Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Bounty

LUCY BURDETTE: It's that time of year where busy or not, the produce in our garden and at the farmers market is too gorgeous not to put some by for the cold months. So even though I have one book due in two weeks and another hitting bookshelves on 9/4, I'm freezing blueberries and chopped peaches and making bread and butter pickles. And then there's the pesto...

I didn't use to be a big fan of pesto, but after we started planting wads of basil to protect the tomato plants, I evolved. Now I usually make 3 or 4 batches in the summer and freeze it in small amounts to use as a topping for pasta, or my personal favorite, pesto pizza topped with sliced fresh tomatoes and slices of fresh mozzarella. The good thing about this recipe is that you can tweak to taste--add more garlic if you like a stronger flavor. Or substitute walnuts for the pine nuts, which are quite expensive. Up the cheese, up the oil, the choice is yours!


1 clove garlic
4 oz pine nuts (also called pignoli, can substitute walnuts)
4 oz good Parmesan cheese
3-4 Tbsp good olive oil
1 large bunch fresh basil, washed and dried (leaves only)

In the food processor, mince the garlic. Add the pine nuts and whir them to a paste. Cut the Parmesan into one inch chunks and add those to the bowl of the food processor, along with the olive oil. Whir to a paste. Add the basil leaves in three sections, and grind those up with the other ingredients. Taste and add salt or more oil if you think it needs it.

This list of ingredients made 3 half-cup servings which I will freeze and we'll enjoy pesto all fall!

Hope you enjoy! Or come on over and take a container from my freezer:). What summer treats are you putting away for this winter?

HALLIE EPHRON: Peach pie! Only how do I keep the bottom crust from going to mush?

Summer in New England is fish... I just made a fabulous bouillabaisse with lobster and fresh fish and local tomatoes. And real saffron, which trumps pine nuts for cost ($19.99 for a tiny little vial of threads... can't I harvest them from my crocuses in the spring??)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Or you can use arugula or spinach instead of basil! I'm this summer. Nada. nothing, zip. The only thing I'm cutting-is words from my new manuscript!  And all I'm harvesting is ideas.  So. I'm coming to your houses.

RHYS BOWEN: Since I'm away for most of the summer this year I haven't attempted to grow anything. I haven't really found any good English produce in stores in London so I'm looking forward to going to my sister-in-law in Cornwall for some home grown produce and eggs.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Lucy's garden boggles the mind. Gorgeous. (LUCY--thanks Ro! And can't resist posting this picture of John who's just brought in the harvest for the day!) I have a mighty fine garden myself but you probably wouldn't want to eat anything I grow in my shady, rocky paradise unless one day I really do try sauteing the bamboo shoots in spring. Bread and butter pickles? Send them my way. Pesto? What a thoughtful holiday present (hint,hint..)

The only crop the deer, bunnies and squirrels have left to us are the blackberries..which I suppose I could make jam with..maybe Lucy/Roberta has inspired me. Other than that and grilling, which is the exclusive domain of Mr. Harris - I don't even know how to turn on the monster gas grill - my summer staple is watermelon, feta, mint and kalamata olive salad. YUM! I probably won't stop making it until the watermelon gets really white and tasteless.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Like Hank, the only thing I'm cooking up this summer is my latest manuscript. In fact, Ross picked me up from the library the other day (when the kids are home for the summer, I have to leave to get work done) and innocently asked, "Have you thought about dinner?"  I just laughed in his face.

Maybe because the teens have been so busy themselves, but Ross hasn't done nearly as much grilling as usual. However, he has been making lovely, luscious pies from locally grown blueberries and strawberries. Mmmm. Pie.

JAN BROGAN: I only grow herbs, and I only grow herbs that can survive a lot of neglect.  I find it really demanding if they actually want to be weeded and watered.

This year that means chives, basil and mint. Although jalapeños are another favorite, but I just didn't get around to it this year.  I still love to cook though, and also do a version of my own pizza, and Hank you'll be happy to know you can add microwaved chopped frozen spinach to the fresh basil and tomatoes and cheese and it's delicious.  I add the mint to Giada's orzo salad recipe and Hallie, I have been making a single crust peach pie that you cook first (So it doesn't get soggy)  and then add fresh peaches sautéed with honey and balsamic vinegar, topped with plain Greek yogurt whipped with honey and vanilla.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm with Hank and Julia, the only thing I've cooked this summer is my manuscript. And once I finished that, it was too hot to cook anything!!  Even grilling is torture.  For the first time in I don't know how many years, I haven't even made it to the farmer's market...  And like Jan, I only grow herbs. I decided years ago that getting anything else through the Texas summers AND working was beyond me.

