It’s Pesto Time

One of my favorite parts of summer is getting to use all of the fresh herbs that we have growing in our herb bed but my favorite of all is making fresh Pesto. Michael and I both LOVE to eat it and this year has provided a bumper crop of Basil so today we spent a few hours making SEVENTEEN batches of Pesto to freeze for later dates.

This year we planted 5 Basil plants….3 from our local Lowe’s and 2 special ones from a nearby nursery. It has proven to be a good mix as the special ones don’t have as much aroma but definitely put on more leaves. When we mix the two it makes a perfect blend.

Here is the before and after of the bushes……

I felt a bit like Santa walking in with my big bundle of basil……

…… try saying that three times over!!

After washing and spinning the leaves……

…..Michael takes over with the preparation. The recipe is simple…..Basil, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Pine Nuts and Olive Oil…..

and he has the technique perfected…..

We mix all of the batches together at the end…..

…..and then split them into meal-size portions…..

It was a good result from a few hours of work…..


The Joys of Hosting International Students

We have been having so much fun with Qingru and Luhan over this last week and on Saturday they told us that they wanted to cook dinner for us…..dumplings!!!

We first had to do some shopping so started out at an Asian Food store so that they could find Garlic Chives (Chinese Chives) and Long Beans.

Then it was on to Walmart.  I had a wonderful time watching the girls as they ran up and down aisles, looking at everything and comparing the price to what they would have found in China……


At 4:00 pm they said that it was time to start making the food so we headed off to the Kitchen and started pulling out bowls, woks, and seemingly every other dish in the whole house!!!

Qingru started out by making the dumpling batter.   She didn’t measure anything, but just used various amounts of flour, salt and water and a WHOLE lot of elbow grease as she kneaded and kneaded the dough…..


She put it aside to rest and started cleaning the long beans and getting them ready to steam…..


….and washing and chopping the Chinese Chives….


Luhan began by thinly slicing the beef…..


….and making a marinade of Soy Sauce, Peanut Oil, Corn Starch and pepper.  She marinated the beef for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Qingru scrambled some eggs and added them to the chopped chives…..


And, Luhan chopped the steamed Long Beans and added  some chopped green onions and the ground pork…..


At this point there was a bit of conversation because Qingru cooked the pork before adding it and Luhan added it raw.  We decided that raw was fine.

Now came the really interesting part of the cooking.  Qingru started working on the dumplings…..first getting the dough ready…….


…..and then rolling the dumpling wrappers out……

At this point, Qingru told us that this was a basic skill that every girl should have and that a prospective Mother-In-Law would ask her future DIL to make dumplings to show whether she was worthy to be married.  After watching her do this, I told her that she was ready to be a bride!!!!

I had to get in on the act and tried rolling them myself…..


I could roll them out ok, but I was REALLY slow and they were not as round and perfect as Qingru’s.

Then came the time to add the fillings.    Again, there was another conversation as Luhan crimped them in one manner and Qingru did them a different way.  Michael knew that I was videoing so he kept asking them questions as they worked…..

Next, Qingru peeled several cloves of garlic, mashed them well with a pinch of salt and then added a bit of Cider Vinegar…..


Now it was time to start cooking the dumplings.   She brought a pot of water to boil and carefully placed the vegetable dumplings into the water, trying not to burst any of them.   When they came back to a boil, she added enough water to stop the boiling and then let them come to a boil again.   She did this one more time and then declared them done.   When she was cooking the meat dumplings, she brought the water to a boil 4 times instead of 3.


While this was going on, Luhan started cooking the beef and tomatoes in the wok.   She used a very tiny amount of oil and only stir-fried it for a few minutes….


To set the table, Qingru put a small amount of the garlic mixture in each of our small bowls and poured a bit of the dumpling water into the larger bowls for us to drink.


We all ate with chopsticks….two of us were a bit slower!!!  We dipped the dumplings into the garlic sauce before eating and it was spicy and wonderful.  The beef and tomatoes was the perfect accompaniment to the dumplings!!


We all posed for a photos….  first the girls and I before dinner…..


….and then a very satisfied Michael after the meal……


While Michael and I cleaned the kitchen, the girls continued making dumplings and about 30 of them sit happily in my freezer as I write, waiting for another wonderful meal!!!


We were telling the girls how much we appreciated the meal and loved the food and Qingru said that we honored her by enjoying the food.   We assured her that we would be happy to honor her ANYTIME.   They have asked to cook again so we are looking forward to a wonderful meal on Monday!!!

Using the berries…..

After picking the berries on Friday, we decided that it was time to use some of them.   One of my friends had talked about making a Peach/Blackberry cobbler that was wonderful.   Even though I didn’t have her recipe, I did a Google search and came up with one.

It was very interesting because you first melted butter in the bottom of the pan, poured the batter in next and then topped it with the fruit……


It came out of the oven looking like this…..


….and tasted wonderful served warm with a bit of ice cream…..



Speaking of food for the summer, we have continued trying the Indian food that we bought last month.   We made a wonderful Korma Curry using chicken and a simple bottle of sauce……


….and another rice dish using Basmati and a few Tablespoons of sauce…..


SOOOOO much fun!!!

An interesting week…..


This has been an interesting week……

On Tuesday, at my guild meeting, we were entertained by Lanette Edens of the Gypsy Quilter.  She presented a wonderful program where she showed new products and lots of ideas…..


I was most interested in this book…..

… I purchased it after the meeting.   I love that the blocks are all pieced without ANY Y-Seams!!   Cant wait to try some of the patterns using my scrap strips.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and by 5:00pm, I was running a fever, suffering with severe chills  and thoroughly miserable!!!   Unfortunately, Michael was about 24 hours ahead of me and was already sick!!!  

The next two days we each spent as much time as possible resting and getting well, although we both had work tasks that needed to be accomplished.

One of the cute things that I found was that the Throat Lozenges I bought had a motto of “A pep talk in every drop”!!

As I looked further, I realized that each individual package had other mini “pep talks” on them……

  –      Be Unstoppable

  –      Put a Little Strut in it.

  –      Turn “can do” into “can did!”

  –      Bet on yourself

  –      Hi-five yourself

  –      Elicit a few “Wow’s” today

  –      Don’t give up on yourself

  –      Take charge and mean it

  –      The show must go on.

I actually started looking forward to opening a new one so that I could be “pepped up”!!!

Today (Saturday), we are both feeling MUCH better and I was actually able to spend the day in my studio…..more to come about that…..

Tonight, we both felt good enough to cook, so Michael made a wonderful Turkey Meatloaf with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese  and I added Roasted Squash and steamed Broccoli…..