Thursday, September 16, 2010

Project Food Blog #1: Bison & Barley Stew

A Note To My Readers: As evident by the Foodbuzz icons to your right, I am competing in the first online "Next Food Blog Star" challenge called Project Food Blog. The competition begins with nearly 2,000 food bloggers and will feature 10 contests, with fewer and fewer Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers advancing per stage. The winner will receive $10,000 and a special feature on Foodbuzz! This is my first post and I will also be publishing a voting post in a few days when you'll be able to vote for me to keep advancing. Voting does require registering as a Foodbuzz member to keep things legitimate, so go ahead and register as a member now so you'll be ready. It's a wonderful community of dedicated foodies and will open up a world of other food bloggers I know you'll enjoy. Voting begins September 20th, and you can view my profile here. Wish me luck!

As a self-trained cook, I have the mindset of helping readers transition from the safety of quick, conventional foods into the unknown realm of natural cooking. I spend much of my time researching and understanding the need and science behind traditional food practices so my readers can easily comprehend why making different choices are healthier.

I believe I can be the next Food Blog Star because I am passionate about Real Food. Ancient Food. Traditional Food. And I want to reach as many people as I can and turn them on to it.

Real Food is environmentally stable, grown in an ethical manner without pesticides or antibiotics using natural practices in local communities, to provide organic, nutritionally dense foods to nourish the body and earth.

I am not afraid to speak my mind about why Real Food is more beneficial and healthier than conventional, manufactured food-like products. I am willing to discuss with anyone why Real Food is important, which is a major reason I chose to begin a food blog and reach more people.

One person I didn't have a chance to reach was my father. He passed away from a heart attack eight years ago this week. If I had known then what I know now about Real Food, I might have been able to help him. I remember him trying weight loss programs, diet foods, and health gimmicks. Now I know why those things never worked and only made his weight worse. I was able to have 19 years with him as a hilarious mentor and intuitive father. Although I could still benefit from his wisdom today, I wish my three younger siblings would have been able to have more time with him like I did. Losing him was a large reason why I started my blog. I try and keep my posts happy and positive while informing my readers of natural, healthy foods, so I tend not to mention sad topics; however, with the anniversary of his death and Project Food Blog starting on nearly the same day, I am taking that as a sign to be more forthcoming in one of the major drives behind my recipe development and blogging. If I am able to teach others about beneficial foods and help others morph their diets into healthier choices, then maybe someone will not have to lose a loved one so early to a preventable disease.

Cherokee Grape Dumplings

To demonstrate ancient foods with traditional practices, I have begun sharing my family's Cherokee recipes. I am not full Cherokee, but I embrace and am proud of this heritage. I am independently learning more about Native American foods and its history so I can share these healthy, sustainable foods with my readers. If native, traditional foods helped sustain and thrive tribes in the Americas, then we can return to these foods and practices to nourish our bodies and communities. This can be seen by the growth in backyard gardens and canning foods that has increased in the past few years. These types of beneficial techniques are not just for difficult financial times, but should be used to continuously nourish one's body and wallet.

As an organic, traditional, Native American food blogger, I believe my dedicated apprenticeship and passion sets me apart from other food bloggers and will make me a successful Project Food Blog Star.

Now it's time for my favorite thing - sharing a recipe with you. This recipe reflects both my traditional food and Native American cuisines: Bison & Barley Stew. I grew up on this dish and always looked forward to it. I've improved it by using bison instead of beef, soaking the hulled (not pearl) barley, and using more root vegetables than starchy ones. Hulled barley is the whole grain version, with only the outer husk removed. It contains high amounts of bran, protein, and fiber compared to pearl barley which has all the outer layers removed taking away most of the nutrients. Hulled barley that has not been soaked will contain anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, and will require a long cooking time; soaking the grain will circumvent both these issues.

This is a wonderful comfort food for cooler weather since it will sustain your energy level and keep your blood sugar stable. I've always loved how bison has such a hearty flavor on its own without needing other ingredients added. The stew is thick and rich in taste from the vegetable broth and roasted, earthy vegetables that nearly melt in your mouth. By roasting them first, they hold up on their own with the barley. Plus, by cooking the barley in vegetable broth, it takes on a delicious, warm character rather than cooking in water alone. I leave the tomatoes for the end so they also remain intact and add a nice acidic bite to the dish. If you like your stew a little soupier, add an extra 2 cups of filtered water towards the end. These simple, healthy ingredients come together and meld into so many beautiful layers on your palate. Its warmth will satisfy both your body and soul.

