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Every year about this time, the flu comes around and does its damage. Consequently, there’s a lot of sniffling, coughing, sweating, and pill-popping happening. This year we got the swine variety, and everyone and their mothers lost their minds, following shameless media propaganda. I almost got worried for a second myself, but thank god, Jason grabbed my shoulder just in time, span me around, shook me up with his manly might, and spoke to my senses.

“Woman, where’s your reason? Every year the flu takes down a few thousands of people. Those usually are the folks of older age, and with pre-existing illnesses. For those poor souls any kind of flu, some times even a cold could be deadly.”

Thus the man convinced the woman, and the sun shone again, and the birds chirped lightheartedly at the sight at dawn.

I’m not trying to dismiss the lethal potential of the flu. I’m not a doctor, so my opinion is rather vulnerable. However, I don’t think there’s a reason to panic. Several of my friends fell victim of the virus. They felt like shit for about a week, with fever of 103 degrees, and violent vomiting tormenting their bodies. Not fun. Still, doctors let them go home with no medication prescribed, as those were in short supplies and thus reserved for pregnant women, children and others with life-threatening symptoms. None of the people I know, that have gone through the piggy flu, had had any complications. They simply did what one does with a regular flu – let it wear itself out, while drinking lots of fluids, resting and watching Oprah.

My own weapon against the virus is my will power. At the slightest scratch in the back of my throat I simply say “Naha! It ain’t happening. I am HEALTHY and FLU-FREE”. (Say it fast five times in a row.) I block the concept of getting sick out of my consciousness. I’m not even kidding you, twenty-four hours later I barely remember I was coughing the day before. Works like magic every time. You should try it, too.

On most days I have an appetite of a small horse, which once again proves I’m a picture of health. I made a pot of BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO, for instance, and we destroyed it with Jason in two days over 3 meals. Part of the “problem” was Risotto itself – its symphony of flavors, the sweet juxtaposed against the savory, the heat, the comfort, the rainbow across the sky, the BUTTERflies…

Butternut Squash Risotto

Before I move on, I want to test if you’ve been paying attention. Does the post read a little funny today? Does my English “sound” Polish all of a sudden? Wonder why? I haven’t gone mad, and yes, I’ve been taking all my vitamins. I simply needed to let my editor (Jason) off the hook for a few days or so, as his work turned into a circus on wheels. Jason has been putting in 16-20 hr days. Yes, you’ve heard me – twenty hours just yesterday. He’s already doing more than an average person is capable of, so understandably I am on my own for now, and you just have to deal with my accent.

If you’re feeling a little under the weather these days, BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO is an ideal meal to quickly boost your energy levels. Chicken soup is so last season. What you need to know about Risotto is that the dish requires some loving, as you can’t really dump the rice and veggies into a pot and walk away. You need to tend to it, gently stir the rice around, sprinkle with spice, love, and fairy dust, and whisper sweet things into the pot’s ear. Know it will all come back to you in a bowl – the food made of love. What BETTER nourishment than that?

Let’s get the ingredients ready:

–       Butternut Squash

–       6 cups of chicken broth (1.5 carton)

–       4 oz diced pancetta

–       1 onion

–       6 cloves of garlic, minced

–       3 tbsp BUTTER

–       1.5 cups Arborio rice

–       0.5 cups of white wine (the kind you’d enjoy drinking)

–       big pinch of saffron

–       1 tbsp dry marjoram

–       1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese (grated)

–       1 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped

–       salt + black pepper to taste

–       1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat an oven to 400˚. Cut the squash in cubes. Spread them in one layer on a sheet pan, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and some dry herbs (whatever you’ve got – marjoram, Herbes de Provence, oregano…). Shove the pan into the oven for about 25 minutes or until soft.

Cutting up Squash

Heat the chicken broth in a pot and keep it on over a very low heat. Throw pancetta into a separate pot, let the fat render, and then add the BUTTER. When it melts, toss the onion into that pool of yummy fat. Sprinkle all with salt and pepper, add the marjoram, and mix them together. Let the onions sweat for a minute or two to release their sweetness and fuse in with the herbs. Your minced garlic is next in line – into the pot it goes. Stir once more.

Here comes the rice. Chuck it into the same pot with the onions and cracklings, incorporate with all the flavors, and cook for a moment letting the rice kernels toast. Now pour in the wine and let it grab all the bits of flavor off the bottom of your pot. Reduce the heat to low.

