Recipe for Shea Butter Moisturizer

November 4, 2017 at 9:25 am (Homemade Beauty Products, Simplifying facial care)

I know my last blog post was probably hard to read for a few of you but, honestly, facing truths is often hard.  I know it spoke to some because I heard from you.

Anyway, I’m moving back to my regular posts… recipes/minimalism/home decor (my way).

As part of my “minimalism MY way” routine, I’ve been making all of my own face cleansing and moisturizer products. While I love my Coconut Oil Moisturizer, I needed a heavier product for the winter months because my face is so dry.  It seems that Shea butter is heavier and better for those with very dry skin.

I found a few recipes but decided to make my own.  It is fabulous!!  I wake up with my skin still soft and supple (which is hard when you’re 58!!  🙂 )  Since the heat has been on, I had been waking up with dry skin.   I will use the Shea Butter cream through the winter months.

Shea Butter Moisturizer

  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • 1/8 cup sweet almond oil
  • 1/8 cup Vitamin E oil
  • 10 drops Young Living Sweet frankincense Oil (or any other concentrated oil you’d like to use)

Sheabuttermoisturizer-1  Sheabuttermoisturizer-2

  1. Using a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water, melt the shea butter. Sheabuttermoisturizer-3
  2. When completely melted, add the sweet almond oil, vitamin E oil and sweet frankincense oil.Sheabuttermoisturizer-4
  3. Pour into glass container (I would recommend glass). Sheabuttermoisturizer-5
  4. Set in refrigerator until it has completely cooled and is solid.
  5. Store in a dark cupboard.

It is that easy!!  The Shea butter initially had some “granules” in it, but after I melted it, they dissolved.  This is the best moisturizer!!  If you plan to use it only intermittently, store in the refrigerator.  Me??  I use it up quickly enough that I can keep it in a dark cabinet.  If it loses its “solidity,” I just put it back in the fridge for a few hours.  It also feels great on the skin chilled.  🙂

One note, after applying to your face, massage it in.  Then leave the residue on the surface of your skin for 5 minutes.  Much more will be absorbed.  The, using a microfiber towel (exclusively for this), blot your face and continue your beauty routine.  I usually use that 5 minutes to do my “5 minute ab workout!”

Go forth and make your own moisturizer!!  It is easy and cheap!




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November 1, 2017 at 6:00 am (Musings...)

I’ve been struggling to write this blog for a week.

I was face-timing my darling daughter Amanda yesterday. She quoted this, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” ~~ C.S. Lewis

The recognition of what the struggle really was and the blog post came together in that moment.  This is an honest conversation between you, me and one of my inner voices.  🙂

I am not envious of other’s possessions.  Believe me, that jealousy was gone after I took 850 pounds out of our home last year.  I’m not envious (almost never 🙂 ) of other’s looks. At 58 I have finally accepted how I look and am embracing who I am and am working to keep ME in the best shape I can be in.  “I’m not the average girl from your video and I ain’t built like a supermodel, but I’ve learned to love myself unconditionally because I am a queen.”  ~~ India.Arie

No, what I struggle with is contentment in my ability to create and am often envious that others are so much better than I am.  I cannot dedicate 8 hours a day to improve.  My body would curl up in a ball right on my chair and my eyes would be seeing, not double, but quadruple!! I can’t even have a full-time job because of my physical struggles.  How the hell am I supposed to feel good about who I am??? (One of my inner “voices” swears a lot 🙂  )

I actually unsubscribed from blogs that were lovely and inspiring but made me feel inadequate and depressed.  Yes, I know that people who blog often exaggerate their realities but they always make it seem so easy!  They probably have assistants for assistants and housekeepers and all the rest.  They have endless energy and an unlimited supply of creativity!

As I’m muddling through, sometimes I feel like God screwed up!  Here I am with all these ideas and a bit of talent and I can’t do it because my body betrays me!!  Sometimes I think if I didn’t have any talent I’d be better off!! Damn it!!!  (that inner voice again…)

I began to recognize this discontent in September.  I wrote some verses in my journal.


