When you’re down and troubled
And you need some love and care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night
~Carol King, You’ve Got A Friend
I count myself lucky. I’ve had many wonderful friendships in my lifetime, but I was especially blessed to have had this one. One friend who knew me from the time I was a little girl until the time I was a grown and married woman. Forty-four years of friendship. Neighbors across the street when we were six and college housemates when we were twenty.
Housemates and friends. Me and Dee. Living together. Cooking together.
I still love to cook and I’m certain the roots of my passion go back to the days when Dee and I scoured the Moosewood Cookbook for recipes. The first edition was published in 1977, the year I graduated from high school. Moosewood was the seminal vegetarian cookbook. And–lucky us–since Moosewood Restaurant was just down the hill from the house we rented in Ithaca, NY.
As Cornell University undergraduates, we didn’t dine out very often and, when we did, it was a huge treat. Most of the time we cooked Moosewood recipes in our tiny kitchen on College Avenue. Spanakopita. Vegetable Stroganoff. Cauliflower Cheese Pie with grated Potato Crust. Countless simple, delicious recipes.
But the undeniable favorite, our signature dish if you will, was Mushroom Barley Soup. It was the first soup I ever shared with Dee and also the last. She made this soup for Joel and I, when we visited her home outside Boston, a year before she died from breast cancer.
On this day, for seven years now, I make this soup and remember her. Life may be short, but the memory of a good friend lives on.
Ain’t it good to know, you’ve got a friend.
Mushroom Barley Soup from the Moosewood Cookbook
- 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons dry sherry
- 6-1/2 cups stock or water
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
- fresh ground black pepper
- Cook barley in 1-1/2 cups of the stock or water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until barley is tender (20-30 minutes). Add remaining stock or water, tamari and sherry.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is very tender (about 10-12 minutes).
- Add the sauté with all its liquid to the cooked barley. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste and simmer, partially covered, for another 20 minutes.
Just like my friendship, the Moosewood Cookbook is over forty years old. Last fall, 2014, The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Year Edition was published. I’ve read that some of the recipes have changed from the original 1977 edition. You can buy it here:
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Take the road less traveled, Beth