My favorite summer thing is fresh buffalo mozzarella (Costco), good tomatoes, and basil with a little extra virgin olive oil and fresh ground salt and pepper. Heaven. And I would mention that I've discovered that a teaspoon of homemade basil simple syrup make a fabulous gin Bramble, but am getting a reputation about the gin:-)


  1. Pesto in the freezer is like having a secret cache of gold, isn't it? Last year I had a basil patch that would not quit. I made three batches of pesto, plus froze whole leaves by the gallon. (Rinse, pat dry, load into gallon freezer bags, roll to squeeze the air out. Store flat in the freezer.)

    Last summer I started dehydrating tomatoes and onions, and storing them in the freezer. 20 pounds of sliced, dried onions does not even fill a gallon freezer bag. Ditto, for sliced grape tomatoes, dried. It's truly wonderful to rehydrate (in olive oil) some luscious tomatoes for pasta with pesto in the dead of winter.

    This year I grew a lot more root vegetables. Even sharing some with the rabbit who nested in the parsley patch, we still had plenty. Love summer veggies.

    Hallie, can't you just freeze the filling separately? Last year my Michigan daughter brought me 12 pounds of tart cherries, so I made pie filling and froze it in a gallon freezer bag, flat. It kept for a few months, until I was ready to make pie. The only thing I left out, if I recall correctly, was the butter. It worked great that way.

  2. PS Silicone ice cube trays are brilliant for freezing small portions of pesto.

  3. Oh Karen, you are busy! I've never tried dehydrating anything...

    I know you can freeze peach pie filling because I did it last year--cut the peaches and cooked them a little with sugar and then froze. They were ready to go a couple of months later...

    I'm off to buy another bushel now!

  4. I only have one recipe: Peanut butter fudge. It's absolutely delicious, but when I tell you the first ingredient is two cups of white refined sugar, I think I've lost my audience.

  5. I used to do a lot more canning and freezing when we had a big garden. Now that my husband has focused his gardening efforts on growing giant pumpkins in the backyard (two-time winner at our local fair!), and I'm writing, there's just not time to much these days. I did make homemade jams this year with local produce--strawberry, blueberry, and plum (from our tree). We also have a pear tree, and those are starting to come in, so I will put some of those up. But you've reminded me that I need to go to the farm stand and get some cucumbers for bread and butter pickles, which I can't live without during the winter. Thanks!

  6. I used to do a lot of canning, back when we lived in Georgia and had a big kitchen. Now that we're in a teeny little house with what Donald dubbed a "One Butt Kitchen," not too much happens in there. Summertime means BLTs at our house - lots of BLTs. Accompanied by eyes rolling and appreciative groans that might seem more appropriate to activities other than eating a sandwich.

    One of the things I miss is the homemade peach marmalade. But more than the marmalade, I miss the juice. I used to love being able to reach into my stash for a jar of peach sauce to use while cooking pork tenderloin.

  7. No one told me that, when I started having a little success with this writing life, I'd stop doing everything else. I didn't even plant any vegetables this year. Book tour in spring and then the torrid heat and drought hit. My mint (long-established in my herb bed) is going strong so mint iced tea and mojitos have been the sole mainstay of the garden this year.

    Every fall, I travel to a nearby town that's famous for its orchards and vineyards. I bring back bushels of apples for eating and baking. Spend days coring, cutting, peeling apples to freeze for later use in pies, cobblers and meat entrees. I don't think I'll do that this year, either. My tombstone will just have to read, "Here lies a lazy woman."

    I do think we ought to do something special for Roberta/Lucy's and Hank's same-day book launch, though. Maybe another virtual party?

  8. oh no Jack, you haven't lost us--please give us the rest of the peanut butter fudge recipe!

  9. susannah, Kaye, and Linda--isn't it crazy how much time the writing life sucks up??

    but the prize-winning pumpkins sound like so much fun! And the pear tree--oh my! That reminds me we had a gorgeous fig tree in my old life--back then I had no idea what to do with them...

    BLT's sound superb--with mojitos and iced tea--yes! We've got lunch covered...

  10. BLT's Kaye, YES! Why are they SO delicious?

    Do you use toast? or not?

