LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Cherries on the ground? Not quite.

I think you know how we feel about cherries in my household, but have you ever heard of ground cherries? I hadn’t, until Mama brought some home last summer. She had intended to make jam with them, as they’re naturally high in pectin (which is what makes jams and fruit pies gel), but I had so much fun unwrapping them and eating them that she never had a chance.

This summer, however, Mama is growing ground cherries with a garden club where she works. Each week, she brings home tons of them! (They’re about as prolific as a cherry tomato plant, if that gives you any idea of their abundance.) I visited her and saw that the bush is shrubby with lots of strong vines that you have to pick up in order to harvest the cherries. As they’ve been ripening over the past couple months, Mama had again intended to make a double-cherry jam with regular cherries and these, but, as I noted, I really like to eat them on their own.

This is a photo from last year. Look how little I was!

This is a photo from last year. Look how little I was!

A ground cherry looks a lot like a tomatillo in that it grows in a papery husk. Unlike a tomatillo, however, you don’t want to eat a ground cherry when it’s green. Wait until it turns a nice golden orange, and you’ll taste a tiny bit of sunshine when you pop it in your mouth. They’re sort of sweet and sort of tart and sort of buttery.

Peeling them is half the fun.

Peeling them is half the fun.

If all this is new to you, there’s still time to get a quart from your local farmers’ market. Mama adds them to fruit salads and tops green salads with them. Maybe she’ll get around to adding them to a tomato pie this week…but not if I get to them first.

Papa ended up putting a few ground cherries in this tomato pie. I did all the work peeling them, though.

Papa ended up putting a few ground cherries in this tomato pie. I did all the work peeling them, though.

Love, Jude

She eventually DID get around to making some!

Mama eventually DID get around to making some marmalade!


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Conflict Kitchen (pre-school edition)

There’s a right way and a wrong way to make a sandwich. Mine is the right way, and Mama’s…well, she can’t be right all the time, can she?

We agree that you should lay out both pieces of bread or the two halves of a bun, whichever you prefer. We agree that you should gather your remaining ingredients before proceeding.

Where we differ has to do with how you apply those ingredients to said bread. Take, for example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or, as I like to call it, a “hamburger sandwich” because, when you look at it from the side, it sort of looks like a hamburger is in there).

Sandwich bliss.

I eat all the crusts first, saving the soft inner sandwich for last.

Mama spreads either jam or peanut butter first on one half of the sandwich then wipes the butter knife on the clean half. No, no, no! She doesn’t realize that she’s just contaminated that half of the bread, and this is clearly unacceptable. Witness:

Oh, unspeakable horrors.

Oh, unspeakable horrors.

Now, you could use a clean knife for the other half of the sandwich, but I vastly prefer this method:

I won’t say who taught me this trick*, but I like it.

I won’t say who taught me this trick*, but I like its simplicity.

From there, Mama spreads jam or peanut butter on the other half and then puts the two halves together. Again, this is unacceptable, as sometimes, two jam halves are better than a half with peanut butter. Or maybe you don’t need anything on the second half. She doesn’t even ask first!

Feel my pain.

Feel my pain.

Sometimes I need help spreading the jam all the way to the edge of the bread, but I would still consider this the first meal I can make myself. And that’s not half bad, no matter how you slice it.

Love, Jude

*Mama would like me to point out that she does not condone the cleaning of even the dullest of knives with your tongue.


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Tomatoes’ Last Hurrah

Mama says it’s funny that we pine 10 months out of the year for vine-ripened tomatoes only to bemoan their abundance come August and September. Since we don’t grow them at home (as I tend to pick them too early… I just can’t help myself!), Mama brought home a nice big box of organic heirlooms. In it were Rutgers, Moscovich, Brandywines, Cherokee purples, and Japanese Trifles, which are apparently a hot commodity in Russia. Mama roasted a few dozen, and then she made sauce.

