Mushroom Barley Soup

Holy Supper is a generation to generation tradition passed down in the Eastern Orthodox and Ukrainian culture. It’s traditionally a twelve course meal of cultural dishes that are shared and consumed family style on the first star of Christmas Eve. The man of the household leads in prayer. Verses 2:1-12 in the Gospel of Matthew are read usually by a child. And an extra place setting is set – for Christ, to commemorate a loved one or for a passing stranger because all are remembered and no one is turned away on this evening. 

As my husband and I are Julian Orthodox, we have celebrated our Christmas this past weekend. On the Julian calendar, feast days are thirteen days later than they appear on the Gregorian calendar. 

As I grew older, I began to anticipate and lool forward to the Holy Supper tradition as one of my favorite aspects of the season. I always held a fascination and an interest with food and what and why other cultures eat like that. My favorite dish from Holy Supper in particular was the mushroom barley soup. This was my father’s contribution. My father is not Orthodox and no longer attends church but has always respected my mother’s traditions. That’s one of the reasons I had a soft spot for his mushroom barley soup. My family would put out several soups that night every year, but the cream of mushroom soup was my favorite out of all them.

For awhile, I didn’t want to know he did it because that I feel that would have had spoil things for me, I don’t know.  As I  got into a serious relationship, I would have had to know so I could make it for my own family. 

It was really a cream of mushroom soup from Campbell’s soup cans along with quality fresh mushrooms and butter. Even without the barley, the soup was still good. 

As I adopted a plant based diet in recent years, my recipe would be different but I was still positive. Mushrooms have a meat like texture and combined with a little coconut oil and vegan butter, can be quite savory too. Add in barley for texture. I also added sliced carrots and celery for a more hearty soup. I usually like to make a big pot of it so it lasts and lasts into the week, a cozy comfort for snow days and Jack Frost’s wind chills which is why you don’t want to miss the rosemary to stave away the sniffles!

Mushroom Barley Soup

Barley contains a high source of fiber and antioxidants. It also is helpful at reducing cholesterol. It is not gluten free.  

Rosemary is an herb that can be potted and grown. It’s consumed for antibacterial and antifungal benefits. 


Ingredients

  • 3 qts (12 cups) low sodium vegetable stock 
  • 3 cups cooked barley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 package of cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup organic, extra virgin coconut oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery, including leaves
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • sea salt and pepper 
  • Rosemary garnish 


Method

1. Pour stock into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir in the barley, add the bay leaves, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered. Set your timer for 2:15 (2 hours 15 minutes) starting now.

2. While the soup simmers, place dried mushrooms in a separate small saucepan. Add 3 cups of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove saucepan from heat and let the mushrooms soak for 20 mins.

3. Drain the mushroom water by straining it through a coffee filter (use a mesh strainer or colander to hold the filter). Reserve the mushroom water.

4. Chop the soaked, softened mushrooms into small pieces and reserve. 

5. Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened. 

6. Add the celery and carrots and day he for 5 minutes until they begin to carmelize or turn brown.

7. Add the soaked chopped dried mushroom pieces and crushed garlic, sauté for 2 minutes.

8. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour the strained mushroom broth into the skillet, bring to a boil, stir. Cook for 2 more minutes till mixture is hot and bubbly. Add the contents of the skillet to the simmering stockpot with the broth and barley.

Garnish or add in rosemary. 

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Resolutions and Regimens. 

It snowed again here in Pennsylvania. Here in Pennsylvania, we don’t have to get much snow to shut down roads. Everyone is cautious for themselves and others and a certain peace resumes in the air like the kind you almost feel in the air on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Vespers is even cancelled for a Saturday. It’s the kind of day I was hoping for, actually…minus Vespers being cancelled, obviously but I am grateful Father had everyone’s safety in mind.

 A lovely English Christmas celebration has ended up in a busy week which gave way to wishes on catching up on my cleaning regimen, the laundry, reorganizing my prayer lists, and reading. I ordered two books for my Kindle app, yes I said app, still adoring print books. Soon, I will need to shovel us out as well as our elderly neighbor. 

But before I let any of that get the best of me, I put a kettle of lavender earl grey tea on and sat in meditation gearing up to set my intentions, prayers and hopes for the New Year. The best time to sit in meditation or prayer is the time you think you don’t have. And it’s another year, the same as the old one, church feasts are the same, what is there to look forward to? 

The feast days and traditions in the church remain the same. Current affairs and policies, fortunately and unfortunately, remain the same.

