Welcome back! This super easy, healthy, vegan, and flavorful Carrot Mushroom Barley Soup is a fall favorite of mine. This is my first food post since moving to Oregon from Beijing and it feels amazing to be posting about food again! Pictures? Well, terrible. I didn’t anticipate on shooting this recipe and made a quick last minute decision to do so… sorry for the horror! I have been beyond crazy busy since returning to the US. Not enough minutes in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to be doing. I’ll be trying to hone in on my amateur food photography shots over the next few months with more planned recipes – especially soup since this is most definitely soup season. Anything soul warming is a must! *Side note: Been overindulging in hot apple cider (from the farm of course – this is Oregon!) with spiced rum. So warm everything for the fall for sure. Took two weeks to figure out why I was so bloated! 😉 Was worth it, however, currently back on the less caloric concoctions. As usual, I digress. I had been craving barley and a different style soup. In this particular Carrot Mushroom Barley pot, I did not add small white beans, though this is my recommendation. Takes it to a new level! Sometimes, I cut the carrot portion in half and sub in sweet potato for a slightly different, and yes, sweeter flavor. Remember, any recipe can be used as just a base recipe for you. Feel free to substitute, add, adjust etc to your taste buds or simply to use whatever is left in your fridge. Waste nothing! Slurp, spill, slobber, and sip yourself into autumn… Enjoy!
- 9 small to medium carrots- diced loosely
- 3/4 package sliced (medium in thickness) mushrooms - I prefer white or cremini
- 10.5 ounces cooked barley
- 32 ounces veggie broth (I usually add a couple teaspoons of Better than Bouillon as well)
- 1 medium yellow onion - diced loosely
- 3 cloves garlic - diced loosely
- Olive to coat pan
- Salt & pepper to taste (be mindful of your salt usage pending upon how much sodium your veggie broth has)
- Oregano to taste (I enjoy quite a bit)
- Optional (but extremely recommended): 1 can of small white beans
- Place olive oil in pot on low-medium heat. Add onion and a dash of salt. Cook for about 3 minutes
- Add garlic. Cook for about 1 more minute
- Add mushrooms and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes more
- Add carrots, oregano, and veggie broth (bouillon as well if using). Cook until carrots are soft. Approximately 10 minutes
- Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender
- Return pot to low-medium heat and add barley and small white bean (if using). Stir occasionally and add any remaining oregano, broth, salt/pepper you'd like
- Let cook on low for approximately 10-15 minutes
- Substitute half the portion of carrots for sweet potato!
- You can also add 1/4 dry white wine for a different flavor.
- Pinot Noir
(These photos are of my collection of face masks for polluted days)
Farewell, Beijing – the Exit of an Expat
The time had come. I woke up on an only somewhat smoggy day (good by China standards), looked around at my bare walled apartment, unplugged the air purifiers, took multiple videos of our home for my memory and future nostalgia, but mostly, for Greyson’s (my 20 month old) memory so he’ll always know where it all began…
I moved to Beijing, China on a two-year contract five years ago. I hopped on the plane in the beginning of September 2011 to start my contract teaching primary music at an international school. Upon arrival, I went to my fairly large 2-bedroom apartment. I had no introductions to anyone and was told to take the #75 bus to work the next morning. Needless to say, the English prompt on the bus was turned off and I got lost. Lost in a city with no one around me who spoke any English. I found the school… eventually. Was this experience to be the foreshadowing of my life here in China? Still, no fear. Lots of smog, mostly no English except for the other expats, and a place called Sanlitun where Westerners frequented.
Fast forwarding, I started to realize and feel the effects of the Beijing skies. Pollution was terrible and the world was starting to hear about it. The international community at large was now beginning to slightly understand what living “Under the Dome” might be like, look like, smell like. How could I raise Greyson in a place where I can’t open the windows? When the AQI (air quality index) was the only phone app I checked every day. Expats cruised around the city wearing masks. They were an almost daily part of our attire, of our existence here. I was constantly checking the apartment’s air quality with my special in-home air monitor. Debating whether or not I should tape the windows so that the lung infiltrating pieces of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) would have a slimmer chance of secretly seeping indoors. A world where there were, at times, 7-12 days where Greyson never saw the other side of the door.
Was it sometimes crazy being in a place where taxis had no seatbelts- how was I to get Greyson around? To my utter horror and disbelief, expat friends suggested I simply put him on my lap. These were normal, first world friends suggesting such insanity. This was not the time or an instance in which to adopt the “when in Rome” philosophy. I was not immersing in this way. No, ma’am. The roads were crazy, tuk-tuk fumes gave me headaches, albeit a far quicker ride than a taxi on most occasions, no one spoke my language, and the fact that day-to-day logic felt absent in this world, as it wasn’t my own. So, yes. Often times, it was crazy and frustrating. Many other expat friends I knew in Beijing felt the same and have since left. Though, there are friends I have that I believe may be Beijing ‘lifers.’ I admire this. I know not of what they are made. I find this to be a very impressive feat, and in a way, I envy them for this.
If it seems as though I did not enjoy Beijing, I truly did – just in other ways. I loved the experience of being in a completely different environment than I had previously known. Everything from epic travel adventures to a greater cultural understanding and appreciation has been gained. Greyson has been raised bilingually and is now, here in the US, in a Chinese immersion daycare and his life will be forever changed. I made so many wonderful friends from all over the world, and came back to the states with an appreciation for my country that I otherwise never would have had. I see and feel everything so differently right now. I am sure this will wane with time, however, I will do my best to remind myself of the basic freedoms I have here – clean potable water, healthy and breathable air, safe roads, law enforcement: efficiency and effectiveness. I now possess an internal sense of calm and happiness being home. I feel so lucky, so grateful, and so at peace. “I never would have found it if it weren’t for you.” Thank you, Beijing. “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
-Your most grateful expat
I am a vegetarian food blogger who is just skimming the surface of how this blog stuff functions and am learning the ins and outs of food photography. I am an elementary music teacher at an international school, a new mom, a wife, and an expat. I live in Beijing, China and have been living the craziest and wildest adventures for over four years now. This is my fifth and final year here and then off to Oregon (though I’m a native New Yorker). I’ve decided that during my last year in Asia I want to finally get this blog going, chronicle my last year of travels, and become an amateur food photographer. Though I have no formal training as a cook or a chef, it is a hobby that I have had for about 15 years now. It really blossomed when I lived in OR and spent many a day cooking with my fabulous vegan friend, April. We’d drink wine, listen to loads of music (back then we were really into Feist & Rodrigo y Gabriela), create food and cocktails, and cook for all of our friends. More about that in future posts on the fantastic reflections and recollections of my life (there are many). My BS is in Classical Piano Performance and my Med is in Music Education. Thus far, creating this blog with the very little experience and understanding of the deep and inner workings of this blog-o-sphere world has been my most challenging education yet! I rarely use recipes when I cook and my philosophy is to never waste food, therefore I am often concocting dishes from what is left in my fridge. I wanted to finally write down my creations and actually be able to give people a solid recipe when they’d ask me for one of my dishes that didn’t sound like “oh you know, a little of this, a pinch of that” etc. So, I shall leave you with this… Expect some awesomely weird, fun, and ridiculous posts. I hope you both enjoy and join me on this blogging adventure!