Sleepless in Wisconsin

Sometimes it’s the smallest things in life that can make us happy, but it’s the tiniest things that can make us really crabby. If you had stopped over to our house last week, you would have found a messy home, crabby kids, and no food—and no hospitality!

This fall has been painfully busy for our family; no one has had time to cook any kind of meal. We have been existing on peanut and butter jelly sandwiches, frozen pizzas and going out for dinner. One night last week I came home late, and I was really hungry. My family thought I was going to stop at a fast food joint on my way home and didn’t save me any frozen pizza. There is something worse than cold frozen pizza–no cold frozen pizza! I searched high and low for anything to eat. There was literally nothing. The fridge was empty except for some veggies past their prime and condiments. The pantry wasn’t any different, unless I wanted a can of kidney beans or stale, old saltines crackers. I ate an old limp carrot and thought—something has got to change.

Ever get to the end of your patience level? It’s a place where you get a little mad but channel it into productive energy? That’s exactly where I was at 3:32 am on Saturday morning when I couldn’t sleep because my tummy was growling loudly. I got up early that day and made a list of things I would cook later that day, so we would have good things to eat during the week when we were too to busy to cook.

I went to the store and bought enough food to make four different kinds of soups, two entrees, one apple pie, a loaf of homemade bread, and a batch of applesauce. I ended up cooking for 5 hours straight, but it was well worth it! The freezer is now full and everyone is happy again.

Honestly, there is nothing that will make teenage boys crazier, than having no food in the house. They were ecstatic on Saturday. They hovered around the kitchen all day tasting soups and helping me pour food into single serve containers. We sat down together for a warm family meal for the first time in days. Bliss.

We ate all the bread and the apple pie, but the freezer is full of good healthy food and our tummies were full. The only problem now is to find some time to clean the house! I can’t have it all. I’d rather have a full fridge full and a happy family, then a clean house any day!

He's not happy with his dog food or his hair cut!
He’s not happy with his dog food or his hair cut!

A friend gave me this recipe years ago. It has become fall favorite. Both the lentils and barley add some fun texture. The spices all meld nicely and balance well with the tomatoes. Some soups are not filling enough, but this one is perfect, it’s healthy and filling all at the same time.

Chicken Soup with Barely and Lentils

½ cup dry lentils

1 large onion, chopped

½ cup green pepper, chopped

1 clove minced garlic

2 tablespoons butter

5 cups chicken broth

½ cup quick cooking barley

1 ½ cups cooked shredded pheasant or chicken

1 ½ cups chopped carrots

1 -16oz. can chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon dry basil

¼ teaspoon dry oregano

¼ teaspoon dry rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Rinse and drain lentils; set aside. In a large stockpot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook gently until tender. Add chicken broth, basil, oregano, rosemary, and lentils. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, simmer on low for 20 minutes with the cover. Add the carrots and the barley. Simmer for another 20 minutes, covered, until the barley is tender, but still chewy and the carrots are soft. Add the pheasant or chicken and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Serve with fresh crusty bread and a side salad for a hearty fall meal.

Picking pumpkins
Next up: Visiting the pumpkin patch

 

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