But we change. And sometimes by a lot. Really examine the year. How have major events shaped you? Where did you personally grow – mentally, spiritually, emotionally? Where would you like to improve?  If you are still drawing a blank, you let the year pass you by or you’re either missing the point entirely. 

“Life is long if you give it away 

So stay don’t go – Because I’m fading away

Soul to soul between you and me

Chain me down but I am still free.” – David Byrne and Brian Eno


But what if you don’t want to change and you are quite content with where you are now? That’s not the point. The point is, a year can go by quickly if you remain stagnant. I apologize for not posting more recipes frequently. I fell off the wagon with posting recipes but want to get back into it again. Another part of it is I struggled too between my diets going from veganism in the first six months of the year to just plant based. But I found my mood and demeanor has changed since going plant based and my stomach feels a lot better too. I may have even found a local plant based MD and hope to see them next year. My husband and I shared delicious and hearty meals together. And I found I crave sugar less…that’s one reason I don’t keep sugar or flour canisters in our house.  A goal of mine is to become more disciplined on my regimen and to keep cranking out more recipes. And as far as getting back into veganism, it’s a different journey for everyone.

I started journaling again which has led to me writing again. I started this journal at the end of the summer. I actually get annoyed by the word blessed in that context or used in this context (#blessed), but it was a gift. You might say I’m overthinking what I’m about to say (as I tend to overthink). At it’s most practical sense, it’s simply an expression of gratitude. …But to whom, you know? God? Or to just have it advertised as a box sign in your dining room? I always envisioned that to be the cheesy hallmark flag of an American millenial couple: marriage, mortgage in the suburbs, two or three kids, dogs and an oversized box sign saying Blessed scrawled somewhere in the house. There might not be a cross in sight nor may they be religious, but there it is again standing back at you again, “blessed.” Because sooner or later, everyone and their friends try to design their lives around like that. 

But have you ever wondered what they’re really saying and is that the only way to define blessed?

I think couples and families define their blessings in many ways. Some people get a comfortable ease displaying it in photo frames and box signs, but I try to take mine before God in church. God has given to me a marriage and love, a nice starter home to share as our first place that’s close to our families, a refrigerator and cabinets full of good food despite long work hours, heat on the cold days and a car. But I know God gives and takes away with a purpose. And by displaying them, that’s showing pride in something that isn’t guaranteed tomorrow.  Plus, I also take into consideration how it might make my friends feel who have less. I know they say they don’t care, but deep down, I think they do. 

I am grateful I remained close and let God in and that closeness has resulted me in wanting to spend Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings in church. I am grateful. I hope. I pray. I look forward to it every week.

We rescued a cat! He might make a few appearances in upcoming entries. Babies and puppies and kitties seem to marry well with food posts. 

Okay, maybe not that much….but a few, okay?

I also hope to keep writing and possibly finish writing my first manuscript. Creating goals and having a regimen even if it’s just meditation or cleaning keeps me going. Regimens drive change and growth. It helps me become a better person for God, myself and others around me. That’s what I live for. 

May peace, health and joy encompass you in the New Year! 

Lentil Quinoa Salad 

Why bother procrastinating? For as short as life can be, some of us spend an ungodly amount on procrastination and overthinking every last detail. I’m in that camp with you. 

We set goals… or we reach for the stars. 

One could be a goal to cook consistently healthy meals like those raw vegan food blogger mom’s who manage to crank out multiple posts a week despite claiming to work full-time, be the mother of three children, two dogs and teach a fitness class. 

Two could be a goal of making Vespers every Saturday…but then realizing you forgot about that one event on your calendar that overlaps the time for Vespers and what if that’s the only parish in the area? 

Three could be losing weight or toning your midsection at the gym. Old school Britney come through your headphones and all you’re thinking about is those abs…until you realize how hungry you’ve become from working out so intensely! If only there was a gourmet healthy drive thru around because you simply don’t have the patience for these multiple step meals. 

Four could be the overwhelming sensation that clouds the judgment of the best and worst of us procrastinators: the Christmas season. As Orthodox, we are called to be humble about our fasts but it’s hard not to feel slighted or jealous by what others are doing. Are my decorations too dull or not enough? I didn’t do a Jesse Tree or an Advent Tree with my children, I’m not the model parent. I can’t afford the four present rule, I’m not the model parent. My kids are wearing hand me downs, I’m not the model parent. I don’t get along with my family, the list goes on and on of absurdities that our minds trick us into doubt and soon belief.

