Wednesday, May 02, 2018

More Veggie Boxes and a Curry Leaf Harvest

Happy May, friends. In our household, the big excitement of April was the installation of a pretty sweet play set in the backyard. 

It was a home project many years in the making. Northeast Georgia is a pretty hilly landscape and looking at our sloped, wooded, crazy overgrown backyard, I never had any hopes of being able to put in a play set for the kids. But sometimes it just takes finding the right people for the job. I finally found two guys at the recommendation of a neighbor who assured us that they were experts in safely installing play sets on hilly, uneven terrain and they did so in just 4 hours on a sunny morning. The shock, delight and pure joy on the kids' faces when they got home from school was priceless. 

They now have a lookout tower with a little bridge going to another roofed tower, with a slide and three swings and a cute little picnic table. All in a cool and shaded spot. Lila hosted a grand opening of our little playground, with lemonade and apple slices served on the picnic table. It makes me so happy that our yard is being used more and that the kids will have more outdoor time in a space we can share with friends and neighbors. 


Meanwhile, the veggie boxes have been keeping me busy in the kitchen and filling our plates with colorful fresh produce. 
Week 2 CSA haul
Saag paneer


This is what week 2 brought us...
1. Arugula- Another batch of potato arugula frittata.

2. Carrots- I roasted these with some sweet potatoes. Kids loved it.

3. Lettuce Mix- Taco salad.

4. Kale and Mustard Greens- Saag paneer. Saag is my go-to dish for hearty greens; my version is quick enough to make on a weeknight and we all (even the kids) love it.

5. Red radishes and Turnips- Made a simple subzi with this, to go with some khichdi.

6. Strawberries- eaten as a snack.

Week 3 CSA haul
Week 3's CSA brought us

1. Beets, Carrots and Spicy Salad Mix- I made a big salad with all of these with a mint and cilantro dressing, and served it as a side for biryani when we hosted a farewell dinner for a friend.

2. Bok Choy and Scallions- These, along with tofu, went into a stir fry, served with rice.

3. Radishes- Made a radish raita with these.

4. Spinach- Spinach and tomato dal.

5. Strawberries- Snack.

Now that warm weather is here to stay (famous last words?), we brought our two curry leaf plants out of their indoor winter home and back outside to revel in the glorious spring sunshine. The plants were getting too lanky so V decided to give them a haircut, a solid pruning of the top to encourage lateral growth. I ended up with branches of curry leaves piled on my kitchen counter.

Many stems have been wrapped and stored away in the fridge. But I had about 7 packed cups of washed and dried curry leaves left. Those got converted into 3 bottles of podi, ready to be enjoyed with idlis and dosas.

Curry leaves and curry leaf podi
The curry leaf plants are about the only "kitchen gardening" we do- our sloped and shaded yard doesn't offer many possibilities. But V and Lila have also put in a small herb patch- fingers crossed! 

Are you doing any gardening this year? What's cooking in your kitchen? 

22 comments:

  1. I say, we miss curry leaves so much, we sometimes dream of taking up curry leaf farming in the West of Cork!

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    1. Fatima- I don't know about curry leaf farming but you certainly could grow a small pot for your own cooking needs :) Mine started as a 2-inch sapling a dozen years ago. It has grown slowly over the years, outside in summer and indoors the rest of the year.

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    2. Oh yes, I have followed the story of your curry plant. But we don't where to source a plant in garden centres here, and we have never tried bringing in a plant from India! It might make for an interesting immigration experience at the airport.

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    3. Fatima- I agree that trying to sneak in a curry leaf plant is not advisable LOL! Your best bet might be to ask around the Indian community there to see if anyone has a plant- then you could request a sapling from that plant :) Or your garden center may be able to specially order one for you (or import it legally) even if it isn't the sort of thing they routinely keep in stock.

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  2. So jealous of your curry leaves bonzanza! In Connecticut , for 1$ the Indian store has some measly looking leaves. Miss my life in Toronto where the awesome Sri Lankan stores practically sold a whole branch of a curry leaf tree for the same 1$. Actually for a Canadian $ . Sighhhhh

    My favourite recipe is a family fave recipe molagu Kozhambu.
    It's a great Post partum / digestive discomfort food. A little goes a long way of course but it's the most delicious thing especially on rainy days...

    My mom's recipe :

    1 tsp turdhal+ 1 tsp Bengal Gram dhal + 1 tsp coriander seeds
    2 tsp black pepper
    2 or 3 red chillies
    Half tsp jeera
    1 cup curry leaves
    Extract from a small lemon size ball of tamarind
    Fry everything upto curry leaves in oil ( preferably sesame oil) and then add the curry leaves also in the end.
    Grind everything together
    Take 2 glasses of tamarind extract
    And mix the curry leaves paste in the Tamarind water and boil.
    And dont skip on sesame oil thadka with mustard seeds.

