My bathroom mirror says, in pink chalk marker, "if you want to be strong and brave, be strong and brave". I'm not someone who sticks inspirational post-its around the house, but I heard a female athlete say this after she'd failed her course attempt on American Ninja Warrior (yes, I love watching American Ninja Warrior). Her response to whatever the interviewer's inane question was struck me: "well, if you want to be strong, be strong!", so I wrote it on the mirror. I added brave because I could benefit from a bit more bravery.
I'm a glass-mostly-full kind of person and I love big ideas but I can get stuck in making the leap from big idea to big life. As much as I would love not to admit it, there's a fear factor. I have a longstanding list of big ideas that I haven't pursued. The reasons usually sound like I'm too tired and I'm too busy and I'm too old and I'm happy enough already. Um, really? Unless it's something that has to be planned for financially, like travel around the world for 3 months or truly isn't possible, like be queen of the world...let's be honest...the reason for not trying is some kind of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of too much work.
Although I don't make resolutions, the New Year seems as good a time as any to decide to be strong and brave. Time to do some scary things and discover whether the worst thing happens...or not. Because, I remind myself, the worst thing won't happen. The less than optimal might happen. So what? Learn. Grow. Be strong. Be brave.
On my list...
What will you do? What are your big ideas, even if scary? What will you write on your mirror? (These aren't just questions to wrap up this blog story; I'd truly like to hear...)
*Not to do advertising for Nike, but I downloaded the Nike Run Club app yesterday for a 1/2 marathon training plan. Very easy, lots of features...I think I'm going to like it.
Every spring I plant one jalapeno plant and every summer and fall I'm faced with the culinary challenge of what to do with the dozen after dozen after dozen small, green and hot peppers this plant produces. I don't know why my local Home Depot consistently stocks hot-dammit-hot jalapeno plants or if maybe it has something to do with my soil? Could that possibly make sense? I don't know. Whatever the reason, my jalapeno plant (and poblano plant for that matter) produces copious numbers of hot! peppers.
Jalapenos go on pizza, with anything Mexican, and can be stuffed. These are the obvious. I also roast them in the oven or on the stove top in a grill pan and put them in soup and in the freezer. In large quantities. Even over the course of a winter, there are only so many jalapenos a person can use! I dehydrated some for good measure, although, seriously, I'm not sure what to do with them now. I made a chili paste of sorts but was only about 70% satisfied with it.
Even though it's a little late for the jalapeno harvest in most of the country, this entire jalapeno conversation came up the other day when a friend of mine continued to rave about how the relish I'd given him has become his favorite of all time. Jalapeno, cabbage, and onion relish had been the answer to my final jalapeno harvest. I perused some relish recipes and adapted for ingredients already in my kitchen. In my humble opinion, this recipe turned out to be an epic win. Collateral benefit is it took less than an hour from start through clean up.
The only potentially tricky step in this process is the canning, if you aren't familiar with the process. Because there is so much vinegar in the relish, the process is a little easier than canning something without vinegar. You'll need a half dozen or so small canning jars. Grab a big stock pot. Fill it about 2/3 with water. Boil the water. Put the jars and lids in to boil for at least several minutes. You won't have to put the filled cans back in the water bath though if you keep them sterile throughout.
Step by step instructions for the relish:
Like pesto, relish is very adaptable. I used half a head of red cabbage because I had half a head of red cabbage. Green would've been fine. Though not as pretty. Unless you used red onion. Which would've also been fine. Carrots? I think yes. Maybe even parsnips. I would say no to beets, but that's because I detest them. You might want to give them a go. Not a fan of hot relish? Use banana peppers. I'm not a fan of bell peppers in relish...but you wouldn't be making relish for me, so maybe you'll try bells and it'll be amazing. The vinegar can be played around with too. The recipes I looked at mostly called for white vinegar. I didn't have enough regular white so did half and half with rice vinegar. As always, you get the idea.
My favorite two ways to eat it are with white beans or on vegetarian hotdogs/sausage. If you aren't vegetarian, it works especially well with things like pork chops, hotdogs, sausages, and bologna.
Making pesto is one of my life long strategies for helping make the world a better place. Wielding only a blender, I declare "I am not a food waster! I am a happiness maker!" Making pesto is a small but purposeful step toward hugging the planet, myself, my friends and family.
Pesto is a serious topic for two reasons. First, I love pesto. It's on my list of essential foods. It shares that space with avocados, grapefruit, 15 grain bread with extra seeds, pizza from 5 Points Pizza in Nashville, curried anything, nuts and deep dark chocolate. I put it in pasta, spread it on toast, layer it with mozzarella and tomato slices on crostini, scoop it with crackers, and use it as a condiment for any sandwich.
Second, I hate wasting food. Not wasting greens sometimes is a challenge. Greens simply don't last very long and they aren't a suitable candidate for freezing, canning, or drying. I think I would feel really lofty and healthy if I could say greens never go to waste at my house because I always eat salad...but I don't. I mean, I do eat salad and its ok, but I don't love salad. Definitely not as much as pesto.
Traditional pesto is basil, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt. For years I thought of pesto as a summer thing, when fresh basil is plentiful. Even in Tennessee where we have a long growing season, basil is such a tender plant, it doesn't survive past the first cold night. Adding insult to injury, I've had to make successive plantings the last couple of years because I have some basil plant mildew killing thing going on.
In this pesto story, tradition is not required. Perhaps not even desired. I would never diminish the importance of food tradition when it comes to using pineapple in pineapple upside down cake or tomatoes in marinara, but for pesto, basil is not required. Pine nuts are not required. If you're vegan or dairy free, Parmesan cheese is not required. Nutritional yeast can sub in. I would say garlic is required, but you can use fresh or jarred; don't let anybody say you can't. I wouldn't necessarily recommend a substitution for olive oil or salt, but go ahead, play around.
Pesto glory. Here's how I make it.
In the blender, add:
Remember: Peace. Love. Pesto.
*I'm phasing out my use of almonds. Almonds are delightful and it's not their fault it takes so much water to make them, but it takes titanic quantities of water that California doesn't really have to spare right now. Sadly.
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
The patience project. Because patience is a virtue. And a creative challenge.
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Write 100 words, take a nap and share your mantra
Tile and wood floor...this year's winter project...kitchen renovation