We set goals, but there’s so many impediments that hinder our personal definitions of success and happiness. And depending on who we follow and friend on social media, the ranks of jealousy, envy and lust can make us feel rather inferior even if we don’t usually struggle with insecurities. 

Everything seems harder in the beginning, but the journey is usually worthwhile in the end. That’s why the goal for my  recipes are usually easy, quick, healthy and reasonably priced to make. Just like this lentil quinoa salad with lemon dressing that gets absorbed by the beans and grains that you can’t tell it’s there, but it’s there, like the mystery of who was giving children gold coins in the days of St. Nicholas. I really don’t think that’s reaching for the stars, do You?

Lentil Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dressing 

1 bag of green lentils, soaked overnight 

1 pouch of Mediterranean quinoa blend (It’s quinoa! Just faster to make and preseasoned. Check labels for sodium content or buy and soak ahead grains if this is an issue.)

2 cups of chopped organic kale 

1 tbsp lemon zest 

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp Dijon mustard 

1 tsp agave nectar or maple syrup 

Sea salt and pepper 

Method

Cook quinoa as per package directions. Soak lentils overnight and steam in steamer. Get a bowl and add other ingredients and mix to make your dressing. Add in softened lentils and fluffy quinoa. Mix well. 

Great in addition as a side dish to baked fish, baked chicken or vegetable patties. 

It’s Go Time!

There are so many days when I wake up and don’t want to run. 

And when I wait until later, it just seems easier to cut to the excuses. Plus, evenings are usually peak time for bears. Yeeeeah.

I’m just one of those runner types. 

It’s one week and a day from the Diamonds 15K. I haven’t done a dry run on the course itself. And last week, we were hit with an insane cold blast that made the treadmill appealing but I wanted to get in as much experience running in all types of weather to incorporating hills and stairclimbing as much as possible. Rumor has it, Diamonds has a beast of a hill just like the Coal Cracker did this summer. 

Today…. today was the first nice morning in awhile. A little chilly, but more than manageable. And quite frankly, I could only hope for this kind of weather on the morning of the Diamonds. 


Running across Old Rickety. 

City Island has always been one of my favorite places and it is the perfect course for a long distance runner with options. You have the Island itself which is a mile then the People’s Bridge which connects between City Island and Riverside Park. You can run in the park or down by the river. There’s several steep staircases allover the case. 

Staircases, hills, curves, I hit all of them for a total of five miles without any walk breaks. I put in my playlist and I was just on throughout the entire run. The stairs were really steep so I took it easy but still hustled. Adding in stairs really helps build endurance. I felt my legs give out around mile 2 and mile 4, but I kept at it. 

A little slower than average today, but I’m proud of myself. 

Hoping for a similar outcome during Diamonds. Me and my playlist are ready. 
Here’s what’s on my running playlist:

“Disturbia” – Rihanna: I don’t think a lot of people understand why runners go for as much as they do, but it’s always that kind of motivation to peps me up. Disturbia has the perfect beat.

“Diamonds” – Rihanna: The anthem.

“Please don’t stop the music” – Rihanna: #cantstopwontstop

“I Can” – Nas: They don’t make’em like they used to. 

“Halo” – Beyonce: The chorus, of course. 

“Show ME What You Got” – Jay Z: Middle to end of playlist, makes me go a little harder everytime. 

“Outrageous” – Britney

“She Wants to Move” – N.E.R.D

“Happy” – Pharrell 

“A Thousand Miles” – Vanessa Carlton 

Snow day Pot Pie 

 When I first heard of ramekin recipes, I would think of Giada or Ina.  The thought of making a breakfast quiche or a baked oatmeal in their flawless kitchens seemed so convenient, but like a distant dream.

Especially when both Food Network personalities are far from vegan. 

I can imagine a vegan personality in the network but I haven’t watched in so long. Does anyone know if there’s one now? What about if one ever auditioned for the Next Food Network Star? 

Over at Honey & Allspice, I’m all about dreams and I’m all about reality too. One of the easiest and most favorite vegan dishes are the ones that have been duplicated from my childhood favorite recipes. It’s the ones that don’t taste too earthy or like something you’re supposed to be eating, it instead should taste like something you want to eat, right? 

Enter my take on the pot pie. Served up in ramekins I’ve acquired for a dollar at an church rummage sale, they can be prepared in 45 minutes. 

As we head into Winter, I want to refresh your pantry stock with comfort dishes that are hearty, affordable and savory. 

Today also marks our half year wedding anniversary! We also received our first snow of the season. I remember flurries on our wedding day…in early May. 

