About The Country Wife Blog

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gardening (and cooking!) Today: Pesto

In recent months (and years, too!)  I have enjoyed pesto dishes at various functions.  Whenever I complimented the chefs on the pesto they told me how easy it was to make.  This year I wanted to make some myself, so I purchased a flat of basil plants.

The first flat of plants was eaten up almost overnight but some invisible creature, INSIDE OUR HOUSE BEFORE THEY WERE EVEN PLANTED!  I still decided to plant them.  The next day there were even more holes in the leaves.  I went to a local garden center and asked what I could do and was told a particular substance would kill the invisi-bugs who were doing this damage.  To tell you the truth, after dosing the plants, I could not see any difference.

Flat number two of basil plants went into the garden, but after a few days they did not look as happy...no holes but just sort of yellow-y green.  After several weeks they are finally beginning to green up a bit, but don't look like anything I can harvest yet.

Basil plants, number three, were a set of three large pots with strong healthy basil plants, three or four in each pot, that were all ready to harvest!  I could not resist since the whole shooting match was only $8.99 at a big box store!  The very next day I harvested 2 cups of leaves to make my first pesto ever!  (I also went to the garden and pulled three leaves off the flat number two plants, so they would not feel left our...).

Pesto pasta with my first-ever homemade pasta from our own basil plants!

This is what I did:

Wash and spun dry 2 cups of basil leaves and put them in our food processor.

Added 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of walnuts, and 5 previously-frozen garlic cloves (from when I had an over-abundance of garlic that I did not want to go by...I used 5 because I was not sure how much of the garlic flavor would survive freezing.)

After putting all these ingredients in the food processor, I pulsed them a few times to get the grinding process going.  When it began to look like a real mess, I began dribbling in 1/2 cup olive oil.

When the olive oil had been well incorporated, I added some Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste.

In the meantime I was boiling ruffled pasta.  When the pasta was cooked and drained, I put 4 cups of pasta in a bowl and added 1/2 cup of the pesto sauce and mixed it well.  It tasted so yummy.  I loved it!  Dear One sniffed, then ate two bites but was not inspired.  When I asked if I should take it to the children and grandchildren, he said yes immediately!  Win some, lose some...!

Friday, June 27, 2014


The last few days have been glorious!  There has been a little breeze to mitigate the heat.  There has been little humidity.  It has been just the best.

In fact,  with the gorgeous low-hanging clouds two days in a row, it reminds me of summers when I was a girl.  My brothers and sister and I used to lie on the lawn in those far-away days that were just like these recent days.  We would look up into the sky as the huge fluffy cumulus clouds would float by overhead.  We liked to imagine they looked like various fantastic shapes.  Sometimes they did.  Sometimes they didn't, but it was fun anyway.

The first day of the low-hanging clouds was truly spectacular as the sky was a perfect blue except where the clouds ranked themselves row on row.  I was so sorry I was unable to take a photograph of them.  These photos from the second day show the clouds but are nowhere near as spectacular as there was a lot of other cloud material in the sky.  Still, I love them.

Row after row, rank after rank of low-hanging cumulus clouds.

Lovely cumulus clouds with distinct silver linings!  I love them.

After a long day of travel, I arrived on the Neuse River in North Carolina, and there were the same low-hanging clouds a third day in a row!  What a glorious earth Our Father has given us to enjoy.

On this day I also took no photographs due to a total inertia which overtook me as I came out to watch my sister, her husband, son, and grandsons empty the crab pots.  Sitting in one of my grandfather's Adirondack chairs under the branches of a lovely green oak-ish tree overlooking the river...who could move back into the house to get a camera?!  Such a lovely pleasant evening in a gorgeous part of the country.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Garlic Project: Scapes

We were away for a couple of days in June.  When we came back: AMAZING THINGS IN THE GARDEN!!  The garlic scapes had shown up.  This was so exciting to me.

Here are some pictures I took:

Here is a picture of the scape I harvested:

Garlic scape on the marble slab waiting for inclusion in a recipe

If you look closely you will see a little snip in the scape just below the blossom where the scape curls on itself.  This is because I had already cut it to use in a recipe before taking the picture!

