Tag Archives: lemongrass

Late fall update

In the (hoop) house: Still producing – one cherry tomato, one cucumber, several peppers, and green beans. Ready to eat – bok choi, onions, leeks, and KALE. Up and growing nicely – lettuce, cabbage, brussels sprouts, more leeks, broccoli, cilantro, Swiss chard, turnips, rutabagas and garlic.

New fireplaceNew fireplace: After living for 15 years with a mantel but no fireplace*, we finally made a decision and purchased (online) a ventless gas fireplace with mantel. Mike stained it in September, we put it in position in October, and connected the gas in November. We still need to finish the wall opening and put in some slate or tile beneath the surround. *The Universalist Fellowship, which owned our house in the 1970’s, removed the original gas fireplace. The next owners got so far as to buy an old mantel, but never completed their project.

Pickles, salsa, chutney: Throughout the fall I’ve been pickling and canning stuff, mostly involving peppers. Green sauce/salsa, pepper relish, Mexican escabeche, and chutney.

grating lemongrassLemongrass harvest: We finally got a frost last week, so we had to bring in all the houseplants, and my three big pots of lemongrass. Every year I’d tell myself that I was going to do something with the lemongrass, and this year I finally did. I cut the stalk about 3″ from the soil, then removed the leaves so all I had was the stalk. I washed and cut it into 4″ pieces and froze them in a ziplock bag. To use them in cooking I simply take out a stalk and grate it with my microplane grater, or throw a stalk or two into a soup. Here are links to previous posts that pertain to lemongrass: Vietnamese Penicillin, Viet FeastThai Seafood Hotpot, and Grass of Lemon

Oklahoma road trips: Since September Mike and I have done three Oklahoma weekend rambles.

  • First to Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, OK, where we stayed at the very nice, newly remodeled lodge. Saturday we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the patio with two pots of French press coffee. The night before we’d stopped at Eischen’s Bar  in Okarche – the oldest bar in Oklahoma – for fried chicken and fried okra. Saturday afternoon we took back roads on the way home and I was amazed at the number of wind generators that had been put up.

Eischen's bar in Okarche, OK Roman Nose Lodge patio  Wind generator, south of Weatherford, OK

  • Second on our list was Lake Murray in southern Oklahoma. Beautiful setting, but an incredibly dumpy lodge. I felt like I’d fallen into a time warp and emerged in 1965. We did have a fabulous catfish dinner on the banks of the Washita River at McGehee’s near Marietta. Thank goodness they have big billboards directing you to the restaurant, else we’d never have found it.
  • Third on the list is the town of Woodward, where I went to attend a family wedding (at the old theater), and then Mike and I returned two weeks later to pick up some antique chairs I’d bought. Once again, lots more wind farms going up, and we met Mike’s cousins for a great lunch at Waggs Bar-B-Q. We weren’t there long enough to visit Alabaster Caverns, but that is definitely worth doing if you’re in the area.

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Vietnamese Penicillin?

I got a vicious sore throat last weekend. I haven’t had one in about three years, so I guess I was due.  Apparently this cold/sore throat/bronchitis is going around, and it has a tendency to linger. Now some people lose their appetite when they get sick, but this rarely happens to me :-). A rich chicken soup sounded really good, and I recalled a Vietnamese chicken curry Kate cooked for me a couple of months ago, wonderfully fragrant with lemongrass. If you do a web search for Vietnamese chicken curry (ca ri ga) you’ll get dozens of variations, but essentially it is a chicken soup/stew with coconut milk, madras curry powder, and lemongrass.  Onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (and sometimes carrots) are involved. I like a high vegetable-to-meat ratio in my soups, so I added a few extras: mushrooms and celery. Kate and Tuan always have this with a baguette. I didn’t feel like going to the store (duh…) so we had ours with whole wheat rolls (bolillos).

  1. 2 Tbsp oil
  2. 1 cup chopped onion
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  4. 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  5. 3 Tbsp grated/minced lemongrass (see Kate’s previous post – I buy a bag of it frozen at the Asian market)
  6. 2 Tbsp mild madras (yellow) curry powder
  7. chicken legs or thighs
  8. 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  9. 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  10. 1 tsp salt
  11. 2 – 3 cups water
  12. 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
  13. 1 cup chopped mushroom
  14. 1 cup sliced carrot
  15. 8 -12 small new potatoes (or 3 – 4 cups? of cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes)
  16. 1 cup chopped celery
  17. chopped garlic chives, cilantro, or Thai basil for garnish
  18. a fresh, crusty French baguette, if you’ve got it

Saute the first six ingredients for a few minutes in a large pot, then add the chicken and let it cook a little. Add ingredients 8 – 11 and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add ingredients 12 – 16 and cook gently until the potatoes are done and the chicken is about to fall off the bone. Serve with garlic chives, cilantro, or Thai basil and French bread.

Late spring garden update: Poppies, dianthus, and larkspur are just about done. Hollyhocks, Shasta daisies, alyssum, coneflower, daylily, rose-of-sharon, chrysanthemum, sedum, salvia greggii, and cosmos (!!) are blooming. So far I’ve harvested one bell pepper, several jalepenos, a couple of cherry tomatoes, and some garlic (about 1.5 months early this year). Still getting green onions, Swiss chard and kale. I’ve got tons of saved seed to process, and some of the pak choi I didn’t get to soon enough, so now it’s coming up thick as hair in one area (hmm… microgreens?).

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Grass of lemon

During Kate and Tuan’s spur-of-the-moment visit last weekend I learned a cool new trick: You can sprout a lemongrass plant from the stalks you purchase at Asian groceries such as Cao Nguyen!

So here are the directions from Kate, by way of Tuans’ mother, Mrs. Nguyen.

lemongrass sprouting

lemongrass sprouting

  1. Buy the freshest bundle of stalks you can find
  2. Use the bottom 4″ of stalk
  3. Peel off some of the outer leaves
  4. Place the short stalks in a cup containing about 1″ of water
  5. Place in a window that gets indirect  sunlight
  6. Check the grass daily – you may see roots start in just one day, although it might take a week
  7. Transplant to a pot filled with good quality potting soil
  8. Keep moist, but not soggy

eHow also has directions on how to grow lemongrass from cuttings.

Last year I bought a lemongrass plant at the farmer’s market, but I haven’t found any this year. I knew that it wouldn’t overwinter in the garden, so I planted it in a 1 gallon pot and it did fine nestled in with basil plants all around. It made a quite nice looking ornamental grass.

repotted lemongrass

repotted lemongrass

I brought it inside in the fall and kept it alive all winter, but then let it die from neglect sometime in March. This year I’ll plant it in a larger pot – probably a 3 gallon size – and be more attentive during the winter and early spring.

And this year I’ll be sure to process and freeze some of my lemongrass, as described at Chowhound. I think that frozen lemongrass is better than the stuff that comes in a tube, and it’s certainly easier to use than stalks from the market.

A quick note on Swiss Chard and Kale: I’ve decided that the best/easiest thing to do with abundant greens is wash, chop, and saute in olive oil with onion and garlic and then refrigerate (or freeze). That way you can quickly toss some in whatever you’re making – grilled sandwiches, omlettes, pasta, etc.

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