And what about the contents of the refrigerator? I hate throwing out food, so in addition to packing my clothes, I sliced jicama and washed a container of Sun Gold tomatoes which, together with a pound of blackberries, went into a shopping bag to carry onto the plane, in case we got stranded at the end of the runway for a day. (I think these tendencies are genetic – my grandmother always used to take a banana and a PB&J to the airport, until my mother started taking it away from her with a "Really, mother.") Then I had to freeze the 2 pounds of blueberries I bought before the season runs out on me, and trim back my basil so it doesn't bolt (if basil does that) before I get back. Which of course meant I also had to make two batches of pesto.
Silver Palate Cookbook. Sometimes I make it with pignoli nuts, and sometimes I stick with the recipe, which calls for walnuts and produces a slightly nuttier taste. Both are terrific. The only really important guideline is to use good quality olive oil. I visited an olive oil company in Italy once, and the owners talked about how expensive it is to make olive oil well, so you should never buy cheap olive oil. Then on a trip to California, I discovered the Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufactory, and now I order the stuff from them by the case.
Basil Pesto (adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook)
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup walnuts or pignoli nuts
1 cup good quality olive oil
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
salt/freshly ground pepper
Combine basil, garlic, and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarsely ground. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream, then scrape the sides of the bowl down and process another 20 seconds. Add the cheeses with a pinch of salt and a liberal grinding of pepper, and process again briefly. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Makes about 2 cups.
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Back to my trip preparation, the final pre-boarding task is to straighten up my office, which usually begins around 1 a.m. the night before the flight. But that’s a story too ugly for words.