emma - my ebay contact for trying to return the defective 50W low charge panel - wrote me back with yet another way to not have me return the panel. she said it'd cost $12 for postage and insurance to send back the panel, so she could refund me the $18 and i could then also keep the panel. that option made more sense, but then i remembered the panel doesn't even work well, it'd still be a waste of money. i also asked her for the return address, which she seems reluctant to tell me. my guess is there is none, at least none in the US, even though the item was advertised as a US seller. more than likely the return address is someplace in china. but let's say there is a US address, i don't think it'd cost me $12 to ship it back.

this morning i did a load of laundry while scrubbing clean the tub with some baking soda. i like cleaning with baking soda, how there's absolutely no odor, not even a scent. to me that feels clean. my father called to ask me to go with him to binbin's place to clean up the fridge, throw out the trash, set some timers, and move the car. what i didn't realize was my sister was also going, so i opted not to go. i hurriedly biked down to market basket in the early afternoon as rain was approaching to get some groceries for the next few days as it's supposed to rain non-stop until late saturday. there was already a light drizzle, it wasn't too bad, more so when i was returning home since i didn't much care by that point.

beef barley soup

1.5 lbs. chuck pot roast, cubed
1.5 lbs. potatoes, cubed
8 oz. baby carrots
1 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 cups beef broth
1/2 cup merlot
2/3 cups pearl barley

brown cubed beef in pan before adding with rest of ingredients into slow cooker. wash pan drippings with wine then pour into slow cooker as well. cook on high for 6-7 hours.

since it was cold, grey, and wet outside, i thought it'd be fitting to make some slow cooker beef barley soup. i bought too much pot roast and trimmed off a pound to freeze in the fridge. the hardest part was browning the beef. i added too much to the pan and ended up boiling the meat instead of browning, stinking up the whole house with the smell of cooked beef. i then added all the ingredients to the slow cooker and set it on high to cook for the rest of the day.

i finally used up that big roll of AEP brand commercial plastic wrap. my parents gave it to me when i first moved into this place 17 years ago, nearly 2 decades. now i have to decide what new brand of plastic wrap i want to get. i kind of like having the commercial stuff, so much of it that it'd last for decades and that i always knew i had it on hand. it's a big box, and people always laugh when they see it for the first time. it takes up space but i've made room for it in my kitchen. maybe i want to get another box of commercial wrap and using it for the next 20 years.

when early evening came around, i tasted the soup. it seemed oily and watery with an umami sweetness. the original recipe called for tomato paste which i didn't add, but decided to add some anyway to thicken the soup and the cut down the sweetness. recipe said 2 tbsp of paste, but i ended up adding the entire 6 oz. can. it thickened the soup but also made it taste sour.

the beef barley soup was finally ready to eat by 9pm. the sourness from the tomato paste had mellowed out but the soup flavor wasn't anything particularly special. i could've added all the beef since it shrinks when cooked so it didn't look like i had a lot of meat in my soup. i also could've added more barley. it's called beef barley, neither which ingredients show up very much in the soup. it's mostly a vegetable soup, with the tomato paste and chopped celery-potato-garlic. i used generic white potatoes when i should've used something else like a russet potato, which would break down in the soup and thicken it; in this case the diced white potatoes kept their shape, more like daikon radishes than potatoes. i can definitely eat it for the next few days but i wouldn't call this recipe a success. afterwards i could still taste the umami flavor in my mouth.