Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Soup That Saved Last Night's Dinner

I am, by no means, a classically trained chef; or classically trained anything for that matter. However, I have always carried a certain sense of pride for the fact that in all the times I have spent in the kitchen in my twenty-seven years of life I have had very few failures. Sure...I have had a cake overflow and had my hair get caught in a mixer (I was five!), but I have had very few things deemed virtually inedible. Perhaps, not any...until last night. Enter my Chicken and Barley Bake...
Chicken and Barley Bake
Sure...it does not look half bad. But, as they say, looks can be deceiving. For hidden within the ochre glow of this harmless looking chicken and barley bake hides what must have been a bucket of salt and napalm.

I am actually glad that I had my Cardiovascular Technology exam last night because if I could have seen the faces that went along with the description of how it tasted I might have been done for. On my way back home from class I text my husband to ask how dinner had gone, as I was sure it would have been good, given that the kitchen had smelled quite delicious before I had left. My husband responded that it had been good, but a little "too spicy." Too spicy? My family loves spicy. It had been just a little "too spicy" that our son barely finished half of his serving. My son loves my cooking. I could already feel the sense of dread for my serving when I got home. As I entered the kitchen upon my return it smelled just as good as when I had left. I helped myself to a plate, took one bite, and nearly died.

What had gone so wrong that it tasted of nothing but salt and absolute atomic heat? It could not have been the dash of chili flakes. My family loves the spiciness that those little red flecks give, so much so that I usually double it whenever a recipe calls for it. Was it the sprinkling of curry? Hmmm...the curry. That must have been the culprit for all the other ingredients I use on a daily basis and they have never caused my throat to literally bleed. I am highly exaggerating, but you get the drift. It was not up to my usual standard of culinary artistry.

I felt horrible. Not only for the fact I had left my boys with something like that to satiate their hunger, but also for the fact I still had a lot of the atomic barley left over. My family loves all whole grains, nuts, and legumes so I had made extra in anticipation for requests to be packed for snack/lunch. We try to waste as little as possible in our house, have to set a good example for the next generation. So there I stood hovering the still half-full dish of barley over the garbage wondering what I could do to salvage it when it came to me...soup! I thought that perhaps if I diluted it with enough water, and a little chicken stock, added some vegetables, and a little protein it could be saved. That perhaps this sad barley had not been cooked in vain.

Tonight, I turned last night's dinner disaster into a dinner worth asking for seconds. I added some more carrots, a couple stalks of celery, an onion, some garlic, and two chopped, grilled New York strip steaks. And out of the fiery chicken and barley ashes this phoenix was born...Steak and Barley Soup.
Homemade Steak and Barley Soup
My good standing in the kitchen has been restored.

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