Bison & Barley Stew
Printable Recipe

2 cups hulled barley
filtered water
4 tbsp whey, separated

1 qt vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
1/2 bunch celery, roughly chopped
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 large turnip root, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large golden yams, peeled and roughly chopped
2 jumbo garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
4 cups filtered water
4 medium tomatoes, hallowed and roughly chopped
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp white pepper

1 tbsp olive oil
1lb bison meat, either cubed steak or ground

Beginning 24 hours before cooking the stew (the night before), add 2 cups hulled barley into a large glass bowl. Cover the barley in several inches of water, add 2 tbsp whey, and stir gently. The barley will absorb much of the water, so ensure an ample amount is available. After 12 hours (in the morning), drain the water and replace it with an equal amount of warm filtered water and another 2 tbsp whey, stirring gently.

When you are ready to cook the stew, rinse the barley thoroughly until the water runs clear before using.

In a large pot (preferably 12 qt), add the barley, vegetable stock, and 3 bay leaves. Allow it to boil gently on medium heat, with gentle and not rapid bubbles. The barley will need to cook for 20 min, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Using a large sheet pan with a lip, place the chopped vegetables of celery through garlic in an even layer. Drizzle the 4 tbsp olive oil over the vegetables, then evenly sprinkle the paprika, kosher salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 min.

After 20 min, remove the vegetables from the oven and carefully add to the barley. Add 4 cups of filtered water, the chopped tomatoes, coriander, and white pepper, stirring well. The burner will need to be turned to low and allow the stew to simmer while preparing the bison.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and allow it to become hot, usually 2-3 min. Then add the cubed bison meat and brown on all sides, usually 7-10 min. Remove from the pan and add to the stew, stirring gently. Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.

~Yields 8 servings.

~Original by Brie.


  1. Brie, great recipe, and so nice to learn about your Cherokee heritage. Good luck with the competition!

    Bon appetit!

  2. Nice looking recipe! Good luck with the challenge :o)

  3. No doubt delicious, good luck lady

  4. Thank you for supporting REAL FOOD. Bison and barley are so good for you...and so delicious.

  5. Wonderful recipe and submission post.Good luck with the challenge :)

  6. You truly bring a unique perspective to the table. Great post and recipe - good luck with the competition!

  7. Yea! Good luck with the Foodbuzz challenge! :) Your recipes and pictures look delicious! I will have to try this recipe out, I love bison.

  8. Thank you for sharing your interesting story and history with us. Tackling ancient and traditional foods is not an easy feat, but very rewarding. Keep up the great blogging. I really wish you the best of luck with PFB competitions!!!

  9. Fantastic post and delicious looking recipe, Brie! I must admit I've never had bison before (I don't think we can get it here in Australia, though now I'm intrigued so I'll have to find out), but I absolutely love barley and believe it's wonderful in stews. Best of luck with Project Food Blog, you bring a truly unique perspective to the culinary blogosphere

  10. What a wonderfully delicious and hearty stew! I love it. Also loved your piece on why you want to win the challenge! Best of luck to your Brie. I am sorry to hear about your Dad. As a Real Foodie myself, I know how hard it is to reach people even if you KNOW the knowledge. Congrats on the Finest Foodies Friday feature as well!

  11. Hi! I found your blog through the Foodie Blogrool and so glad I did! first, good luck on the challenge; I am following your blog to keep up to speed on how you do. Second: I LOVE Bison, especially grass fed, hormone free bison. So tender and delicious, but I dont seem to be creative about how to prepare it. This recipe I am definitely trying. Angie

  12. Great entry. I came to check out the competition and got so much more. Cherokee recipes! That is exciting. You look strong. Good Luck. GREG

  13. Great entry and recipe. Good luck with the competition.

  14. This stew sounds so hearty and comforting! Beautiful job on the first Project Food Blog challenge!

  15. You got our vote!

    Come check our our PFB post:

    Cheers and aloha.

  16. What a great looking bowl of fabulous stew love this...wishing you all the best I voted for you!

  17. I love barley it's such a great ingredient. The stew look really good and healthy. Best of luck to you with the PFB challenge :)

  18. The stew looks delicious!!!! I will HAVE to try it!!!
    You have my vote!!!! Good luck!

  19. I love bison burgers so much, but I've never gotten to cook with it. Looking forward to seeing what you have in store. You've got our vote!

    Lick My Spoon

  20. Looks delish. You have my vote. Good luck in the competition.

  21. Wow, bison and barley stew. Never had it, but it sounds AWESOME! Now I just have to try and find some bison, lol.....

    Ways to Grow Eyelashes