How-to Pesto 🌱


My neighbor just got a bunch of really nice landscaping done on the side of her house that I can’t see. The other night, she brought me over to show me all the basil and mint and thyme and wonderfulness that she had put in. It’s not all edible, but most of it is.

Anyway, she said, “take all the basil you want!” referring to a holy basil bush that was roughly the size of a kitchen table. I said that I would because I was seeing my mom for brunch the next day and she loves holy basil. Well, apparently, mom has enough of it, too.

This morning, I got a text that neighbor had left some on the back porch. I replied that I looked forward to turning it into pesto.

That bottom board is 14″x11″.

After 136 years of picking leaves off stems, I ended up filling the 2 qt. Pampered Chef mixing bowl.

Lotsa basil!

I cleaned up a bit and assessed the pesto ingredient needs, pulling the lemon juice, pine nuts, and parm out of the fridge. I decided to use EVOO instead of another fancy oil. I popped three garlic cloves off the head and peeled them.

Since the food processor will be busy making swift work of the basil and pine nuts, it’s best if you use the smaller side of the cheese grater for the parm.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any action shots because I was mostly worried about how I was going to get all of this pesto made without it taking another 136 years.

I scooped two loose handfuls into the Hamilton Beach 8 Cup Food Processor, sprinkled some lemon juice, tossed in a garlic clove, poured in about 1/8th of a cup of pine nuts, and did a swoosh of oil. These steps were repeated three times until I ran out of basil and did one last spin with salt and pepper added.

Tame and perfect.

I haven’t made pesto in a long time, and don’t care at all for the jarred variety (it’s too oily and salty). This turned out, if I may say so, perfect.

Cubes for freezing.

Added bonus: it was exactly enough to fill one of my silicone ice cube trays.

Before I cleaned off the cutting boards, I harvested enough basil seeds to plant next year with our bucket tomatoes.

Basil Pesto

Prep Time45 mins
Mix Time10 mins
Servings: 15 recipes

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 2 qt basil leaves
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  • 1/2 c Parmesan grated, small
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In batches, combine a third of everything in an 8-cup food processor three times until all the basil is incorporated.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste (remembering that you're probably going to put this into a dish with more salt and pepper).
  • Scoop into a freezer-safe container of your choice.

How-to Corn 🌽

Sweet corn stands on back highways are the epitome of summertime in Wisconsin. Ears and ears stuffed in a brown paper bag for $6. You’d be silly not to get some, cook, and freeze it for January when the mere thought of wearing shorts gives ya chills.

Woodman’s has three-for-$1 right now, so we’ve been enjoying the treat each Sunday night with chicken on the grill.

Put all three ears (why are they called ‘ears‘ anyway?) in the microwave and set it for six minutes. When it beeps, grab the ears with a hot pad and lay on a cutting board with the business end ready to cut.

The “business end” is opposite the strands at the top.

More about those strands, or “hairs”: there’s one strand for every kernel on the cob, so that’s a bit of an indication of how many healthy kernels there are, hiding in there.

After you slice the end off, grab the other end (with a hot pad), and slowly squeeze the ear out of the husk.

Squeeeeeeeze.
Keep on keepin’ on!

Pushing the cob out keeps the hairs from sticking around, which makes it so much easier to eat.

Mostly strand-free.

Butter and salt (if you’re like the fella), plate. Crunch.

How-to Mango 🥭

I mentioned in my avocado post that I wished someone would have told me how to mango much earlier in life. If you’re in the same boat, please keep on reading.

The first tip I learned was to locate the dimple. This tells you where the pit lays inside, in relation to the rest of the fruit.

Pit-dimple.

After you locate the pit, make two parallel cuts on either side, removing the “cheeks” to which they’re so fondly referred.

This is where it starts to get frustrating… because you just spent $2 on a mango and all you get are two little cheeks of meat! It’s true. Which is why I try to enjoy them when they’re in season.

Take a cheek in your hand and make four slices down the length of the inside, not cutting through the skin. Turn it 90° and repeat.

Flip the cheek inside out and enjoy some cubes of yum.

Mango!

How-to Avo 🥑

I remember the first time I figured out how to deal with a mango. It wasn’t that long ago, and I wish that I’d had read someone’s post much earlier in life. This is my version of that non-existent post but in avocado form.

You start by cupping the aguacate with your non-dominant hand and, with a reasonably sharp knife, slowly slice through the thick, outer skin from the top until you hit the pit.

The initial cut.

Then spin the fruit around in whichever direction is more sensible to you and keep the knife against the pit while you slice the fruit in half around the longer edge (I’m pretty sure I roll mine away from me).

After you have a clean slice all around, set down the knife and grab ahold each half of the fruit and twist it “open”.

Keeping the pitted half in your non-dominant hand, grab the knife again and give the pit a good smack with the blade, cutting far enough into the it to get some leverage.

Pit extraction.

You should now be able to twist the pit using the knife to turn. Oddly, I think I do this counter-clockwise. Pop the pit out and into the composter.

Take a spoon and make horizontal cuts across the meat. This will help scoop it out in edible pieces.

Now slide the spoon between the skin and the meat and shimmy it around the circumference in order to get the yummy avo goodness onto a plate.

It may not be pretty, but it was delicious.

There. Now you can avocado.