I discovered in the recent blizzard that I keep enough food in my home to stock a family of six for at least two months, probably more. I don't know if it's some kind of primal survival instinct, or just poor planning and budgeting, but I am not exaggerating when I say that we could go for MONTHS without a grocery trip. Right now, just to give you an idea, the top shelf of my pantry holds 11 boxes of pasta, 13 cans of tuna and 2 cans of salmon, 7 bags plus 14 cans of beans, 1 bag of split peas, 2 bags of lentils, 2 bags of barley, 2 bags of wheat berries, 4 cans of mushrooms plus a HUMONGOUS container of dried mushrooms, and 2 five-pound bags of flour. And that's just ONE shelf. (We have another four upstairs and three downstairs.)

It's rather scary.

Last week, I decided to do without any groceries, with the exception of milk, bread, and a few very basic fresh vegetables. We're cleaning out our pantry and it FEELS GOOD. This recipe is easy, healthy, and very economical.

Chickpea and Barley Stew
I have a plethora of dried beans at home, so I used those. You could easily use canned beans instead. Just add them along with the sweet potatoes instead of with the barley. I served some plain yogurt next to this dish (read more about my simple yogurt formula on my other blog) and called it a meal. 

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow onion, minced
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 whole cardamom seeds (or use 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup barley
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1/8 cup soy sauce
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6-8 large mushrooms, washed and sliced

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and saute on medium for about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and garlic and saute, stirring, for about 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the spices and salt and continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring. Add the barley and cook for another minute or two, still stirring.

Add the chickpeas plus enough water to cover. Cook for about two hours, till the barley and chickpeas are tender but not mushy.

Add the soy sauce and sweet potatoes. Cook for another 1/2 hour.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a 1/2 hour longer. Serve warm.