Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Than Just Pasta, Baby!

I started this little blog with the concept of dressing up leftovers, pasta, and other quick meal items.  Just to clarify, I don't restrict myself to macaroni!  The kids would get bored!  Quickly!  There are so many intriguing things to make for a quick meal, and I must say that discovering them is fun.

Barley has become one of my favorites!  I order pearl barley through a buying club, which orders from Azure Standard .  At less than .50/lb when purchased via my co-op, this is an interesting grain to work with.  I toss it into homemade soups as a filler, and believe me, it makes a thin soup thick and hearty.  For a very hearty soup, I go with about 4 measures of liquid to 1 measure of our household of 10, that measure is a cereal bowl.  For a slightly thinner soup, perhaps 5-6 measures of liquid.  I don't usually buy broth to use as the liquid, but opt for the more frugal flavoring, chicken bouillon powder, about 3-4 dollars for a big jar at our Costco. 

Barley also works well with stir fry, in place of rice.  Cook with a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part barley, just a tinge longer than you would cook rice.  I haven't tried it in a Mexican rice type dish yet, but have used it with albondigas flavorings.  I'm confident it would do quite well as a substitute in my Mexican rice dish. 

One place I did not like the barley was in a sweet version, similar to arroz con leche.  The flavors were not great. If I don't care for it, I'm probably not fixing it again...if the kiddos reject it completely, not gonna be on the menu again.  Their feellings are mostly positive about the more savory barley meals, though one son has been very vocal about his displeasure.  9 out of 10 is a great approval rating, in my opinion, so barley gets a green light at the Macaroni Improv.  This grain is sure to be on the menu for many meals to come, and I will be on the lookout for intriguing ways to dress it up!  Be sure to give it a try before you invest in a 25 lb. bag, like I did!