Submitted by Owen Poole (Reno, NV)
This recipe is actually my mom’s. She found it in a very old cookbook that had been in my grandmother’s house for who knows how long.
Our family was always pretty small, but we had several family friends who would join us for Christmas every year. One year, a lot of people had new obligations for Christmas, spending time with their significant other’s families, visiting distant relatives and work, things like that.
Our regular Christmas dinner was looking to be pretty empty. So, my mom and my aunt decided that we should host an informal get-together at my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve for everyone who couldn’t make it on Christmas Day. The only problem was the food.
We enjoyed that Christmas Eve so much that it became a tradition that we still do every year. We still eat the same stuff, and my aunt still wears the snowflake earrings my sister got her for Christmas when she was a kid.
There wasn’t a whole lot of time to create a big traditional Christmas Day feast, so my aunt bought a sandwich platter, a pumpkin pie and apple cider from a local farm. My mom decided to make this stew, as it was easy to make and the cookbook said it would be filling. Everything turned out great; we loved the stew and all the other fixings.
We ate, told stories and watched “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott (by far the best version put to film). We enjoyed that Christmas Eve so much that it became a tradition that we still do every year. We still eat the same stuff, and my aunt still wears the snowflake earrings my sister got her for Christmas when she was a kid.
I make this stew for myself whenever I want a taste of home and can’t wait till Christmas … and if I don’t feel like cooking again for a few days!
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 4 1/2 cups tomato juice
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup pearled barley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
BROWN ground beef in a medium skillet with the onion and celery. Drain.
STIR in tomato juice, water, barley and spices into a large pot. Add meat. Bring to boil.
REDUCE heat and simmer for about an hour or until the barley is tender.