Danville woman has pesto habit

September 30, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

A lot of basil can sprout from a 10-cent seed package. Anne Byrom knows this from experience.

The Danville woman's abundant patch this summer has more than provided for her pesto habit.

"It's been so prolific. I've been bugging people to come on out and pick."

Although summer has ended and the basil is producing blooms, Byrom says it still can be harvested until frost.

"I've been deadheading it for a month and it will go until October."

Byrom has harvested enough basil to make about 20 pints of pesto, which she says it more than enough for her and her friends. Her husband, Dick, doesn't care for the mixture of basil, Parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts.

Her husband, who does damage assessment, recently was asked by the Red Cross to go to Florida because of the hurricanes. Byrom missed him because he was away during their 41st anniversary, but she took the time as an opportunity to enjoy pesto.


"When he was gone, I had it not every night, but at least four or five times a week," she says, noting that it was the first time they had not been together on their anniversary.

Byrom isn't sure when she developed a taste for pesto, but she has perfected her recipe for it.

"Over the last five or six years, I've honed my own recipe."

Her recipe calls for pine nuts, but some people use pistachios.

"Pine nuts are not readily available, but you can find it," she says, noting that she finds them at Wal-Mart and Kroger.

Olive oil on top

After blending the ingredients in a food processor, Byrom packs it in a jar and puts a 1/2 inch of olive oil on top.

"It's important that the oil completely seals the pesto. Otherwise, it starts to turn black."

After sealing it, Byrom stores the pesto in her refrigerator.

"It can keep up to a year like this."

For those who don't have a second refrigerator like Byrom, the pesto can be placed in the freezer, but it's not as good, she says.

Usually she serves the pesto with pasta, but it works as a quick hors d'oeuvre.

"I often take our small loaves of sour dough bread and it's wonderful on that," she says.

Byrom is active with the West T. Hill Community Theatre and often receives requests to bring her pesto to cast parties.

"The other thing I do is a Mexican dip, a layered thing."

Byrom may have a lot of pesto fans in the community theater, but she says her three children are like her husband and don't care for it. Her daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Brian Coffman, and their 4-year-old son, Jayce, live in Junction City. The oldest son, Bruce, lives in Lexington where he works with computers. Another son, Warren, lives in New Orleans, where he moved because of his music career.

When not tending to the backyard garden or working with the theater, Byrom, a Texas native, volunteers in the office of her church, Presbyterian Church of Danville, and sings in the church choir. She also usually sings with the Summer Singers at Centre College. She is retired after a career as a nurse with hospice.

Pesto Sauce

3 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped, which is a heaping tablespoon

1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spoon into jars and pour 1/2 inch olive oil on top to seal the pesto. This may be stored in the refrigerator for several months or in the freezer for a longer period of time. When ready to use, stir the oil into the pesto and use the desired amount. It's good on freshly cooked pasta with a few pine nuts, chopped tomato and Parmesan cheese.

Pesto also is good as a quick hors d'oeuvre served with crackers or bread.

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