Traditional Basil Pesto

From my blog.

If there is one taste of late summer that I really look forward to, it is that happy coincidence of garlic, basil, and tomato all coming into harvest at the same time (sure, garlic is almost done for the season, but fresh stuff is still readily available).

Around these parts, these coincidental great tastes mean some fairly serious kitchen work: sauce making, tomato canning, pesto-making…

Krista and I try to preserve as much as possible in order to ensure that we have tomatoes, tomato sauces, salsas and pestos to last the winter. We both prefer the tastes of our local, seasonal produce to that found in the grocery store.

I’ll probably write about tomato canning as we get into fall, but, in the meantime, here is a wonderful recipe for making your own pesto. We make a huge batch of pesto, put it into ice cube trays, freeze it, then put the cubes in freezer bags for safe long-term freezing.

A few notes: Purists will scoff at you for using a blender for making pesto. They will point out that it bruises the basil leaves as it cuts them, making for an inferior sauce. They will also tell you to freeze the pesto without the cheese for better consistency and texture.

To the purists, I say this: poppycock. And, if that weren’t enough: phooey.

I’ve made a lot of pesto in my time. I’ve frozen more than my share. I’ve not had any complaints. And I’ve always used a food processor, combined all ingredients, and then frozen. It turns out just fine. When you are dealing with pounds of basil, you don’t get fussy. Sure, if you are picky, you’ll notice that the food-processed pesto will be a slightly darker green (bruised) colour than a finely chopped basil pesto. But then, unless you know what you are doing and have extremely sharp knives, your basil will be bruised anyway. As for the cheese… Our pesto usually gets used in a hot dish (either on a pizza or on pasta for the most part). We also tend to add a bit of fresh cheese when cooking with it. By the time the pesto melts and the fresh cheese is added, no one will know that your cheese was ever frozen.

This is a small, manageable recipe. If you plan on freezing some for winter storage, I’d go no less than tripling the amounts.

The photo shows my basil pesto in the foreground with frozen garlic scape pesto in the back. I transfer the frozen pesto into freezer bags for longer-term freezing.


• 2 (packed) cups fresh basil leaves (I get mine from Deep Roots Farm in Warsaw at the Peterborough Farmer’s Market) • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (why not try Empire Cheese’s Parmesan)
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I’ve been dying to try this with local black walnuts)
• 3 good sized garlic cloves

1. Place nuts in food processor and pulse on “chop” until crumbly.
2. Add garlic and pulse again until minced.
3. Add basil and pulse again until shredded but not mushy.
4. Turn on food processor to “mix” and slowly pour in a steady stream of olive oil.
5. Mix pesto and cheese in a large bowl.
6. Cover or freeze immediately.

Tall tree farm finds its roots in Havelock — Plus, Fried Zucchini Recipe

My latest Farm to Table column is in the print edition of Peterborough This Week. It is also on their website. I’ve got a link to it from my MyKawartha Blog.

For the full column, please visit


Excerpt #1.

At Tall Tree Farm, it is all about family. You understand this immediately as you pull into the driveway and park around back by the century-old Havelock Barn.

The minute you arrive, you see, you’re sure to be greeted by the young Tall Tree brood: mother, Amanda, straw hat askew and tanned from long hours in the garden sun; father, Dave, warm and welcoming and eager to lead a tour of the property; toddler, Dave Jr., leading the way and pointing out crops that are ripe and ready for the picking.  After them will trail a menagerie of barn-cat kittens and the family dog.  The chickens are cooped and penned, but you get the feeling that they’d be coming to greet you as well.

For the full column, please visit


Excerpt #2

How hard to they work?

During a tour of their greenhouse, Amanda points out that they have to get up twice per night to feed the winter woodstove that allows them to get a head start on their spring market greens.  I take a moment to imagine stumbling through the cold February midnight dark in order to hope for a springtime paycheque.

And I’m suitably impressed.

The work ethic shows as 3-year-old Dave, not yet up to his mother’s hip, toddles in and out of garden rows, picking perfectly ripe cucumbers and zucchini.  He staggers up to us with a zucchini squash that looks like it weighs nearly as much as he does.

“I’ve got dinner for tonight!” he exclaims excitedly.

There is dinner there for a week, I think.


