Basil and Bay

I have a bay tree that is about 4 feet tall.  It’s in a ceramic pot and it is currently outside on the back stoop.  In late fall I carry it in (no easy task as it’s heavy) and it winters over inside only to be lugged back outside in the spring.  This was a relatively small plant when I first got it, but it has grown considerably over the years.

Top of Bay Tree With Pole Beans in Distance

Top of Bay Tree With Pole Beans in Distance

In the picture above you can see some branches that have grown longer than others.  These are the branches that I snipped off to replenish my supply of bay leaves for cooking.  I frequently use bay leaves in soups, stews and I always use them in lentils (and I cook lentils quite often). 

I removed all the healthy looking leaves from the branches after inspecting each leaf carefully, both sides.  I then washed them in cold water and dried them with paper towels.

Bay Leaves Ready for Drying

Bay Leaves Ready for Drying

I placed all the washed and dried leaves top side up on a dry paper towel on a microwave safe dish.  Then I microwaved them on high for 30 seconds; turned each leaf over and microwaved for another 30 seconds.  I did this three times each side, sometimes it takes 4 times each side depending on the size of the leaf.  You know when they are done when you can just start to see the leaves curling slightly.  I left them on the counter to cool and continue to dry for several hours (overnight works well).  Then I placed them in my glass jar and stored them in my pantry. 

Dried herbs are so expensive (isn’t everything????) but good quality dried herbs really cost quite a bit.  So growing my own, when I can, is definitely a good thing.  And I know they are pesticide free.

And that leads me to the basil.  It’s been growing like crazy.  I’ve been snipping some here and there and using it salads or tomato sauce and pasta dishes but now it was time to do some serious cutting and make some pesto.

Basil, Flat Leaf Parsley, Garlic and Walnuts

Basil, Flat Leaf Parsley, Garlic and Walnuts

My mother loved pesto and we made a lot of it during the summer months.  She’d spread it on her morning toast (sorry, I can’t take it that early in the day) and I think she even took a jar of it with her on a cruise so she could continue her morning toast routine.

Even though I have plenty of basil, I still add some fresh flat leaf parsley to the mix as I think a touch of parsley adds something to the flavor.  I use walnuts instead of pignoli….again, less expensive and very good.  The amounts of garlic, nuts and parmesan cheese used are according to personal taste.  One thing you shouldn’t skimp on is the olive oil.  Use good quality olive oil!  You can taste the difference. 

I do like to spread pesto on toasted ciabatta bread to accompany salads or soups.  I even like to put a dollop of pesto on the soup.  It’s great on grilled vegetables, fish or meat.  I plan on making a pesto pizza with shrimp and smoked mozzarella this weekend.

And I added a spoonful of it to my buttermilk dressing (equal amounts of buttermilk and mayo blended…sometimes I add a little sour cream too…); it was wonderful!

Phlox Bouquet

Phlox Bouquet

The phlox are still going strong.  I had to cut some back as they were hanging over the steps.  So I brought them inside and put them in a vase to brighten up the kitchen.

In earlier posts I mentioned a couple of the snow storms we’ve had here in the past.  I lost power for 9 days in one of them.  Whole trees and tree branches were down everywhere.  Our power utility took a lot of heat for their lack of tree maintenance near their power lines.  Well this summer they have crews out trimming and cutting.  All last week and still this weeks they’ve been working on our road.  The sound of chainsaws and the thud of pieces of branches and tree trunks as they fall has been non-stop.

Across From My Driveway

Across From My Driveway

I took the photo above late yesterday afternoon.  The workman was about 80 feet up in his bucket working on a tree directly across from my driveway.  If that tree had fallen during a storm, not only would it take the power lines with it, it could possibly have hit my car!

This morning they continued to work on that tree as well as a tree a little further down the road.

Dueling Chainsaws

Two Buckets and Dueling Chainsaws

They have finished the area near me now and have worked their way up the road.  Chainsaws can still be heard in the distance.  I have to admire these guys who do this kind of work for a living.  After watching them first hand, I know it’s not easy work…especially right next to power lines. 

The gray cat, Graycie, isn’t sneezing or sniffling as much as she had been.  But her appetite is not good.  For a day there after her fever came down, she was eating pretty good.  Then she got the upper respiratory infection and the vet said she wasn’t eating because she couldn’t smell her food…which certainly made sense. 

I’ve bought multiple brands of dried food and multiple brands of wet food, hoping that one of them will stimulate her appetite.  But so far, no go.  She’ll be going back to the vet in a couple of days.  I’ll keep you advised.



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