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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Pesto

Lazarus was dead four whole days until Jesus brought him back. I only made it two.

It’s just that the pine nuts and tomatoes and mozzarella looked so pretty in the bowl I had to take a picture…And then it seemed a shame not to use the picture. And then it occurred to me that when I made up a new recipe I’d want to write it down. And then I though – why not just put it on the blog?

So here it is. Tonight’s dinner was Pasta w/Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts, Sauteed Red Onion and Mozzarella. It was actually inspired by an attempt to use up leftovers in the fridge (pesto & red onion) before they went bad. And it was so good I decided that in addition to leaving one night blank on the meal plan to be inspired while shopping, I was going to plan one meal around using up leftovers before I shop. Nifty, huh?

So I don’t know what this means. I’m going to try to avoid any more grand pronouncements since the last one went so poorly. Let’s just say I hope it ends better for me than it did for the guy who brought Lazarus back. Luckily I have a much smaller following.

 

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My previous success went to my head; I tried making pesto without a recipe. The problem was not really making pesto without a recipe. I mean how wrong can you go with six ingredients: basil, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, salt & parmesan cheese? The problem was that I got cocky about it and didn’t really pay attention to what I was doing. I just rushed around throwing things in the cuisinart.

One of the things the blog has taught me about my kitchen foibles is that I’m a rusher. In a frenzy to be over with the cooking I don’t pay attention, and food, like small children, requires a lot of attention. And like small children, food wants you to pay attention with all your senses. But in my blithe desire to prove I could go recipe-free I forgot this cardinal rule and payed absolutely no attention whatsoever. Which was why I poured an entire ball jar of walnuts into the cuisinart and pressed pulse without really considering if I wanted to use all the walnuts. They were just there and I poured them. It took copious amounts of parmesan cheese, salt and oil to bring the pesto back, I can tell you.

I guess the difference between the Unnatural Cook who started the blog and the Slightly- More-Natural Cook I’m becoming is that I won’t go back to the recipe next time, I’ll just go slower.

And the salad idea was nice, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes & olives. That was pretty Natural-Cooky of me.

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Yoga. It’s another thing, like meal planning, that I like the benefits of but don’t enjoy while I’m doing it. I like yoga because it makes me strong, and I dropped ten pounds and I get sick less. I also like it because I’m a beginner, and in yoga its always okay to be a beginner. Yoga is a way to practice being okay with being uncomfortable. I need that kind of practice. I’m a 44 year old woman, back in school, trying to start a new career writing in mid-life. I’m scared out of my mind.

Every week that I make it to yoga once, that I write another meal plan, is proof to myself that I can change.  That I can find a way, within my own limitations, to do something I want to do but don’t consider myself good at. I need the constant reminder of the little things (yoga and meal planning) to build courage for the big thing (writing). Every time a new meal plan gets tacked on the blackboard I think to myself, you’ve been doing this for five years, you didn’t think you could do it, what else can you do that didn’t think was possible? Holding uncomfortable poses and making a list of what to eat once a week seem a ridiculous way to go about changing careers, but I know in my heart they’re related.

The blog seems to be adding a new level of detail to my perception that I can change. Tonight’s dinner, pesto, was made from basil that I bought for another meal but only used a few leaves of. I actually thought ahead to use the rest for pesto before it went bad. I said at the outset I never remember to check the refrigerator for produce to see if it can get used up before it rots. But just saying it, writing it, made it seem stupid – so I didn’t let the basil rot. And the side dish, Candy’s Vegetables, I said I never get inspired by ingredients at the grocery store. But then I was wandering around trying to figure out what vegetable to serve with the pesto, wondering how much green I could take in one meal, and I saw a lady holding an eggplant and got inspired. Yes, inspired by an eggplant to try an old recipe I hadn’t made in years. And it was so good! The pesto and the vegetables were a perfect combination. And so it seems that the blog itself a vehicle for change. I had no idea what the purpose of it was, but by doing it, I’m finding benefits I wasn’t expecting.

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