A little snow doesn’t stop the birds!

Pot Pies (Soy Free, Nut Free, Vegan)Serves 6 if using ramekins or 2 if using bowls 


1 onion, sliced

4 cloves of garlic 

1 tsp of lemon juice 

1 tsp of sea salt 

1/4 cup of coconut flour 

1/4 cup of cashew milk 

2 cups of organic vegetable broth (I use Pacific) 

4 bay leaves 

1 tsp of turmeric 

1 tsp of allspice 

2 cups of frozen vegetables (I used a vegetable medley. Try looking for something similar!) 

For the sea salt biscuits 

2 cups of organic coconut flour 

4 tbsp cold Vegan butter, solid and 1 cup of melted vegan butter

1 tbsp baking soda 

1 tbsp baking soda 

1 tsp fresh lemon juice 

1 tsp lemon zest 

2 cups of cashew milk, whisked in slowly 

1 tsp of sea salt 

Method for biscuits 

Add dry ingredients, then lemon zest then wet ingredients. Stir in milk last until sticky. Put on a floured board and gently knead out. Take the end of a clean glass tumbler or clean mason jar to cut a circle and put it on a greased cookie sheet, one by one. Brush tops with melted vegan butter. Set aside until you dished your pot pie out!

Method 

Heat up coconut oil in a saucepan. Add in your onions and garlic and cook for several minutes or until the onions are softened.

Whisk or stir in your flour to make almost like a roux.

Now add in your vegetable broth and bay leaves with the spices. Simmer to thicken for 14 minutes and you get this…

Spoon into ramekins. Overflow is delightful! 

Put your unnamed biscuits on top of each one and bake in a preheated oven to 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Take out and serve immediately. 

…and once again, we’re racing!

Happy first of November! 

November can mean a variety of things or most of the same to people. This year for me; it’s pie making, Nanowrimo participating, Christmas movies on Hallmark (yes, I’m a sap) to Thanksgiving and running the famous (to our area) Berwick Marathon with my father in-law on Thanksgiving.

Only the Berwick Marathon isn’t nearly quite a 26.2 despite it’s unique original name! After the 80’s, the race was changed to Run for the Diamonds because it was too short to qualify for a marathon and participants receive diamonds as part of their prize. At nine miles, it’s one of the most challenging races in the area that has obtained attention from devoted local runners to elite athletes. It wasn’t until the 1970’s where the race had its first woman participant! 

And there’s a pretty sinister hill too. Most people fear it.  As someone that ran the Coal Cracker 10k this summer, I can’t imagine a higher or longer incline.

“Diamonds” by Rihanna will of course be my anthem song for my Diamonds run. Corny? But the lyrics and the beat were made for a race. It can’t get anymore perfect than this one.

The weather was damp and chilly today. It was quintessential November weather, but it was hard to convince myself out from just using the treadmill. I mean, the treadmill is fine but I believe road runs should be done as much as possible especially before a race. The weather, how it makes you feel, what you eat – it all has an impact on your run. 

Plus, I only had a 2.5 mile scheduled today soooooo let’s sip some kale and it’s go time! 

My kale smoothie in my personalized goblet from my bachelorette. I’ll be using this glass a lot for extra motivation! Love you all.  Plus, duh. It’s pretty.

I ended up running 3 miles. I don’t know what it was, but my body felt more invigorated and energized by the rain. It didn’t take much to get used to the cold either. 

The hill in the Berwick race will appear very early in the race so I decided to add hills very early on this run too. It’s….a lot, man. But I feel crazy good after conquering each one and my booty feels a little firmer too.  Around split three, I slowed down a bit as I may make note of that. 

ALSO, I don’t remember my legs being so sore after just three miles. Three simple miles. Hills girl. Hills are beautiful. Hills are tough…and so am I.

Tomorrow will be a weight training day with cross training. On Friday, nine long miles. 

Keep Calm and Put the Pho On!

I hope many of you who celebrated Halloween yesterday had a safe and happy Halloween yesterday.

Windy days, causing leaves to spiral about on highways and roadways. Rainy days and misty mornings. A silver crescent moon shining through the blinds at night. Autumn is here, and so is blanket and boots weather. It’s time to make for decadent, velvety smooth soups to some of my favorites.

I hope everyone who celebrated Halloween had a safe and happy one, nonetheless. Halloween night is no different. It’s a night that calls for something comforting, but for our household  and with the temperatures starting to dip threatening our immune systems, that calls for an increase in greens and spices. Enter pho. 