Mama tells me that you’re going to find as many variations of tomato, or marinara, sauce as there are tomatoes. There are quick tomato sauces and slow tomato sauces. Some stay on the stove, while others are tucked into the oven. Some rely on fresh garden produce, while others punch up the flavor by adding sugar or balsamic vinegar. Because she was asked, here’s how Mama does a quick, fresh tomato sauce:

Finely chop 1 yellow or sweet onion and sauté it in olive oil until soft. Add 1–2 minced garlic cloves and sauté 1 minute. Add 2, 3, 4, or 5 chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes break down and are heated through. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in chopped fresh herbs (basil or oregano, but whatever you like). Done. Use immediately.

If you have more time, however, why not cook a little bit of summer in a pot that you can freeze for delectable dining come December?

This isn’t even remotely close to half of what Mama brought home. Sheesh.

This isn’t even remotely close to half of what Mama brought home. Sheesh.

Regarding peels: They’re fine in a fresh sauce, but you don’t want them in your long-cooked sauce. Peel ripe tomatoes by hand, or try this method: core them (or lop off the top), cut a small X in the bottom, dunk in boiling water for 20–30 seconds, then plunge into ice water. Alternatively, you can run your finished sauce through a food mill, which will remove the seeds and skins. (While some folks feel the seeds turn bitter with prolonged cooking, Mama doesn’t mind them, so she doesn’t use a food mill.)

As with most things delicious, Mama insists on starting with a good base of sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil. Depending on personal preference, you can keep the heat low and cook them until tender, or you can raise the heat a bit and cook them until soft and caramelized (that’s when they turn brown). In either case, start with a big pot, and don’t add the garlic until the onions are where you want them (otherwise it’ll burn).

Even if you don’t like to eat onions, you would notice they’re missing if you skip them.

Even if you don’t like to eat onions, you would notice their absent flavor if you skipped them.

The darker you brown the onions, the more flavor they’ll have.

The darker you brown the onions, the more flavor they’ll have.

Mama chose to deglaze the pot with some red wine since she happened to have some on hand. No red wine? No problem. Just add the roughly halved tomatoes. But here’s the catch: You have to squish them. This is a great thing for a kid like me to do! Lower the heat, and begin simmering. Give them a good dose of kosher or sea salt and toss in sprigs of fresh herbs.

Mama clipped some oregano from the garden. (She’ll add the basil later, since it’s more delicate.)

Mama clipped some oregano from the garden. (She’ll add the basil later, since it’s more delicate.) You should’ve seen the mess these tomatoes made on the walls!

Once the tomatoes cook down, they’re going to release all their delicious juices. To add a bit of body (and to give the sauce a fighting chance of sticking to pasta), Mama did add a small can of organic tomato paste. When everything was good and bubbly, she put the whole pot, lid and all, in the oven on a lowish heat, about 300°F, and forgot about it. Well, not really. Every now and then she left me to play on the porch while she stirred the sauce, and the heavenly sweet smell would waft through the windows to where I sat. She cooked it until it reduced to a thickness she liked and the flavor was concentrated enough to be considered “awesome.”

What do you think was for dinner?

What do you think was for dinner?

If you prefer a smoother sauce, run it through a food mill, or take an immersion blender to it. We happen to prefer a little heft to our sauce. Set some aside for dinner, then allow the rest of the sauce to cool before portioning it into jars or zip-top freezer bags.

Poor Papa. He wanted to take a bag out of the freezer a few days after Mama made it, and she said he wasn’t allowed! It doesn’t matter that she froze several quarts. She doesn’t want to run out before the end of the year. Which is a shame, since I could see eating this every day.

Love, Jude

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 (or 2) yellow or sweet onion, finely chopped (depending on how many tomatoes you have)
2–4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how garlicky you like it)
Red wine (optional)
12–15 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled* and roughly halved (crosswise preferred)
Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces tomato paste
Several sprigs fresh herbs, as desired

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Coat the bottom of a large, oven-safe pot or Dutch with olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. If desired, deglaze the pot with a healthy splash of red wine. Carefully add the tomatoes in batches, squishing them with your hands as you go. Mama supposes you could skip the squishing step, but it gets the juices released a bit quicker. Alternatively, you could give them a few pulses in a food processor to speed things up. But we’re not talking fast here, are we?