I don’t have a clear handle on this, but I am working to be thankful every day for my abilities and my creative, bouncing brain!!  It’s a destructive pattern that I need to break!!  The prayer in my devotional today was, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, for my journey through the valley of weeping so You might break any destructive patterns in my life, which releases me to enjoy the pools of blessings.  I delight to worship You and live with You in the simplicity of childlike trust.” ~~Hinds Feet on High Places devotional

Now if I could only get that inner voice to stop swearing…


I was made for another world.  I can’t wait!!

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Tortellini-Sausage Soup

October 30, 2017 at 6:00 am (Recipes, Soup)

Here is another of my “rotating” recipes in the fall/winter.  I received it from Dee N in 2008 after enjoying it when I visited her and G’s home in Maryland with Amanda.  It is fabulous!  I have made a few changes in the subsequent years to make it mine.


At the end of the recipe I’ve added a “grocery list” so that you can tell, at a glance, if you have all the ingredients on hand.  You’re welcome 🙂

Tortellini-Sausage Soup

(Ingredients listed in order of use)

  • 1 pound Italian hot or sweet sausage (with casings removed) — I usually use 2 links of each, sliced down the middle and then cut in 1/2″ pieces.
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups beef broth (using 6 cups total)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup red wine — if you don’t cook with wine, add the equivalent in beef broth
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes — you can use canned diced tomatoes, but I prefer the freshness of *8 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 8 oz. cheese tortellini (fresh or dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • grated parmesan cheese
  1. Cook sausage in a bit of oil.  Drain and return to the pot, adding the onion and garlic.  Cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Add 5 cups beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, basil and oregano
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots and potatoes.
  5. Simmer for 30 more minutes
  6. Add additional cup of beef broth and tortellini.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes (Check the instructions on the tortellini you purchase to make sure 15 minutes is enough.  If not, simmer for the time noted on the package.  Note:  Make sure you simmer “quietly.”  The tortellini will fall apart if vigorously boiled… (ask me how I know 🙂 )
  8. Check for seasonings.  Sometimes I need to add a bit of salt but truly the combination of beef broth and wine usually suffice.
  9. Turn the heat off. add the parsley.
  10. Serve with some parmesan cheese grated over the top of the bowl of soup.

*To peel and chop the Roma tomatoes, cut an “X” into the bottom of each tomato and place in boiling water.  Watch carefully until the skins split down the sides — it doesn’t take long, 3-4 minutes at the most.  Then drain, peel and chop.  I love the taste of fresh tomatoes in this soup.

This is a very easy-to-make, hearty soup and perfect for those dreary, cold days in our PA fall/winter!

Go forth and make soup!!


Grocery List

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Roma Tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes
  • Parsley
  • cheese tortellini, fresh or dried
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Beef granules or beef broth
  • red wine
  • basil
  • oregano
  • sweet or hot Italian sausage



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My 17 Month Journey… to lose 20 Pounds (yes, it took that long!)

October 26, 2017 at 6:00 am (Fit_At_58)

My original planned blog post for today was going to be about the fabulous top I made, McCalls 7627.  I worked for 2 1/2 weeks on it.  When I did the initial fitting, it fit.  As I continued to sew it, I didn’t think about the fact that I was continuing to lose weight.  When I put it on to photograph it… well, it wouldn’t stay on my shoulders.  I guess that’s a good problem to have except now I will have to give it away and make another one 🙂


So, instead of writing about the top I made, I will tell you about my 17 month journey to lose 20 pounds.  May 2016, as I was going through photographs for Amanda, I found a picture of me.  I said to DannyO, “look at this picture!!!”  It was taken maybe in 2005.  I was just sitting at a picnic but what I noticed was how strong and fit I looked!


I decided then and there to make some real changes!!  I was sedentary, fat, and basically unhealthy!!  I joined Ebensburg Fitness and committed to going 3-4 days a week.  I tried classes but I’m solitary by nature and they weren’t a good fit for me.  So, I lifted weights and used their cardio machines.  My weight didn’t budge, but I persisted.  By September, I had lost 3 pounds… I persisted… by December, I lost 6 pounds.


January 2017 — down 7 pounds 🙂

Ebensburg Fitness gave me the jump-start I needed but once winter hit, I suspended my gym membership. I just cannot be out in the cold with my neuralgia.  However, I continued to lift at home and use my elliptical at least 3 days a week. Continuing to persist…  By Brent’s wedding, I had lost 10 pounds.


