Archive | Spring 2010

A Bowl of steaming Juk

By Su (mother) and Mia (daughter) Buchignani “Wow! This completely reminds me of something my mom would have made in her crockpot. It makes me feel like home.”—Melissa

A standard breakfast in our household was a big bowl of steaming juk. This rice porridge, which is also known as jook, hsi-fan, congee, or zhou, is made of white rice, often with the addition of glutinous (sticky) rice. It’s simmered for several hours until the rice grains break down and the porridge becomes smooth as silk.

Mia: My preferred accoutrement to dip in the porridge was you tiao, a long, golden-brown strip of deep-fried dough. To understand this savory fried donut, think Chinese churro without the sugar or the crimping. Sometimes you
tiao is served with hot soybean milk, but traditionally, it has been used for dipping and wiping up the morning juk before going off to work in the fields.
Every household has its own traditions regarding what is eaten with juk. Some are quite strict purists where others adopt an ‘anything-goes’ approach, using the juk as an extender for whatever can be found around the kitchen. Common accompaniments are pork, chicken, or abalone, as well as various vegetarian “mock meats”; salted or preserved duck eggs; bamboo shoots; and pickled tofu.… Read More

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Festive Dumplings

Adapted from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
by Patricia Tanumihardja

This dessert is eaten during festivals and celebrations, including weddings and Chinese New Year, and is symbolic of
family unity and harmony. Happy Year of the Tiger!

2 cups glutinous rice flour, (such as Koda Farms Mochiko Blue Star
Brand Sweet Rice Flour), plus more for dusting
⅓ to ½ cup cold water
¼ cup brown sugar
Ginger Syrup (recipe follows)

Put the rice flour in a mixing bowl. Gradually add water and mix until the dough is stiff and no longer sticks to your fingers. Keep in mind that the dough won’t be as pliable as dough made with all-purpose flour. Cover the dough with a damp cloth as you work, since it dries out very quickly.

Dust a large plate with rice flour and glove your hands with flour. Pinch off a walnut-size piece of dough (about ¾ inch across) and flatten into a circle about 2 inches in diameter. Cup the dough in your palm and place ⅛ teaspoon brown sugar in the center. Pinch the edges together to fully enclose the sugar and then roll into a 1-inch ball. Place the dumpling on the plate. Repeat with the remaining dough and sugar.… Read More

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Yuba Rolls with Koda Kokuho Rose Rice

From Hodo Soy Beanery, 510.464.2977,

Hodo is one of a very few producers in the U.S. of yuba, the tender “skin” that forms on the top of heated soymilk. The skin is pulled off the vats in sheets, and these can then be used in various ways in your kitchen. Shredded, they are great in stir-fries or salads, and they can also be cut in the form of noodles and fried or used as a wrap, both of which are done in the following recipe.

1 cup Koda Kokuho Rose rice
(white or brown)
2 cups water
4 sheets fresh Hodo Soy yuba
1 small jicama root, julienned
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce or

Cook rice with water in a steam rice cooker or on the stovetop. Finished rice should be a bit moist.

Cut 1 sheet of fresh yuba into thin strips. Stir-fry jicama strips in olive oil until they sweat (4–5 minutes). Add soy
sauce. Add strips of fresh yuba and stir-fry until yuba is slightly brown (4–5 minutes)

Unroll remaining yuba sheets one at a time onto a 6 x 8-inch sushi mat. Spread cooked rice and then spread stir-fried jicama and yuba strips onto the yuba.… Read More

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Properly Cooked Brown Rice

Excerpted from THE COMPLETE TASSAJARA COOKBOOK by Edward Espe Brown, © 2009. Published by
arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston.

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or oil

Rinse and drain the rice, then soak it in the water for 1 hour (optional). Put both rice and water into a heavy saucepan.

Add salt and butter and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cover the pot with
a tight-fitting lid. Cook the rice for 45 minutes undisturbed.

Watch TV, prepare other dishes for dinner, or do your yoga asanas, but don’t look at the pot. The rice needs seclusion to turn out properly. To tell when it’s done just listen to the pot: no more bubbling, but a subtle yet distinct crackling or popping sound. The rice on the bottom is becoming toasted. Leave the pot tightly covered. Just before serving, gently fluff the grains with a fork.

If properly cooked and properly eaten (100 chews per mouthful), the brown rice will properly become you.

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Stir-Fried Beef with Mustard Greens

Adapted from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
by Patricia Tanumihardja

1 pound flank steak or top sirloin
1 plump stalk lemongrass trimmed, bruised, and halved crosswise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut lengthwise into 6 slices
1½ teaspoons salt
8 ounces Asian mustard greens, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
(6 to 7 cups)
1 teaspoon sugar

Handle the beef partially frozen so that it is easier to cut (if it’s fresh, place in the freezer for about 30 minutes). Cut the beef along the grain into 1½-inch-thick strips. With your knife at an angle almost parallel to the cutting surface, slice the meat diagonally across the grain into ⅛-inch-thick slices. Then cut into about ⅛-inch slivers.

Preheat a large wok or skillet over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the beef, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and salt. Stir-fry until the beef just loses its blush, 1 to 2 minutes. The beef will release its own juices that prevent it from sticking to the pan.

