Barley Water: Daffodils, Spring & An Ode to Mary

Cancer has been on my mind a fair bit recently — not too many mornings ago, I awoke to the worst news. A dear friend and longtime mentor had passed away. Another victim of breast cancer.

The world knows Mary Corey as many things — the first female editor of the Baltimore Sun, an elegant writer and intrepid reporter who covered breaking national news and fashion’s frothy runway shows with equal aplomb, a graceful leader of a major regional newsroom at a time of great tumult in journalism.

But I simply know Mary as just about the best boss anyone could have asked for — and an intensely big-hearted friend.

Mary was my editor in my years as a young features reporter — she pushed me to think big and nudged the (then) very-reluctant me into covering fashion, sparking a career path that I’m on to this day. It would be an understatement to say that I would not be the writer I am today without Mary.

By all accounts, even as cancer overtook her life, Mary remained as sunny as ever, still thinking of others above herself. That was just the way she was — big sister to everyone, no matter the circumstance.

So when my Let’s Lunch international lunch club — inspired by cancer survivor Karen at GeoFooding — decided to post a dish today inspired by spring, life and daffodils to promote cancer awareness, I jumped right in.

Mary, this one’s for you …

Mary loved cookies — and I loved baking cookies and sharing them with her. (The last time I visited her in the Sun newsroom a few years ago, I brought her a box of these lemon thumbprint cookies.) Some of my fondest memories of working at the Sun involve late nights with Mary. Since we were both night owls, there was many a night in the Sun newsroom when we were among the last to leave — me writing, she editing, both of us trading messages and snacks until the night copy-editors started packing up.

I’ve had little time to bake recently, however, so I decided to turn to something simple that I find myself thinking of when the weather warms up: my mother’s barley water.

This is a drink that my mother loves to brew whenever she feels things are getting too “heaty” — it’s supposed to cool you down a little and is perfect, iced, on a warm spring day or served piping hot if you’re down with a cold.

I’ve never known whether to believe in its actual healing properties but I do feel rejuvenated after a glass. So with all this in mind and spring around the corner, here’s a little recipe for Singaporean-style barley water.

Cheers to spring, to daffodils and of course, to Mary. I miss you, dear.

If you knew Mary — or even if you didn’t — her family suggests donations to one or more of the following charitable entities:

John Fetting Research Fund
C/O Dina Mallis Klicos
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
100 N. Charles Street, Suite 234
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

HopeWell Cancer Support
10628 Falls Road
Lutherville, Maryland 21093

The Red Devils
5820 York Road, Suite 200
Baltimore, Maryland 21212


Don’t forget to check out other Let’s Lunchers’ daffodil/spring/life dishes below! And if you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.

Annabelle‘s Red Pepper and Eggplant Confit at Glass of Fancy

Anne Marie‘s Zihuatanejo (Or Veal Shank Redemption Sammy) at Sandwich Surprise

Grace‘s Meyer Lemon and Mandarin Citrus Bundt Cake at HapaMama

Karen‘s Wasabi Tuna Steak at GeoFooding

Linda‘s Brassica Fried Rice at Spicebox Travels

Lisa‘s Salad of Chargrilled Sourdough, Tomato and Haloumi Cheese at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Lucy‘s Carrot Souffle at A Cook and Her Books

Monica‘s Roses and Eggplant at A Life of Spice

Nancie‘s Shad Roe Southern Style at Nancie McDermott

Rebecca‘s Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Mango Foam at Grongar Blog


Singaporean Barley Water


  • 250 grams dried pearl barley
  • 2.5 liters water
  • 100 grams rock sugar (or more, to taste)


Wash barley thoroughly then place in a pot. Add water and rock sugar to the pot and bring contents to a boil.

Cover and let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour — less if you prefer clearer water; more if you like it a little thicker. Toward the end, taste and add more sugar if you’d like. Strain and serve warm or chilled.


9 thoughts on “Barley Water: Daffodils, Spring & An Ode to Mary

  1. Pingback: Creating Little Cooks, or How to Get Kids to Love Their Veggies! | spicebox travels

  2. I’m sorry to say I didn’t know there was a connection between daffodils and cancer awareness until I started reading this month’s posts, but that was a lovely tribute.

    I’ve heard of barley water but never encountered it; perhaps I’ll have to give it a try!

  3. Pingback: Glass of Fancy » Blog Archive » Let’s Lunch: Red Pepper and Eggplant Confit - Fashion, fiction, and life in the city.

  4. Pingback: Shad Roe Southern-Style for Springtime #LetsLunch | Nancie McDermott

  5. First, I am sorry to hear about your friend. What a wonderful way to remember her.

    Second, we’re feasting on Singaporean delights tomorrow night for bookclub and discussing your book. I am going to make this and something else. Would you ever consider adding something alcoholic to barley water to create a cocktail?


    • Hi Nazila! Just saw this comment — thanks for your note and hope the discussion went well! I have never thought of adding anything alcoholic to barley…but that’s certainly something I’lld think about now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>