plants

Food From Another World

Food from another world: Lemongrass

I was recently browsing for Thai curry recipes online and one common ingredient I came across was lemongrass. A culinary herb, lemongrass is found as a common ingredient many in Asian cuisines specially Thai. Lemongrass is typically a tropical grass that thrives in hot and humid weather. That said, it can also be grown in temperate regions with some basic care. Check out this article for more guidance on growing lemongrass.

lemongrass.jpg

 

Lemongrass is an immensely fragrant herb – one can smell lemongrass from quite a distance! A lemony-lime zest merged with ginger flavor gives lemongrass a citrusy and herby taste.

Visually, it looks like spring onions or scallions but is much harder; in order to cook it,  the hard outer layers must be peeled until the tender inner layers surface. The outer scraps need not be discarded! They can be used to make a soothing herbal tea by steeping them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Cool off this summer with this Thai Lemongrass and Ginger Iced Tea!

Lemongrass is also lauded for its several uses apart from in food. Here are just a few:

·         Digestion: For a healthy digestive tract, lemongrass tea consumption on regular basis can help. Where lemongrass is native it is made into a tea called ‘fever tea’ that is used to treat diarrhoea, stomach cramps and headaches.

·         Anti-fungal and Anti-bacterial: Studies have shown that lemongrass kills multiple types of bacteria and fungi and has deodorant properties.

·         Cold and Flu: The antibacterial and antifungal properties help the body cope with coughs, fever and other cold and flu symptoms. Plus, it is loaded with vitamin C that boosts your immune system to fight the infection. You can use lemongrass oil to relieve pain in muscles and joints, as well as headaches resulting from a cold or the flu.

·         Skincare: Lemongrass steam causes pores to open up and clear out pimples and blackheads.

·         Aromatherapy: It is used in aromatherapy as a mood lifter.

Visit the nearest Asian market and grab some lemongrass – use it in curries, stir fry, rice dishes or even in your morning tea!

Lemongrass tea is usually not recommended for small children. Some people could also be allergic to lemongrass. So before consuming it, make sure to research in depth and/or check with you doctor.

 

Sources:

http://www.gourmetgarden.com/en/herb/198/lemongrass

http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/thai-lemongrass-ginger-iced-tea

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/lemongrass/lemongrass-winter-care.htm

Priyanka Kumbhat

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Creative Writing Intern

Gardening 101 Post : Gardening Beginner Pro Tips

Gardening 101 Post

“Gardening Beginner”

Gardening seems difficult during the sudden rain and immediate blazing heat. It may seem futile to begin your garden during this part of the year. But you are persistent. You start to say “nay” to the blistering heat and the heavy rains. So now you head to the nearest gardening center, pick up gardening tools, gloves, and dust off those overalls you have hiding in the back of your closet. Geared with your proper tools like the Batman of gardening, you set off.

Now before you start planting the lettuce head remains or using your egg shells as part of your compost, you need to think about your soil. How is it? Seriously. A lot of gardening starters think their soil is ready to go. That is sadly not the case. While it may look just as brown as Farmer Bob’s looks, it may not be so.

Experts mention to take a first look at the soil before you begin. If you have used chemical fertilizers in the last few years, ditch the dirt. The dirt that has been filled with these fertilizers has lost a substantial number of essential microbes and earthworms. You should remove the top 12 inches from your garden soil, just to make sure you are starting with a clean slate.

Once you've removed the first feet of soil, fill the basin with water to flush down fertilizer salts deep in to the roots of the garden. This will create a rich bed of nutrients for your plants to gain roots with, making for strong and healthy plants. You should perform this process three times for maximum effect. Full article on getting your garden started found here.

Now, you can fill with compost. Think “would a worm want to eat this?” If so, then you’re on the right track. Composting does plenty to offer benefits for you and the world around you. It becomes a soil conditioner and acts as a recycling mechanism for kitchen and yard waste. It also introduces beneficial organisms (those worms we mentioned earlier) to the soil while being great for the environment. For a full list of what to compost, check out the article on composting written the Earth Easy website found here.

Have fun gardening, remember to crush your eggshells before composting and wear sunscreen. Add a comment below in the comment section and let us know how you began and what motivated your gardening expedition.

Alfonso Cavada – Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern

Harvest August 9, 2017

Today we had the pleasure of harvesting with students from the University of Arizona's Public Health department. We assisted the students and volunteer farmers at Felicia's Farm, a nonprofit farm located in Catalina Foothills, Arizona.

Harvesters looking for roots, plants, and leafy-greens this morning

Harvesters looking for roots, plants, and leafy-greens this morning

The first group of volunteers left from the Iskashitaa office at 8 am and the second group followed shortly after.  The farm is located on River Road.  We were assisted throughout the day by the farm's own Ashton Inskeep and Sofia Forier-Montes.

Several volunteers hard at work.

Several volunteers hard at work.

The harvesters enjoyed learning about the items they were collecting as well as proper usage. Sweet Potato leaves & Amaranth. Both of which were in abundance today.

Amaranth leaves

Amaranth leaves

Sweet Potato Leaves

Sweet Potato Leaves

We left the farm after having cleared much of the amaranth and sweet potato leaves. But before we did we made sure to take a group photo right in front of the farm as a testament to the hard work we put in today.

"Say 'Amaranth'!"

"Say 'Amaranth'!"

If you would like to be part of our volunteer and harvesting efforts, feel free to contact the office through the contact tab at the top of our website.

As always, have a great day!

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern

Harvest August 2, 2017

As Iskashitaa continues it's gleaning efforts, we had another harvest this past wednesday. The two items harvested were Jojobas and Jujubees.

Jojobas (pronounced ho-HO-bas) refers to the desert prominent plant and to the oil that can be extracted from the plant's seed. We have found them all over Tucson and the plants look like this.

We are still attempting to harvest as much as possible to reach out goal in order to mill the seeds in to an oil. Feel free to contact Iskashitaa and let us know where you find the jojoba plants.

Jujubes (pronounced jü-ju̇-ˌbē) are an invincible. They grow in almost any temperature, even in Tucson summers. Jujubes have a long history of cultivation, roughly 4,000 years. Originating in China, they have spread to Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and the southwestern United States. For more information, please enjoy this further reading on Jujube's culture, descriptions, recipes, etc.

The Jujubes, not to be mistaken with the famous fruity candy, will be used during Iskashitaa's kitchen exercises to enrich the community and bring together refugees that are living among us. Stay tuned for those recipes and pictures of the family friendly fun.

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern