More fall food: Beef and barley stew

In the spirit of fall, I made some beef and barley stew this morning to put in the freezer for after baby arrives (assuming he ever does...).  We're trying to get several meals stored so that we don't end up eating Chinese take-out or pizza every night.  I'm sure I won't feel much like cooking for the first couple of weeks.  So far we have stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage, shepherd's pie, and crab corn chowder stashed in there.  Plus a few "emergency" microwave meals.  All-in-all we have 8-10 days worth of homemade dinners, but I'm somehow worried we're going to starve.  I guess because I have no idea what top expect or what I'll be up for in the days following the baby's arrival, it's making me a little edgy.  So I'm making more food!

I found a basic recipe on the internet, then added and fudged a bit to my own tastes.  It turned out really well, and I wish I wouldn't have eaten lunch so I could have had a nice, big bowl. 

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups cubed potatoes (I used redskins, since they hold their shape better)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, including liquid
2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup uncooked medium pearl barley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a thick-bottomed pot, brown beef in olive oil. Add the carrots, onion, celery, potatoes and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stewed tomatoes, broth, and seasonings.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 90 minutes. Add barley; cover and simmer 45-60 minutes longer or until barley and meat are tender.  Remove bay leaves and add balsamic vinegar.  Serve!

Makes approximately 2 quarts (8 small servings).
And now I'm off to make some chicken pot pie...

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