Growing Home Again

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Beef and Barley Stew

Fall and winter are the time for stew and soup cooked low and slow. The last of the fresh vegetables grown above and the first of those grown below and newly harvested meat
Yesterday was the day for Beef and Barley Stew. It’s one of my family’s favorites. When my oldest son arrived home from school yesterday he said he wanted to eat the house – it smelled sooooo good! He’s only 5 and I’m happy to say, he already has a good taste in food.

Beef and Barley Stew


  • Knob of butter
  • 3 pounds stew meat or ground beef.
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound mushrooms – cut to roughly the same size as the stew meat.
  • 2-quart beef or chicken broth. May be reduced to 1-quart broth and 1-quart water for homemade broth
  • 2 teaspoons fresh marjoram or savory
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrot
  • 3 cups potato or celery root cut to the same size as the mushrooms and stew meat
  • Salt and Pepper as desired
  • Sour Cream
  • Fresh dill

Begin by chopping all ingredients – it makes life so much easier! Warm a large dutch oven or soup pot to high and sear batches of beef in small batches. You wanted some blackened edges. Set aside once complete. In the same pot add the onion and sabeef-barley-stew-ingredientsuté quickly. Sautéing is what gives the onion and the soup flavor, otherwise, you just have boiled onions! Who wants that? Remove the onions and repeat the same process with the potatoes and carrots. After you have removed the potatoes/celery root and carrots (they won’t be done yet!) add about 1 cup of liquid to the pot to get the burned bits off the bottom. Burned bits = flavor. Add the meat, marjoram or savory, onions, potatoes/celery root, carrots and mushrooms back into the pot. Add the remaining liquid and reduce to LOW heat. Stirring occasionally, let simmer for about an hour. Add the barley and keep at a low simmer for another hour – stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper the stew as desired.

To serve, ladle out stew into separate bowls and top with sour cream and plenty of fresh dill. The dill and the sour cream make the dish! Don’t be stingy!



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Brown Butter Sage Pumpkin Ravioli

I love sage. Smelling it, cooking with it, gardening with it (cabbage bugs hate it), smudging my home (it cleans the air – mundane and magical too!). I officially love sage. I grow a dozen plus sage plants a year and sagealways have at least one growing indoors. It pairs with all foods fall and winter. Dries well too.

Ever so shockingly, I was craving sage the other day and apples. I was also super short on time as I am most evenings. Dinner must be either preplanned and set in granite or we’re eating something I can dump out of a canning jar.

Oh yeah, I also have an unhealthy obsession with Trader Joe’s.

Which brings us to tonight’s dinner. One sage craving + one shopping trip to Trader Joe’s + left over apple sausages in the freezer from the last bulk chicken processing.

Brown Butter Sage Pumpkin Ravioli


  • 2 packages of Trader Joe’s pumpkin ravioli
  • ½ cup butter – fresher the better
  • Handful of fresh sage leaves – thinly sliced
  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves – minced
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper


Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt liberally. While the pot is heating up, in another pan on medium high heat melt ½ cup butter. Once the butter is melted, reduce heat to medium and let the butter burn a bit. This is how you get BROWN butter. It will take a few minutes to get there. Remember – light golden brown butter is the goal, not black butter! Reduce heat as low as your stove top will allow and let the temperature reduce. Hopefully, by now your water is boiling. Add the Trader Joe’s pumpkin ravioli. When the pot has returned to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil and cook for about 2 minutes. You don’t want the ravioli to be mushy folks! Mushy ravioli is just gross. Bac1008161807k to the pan with the brown butter, add in the garlic and about 3/4th of the sage. Salt and pepper to taste. Under no circumstances should you add the parmesan cheese now. Bad things will happen (see pic)! By now, the pumpkin ravioli should be cooked. Drain and add to the brown butter. Carefully toss the pumpkin ravioli in the brown butter.

Plate as desired and add parmesan cheese. Toasted pine nuts are also a tasty addition. To toast pine nuts, place in a medium high skillet for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. I recommend serving with fresh green beans and apple sausages.