Mom’s Pesto

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The summer heat is back with a vengeance, with temperatures sometimes reaching three digits inland and into the nineties by the ocean. Nighttime is now often spent without blankets, and driving to work in the morning reduces me to a sweaty mess. As Jonji said, we enjoy the clear change in seasons for the first week—after that, we fervently wish for the next change.

Last weekend Jonji and I invited friends to a beach day, followed by a late birthday cake since I had missed his real birthday the weekend before. After a partner workout with Jonji during which I vehemently cursed running and all future runs I know I’ll do, we drove home and I began decorating his cake. Ever since the first birthday we spent together, I have made a lemon poppyseed layer cake with strawberries and cream cheese frosting, as per his request.


A little later, we drove to Will Rogers State Beach with our friend Karen, and met another friend, Jeff, there. We munched on popcorn and chips and lay like rotisseries beneath the hot sun. Jonji and Jeff braved the big waves and rocky drop-off, while Karen and I contented ourselves with getting thoroughly soaked with just the waves’ hasty advance up the beach. After we had gotten our fill of heat and sun we walked back to the car, Jonji and Jeff limping slightly from their rocky retreat out of the waves. We all met back at our place to feast on cake, where we were soon joined by another friend, Jake. We talked and joked about Jonji’s latest stories from the ER (there are some good ones—ask him and you will be rewarded) until 8:30 pm. Once everyone had said their goodbyes, I sluggishly heaved myself off the couch to make dinner.

I will note that I constantly aim to take photos of our surroundings and friends, but I always end up with pictures of food. It’s clear what my priorities are in life.


On Sunday I weighed myself down with tons of gorgeous summer fruit and veggies at the Farmer’s Market, battling through the crowds of milling people as the day grew ever warmer. I took Jonji’s 10 am CrossFit class—one of his rare coaching appearances—and then ran a few more errands. The rest of the day was spent cooking until we journeyed Downtown to Liz and Eric’s place to watch the Warriors lose the final game to the Cavs. Sad for us, but good for those loyal Cleveland fans.

This past weekend was spent by myself, as Jonji flew to St. Louis for some sort of conference. On Friday I spent time panicking over the presence of several maggots, which is one of the worst things to find in your home. I dealt with them quickly, but kept a suspicious eye on the kitchen floor for the rest of the weekend. Before going to bed, I saw a cockroach skittering behind the toaster—never have we found one inside our apartment before. The following few minutes were spent shrieking as I attempted to catch it in a container, while its creepy little legs went a thousand miles per hour in an attempt to escape. I was ultimately victorious, and vehemently hoped that was the last critter I’d see that evening. Fortunately it was, and so I spent a semi-relaxing evening trying to bring peace between our cats.

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On Saturday I took part in a nasty partner workout at Depot, and then wiled away the rest of the day looking at my cookbooks with summer produce on the mind. Later I went out for a drink in Santa Monica with Cindee and Alaura, my Otis compatriots. That’s right, I actually left my cat-cave to socialize!


The rest of the weekend passed by in a haze of meal planning, food shopping, and reading. One super exciting development (exciting for me, at least) was the discovery of an excellent pork source at the Farmer’s Market. For someone who loves to cook pork shoulder, having this new source is going to do wonders for my meal planning.

Last update: today I found a bit of courage and took my car in to get the AC looked at. A couple of hours later, I drove away with real cold air blowing through my car! Seriously life changing—driving in the summer will no longer be the helplessly sweaty experience that it has been for the last two years.

At last week’s market I found a lovely bunch of green and purple basil which I just had to get. Side note: For some reason unbeknownst to me, young Bailey made her email address prplbazil66, and now I cannot look at purple basil without grinning as I think of earnest, loud, and round young Bailey. Anyway, I took the basil home and used it in some meals, but had plenty left over. This I used to make pesto, the recipe for which came from my mom. Rich and wonderfully reminiscent of warm summer days, pesto goes well with pasta, fresh bread, on a sandwich, a morning scramble, or anything else you can think of. Scroll all the way down for the bonus Pesto Pasta recipe, which is absolutely delicious and extremely quick to make—a quality I’ve come to appreciate much more these days.

Side note: I am aware that that “authentic” pesto is made by hand using a mortar and pestle, and while I’m sure that method yields wonderful pesto, using a food processor is so much faster and gives us consistent and delicious results.


Mom’s Pesto

makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 bunch basil, stems discarded
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted*
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

Combine the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, then slowly pour in the olive oil with the machine on. Blend until smooth and season to taste. Stored in the fridge, it should keep for a couple weeks.

*Toast in an oven turned to 300°F for about 10–15 minutes. They will be done when they’re slightly more golden brown.

Bonus Recipe: Pesto Pasta with Pine Nuts and Sausage
serves 4

4 chicken or pork sausages, skins removed
1 packet curly pasta, or your preference

1 yellow onion, diced
olive oil and butter
4 tbsp pesto, or to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts
handful of halved cherry tomatoes (optional)

Cook the sausage meat over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Once the chunks are slightly browned, turn off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion plus 1/4 tsp salt, turn the heat to medium-low, and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Mix in the freshly cooked pasta and the sausage, and stir to combine. Add the pesto and pine nuts and stir until the pesto is spread evenly through. Taste for seasoning. Add the tomatoes if you’re so inclined. Enjoy!

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