Tag Archives: food

Pesto makes everything better

2 Aug

When we started planning our garden, the smells of the plants was a high priority for me. And boy do I love basil! So, we may have planted more basil than we really need, just because it is pretty and it smells so nice!

Fast forward a few months, and boy do we have basil!! So, we looked at how we can best use it. Pesto! Voila!

I thought to myself, “man, we have a lot of basil! We should make a double batch!” My dear husband, who is much more spatial than myself, apparently thought to himself, “Man! We have a lot of basil! We need to make 8 times the recipe!”

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So, we made a lot of pesto. We froze some of it, and we’ve given some of it away. Turns out, pesto makes a great gift when your sweet next door neighbor has fallen and is really hurting! (Basil is an anti-inflammatory.) It also turns out that when you give pesto away, people come up with really creative ways of using it! Pesto burgers, anyone? I hear they are quite tasty!

We had our inaugural pesto meal with some kale stuffed ravioli. Yummy!!

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The scary thing is, even with all that pesto giving and pesto eating, we still have tons of pesto! And the basil? You can’t really even tell that it’s been touched! Eek! Guess what’s for dinner? You got it! Pesto! With basil on the side!

The recipe we used is below. It is really tasty! And, we are always looking for excuses to break out the “robot culiniaire” (what most people call a food processor, Mike takes as a perfectly good excuse to break out his French vocabulary). 🙂

It is mostly based on Mark Bittman’s Genovese Pesto recipe from “How to Cook Everything.” if you haven’t looked into that book or the app, I’d also highly recommend it!

Genovese Pesto

2 cups loosely packed basil, rinsed and dried
Salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2+ cup EVOO
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Combine the basil, salt, nuts, and 1/2 the oil in the food processor or blender. Scrape it down if you need to. Add the rest of the oil gradually as you process away.
2. Store in the fridge for a week or so, or in the freezer for several months. Add the cheese just before you serve it.
3. Enjoy!

Food Truck Fiesta

15 Jul

You know what it takes to bring people together? Barring tragedy, food and fresh air are two of the best excuses around for the people of my fair city to come together. This weekend’s food truck festival was obviously the most auspicious melding of exactly that: the most popular food trucks in Atlanta and the city’s most popular park. I got sucked into a book and sort of forgot about it for a while, so we didn’t make it down there until the last couple of hours of the party. But let me tell you… it was a party! The bad news was that by the time we looked around, several of the trucks were out of food, or at least out of their specialty. 😦 That’s no fun for anybody, but it made for some people’s perfect excuse to throw a pity party. In spite of these few (who know who they are, I’m sure), it was a lovely time.

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Yoli’s Street Food – home of what my husband called “a darn good Cuban sandwich”

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Banged Up and Mashed: so colorful, so popular!

After we’d filled up our tummies, we strolled around the park for a bit, discovering this little gem! Its a garden, used by and for teachers to help educate wee lads and lasses about the growing process! How cool is that?!? The Education Garden, which is sponsored by Chipotle, is an all-organic garden that teaches kids not only about the growing process, and sustainability, but also  organic techniques for managing some of the problems that pop up in gardens and what composting is and how it works. I read that the garden is an outdoor classroom for more than 800 kids in a year, and I’m ready to turn back the clocks and be a kid again!

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From seed to fruit, this garden is busting out all over!

The last portion of our walk before the belt line (aka the walk back to the car) was another garden area featuring fruit trees. I love to watch trees get trained!

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Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s most well-known park, and it comes with quite a storied history. The land that is now Piedmont Park was originally purchased for the meager price of $450, although that was back in 1822, and that was probably a lot of money back then. Since then, it has gone from being a forest to hosting the Cotton States and International Expo in 1895. Following the fair, there was apparently some rig-a-ma-rolling as the owners tried to sell the park land to the city. The city’s reluctance, for those of you in Atlanta, was due in part to the fact that Piedmont was considered too far away from the city! Can you believe that? The city sure has grown around it in the present time. They eventually decided to buy it in the early 1900s, and since then it has grown into what it is today.

Garden’s Progress

6 Jul

It is almost unspeakable how much joy this small little bit of dirt and seed have given me in the last 3 months. From the time I saw the first evidence of germination, through all the dirty fingernails (sometimes I just start messing with them before I think to get the garden gloves on), the delicious basil, to my first squash casserole (and I have never been a big veggie casserole kind of girl, but this was out of sight; it’s another post, actually; it was THAT good). I’m trying not to dwell too much on the actual fruit of the garden but on the sheer life of it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say how much I love it that we have actually based WHOLE MEALS on what has come from our yard!

These 1st 2 pictures were snapped on 28 April, 2012:

Ready for planting

tomatoes and basil, grown from seed together, and some became inseparable!

The following pictures were taken today, 6 July 2012: Amazing!!

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Squash (up front) and lettuce in the rear
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Mint (up front) and imperial black eggplant in the rear

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Basil (can you believe we eat this almost every night we cook at home?!?) with an errant tomato plant that seeded itself among the basil (it felt a little caprese coming on, too!)