The fun part begins with the first 2 ladles of the heated chicken stock you’ll add to the rice. You need to stir it almost non-stop as the liquid gets absorbed. With your free hand, season the dish with salt and pepper as you go. Every few minutes you’ll add another 2 ladles of the broth, and continue to stir. Keep going until all stock is gone, and the risotto is cooked.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Before you turn off the heat completely, add the roasted squash, your grated cheese, and fresh dill. Now, kill the fire. Give it two or three more stirs until the cheese melts and binds the dish together for the rest of its days. Your BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO is ready to serve. And it should be… served immediately.

In the end, your throat is warmly coated, your belly is fed and comforted, and your right bicep is twice the size of your left gun. It’s a win-win every way you slice it. And really, what’s BETTER than BUTTER? Particularly when it’s sweet and savory, not BITTER.

I’ll go take my vitamins now.

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This week I chose to do an experiment. I wanted to try how it tastes to be an adult. You know, a responsible, preventive, and prepared person. In other words – an un-spontaneous human. I sat my ass down and planned it all out – the menu, activities, Cosmo’s vaccinations, yoga, and writing. The irony is that the very first time I decided to exercise mature behavior – BAM! – lightning struck right in the middle of my sandbox disguised as a phone call from HBO asking if I could fill in for one of their guys, who fell victim of the flu.

Don’t get me wrong… getting a call like that makes me as happy as that kid from “Slumdog Millionaire” that hustles through an ocean of fecal matter when given a chance to see his Bollywood idol. Frankly, I got so excited I shaved my legs. Not that anyone in the office would ever see me in anything less then full body coverage, cape included.

On top of that, two more irresistible gig offers came in almost simultaneously – both involving work with my befriended chefs. How is it that I can practice the most comfortable couch potato position (tuchas buried deep in between the cushions, legs stretched out on the coffee table, with my mouth wide open, and a laptop rested under the chin on my two perky you-know-whats) for five months, and no job seems to find its way to me? Then one day, within less than twenty-four hours, everybody needs me at once, and I get bombarded with offers. HOW?

Yes, I have been unemployed for the last few months, I admit. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been on hiatus for that long. Two, three-weeks in between jobs happen to everyone. But five months? It’s many weeks, days, and hours (!) to fill with activities preventing one from going coo-koo. Writing helps me stay focused. (Otherwise, I get side tracked too easily, take a wrong turn, and get lost in the labyrinth of thoughts in my head.) Cooking is therapeutic. Cosmo is entertaining. Jason is understanding and supportive. Agi is convinced she’s uncovered her creative voice, and thus must exercise it at all costs.

Baby Agi

The latest fruit of my creative purging is a meal I designed in my kitchen art studio when Jason went to the Devo concert last Tuesday – SAUTÈED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND ONIONS ON A BED OF QUINOA INFUSED WITH FRESH HERBS (gasp…inhale). By far, it is the ULTIMATE COMFORT FOOD with an emphasis on healthy and )))flatulent(((. Do not let the last trait stop you from following the recipe since utmost satisfaction from the meal is GUARANTEED. Simply make sure to let yourself out for a walk when the digestive process sets in to prevent turning your pad into a deadly gas chamber.

I realize not many people are friends with the above mentioned cabbage relatives. The problem lies within the cooking method. Do it intelligently and the frog will turn into a Handsome Prince for the happily ever after.

YOUR INGREDIENTS OF THE NIGHT:

–       1 cup quinoa

–       1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved

–       4 oz pancetta, diced

–       1 large onion

–       3-4 cloves of garlic

–       1 tbsp dried marjoram

–       1 tbsp of unsalted butter

–       1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped

–       1/2 fresh Italian parsley (or another fresh herb), chopped

–       kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

–       1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Tie an apron around your waist and let’s make you this Masterpiece In A Bowl. First things first, let’s cook quinoa in a 2:1 ratio (2 cups of liquid to 1 cup of grain).  You can use regular water and a few bay leaves with a couple of teaspoons of salt. You could go the chicken broth route. Or just dissolve a bullion cube in the pot with quinoa to enrich its flavor. Follow cooking directions from the box.

When that’s taken care of, start chopping your onion – cut it in half first, then slice both parts. Crisp the pancetta on a heated skillet, remove the cracklings and set aside for later. Add the butter to the pan, and throw in the onions along with marjoram and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir around to ensure even coating in grease and spices. Let the onions sauté slowly on low heat for about 10-15 minutes. When ready, remove from the pan and set aside with your cracklings.

