In 1989, my kid-saturated neighborhood started a Fourth of July parade. For the first few years, we had a bike decorating party and then rode up and down the blocks while music played. Over the years the neighborhood festivities have grown to the point where everyone's friends come over solely to participate in the parade, leaving us with at least 100 kids running around. Followed by a block party, there's music, bikes, scooters, skates, dogs, and even a really ridiculous float. Oh, and a kid was driving his power wheels fire truck in the middle of the street this year. I stopped walking in the parade long ago, but still sit out on my lawn to watch the crazy if I happen to be home. My most amusing spectator moment was the summer after my senior year of high school when I found the 9AM start time very inconvenient to my Summer of Sleep. The night before, I made a sign that said something akin to "Stop the noise, I want my sleep" and proceeded to display it the next morning as the parade passed and I sat outside in my pajamas.
While I am all for barbecues and fireworks, I am clearly not a fan of blatant patriotism. My patriotism is more akin to whining and doing something about it. You know, like voting and volunteering. So you will never see me intentionally wearing red, white and blue on the Fourth of July or making patriotic looking desserts. Instead you'll catch me wearing green and eating a bowl of rocky road ice cream while I mutter about those evil children setting off illegal fireworks and scaring the shit out of my poor dog.
Speaking of my dog, she does not like fungi. I made that delicious dish up there as an impromptu dinner on Saturday night after I made a batch of tomato basil pesto (which I will also be sharing). I couldn't finish it all, so I put down the plate for her (yes, I let my dog eat off of plates that then go into the dishwasher), and she ate all of the pasta, sauce and plums, but dismissed the mushrooms by removing them onto the floor. I don't agree with her culinary decision, but who am I to tell her what to eat? You, on the other hand, I will tell what to eat. Santa Rosa plums are a very specific mid-to-late summer variety of plum identified by red flesh, dark purple skin, and a rich tartness. They are not sweet, they are not yellow, and half the time stores improperly mark other plums as Santa Rosas. This annoys me. Cooked with flavorful mushrooms and wine, they make a unique sauce that goes wonderful with beef. I cooked up the sauce in an impromptu fit of creativity to bring life to some leftover pasta and barbecued tri-tip. I think I'd go with mashed potatoes next time instead of pasta and maybe add a bit of onion, but it was quite good and different for a change. So definitely eat some summer fruit with your beef.
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2 ripe Santa Rosa plums, chopped
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup portabella or cremini, sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced (optional)
fresh ground pepper
Heat sauce pan to medium and add plums, mushrooms and onion. When it begins to bubble, add wine and reduce heat. Cook for 5 minutes until alcohol is burned off and flavors meld together. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over meat and sprinkle with basil. Yes, those are part of the basil flowers. And I only did cheese because cheese + pasta = good, but it wasn't necessary.
You will have more control over the doneness of your beef if cooked separately, but it may be placed in the sauce to cook or re-warmed.
1/2 cup walnuts
4 large garlic cloves
4 cups packed fresh basil
1/2 cup pecorino romano or asiago, grated
3 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar*
Chop up nuts and garlic in food processor. Add salt, a few turns of the pepper mill, basil, tomato, garlic, cheese and vinegar and puree until desired consistency. Slowly add oil while food processor is running.
*If you haven't heard, infusing oils with raw herbs and raw garlic may cause botulism if not dealt with properly. By adding an acid in the form of vinegar and refrigerating, you can help prevent this. Your best bet is to freeze your pesto within a few days of making it, as that slows the growth of any bacteria. I like to freeze my pesto in ice tray cubes and then pop them out and place in ziplock bags. Each cube is about 4 teaspoons--a perfect serving and easy to defrost. But please defrost in the fridge.