WHERE: Directions to Farm can be found here. Meet at open-air barn 9:45 am. Tour starts at 10 AM
WHAT: Join us at Transplanting Traditions Community Farm to learn more about the social, environmental and economic impact of this farm project. Explore the diverse tropical crops and traditional agricultural techniques practiced by participating farmers. Farmers grow an estimated 30 tropical crops traditional to Burma and Thailand, all in North Carolina’s temperate climate! TTC Farm teaches and promotes all sustainable agricultural practices without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. Public tours provide a general overview of our history, programming and agricultural practices at Transplanting Traditions.
This vegetable has so many names to it. It’s known as Water Spinach, Morning Glory, Pak Boong, Ong Choy, Chinese Spinach, Swamp Cabbage, Kang Kong, and many more. This vegetable is grown for its tender shoots.
It’s illegal to grow Water Spinach further south, as it’s considered an invasive species. The Southeast is a great place to grow it, because it loves hot, humid weather. However, if it’s allowed to grow in areas with warm winters, it can take over everything. It’s on the USDA’s Federal Noxious Weed’s list, and you have to have a permit to grow it! It’s ok to grow in this area because we have cold winters, at least too cold for Water Spinach to survive. This plant absolutely does not like cold weather.
It’s incredibly popular in Asian cooking, and really one of my favorite things to eat because of its versatility. At most markets, you’ll see it referred to as “Ong Choy”
The lower part of the stalks are often used as vegetables inside Asian noodle soups. They are flash boiled at serving time, along with the rice noodles and bean sprouts. The upper, more tender parts of the plant, are great as stir fries. I’ve seen people put them inside of omelettes, but also as a dish in itself.
The recipe we’re writing about today is a Thai dish called “Pad Pak Boong Fai Daeng”- or “Red Hot Morning Glory Stir Fry” It’s cooked in a really hot wok, and cooks tend to lower the wok enough so it arcs fire a little bit. Let me tell you, street food is awesome because of little things like that.
A great Thai stir fry to use up all of that Water Spinach
Author: Transplanting Traditions
bunch of Morning Glory (about 2 cups chopped into 2 inch pieces)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
½ tbsp fresh Thai hot chilis (2 whole hot chilis)
1 tsp soy paste (it's delicious, but optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp white sugar (or to taste)
3 tbsp water
Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Give it a quick mix.
Heat up a wok, or large pan to medium-high heat. After it heats for a few moments, add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the wok. Make sure it's really hot before you add the Water Spinach mixture.
Add the Water Spinach mixture, and cook it for about 2-4 minutes. It's an incredibly easy and fast dish to make. Serve it with some hot jasmine rice on the side. Hope you enjoy!
We’re well into summer now, and a lot of our really awesome Asian vegetables are coming in. One of my favorites are the Red Noodle Beans. They’re a type of vining bean, and can be used in just about anything you would use normal green beans for. They are incredibly prolific, and the bean pods grow very quickly once the plant has matured. It’s a deep red color, and each pod can grow 18 inches long!
I love them stir fried. Here is a meatless dish to try out. If you want to add sliced pork, chicken, or tofu, it’s easy to cook that beforehand, and add it into the green bean mix. Hope you enjoy it!
One of the things we’ll be seeing in the garden soon is Culantro. This is often confused for Cilantro, because they have very similar tastes, but they look completely different.
Culantro is pretty common in most places around the world, like in Latin American countries, and South Asia, and Southeast Asia. It’s called many different things, such as: long coriander, false coriander, recao (Spanish), langer koriander (German), ngo gai (Vietnamese), pak chi farang (Thai), and bhandhanya (Hindi).
It’s often used as part of a “vegetable medley” of herbs and cabbage that accompany many Southeast Asian dishes and soups. You are just supposed to tear it up, and add it to your bowl of Pho, or to a hot pot you’re doing with your friends.
You can often use this in recipes that call for cilantro, and vice versa, but it’s stronger than cilantro. If a recipe calls for cilantro, chop less of it up to use than the recipe calls for.
It’s easy to preserve, much easier than cilantro. All you have to do is chop it up in a food processor, with enough olive oil to moisten it. Store it in a freezer safe container, with oil drizzled on the top to prevent freezer burn. If making Sofrito, you can freeze that in ice cube trays, to add to your soups later.
Try a recipe we found at cookingdiva.net . She goes into how to make a Chimichurri sauce, and add it to rice. You can pair this rice with any other recipe we’ve posted on the blog, or eat it as a meal in itself.
