mu cai ~ delicious vegetable for stir fry

The edible leaves of “mu cai” are ready for harvesting! Have not been able to find English name, “mu cai” is the Mandarin name. I believe it is a type of lettuce.

mu cai

mu cai

Neighbour Mr. Teo encourages neighbours to harvest the leaves, and said the leaves when stir fried are really tasty.

Must say that this isn’t a vegetable that is readily available in the markets – so much so that we tell neighbours that the leaves are ready for harvesting, no one says a word! (Compared to say, the “cai xin”)

Anyway, I decided to harvest some leaves, and give the stir fry a try.

Here’s a little recipe:

  • harvest the leaves.
  • trim away the middle stem if one doesn’t like the harder stem portion.
  • slice the leaves into smaller pieces.
  • heat the wok with some oil
  • add dried shrimps or dried silver fish, and minced garlic
  • stir fry the above until there is a nice fragrance
  • add in the leaves
  • mix well
  • add a bit of water as needed
  • wait a few seconds… done!
  • enjoy the dish :)
mu cai stir fry

mu cai stir fry

15 Nov ~ Update

This week’s group session was supposed to be Sunday, but we decided to change it to Saturday to follow Nature Co’s monthly visit schedule. Steven, their main representative, was not feeling well. A company representative came to deposit more bags of organic compost and organic fertiliser. He observed that we had not used completely the bags that were given to us earlier, and hinted that they may stop providing more bags in the next visit.

Organic compost & fertiliser

Organic compost & fertiliser

In the mean-time, we got busy tending to our garden.

Tending to our garden

Tending to our garden

Neighbours Sharon and Annie came armed with a little fig tree sapling. We identified the area between the “3 sisters” bed and the “banana circle” as a suitable place for 4 to 5 small trees. So, in goes, the little fig “tree”!

Fig tree sapling

Fig tree sapling

Pumpkin seeds went into the “3 Sisters” bed. If you recall, the 3 Sisters are the corn, bean, and pumpkins. Corn for providing support, bean for providing nitrogen to the soil, and pumpkins to protect the top soil. The bags of organic compost and fertiliser came in useful.

The organic fertiliser comes in useful

The organic fertiliser comes in useful

We took time to check in on our food compost barrel too. It’s wonderful that there have been neighbours who contribute food waste every week.

Contents of our food compost barrel

Contents of our food compost barrel

The mung beans which were planted in the circle beds reserved for fruit trees and the “3 sisters” are about 40cm tall now. The pods are turning brown, and ready for harvest. These beans can be extracted to cook (e.g. as green bean soup), or to keep as seeds for growing more plants. Dennis shared that the soil condition in the beds has improved since the bean plants were planted.

Green beans

Green beans

Also, we harvested our first (and only) 2 passion fruits from the garden!

Our first 2 passion fruits!

Our first 2 passion fruits!

26 Oct ~ Update

It was time to harvest some sweet white potatoes. Dig we did… Neighbour Dennis guided us on how to follow the search for sweet potato tubers that were buried in the clayey soil below the surface.

Searching for sweet potatoes

Searching for sweet potatoes

White sweet potatoes

White sweet potatoes

The red amaranth (locally more commonly referred to as spinach) was also ready for harvesting.

Red amaranth

Red amaranth

The children had fun helping us cut garden waste into smaller pieces for addition to our compost heap.

Helping to trim garden waste for our  compost heap

Helping to trim garden waste for our compost heap

Neighbour Mr. Teo said the winter melon’s “time” was up as the fruit stalks were yellowing. We had harvested at least 3 batches of melons from these plants. So we harvested 12 melons of various sizes, to be distributed to neighbours who have been supporting the edible garden project. Mr. Teo selected 2 of the largest melons – and he truly deserves them. For it is him who has been tending to the winter melon plants almost every day, caring for them from seed, and generously giving away almost every melon that we have harvested. Much kudos to him for his dedication.

Last look at the winter melons before they are harvested

Last look at the winter melons before they are harvested

9 Nov – Garden’s 1st birthday!

A garden is truly the community’s when it is nurtured, cared for and celebrated by a community.