Get the tomatoes going at a low simmer. Add a generous helping of salt and stir in the tomato paste. Toss in a few sprigs of hearty herbs like oregano. Just put the whole thing in; you can fish it out later or catch it in the food mill. Cover and put in the oven for a couple hours, stirring occasionally. Towards the end, add more delicate herbs, like basil.

*May also reserve peeling for after the sauce is cooked, either by hand (tedious!) or with a food mill.


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A pie for all seasons

Mama likes to add the word “pie” to certain things. She thinks this will get me to eat them…and she’s often right. There’s tomato pie, for instance. And now I’ve been introduced to the “pot pie.” Specifically, a tiny little Jude-size pie filled with all kinds of savory yumminess.

Don't you just want to dig in?

Don’t you just want to dig in?

When Mama decides to make pot pies, she makes single-serving ones, and she makes two versions: a veggie one for herself and a chicken one for Papa (and I suppose me). While it seems like a lot of work—and it does take a few hours, or in our case, two nights after work—once the pot pies are done, they freeze well, and you’ll have 8 dinners on tap. Mama makes a few alterations to the recipes, and she has a couple tips for making both recipes at the same time.

First, make the dough for both. It’s easy enough to make one batch, then the next. The bits of dough left on the blade of the food processor after batch 1 aren’t going to affect batch 2, so don’t even bother cleaning it. (You could also make both batches together, if your food processor can handle the volume.) Wrap the dough disks and let them chill in the fridge. Mama says that’s so they can relax before we roll them. She also uses all butter, rather than half shortening.

Second, chop all your vegetables together. Even though you need chopped onions for the chicken pie and sliced onions for the veggie one, you can still prepare the onions all at once. Get your crying out of the way, Mama says. (Whatever that means.) Look over the recipes to see what can go together, and set out the appropriate bowls or containers. For example, for the veggie pie, the fennel and the onions go into the pot together, so Mama sliced them and set them aside in one bowl. Ditto the carrots, asparagus, and squash.

This is the veggie filling. Papa nicked some for a snack before Mama could finish making her pies.

This is the veggie filling. Papa nicked some for a snack before Mama could finish making her pies.

Third, both recipes make 8 larger pies, or about a dozen of the smaller ones. When you roll the dough, you probably won’t be able to get all 8 out of the first roll.

Turn a pie tin over onto the dough and cut the circles a little larger than that.

Turn a pie tin over onto the dough and cut the circles a little larger than that.

Gather the scraps, gently smoosh them together, and set the wad aside. Prepare as many pies as you have crusts for while the dough relaxes again. (Mama showed me how it just springs back to a little circle when you try to roll it again right away.)

This is a freshly rested disk of dough. It’s such a lovely, stretchy dough that even I could roll it fairly easily (though Mama did help).

This is a freshly rested disk of dough. It’s such a lovely, stretchy dough that even I could roll it fairly easily (though Mama did help).

As for the recipes, Mama skipped the Pernod in the veggie recipe, and it goes without saying that she used homemade veggie stock instead of chicken. And instead of par-cooking the veggies in water, she does it in the stock. You not only get extra-flavorful veggies, she says, but the stock gets an added boost, as well. Start with about 3 cups stock for the veggie version.

Don’t scrimp on the saffron. It’s a pricier spice, but Mama suggests going to an ethnic market, where items like this are often more reasonably priced.

Don’t scrimp on the saffron. It’s a pricier spice, but Mama suggests going to an ethnic market, where items like this are often more reasonably priced.

For the chicken pie, Mama didn’t pour in all 5 cups stock at once when she finished the sauce. It can get a little soupy, so she started with a quart and gauged what the thickness was like before proceeding.