In the meantime, blanch your mini cabbage buds for just a few minutes, and then shock them in a bowl filled with ice water. Drain immediately and set aside. When the onions are done and resting with the pig bits on the counter, chuck the Brussels sprouts onto the same skillet and brown them over a low to medium flame. Sprinkle red pepper flakes over the buds. Let them hit the bottom of the hot skillet, thus opening up their chambers of flavor.

Check on the quinoa. If it’s fully cooked, take it off the heat, and toss in all fresh herbs, previously chopped as ordered. Mix it, taste it. Is it salty enough? Don’t be afraid to fix the dish to your own liking. That’s the point after all, isn’t it?

Mix the mini cabbages in the skillet again, add your cracklings and onions, and tumble all around. Turn off the heat. Scoop a little quinoa into a bowl, cover with a layer of the Brussels sprouts and the works, twist open a bottle of beautifully chilled Blue Moon, dive into the cushions of your couch, stretch your legs over the coffee table, turn on the TV, and DIG IN.

Quinoa

And you thought you hated Brussels sprouts, silly.

I didn’t go to the store today because I fell in love with Jason.

I had no money, nor my driver’s license for that matter, as he took them along with my car this morning. We switched “horses” today, and my wallet drove away along with Jason into the horizon. Why was it in the car in the first place, you ask? It’s all Jason’s fault.

I was never the girlie girl who bought jewelry, handbags, shoes for every possible outfit, and all the other elements in THE ACCESSORY CIRCUS. I had a backpack, or a back pocket to store the stuff I needed when out and about. Then, while still living in New York, I met a girl as girlie as they come, who through her brains, charisma, and heart, was and still IS the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. Her name is Aveena and she’s a dear friend.

Aveena in Italy

It was under her influence that I finally went shopping for earrings, an extra pair of stilettos, sunny colored shirts (frocks would be pushing it), and a couple of purses. It took all Seven Dwarfs and two weeks at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to teach me how to carry myself in all that armor and look a tad less awkward than Ellen DeGeneres in her prom dress.

Flashforward a couple of years, I make myself at home in Baja enjoying the beaches and rollerblades, when this guy crosses my path at a Downtown art show and sweeps me off my feet with no warning. Meet Jason. We start hanging out on a daily basis, and I find myself carrying fewer things each time I’m with him… less make up, less clothes, less of a purse. I stick my driver’s license and a credit card in my back pocket to free my hands and alleviate distraction while with that boy. As the Friendship progresses and turns into a Flammable Romance, I no longer feel the urge to carry shit around. These days, I only leave the house with items that fit in one hand or in Jason’s back pocket.

So now you understand why I didn’t get the groceries today, because I fell in love with Jason. It’s annoying how disgustingly wonderful he is. He’s just the best there is, and I love him to pieces – from the top front to the back end.

Jason The Man

He’s also the reason I make an effort in the kitchen and come up with dinners like tonight: SEA BASS IN MUSTARD SAUCE WITH BUTTER-STEAMED FINGERLING POTATOES DUSTED WITH DILL. Consequently, YOU get those recipes! The Jason’s Fan Club suddenly no longer sounds like a joke. Feel free to send in your vote.

In the meantime, let’s get cooking. Get the following items handy:

–       1-1.5 lbs of fingerling potatoes, cleaned, skin on

–       2 fresh fillets of Sea Bass, washed and patted dry

–       1 tbsp of Dijon mustard

–       1 tbsp of whole grain mustard

–       2 tbsp of sour cream (organic, if possible)

–       1 shallot, finely chopped

–       1 tbsp of drained capers

–       salt + black pepper to taste

–       2 tbsp of butter

–       bunch of fresh dill, roughly chopped

In a non-stick pot, melt the butter and throw in the potatoes, sprinkle with salt, cover with a lid, stir around the whole pot and set on a low heat. The starchy bulbs will cook themselves in their own steam. However, make sure to give the pot a shake every so often, without uncovering it, to prevent the guys from burning their rear ends. It will take 20-25 minutes to complete the task. You can test if the potatoes are ready to rock & roll by sticking a tip of a knife inside one of them. If the tip slides in smoothly, you’re good. Next, sprinkle everybody in the pot with a bunch of fresh chopped dill, another pinch or two of salt and pepper, close the lid again, shake the pot around, and voila – you’re ready to serve the Fingerlings.

