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May 5th was my 5 month anniversary and the thing I like and hate the most about this has been the return of my senses of smell and taste.
This serves me well when I am indulging myself in a rare fit of cooking. I love the subtle smells of carrots and celery that I never knew I missed when I was surrounded in an aura of smoke. However, it comes as quite a shock to discover the object of my affection smells...well...yucky. This is also something I never noticed when I smoked.
It turns out, they are related:
Smokers can't appreciate the taste of many foods as intensely as they did before smoking, but it's really the loss of the sense of smell that diminishes the ability to taste, notes Andrew Spielman, DMD, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at the NYU School of Dentistry. Breathing in the hot fumes of cigarette smoke is toxic to the senses.However, it does get better. Some people say they can feel improvements in both taste and smell after a couple of days of not smoking while others may take longer. One dubious advantage to recovering the ability to smell is the fact that you may suddenly find your closet reeks of nicotine. I know this was a big motivator for me - the fact that everything I wore smelled awful and probably had smelled that way forever and I never knew.
Ah...but remember I said how I sometimes like to cook?
Beef Barley Soup
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 1/2 pounds stew beef cut into small to medium pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large green squash cut into thin slices
4 large carrots sliced
6 large button mushrooms sliced medium
2 stalks celery diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme crushed in your palm
3 bay leaves
1 large box low sodium beef broth (44 oz.) plus two additional box fulls of water
1 cup pearled barley
(Note: I cook fairly low sodium as my Mom needs to watch her intake. Feel free to increase the salt content as desired. Also, onion gives me heartburn so I don't use it, but you could - half a medium onion chopped)
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the stew beef, 1 large pinch of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the squash, carrots, mushrooms, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Add the thyme to the pot along with the bay leaves. Return the beef to the pot and add the broth and the water, 2 large pinches of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.
Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain, and set aside.
When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 20 -30 minutes, until the barley is tender. Serve hot, adjusting the salt to taste.
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