Adventures in Pesto

You know it’s the middle of winter when you run out of homemade pesto. My mother, of all people (she usually eschews anything green — and that does not mean she chews it, rather she turns it down), has had a hankering lately for basil pesto. I used up an entire log of frozen pesto in December, and now there is none left.

But she wanted pesto, so I looked around for other leaves and vegetables that seemed like they would work to form the vehicle for garlic and Parmesan, which I am almost certain is what my mother was craving.

I found half a bag of spring mix and a head of Boston lettuce from our local family farm and two broccoli crowns from the grocery store. And so I began.


This much spring mix, plus one lettuce leaf.


Six florets of this crown, blanched for about a minute, until bright green.


Three cloves garlic and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (dirty dishes optional).

I used the same procedure I would use for basil pesto: shredded the lettuce leaves into the food processor, cut up the broccoli florets into small pieces, added rough-chopped garlic, a little salt, about a 1/3 cup of olive oil…


Oops, forgot something. (And I don’t mean focus.)

And a handful of walnuts, chopped… (because I also ran out of pine nuts)…


Walnuts on top.

And processed. Then added grated Parmesan and processed for another 10 seconds. That’s what my recipe book says, and that’s how I do it.


Spring mix – broccoli pesto!


Yes, I am eating right out of the serving bowl.

I almost forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Garnish with more grated Parmesan and broccoli florets, and eat out of a big bowl. And don’t forget to serve Mom.

She liked it!

I bet this would also be delicious mixed with ricotta cheese and used for stuffed shells or ravioli.



2018.06.16. Saturday.

Made a new bed. Planted corn (yellow-white hybrid, 7-14 days to germinate, 73 days to maturity). Cleaned up a bit (hard to tell!).

The neighbor sheared the forsythia and exposed a robin’s nest. I tried to keep my distance after taking these pix to let the parents feed their kids in peace.


2018.06.08. Friday.

What can grow in a month, and how high? Here’s the side of the house and back yard. Mostly overgrown by fleabane about to bloom. And an incredible stand of ferns behind the raised beds.

And in the front:


Mix of weeds, tomato volunteers, and dill, surrounded by intentionally planted shrubs.

But sometimes among the weeds are desirable volunteers:


2018.05.05. Firsts.

The last first in the list of firsts (that is, the most recent), is the first mowing of the lawn in 2018 on May 5 (partial).

Also, the first selection of tomato volunteers to encourage.

The first 90-degree day of the year was May 4.

Before that, the first asparagus harvest of 2018 was on April 27, the asparagus having first emerged on April 23.

Shortly before that was the first flying insect sighting — a lazy fly flew in the front door and was easy to shoo out again. (When you garden, you notice when the pollinators show up.)

Maybe a week before that, I gave the American Holly by the deck a haircut — easily cutting out 4/5 of the branches. It has some kind of scale infestation and I decided I’d do a hard pruning to see if I could get rid of the scale. Surprisingly, the part that’s left is blooming like crazy now, so maybe I did more good than harm.


2018.03.21 — still Wednesday.



Ice fall last night and snow fall all day. When I couldn’t get the front door open last night because of a sheet of ice across the front stoop, I imagined trying to walk across the ice from the back door around to the front door to dig out, and was joking with my mom about retrofitting her walker with ski-pole tips to keep me upright.


The most surprising part of this project is that I managed to do it without injuring myself.

For two of the legs (the ones with the black caps), I used some kind of spare part from a washing-machine delivery (I never throw anything away), I think these were plastic screw-on feet for the washer. They’re held in place by large drape hooks (I never throw anything away) pushed through the retaining holes and twisted around, and the screws are held from retracting by small drape hooks clamped around the threads. (I don’t know, there’s a box of each on the utility room shelf.) The other two legs are fitted with heavy-duty lag bolts.

As it turned out, by the time I was ready to attempt to dig us out, it had already started snowing, so the ground wasn’t that slippery.

But there was plenty of ice under the snow.

Welcome Spring 2018.



2018.03.21 Wednesday.

Here’s what I did with the refrigerator doors:


Put ’em in the pantry. And the guys who delivered the new fridge didn’t even notice. Well, they didn’t say anything. And neither did I.


2018.03.14 Wednesday.

No, these are not pictures of an extreme deep cleaning in preparation for Passover! This is another lemons – lemonade situation. Yesterday morning, our fridge blew a gasket (more accurately, a coil), and in preparation for removal of this one and delivery of a new one, I decided to see what I could salvage. The plastic bins, of course — those come out without the use of tools. But also the glass shelves. And the shelf brackets and internal uprights, which are interesting because they mount into corners.

And then I got curious about the doors. The molded plastic is just screwed onto the door panels. The gasket seals pull right off. There’s some fiberglass batting wedged into the gaps behind the plastic (I hope it’s fiberglass and not asbestos! the fridge isn’t that old).

It all came apart quickly. I’m having fun imagining all the ways to use my new molded-plastic shelves. Maybe an outdoor wall-mounted vertical garden? A miniature terrarium in the butter bins?


2018.03.07. Wednesday, part II.

Life handed me a power outage, so I made tomato soup.


I might never have gotten around to cooking up those three quarts of tomatoes my sister processed and froze last fall had it not been for a forced defrosting. But on Friday, icy rain and wind took out a neighbor’s tree and the neighborhood’s wires along with it.

And when you start the day by making a snowma’am, you have to post pictures of her on your blog before doing anything else. At that point, despite having no trouble getting to your office (which is just downstairs, after all), you might as well join everyone else in the county* in taking a snow day.

And because you’re too restless to read and too lazy to clean, you cook!

So we’ll have a taste of summer for dinner in winter.

*Everyone else, that is, except Mailman Rick, who caught me rolling my snowma’am’s middle as he was walking his route this morning.


2018.03.07. Wednesday.

Life handed me snow so I made a snowma’am.

And I gave her my nose.

And it ran.

So she ran with it.



March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb. Do any of us really remember at the end of March what the weather was like 30 days before? Same with April showers bring May flowers. Even the groundhog not seeing its shadow in February seems to be based more on wishful thinking — it might be dreary today, but because of today’s lack of sun, winter will end sooner — than on year-over-year observation.

Why do I bring this up? Nor’easter! In contrast to the last few days of February, which were calm and mild, with temperatures getting into the mid to high 50s (F, of course) — today it’s 35 degrees and snowing and the wind is gusting in every direction. I had to put the trashcan and recycling bin in the garage — I heard the crash of the can being blown over and came out to see the 30-gallon plastic recycling bin was on its way down the driveway. My pink plastic Adirondack chair blew across the yard and is now resting upside down among the Joe Pye weed stubs.



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Watching the swirling snow, I thought of a day much like this one 15 years ago, when I sat down to write my column for that year’s spring issue of SlavFile, the newsletter of the Slavic Languages Division of the American Translators Association:

2013-spring_Jezik u toku 02

Excerpt of “Jezik u toku,” column in SlavFile vol. 13, no. 2 (Spring 2003), reproduced with permission.

At that time, I was still pretty new to translation and even newer to gardening — like, I’d never done it before. (I didn’t break ground for my first vegetable garden until spring of 2004.)

* * *

Oh, so many thoughts about what to say next! So many analogies, so little time!

* * *

Meanwhile, another big gust of wind, and the chair is now over by the compost bins.

* * *

Where will I find myself after the next big gust?

Note: This is the first time I’m posting the same thing on this blog and my professional blog.


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