Follow Your Food: Thai Chicken Larb

In my last post I talked about how food is a vehicle to connect with culture outside of our own, and did a recipe on Thai Red Curry to bring some eastern flavor into our Kitchen, and the curry was just awesome. Also, this time of year there is a lot of fresh, brassicas growing, which means cooking dishes with sharp mustard flavors and Asian origin. So, naturally, this time around I wanted to continue the Thai trend. It is also the advent of regional spring lettuce season. Crisp, turgid lettuce leaves provide the perfect vessel for wrapping up a lot of flavor without soaking in juices. Now, I am not opposed to wiping my plate clean with a hearty piece chunk of baguette; but for the sake of the spring, the juicier, the better!

The lettuce I am using comes from this week’s produce box. These mixed varieties of romaine and red leaf come from James of Radicle Roots Farm, which is a sustainable market garden located just 12 miles outside of Bend. Their philosophy is simple, “healthy soil grows healthy food, which is the underlying principal for cultivating a reciprocally sustainable agrarian system. As first generation farmers, their goal is to bring vibrant energy and a passion for future generations to our local food system. I will write more about James and Radicle Roots at a later date, once I can get out to the farm with him and dig into his operation. But for now, let his lettuce speak as a testament to their quality care and fresh produce.

I was talking with James this Tuesday when he came by to drop off his produce for the week, and inspired me on the idea of using his lettuce as a wrap. So I set off to find a good recipe for lettuce wraps, and found one that incorporates Thai Larb (or Laap).  Larb is the national dish of Laos and has been incorporated into the culinary  tradition northern Thailand where there ay many people of Laotian descent. It combines raw or cooked minced meat, spices, mint, basil and is often served on lettuce leaves. It is traditionally a spicy dish, where spice adds complexity into the flavor of a dish. Southeast Asian meals derive their spice from capsicum chilis, cumin, garlic, and ginger. The watery lettuce leaves counterbalance the heat, and cool your palate at the end of a bite. This provides a rather refreshing physical experience to dining on a warm, sunny day. Since it is not quite pepper season in the high desert, I brought in spice with red chili flakes, garlic from Groundwork Organics and ginger from Bob at Tumalo Fish and Vegetable Farm. And because it is the aforementioned spring brassica season, I chopped up some of Windflower Farms asian greens to add some mustardy zest into the mix.

I pulled my recipe from one I found by Williams Sonoma. Due to what I had in the pantry, and what is available seasonally, I made some adjustments. No doubt it is good with or without amending the original format.


  • 6 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, since that is what is in my pantry)
  • 2 Tbs Asian sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green portions
  • 1 1/2 Tbs peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I would also recommend finding a red thai chili to cook in)
  • 1 1/4 lb ground chicken (I used chicken thighs, which I diced up myself)
  • Lettuce leaves for serving
  • Bean sprouts and fresh cilantro and basil leaves for serving
    • I did not have either the basil or the sprouts, but I did add in sliced hakurei turnips from Windflower Farm as a garnish, which was spot on

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. In a wok or large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add half the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 minute more.
  3. In a wok or large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add half the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 minute more.
  4. To serve, spoon about 3 Tbs. of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf, top with bean sprouts, cilantro and basil, and wrap the lettuce around the filling. But that is just the recommended serving style. To do this family style, I put all of the add ons on a few plates and allowed for self serve. Put the the remaining soy sauce mixture alongside in a small bowl for dipping

This dish is just amazing, and I cant even imagine how much better it would be if I had some basil, bean sprouts and thai chilis on hand…



Follow Your Food: Thai Vegetable Red Curry

Farming  is the oldest and most ubiquitous concepts to any proper human civilization. While other languages describe the concept with different words, the meaning is the same. In western Romance languages, the term to describe farming is Agriculture. Agriculture derives its roots from the latin agre, meaning the field, and cultura, meaning cultivation. As you can likely imagine, the literal combination of these roots describe the cultivation of fields, or humans culturing nature. There is, however another, less literal significance of agriculture, and that is the land culturing humans. Most historians would likely agree what humans were only able to develop standing civilizations and civil societies after first learning how to cultivate the land. Sure there may have been pre-agrarian neolithic civilizations prior to the dawn of  agriculture, but these were subsistence societies with no specialization. It was only once we learned to culture the land that humans learned how to culture themselves. After the early Mesopotamian societies began irrigating their fields of barley and wheat we see the first evidence of written language, complex scene art and legal codification. Ever since, human culture and agriculture have grown side by side, with different global regions creating their own definition of both. As a result, the global demograph is a rich mosaic of music genres, art styles and culinary palates.

Years of developing our understanding of the land and international exchange of knowledge allows modern farmers to use traditional techniques to grow crops one known as staples in another land. Consequently, we are granted the privilege to share in a cultural palates belonging to other nations. Once again this highlights the importance food has in culturing our appreciation for a wider world, and protect us from myopia .This week we had a rather amazing recipe tossed our way by Vanessa Niles who volunteers with us to help deliver orders to Madras. At first glance, I knew I was hooked. I love Thai red curry – it is honestly one of my favorite dishes. Usually I don’t get the chance to cook it on my own, as there is often times a scramble for all of the ingredients, however, this week was different, the family box contents happened to have most of the requisites that would normally send me to the store. The second hook for me, since I was tired after work and rather hungry, was the time. The 20 minutes advertised in the recipe link promised to get me fed before confounding ‘hangriness’ kicked in and sent me out to eat. Needless to say, the dish lived up to my expectations, and will assuredly become a staple in my kitchen quiver, when the season is right of course.



2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 Garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp ginger (Tumalo Fish and Vegetable Farm) minced

1 Tbsp Turmeric (Tumalo Fish and Vegetable Farm) minced

2 Tbsp Curry Paste

1 Small Sweet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 hd Bok Choi or Baby Bok Choi (Radicle Roots and Windflower Farm), chopped into 1 inch strips

4 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth

13 oz can of Coconut Milk

1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

3.5 oz rice vermicelli noodles

Garnishes (recipe says optional, I say essential)

1/2 red onion (Cinco Estrellas) sliced thin

1 lime

Handful of Fresh Cilantro (Cinco Estrellas)

Sriracha to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Prepare the vegetables for the soup first so that they are ready when needed
  2. Add the cooking oil into a large soup pot (4-5 qt), along with the minced garlic, ginger, turmeric and Thai red curry paste. Saute the garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry paste over medium heat for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add the diced sweet potato and chopped Bok Choi stalks to the pot (save the leafy green ends of the choi for later), add broth right away and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5-7 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. While the soup is simmering, bring a small pot of water to a boil for the vermicelli and boil 2-3 minutes or just until tender (I prefer rice noodles a little bit al dente). Drain the rice noodles in a strainer and set aside.
  5. Once the sweet potatoes are tender, add the coconut milk, fishsauce and brown sugar to the soup. Stir to taste and adjust the fish sauce or brown sugar if needed. Finally, add the bok choi greens and let them wilt in the hot soup (30 seconds)
  6. To serve, divide the rice noodle and ladle the soup over the bowls. Top the bowls with the fresh, thinly sliced red onion, the cilantro and a lime wedge. I them spiced my bowl up with some Sriracha and red pepper flakes because I am a spice junkie.
  7. Enjoy the fresh flavor!

Follow Your Food: Asparagus


I have already written a few time about the effect of spring in our fields. Spring also offers us special ingredients to use for our meal. As this is the season of first life and growth, many of the crops farmers harvest are at their most tender stage in the plant life cycle. This past week’s produce box hosted the true taste of tender spring with Springbank Farm’s Asparagus.

Asparagus, or Asparagus officionalis, is the perfect spring crop. Due to the value of this crop and the short season in which it grown, agrarian European communities have long viewed asparagus season as the highlight of the foodie calendar. Right now the flavor of its young shoots are tender and delicate as the plant accumulates water. Despite being 93% water, the juvenile shoots are packed with concentrated  nutrient densities of Iron, Vitamin K, and B Vitamins (Folate, Riboflavin and Thiamine).  There is rich with the amino acid asparagine, from which the plant derives its name. As an amino acid, asparagine facilitates the synthesis of proteins in our body. Although non-essential, asparagine’s contribution to protein biosynthesis is shown to be valuable in quite a number of ways. Its most prominent role play out in our nervous system by contributing to neuron growth and signal transmission across nerve endings. This amino acid may also prove important for the avid outdoorsman by smoothing liver function, which, in turn, leads to improved athletic stamina and builds resistance to nagging fatigue. Finally, asparagine is a fine complement to a vegetarian diet to increase the bioavailability of plant based proteins. I would say that this is a power packed vegetable for the lifestyle many of us choose to pursue here in Central Oregon!

