Archive for August, 2016

Basil Walnut Pesto

IMG_9979I went and saw the film CAPTAIN FANTASTIC yesterday and felt so many feelings, it brought back so much of my childhood, and it made me appreciate both the struggle and the great joy my unusual childhood was. Growing up in the counterculture was one of the greatest blessings and also remains one of the greatest conundrums for me – where exactly do I fit in in this world, which life and world do I belong to, and in so many cases how can I belong to both and do both justice.

To say the least I loved the film (thank you Anne yet again for sharing this life with me, being on this path as strange as it is, and knowing when to tell me to see a great movie!) I laughed at so much that I could identify with both in ways that made me happy and ways that made me slightly cringe. Like the scene where the family “frees food from the supermarket”; sadly my mother’s vision of free food moved past the soup kitchen she ran and for the better part of the first 3 years of my life she taught me to “free candy” (read steal) from the Cala Foods on 23rd and Van Ness. Those days passed but the stories stayed and mortified me into my 20s and very probably until yesterday when I saw the scene play out in a movie theater.


My mother taught me to live close to this earth and to tread lightly. To travel but leave as small a footprint as possible. To find the most uses for all items, to compost when possible, and to use as much of an ingredient and waste as little as one could. Let’s just say we are excellent left over people in my family! So what to do with the extra basil all summer, one thing always and its one of the things that was ubiquitous to my childhood pesto. Growing up in the 1980s in San Francisco I ate my share of pesto (some of my family might have lived primarily on pesto). Its beautiful and green and it makes sure to not waste any of the basil that might have been used sparingly in another recipe like Panzanella. Then just freeze it for another day! Waste not want not! “Take what we need but not more then necessary and remember to be grateful.” Words I still hear my mother say to this day.


The movie moved me to tears and made me realize for however much grumblings I might do about my childhood how lucky I was to be surrounded by such extraordinary love, boundless creative expressions, value on curiosity and acceptance, deep appreciation for nature, wonderful people, and such great food!

This is the simplest pesto recipe and at times I make smaller batches based on how much basil I have left. I use whatever nut (walnut, pine nut, pistachio, or almond) I might have in my house. This pesto is always frozen in my house and then used at later dates; one of my college roommates taught me to freeze pesto in an ice cube tray with each cube a perfect one serving portion. Once frozen I place the cubes in an airtight bag and take out however many is needed when I want pesto.


Basil Walnut Pesto


2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons walnut (or pine nut, pistachio, or almond)

2 garlic cloves chopped


1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or Romano)

This makes 5-6 servings of pesto

  • Briefly soak and wash basil leaves in cold water and gently pat it thoroughly dry.
  • Put the basil, olive oil, nuts, chopped garlic, and pinch of salt into blender or food processor. Process to a uniform, creamy consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and mix in the grated cheese by hand. When everything is well combined freeze for later use or spoon over hot pasta or onto crusty bread and enjoy!





08 2016

Melissa Clark’s Panzanella With Mozzarella And Herbs


Oh summer how I love your long sunlit days, your lazy afternoons reading in the shade of big trees, your warm (oh who I am I kidding, at times downright hot and humid) nights. Then there is the way summer you fill the fresh markets with the jewels of the season – your bounty of berries, your cornucopia of corn, and your towers of tomatoes. As Pablo Neruda said in his poem Ode To Tomatoes:

The street/ filled with tomatoes,/ midday/ summer,/ light is/ halved/ like/ a/ tomato,/ its juice/ runs/ through the streets…”


To say the least I have been eating my fare share of tomatoes and corn this summer; in fact with berries, yogurt, and cheese that very well may have been my complete diet this week. I never was good at moderation and when fresh food is at its best I can’t help myself all the more.

One of the finest things I did with these tomatoes, besides eating one just like you would an apple, was this Panzanella. My sister had never had Panzanella until we attended a good friend’s wedding last summer, we could say it blew her mind what she had been missing simple yet perfect – fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and stale chunks of bread all mixed together and slathered in a vinegary dressing. Need I say more?! If there were any more convincing necessary I would return to the end of Pablo Neruda’s poem “…no pit/ no husk,/ no leaves or thorns,/ the tomato offers/ its gift/ of fiery color/ and cool completeness.”


This recipe comes from the New York Times Melissa Clark’s Panzanella With Mozzarella And Herbs and if you are going to be like me and eat close to your weight in tomatoes this summer this recipe is a must!

Summer I appreciate and love you this year more than most! It’s been good to bask in your glory and feel complete gratitude for what you bring.


Melissa Clark’s Panzanella With Mozzarella And Herbs


4 ounces ciabatta or baguette, preferably stale, cut into cubes (approx. 3 cups)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

¾ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)

Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Black pepper, to taste

½ cup torn basil leaves

1 tablespoon capers drained

  • Heat oven to 425° Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7-15 min. Let cool on a wire rack.
  • Cut tomatoes into bite size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, oregano or thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes if you are using them. Toss to coat and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar, the mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil until the mixture is thickened. At this point I add capers and break them up in the dressing using the back of a spoon. Add the basil to the finished dressing.
  • Add bread cubes and dressing to the tomatoes and mix well. Let sit for at least 30 min and up to 4 hours (although leftovers the next day are also good). Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar, and salt to taste before serving. Enjoy!



08 2016

Overnight Cold Oats


July has sped by in a blur – out of town guests, gatherings with friends, with family, birthdays, reunions, lakes, pools, fireworks, and still moments watching late sunsets. The days of this month have been full and most certainly filled with the people I love and a lot of fresh seasonal summer eating.

Here’s a quick post with a quick summer breakfast (in fact possibly the fastest summer breakfast I can imagine). I have told just about everyone I have seen this summer how much I am loving this quick, overnight, cold oatmeal. Inspired by a recipe in It’s All Easy these oats are a base but can be adapted in all different ways (2 variations are below).


I have always loved muesli and this recipe is reminiscent of everything that I love about muesli – healthy, tasty, filling but not heavy. The recipe takes 5 min to prepare and I make 2 servings and store in individual jars for 2 mornings. I tried making a larger recipe but found more then 30 hours and they were too soft for my liking. I serve with fresh berries, peach, banana, apple, or any fruit I find in the farmers market. I love the long summer days, the sun and the way my weary tanned body feels at the end of a day outdoors. This overnight cold oats feels like everything I love about the summer in a mouthful – fresh, easy, restorative, full of life and simple joys of long warm days.

I hope you enjoy and that your summer is filled with sunshine, good company, and delicious moments.




Quick Overnight Cold Oats

Orange Coconut Variation – adapted from It’s All Easy

1/2 cup quick cooking oats 

1/2 milk of your choice (soy, almond, dairy whatever you like)

3 tablespoons vanilla or maple yogurt

2 tablespoons coconut flakes

1 teaspoon orange zest

Juice of orange

  • Combine all of the ingredients and mix in a bowl. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 
  • Stir before serving and add fruit of your desire and nuts if desired. Enjoy.


Cardamom Cinnamon Variation

1/2 cup quick cooking oats 

1/2 milk of your choice (soy, almond, dairy whatever you like)

3 tablespoons vanilla or maple yogurt

Pinch of Cinnamon and Cardamom

  • Combine all of the ingredients and mix in a bowl. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 
  • Stir before serving and add fruit of your desire and nuts if desired. Enjoy.




08 2016