Cook yourself happy

The joys of making something from scratch, rather than buying it ready-made.

Now I’m no qualified chef, just a girl with a good appetite who loves all kinds of food…except braai -which is our South African way of barbequing.

Other than that, I haven’t met a food group or dish my stomach didn’t like. From tripe and trotters to black pudding…I don’t discriminate! I’m clearly not apart of the new wave of gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free kinda people.

Nope. I just looove to eat…Anything.

And whilst not a chef, I am an avid “foodie” as the cool kids call it these days. I have always had a passion for food and cooking and learning techniques in the kitchen. I guess it’s partly due to the fact that my mum is an amazing cook and bakes a lot. It’s kind of her ministry… she cooks and bakes in service to others. Because sharing food - is like sharing love.

The other reason why I love cooking is partly the fault of Jamie Oliver. For the last 20years or so, I’ve been OBSESSED with him. Since I saw the very first episode of his debut cooking show called The Naked Chef, I fell in love with this cute young guy who made creating meals seem so cool. Plus he isn’t hard to look at and I still find his lisp adorable!

Anyway…I have since been trying to educate myself on all things culinary. So thanks Jamie and Mommy for inspiring me ☺ to cook meals for my family out of a sense of love and fun rather than obligation or necessity.

One of my favourite things to make- which is actually one of the simplest things to do - is pesto.

Basil pesto is so versatile that it should be in every cooks arsenal.

Add it to pasta for a delish meat free Monday dinner served with crusty bread or a green salad on the side. Or smear it on a chicken breast and bake it in the oven for a yummy meaty option. Or spread it on a sandwich with tomato, lettuce and bacon for an alternative lunch snack.

The options are really endless. If you don’t like basil, use coriander or if you hate pine nuts, use walnuts. Or if you want to make a red pepper pesto…do it! Create your own spin on this classic.

The beauty of making your own sauces and food — instead of buying them- is that you’re in control of the ingredients. You know what is in your food. You can control the amount of salt or sugar or fat you’re adding in. To me there’s a peace that comes from knowing what I’m putting into my body.

So, here’s my recipe…it’s the basic one. I have used Jamie Oliver’s one and kinda made my own version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 big handfuls of fresh basil leaves (I used the stalks as well)
  • 200g of Pine nuts (I toast mine first)
  • 80g of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (just under a cup)
  • 1/2 to 1 glove garlic (optional- I sometimes exclude it depending on who is going to eat it…some family members don’t do garlic)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (a good glug or two or three)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Blend them in a food processor and voilà…

Try it and let me know if making your own pesto makes you as happy and as satisfied, as it makes me!

Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

Happy cooking!

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