For the full column, please visit

Recipe: Fried Zucchini

A perfect side to any BBQ meal. Kid friendly and fun. And a great way to use those bumper zucchini crops! This informal recipe is great for even beginner cooks.


zucchini (feel free to also include eggplant, mushroom, or peppers) – sliced to no more than ¼ inch thick
egg – start with one and use more as needed
flour – and handful or so (option: you can add a bit of dried oregano and/or a pinch if cayenne to your flour)
salt and pepper – a generous pinch of each
vegetable oil – just enough to cover the bottom of a shallow pan.


Sift a handful of flour, plus the salt and pepper into a ziplock bag;

Beat egg.

Dip zucchini/vegetables into the egg, a few at a time, and then add to the bag of flour – making sure there is plenty of air in the bag as well – and shake until the vegetables are coated;

Repeat until you have coated all of your vegetables;

Shallow fry on medium-high heat until golden brown;

Blot oils with paper towel and serve with tzatziki or your favourite dip.


Food Dehydration Article in Kidz Ink Series of Magazines

You can find my new article on food dehydration in Peterborough Kids, Lakeridge Kids, and Northumberland Kids magazines. Look for them throughout Peterborough and Northumberland Counties and across Durham Region. Or click on the links. You’ll find it in the August/September editions.

Click on the pictures (below) for full sized images. All photos by Krista Campbell Fraser

Excerpt #1

It’s awfully tough to purchase local fruits and vegetables in the middle of February.

Many parents, however, have started planning for their winter eating by preserving local foods throughout the summer and having them on hand for later in the year.

There are a number of ways that you can go about preserving food. Canning is one option, and my wife Krista and I put away a pantry full of jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, salsas, and more every year.

You can also freeze food. We have two freezers full of local fruits, veggies and meats and look forward to treats such as local corn in March.

And then there is dehydrating – probably the least recognized of all food preservation practices, and yet one that should appeal particularly to parents.

Dehydrating, you see, preserves food without any vitamin and nutrient loss – which is usually not the case with canning and freezing processes.

Not only that, it makes some of the best kid-friendly food you’ll ever find. Your school lunches and snack times will get raves when you include homemade fruit roll-ups, dried apples, incredibly tart and sweet chewy berries, pepperoni-flavoured jerky, flavoured veggie chips, and much, much more.

Even if you are supplementing your diet with supermarket produce, there are great treats to be had. How about a mountain of banana chips? Or candied orange, lemon and gingers sweets? You are limited only by imagination.

We use our dehydrator to make homemade granola, granola bars, and even yogurt!

Find the full article in: Peterborough Kids, Lakeridge Kids, and Northumberland Kids magazines.

Excerpt #2

Krista spends some good quality time dehydrating each summer – and, in winter, keeping us stocked with granola and veggie chips. She’s compiled a sure-fire list of tips for successful dehydrating:

• Cut off any bruised/soft sections of fruit or vegetables.
• Cut food into slices of uniform thickness – a ¼ inch is usually the norm for most foods.
• Spray discolouring foods (such as apples and peaches) with lemon juice (from a spray bottle) to maintain colour in the dried product.
• Leave a bit of space around drying food portions to allow for air flow – no overlapping.
• When making fruit leather, spread a puree of your favourite fruits, evenly until around 1/8 of an inch thick in the centre – very slightly thicker at the edges.
• Let food dry completely before storing to avoid moisture build-up from the cooling process.
• Dehydrate food until leathery or slightly crisp (apples and fruits turn leathery, while veggie chips will crispen up) in order to ensure better storage.
• Store dehydrated food in an airtight bag or container. If kept in a dark, dry cool space, they should last for a number of months – different foods will last for different amounts of time, but a good rule of thumb is to use any summer foods by the end of the following winter. Try to remove as much air as possible from your bags/containers for optimum freshness.
• Keep your counters, drying racks, and kitchen utensils clean – as with any food preparation, you want to avoid contaminants.

Dried foods are not only great for lunches and snacks, but are perfect for camping. We’ll pre-dry an assortment of foods to make great canoe-trip meals, such as soups, chili, and pasta dishes. All you’ll need to do is add is boiling water!

Find the full article in: Peterborough Kids, Lakeridge Kids, and Northumberland Kids magazines.