However, while they’re still steaming up on the stove, heat the oven to 425˚. Lay your fillets comfortably in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt and slather with the Mustard Sauce you made before.

Oops, have we not talked about that yet? Then grab a small bowl and dump you mustards and sour cream inside along with the shallot and capers, a dust of salt and paper, and mix them all up.

Your fish is ready to go into the oven to get warm and cozy – for 10 minutes. That’s it. Don’t put too much sauce on top of your fish, as you don’t want to overpower the delicate flavor of the Sea Bass.

It’s time to plate the dinner. If you think something’s missing, I bet it’s salt. Just a dash of salt brings the flavors out and the meal (any meal) starts making sense again.

Fingerling Potatoes

Speaking of salt, get rid of that nasty iodized salt that tastes like a high-school chemistry lab in a box, and replace it with kosher salt. It’s clean, healthy and as inexpensive as the other crap.

It took no more than half an hour and you just made yourself a Royal Meal … for no special occasion. Just celebrate because it’s Wednesday and begin the festivities with a masterpiece din-din your dining table has never seen before.

This morning I went on a hike with Heidi. We’ve known each other for as long as I’ve been in LA, however, life happens and we lost touch for a big chunk of that time. It felt good learning about the shenanigans she’s been up to as we struggled through the bushes up the hill.

Upon my return home circa two hours later, mildly sweaty and not at all tired, I hopped into the shower to wash off the LAZY rash I’ve been dealing with lately. Due to my soft spot for the planet, I usually take super speedy baths. Three minutes is all I need to cover tops to bottoms (yes, I need plural for my BOTTOMS). On occasion, when any labor-intensive activity is required (major scrubbing, shaving, scull massaging, egg scrambling, knitting, etc.), I like to turn off the water in between various stages of any given task. For Jason such dry shower is a DISAPPOINTING WASTE OF FUN TIMES.

Today, however, I craved comfort that only a strong stream of water running down my nekid body can bestow. And so I stood there… nekid, wet, and happy as a pig in the mud for at least a whole seven minutes. And when I cut off the downpour at last, I didn’t even mean it. It was the sense of duty that got me out of the bathtub. “Somebody should be writing now!” I kept hearing in my head.

So I stood there… nekid, wet, happy as a pig in the mud on the cold bathroom floor, drying off with a fuzzy towel, when my eyesight came to rest on our toilet. There’s truly nothing extraordinary about the white urinal, but it made me think of Terri’s recent post where she talked toilet, etc.

Terri Terri Quite Contrary

That’s all she wrote. That’s it! It wasn’t satisfying for me. It’s toilet talk for god’s sake. Come on! The commode comes with HOT WATER. It begs the question HOW DOES ONE DISCOVER THAT IT COMES WITH HOT WATER? Is the hot water settling like a warm mist on your bare bottom? Do you dip a toe inside to test the waters? I need more information, Woman! Terri, I have this itching urge to comment on the TOILET SITUATION in your office, the I-can’t-believe-I’ve-just-gone-there kind of comment like, uhm.., wait. I almost have it… on the tip of me tongue, uhm… Yeah, nope, I’ve got nothing. Carry on.

And just like that I was done with my hygienic routine. Time to put some clothes on.

All that treading in the dust made me hungry for something truly earthy. And what’s more earthy than a vegetable born in the dirt, then dug up to be eaten for dinner? Mr. Celery, let’s look at your root. I like it big and hard with the skin peeled off, ready to eat. But first I’ll take you gently in my hands, wash you, strip you naked, and then give you a free ticket for a ride on the food processor rollercoaster.

Apples + Celery + Lemon

What I’m saying, y’all, is today I’m making a CELERY ROOT SALAD. When you get your big and chunky root all ready as described above, pair it with 2 Granny Smith Apples, cored and cut in eighths. Also, grab a half of a cup of fresh raisins, and the same amount of raw walnuts. The nuts need to be toasted. With raisins, I like to soak them in a freshly boiled cup of hot water for a few minutes before tossing them in my salad. This way they get plump and soft, and easy to chew on.