This is the chicken filling. Fill one pie to see how much you want it filled, then stick with that amount for each pie. While the dough rests before its second re-roll, go ahead and egg-wash the rims of the pie plates and finish the pies.

This is the chicken filling. Fill one pie to see how much you want it filled, then stick with that amount for each pie. While the dough rests before its second re-roll, go ahead and egg-wash the rims of the pie plates and finish the pies.

The dough stretches a little bit, but not too much. It fits nicely over the bitty pot pie. Once the rims are egg-washed, it’s a matter of laying the dough on top and crimping the edges shut.

The dough stretches a little bit, but not too much. It fits nicely over the bitty pot pie. Once the rims are egg-washed, it’s a matter of laying the dough on top and crimping the edges shut.

Don’t forget to egg-wash the top, cut steam vents in the dough, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mama says that’s the best part.

Don’t forget to egg-wash the top, cut steam vents in the dough, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mama says that’s the best part.

To freeze, Mama covers the pies in both plastic wrap and foil. She sets them on a baking sheet and places them in the freezer that way. Once frozen, then she puts them in a ziptop plastic bag for storage. To bake, she puts them on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven, with the foil on, for half an hour to get the insides heated, then uncovers them for the final 45 to 60 minutes, to get the crust golden and flaky. To serve, Mama cooks brown rice or quinoa, but she says any grain would be a lovely addition. She likes to flip the pie over into a bowl of quinoa and mix it up that way. That sounds kind of yucky, though. And I don’t really like quinoa. But I do like these little pot pies.

I like it!

I like it!

Love, Jude


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I scream, you scream

Two of Mama’s favorite things to make are angel food cake and challah bread.

Mama made French toast with this yummy challah.

Mama made French toast with this yummy challah.

Luckily, they have a symbiotic relationship (or so Mama tells me), in that angel food cake needs egg whites, while challah calls for egg yolks. But they don’t require equal amounts of divided eggs. You’re going to have about half a dozen leftover yolks, which is just enough to make…

ICE CREAM!

You probably think that I don’t eat a whole lot of this delicacy. And you would be wrong. Well, at least by Mama’s standards, I do eat a lot of ice cream. (I could see eating it a couple more times a week, but that plea tends to fall on deaf ears…) But I was amazed when Mama finally showed me how to make ice cream. She couldn’t have gotten me out of the kitchen had she tried.

This is what you'd call soft serve.

This is what you’d call soft serve.

Making ice cream is like magic. First it’s cold, then it’s hot, then it’s cold again. Some folks might not consider this method very easy. And while it’s certainly true that not all ice creams are cooked first, cooking the base makes such a creamy difference (it’s also what makes it French). Besides, wouldn’t you rather eat cooked egg yolks?

Actually, probably the most difficult thing involved is splitting and scraping the vanilla bean. Mama showed me how to do it. Carefully cut it in half the long way, then hold onto one end with your finger pressed onto it. (If you need the whole pod, don’t cut all the way through so that you separate the whole bean; if you do, just do the next step with each half.) With the other hand, take the blade of your knife (either edge), and run it down the cut you just made, so you’re flattening the bean and scraping the seeds from inside it at the same time.

If you look closely, you can see the edges of the bean where the seeds were scraped out.

If you look closely, you can see the edges of the bean where the seeds were scraped out.

Okay, maybe this ice cream is a bit more complicated than scraping a vanilla bean, but when you taste it, you won’t even care.

Love, Jude

French Vanilla Ice Cream
(that will make you forget all your cares)

2 cups organic heavy cream
1/2 cup organic half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
5-6 organic egg yolks (1/2 cup)

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, half and half, sugar, and vanilla bean (pod and seeds) just to a boil.

You can see all those lovely vanilla bean seeds, and the pod adds a ton of flavor, too. Just look how thick and creamy it looks already.

You can see all those lovely vanilla bean seeds, and the pod adds a ton of flavor, too. Just look how thick and creamy it looks already.

