The Cooking Garden and Pesto

Hello, Dear Readers:

With the news this week that Twinkies may be returning to store shelves this summer, all of a sudden, I WANT ONE. And a packet of Ding Dongs, too, please. Or, maybe the chocolate cupcakes. Yes, I know what’s in them. I want some. Just once.

It would really be fun to do a side-by-side taste test of the Hostess Twinkies and the new Twinkies and see if they got it right. I hope so. Or there’s gonna be a whole lot of upset sugar junkies in this country. There could be trouble if even one molecule is changed, you know.

Well, it’s been another busy and confusing week here in my neck of the woods, and that time change thing didn’t do me any favors. I’ve been TIRED since last week, and not up to doing anything spectacular. The weather is warming up nicely, and while I have had the patio doors open to get some fresh air this week, I know it’s time to put away the jackets and the wonderful winter boots I bought in 2011 from Lands’ End. I wore them one night last week when I went to the pub to meet a friend of mine. One last time until the fall. Also, they’re flat, so if I get a bit tiddly I won’t fall off of them.

I got a teeny bit tiddly, but didn’t get into any trouble. I promise.

So if in spring, a young man’s heart turns to romance, a young woman’s mind turns to dieting, and what I she’s gonna look like in a bathing suit real soon. While I haven’t dieted in some time, I am thinking about finally getting back to fitness and maybe dropping some of the dreaded excess that seems to follow me around when I’m not careful or get OBE (“Overcome By Events,” an IT technical term.) I found a DVD that I got with the Belly Burner a few years ago and forgot about, called Blazing Abs. (I also forget the Belly Burner frequently.) I would like to start with that one, but I’m kinda tired. To my credit, I have been using my Thighmaster combo, and also managed to get long walks in a couple of times this week. So I’m not entirely sedentary. Just need to be *more* mobile, darnit.

So one of the many things I need to do once I wake up is get on my back patio, dig up the weeds, tidy it up and start planting both in the ground and in the containers. If you’re thinking of elegantly thrown pottery like you see on any of Martha Stewart’s shows, well, keep thinking that, because I use 5 gallon plastic paint buckets.

Currently, I have a smaller plastic pot with mint in it (mostly brown but a few green leaves at the ends), two small planters with green onions in it (more about that in a minute), and one paint bucket with the top off a pineapple in it. I have no idea what’s going on with it, but it’s stuck in there pretty good. Have no idea if it’s growing a pineapple or not, and I’m afraid to dig down there and find out. There’s also rosemary, which seems to grow in desert conditions, because it’s fresh and green and growing like. . .weeds.

Last summer wasn’t a good one after I was laid off, and I pretty much neglected the garden, unfortunately. Amazingly, I still have rosemary and a bit of mint and green onion. I had a bamboo plant that was the living legacy from a coworker that passed on in 2004, but that died pretty quickly. I told them I didn’t want it. I have a small piece of bamboo that’s been growing in a water glass for nearly a year; I might plant it in the same pot, or maybe in the ground.  I’d like to get it out of my kitchen, that’s for sure.

One thing I learned from reading Urban Farm magazine and the forums on their companion website is that if you cut off the rooted bottoms of green onions you get from the grocery, you can plant those roots and keep growing them. I bought these at Frohberg’s Farm maybe 3 years ago, and they’re still growing. They’ve gotten a bit skint because I’ve not been faithful in watering them, but I’ve still got some. I’ll have a full pot again soon. Ditto the mint.

Amazingly, the weeds are thriving, even with the little bits of rainfall we’ve had, or rather, NOT had. We’re still kind of in drought conditions here, but I’m hoping for a good rainy season this summer.

I got started growing stuff with the last, um, “relationship” I was in with Blob, since we had plans of eventual country living and food growing. (I still read Hobby Farms and Hobby Farm Home magazines.) I started with the paint buckets and basil. In 2011, I planted things like zucchini and cantaloupe in the ground, along with lettuce and a few other things. Unfortunately, we also had a bad drought that year, and despite my best watering efforts, nothing lasted. I put a small zucchini plant in the ground and it took off, eventually taking up half the plot along with cantaloupe. Then one day, it started to shrivel up. . .and then, no amount of watering would bring it back. There was nothing I could do.

I tried re-growing flat-leaf Italian parsley recently, but nothing sprouted. I’ll try to get me some basil planted soon (preferably organic), and start making some pesto. The sooner I get some basil, the sooner I can whip some up. I LOVE pesto! My favorite recipes is from Giada de Laurentiis’ first book, Everyday Italian, but there are oodles of recipes out there for pesto. Suzanne Somers also has a very tasty recipe for Parsley Pesto in her Appetizers book, which calls for some parsley but a fair amount of basil.

I have one container of pesto left in the freezer from last year. I MUST make more of it this year and freeze lots of it for the winter, darnit.

Of course, my favorite thing to do with that pesto is make Pea Pesto Soup. Had some just this week, with some pesto from the freezer. Admittedly, I can buy fresh pesto already made, but why?

I have hoped to grow sugar snap peas, but I never seem to get around to planting them.  Down here in Texas, you have to plant them in like November, because otherwise it’s way too hot. Garlic, too–you buy the bulbs in August, and they have to “over-winter” and you are rewarded in the spring with lovely garden fresh garlic.

I want to grow grape tomatoes. I LOVE grape tomatoes, and those yellow pear-shaped tomatoes, but they’re quite expensive at the grocery store. I planted some in the ground and some in one of those hanging tomato thingies, no luck. Fennel, too–I tried growing that to no avail, along with regular onions and a few other things. No luck.

Soon as I finish a few other things, I’ll be getting out there, probably Sunday, so I can get stuff growing. I admit I’m not the *best* gardener, but eventually, I hope to be picking lots of good stuff from my garden.

One of these days. Tips and comments are welcome, of course. Are you doing the garden this year? If so, what do you want to harvest?

Happy Dining!

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