Water gourd has so many other names. We’ve debated what to call it ourselves, and so we’re going with Water Gourd. It’s also known as White Gourd, Bottle Gourd, Slaoui (Morocco), Lauki (India), Milk Gourd, Calabash, Cucuzza (Italy), Hulu or Huzi (China), and Tasmania Bean.
Bottle gourds are grown and eaten in many parts of the world, not just in Southeast Asia—and they actually originated in Italy
In Italy, googootz (nickname for Cucuzza) is used as a term of endearment. Many of my Italian-American neighbors in Brooklyn said this all the time and I was always befuddled. Now I know.
Bottle Gourds can grow to be 3 ft long and if left to mature, become a wonderful vessel for carrying water or holding grains or being made into an instrument
When harvested young, they are a tender, mild and versatile ingredient in many dishes
Can be used in sweets, including halwa, or other dessert puddings.
How to Prepare:
- Peel the pale green skin to expose the white flesh.
- If the gourd is young and the seeds are tender, they can be eaten. If they are on the hard side, use a spoon to scoop them out and toss them in the compost.
- The white flesh can then be steamed, grilled, fried, baked, stewed, sauteed or stuffed—not too unlike what you might do with a zucchini. I’m pretty excited to try mine out in stir fry.
A recipe I’m excited to try is this one, from cookingitalian.com . I’ve copied it to our website, but go their for detailed pictures and descriptions of how to make it!
3-4 pounds cucuzza (or zucchini), peeled and cubed
1½ cups carrots, sliced into ¼″ rounds
2 medium onions. ¼ inch sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1- 28 ounce can of San Marzano peeled tomatoes, puree
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6-7 fresh basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Peel the skin off of the Water Gourd using a vegetable peeler. Cut the peeled water gourd into 1 inch slices, and then cube each slice. If the seeds are hard, make sure to scrape them out of the gourd before chopping it up.
Peel and cut the potatoes into the same size you cut the Water Gourd. Peel and slice the carrots into ¼″ rounds. Cut the onions into ½″ slices.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it until it starts to smell really nice (about 30 seconds). Turn the heat up to medium high and add the carrots and onions. Saute it until the onions are soft.
Add the puree peeled tomatoes (these tomatoes are SO GOOD). Rinse the inside of the can with ½ cup of water, and add it to the pan and mix it together. Add the Water Gourd, potatoes, bay leaf, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to simmer, and then reduce to medium heat. Cover and cook it down for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring it.
After 20 minutes, uncover the pan and keep cooking it to thicken it. Cook it another 30 minutes to thicken it up.
Take off of heat and stir in ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir well.
It’s been a long time since we’ve added a recipe. Things have been so busy recently on the farm! We’ve been conducting tours, along with the normal work of the summer season. We’re all so thankful for your continued support. You all allow us to do what we want to do, and we sincerely thank you for it!
One of our favorite things to grow on the farm is Thai Basil. Called “Bai Horapa” in Thai, it is a sweet, yet spicy basil. There are actually varieties that have more of a punch (bai krapow), but this one is a milder, but still flavorful option. It’s a great addition to any noodle soup. You can substitute it for Italian Basil in your recipes. I made a pretty mean pesto last year using all of the Thai Basil I had growing in the garden.
If you’re growing some yourself, be sure to pick off the flowers at the top to keep it producing those tasty leaves!
One recipe I love is “Pork with Thai Basil.” It’s a great way to utilize a lot of those basil leaves, and the hot chili’s you will receive later on. I imagine you can substitute tofu for the pork, but I have no idea how it tastes.
This is a flavorful, spicy stir fry. It's great for lunch, with a fried egg on top.
Author: Transplanting Traditions
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-2 garlic cloves
1 cup ground pork
2 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 Thai chilis- diced (6 if you're feeling spicy)
1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
½ cup of water (to add when it gets dry)
1 cup Thai basil leaves
Leave the egg on the counter to warm up before frying it, it will fry better that way.
Heat up a wok to medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is loose (you'll know by how quickly it moves in the pan when you gently swirl it), add in a garlic clove. Add in the diced chilis. BE CAREFUL, when chilis burn, it gets into your lungs, the whole house might start coughing.
Add in the pork as soon as the garlic starts to smell good. Add the fish sauce, dark sweet soy, sugar, and a little bit of water. 1-2 tablespoons should be good, but add more it if it gets dry. You really want to have a little bit of water to cook with the pork (It cooks with the sauces and pork fats, making an excellent sauce!)
