Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Only Walnut Pesto Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Pesto di Noce, walnut pesto, is one of my favorite versions of this beautiful Italian sauce. I first found a recipe for it in a Saveur article, “Glorious Pesto,” but I lost the cut out after I made it and subsequently fell in love. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the recipe reprinted online.

I’ve been making it this way ever since, and the abundance of end-of-summer genovese basil was a perfect excuse to pull it out of the file. I’ve included the recipe below so you can try it yourself.

Basil

Ten basil plants pulled from my late-summer garden

In my case, I had about ten large basil plants that needed to be used, so I made about the same number of batches. Once you have picked the leaves and washed them well to remove any lingering dirt, don’t be afraid to pack them into your measuring cup.

Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until finely chopped. One other tip is to use high quality cheese. The aged pecorino adds a welcomed bite to the other flavors. One modification that I made to the original recipe is to use a bit of tomato paste in place of sun-dried tomatoes. I don’t think that the little bit of acidity imbalances the sauce at all.
Walnut Pesto

 The messier the workspace, the better it tastes!

Once you have made your pesto, be sure to use it within a few days. I chose to freeze mine in half-pint jars for use during winter. There’s nothing better than the reminder of summer on a cold night. Mangia!

Walnut Pesto

Ten batches of walnut pesto to get me through winter

Recipe: Pesto di Noce

Ingredients 

12 cups packed basil
12 cup olive oil
13 cup toasted walnuts
14 cup finely grated pecorino
14 cup finely grated parmesan
1⁄4 teaspoon tomato paste, optional (I like to use Amore brand)
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Process basil, oil, walnuts, pecorino, parmesan, tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper. Makes 1 1⁄2 cups.

Adapted from Saveur, July 28, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

Sitting at my desk on Sunday morning, a little nervous each time another major gust came along, I heard the crack. With knowing resolve, I got up and headed to the window to see which of the trees it could have been. Was it another part of the pine? The Elm? One of the ash trees? It didn’t take but a second to see the second large branch of the old pine tree snaking across the side yard and over the driveway. It had taken out a few privets and a small ash tree in the process but thankfully it stayed away from the house and the Elm this time.

With many coastal areas devastated after hurricane Matthew, we were thankful that the storm brought little more than a day of rain and some hefty winds. Unfortunately, a full day of sustained winds with gusts over forty miles per hour was just enough to take out the second part of the tree that had already been compromised.

Pine Tree

The old pine tree’s second major limb snaked across the lawn and driveway

Pine Tree

Now homebound, with no way out and no choice about it, we grabbed the right tools and began to tackle this monster. If nothing else, there had to be a path through before the impending Monday morning work hour. Somehow, “massive tree across my driveway with no way out” sounds a bit too much like, “dog ate my homework!”
Pine Tree Cleanup

Chris clearing the small limbs from the area. The firewood should last for a few outdoor fires!

Several hours later with a twenty-four inch chainsaw, a log splitter, and ample amounts of gasoline, the driveway was clear enough for a car. The rest of the fallen limb could be handled over the next week. Of course, the big next task is planning for the final core of the tree since it is the largest and most unpredictable of the three. Hopefully we will have enough time to plan for this one!

Big Projects Completed as Autumn Arrives

The weather is tempering and the leaves are already falling from the trees. My apologies to all of you that despise the shortening of the days, but autumn is upon us, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Although it means no more of the best tomato sandwiches on the planet, I will do my best to fill the void with bonfires, dark beer, pie pumpkins, and dining al fresco. With out-of-town guests visiting, Saturday was a perfect morning for a full waffle breakfast at the picnic table under the old Ash tree. Bonfire

With the desire to be outside more comes the desire to finalize some of the outdoor spaces. After so much inside work over the last year, it’s nice to close the loop on some of the big projects and enjoy the small amounts of our newfound spare time.

Basement Stairs of Death

One project that was imperative to complete was the redesign of the narrow staircase leading into the new basement kitchen, installed sometime in the 1950s. Besides the fact that it was a serious safety hazard with slick, worn bricks, too-tall risers, and very narrow treads, the drain-line that it encompassed to move storm water away from the foundation was faulty and continuously backed up into the basement during a heavy rain. The basement flooded several times, even after the new cabinets were installed. No doubt this had to be a priority!

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The old staircase of dangerous, damaged bricks and a faulty drain

The start to the project was simple: carefully tear out the old, damaged bricks and cracked concrete pad and then find the best masons in the area to lay new ones. Away we went with the removal and excavation of the old drain line. It was a mess once we discovered that the exterior drain was actually diverting back into the house’s main pluming lines – a big recipe for disaster. That was quickly capped and a new design was implemented to direct the water through PVC down the hill. This would reduce any risk of interior flooding.

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Phil and Chris look on as removal of the old concrete pad begins

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Mr. Phil completed the first phase of the work and was a real inspiration to watch. He did all of the work himself with only a small excavator and hand tools, his intuition and experience guiding him each step of the way. Thankfully his experience with historic masonry meant that he was very conscious of the existing brick foundation, chimney, and intersections of old and new brick.

Rebuilt Stairs

Once the modified drain was installed, the new bricks could be laid. It was one early morning that I heard the loudest truck coming up the driveway carrying two pallets of the most beautiful handmade bricks. It is incredible how much they look like the original bricks in the foundation.

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Beautiful handmade bricks to match the existing historic fabric of the house’s foundation

The best masons in the area, the father and son team of Hamp and Hampton, laid the bricks using old pattern styles and mixed mortar according to historic standards. Having worked on so many of the area’s oldest homes, their knowledge of historic building techniques was invaluable during the project. Not to mention they are two of the best storytellers. There were plenty of times at the end of a long week that I would look forward to sitting and chatting with them as they worked.

img_9788The new drain is laid and the brick side walls become a reality
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The bricks are laid with care, waiting for mortar, while the new door takes its place

As much as I enjoyed the company of everyone working on the new entry, I was ready to have exterior access to the basement again. Carrying groceries upstairs and then downstairs had become a bit cumbersome after more than a month. Finally the finishing touches were installed including the new door and accent lighting to highlight the beautiful masonry work.

img_0278-3Smokey guarding the new basement stoop

Now we have a well-functioning basement entrance that is both safe and carries the water away from the foundation of the house – just in time to enjoy the outdoors more. My next project is a small kitchen garden just to the right of the stairs with herbs and flowers for cutting. Stay tuned!