Meanwhile, set yolks in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients and whisk gently to break them up. Once the cream is hot, pour a little bit (about 1/2 cup) into the egg yolks while whisking. (Mama says if you’re using a bowl that skids while you’re whisking, put a damp towel or washcloth beneath it.) Then slowly add the remaining cream to the yolks, whisking constantly. Mama calls this tempering and says that without it, the eggs would coagulate. I say the word “coagulate” is almost as bad as the word “moist.”

This is how the yolks look after just a little bit of tempering. See? No scrambled eggs.

This is how the yolks look after just a little bit of tempering. See? No scrambled eggs here.

Now you can do either of two things: You can pour everything back into the saucepan and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom of the saucepan), until it reaches 170˚F, which is how hot you want your eggs to be to render them safe. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell when it’s ready because it coats the back of a wooden spoon and when you run a finger down the back of the spoon it creates a channel that the cream doesn’t run into. This will take about 10 minutes. If you’re worried that you might scramble your eggs—they get pretty close if your heat is too high or you don’t keep stirring—then keep your cream mixture in the bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl).

When the cream doesn't slip back into the channel on the spoon, it's called nappé, and it means your custard is done.

When the cream doesn’t slip back into the channel on the spoon, it’s called nappé, and it means your custard is done.

Et voilà: You have your custard base for ice cream. (Aren’t you even a little excited?) Now strain it into a clean bowl. This will collect all the stray bits of coagulated egg and vanilla bean. (Rinse off that bean and stick it in  jar of sugar for vanilla sugar!) From here, let it cool a bit, then put it in the fridge to cool completely. If you’re in a bit of a rush, have your clean bowl (the one that’s going to receive the strained custard) sitting in a larger bowl filled with ice and a bit of water, and be sure to stir the custard periodically as it cools.

Straining ensures your custard is as silky as you deserve it to be after all that work.

Straining ensures your custard is as silky as you deserve it to be after all that work.

Pour your cold custard into an ice cream maker and process and freeze according to directions. (I’m just a toddler. You can’t expect me to explain everything.) If you want to add flavors, such as nuts or chocolate chips or bits of fruit, wait until the ice cream is nearly done churning before doing so.

Churn, baby, churn, and work your magic.

Churn, baby, churn, and work your magic.

Once it’s churned, stick it in the freezer, and just try not to think about it all the time. This recipe makes about a pint of ice cream, but it can easily be doubled…you know, in case you didn’t make challah bread after your angel food cake.

Come on, you've seen me lick spoons and spatulas before. Why should ice cream custard be any different?

Come on, you’ve seen me lick spoons and spatulas before. Why should ice cream custard be any different?

Note: Mama says you can subtly change the flavor of the custard base by steeping herbs (such as mint or chamomile) in the cream as it heats. One of her favorite blends is steeping lavender flowers in the cream, then adding honey during the final cooking phase or churning phase (depending on desired texture).


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It’s not too late to make popsicles!

I’d wanted to write about popsicles for some time, but Mama kept me pretty busy during the summer. Since I just finished the very last one, I thought better late than never. And you can still get good cantaloupes from your farmers’ market, so why not make a bunch of popsicles to enjoy on those Indian summer days that are still to come?

I’m sure you know how much I love frozen treats, whether they’re gelati or popsicles. I especially liked making these with Mama! She showed me how she cuts the cantaloupe, and then I put the pieces in the blender. Mama added the juice of a fat juicy lime and a bit of sweetened condensed milk (she thought this might make it more like a creamsicle). Then I covered my ears so she could whir it.

Jude on Food: You need a little bit of sugar in your popsicles to keep the melon from freezing solid.

We tasted it to see if it needed more S.C.M. (it did), and she whirred it some more.

Mama gave me a big slice of melon to munch on while I figured out these popsicle molds--they're from when Mama was a kid!

Mama gave me a big slice of melon to munch on while I figured out these popsicle molds. They’re from when Mama was a kid!

