Thursday, September 11, 2008

Inspired by recipes, but not really following them.

recipe, schmecipe! i don't need no stinkin' recipe! but a list of ingredients would be nice, and maybe a clue about the proportions. .. . . and i'm missing some ingredeints on the list, and i got some stuff in the fridge that needs to be used, like right now.

summer must be almost over because although i never thought it could happen, i'm actually kind of sick of tomatoes, and i'm starting to crave warm winter grains like barley. and i'm always craving rice.

what to do with a pantry full of staples, a barley craving, and a rice craving? and i'm too lazy to take on something overly ambitious, so i'll pull out some recipes, and well, fake it.

Mushroom Barley Caserole (sort of, kind of, based on Mom's mushroom barley caserole)

4 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
6 to 8 oz mushrooms (i used canned, eek! but fresh would be better)
3/4 cups pearl barley
1 can chicken broth
salt and pepper
a few tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

preheat oven to 350. in heavy skillet, cook the bacon over medium high heat. when it's done, remove and drain on paper towels, then chop. cook onion in the bacon grease, adding butter or olive oil if needed. after a few minutes, add the carrots. when the onions are getting brown, stir in the mushrooms. add the barley, and stir to coat. season with salt & pepper and stir in the parsley, and stir the chopped bacon back in. when the barley has darkened slightly, pour in the chicken broth. turn the stove off, pour everything into a greased 9x9 baking dish (or shallow caserole of similar volume), cover, and bake for an hour. check the barley for done-ness, it might need to cook for another 15 minutes, and it's better slightly undercooked than overcooked.

Green Jumbalaya (I did briefly glance at the recipe in Joy of Cooking. it called for basil. odd. but tasty. i skipped all semblence of tomatoes. thus, the name "Green")

4 chicken or turkey sausauges (buy some with some flavor. please)
one onion, chopped
one green pepper and one sweet pepper, chopped
1 large rib celery, chopped
salt & pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 cup rice
2 1/4 cups water
good pinch red pepper flakes

cook sausages on the stove. chop them up first if you want, because this is their chance to cook. once cooked, remove the sausages. hopefully there is some grease left behind. if not, you'll need to some oil or butter. put the onion, peppers, and celery in the skillet, and cook over medium heat till the onions cook down a bit, 5-10 minutes. season with salt and pepper and other spices, then add one cup rice, and the water. stir the sausage peices back in. bring the whole thing to a boil, then cover, and simmer on low heat until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. i suggest checking the skillet every 5-10 minutes, to make sure your rice isn't burning on the bottom.

i'm actually eating another bowl of the Green Jumbalaya right now. For a weeknight dinner, i wasn't look for something spectactularly culinary, just something easy, fast, and good. it's spot on enough for me!

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