When the pork is completely cooked, add in the washed basil leaves. Stir them together until they wilt.
Take the wok off the heat, and pour the pork mixture into a serving bowl with Jasmine rice. It's great with a fried egg. Use the remaining oil to fry the egg in a small pan, or clean the wok and use that again.
One of the things you received in your CSA boxes were Garlic Chives. You can find them at Asian markets, but are definitely better straight from the garden!
Their strong garlicky, onion flavor is sometimes too much to handle by itself. I have seen people use it as a substitute for green onions in a salad. I bet they’d be great chopped up on potatoes, or added to a soup that needs an extra burst of flavor. Around East and Southeast Asia, they’re used largely in stir fries.
We’ve put in a recipe below, let us know what you think in the comments!
A great, quick stir fry, to use up those garlic chives. This dish is really common and popular over in Thailand, and across Southeast Asia.
Author: Transplanting Traditions
3 cups garlic chives, chopped into 2 inch pieces
½ cup thinly sliced pork (any type of protein will work)
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp oyster sauce
fish sauce, to taste
sugar, to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Put the vegetable oil into the wok, and place it on medium high heat.
Add the garlic when the oil is hot. Stir it around. When the garlic starts to smell really good, add the pork.
Cook the pork until it looks done, add in water if it starts looking dry. You'll want some water in the pan so it can make a sauce. Be careful not to add too much water. I suggest adding it 1 TBSP at a time, so you can just how much is too much. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.
Now add the chopped garlic chives. Stir and cook it until the chives turn a darker green, and start wilting just a little bit. It's very easy to overcook them. They taste their best just slightly cooked.
One of the items you saw in your CSA box is Bok Choy. This vegetable is very common throughout Asia, and is great in stir fries and soups. Here’s a simple stir fry you can do. I love eating this for breakfast. You can add any protein you’d like to this dish. It’s easy to cook up some pork, chicken, egg, or tofu to add in.
PRO TIP- If you’re stir frying meat, slice it beforehand, and mix it with some tapioca starch. It helps break it down, and make it softer. You only need about 1 teaspoon per cup of meat.
salt source (salt, fish sauce, or soy sauce- to taste)
Preheat a wok to medium/high heat. Add the tablespoon of oil.
If you are adding a protein, cook that first. You'll want to put garlic into the hot oil. Stir it until it starts to smell really good- it should take 30 seconds. Then add sliced meat or tofu. You might need to add a little bit of water if it gets too dry in the wok.
When cooking the Bok Choy, add oil to the hot pan and let it heat up.
Add the garlic to the pan. Cook it until it smells good (about 30 seconds).
Add the bok choy. Then add the oyster sauce, water, and sugar. Mix it until the bok choy wilts.
Serve it with steamed white rice, and add as much salt as you want.
We hope you enjoy the recipe. Let us know what you think in the comments!
We hope you all are enjoying your first CSA boxes of the Spring. We’ve been really busy on the farm getting them all prepared for you, and really hope you’re enjoying what you received.
One of the things you received is Red Clover. It’s used as a cover crop at our farm, fixing Nitrogen into the soil. We sow it in the Fall to prevent erosion throughout Winter, and then it keeps growing in Spring, helping us fight off weeds. It is tilled under in Spring, so adds much needed organic material into the soil, so we can keep growing the food we love to grow. As an added bonus, the beautiful red flowers attract all kinds of pollinators. Add the clover to a bouquet, or you can make a tea from it.
For making tea, first you need to dry the clover flowers. Hang them upside down in a room that gets good air circulation, like your kitchen. Once they are dry, pour boiling water over the flowers and let it steep for 5-7 minutes. Add a little clover honey, and you’re good to go! Clover tea is used as a spring tonic, purifying the blood and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also used for a variety of women’s health issues.
Let us know how your tea came out in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
Our CSA boxes have come out! Hopefully you have found a lot of goodies to cook with this week.
One of the items contained in our CSA box is Austrian Field Peas, or Pea Shoots. These are largely used as a cover crop here, but everybody on our farm knows that they are also delicious to eat. They taste just like sugar snap peas. You can add them to any salad, or even stir fry them.
To prepare them, wash them in cold water first, and then dry them.
It looks like a field pea party on the farm, everybody came by and grabbed tons of them to cook at home. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!