For the last few months, I have taken on the enduring task of doing my own nails. I had gotten into the habit of stopping into the salon 2 times a month to get an overlay refill. If you don't know what this is- it's pretty much amazing. They don't use the fake tips to make your nails longer, they just fill in your nails and make them sturdier and so much healthier looking. Not to mention, the nailpolish never chips off! I loved getting them done, but it was becoming an expensive habit. So, in order to economize, I decided the habit needed to stop. You might say, "Well, you're just being spoiled (or lazy, yet again). Just do them yourself." Truth is, I am virtually incapable of doing it! Last night, I was able to paint my toe nails, which isn't very hard since I can do it all right handed. This morning I decided my hands needed to match. So, I attempted... like 10 times (no lie). I was forced to take off the nailpolish on every other nail because I'd accidentally press to hard and make a dent in the previous layer, I'd graze my hand too close to my coffee mug, or while cleaning up another nail I'd get cotton remnants all over another nail! It was a disaster and I was irritated, so I decided to give up.
You have won, yet again, nailpolish! Now, my hands don't match my feet and I am so tempted to go back to the salon for a mani fix! I think I might just have to ask my mom to paint my nails when she paints Morgane's (my baby girl) nails. It seems I am so uncoordinated, I am not even trusted to do my 3-yr olds nails! Her nail hygeine is so much better than mine, because she has a personal *free* manicurist. I will probably attempt it again before I embarrassingly ask for help from someone else. In the meantime, I wanted to post about barley!
I came accross this little grain via the Food Network. I can't remember who it was, but someone was cooking with it. And as you will soon find out, rare products that are almost impossible to find in my hometown are always intriguing to me! How rare could barley be? Well, it took me nearly a year to get my hands on it. It wasn't even here in my own town, I had to travel 4 hours to Houston to get it. The trip wasn't solely to get the grain, I just happened to stop at a specialty food store and decided to buy it. Luckily, it was mostly middle eastern food, so I got it for a bargain price of $1.99! Anyway, it's been a few months since I bought it and everytime I see it in the pantry I push it aside and just avoid it. Much like brown rice, it is an intimidating ingredient. (I'll tell you my story about brown rice later..) I finally mustered the courage to take on this bad boy and I must say, the result was rather delicious.
The process of cooking the barely, although not challenging, was not pretty. I went outside to water my plants and left my husband unofficially in charge of the barley. I half expected him to call out to me if the liquid had ran out and the barely was burning or something. Of course, I should have known that this was too much to ask of him... especially when I didn't even tell him to keep an eye on it. So, I wasn't mad or anything, but when I came back in the pot was stained with residue of overflowing water and the bottom barley layer was stuck to the pan! It's okay, kitchen disaster averted! I saved most of it and was able to accompllish my mission.
Fully cooked, the grain has an awesome chewyness to it that goes so well with the fresh vegetables. The vinagrette that I added to it was absorbed into every little grain and tasted even better when left in fridge over night! I really hope you guys enjoy this recipe and are inspired to take those daunting ingredients face on!
Barley and Fresh Vegetable Salad
- 1 cup of uncooked barley pearls
- 4 cups of water
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 cup of peeled and diced carrot
- 1/4 cup of bean sprouts
- 2 chopped small sweet peppers or half of 1 large red/yellow/orange sweet pepper
- 1 medium tomato (chopped)
- 1/4 cup of grapseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 tsp. of dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. of paprika
- 1 tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and inspect barley for any small stones or imperfections. Then place in pot with water, garlic, and 1 tsp. of salt. The ratio of barley to water should be 1:4 and the completed cooking process should take anywhere between 35-40 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, so it doesn't stick to the pan, like mine did. You could add a little olive oil to the water to prevent this from happening.
While the barley cooks, chop your vegetables into bite size pieces, all about the same size, except for the bean sprouts.
In a seperate bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk lightly until the dressing is thick and opaque. Make sure to taste it and see if it needs s&p, then set aside.
Once the barley is finished cooking, allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. You still want it warm, so it absorbs the dressing, but not too hot or it will steam the vegetables. Place the cooled barley and vegetables in a bowl, add the dressing a little at a time, so you can regulate how much you want in the salad. Then, carefully combine the ingredients so they all have a little dressing. It can be eaten like this, or placed in the refrigerator and eaten cold.
Now, I am craving some... too bad I already finished it all. Oh well! Bon Appetit!