It's not all about basil! Ginger Golds, chutney and a canning tip

While I love well-spiced food, it's worth remembering just how fresh, or not, your dried peppers are before adding them generously to a dish. Yo on my chutney and the ruby specks from a new jar of crushed red pepper flakes that makes it hop. I added a bit more apple and sugar towards the end to cool things down a tad and this will definitely still raise a sharp cheddar and roast chicken sandwich to new heights.


I find -and here's a helpful tip for you new'ish canners out there- that seasoning elements like spice and herbs tend to mellow as your jam or chutney cools and ages. So do err on the side of really being able to taste what you've added or you risk having it be a lost flavor later.

This is a great recipe, is posted in my Jams and Chutneys section, and I highly recommend you trying it out. I'll be teaching a canning class in Fairfax in October, and this is the recipe we'll be making, so come one, come all. It's a perfectly seasonal recipe too in the sense that it utilizes the wonderful-for-cooking Ginger Gold apple which is coming into season as I type (I bought a half-peck a couple days back and put most to use in this batch of chutney). Lest you worry that the Ginger Gold is the same apple as the horribly underwhelming, mealy and sad Golden Delicious, NO! The yellow delicious is one of the parents of the GG but it was partnered with the Albemarle Pippin which adds crunch and kick and a nice shade of green to the peel.

Last night, I had a slight revelation via pizza. Sage is great in addition to or alongside basil. Sage is fabulous in general, an under-utilized, under-appreciated herb, in my opinion. You'll see I have two different sage pesto recipes in Dressings and Sauces, just yesterday I made another batch of my Blackberry and Peach Crisp with Sage-Brown Butter Topping, I love the blackberry-sage jam I concocted last month, and the fried sage leaf/sage oil drizzle atop my Pappa al Pomodoro is the cat's meow.

Sage, known as salvia in Italian, was first described by Linnaeus in the 1750s. Long considered to have many medicinal qualities, the scientific name for sage is Salvia officinalis with officinalis deriving from "officina, the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicines were stored." Sage is a hardy plant that's easy to grow in most spots; it's one of the few things I can cultivate without fail. In fact, it overtook a planter of mine so I transferred the whole plant (bush really) to the ground, and it's thriving.

Its leaves are utterly pleasing in shape, feel and color: kinda of sweetly furry, soft, sizeable and a comforting, beautiful shade of green.

Sage pesto, fab article, etc

Did you read this preposterously entertaining article in the NYTimes Magazine recently? Tom and I were in stitches and complete admiration of the monkey. Seriously, it is an absolutely awesome piece. That monkey rocks! Can I just tell you about my youngest son? A) It is good that he is enormously cute and charming because he'll need both attributes to offset his extreme mischievousness and bad-yet-hilarious sense of humor. For example, he B) death-gripped-of-love his penis for about 8 hours today, and C) tried to put said penis on my leg at bath-time, all the while laughing like a hyena. D) This morning, he flew out of the bathroom with a long piece of toilet paper hanging (I think purposefully) from (out of) his bottom. E) He is one of the cutest children I've ever known. This may be because he's mine, but I don't actually believe that. His eyelashes touch his eyebrows when he opens his eyes for the love!

In any case, you see what I'm dealing with.

My oldest son...well, A) I just spritzed him with lavender spray and applied a silk eye mask to the tender visual part of his visage because he's having trouble sleeping. This might be because I just went in and found him B) listening to a book on tape and, concurrently, C) reading -in the dark- another book from the same series but NOT the same one. Christ almighty.

Between the times of tucking in and this awake discovery, I made a sage-walnut pesto, slapped it on some ziti lungo (long ziti), topped it with toasted walnuts, fried sage leaves and pecorino and devoured my half. Delicious!

Wish I'd made some dessert, but the time, it ran the heck out.

It's been a long time since I've vented about idiot drivers but here's a new one: don't leave your car door wide(!) open on any, but especially a really busy city street, while you're doing whatever you're doing instead of closing the door and moving on. You are just inviting someone to drive straight through your door, like a bull through a toreador's flag. Good grief, people. You've got minds, use them.

WTF re: Clint Eastwood?

Really?, pestos made for freezer, amazing Father's Day dinner planned

Do y'all know where I am right now? I'm hiding in my bathroom, sitting on the toilet, typing. This is getting old. A beloved sitter just arrived, but tired Jack and just-awake Oliver are scrapping downstairs, and taking turns saying they need me. Am I really so magnetic and alluring? How is a Mommy who went completely ape-shit after 2+ hours of not-s0-fun outings this morning still THE.MUST-HAVE.BEING. onto which the children must glom? Why is there never any reprieve from this "vaunted" status? Tom forgot to put a diaper on O before his nap, so he awoke in a sea of pee which naturally I had to clean up since T left for Home Depot on some man mission. Speaking of this man mission, it has, thus far, involved drilling into the wall and ceiling just above my side of the bed. Did T cover the bed or my night-table? He did not. It doesn't take much in the way of imagination to think about how said side of bed and table look now: not clean. The Grand Relocator, as I call T, also happens to have a penchant for leaving a project after 75%; often the project is completed but the clean-up is seriously lacking, and nothing is put away (hence nickname). I patently refuse to clean any of this up.

I am snark-tastic right now and really not in a good way. You know what makes me crazier than peeling garlic (seriously, why the eff do those papery peelings insist on sticking to the garlic or to you? It drives me to the brink)? Never knowing what the next day of motherhood will bring. It would be so nice to imagine that Tuesday will be just like "_____." But it never is. The variables that might or will change seem infinite, the newly mutated variations of them sometimes wonderful, sometimes the complete antithesis of that. I swear to you some mother invented wine, not some man, as the story surely goes. It was definitely some ancient cave-woman who one day just broke down and out of desperation drank something that she forgot to put away last week because amid the mayhem of child-rearing, gathering food, doing some primordial laundry and so forth, it just slipped her damn mind to seal up the grapes. Well, hats off, Lady Cave. I bet you were thrilled and so the eff am I.

I really need to get to the gym, and that is where I'm headed, but first I will tell you about my food plans for the day, those that have been accomplished and those to come.

In my garden and at the farmers market this morning, the herbs were bounteous. The idea of a store of fresh pesto led me to buy several bunches of basil and sage, and so now in my freezer are decent-sized vats of basil pesto and sage pesto. Gorgeous! Fab! Yum! I grilled some Chinese 5-spice seasoned radicchio for lunch and enjoyed that with some goat cheese, Sungolds from my garden and some super-duper aged balsamic syrup. Delicious. Then I made the mojo sauce in which I'll marinate steaks later for the carne tacos we're having as part of dinner. I'm also going to make an avocado salad with crab and/or lobster dressed with a grapefruit sabayon, and for dessert we're going to indulge in a gorgeous pluot tart topped with dollops of mascarpone-whipped cream. Beyond amazing, yes?

To the treadmill I go.