Here’s to a warm welcome

It’s never easy to leave a world of pink feather boas and big personalities and re-enter the Ironing zone. I spent the weekend at the Romance Writers’ of Australia Conference, wafting about the corridors of a five-star hotel, laughing hysterically with my writing posse (who make me laugh like no-one else can) and eating too many muffins.

I’m sure I have important information to impart about the conference, but right now the hefty bump back into reality, specifically Sunday night ironing, is proving too big a jolt. So that will have to wait (suffice to say that ‘finish the damn book’ is still the ‘take home’ message, and Celeste of the winter white suit is still best left in a drawer).

I do love being back at home (ironing aside). In the quiet times at the conference (between aforementioned hysterical laughter), I missed my boys (large and small) and we are all so incredibly pleased to see each other after a break that I can’t remember why I felt the need to go in the first place (then I spot the ironing pile…).

Similarly, I enjoy eating out, but I like to do it once in a while, not every meal. I miss my own cooking. I was thinking that was fairly tragic until I popped over to Sister B’s blog (Maxabellaloves) tonight and spotted her recipe for Hearty Chicken and Barley Soup. It could not be more perfect for how I’m feeling right now. It’s ‘welcome home’ in a bowl.

I eagerly read the list of ingredients. Most I have in the pantry (the pantry that The Builder says could feed a small village for a week – though we can never be sure because I’m too scared to venture too far into the back of it). I began making a shopping list for the extra stuff. First ingredient on the list: Barley.

Then I stopped. I remembered a conversation I had recently – possibly in the playground, possibly online – about that one ingredient that you buy every single time it’s mentioned in a recipe because you can never remember if you have it.

For some people, it was lentils (these feature highly for me as well). For others, it was flour (tick, I think I have about 4kg hanging about on the bottom shelf). But for me, mostly, it’s barley.

It’s like Arborio rice – you buy it specifically, can never remember how much you used, so you get some just in case. Then you get home, discover that last time you used half a cup AND you’d bought some then ‘just in case’ as well, so you’re looking at eating risotto for three weeks.

So this time, I tried a new tack. I went and looked. Two packets of barley – practically a field of the stuff. We’re pretty much covered for this batch of soup and three more. In fact, I’d best get on with dragging out every barley recipe I have, because the time for winter dishes is drawing to a close.

So here’s to a week of warm welcomes.

{image: AusFoodNews}