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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The First Harvest From Austin

I am happy to announce that the first produce has been harvested (and consumed) from the Austin yard.

It is so gratifying for me to be able to go outside, pick stuff, then bring it into the house and prepare a meal. What is especially delightful about this first harvest is that I've grown things I've never grown before, and prepared a recipe I've only enjoyed in a restaurant. A first-first-first! Wow.

Many of you know that Ed and I are nuts about Asian food (and Asians, you know who you are.) I am especially fond of hot and sour soup. There was a restaurant in Portland across the street from where I worked at Far West that had a really cheap lunch special featuring the soup. It was so hot that it made me sweat - but the flavor, oh the flavor. Unfortunately Mr Chens closed and I have never been able to find another hot and sour that was as good.

That is, until I moved to Austin. There is an Asian restaurant just a few blocks from our house. It is run by a really nice couple with the most adorable 1 year old twin girls. They serve mostly Japanese and Thai food plus the husband is an amazing sushi chef. I ordered the hot and sour soup the first time I went there and fell in love. It's the Thai version with that amazing lime flavor. It is because of that soup that I snatched up my kaffir lime tree when I saw it in the nursery, and then later added some key limes. I've put those trees on my bricked in patio where they get lots of heat and won't get frost bitten this winter. I also added lemon grass to my herb garden.

I've been noticing that I had two limes that appeared to be ripe. I surfed the net and found this recipe, and it seemed to have the same ingredients as the soup I enjoy at the restaurant. We stopped by the local Asian market while out doing errands today and got a really great deal on shrimp ($2.99 a pound!) Suddenly I was in the soup business.

I went out to the back patio and harvested two of the limes. (I wore my tropical shirt for the full effect.) I snipped off two leaves from my kaffir lime (which is grown only for it's leaves - when you crush them in your hands it almost makes your eyes water.) I have two key lime trees to produce fruit for me and grabbed two little globes that looked ripe.

After that I ran out into the rain and cut off some lemon grass. It was great to be able to harvest the stalks and then trim them into the compost bin. Suddenly my life became normal again after all this change we have been through since moving from Oregon in March.

The soup was easy to make. The scent from the chopped up lemon grass was amazing. I've never had any that I bought at the store smell nearly as good.
My key limes were juicy and easy to squeeze - again, much better than anything I've bought. The house took on a wonderful aroma as the soup was simmering.

The shrimp was thrown in at the end and cooked until pink. I ladled the hot mixture over chopped cilantro to serve. The recipe makes four helpings but Ed and I managed to clean out the pot. Gluttony is a terrible thing but I think we'll just overlook it this time. It is so great to eat out of the yard again -- surely that allows for a little indulgence?

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