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Posts Tagged ‘Pesto’

The last few weeks here in the Seattle area we have had fabulous weather. Warm to hot – and dry. Not great for the grass or for fireworks (the fire danger is extreme at this time) but my garden is BURSTING!!!

Artichoke Plants

Artichoke Plants

Here are my artichokes. I took all these photos a few days ago, and because of the heat, everything is growing by leaps and bounds! I have three artichokes – which I will be picking and eating tomorrow – and there are a few “babies” there too!

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Basil in Earth Boxes

I have four Earth Box planters (they are the BEST!), two of which have my basil plants. The basil is going bananas! There will be more about the basil later in this post.

FWIW – I have had these Earth Box planters for many, many years and they are still going strong. I couldn’t find the “official” mulch covers this spring, so I improvised with some clear plastic bags and binder clips. The plastic bags are working very well.

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More Earth Boxes with green peppers in the front and tomatoes in the back. I wasn’t going to plant tomatoes this year, but I got two scrawny starts from one of my students – and look what happened! I already have blossoms, but I haven’t seen any fruit yet. These are supposed to be green cherry tomatoes. I have never seen or tasted them before, so this is a tomato adventure!

potatoes

potatoes

Next are potatoes in the cinder block garden. I keep digging up potatoes in the fall and they keep coming back in the spring. Note the brown grass in the background! It may be dry but it always seems that the weeds find enough water to grow! I’ll be weeding soon.

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beans

I planted some french style string beans and here are the small plants. I’m trying mulching with straw this year. So far, so good. I also found that by putting the mulch down, my cats don’t like digging in the garden to do their business. I also put some fencing on top of the mulch to make sure the cats don’t go in the garden.

sunflowers

sunflowers

And here are the sunflowers. The bigger plants are the Giant sunflowers and there are some smaller sunflowers in there also. Again, these photos were taken a few days ago and the sunflowers are now significantly taller! They are planted under an arbor and when they grow I will use the arbor to support them. Hopefully the arbor won’t fall over like it did last year. (For a blog post about that Click Here)

And finally – zucchini!

zuchinini

zucchini!

I planted two zucchinis in a planter (a plastic whiskey barrel from Costco) and it is going crazy! I already have blossoms and fruit growing! Not too much longer until I’m making zucchini bread.

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Back to the basil! The basil is getting so big and it looks so luscious that I went out and picked a bunch, rinsed it, spun it dry, put it in the food processor with some garlic, pepper, Parmesan cheese……

Pesto!

from basil to …..

and presto – PESTO! The first batch of the summer!

PESTO!!!

PESTO!!!

OMG! Talk about GOOOOODDDD! I made some pasta and put the fresh pesto on it and it was heavenly! Sorry, no photo, I was hungry and couldn’t wait to dig into it!

If you have never made pesto, it so easy and so good. Click Here for a link to a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago with my Pesto recipe.

Enjoy the warm weather and enjoy the fruits of the garden. I know that I am!!

 

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Today is Labor Day and it sure is beautiful here in the Northwest! Many times, this holiday has been cool and rainy, but not this year! We have had 80+ degrees and sunshine all three days of the holiday weekend!

I have been incredibly busy the last few weeks so I have taken the weekend “off” and have been working on my own projects and some future online class projects. I have spent a lot of time either at the computer or at the sewing machine piecing quilt tops. Most of which has been done at my dining room table sitting under the ceiling fan staying comfortably cool.

With the warm weather this summer (there have been more days with 80+ degrees than ever) my plants have gone absolutely crazy! I have even gotten some red tomatoes from my plants! For those who live in the Midwest or elsewhere, red tomatoes are no big deal. But here in Seattle, red tomatoes ARE a big deal! I just had a salad with some tomatoes from my garden. They were wonderful!!

My sunflowers are HUGE!!! Some of them are at least 10 – 12 feet tall!

Click on any photo for a larger view.

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The black “bars” near the bottom of the photo (above) is the TOP of an arbor. This “top” is 7 feet above the ground! The sunflowers are at least 3 – 4 feet ABOVE the arbor and the heads of the sunflowers are GIANT!

I call the sunflower in the photo below “Big Daddy!” The head is huge and it is at least 12 foot tall! It has been the tallest stalk while growing and the first to blossom. I can’t get too close to the flower because there are a ton of bees and yellow jackets. I’m not allergic to them, but I don’t like getting stung. And of course, this sunflower is in the middle of all the others!

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I planted a few other varieties of sunflowers. The sunflowers below are smaller and one is a beautiful, rich, burgundy color! There are also at least 6 – 8 flower buds on each stalk! (If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can see the other flower buds.) If the weather holds, there should be more flowers blooming. I’ll try and remember to take more photos, especially if all the buds blossom at the same time!

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These sunflowers are the smallest that I planted and I planted them next to my house. These flower stalks have about 10 or more flower buds. You can see the many flowers that are blooming – there are only about 4 or 5 plants there! And again, LOTS of yellow jackets and bees and I’m standing back a bit!

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AND, my Basil is going ballistic! I am up to my eyes in Pesto – which I love, love, love! Home made Pesto is one of life’s simple pleasures. If you have never made Pesto before, here is my super simple Pesto recipe.

Super Simple Pesto 

Fresh Basil, about 2 – 2 1/2 cups lightly packed
1 cup olive oil – more or less to taste
3 – 4 cloves garlic peeled
1 cup shredded Parmesan  cheese – more or less to taste and preference

Rinse and spin dry the basil leaves (I use a small salad spinner to do this) and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times so that the basil is mostly chopped. Add about 1/2 cup olive oil and the peeled garlic cloves and pulse a few more times so that the mixture is mostly smooth but still has a little bit of texture. Add most of the cheese and the remaining olive oil and pulse a few more times. I like to pour this mixture into a bowl and, if there is more basil leaves, I will make a few more batches of pesto. Each batch goes into the bowl and gets mixed together to blend the batches. If you like your Pesto a little “jucier” add a  little more olive oil. Add the remaining shredded Parmesan cheese to the pesto and mix. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste if desired. Your pesto is now ready to use.

Note: some people like to add Pine Nuts or Walnuts to their Pesto. I don’t usually have these ingredients in my cabinet so I don’t put them in my Pesto. If you want to add them to your Pesto,  do so when you put in the garlic.

Now you have this (hopefully) big bowl of Pesto. What next? I take my Pesto and put it into a muffin pan and then put it in the freezer. When it is frozen solid, usually overnight, I wrap the individual “cubes” in plastic and store in the freezer in a big zippy freezer bag.

In the middle of winter, when it is cold, rainy and dreary, I defrost a Pesto cube or two, put it on top of some hot pasta with some cooked chicken, and I am back in the middle of summer sitting in the sun! Fresh Pesto in the middle of winter smells SO GOOD!

Of course, after making the big batch of Pesto I have some left over so I can have the fresh Pesto over pasta for a quick summer dinner! And guess what I am going to do after I post this! The pasta is cooking, the Pesto is made and I’m hungry!

If you have a recipe that uses Pesto in any way, post it in the “Leave a Comment” area. I am always open to new recipes and can’t wait to see what others do with their Pesto.

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