Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Arugula pesto

Pesto has long been a favorite of mine. From the first chomp of the basil leaf, I was hooked... pungent garlic kick, soft sweetness of the pine nut, the aromatic addition of parmesan... just writing about it gets me thinking: what can I make next with the pesto? Luckily, the options and variations are numerous!

It wasn't until years after the first forays into pesto that I discovered arugula as a deviation on basil--probably right around the time that arugula itself was blazing it's way into American kitchens. I was amazed and delighted to discover that I could order boxes--yes, BOXES--of arugula, much like I could order boxes of mixed greens, from my food wholesaler for my catering business. So, making my own arugula pesto got really easy...

This spring, I planted arugula and have enjoyed salads aplenty. But as the season waned and the sun heated up on those little green leaves, the arugula was on it's proverbial last legs. So, I harvested the lot of it, and decided it was time for a little pot of bright green goodness.

My variation is a bit of a combo of basil and arugula, just for kicks. And while most recipes tend to pair arugula with walnuts, I maintain a dedication to the spendy but irreplaceable pine nut. Little did I realize when I whipped my batch up, but my version is very close to how Sarabeth (of yummy NYC bakery fame) makes hers! Bonus.

Arugula pesto
Makes around 1.5 cups
3 cups arugula leaves, loosely packed
1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
3 medium cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Wash and dry the arugula and basil. In a food processor with the blade attachment, add the arugula, basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Pulse the processor while slowly adding the olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

I used some of the pesto as a base for an apricot, nectarine, Walla Walla Sweet Onion and brie pizza over the weekend. It was lovely.

Then I slathered some on a fresh baguette and topped it with figs and chevre for a tasty lunch.

What's next? Well, this post about mac-and-cheese with arugula pesto sounds pretty divine... and this post about the addition of chickpeas to the mixture has me very curious indeed; might have to give that whirl.

If you haven't had a chance to take arugula out for a spin in this setting, I hope you give it a try. This mixture is so far from the world of jarred or store-bought pesto, it's in a whole other (hand gesture reaching to the ceiling) category, truly.

Are you a pesto fan? What's your favorite dish with pesto? I'm always up for something new!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday 13: 13 tucked away images

Occasionally when I'm surfing around Facebook on my iPad, I'll see a photo and "like" it, but sometimes I want to do more than merely like it, so I save it. Generally, then, I never look at it again!

But this past weekend as I happened to take a picture with my iPad (I rarely if ever use the camera on the iPad), I looked around and saw quite a few gems I had completely forgotten about, but enjoy and want to share.

Any favorites? I can't pick, I love them all! (Especially those e-cards--they do make me chuckle.)

Happy Thursday. For more Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Midweek reminder: The space between thoughts

When we cling to thoughts and memories, we are clinging to what cannot be grasped. When we touch these phantoms and let them go, we may discover a space, a break in the chatter, a glimpse of open sky. This is our birthright—the wisdom with which we were born, the vast unfolding display of primordial richness, primordial openness, primordial wisdom itself. When one thought has ended and another has not yet begun, we can rest in that space.
-Pema Chodron

Resting in the space between thoughts. That sounds amazing to me. Pretty hard for some of our scattered minds, maybe a little frightening, but pretty amazing. I will be thinking about this for a bit, and maybe taking a break between thoughts, too. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday night grateful list

Tonight I'm grateful for many things, but I'm only going to list one: Husband.

I am so grateful that we found each other, and took the risk to love. I'm also thankful for our communication, for the way we can and do talk--middle of the night, early in the morning...  whenever. We've got each other, and each others' back. And, I'm looking forward to growing old together--will we roam the earth in an RV, or settle somewhere cozy (and warm)? Whatever and whenever, it will be an adventure.

I saw this verse posted on a blog recently, and it stood out to me, for the first time, really. I had no idea that it was/is used for marriage ceremonies, but that makes perfect sense. I love it. I am also grateful for the third strand in our marriage, our Creator.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday 13 randomness

This truly fits my week: Random.

1. Enjoyed a long-awaited lunch with some girlfriends yesterday, who hooked me up (in the best possible way) with another local blogger who I had only met "online" until then. We had a blast chatting and laughing away the afternoon until I had to go back to work... probably should not have checked email at the end there. Grrr.

