I am loving this extended summer we are having in Utah! It's in the 70-80's and my garden is still producing wonderful tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard, etc.

When my parents came to live with us in Utah, summer became my father's favorite time of the year and not just because he hated  cold weather. He loved to grow food and I loved gardening with him. Papillo did the hard work and I helped. It has not been the same gardening on my own, and I'm not as dedicated to daily watering, etc, so I don't get quite the same results, but I feel him close anytime I'm out in the garden.

There was sometimes a battle between my parents because Mamina wanted to grow roses and Papillo wanted to grow vegetables. When they came to live with us I gave Mamina an area of the yard for her roses, on the South side with plenty of sun. Papillo bought her a new rose bush each year for Mother's day, and they planted it together.

Mamina among her beloved roses

Her rose garden turned out to be the best spot in the yard, and after a while Papillo and I began to covet her prime garden spot, and  tried to convince her to let us have it for growing vegetables. She was immune to our persuasive efforts, so I made do in a shady spot and he planted other gardens in our neighbors' yards. One year  Papillo planted garlic among Mamina's roses. She was not happy but the roses loved it, and the garlic continued to come up for several years. 

I have now planted raspberries that I got from Nina right among the roses and installed a small grow box right in the middle of the roses. It's crowded, random and a bit crazy, but quite effective. 

My garden now

 Here is a recipe I still look forward to making and eating each year. The only thing Cuban about it is that my father made it often, with herbs from our garden. He learned to make it from a Chilean friend of Italian ancestry. He usually left out the nuts, since he “didn’t think they agreed with him” and it was still delicious.


1 lb fresh basil leaves
1 lb fresh parsley leaves (not stalks) 
5-6 cloves garlic
2 cups nuts (pine nuts, walnuts or almonds)-OPTIONAL
2-3 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil

Wash and drain basil and parsley. Put in food processor; add pealed garlic cloves, nuts, salt, and parmesan cheese. Add oil a bit at a time as you process everything to a creamy consistency. 

This is great on pasta or even crackers. Pine nuts are traditionally used, but I actually like it better with walnuts or even almonds.

Store in a glass jar, and pour a thin layer of olive oil on the top, to keep from drying or oxidizing. It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks or frozen for several months. 

1 Response to PESTO

September 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM

As always, I love your life history vignettes! The photo of your mother amid her roses is precious beyond words!! My father also loved gardening - only vegetables; he didn't like roses either! He kept his own garden beautifully maintained, plus planted gardens for each of my four sisters and worked them, too, since they were too "busy" to take care of them to his satisfaction.

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