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Fran’s Favorites: Gem City Market and pesto

First Lady Fran DeWine at Gem City Market

by Fran DeWine for the Xenia Gazette

Last week I finally got to go visit the new Gem City Market located on Salem Avenue on the west side of Dayton.

It is a co-op, a community grocery store, with affordable and fresh produce, meats, fruits and vegetables that are in short supply in the west Dayton neighborhoods. As a co-op, members pay a one-time membership fee, and then the members get discounts. Eighty percent of the staff live around the market. But it’s more than a grocery store, it is really a community center. I love the activities and resources that make the Gem City Market a place for support, learning, and growing for individuals and families. There is a great teaching kitchen, and while I was there they were teaching how to make a great frittata out of some of the leftovers in your refrigerator. There was a community room for classes and programs on nutrition — with special ones for new and soon-to-be mothers. A mini health clinic is open and located inside the market, and there is even a coffee house.

The community room is partnering with local organizations to promote early literacy. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is one of the partners. For us, it’s a great way to get out the word about the free books we offer to every single child under 5 years old, that are delivered each month to the child in the mail! We thank them for helping us sign up the kids right there! Anyone in Ohio can sign up their child by going to OhioImaginationLibrary.org.

When I returned home one of my friends had brought me two bags of beautiful fresh basil! I love this time of year when there is so much fresh produce! I like to share my produce with friends and I love it when they share with me. I couldn’t wait to make a big batch of pesto to put in the freezer. It’s easy to make in a food processor. I package it in snack or sandwich bags — flat (about 1/2 inch thick or so), and freeze it. Then I can use the whole bag, or just break off a piece of it while it’s still frozen to add to my soups or stews. It really gives them a flavor boost. I sometime use it instead of tomato sauce for a green pizza. I am happy all winter long that I took the time to make some in the summer! Tonight, I’m going to serve some of over fettuccine.


2 cups (packed) basil leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Place basil, oil, nuts, garlic, and salt in food processor and puree thoroughly. Add cheese and continue blending. You can add a little more oil, water, or butter if desired. Refrigerate or freeze.

Place pesto sauce in serving bowl. Before serving with pasta, stir 2 tablespoons of the pasta water into the pesto to thin it a little. Then toss together with pasta and serve.