It had to be done, so this morning I girded my loins and marched to the garden after breakfast. Plunging my arms up to the shoulder into the kale forest, I snapped off the thick bottom branches, some of which were two feet long. When I had stuffed full a tall kitchen trash bag, I went back to the kitchen, followed by two disappointed dogs.
Wolfie and Bisou were disappointed because there is nothing they like better than raw kale stems. In the past, I used to toss them a couple whenever I was in the garden, and I even thought it was sweet when Wolfie would snap off a leaf or two on his own and share it with Bisou. But when this spring he pulled two baby kales up by the roots, I had to say many serious \”leave it\’s\” and make some shame inducing gestures (furrowed brow, arms at hips, torso bent over dog until tail droops and head turns aside).
I had to jam the kale leaves into the sink to wash them (found the season\’s first Japanese beetle), and then I put them into my big stockpot to boil for fifteen minutes, which I spent peeling garlic. That huge bag of kale boiled down to two pounds, which I mixed with two cups each of Parmesan and olive oil, eight cloves of garlic, one cup of pecans, and some salt.
This went by stages into the food processor (a gift from the same daughter who introduced me to pesto made with kale). How did our foremothers make pesto with a mortar and pestle? It must have taken endless hours and brawny forearms.
When everything had been reduced to mush I had a total of…care to guess? Eight cups of pesto. I had hoped for something closer to maybe twenty cups, but at least it tasted divine.
How can something so good also be good for you? I pondered the miracle of pesto as I began the final and least pleasant task: stuffing one cup of oily, gooey pesto into each of eight freezer bags. It was a messy business, but at least I got to lick the spatula.
But eight cups! That\’s only eight meals. If we eat pesto once every couple of weeks or so, we\’ll need twenty-four cups, which leaves sixteen yet to be made, i.e. two more batches just like the one I made today. There\’s more than enough kale out in the garden for this. Right now, I\’m just not sure I have the courage.
|You Are What You Eat|