Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Things to do with basil...

It has been a weird year for growing.  My vegetable garden is completely wacko.  The tomato plants are gargantuan, yet the tomatoes are not ripening very quickly.  The Sweet 100s are awesome, the Juliets are doing well, but the larger tomatoes - the Rutgers, Better Boys, and Cherokee Purples are slow going.  The peppers are doing well, the summer squash is delicious, but no zucchini.  Someone at my yoga class who also has a veggie garden is having the same trouble.  This makes me feel better, as I am feeling a bit like a failure in the veggie growing arena this season.  She also suggested that I throw some bee balm around the garden to pollinate my zucchini. I nodded.  Bee balm, yes.  Later, I thought where do I get that?  Does anyone know?  I will have to ask her next time I see her at class.  When she said it, I was still sort of in the yoga-relaxed zone and it did not occur to me that although I have heard of bee balm before, I have absolutely no idea what form it comes in and where to obtain said product.  Argh!

The basil, on the other hand, is prolific as heck.  It must like this weather we have had. (Africa hot)  I am planning on making and freezing pesto, of course, but I also want to use this basil when it is oh-so-fresh-and-deliciously-basily-good.

Here are two recipes I have tried using fresh basil that are AH-MAH-ZING!

First, a recipe that my mom turned me on to that completely deserves its name:

The Best Steak Marinade in Existence
(yes, that is really the name of the recipe.  and it is.)  I tried another braggishly-titled recipe this summer called The Best Chicken in the World, and it was NOT.  It wasn't even so-so.  I threw the recipe away.  Seriously.  But I promise this one lives up to its name.

First, start with some soy sauce, some olive oil, some lemon juice, some Worcestershire sauce. 

Then add some garlic powder, white pepper, hot pepper sauce, chopped parsley, chopped garlic, and chopped basil.

The recipe calls for dried parsley, dried basil, and dried minced garlic, and I have made it that way.  (Probs not the dried garlic, as I always have fresh, but the dried herbs, yes.)  However, in season, fresh is always best.

Whisk it up and marinate your steak for up to 8 hours.

The Darling Hub has been into charcoal grilling, an endeavor I completely endorse.  This spring we invested in this chimney charcoal starter thing (a small investment - I think it cost less than $20, and it has completely revolutionalized our charcoal grilling).  This contraption is awesome.  The coals are ready so quickly, and it is foolproof.  Charcoal makes grilled food taste so much better!

Here is the link to the orignal recipe from
The Best Steak Marinade in Existence

Next, I tried a chicken salad with basil.  It was quite good, but a little too garlicky.  I did not take any photos... it has been that kind of a summer. Sigh.

A few days ago, I tried another basil recipe.  Winner-winner-chicken-dinner!  It is called Thai Chicken with Basil Stir Fry and it is dee-lish (if you are into Thai food, which we are).

Start by heating water to make some yummy jasmine rice.

Then, stir fry up some onions, ginger, and garlic.  Add some cut up chicken breasts.

This smells super good, btw.  The garlic and ginger.  Swoon.

Then mix up some sauce with coconut milk, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes.  One word of advice:  the recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.  I would rate this as pretty spicy.  It made my lips burn a little.  It was a tad hot for me, quite hot for Tiny Dancer, and perfect for the Darling Husband.  I think I would notch it back to 1/2 teaspoon for general consumption and 1/4 teaspoon if you want mild.

Pour the sauce over the chicken, etc. in the pan and simmer.  (Yeah, I forgot to take a picture of this part.)

Then, add some sliced shitake mushrooms.

Shitake mushrooms are fun for two reasons.  One, they are fun to slice.  Two, you can yell "Oh Shitake!" while you are cooking with them.

Last, throw in 1 and 1/2 cups of sliced fresh basil.  (The recipe also calls for sliced green onions, but the Darling Hub no like so I left out.  It was still delicious!)

That's alotta basil, and I love it!  Stir it up a bit until the mushrooms and basil are wilted and warm and then serve over rice.

Okay - I have no idea why this picture is coming up sideways on my blog.  I saved it rightwise in my folder.  Weird.  But you get the idea.  It was SOOOOO good!  I can't wait to make it again. 

Here is the link to the recipe, also from 
Thai Chicken with Basil Stir Fry

YUMMA!  (This is the new saying in my family.  It comes from a hilarious YouTube video. If you would like to laugh your head off at something totally G-rated that you can show your kids, check this out.  It will make anyone laugh, from two to seventy-two.  I know, because we have tested it.)

Happy eating and laughing today!

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