I bake bread for my family every week. Home baking is not that hard, not that time consuming, and certainly cheap! You don't need a bread machine or a lot of fancy equipment. This blog features a tutorial on home bread baking, tips on equipment and ingredients, and recipes for real home cooking.

Basil Pesto


This is fast to make. Grind up the pesto while the water for the pasta is coming to a boil.
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts or shelled walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound Fettucine or Spaghetti
  1. Start heating the pasta water
  2. Place the basil, nuts, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor, or chop these ingredients by hand with a sharp knife. If you are using a machine, pour in the olive oil and process until you have a smooth paste. If you are using a knife, chop as finely as possible, then transfer to a bowl and blend in the olive oil. (If you want to freeze pesto, stop here and put your pesto into small jars, coat the top with a little more oil, and then put it in the freezer.)
  3. Transfer to a bowl and blend in the cheese.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, salt it and then add the pasta. Heat a serving dish. When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the serving dish. Blend a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water into the basil mixture, and then toss the pasta with the basil pesto.
We also use pesto as a sauce on "Green Pizza".

Grandma Bunny's Cucumber Salad


Cucumbers ready for dressing

I made a big batch of this today, for my brother Chris's wedding.
  • 4 fresh cucumbers, peeled or scored with a fork. then sliced thin.
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream, plain yogurt, or a mix of the two
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. As you slice the cucumbers, lay them in a glass bowl and salt each layer. (Don't worry, you'll rinse the salt off later.)
  2. Once the cucumbers are sliced and salted, lay a clean plate on top of them with a weight on top of the plate. Let sit for an hour or so.
  3. Drain brine from the cucumbers and rinse in a colander.
  4. Thin sour cream with a little milk, whip until smooth, and then use sour cream to dress the salad.
  5. Grind fresh pepper over the top, chill and serve.
Richard's dad makes the same salad, but dresses it with cider vinegar and sugar and calls it "fresh pickles".

Fresh Summer Salsa


We make this all summer, varying the ingredients and amounts according to what is ripe.
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh onion or scallions
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 hot peppers, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine in a pretty bowl
  2. Let stand 30 minutes
  3. Serve with chips or on tacos.

Click here to start bread baking tutorial

About me

  • I'm Susan Och
  • From Lake Leelanau, Michigan

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Looking for more?

There's more to food than just nutrition, otherwise we would all be eating custom-formulated kibble. I didn't exactly learn to bake from my grandmother, but my ancestors, even the ones I never met, have informed and influenced my lifelong exploration of cooking and food. Want to read more? Check out this entry from my home blog, French Road Connections