Something New: Day 1

Here we go, Day 1 of my brilliant idea to try to do something new/creative for 30 days. In thinking about what to do over the next 30 days, I’ve come to three realizations:

  1. This isn’t going to be so easy to come up with something new every day for thirty days.
  2. There are plenty of things I might want to try that I may not want to give you the details about. 🙂
  3. It’s going to be frustrating FUN!

Okay, so we’re starting out kind of slow so I can get my bearings nerve up creative juices flowing. So my premiere new, creative project is . . .

Pesto from Scratch!

I know, I know. It might be kind of boring, but wait until you see what I have planned for Tuesday! (And remember what I said in #2 above.)

basil3Anyway, I’ve had basil growing in my little garden-box herb garden for the last month or so, and as you can see, the Dallas heat and miserable little bugs have become too much for the delicate herb. I’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to make pesto, and what better time than now, when I’m looking for something I’ve never done before.

A safe choice, yes, but necessary.

Click HERE for the recipe I used.

Or, it’s here, too:

3 cups packed fresh basil
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh
parsley (optional)
1. Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend to a smooth paste. Add parsley if desired.

Before I got started, there were a few things I needed from the grocery story. I’ve shown them in red above. (I actually had olive oil — some generic brand–but thought for the pesto to be REALLY good, I should buy a premium brand of EVOO–that’s extra virgin olive oil for you non-kitchen types.)

So off I went to the grocery store, where I spent $71.90 (and that’s with a Kroger savings of $8.85!) just to make homemade pesto!

Okay, I’ll admit, I bought a few other things–oatmeal, grapes, chicken breasts, pasta, avocado and a dress. Yes, a dress. And there’s the second thing I did today that I’ve never done before. I bought a dress at a grocery store. After all, I needed something to wear when I serve my homemade pesto for dinner tomorrow night.


So, here’s the price list for the actual items needed for the homemade pesto:

  • Bertolli Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil – $13.99
  • Organic crushed garlic – $2.49 (Okay, okay–I got lazy!)
  • Pine nuts – $3.99
  • Parmesan Cheese (grated) – $3.77 (Yes, I’m still lazy.)
  • Total (without tax) – $24.24

So there’s the first problem. Do you know how much a 10 oz. jar of pesto is at Kroger? $3.79

No matter. I decided to have fun with this project, and turned Andrea Bocelli up full blast. He sang Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves) to me to his fiancé as I got started:

I needed something to drink with my Andrea Bocelli and poured myself a glass of wine.

Next, I clipped the basil and washed it in salt water. After all, I needed to kill all the bugs organically. I looked at each leaf pretty closely, but granted, I didn’t wear my reading glasses. I figured if one or two got crushed in the blender, nobody would ever know.

Oh yes, this was going to be fun–making pesto while being serenaded by Andrea Bocelli, sipping wine as I studied basil leaf after basil leaf for tiny bugs.

🙂 TIP: If you like the scent of basil, after you blot the washed leaves with paper towels, rub them on your neck. Organic perfume.

Basil washed, it was time for the fun stuff–putting it all in the blender. First, the olive oil, then the garlic. I blended that, then added the cheese.

Wow! This is pretty easy, even if it was ten times more expensive.

Next, came time to add the pine nuts.

Pine nuts. Where are the pine nuts? Hey, come to think, they weren’t in the picture of my ingredients. WHERE ARE THE PINE NUTS?

I searched the grocery bags frantically, then realized I was also missing my oatmeal and red grapes. Now what was I going to have for breakfast tomorrow?

For criminy sakes, the checker was so busy talking about the basketball game between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio spurs that he forgot to give me one of my bags!

So, here’s the important take away from this post. What did I learn from this whole experience?

Do NOT remove your shoes and/or your bra before you check to make sure you have all the ingredients you need. Check and double check.

Because here’s the third new thing I did today–at least new since I was a teenager–go to the grocery store in my shorts and t-shirt, and although I did put my shoes back on, I didn’t put the other thing on that I’d removed when I earlier got nice and comfy in preparation to make my homemade pesto that was ten times more expensive.

And so, cursing under my breath, I left Andrea serenading to return to the grocery store for the very-necessary pine nuts, as well as my oatmeal and red grapes.

When I returned home, sweaty from the Dallas heat, all I wanted to do was get the dang pesto made so I could go upstairs and finish paying bills.

