Sunday, March 1, 2009
Feed Your Family, Feed Your Soul
For me, nothing is as satisfying as preparing a nice meal for my family. Simple, homey meals are best. And even though I had intended to do some major housework today, spending the afternoon in the kitchen was just too irresistible. So, I started a fire in our wood-burning stove and got cooking!
First up was a loaf of beer batter quick bread-
We hardly drink and always end up with numerous bottles of beer after parties. A neighbor down the street also brewed his own and I used to find AudioDad returning from a run, six-pack in hand. I finally stopped buying it and after it sat for a year or more, didn't dare serve it, but I wasn't one to waste it. Coming across this recipe was the perfect solution. It's delicious and so fast to make, with a buttery crust that I adore (and I'm finally making a dent in the stock of beer in the garage!)
Beer Batter Bread
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a loaf pan. In a bowl, stir together 3 cups of flour, 3 tbs. brown sugar, 1 tbs. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Pour in 1 bottle of beer and stir the batter until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and drizzle 2 tbs. melted butter over the top. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, test it by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf- if it's comes out clean, it's done. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning it onto a cooling rack. Let the bread cool at least 20 minutes more so it's easier to cut, and generously slather on the butter!
To with the bread, I also made a big batch of soup- during dinner, we were playing around with the Munchkin and decided to call it "Banzo Barley Soup"-
2 pkgs. chicken apple sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then 1-inch thick
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. carrots, peeled and sliced 1-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 c. chicken broth
2-15 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. pearl barley
1/2 c. roasted red bell peppers, chopped
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
Heat the olive oil in a 6-qt. stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sausages and cook about 10 minutes until sausages are beginning to brown and onion is soft. Add the carrots and garlic and cook a few minutes more before adding the chicken broth, garbanzo beans, barley, roasted peppers, soy sauce, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium-high, cooking at a quick simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep it covered with a lid slightly offset while cooking, and check that the barley is tender before removing from heat and serving.
Finish off the meal with a square of this simple and satisfying lemon cake. I had been looking for a recipe to help me use up some buttermilk and a nice, brightly flavored lemon cake seemed like just the thing on a rainy day. The only thing I'd do differently next time is add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to the cake batter (I really like a strong, tart lemon cake) and for a real treat, add a dollop of barely sweetened, softly whipped cream!