Food has always been important to me. Happiness is sitting together around any table sharing a meal and stories. A glass of wine, fresh water, coffee to linger, talking through the night.

My mother taught me when someone was ill, take them a pot of soup, because a good meal is sometimes all you can offer and may be the answer to everything.

I love to cook as well as eat. In Montana we grew a lot of food, picked berries, hunted morels, harvested herbs. Along our road to the river, we gathered wheelbarrows of apples, grown where passersby had tossed a core, and we fished the Clark Fork. What gifts nature provided: In reciprocity we nourished ourselves, as was intended.

Our balcony above the Harbor Steps in Seattle hardly holds two chairs, but on this ultra-urban porch, I grew pesto: arugula, basil, and parsley – as well as aromatic sage, rosemary, and thyme – tomatoes, of course. Caution is required while watering so as not to sprinkle persons walking below.

Pesto can be made of anything. My Genovese ancestors invented Basil Pesto, you know.  I use parmesan or pecorino,  fresh garlic, olive oil, and nuts:. Pine nuts, a luxury, walnuts just fine, macadamia sublime.

My first porch  pesto of the year was made with arugula that I started from seed and planted in narrow rectangular pots along the balcony ― picked and pureed with parsley, garlic, zest of lemon, some juice, oven-roasted walnuts, and cheese ― rustica. The second was  traditional Genovese with pinoli.

Wednesdays, early afternoons, I pull my “old-lady” shopping cart up the hill to the Pike Market’s weekly CSA produce tent to pick up  two bags of organic seasonal fruits and veggies, grown in our region on small acreage, produced by farmers with names. Last week, Rainier cherries,  raspberries, summer squash, cucumbers for pickling and more basil!

Since my home-grown basil is thriving, there will be more porch pesto yet to be made. Bruce likes to say, “You can take the girl out of Montana, but you can’t take Montana out of the girl.”

© Janis Monaco Clark