Great Grains & "Locavore" Living

There’s a good reason some of us “wish we were baking.” It’s because some of us shouldn’t be trusted in the kitchen to COOK!!!

You know you have just a few too many grains in the house when you go to make a lovely mushroom barley soup on a foggy autumn evening, and you realize that you’re… just not sure which one the barley IS. You peer at it. You call your SO into the room to peer at it. Your SO peers at it, nibbles at a piece, frowns and mumbles and confirms for you which one is which, then leaves to go back to her hours of staring glassily into the television screen, watching bad Doris Day films while waiting for the bread to bake.

You STILL somehow manage to mislabel the grain.

However, you find out that mushroom RYE soup is downright tasty, too. It’s a quick and easy soup that goes really well with… um… well, bread. Whole wheat rolls, in fact. Or foccacia bread, topped with savories. (Sorry, I haven’t yet figured out what doesn’t go with bread.) Anyway, rye in soup is great, because, unlike barley, it doesn’t suck up all the liquid in the universe. The soup isn’t as velvety, but that’s just fine too.

To begin with, soak 2 c. dried mushrooms in 1 c. hot water for 20 minutes. (Save the water! It adds great flavor!) Porcini, chanterelle, or shiitake all work equally well for this, use your preference, and use a lot.

Into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 to one whole chopped white onion, (Or add two. Live a little!)
  • Add 1/3 clove of crushed garlic,
  • A sprig of rosemary, fresh (And ‘sprig’ is a size measurement of your preference, too!)
  • 3/4 c. of rye berries… or, if you must, barley.
  • 1/2 c. of white wine
  • 2 c. vegetable stock

After your mushrooms have softened, rough chop and add them. Strain the water for particles of whatever, and dump it in as well.

We simmered ours for an hour and a half on low, turning it up to medium for the last ten minutes, and the rye was soft but still chewable. Some people add bay leaf, but I find that bay goes better if I’m going to add potatoes and carrots. A squirt of lime juice brightened the flavor just before serving. This was a simple and light soup; flavorful and filling, and a great new use of rye!

Having a sourdough starter in the fridge means that you have to feed it. Feeding starter takes a cup of flour and a cup of water everytime you use it. We are going through an awful lot of flour. Not that it’s a big deal — flour is fairly inexpensive, after all, but we currently seeking sources that are closer to home. After participating quietly in the locavore challenge introduced to us by Tea, we found a personal commitment to eat locally first, and organically second, to support sustainable agriculture. To that end, we’re looking for Northern California items. Those who participated in the locavore movement found local salt, quinoa and amaranth flour, and flour — from Full Belly Farm. So, there are options out there.

3 Replies to “Great Grains & "Locavore" Living”

  1. Hey! Having Whole Wheat, Whole Oats, Whole Rye, and Barley (pearled and with the hull still on) … all sitting in the same silly cabinet. Well … you end up living a little. 😉

    This would explain why my Barley Bread tasted rather odd, too, as I’ve been believing that those Rye berries were Barley for quite some time.

  2. The problem, though, is that we’re writing down the recipes … and then we have to go back and say, “Hey, what? Did we say Rye?”

    Causes problems with trying to develop commercial recipes, but … we’ll have more of them. 😉

    You’re welcome to come try some – we can duplicate it, now that we know the difference between Rye and Barley. 🙂

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