Friday, April 28, 2006
Will work for vegan food!
California has a good weather to grow lemon grass . I started my plant with one stalk that had a root on it and planted the whole thing in the ground. Then, I just wait for it to grow. I don't even water it by hand since we have an automated sprinkler system. It just keep growing and growing for all seasons, year after year.
The best use of it is for cooking Thai, Indonesian, or Vietnamese dishes. I usually just walk out to my backyard with a knife while putting on a plastic glove over one hand. I used my gloved hand to grab one or two stalks and use the other hand to cut the stalks near the root. It is that easy to get fresh lemon grass for my cooking.
Last weekend, I decided to trim down my lemon grass bush since it is overgrown. I dreaded this job because it is not a simple task and takes a long time. It is different than just cutting a stalk or two for cooking use. I needed to pull some of the plants from the root until the bush is thin enough to propagate again. Unlike, harvesting tomatoes, zuchinni, asparagus, or other vegetables, this one needs digging, pulling, cleaning, and cutting the top leaves off. Fortunately, we had a heavy rain the night before. So the digging and pulling was easy since the soil was wet and soft. The hard part was separating the stalks, cutting the top leaves off, and cleaning them. The weather was nice last Sunday. It was not too hot and not too cold.
It took me about 3 hours to do this work. The result was great. I had about 66-70 lemon grass stalks. So now, what do you do with so many lemon grass stalks? In the past, I gave some to friends and vegetarian Vietnamese restaurants. The Vietnamese restaurant really uses a lot of lemon grass. For the restaurant, in return, we received a free dinner for two. We decided to give them all to the vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant this time as we did in the past in exchange for dinner that night. I felt great that I was able to work for food....so I thought.
Unfortunately, the vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant was not cooperating this time, not like they were used to. They didn't want to give us free dinner for two in exchange. They wanted to exchange it with a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup that costs only $5.50. I was appalled and thought that it was not a fair exchange. The amount of lemon grass stalks I brought filled up the whole brown supermarket bag. For about 70 stalks of fresh lemon grass, I don't think you can buy it for $5.50. The lady in the restaurant said that she buys them wholesale so she can get them very cheap. After bargaining with her, she agreed to give us 50% off of our dinner bill. My husband and I usually spend US$20-$28 when we eat there. That night our bill was US$26 so we only paid $13 for our dinner. DH said that next time we just give the lemon grass to friends and pay for the dinner or the bowl of noodle soup. It wasn't worth the effort!