March came in like a lion and what do you do on Lion days when you're gardendwellers FARM? You cook!
During our last snowstorm, about a week ago, I busied myself with making home made soup and bread. I made my favorite stand by, Venison Mushroom Barley. Since the weather man insists on predicting snow for tomorrow and cold weather this weekend, I thought it might be a good time to share my recipe.
First, I have to say that I've made this soup so often that the recipe is kind of more like a 'guideline' than a cast in stone commandment. But here goes:
First, choose some good venison. I use a roast and then cut it into one inch chunks. After years of processing our own deer, the guys have learned that I prefer to have some packages of chunks to use in soup and stew and stir fry so now I always have bags ready for just such an occasion. I thaw the meat then put it into our own marinade. This is Barry's own made up by him recipe and I most likely shouldn't share it but I'm going to: one tablespoon Lowry's Seasoning Salt, one tablespoon Steak dust - any brand, one teaspoon mesquite seasoning and a few jiggers of Worcestershire sauce in about one cup of water or enough water to cover the meat. Let that marinade in the fridge overnight or for 6 hours or so.
Then, brown the meat.
While the meat is browning, chop up carrots, onions, and celery. I like to chop about a cup to cup and a half of each with the exception of carrots which Barry doesn't like cooked so I chop just enough of those to add some color - you could do a cup or so. I put these veggies in my soup pot with a big daub of butter (about two tablespoons) and let them saute until slightly tender.
Then I chop up two containers of mushrooms. I just use the button or shitake mushrooms but when I can and when I have them, I use the winecap mushrooms we grow here on the farm.
Then I chop up some garlic. I like garlic so normally I use at least three cloves but for this batch I had to use up the last of the North Star Organic farm garlic from last year - pretty sad that its all gone but looking forward to buying more this summer. You can see the variety I like best is Fire.
I add the mushrooms and the garlic to the sauteing veggies and let them cook another 2 to 3 minutes more then add the stock - one box of each beef and chicken...
Then I add the winter savory. You'd think as an herb farm I'd have this fabulous spice rack and spice cupboard - but its not true. I keep a lot of my dried herbs in resealable plastic bags. That way I can keep them as whole as possible until I use them and the added benefit is that you can just kind of crush the bag to remove them from the stems and then reach in to the bottom of the bag to get the herb leaves.
Winter savory has a little peppery flavor that goes well with the venison and veggies and it also has that strong, warm, comfort food feel to it. Again, I don't measure, I just add a lot because I know we like it. If I had to guess I'd say about two tablespoons of the dried winter savory.
I stir that all up then add the meat back in and finally I add a little salt and the barley. About a cup of dry barley goes in because I like barley.
Here comes the best part. Let all this sit and simmer for an hour or more. It fills the house with this great smell and you'll find the whole family sneaking in for a nibble every once in a while.
While that simmers I bake off the bread that has been rising all day. That also made the house smell great.
I made two baguettes as I like a crusty bread with soup.
That's it! My favorite winter time, stuck in the house cause its snowing outside activity. Enough to be shared with everyone! It always amazes me when I can eat venison that tastes this good that some hunters make their whole deer into sausage - what a waste!
So this weekend, if we get more snow and you end up inside - do a little cooking. It's good for the heart.