What to do with all this basil . . .

During the heat of summer our basil thrives and my daughter loves to make fresh pesto.  Sometimes she substitutes peanuts for the pinenuts and my grandson likes it that way the best.  I convinced her to share her recipe:

GRACIE'S PESTO

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed tight)
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (or peanuts if you prefer)
2/3 cup really good quality olive oil
Sea salt (I like the pink kind) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano, Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil a little bit at a time and continue to process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.  Put in serving dish and stir in cheese.


One of MY favorite ways to use the basil and tomatoes that abound in summer is the following soup, served either warm or cold like gazpacho: 

TOMATO - BASIL SOUP

Ingredients:

4-5 cups fresh peeled & chopped tomatoes — (Know the easiest way to peel them?  Dip them in really hot, almost boiling water for just a minute or two and the skins will slide right off)

4-5 cups chicken stock — (Homemade is always best, but sometimes I cheat)

A handful of fresh basil leaves chopped fine

1 stick of real butter

1 cup whipping cream — (I like to use TJ's shelf stable whipping cream - it's thicker)

Juice of one lemon (or lime if you prefer)

Sea Salt and Fresh Cracker Pepper to taste

Cook tomatoes and chicken stock for at least twenty minutes in large pot on medium/low heat.  Using a hand held blender (and being careful not to splash hot liquid out of the pot!) puree the tomatoes and stock.  Add stick of butter and whipping cream along with finely chopped basil, sea salt and cracker pepper.  Add the lemon juice and simmer another ten minutes, stirring often.

Enjoy with crusty bread and cheeses.  Sometimes I sprinkle a little Gorganzola cheese on the top of the soup after spooning into individual serving bowls.  I got these great pottery bowls with handles years ago from Todd at Cornwall Bridge Pottery and have enjoyed using them ever since.  He also made me some flat rimmed bowls with beautiful wrens on them that are my mother's favorite. I really enjoy using the pottery I have collected over the years - I have met many interesting artists at the shows and when I use their dishes, it brings back good memories.


This is also the time of year that we start cleaning up our garden beds and getting ready for late summer when it cools off a bit and things (other than weeds) start growing again.  Daisies bloom once more before frost, peppers abound and if you're lucky enough to have a few survivors in your tomato plants, you might even have fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving.


July 05, 2016 by pam mitchell

Sharing a few summertime photos

I love the outdoors, gardening is a big part of my life.   Living here in Northwest Florida the heat can make taking care of the garden quite a challenge.   We get off to a great start in early Spring, enjoy the fruits of our labor earlier than most and then the heat settles in - the humidity rises, thunderstorms each afternoon or worse, no rain at all for weeks. It's hard to grow the garden of your dreams under those conditions.  With that being said, I'd like to share a few pictures of what we did accomplish.  Some are from home and some from here at our studio and warehouse where I have a lot of help from our in house farmer and gardeners in training.

The Riverhouse dining table with a bouquet of sunflowers from the shop garden. 


Our two oldest grandkids showing off one of the big sunflower heads they plan to feed to the birds.


Here's some of the harvest that I get to take home and cook with ...


... and here's a little more!

July 05, 2016 by pam mitchell

Let's get off to a good start !

As you have probably guessed, this is my first blog post.  We have a new website (which I am quite proud of), and I'm told that it won't be complete without a blog post or two.  I think I am actually looking forward to exploring my creative side through a new outlet - usually, I pick up a piece of rusty metal and express myself through paint and brushes.  Starting today, I'll also be using a keyboard . . .  bear with me!                                                                        

July 05, 2016 by pam mitchell