So often, I start a project with great gusto, yet for some reason, lose interest along the way and fail to complete it. These fizzled passions are all over my house: the once-used set of oil paints; the barely-skimmed Indian cookbooks; the mammoth Jesus latch hook rug with only four finished rows.
Recently, however, I brought a thought to fruition. It all began last winter, when I bought a small jar of pesto from the Outpost. I can't remember how much it was -- about $6 -- and I decided then and there I was going to make my own pesto.
I share a garden with my neighbors, and they agreed to dedicate one of the beds entirely to basil. We bought 15 basil plants, mostly from Kellner Greenhouses, and devised our plan: We would take care of them for a few months, and at the end of the summer, chop 'em down and, as a group, make massive batches of fresh pesto which we would then jar, store in the freezer and give away as holiday gifts.
There are a zillion reasons why this plan could have fallen through.
For starters, it required us to tend fastidiously to the plants on a daily basis, pinching off the flowers so they didn't bolt.
Or, we could have easily decided the investment cost too much. We spent about $40 on the plants, another $40 on the jars, $50 on the extra virgin olive oil, parmesan and pine nuts -- and who knows how much my neighbors spent on water to keep the garden lush. (Thanks, guys.)
At the very least, we could have bagged on the basil plants because they required too much care, and we were simply tapped out from the bottomless body of energy we need for our small children.
But somehow, we committed whole-heartedly to the pesto plan, and a few nights ago, four of my neighbors and I found ourselves in a pesto production line, with me washing the plants, Michael and Chuck plucking the leaves, and Stacy and Renee measuring out the ingredients. We all took turn driving the Cuisinart because it was way fun to watch the leafy ingredients spin into coarse green blood.
This went on for hours, and included many bottles of wine, until it was well after midnight and we had whipped up a fabulously massive vat of pesto that was amazing to stir. The top layer of the sauce oxidizes very quickly when it's exposed to air which makes the surface much darker then the stuff beneath it, so "drawing" with the spatula created incredible swirls in two shades of green.
Now I have two dozen jars of pesto in my freezer (we made dozens more and those are in my neighbors' freezers) waiting for the season of sugarplums and sweaters advertised in Old Navy commercials. Sure, it feels good to have a bunch of my Christmas gifts ready in September (although there's still plenty to buy since I don't think my 5-year-olds will go for a stocking full of pesto), but most amazing to me is that I had an idea, which became a plan, which became a reality. It's a small victory, but a tasty one.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.