Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pesto Hack! No Food Processor Required Almond Simple Pesto

Food-Processorless Homemade Pesto you say?  Qu'est-ce que c'est?  

This is a quick little hack I've been using for a while since myself and not even the idea of food processors get along for an ample batch of reasons.  

I have a mortar and pestle, however, which makes this a lot easier!  The real secret is using nut butters.  So if you still don't even have a mortar and pestle, this is still going to work because the nuts are already ground quite finely into a paste making for a great start cutting out a lot of the heavy lifting.  

My pesto is a mindchild borne of necessity, none of it genius, except the results which are about a tri-fold-and-a-half happy accident.

The first is that I wanted to incorporate more healthy nuts like almonds and walnuts into my diet.  Pinenuts are the traditional nut of Pesto, but really pesto is an idea, not a set in concrete rule to be abided by, xoxo says me.

Secondly I was buying nut butters to achieve my goal, but then letting what was once ground fresh on the spot to finely age within the walls of the cupboard for 3 months, 6 months, a year...  We all have these ingredients that seem like a good idea at the time, especially when we are approaching our health and fitness regime with an extra ounce of gusto.  I started making it a habit to slowly, truly keep stock of my pantry and incorporate everything I was buying, and use it, or not buy it.  

The third happy accident happened when I went vegetarian exclusively for a month.  This was 4 years ago, I should do it again actually.  I'm sure many of you have tried this for any period of time.  My experience forced me to create a month's worth of nutrition without a very significant portion of options.  I highly recommend this exercise of the mind and body to anyone who has not tried this.  Ultimately I did not decide to stay vegetarian, but that month really changed me.  And I want to, in future posts, discuss a few other times I really became conscious of the sources of our subsistence.  It's a topic worthy of discussion, one that has had a profound impact on my life.  We no longer are faced with actually killing the animals we consume.  We are also no longer charged with truly hunting to survive either, as many vegetarian options are easily and readily available.  More on this topic as mindfulness is a big part of my life ambition, and I look forward to sharing more of my journey.

So here we start with some basic ingredients; the almond butter, sea salt and 2 cloves of garlic are in the mortar.  The parmigiano reggiano is there ready to be grated in with a microplane.  The basil is fresh from a plant.  I like this as it is often times as economical, if not more so, than buying it in bunches (though this varies by region).  And of course Olive oil!

My mortar is quite small!  It does not look like it is going to fit.  This amount is for myself, but it's a bigger portion, probably more than I can eat at once but I always come back for more an hour later, surely

 I lop on a healthy spoonful of the almond butter, and it's time to bash, best set to music as this is an enjoyable, stress relieving ritual

I'm only part way through here, you can see it breaks down quite a bit with all of the air removed from the leaves of the basil.  I love being in control.  Add as much olive oil as you want, bash it as fine as you want.  At this point I had ground it quite fine then saw the need for more green (I go by colour) so added a few more leaves in at the 11th hour.  Just go with it...  

I love linguine so I'm always out of it as it is my preference!  I've cooked some whole-wheat spaghetti in salted, boiling water during all the bashing, and now just before al dente I have drained the majority of the pasta water, reserving some as extra moisture for my sauce

I like to cook the pesto as little as possible, just heat through and let the pesto emulsify with the pasta water.  The result is a lovely pale green sauce with gorgeous sheen, best served with more cheese grated over top!  


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Well... hello there

Wow.  What a remarkable journey it has been!  

This blog was started in 2007 when I was a young mother of two children in Utah.  I had always found solace within the kitchen, and thrived on creating in that space.  I wanted to share my passion, and delighted finding this platform built for the purposes this type of expression.  

The bulk of my writing on this blog took place as I lived in Australia, after I moved to Sydney in early January 2008.  Posting here gave me immense joy, fulfilment, stress!; and it helped improve both my skill set with food as well my writing endeavours.  Writing here challenged me to be a better mother and wife, and I looked after my family's needs with love in the best way I knew how.  Allowing that facet of my experience to be public truly enriched my life.     

At the time how could I have known however, that I would move to Melbourne from Sydney, and lose my faith.  It was a catastrophic, wonder-filled, course-altering set of years; full of highs and lows, discovery and grief.  My marriage took a fatal blow, a natural consequence when one then both people unlearn what they knew, and venture out into a world of mystery. For 2 years we worked our hardest as we both adapted to our new life and lives outside of our faith paradigm.  We ended up moving back to Sydney and separating after 10 years of marriage.  Another period of life that was the best and worst of times...  