To make your life easier, let me just put together a roster of all ingredients for the Salad of Honor:

–       1 BIG or 2 medium celery roots

–       2 Granny Smith Apples

–       1/2 cup of fresh raisins

–       1/2 cup of raw walnuts

–       fresh basil leaves and dill (about 1-2 tbsp of each, chopped)

–       1 container of non-fat Greek yogurt, or equivalent of organic sour cream

–       sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (note: this salad LOVES black pepper, so don’t be shy)

–       1 tbsp of sugar (I use raw cane, organic), or honey

–       1 tbsp or so of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Once you get your celery and apples cleaned and cut in chunks, drop them into a food processor and grate. Feel free to use a hand grater if you have extra time on your hands, or your gym membership expired. Transport those veggie and fruit strips into a large bowl. Sprinkle all with lemon juice to prevent from oxidizing and thus turning dark. Season with salt to help soften the celery. The salt will also help the apples release their juice. Now add chopped herbs, soaked and drained raisins, cooled toasted walnuts (roughly chopped), yogurt/sour cream and get the whirlpool going. Using two salad forks, mix everybody together. Grind black pepper all over the bowl until it hurts your knees. Add a sprinkle of sugar, and a dash of love. Mix again, taste, fix if needed, and store in a refrigerator in a tight container.

Celery Root Salad

That’s the trick. The celery root and the apple have to spend some time on their own, consummate their marriage, play with the gifts you sent with them on their honeymoon before you can fully enjoy the taste of the union. Give it an hour, at least. And the day AFTER the wedding night is like heaven. There’s the crunch, a sweet bite dancing with the sour, and a little bit of heat from the pepper – an explosive mixture and a perfect marriage recipe.

May you live happily ever after!

What makes one a writer, I wonder… Having a blog exploiting one’s intimate culinary encounters? I think not.

In various social circumstances, upon meeting a new person, I am often asked what it is that I do. Since I’ve been experimentally unemployed for the last couple of months (the first time in my life), I usually simply reply:

“I’ve been writing…”

“Oh, you’re a writer!” The human somehow gathers from my ambivalent response.

And I say nothing more, as what more should I add? That I’ve been working on my knifing skills? That I’ve chopped a few onions and even made a steak in our little toaster oven? Or that I’ve been testing my neighbors’ patience with loud music, and my dog’s tolerance level with the dirty dancing that I perform to get out of my head? I don’t lie, but neither do I go into further detail.

When I finally filed my taxes a few weeks ago (I had applied for an extension, worry not), my accountant chatted me up while filling out the forms. He asked about Jason (his client as well) and how long we’ve been dating, what’s our dog’s name, and how life was in general. When he asked:

“So what do you do?”…I thought he also meant… in general, in my free time.

“I’ve been writing.” I said. “I just don’t get paid for it …yet.”

“That’s how it usually goes in this town, doesn’t it?” He concluded, the smart ass that he is.

Later, when I looked at the paper work, I noticed “WRITER” under my occupation. Now, does this make me a writer? What better proof of my trade than an IRS statement?

I heard that writers exhibit strange behaviors while experiencing creative flow. Someone told me once about this guy who could only write when sitting on top of an armoire in his tiny New York apartment. Imagine? How inconvenient! I also used to know this other guy, a writer as well, who’d store his journal in a freezer. He even told me that he tried to pull money out of his shower knob one night as if it were an ATM. Actually he may have just sleepwalked that night, in all fairness. And I’m not sure the incident had anything to do with his writing.

I have a few quirks of my own – come to think of it – when in the creative mode, like perching on my bed, laptop in front, and wearing nothing more than a pair of dangling earrings and matching panties (not the dangling part, I’m talking colors). And I also have a dog that takes in a few new words a day with his morning coffee. Does that count? Because if this doesn’t make me a writer, I don’t know what does!

Thesaurus

If you’re here for the recipes, you must be in a real pickle thinking “How will she ever get to food after this intro???” Well, my friend, I’ll tell you a secret… Sit down, breathe and relax. I’ll be gentle… The truth is that FOOD is just an excuse to write. It’s a side effect. It’s a symptom, and not a cause. Luckily, I really do truly and fully, passionately and madly love to play in my kitchen. I’m keen to use various toys – or cooking utensils if you must – with those kinky names like a cooling rack, an egg separator, a whip whisk, not to mention a meat tenderizer, and a piping bag… I could go on, but you get the idea.

