Barley Soup

Cold weather makes me want to snuggle up on the sofa with some of my books, biscuits and mug of tea or hot chocolate! Alas, over the past weeks this was not possible! The hot chocolate and biscuit part I mean. 

Winter makes us pile on the pounds so easily that you barely notice! Cold weather is conducive to eating as this makes us feel warmer!

Warming up however does not necessarily mean fatty food, so here is a low carb, low GI recipe.   Barley soup can be prepared ahead of time and heated in portions which is very handy for mid-week meals.

Barley is mostly produced for the agricultural industry but is also used for malting and is a key ingredient in beer and whiskey production. Barley has a fibrous inedible outer hull which needs to be removed before it can be eaten. Once this is removed, the grain still has its bran and germs, and hence is still considered a whole grain. Pearl barley or pearled barley is hulled barley which has been processed further to remove the bran.

Barley also has a low Glycemic Index (GI) which means that it has a low effect on the blood sugar levels after consumption. 

This is what you need to make enough soup for 4 portions.

2 medium onions,
2 medium carrots,
2 slices of bacon,
2 marrows,
1 chicken cube,
60g barley,
Hot water.

Cut the vegetables into cubes, preferably of the same size. Place the onion in a pot and cook it over low heat adding a tablespoon of water so that the onion does not stick to the pot. Once the onions start to cook, add bacon which also needs to be cut into cubes. Add another tablespoon or more of water if required.

Next add the carrots and marrows. Now add enough water to cover the vegetables. Add the stock cube and bring to the boil. Now add barley and mix until it the soup starts to return back to boiling. This will avoid your barley from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes and then turn the heat off.

Allow the soup to set for a further 30 minutes at least so that the barley may absorb the liquid.
Make sure that the barley you are using is not a quick-cook barley. If this is the case, keep an eye on the soup once the barley is added as it will be ready in 10-15 mins.

Breakfast Muffins

With the cold weather fast approaching I am trying to give my girls a warm breakfast before they head out for the day.  Last week it was nut filled rolls, the week before it was oregano flatbreads and this week it will be savoury muffins.

I must admit that the rolls and the flat bread were easy to warm up as I would toast them literally whilst they were putting on their shoes.

Still haven't decided whether I should toast the muffins, microwave them or leave them simply at room temperature.

Having 2 girls, I try and bake in even number so there are no arguments on who will be gobbling up the last one and I managed quite well with this batch as I made 16. Here is what you will need:

For the basic Muffin recipe 
250g Wholemeal flour
150g Plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
100 ml sunflower seed oil
2 eggs
250 ml buttermilk*

1 small tin of sweetcorn (rinsed and drained)
1 handful of shredded carrots
3 frozen squares of spinach leaves (defrosted)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
100g sunflower seeds or sesame seeds or poppy seeds

You can really choose any veggies that you fancy but these are usually readily available and hence my choice. No need for mixers!

Place your basic recipe ingredients together in a bowl. Stick to the above order and mix well, using a wooden spoon or a knife after every addition. Next add the vegetables. You can substitute any vegetables you wish. you may want to add chickpeas or beans instead of the sweetcorn. It is really up to you and what you fancy!

Once all the ingredients have been properly mixed through, you should have a soft, smooth mixture that just falls back down when scooped up. If this is what you have then carry on, if not you will need to check your ingredients.

Scoop the mixture into a 12 deep hole muffin tin, sprinkle your seeds on top and bake at 170C for about 15minutes.

*Buttermilk is a sour milk-like dairy product. If you cannot find it then dilute natural yoghurt with enough milk to turn it into a drink. It should have the consistency of runny cream.

Chistmas Cakes

Ok, so for some Summer is still up and running, for others it's been tucked away and neatly folded for another couple of months!

September is always the right time to start thinking about Christmas; Christmas meals, holidays, presents and of course the baking.  For those of you who have been following The Great British Bake Off, i'm sure you are already geared up with what to bake and how to present it, for the others who need a nudge or a little inspiration, here are some ideas from Ruth, #GBBO contestant from the 1st series ThePinkWhisk

And of course, here is the link to my Christmas section on this blog.

Enjoy your cinnamon scents and smells.....

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