Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday Dinner Week #7: Mother Earth Dreams

I wish I had a picture of my mother in the 70's with her afro and hip huggers. She embraced the whole hippy movement- taking classes at the Richardson's YWCA like ceramics, driving her little baby blue semi-automatic Volkswagon beatle and knitting macrame bathing suits (the ones that when you're in the water, they sag on your butt like you've got too much sand in your pants). She especially loved to go to Thomas Square for their yearly craft fair. Somewhere in her house, she still may have those pinch pots. I totally don't understand the enjoyment that comes with crafting. It's all pretty stressful for me. My excuse is that I'm left handed, but it could be that I'm all thumbs. Still, some of her "Mother Earth News"iness did rub off on me. I am interested in small amounts of self-sustenance. I have a black thumb, but I still find the idea of growing one's own food romantic. I want to go out into my herb garden for fresh cuttings, eat tomatoes in tomato season, squash in the winter, harvest cucumbers to make namasu...put finger-sized nasubi in large plastic tubs held down by wood the way my tutu made mustard pickled eggplant. After all these years, though, I still don't have a garden, but I did manage to grow enough basil on my upstairs lanai to make pesto from the Moosewood Cookbook, a vegetarian, hippyish cookbook out of San Francisco with thick recycled paper pages and handwritten recipes with drawings.
Moosewood Cookbook Pesto (p.84)
3 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves - for me, that's the whole mixing container of my food processor
3-4 large cloves garlic
optional: 1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (I use roasted, unsalted mac nuts instead)
1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin, the best you can afford)
1/3 cup parmesan (fresh grated or shaved - don't bother with the cylindrical green containers of parmesan dust)
optional: salt and pepper, to taste

1) Place the basil leaves and garlic in a blender or food processor and mince well.
2) Add the nuts, and continue to blend until the nuts are ground.
3) Drizzle in the olive oil, as you keep the machine running. (I like my pesto on the oily side, so add oil until the desired consistency)
When you have a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, place room temperature pesto in a warmed serving bowl. Add hot pasta and toss thoroughly.

I didn't have enough pesto for the main dish this Sunday, so I channeled my mother, the original semi-homemade chef. I used the pesto to fry chicken breasts, then opened up some bottles of marinara sauce, took out turkey meatballs from the freezer and cooked it in the marinara. The trick to the pesto chicken is to slather the chicken with the pesto, then let the parmesan burn a bit crispy on the chicken and on the pan. The oil seals in the moisture of the chicken and the burnt bits add crunch and crispy goodness, but the best part is the smell - basil and garlic and cheese - mmmm.

2 comments:

  1. Good one, Kanoe!! Though I don't consider myself to be a hippie (far too much consideration regarding responsibility), I guess that I do love the whole earth consciousness. I do agree with your view of the romantic notion of eating homegrown produce. Although I have somewhat of a green thumb, I just don't have time to grow a garden which I hope to do in a few months. In the mean time, embrace the idea of whole earth consciousness. If Mother Earth magazine is still in business, they should be proud of their futuristic thinking in low tech methods: organic gardening, recycling, passive solar construction, etc. If they went out of business...bah humbug!!

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  2. I love pesto! I make mine very similar (tho Iʻve yet to actually measure) but I swear by Hawaiian salt when I salt it. I donʻt know why...and if all Iʻve got is salted mac nuts then I just cut down on the salt. But Iʻll use whatever nuts I have available, including pecans. I try not to leave out the nuts.

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