Celebration of Life

Originally posted 09.07.2016

Even though we are doing our best to be more mindful and live in appreciation of the abundance that frames our lives…. there are moments that come out of left field.

On an August Friday afternoon  …. it came at me from the other side of an intersection in the form of a large, red, transport truck with a full load of stone…. coming down a hill ….. gaining momentum as its brakes failed.

I was travelling with my friend Matthew and his dog, Clooney, doing errands before heading to his cottage.  We were stopped at the lights, chatting.

We all walked away with miraculously few physical injuries.  Looking at the pictures, afterwards, was surreal.   Thank goodness for seatbelts, airbags, and the design of the truck we were driving in.  As we worked our way through the mental and emotional aftershocks, we toasted to the many reasons to celebrate life with a gin & tonic (or two).  The accident was an “in our faces” reminder.

Matthew has a fabulous set of south-facing planter boxes in front of the cottage.  This summer, its output has been colossal – especially the basil!  I have been the happy recipient of several bursting shopping bags of basil.   This green, fragrant bounty has given me ample opportunity to experiment with many versions of pesto.  This is my favourite and has become a symbol of the many reasons to celebrate the life I have.

Celebration of Life Pesto

Tools

  • Salad spinner
  • Food Processor or Blender
  • Grater for cheese
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spatula
  • Storage jars or small ziplock baggies

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups organic, extra-virgin olive oil (I prefer unfiltered)
  • 6 – 8 cloves garlic, peeled *
  • 2 cups toasted walnuts
  • 4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 cups (6 oz) basil (washed and dried in a salad spinner)
  • 2.5 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp 100% pure roasted walnut oil
  • Salt to taste (start with 1/2 tsp)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, puree the garlic, walnuts, olive oil and lemon juice to a creamy texture.

Add the basil in small batches, continuing to blend until smooth.

Finally, stir in the parmesan and walnut oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice or walnut oil to satisfy your personal taste.

Put the finished pesto in small jars if storing in your fridge.  To freeze, I use small snack ziplock bags and put approximately 1/4 cup in each.

I find that the flavour becomes richer a couple days later.  So I don’t fuss about the perfect seasoning when I’m making it.  I know I’m likely to tweak the seasoning once I use the pesto in a salad, vegetable, egg, or pasta dish.  I used pesto in the dressing I used for the Caprese salad in the picture above.

*If you happen to be lucky enough to have access to smoked garlic (thank you Matthew!) it adds another wonderful flavour profile to the pesto.

P.S.  09.16.2016

I’ve been playing with using pesto in biscuits.  Haven’t found the magic yet.  This recipe is close.  Still making modifications.  BASIL & PARMESAN SCONES

A Story of Unexpected Friendship and more..

“It was one of the best meals we overate… the fact that we remember it it with such queer clarity must mean that it had other reasons for being important.  I suppose that happens at least once to every human.  I hope so.”    M. F. K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me

We connect with stories in so many ways.  Marketing a service or being successful during an interview is often because you tell your story or stories in a way that connects to your audience…. they connect and relate to the emotion that is expressed through your stories.

Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent is many stories ….. a sensory experience.  I became immersed in the heart and soul of the stories woven throughout the book. Stories of reflection, appreciation, insight, transition, and transformation.  And!  I became completely entranced with the food pairings that accompanied these stories.

I now have a list …. a new one, since I have several on the go….. of food to try my hand at, some that I would have never really considered until I read this book.

Apricot Souffles….. Edward’s approach to martinis….. Apple Galette (tried with satisfying results)…..Herb-Roasted Chicken in a Paper Bag….  Fennel Remoulade….Popover Flambe…..

I just might do a Julie & Julia and work my way through everything described in the book!  The exiting thing is that there are no recipes, only menus and Isabel Vincent’s description of her experience of the meal.  A perfect challenge to search for and experiment with the ideas of the recipes.   To create my own experiences and stories.  Look out my friends…. there’s a dinner invite in the future!