Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pesto with Everything


One of the musicians in the band my husband plays in, The Bru, is an organic farmer in his day job, supplying organic salad and herbs to restaurants in the area. This man plays bagpipes, guitar, various sizes of tin whistle, harmonica, and electric bass, all well. I have no idea where he finds time to practice them all, being a farmer. Seems like most of our friends are either musicians or dancers. Guess that's not too surprising, considering how we spend most of our spare time. Anyway, hubby was over there for rehearsal last week, and came home with a big bag of basil. It was just past its sell-by date, but still perfectly use-able.

Not-very-coincidentally, last weekend we decided we didn't want to go through the summer without being able to make pesto. So we headed out on a hunt for small kitchen appliances. Found a food processor, small, simple operation, and on sale! Then I saw a blender, glass jar, 600 watt motor, in a retro-style beehive shape with one toggle switch for Pulse, Off, and On. Fruit and buttermilk smoothies, chocolate malts...Mmm! We are set for summer goodies.

We had pasta with pesto sauce for dinner twice this week, then again last night. Hubby left today for a week-long violin-making course. He'll be gone for his birthday, but home just in time for Father's Day. So last night I made dinner to celebrate. Steamed yellow squash, Butanese red rice, and orange roughy fillets, pan-fried in olive oil, then topped with our homemade organic basil pesto sauce and grated Parmesan. MMmmmmmm! Then after dinner, he made more pesto sauce, so I'll have some to use while he's gone. It's not that fun cooking for myself, but the pesto will help.

I also have a big bag of rhubarb from one of my work colleagues. He recently moved to a house in an established neighborhood with a 15-yr-old rhubarb plant in the back garden. We had lunch the other day and afterwards I drove over to his house so he could cut some rhubarb for me. This plant is huge! You could use the leaves for fan dancing. I could easily picture it as part of the jungle undergrowth while dinosaurs grazed nearby. I left with a grocery bag full of giant sticks of rhubarb, some more than two feet long and as big around as my wrist!

I used 6 cups of it, cut up, to make stewed rhubarb, and I still have at least that much left uncooked. I'm thinking of trying a variation on zucchini bread, using rhubarb. I'd make a cobbler, but I'd never be able to eat it all before it went stale.

It's only early June and already I'm having to deal with vegetable gluts. Heaven only knows how I'll manage with the tomato and arugula gluts still to come! But the one glut I won't be having is strawberries. I have five established strawberry plants that have been flowering for weeks, and I have yet to see any fruit. I didn't pay much attention at first, since I was busy getting the rest of the garden going. Then one afternoon this week as I walked out to the veg garden, about 400 yards away from the house, I saw quail running for cover from my veg garden. Upon closer inspection, I saw lots of pecked-over remains of strawberries still attached to the plants.

Now baby quail are probably the cutest baby birds ever, tied for first place with ducklings - but this does not excuse strawberry stealing. So today I put a net over my berry plants and weighed down the edges. Hopefully I'll start seeing actual ripe berries sometime soon! I'll be netting the raspberries next. The blackbirds and starlings like those. I only hope the quail don't like beans as well!

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