I helped pour the popsicle mixture into the molds. Mama had to take a few deep breaths, as I tended to miss the molds, but I did a pretty good job overall, she said.

It's amazing what a little kid can do when you take a deep breath and just let him.

It’s amazing what a little kid can do when you take a deep breath and just let him.

The hardest part was waiting for them to freeze…and then getting them out of the deep freezer, once Mama moved them from our kitchen freezer after I started helping myself.

Love, Jude

Cantaloupe Popsicles

1 lovely ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Juice of 1 lime (or 2, if you prefer)
1/2 small can sweetened condensed milk (more or less, to taste)

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until set.


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What do you do with a TON of basil?

Our basil was slow to start this year, but it decided to spring up while we were on vacation. Now the plants are almost as big as me! In order to keep the plants lush and producing big flavorful leaves, Mama picks off the flowers. She says otherwise, the basil will get woody. “Woody?” I ask. “Woody,” she confirms. (I was being too much of a stinker to let Mama get a good picture of me with the basil, but you can see how tall the plants are here.)

She also has to harvest the stems and leaves if she wants to keep using the plants. It sounds funny to me that you have to take off leaves to get more, but Mama is sometimes right about things, so I’ll trust her on this one.

Aside from tossing chiffonade basil (that’s thin ribbons) into salads and over tomatoes & mozzarella, Mama likes to make pesto. Though pesto is decidedly of Italian origin, Mama told me she first had fresh pesto while in college on a visit to a friend in Germany (she says I’m not allowed to say how long ago that was ). She wrote down her friend’s mother’s recipe in her little journal and used that recipe for many years. Now she makes her own, and you’ll see that it’s not only simple to prepare but simple to store—and so much tastier than the oily stuff that comes in jars.

Gather everything together before you start, and you'll be done with your pesto in no time.

Gather everything together before you start, and you’ll be done with your pesto in no time.

Mama showed me how she whirrs everything in a food processor. She usually does it to taste, which is helpful when you don’t have a recipe handy. She said if you want to keep your pesto looking as bright as the day you made it, blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for all of 20 seconds, then plunge them in ice water and squeeze dry. Otherwise, if you don’t really care that the color fades, skip the extra step.

The last thing I’ll tell you about pesto is that you can use just about any green, like kale, cilantro, or parsley, as well as just about any nut or seed, such as walnuts or pumpkin seeds. If you find yourself with a bunch of herbs or a head of greens, try making your own variation on a classic pesto.

Now, I told Mama, “I don’t like pesto,” but she and Papa claim I’ve eaten it before. I’m not so sure, so I’ll give this one both a “hit” and a “miss.”

Love, Jude

What would enjoy a dab of pesto? What wouldn’t?!

Potato salad
Various pastas
Peas/green beans/asparagus
Béchamel (white sauce)
Meatloaf, burgers, meatballs (add to the mix or serve as a topping)
Scrambled eggs
Egg salad
On top of grilled portabellas or eggplant with mozzarella & tomatoes
Pizza (spread on pizza crust or a pita or anything else you’d consider a “pizza”)
Mix with softened butter and slathered on corn on the cob
Sandwich spread
Aïoli
Bruschetta with roasted red peppers
Broiled or grilled chicken or fish
Hummus or white bean mash
Chickpeas
Thinned with a bit of balsamic vinegar and use it as a vinaigrette

Basil Pesto

1 cup packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts (Mama uses raw, but go ahead and use toasted if that’s what you have)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup olive oil (extra-virgin, if you like)
¼ cup grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan (Parm is more traditional, and lends a nuttier taste, but Mama likes to change it up and likes the subtle sweetness of the sheep’s milk cheese. That, and she had pecorino and didn’t feel like running out for Parm.)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
few grinds of black pepper
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

This is a packed cup of basil. I couldn't fit more leaves in there if I tried. (By the way, picking leaves off a basil plant is a great task for someone like me!)

