lemongrass is an herb which is essential to Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indonesian and other Asian cuisines. lemongrass is said to have many health benefits, and is a medicinal herb in India and Ayurveda, said to help with relieving cough and nasal congestion. lemongrass takes much of the credit for the light and aromatic character of Southeast Asian cooking. It’s prized for lightening meat-laden, oily dishes and strong seafood smells. In additional to it’s culinary uses, the oil of lemongrass is used as a pesticide and a preservative, and research has shown that lemongrass oil has antifungal properties.
lemongrass is highly medicinal and great for tea, which is as simple as steeping a few stalks of lemongrass in boiling water for five to 10 minutes. If you’re using lemongrass for other recipes, you can slice it and use it in curries and broths. Alternatively, you can grind the slices using a mortar and pestle or food processor. A microplane zester may also be used to finely grate lemongrass for use in stir-fries or other recipes. Some soup or curry recipes call for bruised rather than minced lemongrass. To bruise, use the back of a knife to press the stalk in several places or bend the stalk until it is fragrant and the oils are released.
Organic heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been handed down through generations. They come in many varieties. They are much better than the commercially grown tomatoes that you buy at a regular store because receiving them straight from the farm means that most likely they were picked that same day. Those at a conventional market are usually artificially ripened and will not be as flavorful as those that you grow or buy straight from the farm.
Among many other vitamins and minerals, heirloom tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K, and potassium. Tomatoes are known as a good source of lycopene, a type of carotenoid that has many health benefits including prevention of prostate, cervical, breast, lung, and skin cancer. A cooked tomato will have 2-8 times more lycopene than a raw tomato. Organic tomatoes will also have more lycopene. Tomatoes also protect cardiovascular health.
A medium sized heirloom tomato contains 20% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A and about 40% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C.
Tomatoes are very versatile in the kitchen. They can quickly add a boost of flavor to your dishes.
You can enjoy tomatoes cooked or raw. They are great raw when they are added to a salad. You can also add raw tomatoes to a burger or a sandwich. You can stop off an omelet with fresh tomato. You can boil tomatoes for sauces and add some fragrant herbs and spices. You can also roast the tomatoes and make a roasted tomato salsa along with some roasted garlic, onion, and jalapeño.
concord grapes are a cultivar that are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy. The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts, where he planted seeds from wild fox grape before finding what he considered the perfect grape, the original vine of which still grows at his former home. Although all grapes have antioxidants, concord grapes have the highest level of antioxidants, namely a high amount of anthocyanins, which have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a number of other common degenerative diseases.
The skin of a Concord grape is typically dark blue or purple, and often is covered with a lighter-coloured “bloom,” which protects the grape from moisture loss and decay, but can be easily rubbed off. It is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. concord grapes have large seeds and are highly aromatic. concord grapes make a great snack and when frozen, are a great addition to your favorite smoothies and juices!
curry leaves are from the curry tree which is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), which is native to India and Sri Lanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighboring countries. Contrary to popular misconception, curry leaves have nothing to do with curry powder, which tends to be a ground up powder with clove, cumin, cinnamon, sometimes curry leaves, etc. That powder is more commonly known in Indian and South Asian cuisine as ‘garam masala.’ curry leaves have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties and is thus used widely in Ayurvedic medicines. Intake of curry leaves is said to promote clear and healthy skin, as well as serve as a great digestion aid.
Fresh curry leaves can last up to two weeks in the fridge. To make them last longer, air-dry them and store in an airtight container. curry leaves are edible, and while used as a strong flavoring agent, they can be eaten along with the rest of your meal!
kamo kamo squash, or kumi kumi pumpkin, is an heirloom pumpkin of the Maori people of New Zealand. New Zealanders say this is the best of all squash, since the young fruit can be boiled, fried or baked, and they have a rich, nutty flavor that is quite delicious. Let the green speckled squash ripen, and they are good as a winter squash. They have become rare even in New Zealand and we are excited to have this opportunity to grow and eat such a rare squash!
kamo kamo squash can be prepared just as any other pumpkin or squash would be prepared. Based on it’s age and maturity, the seeds may be eaten, or may taste inedible. Younger squash can even be eaten and prepared as a zucchini would.
This week’s CSA Box includes:
– 1 bag of mixed heirloom tomatoes and chilis (jalapenos)
– 1 bunch water spinach
– 2 bunches yam leaves
– 1 eggplant
– assorted okra
– 1 bunch yard long beans
– 1 basket concord grapes
– 1 bunch kale
– 1 bunch mint
– a few sprigs of curry leaf
The Moringa Tree (Moringa Oleifera), commonly called the ‘drumstick tree’ or the ‘miracle tree’ is native to India but has been planted around the world and is naturalized in many locales. Moringa is one of the most powerful health-enhancing plants. While many things found in Nature can have one or two health benefits, Moringa has many. India’s ancient tradition of Ayurveda medicine sites 300 diseases that are treated with the leaves of the Moringa tree. Recent scientific research has proven that these humble leaves are in fact a powerhouse of nutritional value.
moringa leaf is best known as an excellent source of nutrition and natural energy booster. This energy boost is not based on sugar, and so it is sustained. Moringa is also soothing. It helps lower blood pressure and is a sleep aid. Its detoxifying effect may come from Moringa’s ability to purify water. Moringa acts as a coagulant attaching itself to harmful material and bacteria. It is believed that this process is taking place in the body as well. Moringa is also one of the world’s only plant-based sources of complete protein (like soy beans).
Moringa is a very simple green vegetable to eat. First, you want to strip the leaves off of the stems. Simply pinch and drag your fingers across the stem, releasing the leaves. Compost the stem. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. They can also be dried and ground into a nutritious high-protein powder.
Moringa can be used in most dishes just like spinach. It cooks very quickly, and will reduce to about half its size when cooked. It has a fairly strong flavor, so just adding small quantities to any dish where spinach is called for is perfect. Try a few leaves raw to get a feeling for what it tastes like.
okra or Okro, known in many English-speaking countries as ladies’ fingers, bhindi, bamia, ochro or gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of West African, Ethiopian, and South Asian origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.
okra is a highly nutritious vegetable with a very distinct, almost meaty flavor. okra is naturally mucilaginous, meaning it releasesa characteristic “goo” or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains soluble fiber. Some people prefer to minimize the sliminess; keeping the pods intact, and brief cooking, for example stir-frying, help to achieve this. Cooking with acidic ingredients such as a few drops of lemon juice, tomatoes, or vinegar may also help. Alternatively, the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time so the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo.