A Road Less Traveled and Kale Barley Gratin

I find moving to be a rather emotional endeavor. It is not simply wrapping and unwrapping glassware, books and picture frames, it is unearthing things that have been buried for a while. Some of them are painful, like an unexpected photograph of the man who was going to marry me, and didn't. Others are delightful: a forgotten candy cane, still in its wrapper, pictures from a dear friend in Germany, a scribbled note from someone who loves me. But all of them draw out emotions, both joyous and sad, and I'm officially tuckered out. :-)

I was perusing Passage Paradis yesterday, delighting in her photographs of a bird market tucked away in Hong Kong, and it got me thinking about "taking the road less traveled" "getting off the beaten track" and other such things. I love to travel so very much, but I'm too broke to go anywhere for a while, so I've tried to look at my current surroundings with new eyes, as if I were a tourist in my own neighborhood.

Over the past week I have learned no less than FOUR different ways to get to my chiropractor up in Canada. :-) Two are rather dull consisting mostly of highways, gas stations and McDonalds, but the other two? Ohhh, they're lovely, meandering past vineyards and hobby farms, through treed hillsides and alongside ditches filled with blackberry bushes.

On one particularly stormy day I had a few spare minutes and turned down a side road to a park I'd never noticed before. I found this:

It thrilled me to pieces and I couldn't stop grinning, so happy with my discovery, so glad I had turned down that obscure road. :-)

Thus inspired I got back to work and eagerly dug into my bowl of Kale Barley Gratin. Granted, this is not what you'd call a "pretty" dish, but it's awfully tasty and so good for you. :-) Both barley and kale are simmered separately, then, while the barley drains, you puree the kale with a bit of broth. It turns into a vivid green sauce that is quite astonishing. :-) Then you mix it in with the barley, a roux seasoned with allspice and nutmeg, a mounded handful of grated Parmesan, and pour it into a baking dish and bake until it's nicely browned on top. It's great served hot from the oven, but is just as tasty reheated a few days later, or even eaten cold.

Kale Barley Gratin
(Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)


2/3 cup pearl barley, rinsed
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 large bunch kale, about 1 1/4 lbs, stems entirely removed
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour (I used gluten-free)
1 1/2 cups milk or vegetable stock or chicken stock (I like chicken stock)
1/4 tsp allspice (I didn't have grated, so I added a few whole to the stock while simmering)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyere or provolone (I used Parmesan)

  1. In a saucepan, add barley to 1 quart boiling water with 1/2 tsp salt and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. While it's cooking, cook the kale in a skillet of boiling salted water until tender, 6-10 minutes. Drain, then puree with 1/4 cup of the cooking water until smooth. 
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a small saucepan, whisk in flour, then add milk. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat, until thick. Season with allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper. 
  4. Combine all ingredients, check seasonings, then pour into buttered baking dish or ramekins.
  5. Bake until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes.


  1. I love those nature pics. I'd love to go exploring there!

  2. I love them too, Kris. :-) They enriched my day tremendously. :-)

  3. We've been doing that, too-the tourist in your own city kinda thing. It's been SO much fun! Even asking "what's within a 2 hour drive?" Be sure and share all the fun places you find!

  4. That's so cool, Marie! :-) It is JOLLY fun! :-) We have a very cool area to live, I think. :-) So far my favorite spots have been: Nooksack Falls, Stanley Park, and the little parks that are tucked around all over the place with almost no people in them!

  5. Your photography is so spectacular I felt I was alongside you. Pictures for the soul, kale and barley for the body. That's a good match :-).

  6. You have been on a roll with cooking from this cookbook latey! I love how green this is. It makes me super happy.

    Moving is definitely rough. It forces you to deal with all the things you have buried in closets. But it also forces you to move forward and see and do new things that you wouldn't have done otherwise - like take roads less traveled. Which you are already quite adept at doing!

  7. Oh, I'm SO glad, Mary! :-) It was so beautiful I just had to share it. :-) Couldn't keep all that loveliness to myself. :-)

  8. Dear Joanne - it's my Go To Cookbook for all things vegetarian, something I'm supposed to be doing a lot of while I detox. :-) Glad you like it too. :-)

    Tonight I worked almost 7 hours on my apartment and it looks so much better. :-) My heart is happy though my body is aching. :-)

  9. Hi again Krista! Happy Easter Weekend! Gorgeous gorgeous pictures. Yes. Moving and moving on, very bittersweet. But that's what I've found the blog is good for. Like pinning up little mementoes that (hopefully) will hang around for a good while and then getting on with the next thing. Cause there are wonderful things to find if we follow our noses. I personally couldn't bear it if there weren't "the next thing" around the corner - don't know if that's a good or a bad trait. Someone once told me that it was o.k. to be bored. I just couldn't go there! Anyway, looking forward to more off-the-beaten-track with Krista!

    Meanwhile thanks for the Passage Paradis shoutout! xoxo

  10. Hi dear Paradis! :-) I'm so glad you like the pictures too, and you are MOST welcome for the shout out. :-) I think you're right about the blog. It is inspiration and therapy at the same time. :-) Cheers to enjoying the next thing. :-)

  11. What a nice road to discover. We often holiday at home and become tourists in our own city.When the boys were little we'd check into a hotel. Eating out and swimming in the pool, we all felt like we were on holiday....and best of all we didn't have a long drive or flight home.

  12. I've had this recipe bookmarked in Vegetarian cooking For Everyone for years! I have never actually gotten around to making it, but it sounds so yummy that I'm going to have to finally make it. Thanks for the recipe-push!

  13. Oh that is beautiful, Barbara. :-) I love that you shared that adventurous spirit with your boys. :-)

  14. You are so welcome, Cozy! :-) I love it very much and just finished the last of it today. :-)

  15. I so, so get it! That discovery thing. I have been noticing more and more how glowing-happy-smile until my ears pop off... that it makes me;))))))). Beautiful pics!

  16. Yes, you DO get it, Janelle! That's partly why I love your blogs so much. :-) Have a fabulous day!! :-)