 This is Lisa, a fabulous local blogger, and I. Check her out!

2. Meanwhile, I have this to say about the 7 Habits I posted yesterday. Read them. Live them. You'll probably whine less about a lot of things, just sayin'. And by you, I mean me. (And I mean you too.)

3. There was once a theory floated by a certain former S.O. that I do not possess an excess of empathy. But, then I took a rather extensive personality test, which refuted that notion and I have basked in my expansive, empathic nature ever since. Then, more recently, I took the StrengthsFinder test and found out I'm Responsible. That's my No. 1 trait. With a capital R. Who knew? (Not me.)

4. Our lovely neighbors, the Norris family, have a baby goat. I went and visited the other afternoon and was treated to some hopping and skipping around. Precious Lily.

 5. I find myself very amusing when I'm mad/pissed/annoyed, like great humor is just rolling off my tongue. However, I don't think that's a universally held belief in my household...

6. Meanwhile, a confession: I watch Real Housewives of NYC and that I think Ramona is completely cuckoo for cocoapuffs. Loopers. Gonza. Whackadoodle. I know, you're still reeling from the idea that I watch trash TV, but I'm sure you'll get over it. (I used to watch The Love Boat.) This is how I'm able to reassure husband that I'm low maintenance. (Yes, because the spectrum is Ramona to me, no middle ground. Makes perfect sense to me.)

7. I'm in need of my second cup of coffee... My randomness is waning. Oh, wait. I wore a hand-me-down dress from my Grandma yesterday (you can see it in the picture above). And felt the need to share that fact with, oh, every single person I saw. Over-sharer, who? Yes, I share the style sense of a 93-year-old... well, probably not. That dress MUST have arrived in her closet via an aunt or my mom, and I'm not sure she ever wore it. But still, made a great story.

8. I need a better self-censor. Occasionally, things fly out of my mouth that should. NOT. Maybe a two-second delay on the dubbing of my life? Now there's some technology I could get behind.

9. Speaking of Marissa Mayer... Oh wait, we weren't. We were talking about technology. I have a bit of a girl crush right now. It started when I was reading I'm Feeling Lucky, the story of the 59th Google employee (who was NOT Marissa Mayer, of course. She was the 20th hire.). Anyway, Marissa is mentioned a lot in the book and comes off as quite competent, opinionated, hard working and loyal. So when I heard, within hours of finishing the book, that she was going to Yahoo as CEO, I took it upon myself to read as much about her as I could. Hence, girl crush. She kinda rocks. I hope she is able to do good things at Yahoo, who I really can't remember using a service of. Ever.

10. The apricots are ripening, but an odd thing is that they look--from a distance--much riper than they are. I pick a few, and they aren't nearly as "done" as I initially imagine, looking up at the tree. I say that, and of course a 100-degree day will come along and BOOM, they'll all be on the ground. True story.

11. Do your feet swell up in the heat? Me too.

12. I alternate between wishing I didn't need sleep, and wishing I could sleep for days. Hmm. Maybe I should try for a good eight hours as a compromise. Brilliant thinking!

13. July 19. Not a bad place to be, for a mom who is counting the days until July is o.v.e.r.

Hope your July is going well! Happy Thursday.

For more Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Midweek reminder: RIP Stephen Covey

If these seven habits got half the attention that we (er, I...) pay to the daily media's onslaught of nonsense, think about what our world could be like... It has been awhile since I've read through the list, and seeing them again this week following Mr. Covey's passing, it reminded me that I should review them more often.

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life's principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Self-discover and clarify your important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.

Habit 3: Put First Things First
Prioritize, plan, and execute your week's tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a "win" for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person gets their way.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving.

Habit 6: Synergize
Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, to achieve goals no one person could do alone. Get the best performance out of a group of people through encouraging meaningful contribution, and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. Engage in exercise for physical renewal, prayer and reading for mental renewal, as well as service to society for spiritual renewal.

-Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday night grateful list

Ever have one of those weeks where it just hits you, that you are profoundly lucky? From the moment of your birth through whenever you kick the bucket, just by dint of where and to whom you were born, you are fortunate? If you're reading this, you're probably one of those lucky ones, even if certain circumstances of your life haven't quite patted you on the back with the amount of gusto you hoped for. And, even if certain aspects have downright plain-old sucked, other pieces of the pie have (probably) made up for it. (I'm guessing, yes, and I'm sure you'll tell me if I've guessed wrong for you!)

This was one of those weeks for me. And in my case, feeling lucky can sometimes have equal parts gratitude and guilt. Sometimes I feel a little heavy with the responsibility of being born lucky--have I given back/paid forward enough, loved hard enough, forgiven quickly enough, worked hard enough at the important things, encouraged/supported enough, kept my chin up/not complained, etc. You know the drill... typical first-world guilt. Gah, quite trite. But, it's MY trite, right?

So, where does this leave a girl who has been lucky, knock on wood? Incredibly thankful and willing to say so. Every week. This weekly gratitude list tradition has been going on for 3.5 years so far, and while (if you're a regular you know this) the list can be a little routine at times (I'm just not THAT unique and thrilling, it seems), the discipline of remembering my blessings in a concrete way, even in the most mundane or (worse) nasty weeks, is something that I'm ever so grateful for. And for those of you who have come along on this grateful ride with me, I'm grateful for you too.

This week I...

...was able to be productive and work through some questions and issues at work, for which I am grateful.

...got to exchange ideas with individuals who care about making this world (and more specifically this state and this community) a better place for children, and that always leaves me humble and grateful.

...heard my husband say he loves me (many times) and returned that sentiment (many times), and I am grateful as all get-out for that love.

...saw Seth briefly in a week where I wasn't "scheduled" to do so--TWICE!--and that was just the kid-fix this mom needed.

...connected with friends over meals and cups of coffee and a little pool time; even a teacher and his wife from my middle- to high-school years, which was an awesome blast from the past. I am grateful for the good sense to appreciate where I came from, and the people who were a part of that.

...caught up in person with my brother, sister-in-law and nieces! Over cheesecake, of all things, too!

...enjoyed sunshine. Every. Single. Day. And only a couple of thunderstorms. (Enjoyed a wee bit of fog yesterday morning in Seattle, too. Variety!)

...was reminded that my devotional and prayer life isn't where I want it to be, and mulled ways to make it better, more consistent, more meaningful. I'm grateful that I can feel that reminder and be glad of it, not shamed.

...was reminded that I am not where I want to be with my activity level (ie, exercise), and mulled ways to make that aspect better, more consistent. This, alas, I was less grateful to be reminded of, and more shamed. Ha. But if it motivates me, I'll take it.

...saw the completion of one major house project, and another part-way there. House projects are one of the many joys of summer. I'm grateful for the progress!

...picked blueberries at a local berry patch and a great deal of produce from the garden, saw the end of the cherries and the beginning of apricots. I'm in love with the seasonal eating, always. (Well, always except for January, February and maybe a bit of March!)

...arrived at Friday very ready for the weekend, and for a little extra rest. I am grateful in advance for naps!

A few of my favorite images this week, with color. I am always grateful for color in my world.

I hope your week was full of things to be grateful for, as well, and that the weekend brings you naps!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Egg salad with peas and radishes

Here's what I discovered with the peas: I like them, I really do. But I don't LOVE them. I can eat a certain amount, and then I'm DONE. Kaput. Flavor over. I can think of other food items I feel that way about, so it's not like I'm picking on the poor pea alone. It was just a bit of a reminder that this is not going to be the first vegetable I reach for...

That being said, I happily incorporated peas into an egg salad I was hankering for (now there's a flavor I do not get tired of very easily...) and, harkening back to the salad in my initial pea ponderings, I decided that some radishes would complement nicely as well. Very simple, very good. A little salad, with my usual bowl of blueberries, and supper was well accomplished!

Egg, pea and radish salad
Serves 2 as a side, or 1 as a meal
4 hard boiled eggs
4-6 radishes, halved and sliced
1/2 cup blanched peas
2 Tbsp mayonaise
Salt and pepper

Chop the eggs into eighths, and add the other ingredients, stirring gently to combine the mayo thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Next up, smashed peas. Time to go Brit, just in time for London 2012!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fresh pasta (with peas)!

