After work today, I returned home to realize that my basil plant needed harvesting, again. The climate in my usually draught-stricken part of the state has been especially wet this summer. The farm manager, where I work, told us that the average precipitation in July, for this region, hovers around 2.5 inches of rainfall. As of last week, we had received 8.98 inches of rainfall, and the basil is loving it! I hear other gardens are doing well, too. Let’s talk about basil.
If you read about the healing properties of basil, you know that it’s an anti-viral. So, let’s look at pesto. I think it could be a near perfect food, in my estimation, because of the ingredients. It’s full of basil with its “green” power, protein from the pine nuts and the parmesan cheese, garlic is known as a vasodilator, and extra virgin olive oil is known for its healthy mono-unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Here’s how I make pesto:
1 very, very large bunch of fresh basil leaves
5 large cloves of garlic (Glad we don’t live in Chicago in the 1920s when one could not go into public for 24 hours after consuming garlic!)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese (more or less)
½ cup pine nuts (piñon nuts) (more or less)
Enough extra virgin olive oil for a nice consistency
Of course, I’m not exactly sure about the measurements. I just add them until it “looks right”
Throw it all in a blender, and blend into a pourable consistency, or thicker, if you like.
It’s best to freeze it for a lovely green treat in the winter months. It looks just as green the day you take it out to thaw as the day you put it in the freezer!
So, what do you do with pesto?
It can be tossed in any pasta salad or anti-pasti salad. Just the other day, I cooked some whole wheat spaghetti, and I cooled them. To that I added grilled zucchini, onions, carrots, corn (on the cob), and eggplant (cubed after grilling). After the veggies have cooled, I added them to the cooled pasta. Then I tossed all with cubed mozzarella. Grilling the veggies added a special smoky flavor to the “salad”. Then I added the fresh, green, thawed pesto with just a bit of balsamic to add that tang.
Another is caprese salad, as shown in the featured photo. I had fresh garden tomatoes, so they called for basil leaves, fresh mozzarella (smeared with pesto), and tomato. Don’t you just love the colors in the photo. Do you think caprese salad was made to look like the flag of Italy? I like to drizzle a little balsamic. We ate a lovely supper, tonight, of the caprese salad, with canned sardines, and saltine crackers. It was a most satisfying meal with an accompanying glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
I am a geographer specializing in human systems. My passion is studying underrepresented populations so that I can assist in their integration into the communities in which they live. I studied Human Ecology because it is a wonderful blend of the disciplines of geography, anthropology and sociology. No matter the context in which I find myself, I am an observer of humans in their environments and how the influences in those settings build and nurture sense-of-self, sense-of-place, and sense-of-direction in educational, familial, and community settings. My work focuses on the cross-cultural and intercultural traditions of multi-lingual populations acculturating into their receiving communities and being successful in educational arenas of higher education. This work includes gathering, analyzing, and writing about health, well-being, and environmental/social connectedness in their communities. My research focuses on Minority-majority, rural, Midwest communities. My role as director of intercultural learning and academic success at Kansas State University allows me to discover more about myself as I work with others in their paths to self-discovery in their own interactions with students and families who come from different parts of the country and the world all converging in educational spaces. Recently, I lived, worked and played in Southwest Kansas, a region marked by Minority-majority populations centers (56% – 68%). Some of my research results are used to address poverty, low educational attainment, poor health outcomes, and cultural norms in multi-cultural settings. I work to assure a representative sample for my research, so I engage in multi-lingual research (English, Spanish, Burmese, French, Tigrinya, and Somali). Building trust and relationships is the key to my success as a multilingual researcher. Presently, my research takes me in the micro-communities of populations represented by nine African countries (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Somalia, and Cameroon), seven Latin American countries, and six Asian countries. Yes, it is rural Southwest Kansas, and many of the densely-settled and frontier rural communities act as receiving centers for refugees and other displaced populations, because of the availability of jobs.
I am the recent recipient of National Geographic Society’s Research and Exploration grant to introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to females of color. This inter-generational, intercultural class hosted middle school, high school, and adult females who learned the basics of GIS with a variety of applications from remote sensing to city planning to Google Earth, and to Pokémon GO! By the time the young ladies finished the class, they were able to build cities, map their communities, log trips from their countries of origin to the Midwest. I am in the mid-year of the grant funding, and my target for completion was July 2018. I have new funding to extend this work to new cohorts.
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