It’s Rivertown Days in Hastings this weekend, which I consider to be the unofficial halfway point of the summer, so I thought I would share some highlights:

Three Day Weekends
I was able to change my hours this summer so I work nine hour days and have every other Friday off.  The earlier mornings have taken a while to adjust to (i.e., I have to train myself to go to bed at a more reasonable hour), but the benefits of an easier commute in the morning and the extra three day weekends have far outweighed getting up an hour earlier.

A Non-Grad-School-Required Book!
I started out the long 4th of July weekend by finishing up the final coat of paint on the back side of our garage (you know, to justify spending the rest of the weekend just having fun).  What I didn't count on was ending up with an awful sunburn that would keep me indoors for most of the weekend.  In addition to keeping my sunburn covered with aloe, Mike went to the library and picked up a book for me.  Or, more precisely, he picked up a novel: a non-technical, non-required, non-textbook book that I could simply read and enjoy.  Now if I could only convince him that we need a backyard hammock in the shade...

Garden Cooking 101
The feasting has officially begun!   The food processor has officially become a permanent fixture on the kitchen counter and it has been a lot of fun to try out new recipes and take note of what we might want to try planting next year.  I'm even considering giving canning salsa a try, if our tomato crop ends up beings as promising as it looks.    One of our current addictions is fresh basil pesto (I'm including the recipe below).  I am convinced that there is no better kitchen smell than the scent of freshly made basil pesto and chibatta bread baking in the oven.

Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Start with the basil in the food processor and pulse a few times until the basil is broken down to about half its volume.  Add pine nuts and minced garlic and pulse a few more times (basil flakes should be small to fine in consistency). With the food processor on, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.  After the oil has been fully incorporated, stop processor to scrape sides and process again until desired consistency is reached.  Add parmesean cheese, pulse until it is blended, and enjoy!

Summer Life in a River Town
We've also been enjoying all the things we love about Hastings in the summer: Saturday nights downtown at the car shows, a Summer Shandy on the Legion patio, barbecues with Mike's Family... not to mention spending time on the riverfront this weekend.   Sadly, we haven't taken as many evening walks as we have in other years, but we still have time to change that.  I always enjoy summer walks along the river and seeing the daylilies in bloom along the wrought iron fence on the 2nd Street hill.  Earlier this month I celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the day I moved to Hastings, a decision I do not regret in the least!

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