Within minutes of posting "what should I make with my peas?" the decision was made. Actually, it was probably (undoubtedly) happening even as I uploaded photos of recipes to consider...

Something in me was calling out for fresh pasta! It has been far, far too long since I indulged in that particular culinary delight.

I have made fresh pasta many times in the past, but never truly settled on a go-to recipe. However, I think the recipe I arrived at will work just fine for the foreseeable future. As most good things go, the seed was planted via Epicurious. Where it went from there... all me!

Fresh pasta
Makes a dozen mounds of fettucine (enough to feed 6 people)
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups semolina flour*
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
4-5 Tbsp water

Put the flour, semolina and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Add the eggs and 3 tablespoons of water and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Add additional water as you pulse, in small amounts, until the dough becomes a ball. (If the dough gets a little too gummy, just add a bit more flour.) Process for another 15 seconds, and then turn out onto a floured cutting board to rest for a half-hour minimum, and up to an hour. (If you don't have a food processor, the original Epicurious recipe has some good tips on mixing by hand.)

Pull off pieces of the dough and roll/pat into long, thick ropes.

Now is where having all the Kitchen Aid with pasta attachments is really handy. (Thanks, husband!) But pre-attachments, I've also rolled out pasta sheets, and that's an entirely workable solution too. So do not despair. Grab your rolling pin and flour up your counter and roll out the long, thick pasta ropes until they are thin (really thin, like just under 1/8 of an inch) and the cut whatever shape you're looking for. I am a fan of the fettucine width when I'm making pasta. That shape is also quite forgiving if you're cutting with a knife, too.

Let the pasta sit on the counter and dry a bit, but it doesn't need much air time before cooking.

Bring a big pot of water to boil. (If you saw my link a couple of weeks back about how much water you need to boil pasta, that does not apply to fresh pasta, apparently.) Add the pasta and cook for 6-7 minutes, checking to see if it has reached your desirable al dente state.

Sauce time! If you're like me, the sauce should usually have cheese and cream. If you're husband, it will probably involve a red sauce with some spicy peppers. In this house, we make both; that's just how we roll. But for the purposes of using up the peas, I will share with you the sauce I threw together: the whole reason for making fresh pasta in the first place!

Peas and cream for one
1/2 cup cream
1 egg
1/3 cup parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup peas
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the cream in a small saucepan. Drain the cooked pasta and put your desired amount in a medium bowl. Immediately crack open the egg and mix it thoroughly into the hot pasta, followed by the cream, parmesan, pinenuts, peas and garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well and pour out into a pasta bowl or plate and devour! (I did.)

*While most online recipes call for just all-purpose flour, I got the idea in my head years ago that semolina helps make pasta "better," but had to actually go look around to substantiate that notion. At the very least, I like the color and flavor it brings to the dough, and I think it does make the dough easier to work with. Semolina is pretty findable in most grocery stores around Walla Walla, so hopefully you can find it in your neck of the woods too!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Peas, fresh from the field

My parents will look at that blog post title, turn to each other and say: "What? Sher eats peas? When did this transpire? Has someone else take over her blog and is posting about this most unsavory [to her] vegetable?" (I somehow envision them reading this blog together, very cozy-like. Makes perfect sense to me.)

While it is true that the lowly green pea and I were not exactly friends in childhood (though the relationship was nowhere near as contentious as with beets), somewhere along the way my heart and tastebuds softened toward these sweet green orbs. They are probably not the first vegetable I reach for when thinking of a side dish, but I do not have to spend hours eating them one by one in a forkful of mashed potatoes, or slide them gently into my napkin for later disposal.

And fresh? Well, fresh makes all the difference. I can't think of a single fruit or vegetable where I would say: "Let's freeze/can that first, and the flavor will be better!" So it makes sense that with peas it is the same: from the garden (even eating while standing IN the garden) is best.

This year our 15 acres around the house are in peas. I don't know quite where the idea for that originated, but I think the farmer who leases our land approached husband with the thought and so it began. I was quite supportive of the idea, and watching the field go from brown to green shoots to blossoms to pods has been lovely. I've picked quite a few and shelled them, and picked a few with a girlfriend too--I think her family devoured them as the peas left the shell, not cooking any. That's fresh!

