Bumper Crop of Basil

Productive Days in the Kitchen



I love to cook from scratch.  I bake fresh bread for my family a few times per week, I make my own yogurt, ice cream and sometimes simple cheeses.  I have been canning jams and fruit butters for a few years now, but until today I have not tried making pickles.  Yesterday I bought some really good looking green beans to add in to a stir fry and I ended up with a lot of leftover beans, so I decided to try making dilly beans.  Like all home canning recipes, it was extremely simple to do and it gave me a thrill when I heard the distinctive “ping” of the jars sealing.

I am very curious to taste my creation but since these are pickles, I need to wait for around 3 weeks to get the full effect of the pickling process.  I added garlic, dill, red pepper flakes and whole coriander into each jar before I packed in the beans so I expect a very zingy final product.

Earlier this week I noticed that my basil plant had grown huge, so I harvested a big bowlful of leaves and went to work making pesto sauce.  I used my food processor and when I was finished, I portioned the sauce out into prepared muffin tins so that I could freeze it into separate servings. It smelled so good in the house while I was working on this sauce!

Since I had a fresh supply of pesto, it seemed natural to make an herb crusted focaccia bread, so that was next on the list.  I made a basic sourdough based focaccia dough and then I kneaded kalamata olives and cracked black pepper into the final dough.  I covered the whole thing with good olive oil and italian herbs like basil, oregano and rosemary and gave it a final dusting with parmesan cheese. Yum!

I cook from scratch for a few reasons; I think it tastes better, I make every effort to avoid the additives and preservatives in most packaged foods, and it is far more eco-friendly to make your own.  By making your own, especially if the item you are making came from your backyard, you completely bypass the industrial sized carbon footprint involved in producing your food including the energy to power the factory, transport the goods and power the retail store.  Additionally, homemade foods do not come in packaging which later becomes part of the local landfill.

On the surface cooking from scratch seems like a simple endeavor, but when you add up the environmental savings, you can see that it is not only good for you but also good for the planet.


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  1. Really good information well expressed. I look forward to some lessons in canning when we see you next October.

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