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I feel our summer was a bit ‘off’ this year with a few stretches of hot, hazy and humid days and hot sunny days.  One day it was hot and the next you needed fall clothes. What gives Mother Nature?  Feeling nostalgic for a good old traditional summer, I decided to make these popsicles.   They sounded non typical, refreshing and summery tasty 😀

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What I threw into the blender:
* 1 can coconut milk (not coconut water)
* 1/2c – 1c water
* juice of one lime
* 4 large’ish basil leaves
* healthy squirt of agave syrup

Blend until everything is well incorporated and smooth. Adjust ingredients to suit your taste preferences. I opted for less water so it’d be richer and creamier and put in as much lime zest I could grate off and added a bit more basil because I like bold flavours. I opted for a tiny squirt of agave b/c I didn’t want it to be too sickly sweet.  Pour into popsicle makers and let set/freeze overnight.

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And there you have it, the beautifully tasty outcome.  These were very quick and easy to make with ingredients I already had on hand. Yum!

Another pic heavy post about my garden. I love tracking its progress. I’ve learned lots this year and hope to remember everything needed for next year. I feel like its almost nearing the end and its just the beginning of August but there’s been a plethora of zucchini, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes so far and I fear that once those are done, gone will be my garden.

And now, time for the pics 🙂

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Budding butternut squash

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Butternut squash

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Cucumber

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San Marzano tomatoes

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Beefsteak tomatoes

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Roma tomatoes

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Beefsteaks again

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More beefsteaks

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Soon to be eaten beefsteaks 😉

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Bell peppers

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Jalapenos
(I swear these are more spicy then the kind you buy at the grocery store)

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Know what these are?

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Eggplants!!

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Beautiful eggplants

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Budding eggplant

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Almost ready to be picked eggplants.
Oddly enough, I bought Chinese eggplant seedlings and these are starting to look like Italian eggplants. No worries though, our home is filled with equal opportunity eggplant enthusiasts. 😀

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This is the former lettuce bed. There were 8 plants to start. I cut one to see if it would grow back on its own but the stump just died. The other 7 I left to see what would happen but the taller they get, they seem to ‘milk’ when you harvest the leaves. And they’re staring to flower. Definitely done for the season. Not bad for a 3 – 4 month run right?

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The group shot – herbs, jalapenos, peppers & leaf lettuce area.
Psst, that’s purple basil down in front that’s trying to steal the show.

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The slowly dying Italian oregano (which I have yet to figure out how to use!) and basil in the left planter and my flowering cilantro on the right. Cilantro doesn’t seem to be in my cards this year 😦

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Lastly…after some googling, I have deemed this to be purple basil.
Its beautiful to look at but I guess I should taste it and perhaps start using it?

As the summer keeps rolling on,  I noticed my basil plant was starting to seed or flower.  I decided to hack it down to the bare roots and let it re-grow for round two.  (Secretly hoping I didn’t kill it!)  I harvested all I could from the trimmed basil stems, washed and dried them.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at homemade pesto but sadly I had no nuts in the house and wasn’t about to add PB to the mix ‘to try’ LOL  Instead,  I decided to leave it at basil and garlic.   Start simple right?

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I’ll admit, I did cheat and use store bought, pre-minced garlic.


As you can see, I do not have a food processor and have read numerous horror stories about failed homemade pesto attempts done in a blender BUT I had an idea!  (yes I know, I’m not making a pesto but close enough)

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In the blender: basil leaves and EVOO

I tried my lil trick and discovered that it worked.   Don’t get me wrong, it was painstakingly slow but I kept at it!

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Adding in more basil leaves, EVOO and now garlic as it started to finally ‘blend’.  At this point, you can start to do a taste test and decide upon how much salt & pepper you’d like to add.

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Voila! Homemade basil-garlic sauce.

I chose to freeze it since we will not be using it right away.   My plan is to thaw it the night before we grill up some steaks and veggies and use it on a side of freshly boiled pasta. Maybe even serve the pasta chilled?

Do you make your own pesto or other variations on basil based sauces?

At the end of last summer, I vowed to learn how to garden this year.  I had made the same vow the year before but didn’t take as much action as I’d have liked.  My dad is aging, he’s not as into gardening as much as he used to.  I need to absorb as much knowledge as I can before its too late.  Besides, who doesn’t love the huge pay off for all the hard work?  What’s better then walking out into your own backyard and picking out your veggies for your next meal? You know exactly what’s in/on them and where they’re from.  Dare I call my garden bounty “organic”?

Hubby said he’d garden with me (aka help me BIG TIME because I’m not good at it) since I have very minimal experience. I know how to water the garden, weed and harvest.   Dad also said he’d have no part in gardening this year as he was  ‘done with it’.    To be honest, I think he was tired of being the only one doing all the work.  (To be revealed later, dad does putter around in the garden but not nearly as much as he has in the past.  I guess old habits die hard ;))

This year, I dove in head first! Back in mid-late May, the hubster and I tilled the garden beds, mixed eggshells into the soil and fertilized it as well.  I picked up the seedlings for our future garden and they were planted.   Man was I ever excited!!

Then the boring part came…waiting for things to grow.  I watered religiously and weeded as needed – basically daily.

Now that I look back on it, it really *is* a lot of work to grow & maintain your own garden but its SO totally worth it!

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A few years back, we designed our backyard to be an enjoyable living space adding in the gardening aspects later.  Now the two styles live together almost harmoniously.  Turned out well if you ask me.

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The tomato bed – san marzano, beefsteak & roma.

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Pot – basil & Italian oregano.

Planter box #1 – jalapenos, red, green & yellow peppers
Planter box #2 – leaf lettuce

BTW: thats thai basil growing all rogue (bottom right hand of pic) Haven’t decided if we’re going to try to eat it/use it.

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In this garden bed – yellow and green zucs, English cucs, butternut squash, Chinese eggplant and  bittermelon.

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Large pot:  spearmint

Small pot: cilantro

Missing is one pic of the other large garden bed which is home to Chinese fuzzy gourds, Chinese long squash, bittermelon and pie pumpkins.

So far, the garden has produced plenty of herbs and lettuce. I can’t wait for the other items to start growing in!

Do you garden? What have you planted?  Any recipe suggestions for the herbs? (I seem to have a lot to use LOL)

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