Add the mustard green stems and the sugar. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, then add the leaves and stir-fry until the vegetables are tender and bright green, another minute. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.… Read More

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Clay Pot Lemongrass-Steamed Fish (Pla Nueng Morh Din)

Adapted from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook by Patricia Tanumihardja

Steaming whole fish on a lattice of lemongrass in a clay pot leaves it silky, tender, and imbued with a subtle
citrusy scent. Any white fish with natural fat, such as trout, Pacific cod, or striped bass, would work well in this simple Thai dish from Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen, who learned to make it from her grandmother, Kimsua. Pranee remembers her grandma’s frugal nature: she would only use the discarded outer layers of the lemongrass to line the clay pot for this dish, saving the tender white core for others.

Clay pots are relatively inexpensive and are available in many Asian markets.

You will need a 12- to 14-inch clay pot for this recipe, or you can use a steamer.

¾- to 1-pound whole trout,
head and tail intact,
scaled, gutted, and
4 plump stalks lemongrass, trimmed and bruised
1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
½ cup water, or more as needed

Lay the fish flat on a cutting board. To ensure the fish cooks evenly, use a sharp knife to make 3 or 4
diagonal bone-deep cuts in the skin perpendicular to the backbone about 1 inch apart. Turn the fish
over and repeat.… Read More

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Porcini-braised rabbit with pappardelle, fava beans, and natural broth

This is a recipe that we at Luka’s have used with Jones Family Farm rabbits. It takes advantage of tasty spring ingredients like fava beans. —RM

4 rabbit legs (with thigh pieces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 yellow onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ounce dried porcini
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 pound fava beans, shelled
½ pound pappardelle pasta
½ pound fresh porcini, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
Lemon juice (to taste)

Season rabbit with salt and pepper. Roast on a sheet tray at 375° for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Heat olive oil in a medium braising pot over medium-low heat. Sauté rabbit until golden brown.

Remove rabbit and set aside, and then sauté carrots, celery, onions, and garlic for 5 minutes. Add dried porcini and herbs and then deglaze the pan with the wine. Add rabbit and chicken stock, then bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for about 1 hour or until meat is tender.

Remove meat from the stock. Strain stock, discard vegetables, and reduce stock by a third to intensify flavors.… Read More

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Spring 2010

City Slicker Farms
Taco Grill
Barlovento Chocolates
Blue Bottle Coffee
Merritt College Landscape Horticulture and
Permaculture Design Programs
Beyond “Museum” Gardens
By Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl
Biagio Artisan Meats
By Rick Mitchell
Asian Vegetables
By Barbara Kobsar and Cheryl Koehler
Recipes using Asian vegetables from
The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
By Pat Tanumihardja
Seven Stars of the Season
By Jessica Prentice
with Maggie Gosselin and Sarah Klein
A Family History in Rice
By Elizabeth Linhart Money
A Tale of Dim Sum
By Mia Buchignani and Melissa Schilling
From Farmers Markets to Supermarkets,
Rethinking What We Throw Away
By Rachel Trachten
In Praise of Compost
By Thaddeus Barsotti
Meet the artist:

Artist Shari Arai DeBoer uses watercolor, printmaking and mixed media to evoke visual stories in her fine art and illustration work.
While plant life, everyday objects, and personal stories inspire much of her fine art, she also finds great satisfaction in interpreting other people’s concepts in her illustration work.

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In Praise of Compost
By Thaddeus Barsotti


In my early days of farming I went through a phase of harvesting crops and immediately planting new ones without amending the soil. The results were decreasing yields and declining crop health. It was a good lesson, and helped me understand that the true challenge of organic farming is to find a sustainable method for giving the ground what it needs to produce the crops that feed our people. What comes out of the ground in the form of fruits and vegetables ultimately must go back into the ground.


One of the most important elements required to grow healthy crops is nitrogen, so this is the basis of my farm’s fertility program. Organic farms are only permitted to apply materials that occur in nature; anything that has been chemically altered from its original form is not permitted. This rule eliminates synthetic nitrogen from use on organic farms, leaving compost, properly composted animal manures, products derived from ground fish or seaweed, and processed animal byproducts like chicken feathers as acceptable fertilizers.  I don’t enjoy using the animal byproducts, and so I rely mostly on composted food scraps. This compost originates from your green waste, and compostable items from food-service industries.… Read More

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The Road to Zero


From Farmers Markets to Supermarkets,
Rethinking What We Throw Away
by Rachel Trachten


Covered from head to toe in plastic bags, a hideous creature lumbers slowly through the farmers market in Jack London Square. The monster stops to chat with shoppers, complimenting them on their reusable bags or asking why they haven’t brought any. The creature likes to mention that the costume represents the average number of plastic bags-500-that most people use in a year.


Discarded plastics typically end up in landfill or oceans, contributing to modern horrors like the estimated 100,000 marine mammals that die each year trapped or sickened by the plastic litter, or the mountain of debris-twice the size of Texas-floating in the Pacific Ocean. The man who first came upon this trash heap, Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, summed the problem up succinctly: “We’ve created a throwaway society.”


Consumption as a Way of Life


Such shortsighted practices were not always the American way. During World War II, for example, not only were food items strictly rationed, but the government also urged Americans to conserve and recycle every scrap of rubber, metal, and paper. At the end of the war, when manufacturers needed a way to keep the economy strong during peacetime, they turned to disposable products and planned obsolescence.… Read More

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