This is a packed cup of basil. I couldn’t fit more leaves in there if I tried. (By the way, picking leaves off a basil plant is a great task for someone like me!)

In a food processor, process the basil, pine nuts, and garlic into a paste.

Your pesto really doesn't need to look just like this, but it gives you an idea.

Your pesto really doesn’t need to look just like this, but it gives you an idea.

Add the oil, cheese, salt, pepper, and lemon juice and process  until well blended. If you want to be able to drizzle your pesto, add more oil or cut back on the cheese.

This is a good consistency for pesto, but you can certainly make it thinner with more oil.

This is a good consistency for pesto, but you can certainly make it thinner with more oil.

A little goes a long way, so it pays to experiment with how much you prefer on pasta, etc. Pesto will keep in the fridge for at least a week; or, freeze in ice cube trays, then store cubes in zip-top plastic freezer bags for a few months.

Mama put my old baby food freezer trays to good use!

Mama put my old baby food freezer trays to good use!

Note: Mama says this pesto will taste salty, which is a good thing as it generally tops plain pasta. If you’re concerned about the salt, start with a little less—or use kosher salt. The bigger grains cause you to use less of it.


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Refrigerator Pickles, Part Deux

I sure love pickles. Not sweet or bread & butter pickles, mind you, but dill. I especially like when they’re crunchy.

I’ve made pickles before, and it’s really quite simple. Mama found a new recipe that she thought we could try, and it was a perfect chance to use the garden dill before it goes entirely to seed.

These little cucs are the perfect size for a pint jar.

These little cucs are the perfect size for a pint jar.

We have to wait a few days before we can eat them, but no doubt they’ll be worth it.

If you're mouth's not watering just looking at these, then... you mustn't like pickles very much.

If your mouth’s not watering just looking at these, then… you mustn’t like pickles very much.

Love, Jude


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Lemonade’s not just for heat waves

Well, the heat wave finally broke, but it’s still awfully hot. Mama decided it was time for some lemonade. You won’t believe how easy it is to make.

Get together your lemons, juicer or reamer, knife, and cutting board.

Get together your lemons, juicer or reamer, knife, and cutting board.

Since these were large lemons, Mama used a regular hand juicer rather than her electric one. She took out 6 lemons, as that’s about what it takes to get 1 cup of lemon juice. She ended up needing only 4 of them, though.

I tried juicing a lemon, but  I could either press or twist, not both at the same time.

I tried juicing a lemon, but I could either press or twist, not both at the same time.

Juicing the lemons is probably the toughest part. After that, it’s a matter of combining everything, and choosing how you want to serve it. I like lemonade very much, especially the way it makes my face pucker. Mama likes making it herself because she can control the sweetness. And really, it’s not an expensive drink to make, even if you get a hankering for the stuff once the heat wave passes.

Love, Jude

Lemonade

Juice of 4 to 6 lemons (1 cup)
1 cup sugar (or more or less, to taste)
6 cups cold water

In a pitcher, combine the lemon juice and sugar. Stir to start dissolving the sugar. Add the water, then stir until the sugar dissolves. Serve straight, over ice, or with a pick of frozen fruit for garnish.

These frozen grapes make a terrific and refreshing complement to the lemonade.

These frozen grapes make a terrific and refreshing complement to the lemonade.

Makes about 7 cups.

Variations: Instead of a pick of frozen fruit, toss a handful of strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries into the lemonade as it sits in the fridge. Or add a few sprigs of mint, thyme, basil, or lemon verbena. Instead of mixing the sugar with the lemon juice, pulse it in a food processor or coffee grinder with 2 Tbsp lavender flowers until powdery, then add that to the lemon juice and water. (Alternatively, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and 1 cup of the water in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar is melted. Add the lavender flowers and steep until the mixture cools. Discard the flowers, chill the syrup, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.) Or try two of Mama’s favorite ways to have this lemonade: as an Arnold Palmer (50/50 with unsweetened iced tea) or mixed with limoncello (she says it’s lemonade for adults).