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To those of you who are regular followers of my blog, I apologize for my absence!  I go in waves thinking, “I will never be a blogger that allows my life to get in the way of my blog.”  NOTE TO SELF: Life always gets in the way!  And so should it.  Let’s Celebrate That!  Now at this moment, life getting in the way is a good thing so that’s why I celebrate.


What am I celebrating?  Why not make a list?

  1. I am creating from scratch (with a friend) a neighborhood focused youth culinary training program that will culminate in a neighborhood farm-to-table brunch.  Yes, it’s massive and warrants most of my focus currently.
  2. I am active in my church and serving on a steering committee.  Remember in high school when you were involved because it added to your social life, well I now wish that I was more involved and took on more responsibility.
  3. I am making new friends and enjoying new social opportunities.  Raise a glass to opening up your horizons.


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I chose Pearl Barely over Quinoa because of the high price of Quinoa and that Pearl Barley and Rice are more readily available at the super markets that our youth shop at though I think Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat, and Brown Rice could also work well.

Recipe adapted from she cooks, she gardens.


    • 1 cup Pearl Barley
    • 1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds
    • 1/8 tsp dried chili
    • 1 head cauliflower, divided into bite sized florets
    • 4-6 Tbs olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
    • 1 large bunch of spinach, stalks removed
    • 1 Tbs Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar or regular Balsamic Vinegar
    • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 bunch basil leaves, rolled together, sliced and soaked in olive oil
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
    • 3-4 oz crumbled feta cheese
    • salt and pepper to taste

**I recently attended a cooking class taught by a Le Cordon Bleu, Paris instructor and I learned so many good techniques.  I will try and pass some on.  My favorite was that salt and pepper should be added when food first starts to cook, not at the end.  This enhances the flavor.**


    1. Cook the Pearl Barley according to the package instructions with the fennel seeds and dried chili.  This takes about 45 minutes.  Allow the pearl barley to cool.
    2. Preheat oven to 400º F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl, mix the cauliflower florets, 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/2-1 tsp ground cumin, according to your taste. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, checking at 15 minutes and turning the heat down to 350º F if golden.  Bake until just tender.  Allow the cauliflower to cool.
    3. Saute mushrooms and 1 clove minced garlic in 2 Tbs olive oil with a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper over medium-high heat until the mushrooms begin to sweat, 3-5 minutes.  If they screech, turn down the heat.  Add the spinach and mix until it starts to wilt.  Add the balsamic vinegar and immediately turn off the heat.  Fully incorporate the balsamic vinegar.
    4. Lay the basil leaves each facing up and roll lengthwise.  Chop the basil and transfer strips to a small shallow dish.  Cover with 1-2 Tbs olive oil. This stops the browning process of the basil.
    5. In a large bowl, combine the pearl barley, cauliflower, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, green onions, basil, and fresh parsley.  Fully combined and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Mix in the feta cheese and serve.