Unfortunately,  its only a short time. Since asparagus is an herbaceous perennial, its structure becomes more robust as the season progresses. In the later weeks of springtime, the apical buds begin to open up, or “fern out”. At this point, the once tender stalks begin to lignify as more resources are directed to photosynthetic and reproductive tissues. So, make the most out of this spring, and every spring by sharing this wonderful crop in meals while it is still around. So to help, we have a recipe that won over our stomach’s. This week we want to tackle breakfast. Since it is the first meal of the day, a hearty breakfast is critical to fueling an action packed day at work, in the mountains, on the river or a high grade climb. Often times the tight schedule that comes with such a lifestyle prevents us from really being able to invest time into creating a real morning meal. Well the weekend is a perfect time to get it going and create something special to share!

Last time I shared some good ol’ Red Beans and Rice. This time I pulled a recipe from Lucinda Quinn’s second cookbook, Mad Hungry Cravings, and found an Asparagus and Spinach Frittata. I will let the rest speak for itself:


Frittata, serves 6:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound of asparagus with the ends trimmed

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1/2 lemon

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound of fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

10 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk


1 tablespoon capers

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 scallions, finely chopped (I used shallots)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375, with the rack in the middle position. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium- high hea. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When it shimmers, add the asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus is lightly browned in spots. Transfer to a plate, squeeze the lemon juice over it, and let cool
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, spinach, pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for just about a minute.
  3. Whisk the eggs and milk in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the eggs begin to scramble but are still very wet. Remove from heat.
  4. Distribute a layer of the asparagus over the eggs, pressing them gently into the mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the frittata is set.
  5. Meanwhile, for the sauce, combine the salt, pepper, capers, scallions, parsley, oil and vinegar into a small bowl
  6. Slice frittata into wedges and serve with sauce.

My CSA Kitchen: Red Beans and Rice

Alright, so this recipe may seem a bit basic, and perhaps a little out of place, but sometimes it is nice to cross pollinate food culture. While red beans and rice is typically a southern classic, this week’s CSA box supplies many of the requisite ingredients to serve it up locally. Of course, given the nature of cooking seasonally from your food region, I had to deviate a bit from the recipe and make some personalized adjustments. But, after all, that is what the spirit of cooking represents: inspiration from others to cook food that best fits our individual (or community) environment. The recipe that I pulled from is by Lucinda Quinn’s cookbook, Mad Hungry, which is a great source of hearty, creative and flavorful meals that are perfect for families with a big appetite. I cook from this book quite frequently and would absolutely recommend this as kitchen resource.

Now recipe in Mad Hungry differs from this a bit, but I wanted my Red Beans and Rice to represent what is seasonally available here in Oregon. To start, here are the ingredients that I used:

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1 Leek, quartered and chopped

1 Shallot, chopped

2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced

1-1.5 Stalks of Celery, chopped small

1/2 teaspoon Thyme

1 table spoon Parsley, chopped

1/2 lb of Dried Red Beans (soaked for 2-4 hours beforehand)

4 Slices of Bacon

1 Bay Leaf

1/4 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

1 tablespoon of Tabasco (I like hot sauce a lot so maybe use less)

6-8 cups of water

Black Pepper and Coarse Salt to taste

To start you the oil over medium in a soup pot. When the oil is warm, add the celery garlic, leeks and shallots and saute until lightly caramelized: about 5 minutes. Then season the veggies with a little salt and pepper, mix in and cook for a few more minutes

Then pour in the water and beans. Bring the water to a boil for a few minutes,  then reduce heat to simmer the beans and vegetables. Allow the stew to cook for about 30 minutes

Next, add the chopped bacon, cayenne, bay leaf, thyme and Tabasco. Allow another 30-60 minutes to cook. As the beans soften, smash them against the pot with a spoon to create a creamier texture.

When the beans are soft and smashed, top with celery and whatever hot sauce your palette requires. Serve with rice, and you have a meal for 4-6 people (or 3 skiers).