Down 10 pounds

The real change came in April.  Amanda gave me her old Fitbit.  Then I REALLY realized that, even with my 30 minutes on the elliptical, I was only getting about 3500 steps in each day.

I then committed to getting 8000 steps in each day.  In order to achieve this, I began to take Jazzy Joy to the Ghost Town trail for a walk at least 5 days a week.  Sometimes I need a walking stick.  Even other times, I need my rollator, but I walk, no matter how slowly, at least 50 minutes. The weight actually started coming off a little faster and I continued to persist…

Then 3 weeks ago I stepped on the scale and it said 139.5.  I didn’t believe it.  I made DannyO step on it.  He said it was 7 pounds light compared to the doctor’s scale.  I threw that scale away and bought a new one.  I stepped on it… 139.5!!  I made DannyO step on it.  He said it was 7 pounds light, but then remembered that, at the doctor’s, he had his heavy work shoes and jeans on!!

At that point, I believed the scale!!  Woo Hoo!!!  I’d like to lose 5 more, but, I don’t care if I do!!

The challenge will be this winter, when it is cold out.  I will have to find some way to continue.  I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do.

I lift weights for only 20 minutes 2 days a week and do a 5-minute ab workout every morning while my moisturizer is permeating my skin.  I walk 5-6 days a week, rain or shine.  (Jazzy Joy is in fabulous shape too — the vet said so!)

My eating habits changed a bit too.  Most days I eat 2 meals and one substantial snack.  I try to include vegetables and fruit, although I find it easier to get my fruit quota in.  After I drink my morning coffee, I drink water.  On weekends, I allow myself a few adult beverages if we eat out and I enjoy whatever restaurant food I order.  I also still eat a goodie every day.  To me, this is more of a lifestyle change than a diet.

I’m so proud of me!!  I did it!! I just feel better all around — the aches in my knees and hips aren’t quite as bad.  Because my abs are stronger, my back doesn’t hurt quite as much.   I really feel like the weight will stay off because of the way I lost it — as slow as a turtle 🙂


From 160 to 139.5  — Woo Hoo!!


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Yummy Peanut Butter Cookies

October 24, 2017 at 12:21 pm (Drop Cookies, Recipes)

Peanut Butter Cookies and Coffee ~~ A magical combination!

I originally published this recipe in 2011.  I decided to re-post it because I had 2 with my coffee this morning and decided everyone needs to have peanut butter cookies with coffee if possible 🙂

This peanut butter cookie recipe came in a book my Aunt Agnes gave me as a wedding gift in 1980.  I have made no additions to this recipe as it is perfect!   I always use “Jif” peanut butter but of course you can use whatever you like.   I do not suggest using butter as a substitute for shortening.  It makes the cookie too “oily.”  These are a great comfort snack!

 Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Blend shortening, peanut butter and sugar.  Add vanilla and eggs.  Sift all dry ingredients together and mix in.  Roll into 1-inch balls and flatten with fork.  (I dip the fork into some sugar and flatten each cookie in an X pattern ).  For a little more crunch, I put a few sugar crystals on each flattened cookie.  Bake on an ungreased sheet (I use parchment paper) for 12 minutes at 350.

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Seven Layer Magic Cookie Bars

October 19, 2017 at 4:00 am (Bar Cookies, Recipes)

I do my best thinking in the middle of the night…  I knew we were going to be busy all day Sunday attending a Fall Festival with friends.  I also knew that I usually bake a goodie for darling DannyO’s lunch on Sunday.  I further knew that it had to be easy and it couldn’t be brownies because I make brownies every other time I need an easy recipe.

Anyway… It was 3 am and my brain was turning.  Didn’t I remember a bar cookie recipe that was extremely easy?  It had a number in the title.  It used sweetened condensed milk.  It was all the rage 30 years ago but I hadn’t seen it in years!!

So, after I had my devotions, I did my favorite thing…  Googled!! “cookie bar sweetened consensed milk.”

It DID have a number in the title!!  It WAS easy!! I made two changes to bring it into 2017. DannyO loved them!!  Here’s the recipe!