Roma tomatoes (up front), Peacevine Cherry tomatoes in the rear)

Cherry tomatoes, almost reporting for action!

Perfect Date Night

4 Jul

My husband can say the sweetest things to me. One of my favorites occurred early last week when pretty much out of the blue he turned to me on the couch and said something like, “I love hanging out with you. I’d rather do nothing with you than something with anyone else.” Isn’t that the best? I guess the only problem with that is that we still don’t manage to squeeze in many date nights. I’ve decided to make that a much higher priority going forward. What do you do for date nights? How often do you plan them?

We started off the night with dinner at a local “gastropub,” and this one was a keeper (in parentheses because they refer to themselves that way, but its really not as fancy as all that)! It’s called the “Bookhouse Pub” (which just sounds like it would be right up my alley). There was a wee wait for a spot to sit, so we had a drink to get started. When I saw “Hell or High Watermelon” beer on the

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I can imagine that many people would disagree with the following statement, but I really don’t consider myself a picky eater. That being said, I don’t like potato chips or bleu cheese. That sweet talker of a husband, though, convinced me

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After this tasty beginning, we ventured to the Botanical Garden, which is my very favorite place in the whole world of local options. One night each week during the summer, they hold an event they call “social irrigation”: Cocktails in the Garden. This summer, they are also hosting a sculpture exhibition. Sculpture is so powerful to me, even when I don’t “get it.” Throughout the garden, though, there were many really cool pieces, nicely set off by the lights.

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We wandered throughout the Garden, doing a little people watching, a little star-gazing, and a little flower gaping, and as we approached the Orchid House, we found a small exhibition of other art works, including this piece by my lovely friend Jenny! It’s so cool to see your friends do well!! Jenny is amazingly talented (not well displayed on my phone camera picture, I’m afraid).

My kind of tea party (e.g., this is not a political post) + Cranberry Scone recipe

3 Jun

As the blog-o-sphere as rightly noted, there is nothing like a Diamond Jubilee to provide the excuse for a good party. A lovely friend of mine – Jenny (and admittedly, she is more of a royal-stalker than I) decided that the Queen’s Jubilee was the reason she needed to host a tea party. Is there anything more lovely than gathering with your girlfriends, wearing a cute  sun dress, and eating gorgeous pastries? I’m not sure that there is anything better.

The tea was tasty (and beautifully served), the muffins were moist, and the petit fours were perfect. The tradition of tea supposedly comes from the need to supply food to hard-working souls who struggled to maintain the energy from one meal to another, so sugar and caffeine and foods like pastries or sandwiches hit the spot. Our little party didn’t have anything to do with sustenance, but it was a delightful way to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. It inspired me, as well, to look at other tea-inspired recipes in honor of 60 years of Queen Elizabeth. Scones are biscuit-like bread hailing from Scotland and SW England, that are either sweet or savory. Here are my favorites – almost Alton Brown’s Cranberry Scones:

(makes 12)

2 c all-purpose flour (+ a little more for the work surface)

4 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/3 c granulated sugar (optional: add more for topping)

4 T butter, in small pieces

2 T shortening

3/4 c cream

1 egg

3/4-1 c cranberries (I like my scones to be fruity, so I tend to add more)

1. Heat oven to 375.

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

3. Cut in butter and shortening.

4. In a separate bowl, combine cream and egg, and then add to the dry ingredients.

5. Stir in fruit.

6. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and then roll out the dough. Cut the dough with a biscuit-sized cutter or into the scone-shaped triangles. (sprinkle with additional sugar if you are adding that.)

7. Cook for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (unless you like them hot, like I do, in which case, serve immediately).

A Paean to the pancake

25 May

A pancake has a certain Je ne sais quoi that spells happiness. I love them. A weekend just isn’t the same without them. That’s not to say that I can’t live without them, but why would I? 🙂

Last summer, I found pancake perfection. At a local restaurant in Bay City, MI, Heather’s (where they bill themselves as a specialty foods restaurant), they have mastered all that is the perfect pancake. Here’s the kicker: they are baked!

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Even though we returned for lunch today, I couldn’t resist the pancakes. I really love this place though- friendly and cheerful with a sense of humor. What could be better?

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Homemade, (almost) home grown Caprese

25 May

One of my goal this year is to grow food we can eat. To that end, we started a bunch of plants from seed (there is a post brewing on that), including sweet Genoese basil and a couple of varieties of tomatoes (including “strawberry tomatoes,” the likes of which I’d never heard).

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Mike and I are also very fond of homemade cheese, and we made some super- easy mozzarella last night. Our tomatoes are not yet in bloom, but our basil sure is sweet!

Cheese is a lot easier to make than most people think. It’s really just a gallon of milk, some citric acid, some rennet, and some salt. Heat it up a bit, stir it a little, wait a minute or 2, stretch it, chill it, and you’ve got your very own homemade mozzarella. We got started with a cheese making kit, which I’d highly recommend. We are soon going to embark on making hard cheeses, but cheeses like mozzarella are super easy, and even tastier than they are easy. Honestly, the hardest part is finding milk that isn’t too pasteurized (but the Buford Hwy. Farmer’s Market is another post all to itself!).