    Another varation is minus turdhal and Bengal Gram dhal but plus urad dhal. All other ingredients the same.

    Can also grind the Tamarind along with the curry leaves and then mix the whole concoction in water and boil.

    You can also incorporate garlic and let it cook in the milagu kozhambu the way you might add veggies in a gravy.

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    1. Janani- I do love being able to use fresh curry leaves straight from the plant- they smell amazing. Have you tried growing a plant? Wish you lived closer- I could have given you a baby from my plant. Thanks so much for the recipe- I will try it for sure!

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  3. Oh wow, the backyard playset is amazing! I can only imagine how fun it must be for the little ones to enjoy their long summer afternoons and evenings there.

    We are planning to plant small eggplants and add lemon thyme to our herb garden. Daughter is experimenting with cactus (native plants) and rainbow carrots.

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    1. PJ- The playset has been a huge hit and a blessing for me to keep the kids occupied during this nice weather. How sweet that your daughter is a gardener in the making. Cactii sound wonderful and they come in such interesting varieties. I am enjoying your blog these days :)

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  4. that backyard playset looks great - I was struck at first by how green it it too - so much fun for your kids. We grow quite a few things in pots in our yard as it is concrete and I have been pleased at what we can grown. It is nice that you have your CSA box too.

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    1. Johanna- it is very green and shaded for sure, but totally overgrown and needs some upkeep! Guess that should be next on my list. I always enjoy seeing pics of your yard. Incidentally my husband is in Geelong this week for work!

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  5. That play set is awesome! It’s perfect for kids and unlimited summer fun.

    I am really... really bad at growing anything. I’ve planted chilies and tomato. Hauled in the potting soul and what not, nice pots ( big ones, because I planned on growing lots of 🌶 and 🍅) but nothing happened. 2-3 chilies and 2 tiny tomatoes ( M said, “bora distayt”). The money I wasted would have kept well buried in both for the season!
    I would like to try again, but, my patio does not get sunlight, I doubt anything will grow in those conditions and my ‘expertise’. Lol!

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    1. Manasi- I feel your pain! I too am a failed gardener :) Now I leave the care and upkeep of kadipatta plants and the herb garden to V and Lila and go out and buy what I need.

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  6. Your backyard looks like an enchanted forest! How lovely it must be for your kids (and Duncan!) to play there! Looks like Lila is as gracious and generous a hostess as her mother :) Do share your recipe for the curry leaf podi.

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    1. Kamini- It is bewitched rather than enchanted ;) and looks more like a rainforest than a tidy urban backyard! Lots of fun for kids and dogs, I agree. I'll update the post with a recipe (such as it is) for the podi.

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  7. hi Nupur! I just discovered your site while doing a search for curry leaves! May I ask where you found the seed/ saplings from and if they can be grown in a small pot (i live in an apartment with a tiny balcony)

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    1. Hi Sarah- Yes, curry leaves can be grown in a small pot! It is fine to leave the pot on your balcony (in a sunny spot if there is one) during the warm months and then bring the pot indoors during the colder months.
      How I got my plant: I visited the home of the aunt of a friend of a friend (or something) a dozen years ago, spotted a lush curry leaf plant on her patio and after some polite chit chat, begged her for a sapling :) It was a tiny thing a couple of inches long and now we have two large plants in pots from that baby. Our plants have always lived in pots- transplanting into a bigger pot as needed.
      You can buy curry leaf plants online (or ask your local garden center to order one) if you don't know anyone who has a plant and can share a sapling. I don't know where you are located but at least in the US it shouldn't be hard to find one.

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    2. Now a days most of the big Indian grocerry stores sell curry keaf plants during summer months but they are quite pricey.....last time i chkd it was for 11 or 12$ for 5-6" plant...
      Spice

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  8. Curry leaves - a friend has a 16 yo plant as tall as my 16 yo daughter - I recall her husband saying when the plant was less than a year old - it was like looking after a baby. I am jealous of those plants - you growing in your weather gives me hope to try!

    Garden - just got tomatoes, okra - my crop last year was amazing - must have added up to 15 pounds or more, chillies, bell peppers. This week will add zuchini and eggplant

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    1. Vishakha- Yes, curry leaf plants can be babied into growing in North America and yes, they take ages to grow :) My parents in India have a curry leaf tree 3 stories tall and it needs zero care of course!

      Amazing to hear of your bountiful veggie harvest. Hope this year gives you a bumper crop!

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  9. Have never been able to keep a curry leaf plant alive through the winter. Do you simply bring them indoors?

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    1. Yes, Lakshmi, they live indoors all through winter. I don't even have a great spot for them indoors (house is shaded and there really aren't many sunny spots) but so far so good.

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  10. Nupur, make a curry leaf chutneyif you hav e surplus of it

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