Yesterday I was working from home and when the doorbell rang I mistakenly thought the already-late delivery had arrived. But no, it was something much better--our farmer, on the front steps with a bucket of peas. He knew I had been watching and waiting and then picking, and since our field is now past picking and waiting to dry down for seed, he brought me some from another just-harvested field. Sweet!

The question is, what to make? The options are many, and luckily, I have more than a few cups of peas, so I think this week will be all peas, all the time.

I am considering...


And then there's Food52's spring contest for the best pea recipe, which brings up many additional good options, like a ragout of peas and artichokes (which is sadly lacking a picture, but sounds good), pocorn peas, and a lovely lemony carbonara pasta with peas. All definitely contenders.

And then there's the dish suggested a couple of weeks back by a food-loving friend and coworker... peas with paneer. 

Hmmm... What to make, what to make? Any thoughts?

Let me know which one would be first on your list! I just might make it and bring some to you... well, the "you"s that live within a 50 mile radius, that is!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Is it really Friday? Doesn't seem possible!

This week has felt odd and out-of-sorts--Seth and I came back from Canada on Monday; Tuesday I worked a few hours (precious few, then home with Seth); we all know what Wednesday was about (yard work); Thursday I spent the entire day convinced it was really Monday, referring to Wednesday as "the weekend," go figure; and today I worked from home while waiting (in vain) for a delivery that was supposed to come in the morning but really arrived at 3 p.m. I know, that's more about my week than you really care to know... but still, it was a good week, if a bit off.

Seth and I had a great trip to Canada last weekend. We enjoyed our time with Grandma Kandt, my mom and Aunt Bobbi. And road tripping with Seth has always been a fun adventure--he was born a good traveler. Now that he can pick up some of the driving slack, he's an even better traveler! We listened to a bit more of the Steve Jobs book (I know, at this rate, we'll finish it in 2015, but I'm not really INto it, so bits and pieces work for me), discussed various life philosophies, and of course, listened to each other's playlists on our respective iPods. Seth has a new crush on Regina Spektor, and I think I got a few points by casually mentioning I had her most recent album. I am so grateful for my son. I have often remarked that God blessed me with the exact right son for me; I'll say it again!

We came home to a missing-us husband, which is always nice. It would be pretty sad to come home and not have been missed... Seth often remarks on our luckiness to have husband in our lives, and I wholeheartedly second that sentiment. Grateful grateful for my man.

Summer is HERE. It's supposed to hit 100 degrees this weekend, which is fine, I guess... as long as I don't have to be out in it. I've watered and watered and watered, so the weeds should be back up to neck-high by the end of the weekend. I'm grateful for underground sprinklers. They really do make life better for those of us with too much lawn and flower beds!

Another sign that summer is here? We have eaten quite a bit from the garden already... in some ways it feels earlier than usual, which doesn't really make sense given how slow the weather has been to heat up... but, I won't question it; we'll just enjoy enjoy enjoy! Potatoes, kale, onions, cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, lettuce, arugula... yum. Add to that the cherries, strawberries (now done until August when they'll come back around), blueberries (we have our first blueberries ever, and we've been trying to grow them for years!), and there is a orangey tint up on the topmost apricots, so those are coming soon too! It's a little heaven on earth around here, and I'm so grateful for each item I harvest.

I'm grateful for an interesting project at work, that keeps me learning and growing. And I'm grateful, too, for the flexibility I have with my work hours. When Seth's been here, I can do a bit less; now that he's away for a few weeks, I can get more accomplished!

This is the Regina song that Seth and I listened to A LOT on the way to Canada and back. It's a bit of fun!

I have not been pinning enough lately. It's a situation that needs to be remedied! But, I haven't stopped completely... here are a few recently-pinned Pinterest images that I'm grateful for:


I'm grateful as well for my family and friends beyond husband and Seth. I am fortunate to have some pretty fabulous people to play mini-golf with, have lovely lunches with, exchange texts with, pick cherries alongside in the cool mornings, etc. I learn, I grow, and am better because of them. (You.) Thank you.

I hope your weekend is wonderful. I hope that you find a cool respite when you need, but that there is definitely a lot of sunshine in your world.

What are you grateful for this week?

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