Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Garden: Wild and Weedy

With all the rain we've had this summer, my rambunctious garden is like a child only a mother could love - no matter how unruly, it's still the object of my affection.

Can this garden be saved?
My mistake here was mulching with hay. Apparently there's a big difference between hay and straw: Hay contains weed seeds and straw does not...oops.

Tomatillos and potatoes threatening to take over the strawberries.

I'm hoping the watermelon will crawl over and crowd out the weeds.
Wishful thinking?

The asparagus rises above all obstacles.

Cucumbers finally getting the long awaited summer heat.

It's time to harvest all the lettuce before they bolt.
When I have a lot of lettuce and fresh herbs, I serve Spring Roll Lettuce Wrap, and that's what I did at our monthly supper club. Six of us chowed down almost half this row, six heads of lettuce, a light meal with lots of moans and groans.

Thai basil, another good candidate for Spring Roll Lettuce Wrap.

Garlic and weeds

My favorite, Patty Pan, has the best texture and flavor of all summer squashes.

Swiss chard, onions and black turtle beans.
The brick mulch keeps Ben, our garden tiger, from claiming the garden as his own.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lao Food Festival

Every year on the Fourth of July the Lao-American community from across the country converges at the Buddhist temple, Wat Lao Buddhavong, in Catlett, VA, to celebrate America and to recreate a bit of their homeland.

Food plays an important role in Lao society. Walk into a Lao home and the first thing you're asked is "Have you eaten yet?" Even religious offerings show respect by offering foods to the monks and this event was no exception.

Alm Bowls collect food for the monks, Catlett, VA.
See photo of alm giving during morning procession of Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang

A couple of my siblings and I drove ten hours, from New Hampshire to Virginia, to walk down memory lane and reminisce about our childhood in Laos. We were not disappointed. We were transported back by the sights and sounds, and most of all, by the food, too complicated to make in our own kitchens. That could now change, however. We were inspired by the experience and vowed to start making some of our favorite native dishes. So stay tuned and if you have a favorite Lao recipe, please email me or share it in the comment section below.

For food lovers interested in authentic Lao food, this is as close as you can get without a visa. There are two festivals each year--July Fouth and the Lao New Year, usually in April, according to the lunar calendar.

Here's a sampling of dishes typically found at festivals and celebrations from the old country.

Tum Mak Hoong - Green Papaya Salad - hot, sweet and sour

Savory and sweet coconut pancakes made with rice flour and coconut milk, fried in a cast iron mold.

Grilled meats infused with the ever present lemon grass, chili peppers, and fish sauce

Pickled mangoes, a sour and salty treat

Tropical Mangos and Lychee Nuts

Traditional Lao costume

Sweet drinks and desserts

Grilled coconut sticky rice in banana leaf

Sesame Balls filled with sweet mung bean paste

Kao Lam - bamboo logs filled with coconut sticky rice and taro or black beans

Kao Lam is enjoyed warm or at room temperature for snack or dessert.

Lao Links I like that you might enjoy:
Lao Bumpkin
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]