Food & Whine

I'll begin this post with a recipe for a basic pesto that I've relied heavily on for the past two months.


1 package of fresh basil leaves (2.5 ounces or 70 grams)
8 medium size cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (first press if possible)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Wash the basil and remove the stems from the leaves. Discard the stems and finely chop the leaves. (You can use a food processor for this.) Set aside.

Mince the garlic. You can run the cloves through a garlic press, but I prefer to finely chop them the old fashioned way with a knife and cutting board. Heat up the olive oil in a small sauce pan and then add the garlic and the salt. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the basil. Add the ground black pepper. When the mixture cools, transfer it into a small jar and cover it with the lid. Can be kept in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

My version of pesto doesn't have cheese or pine nuts for two reason: 1. my son has food allergies, specifically dairy and peanuts/tree nuts; and 2. the absence of cheese and pine nuts makes it more versatile.

I've used this pesto for pizza toppings, as the main flavoring for a quick pasta/tuna fish dish, and swirled into a white bean soup. It can be a spread for a fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwich or for an herb crusting on a roast. For my daughter who can eat copious amounts of cheese, I'll add grated Pecorino Romano cheese to it and add it to some fettucini. And when I feel like including the pine nuts, I'll toast a handful in the oven, chop them up, and toss them in whatever dish I've made after it's completed. This makes cooking a lot easier when you've got a million things going on and very little time to whip up a tasty meal.

Which brings me to the "whine" portion of my post...

I've been really sick these past two months and didn't have a medical clue why. My symptoms were chronic fatigue, rapid weight loss, lack of appetite, anxiety, sleeplessness, lower back pain, and depression. I seriously thought that I was dying, and the idea of my inexplicable demise made me a complete basket case during the holidays. I visited a few doctors who made things worse by finding more things wrong with me. I started seeing a therapist so I could unleash a barrage of irrational thoughts and fears into the ether without scaring the bejezuz out of my kids and poor husband Dave. I was becoming emotionally and mentally unhinged.

And then I saw Dr. "S", a human being that at first glance embodied the androgyny of the SNL skit character Pat, possessing big blue eyes with long, dark eyelashes and an endomorphic body. And it didn't help that one of the nurses introduced Dr. "S" as a she. This sexual ambiguity made me regard him with an immediate cocked eyebrow, especially after he asked about my sex life. But after a medical exam that lasted a whopping 45 minutes in which he lectured more than he inspected, Dr. "S" finally referred to himself as a he and casually asked the nurse to draw my blood for some tests. I left with the opinion that Dr. "S" was a certifiable quack who had wasted my time.

Boy, was I wrong. The next morning I got a call from Dr. "S". It turns out that the level of vitamin D in my blood was almost non-existent and he prescribed some toxic amounts of vitamin D for me to take weekly for the next 8 weeks. And the lack of vitamin D in my body was the cause of ALL my symptoms.

Here is a website that can tell you more about vitamin D deficiency:

Dr. "S", you are not a quack. You are a miracle man. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.