Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stretching summer into winter.

We've mostly been getting great weather, but when we started getting chilly nights a while back, I harvested a bunch of basil and made up some pesto. In part, I wanted to see how useful the immersion blender was. It has replaced both my blender and my food processor, so I was hoping it wouldn't let me down. Fortunately it worked perfectly. I made this pesto with toasted pine nuts and walnuts, slow roasted garlic, olive oil, and fresh shaved parmesan. Delicious. Most of it is in little packets in the freezer.

The basil continued to thrive, though, so when we had a forecasted over-night freeze last month, I had to do an emergency harvest. I googled "how to preserve basil" and then got to work. First I made five logs of herb butters to freeze and use for cooking: basil butter, rosemary-lemon butter, sage-chive butter, parsley-lemon butter and tarragon-lemon butter. Next up, herb salts - you just chop the herbs and mix them with coarse ground salt. My sister had given me a bag of some sort of French sea salt, so I used it. I now have containers of basil salt and rosemary salt. And then, I cut the rest of the basil, parsley and also some oregano and brought it in. I set a big pot of water boiling and started immersing the herbs a bunch at a time into the hot water until they wilted and then into ice water to preserve the color. My apologies to the little green caterpillar who rode in on the basil. Sometimes camouflage is the opposite of protective. After stripping off the blanched leaves, I froze them on sheets of paper towels, so they can be used a little at a time. I also harvested the remaining chives, cut them into pieces, and froze them.
Not all my efforts were productive. I decided to roast the last few tomatoes and then sat down to read. Periodically I'd note the pleasant campfire-like smell in my house and Do. Absolutely. Nothing. La la la, my house smells like it's burning. Until I suddenly remembered and ran into my kitchen.  I'm a fair cook but I am also a bit scatterbrained.

27 comments:

  1. My basil got stalky so I just threw it in the woods. I'm going to grow some indoors from seed after the holidays. If it weren't for washer and dryer dings and oven timers, I'd be lalalaing all day long.

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    1. Mine did that last year and I discovered you have to keep cutting it back all summer.

      Good point, I should have set a timer!

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  2. I LOOOOOVE pesto. Very cool that you are going to have summer flavors all year long. When I first saw that last photo, I thought those were mushrooms :)

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    1. The do kind of look like mushrooms, which would have fit with some of my previous posts.

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  3. haha...glad you did not burn the house down...ouch on the caterpilar as well...sounds like he got the cold shoulder...i guess they dont have shoulders though...i like basil though....

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    1. What that caterpillar got was scalded. Guess he liked basil enough to die for it.

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  4. Okay, do you know what's TOTALLY ironic? I am sitting here this very second reading your post and eating pasta mixed with vegetables, covered in BASIL PESTO - I kid you not! But I'm absolutely sure the pesto you made is MUCH, MUCH better than the one I'm eating because I got mine from a JAR.

    I ADORE pesto because I ADORE basil. I think it's my favorite herb - the smell and the taste are heavenly.

    And you had me laughing at your last photo and words.

    " La la la, my house smells like it's burning. Until I suddenly remembered and ran into my kitchen."

    CRACKED ME UP!

    And listen, you are not a FAIR cook, you're an excellent cook. I couldn't make 1/4 of the things you make. And everything you make looks so GOOD!

    X

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    1. That's some nice synchronicty there! Basil does have a very rich taste to it - I like it even chopped up and added to eggs. And thanks!

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  5. I still have a basil plant in my kitchen but it pales compared to your efforts . You are darn impressive!

    Love
    kj

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    1. I never can get them to grow well indoors, but the outdoor ones thrive and I hate to let them go to waste.

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  6. The temperature has dipped over here too. 6 inches of snow I believe.

    Then again, what would I know? I'm always in the basement where it's a constant temperature of "cold".

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    1. We shouldn't get real snow for a while yet. Basements are really only pleasant, I find, when it's hot out.

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  8. I was saying I get so mad when I forget what I was working on in the kitchen so I take a timer with me when I leave the room. (Only I said "I get so made" and I really dislike when I type poorly) Those butters you made sound delicious!

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    1. I should do that with a timer. I've never made herbed butters before except for tarragon. I'm looking forward to trying them out.

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  9. Love pesto, and not just on pasta. I put it on halibut for the last minute of cooking, on garlic bread, and scallops. I've never used baked garlic, I use raw.
    As to forgetting things on the stove....been there, many times, once, alas, with a king salmon fillet.

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    1. I've made scallops with pesto. Delicious. I've always used raw garlic before, but I wanted to try the mellower taste of roasted this time.

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  10. Sounds like great projects; I do envy your cooking skills! (Not enough to do something about it though, haha.) "La la la my house smells like it's burning" ... why do I relate to that so much more than the rest of the post? :)

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    1. I like to think that many of us have the capacity for being scatterbrained!

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  11. That pesto looks yummy! We don't get pine nuts here and so I use peanuts instead and coriander instead of basil. You can, if can take it, add some green chillies to it.

    Scatter brained? Welcome to the club.

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    1. Coriander is what we call cilantro, right? I can't eat the stuff - it has a flavor I don't like.

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  12. oh, i am glad to know the immersion blender worked well for making pesto. i will have to remember that for next year. i love mine for smoothies and soup but never thought of it for pesto.

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    1. So much easier to clean up than a food processor!

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  13. I am ever a fan of garden/preserving posts. Making the herbed salts was genius--now you just have to remember to use them.

    Byron made a couple gallon bags of pesto for us...of course he did this months ago, back when the basil was still growing.

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    1. I need to find recipes for them, but I definitely plan to use them.

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  14. I am often accused of not paying attention when I'm cooking. Watching a pot waiting to boil is boring.

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