Today I’ll write about PESTO: how I make it without cheese, and how I then mix it with a salad in the place of a dressing. And the only toy tool I need for this is a food processor, well, and a toaster oven. Now, if you don’t have one of those smart ones that can also broil and sweep floors (There she goes again!), a frying pan makes for a capable ersatz. I only ask you to bear with me when I get to the amounts and measurements. It really is my Achilles Heel, my pet peeve if you will. I chronically forget to use my measuring cups and spoons when fixing a new dish, and later, when I try to retrace my own steps to tell you all about it, I’m fucked.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: “Fuck” can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, or interjection and can logically be used as virtually any word in a sentence (e.g. “Fuck the fucking fuckers”). It hence has various metaphorical meanings. The verb “to be fucked” can mean “to be cheated” (e.g. “I got fucked by a scam artist”). As a noun “a fuck” or “a fucker” may describe a contemptible person. “A fuck” may mean an act of copulation. The word can be used as an interjection, and its participle is sometimes used as a strong emphatic. The verb to fuck may be used transitively or intransitively, and it appears in compounds, including fuck off, fuck up, and fuck with. In less explicit usages, “fuck” or “fuck with” can mean to mess around, or to deal with unfairly or harshly. In a phrase such as “don’t give a fuck”, the word is the equivalent of “damn”, in the sense of something having little value. In “what the fuck”, it serves merely as an intensive.

ALSO, YOUTUBE OFFERS ITS OWN DEFINITION OF THE WORD “FUCK”.

To make pesto sans cheese, first you want to toast some nuts. Traditionally pesto is made with pignoli, or pine nuts in English. However, recently I made pesto with walnuts due to lack of the other kind. It came out perfectly awesome. Hence, today, be my guest and use either one – pine or walnuts! And if you feel adventurous and end up experimenting with another type of nuts, come back here and do tell!

Back to PESTO: take ABOUT a 1/2 cup of raw, organic if available, pine nuts and spread them flat on a baking sheet. Then set the pan in a toaster oven and toast for about 5 minutes. If you’re going for the frying pan, or even a conventional oven (at 375 to 400˚), it will take 3 to 7 minutes (depending on which appliance you choose) before the nuts are done. You’ll know they are when you can smell them. You must then instantly remove the kernels from the oven or off the heat. Otherwise, due to the fat content, they will burn in a New York minute.

Once the nuts cool off, dump them into the food processor along with a BUNCH of fresh basil (maybe a cup?…or two? sorry!), 1-2 cloves of garlic (However much you LOVE garlic?), a SOLID PINCH of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and you can close the lid. Now pulse a couple of times to break down the nuts and greens and bring them closer together.

By the way, basil is not your only choice. You can also use arugula, and even mix it with other fresh herbs like dill, Italian parsley and cilantro.

Turn the machine back on and start pouring GOOD olive oil s l o w l y  through the feeding tube. For pesto, I use the brands from a higher shelf, good quality, organic oils. You can use extra virgin olive oil on its own, or mix it with flaxseed oil, or even walnut oil for a different spin. How much, you ask. Ekhm. I say pour until all ingredients are incorporated into a coherent green mass. Be gentle, go slow with a small stream. If you like it chunkier and thicker, back off with that bottle earlier. Better be safe than sorry. Test it, and then add some more oil, if needed.

No matter what I tell you about measurements (as long as I’m not selling you a baking recipe) it’s essential, no, it is your duty to taste whatever you make as you go. Remember, YOU are going to eat it. YOU are the one that needs to enjoy what you make. And the more you taste during the process, the more familiar you become with certain spices, their flavors and properties. Hence, you train your tongue to tell you when something doesn’t tickle it the right way, directing you to add more of this or that. The more you sample, the better cook you become.

When done adding the oil, your pesto is ready. However, if you don’t mind the cheese, and those few extra calories mean nothing to you, go ahead and add half a cup or grated Parmesan. Pulse a few more times and mix it with the green paste – make it feel good. Store it in a tight container in the refrigerator. You can also add a tablespoon of oil to cover the surface of the pesto, thus preventing it from turning dark.

I use it on sandwiches, wraps, with pasta (duh), and in salads as a dressing. Simply, mix soft lettuce leaves with diced tomatoes, green peppers, cucumber, chopped dill and scallions, add a tablespoon or so of the pesto, and unite everybody with a few circular motions of your salad forks. Don’t forget to season it with salt and pepper, if your pesto doesn’t do the trick. It’s all about sampling, thus learning how to please your own palette.

Here is a good spot for a photograph representing the PESTO described above.

Oops, no picture on file. In the state of utmost confusion and discombobulation, I forgot to snap one while the PESTO was still in the fridge. However, know that this article leads to a complimenting installment, which will talk about PITA POCKETS WITH GRILLED SALMON AND PESTO DRESSED SALAD. There will be photos!

See you then?

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