It was always in the back of our minds that we started creating the garden in Nov 2013. On double-checking our photo records, we realised that the date for the garden’s 1st birthday was on a Sunday, and in less than a week!

Some quick discussions in our Whatsapp group channel later, we decided to have bread-fast in the park. :) Nothing too formal, just a good excuse to gather neighbours together, and enjoy food and drinks prepared by neighbours. At least 17 adults & 5 children from 11 households came, and at least 4 individuals contributed food & drinks.

We had really yummy breads from Better Breads. Four loaves of onion / dill bread, and six loaves of gula melaka dessert bread. Three loaves of each disappeared really quickly, with neighbours mentioning that the gula melaka bread is surprisingly nice.

Photos below!

Bread-fast is ready!

Bread-fast is ready!

Conversations

Conversations

Neighbour Mr. Teo sharing his knowledge with other neighbours

Neighbour Mr. Teo sharing his knowledge with other neighbours

Conversations

Conversations

What to do with this plant huh?

Such is a question that is often raised by visitors to the garden.

Such is what inspired me to write this post, while I was prepping for tonight’s dinner. Admittedly it is a little more complex than the everyday dinners I usually whip up, but hey, I feel like having pie tonight. So why not? Plus, this could help a curious someone get started with using what is in the edible garden.

What’s in this recipe that can be found at the garden? Dill, basil and oregano. There are also turmeric, tomatoes and capsicums, which are up and coming plants that we’re still nurturing. Perhaps this recipe will inspire you to make something from the harvest when the time comes.

Apart from that of the pie crust, I won’t give out any measurements. Please, feel free to exercise the oh-so-Asian spirit of agar-ation and experimentation. This recipe is highly versatile and can be used in whole, part, or with other recipes. For example, the pie crust could be totally removed and possibly replaced with rice or pasta. Pan frying/baking/steaming the salmon would work nicely if that is the case. The dill yogurt sauce can also be used as a salad dressing.


Salmon Pie With Yogurt Dill Sauce, served with a Tomato Salad

Pie Crust

  • 150g Flour
  • 50g Cubed cold butter
  • 1 Egg

Very simply – Rub butter into flour. Mix in egg. Roll out and refrigerate until ready to use.

piecrust

Pie Crust, with some optional Parmesan cheese.

Pie Filling

  • Salmon
  • Finely chopped garlic, turmeric and dill (I’ve found turmeric to be a really good flavor companion to dill.)
  • Black pepper
  • Diced onions and capsicums

Marinade the salmon in the garlic, turmeric, dill and black pepper.

Rub marinade all over the salmon!

Rub marinade all over the salmon!

Cube the marinated salmon.
Lay the filling in the pie crust.
Bake at 180 Degree Celcius for about 30 minutes.

Pie filling all laid out and ready for the oven.

Pie filling all laid out and ready for the oven.

Yogurt Sauce

  • Yogurt, dill, lemon zest and a little juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Yes, it’s that simple.

Before

Before.

After. Simple Enough.

After. Simple Enough.

Tomato Salad

    • Tomatoes, basil, lettuce, olives and oregano cut into manageable pieces
    • Minced garlic
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients together and season to taste.

Onions, olives, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, garlic, oregano.

Onions, olives, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, garlic, oregano.

Here’s what the finished pie and salad look like:

Salmon Pie with onions and capsicums, and some dill yogurt sauce drizzled over the top.

Salmon Pie with onions and capsicums, and some dill yogurt sauce drizzled over the top.

saladmixed

Tomato Basil Salad!

Delish!

Here’s some “bonus content” of sorts.

Another way of using the herbs in the garden. This is bottle of dill infused olive oil that we made using some of the dill that we had brought home after trimming the plants at the garden. It can be used for frying, or to finish soups and salads. Gives a dill-y aftertaste to the dish. Very nice.

Dill Infused Olive Oil

Dill Infused Olive Oil

So yes! Go forth, be inspired to use the edibles in the garden!