Two very exciting things are happening right now. First - we are going to Hawaii in two weeks, and second - we are buying a new car!
First things first, let's talk about Hawaii. Brent and I haven't been on a real vacation in years. A real vacation that involves flying somewhere warm with the need for lots of sun screen (and I don't mean that trip that we took back home last summer). We've been putting off a vacation because of the whole - small baby, this really won't be a vacation thing. But I am finding myself extremely depressed and anxious these days, and a lot of it has do do with the current political situation and my fear for the future, but a part of it also has to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I suffer from every year. So.... we are biting the bullet and taking our 16 month very high energy toddler to Hawaii and I am going to try to relax. We are flying to the island Kauai and staying at a resort for 7 days. We may rent a car and see some of the island or we may spend every waking minute on the beach. I can't say for sure.
This is a really busy time of year for Hawaiian travel. It probably has to do with the fact that a) Hawaii is beautiful b) the temperature is warm but comfortable and c) Hawaii does not have Zika virus. This means that flights are pricey and limited. Which also means that we could have spent $800 to get Sebastian his own seat, but instead, decided to save money and fly with him on our laps. I've been doing a bit of research and I have now come to the conclusion that this is a horrible idea, but it's too late, so if you have any experience or tips for flying with a toddler, please send them my way. Also, if you have any recommendations on things to do on the island Kauai, I'd love to hear.
Now, lets talk about the car. Back in 2006, I moved to BC for the summer. Brent was living in Seattle at the time and decided to buy a car to come and visit me every other weekend, instead of flying - which can get pricey. He bought a cute 2002 red Subaru Forester, that had been previously used as a rental car - so he got a pretty good deal. Our Subaru has been around for almost 10 years. She has seen us cry, she has seen us laugh. She was the car that we moved to Victoria BC and had so many adventures. She was the car that drove us across the country twice. She was the car that we later moved to Seattle and had 7 more years of adventuring. We brought home our puppy from the breeder in that car. We took Sebastian home from the hospital in that car. But two weeks ago while on a road trip through the mountain pass during a snowstorm our car let us down, and she no longer feels safe. So after a few tears and the realization that we have to let her go, we are finally ready to get a new car. Even though it's sad, it's going to be nice to get into a nice new car that isn't covered in wood chips, baby cookies, empty M&M wrappers and smells like old climbing shoes.
Even in the winter months, every Sunday, we try to head down to the Farmer's Market, sometimes just to browse, other times to get produce for the week. We have our favorite stalls we like to visit. I have my bread guy, and my cheese guy. I also have my soup guy, but lately, he just hasn't been on his game. I think he started leaving salt out of the soup, which is really not ok. I usually get the potato, mushrooms, kale and smoked gouda soup, which is a great combination of flavors. I tried to recreate his soup, to see if I could do it better, but as I was adding ingredients it took a different direction and I ended up with a mushroom, potato, and barley soup, which to be honest, turned out way better than I could have expected. Its flavors are reminiscent of a stew, the only difference being this soup has a thin broth. It's savory and satisfying, and highly umami. It's so good I'm going to make another pot this weekend. And maybe open up my own stall at the market ;)
MUSHROOM, POTATO, AND BARLEY SOUP
serves 5 - 6
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 90 minutes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups chopped Yukon Gold or new potatoes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup dry pearl barley
In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in butter on medium-high heat, until they begin to caramelize.
Add the celery and mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the potatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Add the pepper.
Add 6 cups of stock. Simmer until the potatoes are soft.
Scoop 1 cup of soup from the pot, with a generous portion of vegetables, and puree. Add it back to the soup pot.
Add the pearled barley to the soup and simmer until soft. Approximately 30 minutes.
Add the final 2 cups of stock to the soup.
Serve warm. With a side of cheese toast. And a glass of wine.
Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for 3 months. You may need to add more stock before serving.
*My favorite vegetarian stock for soups, gravies etc. is