Sun on sunflower: September’s season’s greetings
Why I garden:
To make bruschetta.
Basil and Shakespeare: making pesto today.
I harvested and dried thyme from my herb garden. This morning I painstakingly picked the leaves off the branches while I caught up on a few of my favorite podcasts. What you see represents two to three hands-on hours. Yep.
Curt (my husband) raised an eyebrow when the slow speed of the progress registered in his brain. Really, Babe? was what his face said. “You have NO IDEA of the preciousness of thyme,” was my curt reply. 🙂 I don’t see it as a waste of time to work on thyme.
This is year 2 of the thyme revolution. It’s a life-changer! If you have a shred of belief in aromatherapy, you might comprehend the fund of joy I receive when I unscrew this lid and smell my dried thyme. Especially in February. Because I am a show-and-tell girl down to my DNA, I have been known to make visitors take a whiff.
“That spice cabinet is amazing!” they say.
“Thank you,” I politely say. “Smell my thyme.”
Chives growing in my garden, February 12, 2016
Awake, Thou Wintry Earth is almost a life anthem. I came to Thomas Blackburn’s poem by way of Bach’s Cantata 129. When I heard it, I came to understand in a new way that spring is an annual demonstration of resurrection. Listening to this still gives me shivers. Singing it means I end up whispering to tell that dead is dead over a voice that is breaking.
I took a walk around my backyard this morning and was delighted to hear garlic and chives laughing at winter, death, decay.
to tell that death is dead.
4 -5 garlic cloves
3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup Parmesan cheese *
1/2 cup pine nuts * (when pine nuts cost the equivalent of gold nuggets, I use 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil *
Mince garlic in food processor.
Add basil and process.
Add cheese, nuts and salt.
Add olive oil in a stream.
I used to freeze basil in ice cube trays. Now I prefer snack-sized ziplock bags. A friend freezes hers in baby food jars. Unless you have a reason to use this all today, you must freeze pesto. You can keep it in the fridge in a container with a layer of olive oil on top. Air is the bad boyfriend to charming Pesto; she turns dark and ugly after long embraces with that bad boy.
Add pesto to pasta for a perfect side.
Add pesto to pizza sauce for a perfect sauce.
Add pesto to poultry for a savory main course.
Spread on crackers with sun-dried tomatoes and cream cheese.
(From Sheri’s comment, below: Add a dab of pesto to soup to make it amazing.)
Or just Google pesto recipes.
[Side bar: I learned the first year of marriage to always have the ingredients of a quick meal handy. Something easy to put together if you had unexpected guests for dinner. Back in the day, I shudder to say, tuna casserole was my go to dish. Maybe that’s why friends often had “other plans.” Pesto and pasta is an elegant dish to make on the spot.]
* I buy these at Costco or Trader Joe’s. I store the Parm in the freezer, pine nuts in the fridge.
:: :: ::
from oats (and friends and relations)…
12 cups rolled oats (whole or quick, your preference)
1 cup each, your choice:
(other grains per your taste. See note on fruit below.)
1 1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup honey
a glug of milk
a glug of vanilla
Microwave oil/honey mixture for three minutes.
Give it a swirl, and pour it over the oats.
Mix well. Then mix it again. And again.
Turn out onto Jelly-roll pan (a cookie sheet with lip) or onto Silpat. I line cookie sheets with parchment paper, but that is optional.
Bake in oven until deeply tanned, stirring every 15 minutes.
I buy oats in 25 pound bags; I get nuts at Costco or Trader Joe’s.
I just found a 2 pound bag of sliced almonds at Costco. Nice!
Opt: add dried fruit (raisins, Craisins, dried blueberries) AFTER baking. Trust me—after.
Opt: reduce oil and honey to 1 cup each. Just keep the proportion 1:1.
My greatest challenge with granola is baking it to perfection.
My original recipe said Bake 275° for 30 minutes. Eating raw oats does things to you.
Depending on my schedule and my patience, I’ll either bake it at 350° with a close eye or I’ll bake it at 250° until I can smell it, then start stirring in 15 minute intervals. The edges cook faster than the middle, so mix the granola around the cookie sheet. What I’ve found is that you wait and wait and wait…and when it turns perfect you have a 5 minute window. Then it burns. I’m pretty much an expert in how to burn granola. Step 1: Check your Facebook…
Sheri, in the comments section, makes granola in the crockpot.
That’s how I’m making it from now on.
From this (frozen elk burger)
Yum, yum, YUH-um!
:: :: ::
From these overgrown zucchini from my garden…
…to monster muffins in the freezer.
con·ver·sion (kn-vûrzhn, -shn) n.
3. Something that is changed from one use, function, or purpose to another.