Monday, November 29, 2010

Savory Legume-Barley Soup

I know it's been about 1,000 years since I last posted. But for those of you out there who might still be subscribed to my blog on an RSS Feed, or perchance check it from time to time in the vain hope I may have changed my mind and posted, I finally find myself once again with inspiration, time, and motivation to blog a little bit. So without further ado - I am here to share with you a recipe I created last night.

I nearly called this "Post-Holiday Legume Barley Soup" but eventually opted for savory because that word always makes me want to eat anything it describes. But the inspiration for this soup came from the ham bone and gallon or more of turkey broth sitting in our fridge, accompanied by very few other veggies, and a friend coming to dinner - all of which was the result of the recent holiday.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of this ingredient list. If you look closely you'll see that it is mostly herbs and seasoning, most of which you probably have on hand. Again, I had a few more fresh herbs on hand because of the recent holiday, and I generally do find them far superior to dried - but as this is not meant to be a recipe that sends you to the grocery store, dried and/or a couple substitutions will do just fine (majoram would have worked well I think). Also, the recipe could easily be done with only Turkey (or chicken) stock, or only a ham bone, but I had both and found the combination worked nicely.

We ate the soup with Michael's freshly baked sourdough bread. It was his first loaf of sourdough, which he made from a starter he's been patiently bringing to life with wild yeast for the last two weeks. The combination was fantastic. Enjoy!

Savory Legume-Barley Soup

1 ¼ cup dry Black Eyed Peas

1 cup dry Green Lentils

½ cup Pearl Barley

6 cups water

3 cups Turkey Stock

1 Meaty Ham Bone

3 sprigs Thyme – torn off the stem

½ sprig Rosemary, minced

5 leaves Sage, finely chopped

8 black peppercorns

Dash ground cloves

1 Tbsp brown sugar

Hearty dash dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced and chopped

Olive oil

¼ cup dry red wine

I brought the black eyed peas to a boil and let them sit a few minutes(I’m not sure this was necessary, but they seem like they need a little more cooking than lentils, and in the end, everything came to a good amount of cooked, but not too mushy). Drain the black eyed peas, and add the rest of the first list of ingredients.

Bring the soup to a boil, then let simmer. Meanwhile sauté the onions in the olive oil 5 or 6 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Then add garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are tender (a minute or two) then add the red wine (1/4 c. is a rough estimation) and let it simmer about 10 minutes, until most of the alcohol has evaporated. Add this to the soup mixture. (Normally I’m a one-pot soup girl all the way, and this could be done in the soup pot ahead of time before the rest of the ingredients are added. I just didn’t plan that far ahead and did it after the beans were simmering – it can go either way depending on if you’d rather save a pan to clean, or time for the soup to simmer).

Let the soup simmer for an hour or more. Add more liquid as necessary – it can be more of a stew or a soup depending on preference and occasion. Taste occasionally and add more salt or pepper if it needs it. (The amounts here will depend largely on how salted your stock was to begin with). After about an hour and a half, remove the hambone. When cool enough to handle, remove all the ham from the bone, dice it, and add back to soup.

Let me know if you do make it and what you think!
And if anyone does read this and asks for it, I'll also share my next most recent invention - sweet potato and stewed hen curry, which came out quite nicely as well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Receiving a Gift

About a week before Pamela and I moved from San Diego I had the privilege of driving out to the Anza-Borrego Desert for a night with a few good friends to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. The four of us stayed awake for a few hours watching some spectacular shooting stars and talking. None of us had the illusion that we'd stay awake all night watching the stars, and since we were sleeping on the hard ground, we knew that none of us would sleep through the night without waking up a few times.
Before we went to sleep, my friend Peter gave us some advice: he said that when we inevitably woke up in the night, not to let it frustrate us but to open our eyes and watch the stars until drifting off again; to accept it as a gift. So that's what I did and I think it was some of the best advice I can remember ever being given. The night sky that night was so clear and beautiful, even without some of the biggest shooting stars I've ever seen. When I awoke that night and looked up at the stars I was filled with the deepest sense of gratitude.
Gratitude, I've begun learning, is probably one of the most profound religious dispositions I know. And it's implications are probably just as profound economically.
Last weekend Pamela and I went to the Oregon coast for her birthday and went on a short hike at Cape Perpetua. As we walked along in this beautiful forest overlooking the ocean, I was struck with the sheer beauty of the place. I had the thought that however useful that place may be, it is infinitely more beautiful. Any economic utility, any "natural resources", seemed to be far outweighed by the beauty. How wonderful is it that there are so many places in the world that are that way? Maybe every or nearly every place is (or once was) truly that way if only we had eyes to see. What a gift!
Thank you Creator of all and Giver of all good things!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It's been a while since either of us have made a blog post and a lot has changed. The big one is that Pamela and I have moved to Oregon. Thankfully I'm pretty sure nobody uses this blog as the main way to keep track of our lives. Anyways, we're currently living with Pamela's parents in her hometown of Philomath and we hope that our being here can relieve Kent and Barbara somewhat as they care for Barbara's 89 year old father Ted who has Alzheimer's and also lives here. Kent started blogging about Ted and Alzheimer's a few months ago when Ted moved in; his blog is
Our first few weeks here have been very busy as Pamela's sister, her husband, and our niece and nephew had been here as well and we'd been spending a lot of time with them.
On the job front I got hired to work at the farm stand at local farm called Heavenly Harvest and have been there for a few weeks. I may update more about that later. Pamela recently got hired at the local Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) and is very excited about it. I'll bug her to post more info about that sometime.
I'm hoping to begin writing on here more regularly about things I'm reading and thinking about. I have never consistently maintained a journal and hope that writing here will help me process and solidify things in my mind.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Homemade Caprese Salad