  11. I planted a fig tree, oh, maybe ten years ago, because I love figs so much. (I discovered figs in college. I lived in a garage apartment, and my landlord had a huge fig tree that hung over into my garden.) But have I had a single fig from my tree??? NO! The damned squirrels get them while they're still green. Next year maybe I'll try netting, but I'm not sure it works for squirrels. Or maybe I'll get Rick to shoot the squirrels. Grrr.

  12. Not having the time or the requisite sunshine (heavily wooded lot), I have a co-op garden with another busy friend. The tomatoes are abundant. We make a simple tomato sauce that can be dressed up for any recipe. One day's picking makes enough sauce for 2 meals (or 1 meal & 1 container for the freezer.) I love freezing tomato sauce & pesto. It's great to have a taste of summer in the middle of our suburban Chicago winters.

  13. Does two tomatoes on my one tomato plant count as a crop? With such abundance in farmer's markets, summer vegetables are my passion. My favorite, though, is one most people think of as yucky--okra. I discovered the Indian (as in India) way of cooking it so it stays firm and doesn't get slimy. Slice it, saute it in a tiny bit of oil with lots of black pepper, turmeric, and garlic, of course. At the last minutes throw in some chopped tomatoes just long enough to sear them. Yum!

  14. Mmmmm, Kimberly, your sauce sounds wonderful!

    Terry, I am CRAZY about okra. We figure we have the only garden north of the Mason-Dixon line that is heavy on okra. My favorite is to saute some chopped onions, then slice the okra, dip in beaten egg, roll in cornmeal and then fry with the onions. And serve with splash of Tabasco sauce and sliced tomatoes. I will have to try it your way...

    And Debs, we were almost reduced to a gun with a marauding woodchuck. (and we don't HAVE a gun!)

  15. Terry, I'm trying that okra recipe ASAP, since I have a bunch of plum tomatoes right now. Sounds yummy, and I'm always looking for a way to get more turmeric in dishes. Thanks!

  16. I use silicone ice cube trays for pesto too. YOu can use Lucy's recipe and substitute cilantro for basil. So good! Nice thing today isi that pestos are so popular there are lots of varieties.

  17. With all the beautiful tomatoes from the gardens of friends and family, I have been making lovely Puttanesca sauce almost every week. It certainly tastes like summer to me!!

  18. Judy, cilantro is brilliant! what do you put the cubes in?

    Lee Ann, what goes into your puttanesca sauce?

  19. Kaye,
    I make BLT's with but with ight sour cream instead of mayonnaise - of course I don't like mayonnaise, but even people who have eaten both seem to like the sour cream change!

    Karen, I want to come and hang out in your kitchen for a season.

  20. Hank asked for the gin bramble recipe, so I've put it up on our JR FB page:

  21. We're pretty much inhaling all the fresh produce that comes our way - from our own small garden, and the CSA farm where we get a share of the weekly harvest. I will be freezing some of the wild blueberries we got from an organic farm. A warm blueberry muffin on a blustery day in February almost makes life worth living.

  22. You freeze the pesto in the trays, and when they're frozen just pop them out and store in freezer bags.

    Jan, come on over. I love cooking with a pal.

  23. Rosemary: Those blackberries wouldn't last long enough around here to make it into a jam jar or a pie crust!

    Bread-and-butter pickles --- yum, and so easy to make. I used to make pickled watermelon rind, too, but lately it's been practically impossible to find watermelon with enough white rind to actually make it.

  24. Lucy, I'll see you at Crime Bake--I'll try to remember to bring you a jar of pears!


  25. BLT's -

    Hank, I always use toast - how 'bout you?

    Jan, Sour Cream!! OH! This sounds divine! I'm going to do that as soon as I get back to the produce stand for tomatoes. yum!

    Anyone have a particular favorite bread they use for BLTs?

  26. Kaye, BLTs are my favorite. I like them best grilled on extra-sour, sourdough bread, in the skillet where I fried the bacon. It's criminal. I know. It only gets worse. After I grill them, instead of lettuce, I add slices of fresh avocado.

    I'd prefer to eat at Karen's house, however. We could have a launch party there with Linda's mint iced tea and mojitos.

    We can have my peanut butter pie, topped with fresh whipped cream and Godiva chocolate shavings, for dessert.

  27. Another month and it is applesauce time !!!!!

    I wanted to do B&B pickles this summer but life kept getting in the way :(