This was the first time I had grown a garlic scape (well, I was actually growing hardneck garlic as I have noted before, and scapes are part of that process!) and I wanted to see how it tasted....so I made a mashed potato salad..

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Flowers Today: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!

After a couple of days of glorious flowers, here are the flowers at our own garden...truly from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Even so, these flowers give me a certain amount of pleasure as they grow below our porch.

Budded bearded iris, and smooth stone placed by grandchild
 A kind friend shared multiple clumps of perennials with us two years ago.  Last year they were just getting settled in and did not do much.  Sadly, the lawnmower  thought some of them were weeds and they did not come up this year...

Of the ones that have come up, only the white Siberian iris has bloomed. I  am hoping for more blooms pretty soon.
Siberian white iris

Monday, June 16, 2014

Flowers Today: Pansies

There were lots of little plots of pansies in the temple gardens.  Here are some of them:

Pansies and maybe Persian daisies

Lots of sweet-faced pansies in white and purple

Multiple pansies and yellow calla lilies

Friday, June 13, 2014

Flowers Today

Yesterday was a beautiful day.  With friends I went to the temple.  When we finished our temple service we walked around the temple to look at the flowers.  There were many glorious flower patches.  Here are some:

Maybe Allium...

Planter near entrance

Deep pink roses in one of the rose gardens

Lovely light pink roses

Gorgeous pink calla lilies

First yellow calla lilies I ever saw
This is only early June!  Think of how gorgeous the gardens will be even later in the season.  It is always a special joy to see the gardens when we give service in the temples.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Food Today: Chex Mix Project

Father's Day is coming up soon.  On Mother's Day the ladies at Church receive a bag with Lindt chocolate truffles and a beautiful bookmark with a painting or photograph produced by a member of our congregation and a useful quote. 

We wanted to do something for Father's Day, but different in some what.  SO....we hatched out the scheme of making Chex Mix to add to the Lindt chocolate truffles.  The children's organization bagged up the chex mix into zipper-close plastic bag which they attached to a white shirt cut out of card stock.  They also cut out bow ties which were stapled to the white shirt.  Two Lindt chocolate truffles were put in a snack-sized zipper-close bag and also attached.  All in all, this is a project to be remembered by everyone!  It remains to be seen how it is received on Father's Day!

Last batch of Chex Mix bagged up and ready to go...

Sixty white-shirt-bow-tie-chex mix-and-Lindt-chocolate bundles were produced.

Happy Father's Day to all!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Knitting Today: Mentoring

One of the sweetest things I love to do it share knitting with people.  Often there are girls or women who would like to do something with their hands but don't think they can.  They may have had a previous experience with knitting (or crocheting) but were unsuccessful at one time or another.

Things I have done to help others learn to knit:  teach a class at Joann Fabrics and Crafts, teach a class at Relief Society, teach a class at Church while waiting for youth activities to complete, teaching a class or individuals at home.  All these make me smile happily to myself when I see the progress these questing people have made.

Most recently Angel wanted to learn to knit.  My preference for knitting fiber is natural fiber, most notably wool.  It turns out Angel is VERY allergic to wool.  No lie.  Some people really are allergic to things: smells, foods, fibers. 

Since Angel could not use wool we discovered she could use cotton so she started working with worsted weigh cotton.  She knit a washcloth which came out very well.  She was more than willing to rip out and re-knit when she felt the work was not correct.  Such a GREAT attitude.  Every time you take out and re-knit a piece of work, the work improves and your overall knitting skills improve.

The second item Angel knit was a headband with several knit flowers with button centers. I could not be more impressed with her knitting skills!  She is getting good at what she does.  I look forward to what she will knit next...

Angel's knit headband with knit flowers!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Food Today: Vegan Broccoli Potato Soup

My time at Parkview Adventist Medical Center last fall was eye-opening,  a fabulous learning experience.  One of the recipes we cooked has stuck with me.  The recipe is at Grammie's Kitchen and Bedtime Stories. 

The last limp broccoli tree was waiting patiently in the refrigerator for attention and today, since we took two vehicles to Church, I returned home in time to make a fresh meal for Fast Sunday lunch,  This was it.  So delicious!