Well, hello all!

I’ve missed you and this place where food makes me so happy. I took a little hiatus that turned into a longer hiatus and… well, you know how it goes.

I have so much to catch y’all up on, but I want to stick to simple comforts for now. I’ve been making things too complicated for myself lately, forgetting that more doesn’t equal better.

Back in August I made the difficult decision to quit my anti-depressants and many a day passes when I wonder if I made the right choice. Even getting out of bed can be a trial, so turning to whole foods is one natural way I can lift my spirits.

The simple act of chopping, stirring and creating is therapy enough. Having a few go to meals in the chamber for when a day defeats me is essential.

I am also committing to greatly reducing the amount of meat I take in. Some days are fully vegetarian, but on those days I include meat, I make sure to cut the amount in half supplementing with loads of yummy veg.

This stew is really just a thick-ass soup that freezes well. Simple. The barley maintains its chewy texture which keeps you feeling full longer and adds healthy bulk.

Make a big batch of this goodness and have it on hand for those days you need a little extra love.

VEGETABLE CHICKEN & BARLEY STEW

Note: Stock can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or frozen. Once you have strained out the solids chill the stock, allowing the fat to separate and sit on top making it a breeze to spoon off.

Stock and Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, skin on and quartered
  • 1 garlic bulb, sliced in half across midline
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns

Barley Stew

  • 4 medium celery stalks, diced and leaves reserved
  • 4 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • small bunch flat leaf parsley, stems diced and leaves chopped
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded
  • 1 1/4 cup barley
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 small bunch green onions, sliced
  • lots of fresh ground pepper

Trim chicken of any excess skin or fat and place in a large pot or dutch oven with remaining poaching ingredients. Cover with water (about 10-12 cups) until just submerged. Bring to  boil and reduce to a very gentle simmer.

Poach chicken until just cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove chicken to a bowl or platter until cool enough to handle. Continue to simmer veggies. Pull meat from carcass and set aside.

Optional: Return bones and carcass to pot. Simmer for up to another 8-24 hours for a rich bone broth, adding more water as needed (or transfer to a slow cooker).

Strain out solids by pressing through a colander as not to lose any precious liquid. Discard. Skim any excess fat from surface of stock (see note above).

Clean and wipe pot dry.

Heat a little oil over medium heat. Toss in celery, carrots, onion and parsley stem with a small pinch salt, sauteing until softened and sweet, about 10 minutes.

Add stock back in with parsnip, cabbage, thyme and barley. Cover and simmer until vegetables are cooked through and soft, but not falling apart and barley is al dente, about 45 minutes.

Shred reserved chicken and stir into stew. Toss in peas, green onions, parsley leaves, celery leaves and season with loads of pepper.

Serve with crusty baguette, squeeze over a little lemon and hot sauce.

The stew  can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a month. Add a little extra water when reheating if it’s too dry.

I mentioned having lots of news – in the coming weeks I will be sharing stories from Costa Rica, fresh and healthy recipes as well as some more wine and music features.

This year is about feeling good, honouring one’s self and finding a way to hold onto that inner jungle paradise. Where’s your happy place?

 

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