Gardener's Grapevine 2011.08.31

Written by David Green.

It’s the beginning of harvest season and there is lots of work ahead for a winter’s bounty. This past weekend I canned 11 quarts of tomatoes which happen to be vine ripened, pesticide free and beautiful sitting on the pantry shelves.

We have a huge old pantry from when the house was originally built and it is a beauty with tall shelves to the 10-foot ceiling, spaced exactly right for quart canning jars. Sometimes I look at the jars all lined up and pretty just, waiting for winter, and think of the people who would have placed their bounty there in the past. 

Our home has had three owners prior to us, so there were not too many people putting things in the pantry. I know the Rutledge’s had a garden as it was there when we bought the house. They also burned in their garden and the soil was hard as a brick and very acidic.

This weekend Art, Jacquie and I put up pesto and it turned out wonderful. Basil is a very simple herb to grow and it is fabulous in a pesto. It is not an inexpensive venture, but more than worth the cost and effort. In the spring I scatter some basil seed in our herb beds and water them every so often. When they make full bushes with flowers starting at the ends of the branches, I cut them in half. One packet of seeds usually equals two bushels of basil.

The next job is to strip all the leaves off and wash them. My daughter Jacquie’s garden is very sandy so it takes about three washes to make sure there isn’t any sand on the leaves; mine is composted about three to four years with horse manure, and the leaves are easily washed. I use a salad spinner to remove all the excess water. The leaves are then put in a food processor and the other ingredients added.

I put the mixture in sandwich freezer bags creased in the center and folded over, then I put all the sandwich bags in a gallon freezer bag. The reason I crease and fold them in half is so when I take some out of the freezer it breaks easily. Half a sandwich bag is about what I use in a normal batch of pasta. I just thaw it out toss it in hot pasta and serve….yummmm!
A friend gave me the recipe, and great recipes—especially ones that utilize a garden’s bounty—need to be shared. I can share anything, but the family recipe for hamloaf, which would get me in deep trouble. Because it’s been a while since I took a trip to the woodshed I will keep that one to myself and share the pesto recipe:

2 cups fresh basil, ¼ cup pine nuts (I use a combination of pine nuts and chopped pistachios because it’s less expensive), ¼ cup olive oil, 2 cloves peeled garlic, salt to taste, ½ cup ground parmesan cheese, ½ cup picorono ramono cheese (a good American domestic will work well too, it’s just not as strong). Blend all but the salt together in a food processor. Salt to taste. Freeze and enjoy.

You can purchase all these items at Sofo’s market or the Anderson’s in Toledo. Some bigger grocery stores may carry the items also.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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