The magic of pho is in the broth and the mushrooms. Pho is essential like a broth bowl but it’s not bone broth. It’s instead stock comprised of garlic, onions and a medley of Asian spices to create a robust flavor. True pho can take hours to cook. Like how the Italians gush over tomato sauce from scratch, the Vietnamese take pride in their broth. 

I can only imagine an small, but mighty Vietnamese woman stirring a pot of broth in her kitchen all afternoon that her grandchildren and family are fortunate to come close to the beautiful aroma and taste of it. Actually, I’m sure you can come close yourself if you live in or near a major city. 

The rest of us get to live vicariously in the Instagram photos.

No, seriously. How do you make it pretty like that? Realistically, most of us don’t have time to toil over broth or make art out of our suppers, but what if I told you you can have both in just 45 minutes?  

“Sounds like a miracle. Where do I sign up with my check for $79.99?” the critics will say.

Just. keep. reading. And sign your snark at the bottom line and put it away, please. That’s all! Thank you. 

Once the broth and mushrooms are prepared which can be made in advance, you just have to chop up your toppings and decorate them. As for toppings, think immune boosters. Herbs like cilantro to greens like bok choy and bean sprouts. Chopped tofu works well if you are not sensitive to soy. You are essentially creating a broth to sip if you were ill, but it’s mad tastier and less boring than lying on your bed sipping just broth. The flavors are robust and packed with so much flavor that it feels like a real meal that’s allergen friendly too!  My recipe doesn’t include soy, gluten, nuts or eggs. I also tried to include toppings in my broth that were relatively inexpensive too.  

Vegan Pho  (soy free, gluten free, nut free, olive oil free)

Serving for 4 (if less than four, the broth and mushrooms can easily be frozen for another time. If more than four, double or triple this recipe.)

2 containers of organic vegetable broth (I used Pacific here. I believe Swanson’s is the only brand that contains wheat at this time.)

1 medium Vidalia onion, quartered

6 cloves of garlic (We’re not shy about our garlic count here.) 

1 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice 

1 tbsp Allspice 

1 tbsp ginger, fresh or ground 

1 tbsp cinnamon 

Soy Sauce, to taste 

1 package of rice noodles 

For the mushroom sauce

1 package of cremini or baby Bella mushrooms, some sliced some not. 

2 tbsp of soy sauce 

sea salt and pepper 

1 tbsp of vegan butter (can be substituted with organic extra virgin coconut oil)

For the toppings 

1 tbsp of Thai basil or basil 

1 tbsp of cilantro 

2 cups of bok choy, chopped 

2 cups of organic kale, chopped 

1 bunch of scallions, chopped at the dark green ends

sesame seeds, optional 

Sriacha, optional 
Method 

Boil rice noodles according to package direction and drain. Easy enough.

Melt butter or coconut oil (I used both in this recipe) into a pan. Once simmering, add in mushrooms, sea salt, pepper and soy sauce. Stir until well coated and cook for several minutes. Set aside. 

Make your broth. Add in your vegetable broth. Once simmering, add in the onions and garlic. Cook for several minutes. Next, add in the spices. Give it a few several hearty stirs. It’s a big pot of LOVE! for LOVE! after all. Cover and cook for thirty minutes. Let it do it’s thing. 

Is this it, you’ll wonder? You will not feel as if you’re toiling. You will feel as if there is more to this. Me too, me too.  

Trust yourself and the process. Prepare your toppings. Or if you don’t want to do that… Read a book. Get back to your knitting. Play with the kitten or the puppy. 

Once thirty minutes is up, it’s almost ready!  If serving immediately, it’s time to assemble your bowls. And trust me, this isn’t as hard as it looks. 
Follow the pictures. (As a visual learner, this usually helps me too! 😊)

First, add in your noodles. At least a cup per bowl. Unless you’re dining alone then feel free to be your own glutton for carby comfort! 

Add a little bit of the broth. A little bit goes a long way. 

This step requires a teensy amount of patience. Deep breath, grasshopper. You have this! Take a slotted spoon and carefully apply some of the mushrooms to one side of the bowl and they will float.

Gather your toppings. This is why it’s helpful to chop them all while the broth is cooking so you can just pick and add them to your bowl without any further time gone by. Just my thoughts.

That way… you’ll have this. 

How did this recipe turn out for you? What other toppings have you tried adding? Please leave a comment below or tag us on social media using #thehoneyandallspiceblog. Thank you!!