During all of this I felt compelled to retreat.  These are not the moments of your life you wish to share, at least not in real time.  I could not be accountable to anyone except myself and my little family, and in posting in a public way I would have either had to be unauthentic about that in which what my life was truly rooted, or give power to the people, especially those who knew me, who perhaps would have wished for me to remain the same person.  I could not do any of those things.  I made my blog and my life very private.

At that time I also could not indulge in my passions and take time away from figuring out how to continue to best care for my children.  As far as my husband, my primary concern was that we never rewrote history about what we shared.  And that we took all of our time, our laughter and our tears, every experience that bound us, and let it continue to be that as our relationship evolved to friends.

One year ago, after 7 years in Australia, we moved back to Utah as a family, together, but not.  Our divorce was made final this summer but we continue to play an active role in each others lives.  Along with everything else, my daily life has drastically changed!  Now, every other week I am a single mother, and the other week I live on my own in Salt Lake City.  

My eating habits and lifestyle inevitably were impacted along with all of the other changes unfolding in and around me, some in my control, some not.  It has been very difficult to be public about this.  Now nearing 6 years since my major life shifts, I'm ready to share my passions again, in hopes that this blog can once again be a rich source inspiration and fulfilment that it had been.  

I leave myself vulnerable, as I have my past open and on display on this blog.  I am not ashamed that I once loved a man very deeply, but we did not grow together as life progressed.  Parts of the writing and the recipes are no longer resonate even to me, the person who wrote them.  Even the styling and layout.  For now I leave it, complete with my old picture from nearly 7 years ago (and my new ones).  And that's ok.

Currently I'm writing a book about my travels, love and loss.  I will be launching a separate website about amicable divorce, travel, divorce co-parenting, faith transitions, and many other topics.  Stay tuned I will keep you updated about these very exciting ventures!  

I can not imagine I will capture many of my old readers.  There were so many that I deeply connected with in what seems like a lifetime ago.  We exchanged comments and emails, for some of you fellow bloggers even phone calls!  It was one of the treasures of my life to be in a community built around our passions.  I hope to god there will be some of you who will have me cross your mind, check back, and find this message.  It is intended for you, and I still think about you, wondering how you are, hoping you're well.  

To my new readers, welcome.  I will be posting about my culinary adventures EVERY MONDAY, at the very least with maybe some bonus posts.

Lot's of love y'all,

Natalie Que

@kitque @natalieque

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Blood Limes

I love exploring and finding new foods to try and experiment with!

Not long ago I came across these limes, they are small and potent, about the size of a grape.  Very fun for something different!  Great with sparkling. 

Homemade Houmous

Does anyone else love hummus??

I think it's the perfect snack/condiment/dip... So many uses!

After finding myself paying over $5 a pop at the deli, I redecided again to make my own, starting with soaking and cooking my own chickpeas. 

For me, and many of you may not agree and I'm prepared for that, endeavoring to make as much of the dish from start to finish is incredibly fulfilling. Hummus is probably the apex of that ambition because it is so simple and wholesome -and comprises so few ingredients. 

If these Sweet Potato corn chips from Late July won't covert you, nothing will!  I also love carrot and capsicum/pepper sticks. Search the archives in aught 5 for my hummus burger if you're keen. 

Hummus is simple to make, I soak half a bag of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drain and then cook until tender. While still hot after draining (and reserving the water) I chuck in some garlic (2-3 cloves ought to do it) the juice from a lemon, plenty of olive oil and tahini, and it will take what may seem like heaps of the cooking liquid incrementally added back in until desired consistency is achieved. Don't forget the sea salt!  All very standard. 

For this batch I used some of the flavored olive oil from feta and herbs in olive oil in rhe fridge. Was an easy way to use it up saving it from waste and to take my hummus from stock standard to high-end deliesque. I serve with more oil drizzled on top and a sprinkle of sea salt for garnish. 

I put off making hummus because I no longer have a food processor. Not to worry! I'm now using my immersion blender with great results!  Improvise, food is never as fussy or intimidating as it seems. 

Please share your successes and failures!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cinnamon Butter

Very easy! There are more ways to serve, just some ideas to get the party started. 

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