Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Productive Day

Hey Humble Readers...

Considering how I felt when I woke up this morning (the crud has developed into a cough), I'm actually very proud of how much I've accomplished today. 

I made plum jam.  My first time making jam since cooking class in junior high school.  Most of it is going into the freezer, to be used throughout  the winter.  I'm happy with how it turned out.  I'm actually feeling confident enough to attempt making my own marmalade.  In a few weeks, maybe after Thanksgiving (first weekend in October for those of us north of the 49th parallel). 
All my beautiful basil
I also harvested my basil.  Can I just say how proud I am of myself for keeping two basil plants alive and thriving throughout the summer?  Me, the hobbit with the black thumb.  I'm thrilled.  I paid $8 for the plants, and given that a little bunch of fresh basil at the store costs $4, I was already ahead just with what I used fresh through the summer months.  I made a total of three cups of pesto sauce (recipe below), dried enough to fill a medium Ziploc bag, and have several branches in a jar with water to be used when I make my marinara later this week (and to be used over the next week or two). 

I figure I spent $8 for the plants.  I used probably $30 worth over the summer.  A cup of pesto at the grocery store costs about $4, multiplied by three is $12.  Dried basil in the amount that I have now is probably worth about $3.  Plus another $15 worth in fresh that is making a nice bouquet on my kitchen table right now.  So that's $8 spent, and $60 worth of product.  Not a bad return on investment.  If I could actually make growing from seeds work for me, I would be able to save even more. 
Dried basil, done in the oven (200F, on convection setting)
for an hour
I also harvested my thyme.  I have it tied in bundles and hanging to dry in the storage room.   

I think I have enough pesto to do me until February or March.  Jam will probably last until Christmas, as will the thyme.  The dried basil will last me until the end of November.  No where near the end of winter of course, but still I'm proud of my work today. 
Before washing
Marinara will be in process tomorrow or Thursday. 

Now I need to stop procrastinating on cleaning the hobbit-hole.  The only cleaning I did today was a load of towels (which still need to go into the dryer). 

Here's the pesto recipe.  It's pretty basic.  I use almonds instead of the traditional pine nuts simply for cost.  Pine nuts are three times the price of almonds. 

I cheated a little and bought the peeled garlic, lemon juice, and
shredded parm. 
Basil Pesto

4 cups fresh basil leaves, washed
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

In your food processor, combine the basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, the almonds, and the garlic.  I finely chop or grate the garlic, because I don't like biting into big chunks of raw garlic.  Process on low for a about half a minute, until a thick paste forms.  Add the salt and pepper, lemon juice, and the parmesan.  Run the food processor for another half a minute or so, while drizzling in the remaining olive oil.  Taste the pesto and adjust seasonings if needed. 
The finished product
You can either use this right away or freeze it.  I put it into medium sized Ziploc bags, and laid them flat on a baking sheet and stuck them in the freezer.  I pressed dents into the full bags, so that when I want to take some out, I can easily snap off a third (about 1/2 a cup) of what's in each bag.  That's usually enough for some pasta or a pizza or whatever. 

Let me know if you make it, and how it turns out. 

Ok, now I REALLY need to go start making supper. 


  1. I am seriously impressed with everything you got done. I am also seriously jealous of all the yummy herbs you have.

  2. My shriveled little attempt at an herb garden and I are very, VERY jealous of you right now! You are officially my favorite hobbit ever... (Okay, I admit, you're the only one I know, but still!) ;)

  3. I really need to harvest my basil and peppers before they go bad. Its getting awfully frosty here. Can't wait to borrow your pesto recipe!

  4. YAY for being productive!! I need a bigger food processor so I can make more pesto!!

  5. Yay! I'm so proud of your basil plants too! LOL. Your pesto recipe is almost identical to mine! And since I'm fully allergic to pine nuts, I also use almonds. :) I have some pesto frozen right now, but I need to do the rest of the basil leaves. Did you know you can blend just straight basil leaves, just like you're making pesto but w/o all the ingredients, and freeze it for a more fresh taste when cooking? I like to do that, and then freeze in ice cube trays, then empty the trays into Ziploc freezer bags. Perfect little serving size of fresh basil through the winter. :) I'm spoiled, I don't much like dried basil.

    I need to get on my canning and preserving this year. It's been hard with my health being crappy again, but if I don't give myself a kick in the pants and do it anyway, I'll regret it all winter long. The jam looks wonderful, you'll have to post a recipe. I have a spiced plum jam recipe that's SO good, and tastes like Christmas. :) And my uncle has a prune spread recipe... don't laugh, it's the best thing I've ever tasted... that's like apple butter, only made of prunes. I'm trying to get the recipe out of him because if he dies without passing it on, all that yummy goodness will be lost from the world forever. ;)


Hobbits are social creatures, and love hearing from friends old and new. Pull up a comfy chair and let's get to know one another.