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Spring is here!

March 7, 2010

So I did a lot of spring cleaning today, with the help of the boy. I scrubbed the very dirty kitchen floor (on my hands and knees… with a sponge… and a leaking wash bucket… how did that even happen? No idea.), washed TONS of dishes, the boy vacuumed and tidied up the living room, and then I got cookin’.

I had bought a bunch of fresh broccoli a while ago in preparation for making broccoli cheese soup, which I love. Alas, I discovered that the boy doesn’t love broccoli cheese soup so much. So what to do with all this broccoli? I decided to make broccoli pesto.

I found some recipes online and decided to use: broccoli, toasted walnuts, olive oil, garlic, cottage cheese, and lots and lots of black pepper. I even used my immersion blender for the first time ever, and it was a little disappointing, but adequate in pureeing the “pesto.” The broccoli pesto didn’t taste that great, until I added more salt, and then it was better. I served it over linguine. And it was pretty good. A little heavy on the walnuts (I’ll add fewer next time), and not really all that broccoli-ish, but quite good! I still prefer basil pesto, but who doesn’t? Lol… Here’s the recipe:

Broccoli Pesto:

2 small heads broccoli, cut into small pieces and boiled for 3-5 minutes
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 – 1/2 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta)
2-4 tablespoons of olive oil (or however much you want)
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
LOTS of black pepper
a decent amount of salt (as always, taste while you season!)
1/4 cup broccoli water (or pasta water)

If you’re using a food processor, toss it all in and pulse. Blender? Ditto, but put it on the “chop” function and pulse. You don’t want to overblend or you’ll get gooey paste (or so I hear). Immersion blender? You might want to cut up the pieces small (I chopped my walnuts in the 1950s version of the slap chop first) before you use it, depending on how bit your blade is. This makes about 4 cups of pretty thick pesto. Add more olive oil and/or cooking water (some recipes call for chicken stock) to thin it as desired.

It was pretty good. I’d probably make it again, although with fewer walnuts, like I said.

I did get really ambitious today, I’m making banana bread at the moment. It’s my Dad’s recipe via an old church cookbook. It was one of the few things he made in the kitchen, along with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, and/or french toast on Sunday mornings/afternoons. I ate it warm with peanut butter many a morning before school. I bought bananas specifically to make it! 🙂 Here’s the recipe, modified slightly:

Dad’s Banana Bread:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (you can apparently use less butter, but I didn’t)
2 eggs
1-3 bananas, cut into chunks (I used 3)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cups white flour)

Cream sugar, butter, and eggs until smooth. Add bananas and stir by hand to break up the chunks a bit. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Gradually mix by hand into the wet ingredients (folding is helpful with fine powders like flour). Pour into 2 small or 1 large greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 F or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to continue cooling. When fully cool, cut and serve, and/or wrap in tinfoil or plastic wrap to keep at room temperature.

This banana bread is pretty basic – no nuts, no chocolate, no anything else (though you could certainly add these things if you like!). The crust is soft and the crumb is fine, moist, and dense. If you use 1 banana, you may get a crispier top crust. This stuff is fabulous warm or cold, with or without butter, peanut butter and/or nutella. It makes a great breakfast, snack, or even dessert.

And I gotta tell you, it smells awfully delicious right now!

The green broccoli and sweet banana for some reason make me think of spring. It was wonderfully warm today, got up to maybe 50 something degrees. I wore bare legs for the first time since last summer! We opened the windows while we were cleaning, which helped air out the apartment. Then we went for a long drive up into the mountains and saw some hang gliders. It was a pretty wonderful day, despite the heavy cleaning. 🙂

I’m thinking about getting some window boxes come spring. My poor basil plant I bought last summer has struggled every onward, but is sooo incredibly spindly and pale, I feel awful for trying to keep it alive. We just don’t get much sun in our top floor dormer windows, though there is plenty of sun out on the roof! I’m hoping it and our now 4-year old poinsettia (which looks a lot more like a bonsai tree than a poinsettia) will leaf out a bit more once I can put them outside.

Going to go check on my banana bread now. Then to bed and another week tomorrow. *sigh* Can’t wait for the cold and mud to go away and for skirt weather to come back! 🙂

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