Summer Dreams: Pesto à Presto

During our long, dark winters back in Maine, one of the things that brought back the essence summer faster than a black fly bite was the taste of pesto. Each year, we would grow several rows of basil in our herb garden and, at the warning of the first frost in September, we would hurriedly pick all the leaves and make batches of pesto to freeze. Then, sometime around mid-January, when we were just beginning to feel as if winter would never end, we would take out a container of pesto from the freezer and have a little summer-fest by the fireside.

Here in the Tucson desert, our summer season for basil is extended and, with some care during frosts, can be year-round! But this past weekend, we decided to harvest all our plants (some of which were several years old and had grown woody stems), make several batches of pesto, and then plant anew - both with seeds given by our friend Laura from Renée's Garden, and with new plants from the nursery. This was done, of course, while enjoying some homemade bread and wine, and while Mark read to me experts from The Enchantress of Florence.


Chocolate Melting Cakes

It's two weeks into the new year and the "healthy diet" is not going so well.  The "clean eating" regimen, where I flush the toxins out of my system by eating sweet potatoes for breakfast and avoiding wheat and dairy (i.e. pasta and cheese)?  Ditched that after three days.  On a positive note, I'm drinking green tea instead of coffee but otherwise - happily - back to my old habits.  Which are good ones excepting the Krackel and Mr. Goodbar minis that I've picked clean from the bowl at work. 

Tomorrow is my brother's birthday - the big 5-0.  As the older sister by five years, that puts me on a slippery slide toward a milestone I can't bear to contemplate at the moment. But that's a conversation for another time and perhaps upon reflection I'll reconsider the toxin flush. At our family dinner yesterday, George advised me that the holiday season of indulgence and Greek pastry - for him - doesn't end until January 18th.  Love that idea.


The Unbearable Lite-ness of Eating

Sadly, our diets must return, and this post should be titled, "The Unbearableness of Eating Lite-ly."  No, we aren't in awful shape and we have generally been fairly good boys, but if Santa had been making his list based on our diets, we definitely might have come under the "naughty" category this year. An example: I am writing this on Christmas day and we just finished a lovely herb and cheese soufflé, butter lettuce salad and some nice wine in the garden for lunch.

While this meal is not bad, it simply isn't what the doctor ordered. Perhaps just having a salad would have been better? Some restraint must be shown or we will be out shopping the post-holiday sales, looking for pants with larger waistbands, longer belts or anything that we can wear that doesn't bind at the waist. Muumuus come to mind but they might not be the best thing for the office.


Cranberry Scones

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
 ― Lewis Carroll  Through the Looking-Glass

I hope you're having a warm and gentle beginning to the new year.  A cup of tea and a scone, or two, is just the ticket while pondering those resolutions. This recipe for scones is adapted from one printed in Bon Appetit many years ago, and I love how light and flaky they are.  Enjoy.