Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Motherhood, The Nashville Farmer's Market, and My Pesto Addiction

Motherhood is serious business.  Humans tend to think that we are the only species to experience the intensity of the bond, but Farmers know otherwise. One aspect of farming that never ceases to amaze me is the closeness that exists between Mama and Baby that extends well into adulthood and beyond. While there is the occasional case of rejection, it is the exception not the rule.  Mommas take care of their Young 'Uns...be they chickens, goats, hogs, sheep, or cows and the connectivity continues for generations. Most of our goat herd is divided into smaller familial herds...babies, moms, grandma...happily hanging together and foraging. Frankly, I wish that all humans were as devoted.  

Grand Dame Daisy rests on a rock ledge with her daughter and granddaughter.

Why the focus on mothering?  I am worried about a girl I barely know.  She is a woman, really, but seems so very young.  I have been looking for part-time kitchen help. This is a busy season on the farm and there are not enough hours in the day so finding someone who can help with slicing and dicing would give me more time in the barn during the active kidding season.  She called for an interview and I liked her through the phone line.  I liked her even more when we met in person.  She has no skills in the kitchen and very little in the way of formal education but she told me she could take direction, was quick to learn, and she really needed the job...she has a six month old baby and a no account ex-boyfriend.   She showed up early the first day and we worked easily together, chattering as we made flat breads.  She shared a family history rife with parental drug addiction, years spent in
foster care, and so on. 
Somehow she has managed to hold on to a sweetness and optimism that belies the darkness of her story.  She relies on government assistance and a bit of child support to pay her bills.  She always has more month than money...a constant state of being on the Farm, as well.   Although we can't afford to pay her much, we can make sure that she is well fed and I have sent her home with food every day.

She has started missing work and I am guessing she will miss again tomorrow.  Her support system is made up of people incapable of rendering support.   Her child care is unreliable and she worries the entire time she is away.   

What a horrible position for a young mother.  While it is true that each of us lives the life we do as a result of choices we have made, my heart hurts for this girl.   She is determined to do better by her baby than was done by her...Yet, she has no cheerleader, no one smoothing the path.   How can she pay for decent child care when she is making little more than minimum wage?  How can we pay her more than we are when there is no money?  This is a gal who needs a hand up but I am not sure how to provide it.  I have been praying on it and think the seed of an idea is germinating in my head.  She needs a soft place to land and I would like to help her find it.  Wish me luck!

IN OTHER NEWS... The Farmer and I attended the Nashville Farmer's Market CSA Fair last week-end and had an amazing time answering questions and handing out samples of Goat Cheese and Pesto!  It was gratifying to see so many young families out early on a cold blustery day to meet the Farmers and local CSA representatives who work to grow Real Food.  The Market has been on a great trajectory in recent years and credit would have to be given to Director Tasha Kennard, who is committed to putting farm food on city tables!


DID SOMEONE JUST SAY PESTO?

Pesto is one of my Go To appetizers.  Pesto and Farm Goat Cheese is heaven on a plate....add some Pita or Ciabatta and you are talking perfection!  Pesto is easy to make...all you need is a Food Processor and five minutes.  I tend to make a huge batch---about six cups worth---but, because it freezes well, it never goes to waste..

Freezing does tend to cause the nuts to soften a bit but adding some crushed nuts before you serve it will rectify that if it bothers you. Pesto gives you a lot of bang for the buck...  Make Pesto Pasta, Pesto Chicken Salad, or Roast a Chicken Breast and slather on some Pesto ....YUM!

Although traditional Pesto is made with Pine Nuts, those are really pricey.  Pistachio Nuts are my Go To alternative although I have used many others...Cashews, Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pepitas, Sunflower Seeds, just to name a few. 
 Let's make some Pesto!  
First, gather your ingredients.  

You will need fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt and nuts of your choice.   I tend not to measure things too exactly when I cook.  I am a pinch of this, handful of that kind of gal, preferring to let my taste buds tell me when I have got the proportions exactly right.   I hope my casual relationship with units of measure doesn't make your eye twitch.    

Pull the stems from the basil and throw about two generous handfuls into the food processor.  [Note: you can make pesto in a blender but it will not have as interesting a texture].  Pulse it until it is pretty fine. 

Now add the following to the food processor:
A cup (or two!) of Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups of roasted pistachios
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pulse until the ingredients are well blended.  I tend to make my Pesto very thick...more like a spread than a loose, soupy dip, but make it like you like it!  I also like my  pesto to have a lot of crunch and texture so  once everything is well mixed I toss in a handful of pistachios and lightly pulse one last time.  That's it!

As mentioned, this is going to be a lot of pesto and you are probably going to want to add a bit more salt, a splash more lemon, another teaspoon of garlic....I always do some tweaking at the end, adding until the pesto becomes a party in my mouth.    I find it better to do the adjustments at the end after all of the ingredients have been mixed so that I can taste what is missing.  If I've put in too much garlic early in the game, I am left with no way to save the dish.  It's like getting your haircut...you can always cut more but you can't undo the scissors once they have had their way with your bangs!

Rosie Belle Farm Fun Factoid
It is easy to grow herbs in your kitchen window using cuttings from the basil used to make pesto!  Once you have de-stemmed the basil for your pesto, simply put the defoliated stems into a bottle filled with water.  Change the water daily and within a week or so you will see roots and the start of new growth.


Don't you love getting something for nothing? Me, too!
Have a great week!  


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