I added a few ice cubes to my now-warm Chardonnay and dumped the pine nuts into the blender. Next, it was finally time to add the pièce de résistance–the basil. It smelled heavenly as I added a few leaves at a time, and it was finally starting to look like, well, store-bought pesto.

When at last, it was finished, I retrieved a Tupperware bowl to store it in until tomorrow night. But no, this stuff was too much work (and much too expensive) to put into a Tupperware bowl. I could save that for store-bought pesto. Every blinking ounce of my very expensive homemade pesto deserved nothing but the best — crystal.


So, here’s my wrap up:

WHAT I LEARNED: I’m not so sure the added expense of making homemade pesto is worth it, but I’ll let you know tomorrow night after I serve it with angel hair pasta and roasted chicken. Oh, and don’t forget to remain fully-dressed until you verify you have all the ingredients.

THUMBS UP OR DOWN? I’ll let you know tomorrow night.

Addendum, 6/16/14: Perhaps I was a little insensitive to ask Steve to do a taste test in the final two minutes of the FIFA World Cup USA vs. Ghana match, but he was a trooper and not only took a taste, but picked out the homemade from the Kirkland brand pesto I purchased from Costco.

“That one tastes saltier and oilier than the first one,” he said, after tasting the store-bought brand. “The first one is more delicate.”

I beamed. “That’s the one I made.”

Personally, I think he knew that and just wanted to get back to the game.

blog-smileAnyway, I served it over angel hair pasta with roasted chicken breast and asparagus. I have to admit, it was delicious. So, I’m giving this creativity challenge a “thumbs up.”


WHAT’S UP FOR TOMORROW: I’ll give you a hint–I bought supplies today and it involves painting.

Stay tuned!



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12 Responses to Something New: Day 1

  1. Good for you, Jan. I love to make pesto and of course, you’ll have oil, cheese and nuts enough to make more and you can wear the dress over and over….so good investment. If you don’t put the Parmesan in right away, you can freeze pesto, too. Just add the cheese before serving. 🙂



    • Jan Morrill says:

      Good point about being able to use the olive oil, cheese and nuts again, Janet, I was just looking for an excuse to whine. 🙂

      Thanks, too, for the note on cheese — I didn’t know that.


  2. Steve says:

    Bravo Jan, this is a great example of why people don’t do new creative things everyday. It requires too much conscious, attentive effort, though I did like the part where you went to the store without a bra. Does store bought pesto have tiny crushed bugs in it? I think in economics there’s something called economies of scale where you’d have to buy 1000 pounds of pine nuts and similar amounts of the other ingredients in order to get the cost similar to store bought pesto. But hey,at least you used up all of the basil (and rid your garden of basil bugs.)


  3. Sylvia Forbes says:

    It gets a lot cheaper if you grow your own basil, buy fresh garlic and just use 2 of the cloves, leave out the pine nuts (or use walnuts instead), and buy the olive oil when it’s on sale. I love pesto, and make it often. This fall, I’m going to try growing my own garlic, too!


    • Jan Morrill says:

      I will try it again, Sylvia. It really wasn’t that hard, and I still have some basil growing. Now that I know to check my grocery list before getting started, it’ll go much more smoothly. 🙂 I think I will try walnuts next time, too.


  4. Mustang.Koji says:

    Umm… OK, Jan. I won’t remove my unmentionable that I canNOT mention but you could! 🙂 BTW, I learned the hard way NOT to wash my little girl’s t-shirts with my work shirts – especially if they HAD glitter on them.

    I love pesto as do my two littlest kids. Next time they stay with me, I’m going to make it! And because I am picky, I will throw in Costco Parmesan Reggiano. Krogers, move over. And your photo, BTW, was exquisite!

    How was Tommy today? 🙂


    • Jan Morrill says:

      Uh-oh, Koji. Yes, some lessons must be learned the hard way. But at least your shirts were sparkling clean. 🙂

      I used premium quality Parmesan, even though it was from Kroger–I got it in the “fancy cheese” section. 🙂 But I’ll check Costco’s Parmesan out, too.

      Tommy was an absolute angel while we went house hunting today. But more on that later. 🙂


  5. Lol! This reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel decided to economize and make their own butter. At the end of the show–after many mishaps as you can well expect–they’re holding this little plate of butter, and Ethel says, “Imagine. All that butter for only $50.”


  6. Pingback: Something New: Day 2 | Jan Morrill Writes

  7. Pingback: Green Eggs and Ham… Not | Masako and Spam Musubi

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