Friday, August 2, 2013

Making Pesto in the Sweet Summertime!

     We've been enjoying the tomatoes and cubanelle peppers from my garden
 and using fresh herbs every day!   Last night, I made a Caprese salad with tomato slices, basil leaves, sprinkled with parmesan, and drizzled with balsamic dressing.  
Today I trimmed my daughter's basil,and surprised her by making one of her favorites---- pesto!
 Then I cooked some spiral  Rotini pasta to go with it, so when she comes home, her dinner is all ready.

My little patio herb garden.

Did you ever stake a cantalope plant?
  I wonder if the stake will support the fruit as it grows bigger.

I also have okra, for the first time. It is a really pretty plant to have in a flower and vegetable garden.
Do you know a good way to use okra, besides fried okra, and gumbo?

Jersey tomatoes are the best!

Pesto ingredients,  are mostly things we usually have on hand.
 Except the pine nuts, but you can make pesto without them,
   or use any other nuts you may have.

                    Quick and Easy Pesto
2-3 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, 
              or substitute walnuts, almonds or cashews
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup  grated or shredded parmesan
 salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice,  to prevent pesto turning brown

    Pick fresh basil leaves off the stems, wash and dry. 
 Combine leaves, nuts, olive oil and place in food processor
 or other chopper/ blender. 
 Blend until  it becomes a smooth paste. 
 Add garlic and lemon juice.  
 Stir into hot pasta, or use as a spread. 

Refrigerate for up to one week, freeze to preserve longer.     

Shortcuts:  I used prepared minced garlic, and purchased  already-shredded cheese. 

Lemon or lime juice will keep the pesto from browning, and add a little tang.

Combine and blend. 

There you go!  Fresh Pesto!

       It makes a tasty pasta dish.  Simply stir into any type cooked pasta,
 or use as a sandwich or cracker spread.
 I've had pesto on chicken paninis, pizza and various hors d'ourves.
 I've heard that Italian grandmothers hand chop the basil and nuts because they prefer the courser texture, but I like the convenience of using a food processor.   Quick and easy!

 My daughter's Kitchen Aid Chopper would have been a better idea, but, because she's getting ready to move, it was packed up.  So I used the Magic Bullet, and made it in  two small batches, which I combined in a bowl.

 It keeps in a covered bowl, in refrigerator for up to one week.
Canning is not recommended, but basil freezes well, for later use.
You can freeze in an ice cube tray.  Then pop them out and bag them.
  Thaw one or more as needed.    It's great to have fresh-tasting pesto year-round.

Even Tommy likes it!
 And he  really loves his own home-grown tomatoes

 in his grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches. 

Mommy has a potted basil on Tommy's  patio.

I love gardening, cooking and teaching Thomas about  all these things---tomatoes, praying mantis',

  birds and bees, growing plants, eating from our garden, the beauty all around us and
  all God's gifts in nature!
 He's growing up so fast, and I  feel like this time of  sharing his childhood is so precious. He'll be off to  nursery school  one day soon, and summer is flying by,  and  this time is so important,  there's so much to share with him,  and it's going by too quickly!   

 Earlier in July, a robin red-breast made her nest on the patio light fixture, 
and we were always  watching her feed her babies. 
 But they were grown and flown away within three weeks!  

Look who we found on Tommy's pumpkin plant! 

This Goose was hissing at us on our walk today!

 Unfortunately, Thomas got his first bee sting,  by a yellow jacket  on his swingset, earlier this week.
I felt so bad, when he was stung.   But I  showed him that bees really are our friends and  usually won't bother us if we stay a safe distance.  This busy  bumblebee was on a wildflower at our neighborhood pond, where we always  go on our walks.   Tommy's moving soon, and we will not be walking this same place much longer. Next summer it  will be a different neighborhood. 
 Oh, I'm getting so sentimental and change is so hard.     
Sweet,  sweet summertime, with my sweet, sweet baby grandboy, 
who just turned three, how fast his sweet baby days have passed!  

Hope you're enjoying a sweet summertime too! 
Love, Linda