Living in a big city naturally means you do not have an acre of land. We are lucky in that we have a courtyard, and it gets sun in the summer. You have heard me wax lyrical about basil pesto before. Well now it is the turn of some humble lemons. One of our first purchases was a lemon and lime tree – a graft obviously, though we only seem to get lemons. I had visions of limes for gin and tonic in the summer when we bought the tree! The last batch of lemons ended up as frozen lemon juice thanks to the mother-out-of-law. For some unknown reason I have always wanted to have a go at making Lemon Honey (which is known as lemon butter in the Australian vernacular as I found out) and for some random reason this late batch of lemons (code for I thought I had better take them off the tree as spring was here!) inspired me. While I was tempted to give them the same fate as their predecessors I went to every kiwi’s cooking bible (the Edmonds Cook Book) and the making of lemon honey appeared reasonably straightforward. What was quirky was a couple of day’s later I picked up the October Child magazine (a great freebie) and in there was an article on their tried and true cookbooks and there first was the good old Edmonds cook book. I could not have agreed more that day, fresh from my successful foray. And it made me smile, especially when we think of modern cook books full of fabulous colour photos – this cook book is the original real deal, the entire recipe for the the lemon honey stretches to about two centimetres, and there are four other recipes sharing the page. You know what though – the lemon honey turned out just so. I am even giving the small jar to a friend, not that she knows it yet, but she thought my first jam attempt was more than ok, so I am willing to risk her opinion again! If you have some lemons going spare, can I suggest a batch of lemon honey…
Ok, well not quite, but a fire breathing dragon could have done that to my hydrangea with a wee accidental burp. Alas it is something more prosaic, the fact that Melbourne is experiencing the most sustained period of heat above 41 degrees Celsius since records commenced in the 1850s. Roll on the cool change tonight…
Have you ever eaten fresh basil pesto? It is divine, sublime, you pick the noun! Living in an inner city suburb with a courtyard does not mean that you cannot have your very own fresh produce. I have grown basil in our ‘back yard’ every summer since we have been here. In fact our courtyard can pass for a wee jungle. I manage mint, parsley, lemon thyme and rosemary all year round, plus tomatoes, lettuces, and basil every summer. Not to mention that we have a lemon/lime tree. It is amazing how just a few fresh ingredients can really make a difference to meals. For example try adding a small amount of fresh chopped lemon thyme when making spaghetti bolognaise – it’s a winner!
But back to the basil pesto. It is incredibly easy to make, and the quantity of basil pesto I can make over the summer from a single punnet of basil plants more than recoups the cost of all the ingredients. Look at that forest of basil my daughter is peering at through the window – that’s the single punnet all grown up! And did you know you can freeze basil pesto. Better than the bought stuff. You do not need to be a gardener or a cook to make this a success.
The recipe I use is actually courtesy of a NZ Women’s Weekly issue dating back to the end of 2006! They actually still have a link to the recipe, though I have included said recipe:
- 2 cups of basil leaves, tightly packed
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Place basil and cloves in the food processor and pulse to chop. Then add Parmesan and pine nuts and blend to a pulp. With the motor running drizzle in the olive oil, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue processing to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover with a little oil. Makes approximately 1 cup. Keep in fridge for 2 – 3 weeks. Yummo!