and the like, such as the following recipe, which I hope to try soon.

Tater Tot Taco Bake
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion (diced)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 1-ounce package taco seasoning mix
1 16-ounce bag frozen corn
1 4-ounce can green chilies, diced and drained
1 12-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce bag shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 16-ounce package frozen tater tots
1 10.5-ounce can enchilada sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add ground beef, garlic and onion and cook while breaking the meat apart with a spoon or spatula until the ground beef is completely browned. Drain off any excess fat. Add taco seasoning mix, green chilies, frozen corn and black beans to the ground beef. Cook until heated through. In a large bowl, combine ground beef mixture, ¾ of the Mexican cheese blend and all of the tater tots. Stir well to combine. Pour about 1/3 of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add the tater tot mixture to the baking dish and lightly pat the mixture down into a solid, even layer. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tater tots. Place into the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. During the last few minutes of baking, top the casserole with the remaining Mexican cheese blend and the sliced black olives. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
2 pounds tomatoes (I like to take skins off)
1 jalapeno pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
2½ cups tomato juice (I like to use homemade)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Place all in food processor. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Pear Crumble Pie

Pears aren’t exactly the type of fruit a person would expect to use in a pie, but don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

pearpie1Just a week or so ago, a good friend, Gary Brundin, shared some pears that were grown by his brother on his backyard tree. As you can expect, they weren’t as big as the Bartletts or Anjous one might find at the supermarket, but their taste was very comparable.

I used about 40 to 50 of the little beauties for some marmalade that also contained orange, orange peel, crushed pineapple and maraschino cherries. But I still had another 15 or 20 pears left, so Therese decided to make a pie.

The recipe she used came from her old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The result was fantastic, and if you don’t believe me, here’s the recipe so you can try it yourself.

Pear Crumble Pie
6 medium pears, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell or homemade pie crust
Crumble topping (recipe follows)
Slice 5 pears; cut remaining pear into sixths. Sprinkle pears with lemon juice. Mix sugar, flour and peel. Stir into sliced pears. Spoon into pie crust. Arrange pear wedges atop sliced pears. Sprinkle with Crumble Topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove from oven. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For Crumble Topping, mix ½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon each ground ginger and cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground mace. Cut in ¼ cup butter until crumbly.