Seven Layer Magic Cookie Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (one stick — don’t use margarine!  That stuff’s yucky!)
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup baking snickers bars, chopped (optional… but why wouldn’t you want to include them?!?!)
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In small bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Press crumb mixture firmly on bottom of 13×9 inch baking pan. *see note
  2. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.  Layer remaining ingredients evenly; press down firmly with fork. **see note
  3. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Cut into bars.  Store covered at room temperature. ***see note

*Note:  I always, always use non-stick aluminum foil to line my pan.  It makes it much easier to lift out and cut into bars.

**Note:  I really think the layering ingredients are up to you except for the coconut — that is part of the binder.  As long as you use 2 or 2 1/2 cups of SOMETHING that melts into gooey goodness, you should be fine!!  If you to substitute the nuts, go ahead and try — just keep the 1-cup measurement

***Note:  I store my cookie bars in the refrigerator with no problem!

There you go!!  Easy Peasy!!

Go forth and bake!!



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Recipe for Disinfecting Wipes

October 17, 2017 at 2:29 pm (General household products, Minimalizing My Way)

Well now… somehow my post got wiped!!  Let’s see if I can do this again!!

As I’ve been minimizing/simplifying, I have been looking for a disinfecting wipe recipe because I love my CLorox wipes.  However, they are so expensive and they have ingredients I can’t pronounce 🙂

I found a few recipes and found one that I liked and then another and then another… so I mashed them together.

It took me 15 minutes to prepare the container and put the rest together.  Once your container is prepared, it should only take 5 minutes to make these wipes!

Recipe for Disinfecting Wipes

  • Round container — it can be any size but remember that the shorter the paper towels are, the smaller each wipe will be.
  • roll of paper towels — just a basic roll — not select-a-size or mega roll
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • a few squirts of dish detergent — enough for about 2 teaspoons
  • 1/2 of a capful of Young LIving Thieves cleaner concentrate — You can use essential oils if you’d like — just add 10-15 drops
  1.  Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup
  2. Use an exacto or craft knife to cut a hole in the center of the lid — you may need to cut it larger later.RecipeForDisinfectingWipes-4
  3. Measure and cut the paper towels to fit.
  4. Place the fitted paper towels into the container and slowly pour the liquid over the towels.  It won’t take long for you to be able to pull out the cardboard center of the paper towels.
  5. Retrieve the first paper towel in the center of the roll and fit through the hole in the lid.  At this point, you may need to expand the hole if the paper towels get stuck.  You might also want to add a bit of water to the bottom of the container to keep things moist.  You shouldn’t worry about everything drying out because all you need to do is re-moisturize with water — the cleaning liquid is still there.  I don’t have a problem with drying out because I use them so often.  (For photography purposes, I pulled the towel out a bit further than I usually would)RecipeForDisinfectingWipes-6

There you go!!  Easy Peasy!!

Go Forth!!

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A Sewing Project – Vintage Butterick 6852

October 13, 2017 at 4:00 am (Sewing, Vintage Patterns)

I don’t talk as much about my physical disabilities here on the blog anymore because I truly find that focusing on what I CAN do serves me much better.  I can no longer do a “marathon” sewing session because my eyes won’t work together when they are tired (which is why I listen to books on Audible rather than read them). That being said, I’ve been intentional about sewing one hour every day.   But, I’m finding that an hour a day of committed sewing results in some fabulous work!!  My next goal is to add one hour each day with my paintbrush in hand.  I surely can find two hours a day!!  (I’m always a work in progress.)

As I decluttered, I made some rather painful choices-I got rid of about 3/4 of my fabric and 1/2 of my patterns… (Gasp!!! Pain in my heart!!! Will I survive?!?!?!?)

I decided to tackle a vintage Butterick pattern circa 1950’s.  I love the line of this coat, especially the front seaming detail.


I made myself a deal (I can talk myself into many things…) If I’ve sewn 4 projects from my stash, I can purchase a piece of fabric.  And I’ve committed to purchase good fabric.  Unfortunately, Joann Fabric is no longer the place to find good fabric as they’ve moved into the “quilting and crafting” arena.   The fabric I used for this jacket is from Marcy Tilton. The fabric is sold by the 1/2 yard.

I purchased what I thought was enough for this jacket.  The only thing I didn’t take into consideration was that the pattern repeat was about 12 inches.  Ugh… but I was determined to make this jacket because that was my vision so, after about 3 hours of putting the puzzle together (i.e. the pattern pieces) I was able to make it work!! (Thanks Tim Gunn for that phrase!)

