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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Basil “Pesto”

The reason I don’t like calling this sauce a true basil pesto is that it’s missing a main ingredient.  I don’t add pine nuts.  I’ve tried pesto with toasted pine nuts, with a small amount of pine nuts, with walnuts even (which is good!) but was still not happy.  The nuts seem to take away the from the flavor of the basil, which is the showcase of this sauce.  So I just stay away from them. I use this to make creamy pesto dressing, pesto bread, pesto lasagna, pizza…  so I figure I better post this recipes as the base to many!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup of olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan or Italian cheese blend
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Pick all the basil leaves from the stems. Inspect your basil to make sure there aren’t any critters living on there. I had a bad experience with aphids on basil once. Gently rinse of the leaves and dry on a paper towel.  You don’t want to bruise the leaves.

Stuff all your basil, garlic, salt, and olive oil into a blender or food processor.

Blend for 20-30 seconds or until he garlic is completely chopped up and you have a bright green slurry.  It may take longer than 30 second depending on the blender you’re using, and it may need more olive oil. Drizzle oil in as needed up to 2/3 cup of olive oil.

Once your garlic and basil are all chopped up, add in cheese and melted butter.

And pulse 5-6 times to blend the cheese.  Store refrigerated in a mason jar (the glass isn’t porous and

doesn’t stain) but make sure the top is completely covered by a thin layer of olive oil to prevent spoiling.

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I love the smell of fresh majoram. I have a thriving patch of it outside. It’s one of the herbs that I brush when I walk by just to smell it on my hands. I recently noticed that my one of my kiddo’s broccoli plants was ready to be harvested, and knew exactly what I was going to do with it. Not that she wasn’t telling me exactly what she wanted me to make with it anyway.  Yep, ordered around by a two-year old. That’s me!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped (you can include stems and leaves, I do!)
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (chop those leaves in too!!)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh majoram or 1-1/2 tsp dried majoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 4 cups chicken broth (beef if you’d like a richer flavor or veggie for my vegetarian friends)
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 2/3 cup of shredded parmesan or shredded Italian cheese blend OR
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1-2/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • pepper to taste

Put chopped broccoli and cauliflower into steamer basket, put it in a pot, and steam until soft but not overdone, about 10-12 minutes. The broccoli should be about this color:

I would normally chop the broccoli and cauliflower up smaller, but I had a kiddo bugging me about soup.

Pull out the steamer basket and set it aside, then pour out the liquid in the bottom. Or use it in the soup, just set it aside.  I have.  It’s good stuff.  Use the same pot to cook your soup in, which equals less dishes, which in turn equals me happy.

Melt your butter in the pot,

I’m sure I didn’t need to include this picture, but I am a dairy addict, and look how pretty that melted butter looks!

Now add in your onion and celery

and cook until soft but not browned, about 7 minutes.

Add the broccoli, cauliflower, and flour to the celery mixture and stir well to make sure the flour is well blended. Then add majoram (If using fresh, strip the leaves from the stem), bay leaf, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the pot.

and give another good stir.  Pour in the broth, and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pull out the bay leaf and puree the soup in a food processor, blender or with a hand-held blender (mine went kaput a few months back), using whatever is easiest for you.

Then pour puree back into the pot, and make sure your stove heat is set on low. The soup should look something like this:

Notice it still has texture? YUM!

Pour in the cream and the cheese,

and stir until the cheese is melted. Then eat up!! I don’t think I could ever eat a plain broccoli soup again. The majoram enhances the soup flavor so well.  Feel free to omit the cauliflower and use only broccoli.  It’s just as delicious!!!

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I’m feeling the pressure to wrap-up a couple pending projects I’ve been working on. The first is a corset for a customer of mine. I’ve been working on it for a while not only because it is detailed but also because it took me close to two months to get a replacement part for my machine.  I’ve completely lost the momentum I had when I started the project, and I need to get back on track. The second is pruning back a Bradford pear tree that has gotten out of control in my backyard. The thing is close to 50 feet tall, which is ridiculous in my tiny backyard. The good thing is that both projects have been started and are midway to being finished. The bad is that both need to be finished by the end of this weekend. That’s TWO days people!!!! And of course, there are other obligations for this weekend. I see a big “NOT going to happen” in my future.

More stuff has emerged in the garden, and that is AWESOME!!!! I now have those zucchini, carrots and bunching onions I had previously wrote about popping up.  And even my rhubarb, the one I thought had rotted away and died, has managed to survive even after I had tilled up that area.  A stalk came up today!! Go figure. Nature is wonderful.

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HA!                      HA HA!          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

One of the best parts of gardening (besides harvesting and preserving and eating and well, everything!)  (OK, not everything… weeding sucks.  And thinning. That’s no party either.) is seeing the first seedlings pop up in the garden bed.  The lettuces, spinach, swiss chard, cucumbers and the beets are ALL sprouting!!  HEEEHEEE!! Cut to me doing a little jig in front of my 9′ x 6′ plot. If you can call it that.  No matter!  I have sprouts, MY garden has sprouted!!! Now if the only the zucchini, carrots, green onions and potatoes would come up… so exciting! I’m telling you, to me it’s like opening presents. Thank goodness for square foot gardening, or I wouldn’t have been able to wrap my mind around growing so much on such at tiny piece of dirt.  Now if I can just keep the kids and the dog out of that area for a while.  Yeah, I can’t see that happening either.

I found this little gal hanging out on some mint that has gotten pretty unruly, as people who have grown mint know, is normal. It pretty much takes over, so if you aren’t going to be vigilant, don’t plant it, unless you really like it. When my dog was a pup, we had a large patch and that’s were she would like to go to do her business.  Yeah sorry, I went there, but it’s true. Whenever she came around smelling like spearmint, we knew what she had been recently up to. Ugh. The smell of it triggered that memory for a long time. I’m so happy it doesn’t anymore, since I LOVE mint. I apologize again, wholeheartedly. Moving on…

There have been quite a few ladybug sightings in our yard since it has warmed up,  and I’m thinking of picking up a praying mantis ootheca (oh yeah, it’s a word) from the garden store to add to my beneficial bugs list.  Not to mention they look cool. Really cool. Heh-heh, I like bugs.  Except for gnats, and mosquitoes… well that’s a whole another list!

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