Since about a year ago when Pamela and I went out to a nice French restaurant for a date and had the most delicious caprese salad, we'd been dreaming about making our own from homegrown tomatoes and basil and homemade mozzarella cheese. Well, a few weeks ago we finally did it! She even bought me fancy olive oil and vinegar from the Temecula Olive Oil Company.

The cheese making process wasn't too bad; it took about 2 hours and it was mostly waiting, but the consistency wasn't quite right so we'll try a different recipe next time. All in all though, it was a lot of fun, not a bad way to spend a Friday night. :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Need Ideas!

So last week I was approached by the "Go Green" Committee at one of my jobs and asked to join. This really flattered me because it's a very big concern for me and maybe they saw that I ride my bike to work. Unfortunately though, my AmeriCorps year of service ends in just over a month so I won't be staying long. However, I would really like to contribute some good ideas for the committee while I can. So far there's pretty much just little stickers by light switches asking people to turn off the lights when they leave the room.
Does anybody have any ideas for how a typical office workplace can "go green"? It's challenging since we have a few offices throughout the city so we're pretty decentralized. It makes education/awareness trickier. But we have an Executive Director who would get behind a good idea, especially if it would save money.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Our Best Discovery of 2010

"Where is our comfort but in the free, uninvolved, finally mysterious beauty and grace of this world that we did not make, that has no price? Where is our sanity but there? Where is our pleasure but in working and resting kindly in the presence of this world?"

-Wendell Berry

One unique aspect of the geography of San Diego that I've noticed and begun to love is all of the canyons throughout parts of the city. Growing up just an hour north of here I'm familiar with much of the landscape, but these canyons are new to me. In much of the city it seems like just about every inch of space is used for humans. Even if it's "green space" it's for the use of people, featuring neatly groomed non-native plants and grass needing tons of water; water that we import from hundreds of miles away. Green space is artificial and safe. But then there are these useless canyons that seem to be inconveniently right in the middle of everything. In most parts of the city they seem to be left undeveloped, raising property value and nourishing my soul whenever I see them.

However, Pamela and I live in the most densely populated neighborhood in San Diego which also has the least "green space". Here many of the banks are paved with cement to allow streets and houses to be built alonside them, and grungy apartments sit at the bottom of the canyons. Pamela and I both long to encounter nature so we often go on outings on the weekends to hike. When we don't have the time or will to drive somewhere, it can be tiring to not be able to escape. Then, back in January, on a walk in our neighborhood we discovered a trail that wound straight through the middle of an undeveloped canyon right by our house. We were astonished that we hadn't found it sooner and that it wasn't riddled with trash. Pamela immediately declared it to be our "best discovery of January". When we reached the end of the trail and discovered an additonal little path that led down to a small stream completely surrounded by lush trees and bushes, she upped the classification to the "best discovery of 2010." Easily.

The trail isn't long, but it's a sanctuary for us. On our walks we find respite from the noise, listen to the birds, watch for rabbits, and pay attention to the native plants. There are so many wildflowers still blooming. We pick sage to cook with, and yesterday I'm nearly certain I found fennel as well.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Topics of Interest.

We are terrible bloggers. I like to blame it on not having internet at home... but when you consider the amount of time I waste online at work everyday, it's really not a legitimate excuse. Anyway, by way of catch up here is a little list of things we WOULD blog about, but haven't gotten to.
Current Topics of Interest in the (Schnake-)Kolbas Home:

-Adventures in home-making: cheese making, yogurt making, bread making, granola making, home-made fallafel. papusas, pad thai... the list goes on...
-Adventures in gardening: green-horn mistakes and the benefit of starting out SMALL.
-Wendell Berry's the Art of the Commonplace essay collection. (hmmm are we noticing a bit of theme here?)
-LOST Season 3 (ok, so I wouldn't write a whole blog post about it, but it's definitely a current topic of interest)
-Exploring San Diego County hiking - successes and failures.
-Using non-gendered pronouns for God. Freedom and struggle within feminist theology.
-Paradigms of power within: the Church, the Food Industry, and the non-profit world.
-Dumpster diving.
-Plants of San Diego: Introduced species. Edible wild plants. And SOIL.

Unfortunately photography hasn't been among the topics of interest so I don't have any nice pictures to spice up this post... Since it is unlikely that I will ever get to the blog posts that could be written on each of these topics, feel free to ask me personally if any of them spark your interest! I'm better at one-on-one conversations these days anyway.