One thing to consider when using vintage patterns is their sizing is different even from today’s patterns.  In RTW, I wear a 4-8 depending on the fit.  In modern patterns I wear a 10-14 depending…  In vintage patterns I wear at least an 18!!  Yikes!!  Fortunately for me, I no longer look at sizes even when I’m shopping in the stores.  It’s all about fit!  This pattern, because it isn’t a fitted design has a bit of wiggle room.

My next few paragraphs will get a little technical, so if you want to just look at the pictures, that’s okay!!

One of the problems with fabric yardage and this pattern is that the sleeves and shoulders were included in the back pattern piece.   VintageButterick6852-7

Putting the back and sleeves on with the front required some more puzzle piecing.  The shoulders were actually a dart at the top of the pattern piece.


The piece was sewn into the front pattern piece, topstitched, then the dart was formed for the shoulder.  At that point, the back seam was sewn.  I had to get creative again…  because I had to take the pattern pieces right up to the edge of the salvage, it was showing after sewing the back center seam.  I solved that problem by taking a strip and topstitching it over the seam!

I also had never made a bound button hole before — THAT was another “first” for me!


I lined it — which meant I had to replicate the pattern steps again.  Fortunately I’m a fast learner and that went easier!

Overall I’m very pleased with the finished coat.  I have so many vintage patterns still in my collection and because my mantra is “if I don’t use it, it goes,” that means I must use these patterns.

After I’ve made a few more modern patterns, I will tackle another vintage pattern… because I still have lots to choose from!!

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Minimizing MY Way — Sentimental Items

October 11, 2017 at 4:00 am (Minimalizing My Way)

After writing my last blog on minimizing, I had someone ask about getting rid of sentimental things.  This person recently lost their parents and I was careful to say it probably shouldn’t be done immediately.

But truthfully, sentimental things can become, in themselves, clutter!!  I want to share my thoughts and some photos of what I’ve kept and why I’ve kept them.  Perhaps as you see my thought process, it will help you make those hard decisions.

As I love order, I will try to methodically go through what I’ve been given and or received and kept.  I have some paper things that are precious to me — those I will talk about another day.  What you will notice about what I’ve kept is they are, with few exceptions, all things that I use.

Hopefully as you go through my memories, it will make you smile AND give you courage to minimize your sentimental items.

Here goes… Grammy and Pappy Savering.  My Pappy died in 1988 and Grammy in 2009.  Pappy was a complex man but my first memory in my life involves him.  He had gentle hands.  Grammy was wonderfully quirky.  She didn’t have a bad thing to say about anyone!!  Truly, she loved, how she loved!!  She prayed for me daily and I knew when her Alzheimer’s progressed to the point that she could no longer pray.  I miss her!!

Anyway, here are the few things that are precious to me…

Grammy’s dresser.  It was dark, heavy and cumbersome in a corner of one of the upstairs bedrooms, but DannyO brought it home for me and I gave it new life with a decorative paint treatment 🙂  I think Grammy would say, “it’s be-u-tee-ful!!”


Pappy’s Toy Box.  He made this for Sue and me when we were little.  It wouldn’t pass today’s standards because the top slams on fingers!!  I use it to store my winter scarves, hats and gloves.

The “mashed potato” bowl.  Pappy usually didn’t go to church.  When we all trouped to Sunday dinner at Grammy’s, Pappy would have it ready including a pile of mashed potatoes in this bowl. Gram gave this to me one day when I was visiting her. I use it as my mixing bowl.


Grammy’s vase.  She couldn’t grow anything-no green thumb on her but she tried!  This pink vase reminds me of her love of color — I use it in the summer for a fresh plant.


Grandma and Grandpap Gay.  Grandma Millie was killed by a drunk driver in 1969. Grandpap Gay died in 1999.  I love what I’ve been privileged to care for of theirs.

The Hoosier Hutch.  It is a practical piece of furniture for our kitchen. Grandpap gave it to us when he was still alive, probably 25 years ago. We stripped it years ago and stained it.  You will notice the edge of the enamel is worn off.  That is where Grandpap Gay set his cigarettes and they often burned down completely!!  The sauerkraut crock holds our snacks.

