Monday, September 2, 2013

Putting the Pest in Pesto

Labor Day - a day to sleep in, stretch widely, and be at one with your reality. Which of course means getting up before dawn when it's pouring rain, bitching about how your back aches, and going to Fox Creek Farm to pick basil with FF. We are one with mosquitoes.

It was a humid, sticky, gray start to the day but the drive to Schoharie was lush, verdant (never actually used that word in a sentence before) and filled with the hum of bugs on the prowl. We only got lost once, missing the turn in Altamont because we were yakking. Fox Creek Farm is a 300 member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that also offers a U-Pick of herbs, small tomatoes, and flowers for members to pick for free. Zena forgot her sword, so we stopped at the Price Chopper on Western Avenue and 155 for cheap scissors before we hit 146 East. Also bananas, 2 bars of soap, and some shallots, but I digress.

On arrival we were directed where to park and pick, and greeted soon after by owner Raymond Luhrman and one of his little barn cats, who proceeded to bravely go right into FF's car and explore, which was fine until he started to scratch up the upholstery. FF has been a long-time advocate in the Albany area for sustainable farming and buying local; Fox Creek is part of the solution and going strong, and FF and Raymond were on best terms. No one questioned the fact that the Warrior Queen was there, armed with her new Scotch brand scissors and several plastic bags, bug spray (NOT that I need it, of course) and rubber boots. I SHOULD get a farm share but I'm finding it kind of satisfying to be cheap and take advantage of my friends' connections, but that's another blog, and again, I digress. We took a wide look, stretched widely again, and started picking. 

OK I admit, I have a tomato problem. And a pasta problem. And a white wine on Friday problem, but it's only Monday so let's not go there.  There was an abundance of tiny tomatoes - and I picked enough to freeze several large bags for when the weather turns cold and I need to remember summer tomato flavors (which in turn is excellent with pasta, and wine). Also enough basil to make 40 ounces of pesto. I made 20 ounces using pine nuts. These are for me. I made another 20 ounces for my friends, whom I love, using walnuts, and walnuts are cheaper. Enough said. I really enjoyed tasting all the basil varieties available - lime and lemon basil, Thai basil, Aromatic (sp?) which had a taste of licorice, and a couple of others I don't remember. Lots of lovely herbs, including several varieties of dill, which FF planned to use in tomato soup. Happy mouths and tummies tonight!

As we were getting ready to head out co-owner Sara Luhrman came to greet us, along with a hound dog and another little kitty. In addition to all the herbs and tomatoes we'd picked, she offered us two large bags of heirloom tomatoes (just south of fresh) and about a dozen newly dried garlic bulbs, which of course we accepted heartily. Made  more marinara (see the previous post for my recipe) so those heirlooms wouldn't go to waste. I got about 8 mosquito bites, one on my butt, and I can only say it was worth every itch for what we walked away with.  All this for free, and as they say on TV - membership ("non") has it's rewards. Needless to say I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, scratching my butt wondering "how did I ever get so lucky with all this bounty?". I put my sword to good use preparing Way Too Much Produce. With a glass of wine, of course!

Zena, Goddess of Fire

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