Can't Help Myself

This has little to do with dinner... unless you think about the grocery store scene. Still...

Holy Basil

I was saved by basil tonight.

As I was driving us home from the airport at 6:30 pm, I realized that dinner had to be made as soon as I stepped foot in the house. All of us were starving not only for food but for the delight of sitting around our own table with a real meal made just for us. You see, we had been on vacation for just over two weeks, the last week or so visiting national parks in Wyoming.

We weren't roughing it by any means. We stayed in little cottages and a beautiful inn while traipsing through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. No little camp stove dehydrated meals. But we still had to reckon with cafeterias and the potential icky quality of food prepared for masses.

So the stakes were high as I cruised along the Van Wyck Expressway. I didn't want to take the time to stop at the store to buy ingredients, and I certainly did not want to eat out. And then I remembered that little planter box of basil that I planted in May.

The first graders at my school sold their little seedlings for 25 cents a pop, and I planted two of them along with some tarragon and some rosemary just outside my kitchen door. Would the basil still be okay?

Thanks to some incredibly conscientious neighbors the plants had grown about half a foot since we left. They were full of gorgeous dark green leaves just waiting to be picked. I found some pinenuts in the fridge (toasted them), chopped up in the cuisinart the last edible pieces of some parmesan, added the nuts, a bit of salt, a bit of garlic, and about 20 basil leaves. A few whirrs later with some olive oil streamed in and I had some pretty magnificent pesto.

Luckily I had a couple of half boxes of spaghetti that were all about the same size. VoilĂ ! Pasta with Pesto.

Dinner was ready in about 20 minutes. Afterwards we watched a slideshow of our vacation photos from iphoto, and I think we were each a bit ambivilent about having left our hiking adventures behind. The memories of the cafeterias paled with the reminder of Old Faithful, the enormous moose grazing by the side of the road, and the mud pots boiling up from the earth.

Thank you basil, for being the most sublime herb of summer.
And thank you neighbors for tending after our garden while we were gone.