The music room light.  This light hung in their music room.  Uncle Ted was gracious enough to let me have it.  It hangs in my music room!  It is a converted gas light.


Joe Bones (DannyO’s Dad). I only knew him for about 12 years or so.  He was so nice to me — that Grace Brethren gal who married his Catholic son — he made these primitive sewing room accessories. We were privileged to get one.   I absolutely love this duck!!

I am so blessed that my Momma and Daddy are both still living.  I have my Daddy’s little toy he played with as a toddler…  this little guy doesn’t take up much room but makes me smile every time I see him 🙂  I love the worn patina of him too!


My Momma has given me one thing that I treasure — this little bunny.  She gets put out in the Spring with my other bunnies and sheep.


There you have it!!  The few things I’ve chosen to keep do not have great material value, but they have a story attached to them — a story that is important to who I am.  I think that’s the answer to what to get rid of…  does the item have a story attached to it that is important to you?  If it’s just clutter, it will not bring you joy, even if it came from your parents and grandparents.

I can truly say that the items I’ve shown you are important to me/us and have value and with few exceptions, a practical use in our decluttered home.

I think, again, it is minimalism MY way — minimalism YOUR way.  I can’t make these hard choices for you.  But if you keep everything then nothing has value.  The following quote is from Decluttering 101: 10 rules to help you live with less stuff by Courtney Carver.  I have it on a post-it-note to remind me…

“In some stages of decluttering, you may feel like all the stuff is important, that it all has meaning and that each thing matters.  Remind yourself that if everything matters, nothing matters!  It can’t all have your love and attention.  When you let go of what doesn’t matter, you can give more of yourself to what does.”

You can do it!!  Go forth!!!

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Beef Barley Soup

October 9, 2017 at 9:51 am (Recipes)


When October comes, all thoughts turn to “comfort food.”  At least in our house they do! From October to March, I regularly make soups and pies and Beef Barley Soup is in the rotation.  I cut this recipe from a Family Circle magazine so many years ago.  Of course, I’ve changed things around to make it better!

When I list ingredients, I often list them with a caveat… if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that nothing has to be written in stone when cooking.  Now baking… that’s another story!!  But since this is a soup recipe, I will give you the ingredients in bold with my “it’s okay if you change it” written after.  I made it yesterday and have enough for 3 meals (Yay!!)

Beef Barley Soup

  • 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms, any type — if you cannot find dried mushrooms, just substitute 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms and cook them when you cook the garlic and onion
  • 1 cup of boiling water for the dried mushrooms — if you are using fresh mushrooms, remember to add an extra 1 cup of water to the pot!
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground round 
  • 28 ounces of beef broth (I use water and beef granules)
  • 4 cups water — 5 cups if you are using sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup of red wine — and a glass for you!! (if you don’t want to use wine, just add another cup of beef broth)
  • 2 carrots pared and sliced
  • 3 potatoes cubed
  • 2 stalks celery sliced — I didn’t have celery yesterday so I added 1 tsp. celery seed in its place
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf marjoram, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup of quick cooking barley — make sure it is “quick cooking.”
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley — you can add dried parsley if you don’t have fresh
  1. This is the dried mushroom step… Rinse mushrooms, cover with 1 cup of boiling water in small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Saute onion, garlic (and sliced mushrooms if using fresh) in oil in large soup pot over medium-low heat until tender, but not browned — about 5 minutes.  Increase heat.  Add beef and brown.
  3. Add beef broth, water, wine, carrot, potatoes, celery (celery seed if using), salt marjoram, pepper and bay leaf.
  4. This is the second dried mushroom step… Drain mushrooms, adding liquid to pot.  Chop mushrooms; add to soup.
  5. If you didn’t use dried mushrooms, add another cup of water to the pot.
  6. Bring to boiling.  Lower heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Add barley; return to simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until barley is tender.
  7. Remove from stove.
  8. Remove bay leaf.
  9. Add parsley.
  10. Serve!!

I will say, I prefer the dried mushrooms but in our little town of Nanty Glo, dried mushrooms are often hard to find.

Another note… you can use any ground beef you have but if you use another kind, with more fat in it, you will have to strain the fat from the pot before you add the rest of the ingredients.  I prefer to use ground round.

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