Taste the Summer; Taste the Freshness — Plus a recipe for Mini Frittata Bites with Double-Smoked Bacon and Local Garden Vegetables

For the entire blog and recipe, please visit my Farm to Table blog at

Excerpt #1

Around a month ago, I walked into one of our local chain supermarkets.  To not name names, we’ll call it Soblaws “Frills Chopper.”  After all, most of our chain stores are pretty much the same.  At least when it comes to produce.

Anyhow, I think I was looking for something simple.  Probably some toilet paper or dishsoap.  I was looking for something that would keep the Farm to Table household running smoothly.

Walking through the sliding doors, I was greeted by a giant display.  “The Taste of Summer!” it hailed in foot-high letters.  “Taste the Freshness!” it called in sun-shiny bursts of yellow-orange font.

“Hey! Hey!” I thought, as I walked forward.  “I love the taste of summer!”

Really, I should have known better.

What did they feature on the display tables and shelves?

Corn, for one thing.  And watermelon.  Wrapped in plastic wrap.

“What the…?” I whispered aloud.  “This sure isn’t going to taste of freshness…  And it is only going to taste of a reasonable facsimile of summer!”

For the entire blog and recipe, please visit my Farm to Table blog at

Excerpt #2

Strawberries that get shipped out of season have to sit quite awhile before they get to your grocery basket.  Off-season tomatoes are pulpy, pale versions of their autumnal glory.  Corn trucked up from the states will lose most of its natural sweetness by the time it gets here – that sweetness will be replaced by sugar’s natural by-product, mushy starch.

These are not the tastes of summer.  They are lies and they are shams.  They are counterfeits of pleasure.  They are photocopies of works of art.  They are pale imitations.

Sure, you get used to this watered-down taste.  After all, this is what so many of us have been fed for years.  But “getting used to” is hardly the same thing as truly enjoying.

For the entire blog and recipe, please visit my Farm to Table blog at


Mini Frittata Bites with Double-Smoked Bacon and Local Garden Vegetables

Makes 9 mini-frittata

7 eggs
½ cup double smoked bacon in ¼ in cubes or small pieces
½ cup of cooked baby new potatoes, ¼ inch cubes
½ cup of onion (or green onion or leek), ¼ inch cubes
½ cup of diced mushroom
2 cups of roughly chopped swiss chard
½ cup of diced tomatoes (seeded)
½ cup aged cheddar cheese
Chives for garnish

For the entire blog and recipe, please visit my Farm to Table blog at

Wine Match by Wilton Wine Consulting:

2009 Albert Mann Auxerrois Vielles Vignes Wettolsheim, Alsace France
Suggested Retail: $17-$20.

My first thought was Alsace – the birthplace of quiche (which this is very similar too). Not only because of the regional match, but because of that double-smoked bacon. Here is a wonderful wine that I carry, described in depth on an independent wine blog: It has the freshness but also the weight to create a true terroir experience with this dish.

Local Option (Prince Edward County):

2009 Stanners Vinyard Pinot Gris
$25.00 per bottle

I was given the inside scoop on Stanners Vineyards Pinot Noir this spring, but I was most impressed with their whites and would highly recommend their Pinot Gris with this qui-tata. http://www.stannersvineyar? It is definitely cool-climate, but approaches the richness of the Albert Mann and is definitely reminiscent of the Alto Adige.

Wednesday Market Report

I just got my Peterborough Downtown Wednesday Market report from market coordinator, Jillian Bishop.

Take it away, Jill:



“What’s new at market this week?

What isn’t!?


The produce is coming on strong, and you can find it all at the downtown market tomorrow. Freshly picked corn, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs, greens, beets, carrots, berries, cherries, peaches, and oh so much more! And, it is the beginning of tomato season!


Pick up some fresh baked bread, and start enjoying toasted tomato sandwiches. I know i will be!


Also, “glads” are back. These gorgeous flowers and lots of other fresh picked bouquets can be found at market. What a great way to brighten your home, desk or day!


Of course, there are also lots of fabulous baked goods, art and lunches to go!


Join us to take in the height of harvest season. And remember to thank the farmers’ for all the hard work they are doing to bring this fabulous food to you!”