Monday, January 2, 2012

Start with Barley, End with Barley

Today's creativity challenge came about while I was making dinner yesterday.  See, my husband adores black eyed peas.  And I make them because, (well, one because he adores them, but two, because) we live in the south and it's a traditional New Year's fare meant to bring good luck and prosperity.

I started my day today by making barley porridge in the crock pot based on the apple barley pudding recipe.  I'm so glad that I finally figured out the right consistency for the porridge!

Apple Barley Porridge for the Crock Pot


3 cups of barley
5 apples, peeled and diced fine
15 cups of water
lemon juice
2 1/2 cups of sugar
3 cups of water


In a Large crock pot, mix the dried barley and diced apples.  Cover with 15 cups of water, stir and cook on low for 6 hours.

At the 6 hour mark, add 3 large splooshes of lemon juice, the sugar and the other 3 cups of water and stir to mix it all in, then reset the crock pot to cook an additional 2 hours on low.

Serve with a bit of brown sugar, or honey, or milk, or cream or none of the above as it suits you and enjoy (:

So how does barley porridge have anything at all to do with black eyed peas?  Well, as I've previously mentioned, my husband adores them on New Years-- but I don't.  So when I fix them, we have this huge left over container full of black eyed peas and he won't eat all of them-- he can't.  And I hate seeing food go to waste.

So I looked up a recipe for Black Eyed Pea Gumbo.

If you've ever read any of my other recipe posts, you've probably already notice I'm not very good at following (or giving) recipes exactly, so I'll share how I changed it to make dinner tonight (:

(Especially as part of the point of tonight's dinner was to make use of leftovers and what I have on hand!)

Black Eyed Pea Gumbo


3 cups of barley, soaked in water overnight
4 cups of left over black eyed peas
6 slices of left over ham, diced
5 stalks of celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 cans of broth (I happened to have 1 of chicken and one of beef, so I used both)
diced garlic, to taste ( I use a lot because I like garlic a lot)
a good sploosh of canola oil
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley-- all to taste


In a large stew pot, combine the drained barley, the black eyed peas, both cans of broth and both cans of tomatoes.  Season with salt, pepper, parika, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley, to taste.

With everything cold, that sure doesn't look appealing yet.
In a large frying pan, start with the sploosh of oil, over medium high heat, and cook the ham, celery, onion, garlic and bell pepper, also seasoned with the spices.

And even before it's cooked, it already looks festive and yummy (:
When the ham starts to brown, the celery to soften and the onions to go clear, add it to the stew pot.  Stir it all up and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

And enjoy!

With two delicious barley based meals to start and end my day, what I learned today is that it's so easy to creatively alter recipes that it hardly feels like being creative at all! (:

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