Bean and Barley Soup

Although I have been able to re-create some of my mother’s recipes, recently it occurred to me that there are many more that I won’t ever be able to replicate.  Never having owned a cookbook, my mother cooked and baked by taste and by feel.  Here is a list of things she prepared that I wish I had paid attention to: raspberry cordial, butter cookies (that were hard as rocks but perfect for dipping into a cup of hot coffee), a yeast based cake that she called a pitah (butter) babka, potato dumplings made with raw grated potatoes squeezed dry in a dish towel and boiled, and all of those delicious homemade noodles of every size and shape.

Mollie, my girlfriend’s mother, recently commented on a post, “I wish I had the recipes for all the wonderful foods my Mom made, she never wrote anything down and I married young and was not interested at that time of cooking Jewish foods -my very bad.” So, here is my suggestion to each of you.  Call your mom or your grandmother, ask her for your favorite recipes (don’t forget to get the stories behind them) and write them down.  To the grandmas, bubbies, nanas, savtas and savties, why not do the same.  And if anyone has a recipe for raspberry cordial, please share!

Bean and Barley Soup

1 large brown onion, diced

2 stalks celery including leaves, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

2 Bay leaves

8 cups beef or chicken stock

1/2 cup barley

1/2 cup assorted beans, soaked overnight and drained

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil till soft.  Add garlic, celery (including leaves) and parsley, sautéing for several minutes after adding each ingredient.  Add stock, beans and barley and two bay leaves. Bring soup to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover.  After two hours of cooking, season with salt and pepper and remove bay leaves. Check to see if beans are tender before serving.  Soup should be thick and peppery!

Enjoy,

Irene

Cholent

Travelling to New York City in February may not be ideal but there is this internal “tug” that draws us to visit “the children” no matter where they are.  Of course, my children are no longer children, but adults.  Yet, they still have birthdays and that is as good a reason as any to visit.  Two of my children now live in NYC, the city of my birth.  My youngest is in Israel and though I have not yet visited him, I spend many hours contemplating that trip.  So, what do you do when you go see your children in the dead of winter and know that your visit will span Shabbat?  You plan to make cholent.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to cholent.  In other words my oven has never seen a veggie cholent, chicken cholent, tofu cholent or any of the other variations that are currently in vogue.  As a daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants I remember the stories that my mother told me of what Shabbat was like in Mogielnica, a small town outside of Warsaw.  Her aunt owned the local bakery and apparently each household would bring their cholent to the bakery before Shabbat and place their pots in the commercial oven from which they were retrieved the next day for lunch.  I have often wondered how people recognized which cholent pot belonged to their family.  So, I am off to NYC and in my “carry on” luggage there will be 5 Lbs. of frozen short ribs for the cholent, from Doheny Kosher,  3 packages of Jeff’s Sausages and two frozen layers of carrot cake, ready to assemble for my son’s birthday. Here is the basic recipe for my mother’s cholent.

Manya’s Cholent
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
I large onion, left whole
1 1/2 cups small white beans
1/2 cup pearl barley
4-5 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in eighths
4 or 5 strips of short ribs, cut up
salt and pepper to taste

Place onion, beans, barley and potatoes in the bottom of a heavy pot.  Add short ribs and enough water JUST to cover.  Season with salt and pepper. Bring cholent to a boil, cover with lid and then place in a 250 degree oven overnight.  I normally cook this for 12-14 hours.  DO NOT STIR.

Enjoy,
Irene