Grandma didn’t make pesto.


My grandma of renown was no slacker, and she was the person who taught me by example how to prepare for a trip. When my sisters and I stayed with her in summertime, we usually went with Grandma and Grandpa on a week’s outing to a cabin or camp in the mountains.

Everything was ship-shape on the home front when we drove off early enough in the morning to have breakfast at the Tracy Inn on the way. There was not a speck of dust on the furniture, and the beds had been made up with fresh sheets as soon as we were out of them. Certainly Grandma would have made sure that Grandpa deadheaded his prizewinning flowers.

Liam, whom I’ll see tomorrow!

But Grandma would never have thought to drive down the state to visit one grandchild for a few nights, and then turn around to fly across the country the very next week to sojourn with a passel of other grandchildren for more than two weeks. The way I am doing. I have to keep reminding myself that in a myriad of ways I am not Grandma.

I am blessed to the point of unbelief having so many grandchildren, and Grandma only had a few of us whom she saw twice a year. Grandma didn’t do the gardening, and she didn’t write any blog posts, though I daresay the wonderful letters she wrote are worth more per hour invested than what I put out.

If there had been basil growing in the back yard, I know she would have arranged things so that the pesto was made at least a couple of days before departure, giving her time to sweep and mop the kitchen and get to bed at a reasonable hour the night before. She wouldn’t be complaining, because she liked traveling and had Everything Under Control.

Not me. I have mostly been whining about everything, including the reality of all the work undone and how I hate leaving home. I was standing at the sink this afternoon whimpering as I pulled leaves off stems, when it hit me that making pesto is one of my most favorite things to do. How wonderful is it that I have a garden that grows basil, from which a woman can create one of the wonders of the culinary world?

And the people in my life — oh, my! Preparing for and going on trips with my grandma was one of the happiest activities of my childhood. She was so good to provide that for us. Hugging and holding my children and grandchildren is necessary food for the maintenance of cup-running-over happiness. Right now I don’t really care if the floor is still dirty and the bed unmade (and a hundred other negatives I won’t waste time listing even to myself) when I drive off tomorrow morning. What do you know — I’m not Grandma!

If Grandma had been washing basil and found a Japanese beetle in the sink, she’d have said, “Tch, tch!” with disgust, but I saw it as a photo opportunity. I could feel this way because this summer I’m not growing green beans. Japanese beetles have ravaged many a crop of green beans here, and in the past I developed a quickness in squishing them between my fingers.

Grandma would not have written a letter or recipe or anything the night before a trip. But writing is also one of my favorite things to do. So here I am.

I see that I blogged about pesto three years ago without giving my recipe, so I will put it up this time:

PESTO
3 cups packed basil leaves
2 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts 
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
 

Mix in the food processor, adding the oil and cheese at the last. Add more salt if you like, or more oil if you need it to be runnier. I’ve had this keep for weeks in the fridge, and years in the freezer, and still be flavorful.

It’s probably easy to guess what is another favorite activity I will indulge in before the sun goes down: gardening. I need to spread some manure around where I thinned the perennials yesterday. Maybe I will run out of energy to clean up all the basil-tinged oil smeared around the kitchen before I fall into bed, but it’s very comforting to have a few little tubs of that tasty stuff in the freezer when we haven’t even got to August.

Grandma wouldn’t understand my style of housekeeping, but she would love me anyway.

13 thoughts on “Grandma didn’t make pesto.

  1. I think you will never regret the time you invest in your children and grandchildren! I know my Grandmas were and are so important to me; it is a huge and influential role! I don't know what I would do without my Grandma's prayers!

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  2. What a fascinating post! Neither of my grandmas were like yours, nor is my mother. But I know the kind of woman you're describing. We make hardly any of them anymore. The interesting thing is this: that generation and type of woman produced OUR generation and type of woman. Their desire for efficiency and cleanliness and order produced all the helpful appliances and short-cuts that make our lives easier, (supposedly) more efficient, and more luxurious. The women who couldn't tolerate a speck of dust (I have an aunt this way) demanded the tools for house-cleaning that now allow us to delay our cleaning until we get back from … anywhere. I'm certain I would look lazy by their standards. But our generation of woman is not much into meeting other people's standards, are we? Thanks for posting this. Your pesto looks yummy! Have a great trip to visit the babies 🙂

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  3. Sweet…and that is what I made yesterday for last night's dinner. I need to make some to freeze as soon as I stock up on olive oil. We certainly have the basil.
    It's very artful how you have illustrated that we are not meant to compare ourselves to others ( even most inspiring and beloved others) rather than letting the heart priorities that God graciously and uniquely gives each of us to structure our days.

    Besides…you can always clean the floors in Mxrxnx and Mxrxlxnx….

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  4. I always have good intentions, but …. the day before my last trip to visit family was the day I put up corn, and I also canned 12 pints of pickles. Poor timing, but it had to be done:)

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  5. Yum! Pesto. I love it, too. I make several of different kinds. I'll have to ask my grandmother if she has ever made it. If she hasn't, she would probably like to. Have a wonderful time with your grandchildren!

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  6. What a lovely post. Yes, much has changed since our grandmas' times. She sounds like a wonderful woman who poured her life into you, as you are doing with your own grandchildren. Have a wonderful time with them!

    The pesto looks great – I love pesto, and freeze it in the summer for a taste of the garden all year long.

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  7. I do my best to clean up before we leave on big trips, but sometimes a girl just needs to garden and make pesto and let the rest of it go. I hope you're having a wonderful visit with all your loved ones!

    xofrances

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  8. I always clean before a trip, 'cause who wants to come back to a dirty house? Well, before a recent trip I was really stressed and decided that this one time I wasn't going to clean BEFORE. That was extremely freeing and empowering, after all, nobody cares but me, and that time neither did I! It was wonderful to just pack and walk out.

    M.K. said it very well. We're not our grandmothers, although sometimes I think it wouldn't hurt to try to be. Ah well, it's a different era….

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  9. I loved this! And I just wrote a little post on my grandmother too. Whether we daily acknowlege it or not, our grandmothers formed a part of what we have become, just as you are doing with your grandchildren.

    I have yet to become a grandmother. As wonderful as I have heard it to be, I still tremble somewhat at the thought and responsibilty.

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  10. Makes sense to me! My grandmother, who never left the South, would be totally mystified by the life I lead, but she's still one of my favorite people in the world! Nowadays, if I wanted to live in a way that would have been totally normal and realistic for my grandmother, it would be considered quite odd. But shouldn't I have something in common with the sweet woman who took care of me every day for years?

    Sounds like your grandma was a bit different from mine, but we all need to make our peace with the changes of the past 100 years.

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