In my part of the world, September welcomes an excess of riches at Farmers Markets across the state. Whenever I see lima beans, I’m reminded of a traditional stew of the Indian-Americans made from corn kernels, lima beans, and tomatoes. Living in the wintry climate of Ann Arbor, it’s a luxury using all fresh vegetables for this particular recipe and I try to make a batch each September.
Carrots with Issues.
Recently I had a friend of 30-plus years come to visit, which included a trip to the Farmers Market. We revel in the ridiculous, and these dysfunctional carrots kept us laughing through the day.
But back to the following recipe. Not a fan of okra? Substitute it with some fresh sliced Japanese eggplant (the long skinny variety) or squash– just don’t cook those vegetables as long as you would cook the okra. No fresh lima beans or okra? Just use frozen, following packaging cooking times.
Every year I make a big batch of pesto and freeze it. I’ve just come down from an agonizing month of final run edits for my 3rd novel, and don’t have it in me to measure ingredients. And I sure as hell won’t go the traditional way of concocting this herbaceous bliss by blending my ingredients in a mortar and pestle (hence, the name).
Labor Day weekend is allowing me time to spend a few hours putting up pesto, insuring a bad winter day will be brightened by this taste-of-summer treat. So the clock’s ticking and I’m moving fast.
A bridal bouquet of basil. Oh, the fragrance–my aromatherapy preference!
At the farmers market today, I purchased six huge bunches of fresh basil. (My tiny plot failed because of Michigan’s cold and rainy spring.) After trimming the leaves from the stems, and washing the leaves twice, I pureéd them in my processor with lots and lots of extra virgin olive oil. (All told, I used a quart of Trader Joe’s Greek Kalamata extra virgin olive oil. Of course, a good Italian or Spanish oil is fine, too.)
I’ve a mish-mash of assorted nuts, mostly pine nuts (my favorite for pestos), but I wanted to use up the stragglers. Soooo, I fattened up the pile of pine nuts with almonds and pecans and toasted the lot in a dry pan to enhance their innate nuttiness. After that, into the food processor they went. I pulsed the batch several times to ensure they were finely chopped, but not overly so.
The basil/evo purée, chopped nuts, Reggiano and sauteéd garlic–– all ready to be combined to taste!
In that same nut pan, I sautéed halved buds from two fat cloves of garlic in EVO until fragrant. Most recipes use raw garlic but, of late, I prefer removing their bite and enhancing their sweetness with a bit of heat. Process the cloves with the oil and pour into a bowl.
All that’s left is the Parmesan, and this is where I splurge. You can find loads of cello-wrapped American-made wedges of Parmesan in USA grocery stores everywhere, and they’re less than half the price of true Parmesan. But the flavor is incomparable and doesn’t hold a candle to the real stuff. It makes or breaks a pesto, at least for this girl, so it’s worth it. Two-plus pounds of stamped (that seal of authenticity) grated Parmigiano Reggiano did the job.
I also like having frozen pesto cubes to add as last-minute seasonings to winter soups and paninis.
Each ingredient has its own bowl and––not wanting one ingredient to overtake another––I mix them all to taste, adding kosher salt, at the end, to taste. Voila–I’ve twelve snack-sized baggies stuffed with pesto. Better yet, omit the disposable plastics and use Tupperware &/or ice cube trays. I also used a mini cube tray, which makes it easy to add a last minute flavor bomb to cold-weather soups, such as minestrone.
See me doing the happy dance come February, when my book is released and I can thaw a bag of summer goodness to add to a dish of pasta!
Speaking of, the cover and title of the novel will be revealed in October, and the publication date is set for February 5th. You readers will be the first to know everything, and I’ll put you at the top of the list for my advanced reader copy giveaways (beginning in October) for the book.
If you want a bona-fide recipe for pesto, click here. I wrote the recipe for the newspaper ten years ago, almost to the day. The recipe takes a deeper dive into the world of magnificent pestos!
But that was yesterday. Hopefully, a bad dream. Today, the weather is dry, the sun is shining and I await my family, excited to spend a few days with my brood. Right now I’m sitting beside my long time pal and confidant, the BIG GREEN EGG, who is looking forward to lots of action this summer.
I’d rather be looking at you (-:
This is a recipe (aka: Beer Can Chicken or Drunken Chicken) I’ve made dozens of times. It’s perfect for feeding ten or so folks (depending on the size of your birds) and leftovers make incredible chicken sandwiches. However, because of the special equipment needed (Beer Can apparatus and Smoker) I’ve never blogged about it.
Any old can filled with water works fine!
Through the years, I’ve taught, dozens–maybe even hundreds–of cooking classes to audiences. I loved it! It was great seeing the groups reaction to my methods while answering questions and then passing out samples of food.
But this time I’ll be talking to my iPhone. How lonely it will be not to see your faces. Soon enough, I’ll have to adapt to the latest technology that will enable all of your faces to be on my screen.
Apple and hickory chips for chicken.
I’m wondering if technology will ever advance to the place where I can hack off a piece of chicken and present it to you via my hard drive? I wouldn’t be surprised.
But in the meantime, I’d love to extend an invitation to you to join the Blue Sky Book Chat.
By the way, I’ve found it a waste to squander perfectly good cans of beer when smoking these birds. I’ve tried it, and to my palate, it really didn’t enhance their flavor. Between the marinade, rub and smoke there’s enough going on.
However, I love the technique of smoking the birds upright having the interior steamed by hot water in any old can. It seems to keep the birds moist. If you’d like to smoke chickens using this technique, this apparatus appears to be a good one. (The one I use is obsolete.)
Time saving trick: When hurried, I marinate birds in a bottled dressing and use a pre-made rub. Not as wonderful as homemade, but pretty dang good. That said, a rub is a wonderful vehicle for using up less-than-fresh spices!
Taste buds prickle; wanderlust triggered. An Argentine barbecue (asado)
enticed me to Patagonia. A friend gave me a vial of ground sumac berries--4 months later I was
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trips and favorite associated recipes. Browse my travel recipes...
Here are ideas gleaned from others that speak to me;
where I highlight projects that bring friends, neighborhoods, and communities together. For me,
complimentary food makes the project and event more fun. Browse my projects and related recipes...