Thursday, July 31, 2008

$9 Worth of Basil

My CSA was selling extra basil for $9/pound. I tried to mentally calculate how good of a deal it was. A few summers back, I foolishly decided I could grow my own basil, so I bought a big pot for about $35 (that's still in the backyard full of weeds), a flat of plants for about $6, a big bag of potting soil for something like $16... Altogether, I spent at least $50 to produce as much basil as I could buy for $5 from the Hmong farmers at the farmers' market. I wasn't sure how big a pound of basil would be - it's the pound of lead vs. a pound of feathers argument - but I was pretty sure that I'd get a bag of leaves that would be a little easier to deal with than the bunch basil from the farmers' market - fewer stems (that's a song right, "down to seeds and stems again toooo".

In the end, a pound of basil [leafs] turned out to yield 12 cups, which in turn, pureed with cheese and nuts and olive oil and garlic, yielded almost a quart of pesto. (I use Deborah Madison's recipe, from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone - after years of scrambling to find that little scrap of paper where I had scrawled my perfect proportions of leaves and nuts and oil and cheese, I found them printed in her book, and tossed the scrap).

I can't imagine what the people with larger orders than me - several people had 2-pound bags, and one person had a box that must've been even more - were going to do with all that basil - how much pesto can you eat?

After the pesto, I made giant challah, two of 'em.

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