Rare and Unusual:  Rau Ram – Vietnamese Coriander Summer Salsa Recipe

Rare and Unusual: Rau Ram – Vietnamese Coriander Summer Salsa Recipe

The Growers Exchange prides itself on our large and diverse offerings of plants; we are now selling over 175 different types of herbs and we are adding more each season! In addition to our ‘usual suspects’ we are known as a source for the more hard to find herbs, the rare and unusual. We love introducing our customers to these plants, as you will not find them in your big box garden centers, but they are a must have for gardeners that appreciate and support the broader offerings of the world of herbs.

An herb that we have grown for years, Vietnamese Coriander has been growing in popularity along with our exposure to and demand for more unusual foods from around the world. Also known as Rau Ram, this herb is well known in Vietnamese cooking. Often pronounced as ‘zow-zam’, it is used as a cilantro substitute ~ sort of a ‘citrusy cousin’! The taste is quite similar, but we find it to be more lemony, more peppery with a bit more punch! Actually, it is well known throughout Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, the plant is known as laksa and often served there as a condiment, along with basil. (more…)

Create Your Own Herb-Infused Simple Syrup Recipe

Create Your Own Herb-Infused Simple Syrup Recipe

Midsummer is the perfect time to begin using all of those herbs that are at their peak!  Almost any culinary herb that is currently in your garden will work, and the combinations are absolutely endless.

Basically, you are creating a flavored sweetener and how you use it is up to you.  A few of our favorite uses for an herb-infused simple syrup include:

  • Sweetening iced tea, lemonade and coffee
  • Added to any cocktail or mocktail (e.g. The Ultimate Mojito)
  • Drizzled over yogurt or ice cream
  • A substitute in any recipe that calls for water

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No Milkweed, No Monarchs: Why Asclepias Plants Are So Very Important!

No Milkweed, No Monarchs: Why Asclepias Plants Are So Very Important!

Although it won’t be official until mid-March, when the Mexican government releases the winter’s population count, ‘unofficial’ reports are anticipating a rather small migrating population. These unofficial reports are coming from the El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico (see video example from 2016 at the end of this post); a site that can sometimes be the winter home for over 50% of the entire monarch population in Mexico. Reports and photos show butterflies densely covering approximately 18 trees. That’s good news, but last year, reports were that 50 trees were covered.

That’s not good news, but it is a call to action: PLANT MORE MILKWEED!

We’ve written a lot about pollinators, monarchs, and natives. We think that they are really important, so forgive any redundancy! A few things to keep in mind:

  • All Milkweed plants are Asclepias
  • Milkweed is the required host plant for monarch butterflies
  • Any loss in the population of milkweed means the loss of the monarch population
  • We are losing both at an alarming rate
  • The biggest threats come from urban development and agricultural intensification

(more…)

The New World: Medicinal Herbs in Colonial Times

The New World: Medicinal Herbs in Colonial Times

As much as I love growing herbs, I really love talking about them.  And, believe it or not, I get lots of nice invitations from lots of nice folks who don’t mind listening to me ramble for an hour or two.  My last show was for a group of truly dedicated gardeners at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden.  So, if you remember your American history classes, right around my farm is the birthplace of our nation.  Jamestown!  We even have a little competition going on about the site of the first Thanksgiving;  in theses parts, we claim it was at Berkeley Plantation, a mere 20 miles down the road.  But, I digress…

Bottom line: if you are speaking to a group of gardeners in Williamsburg, you better be prepared to toss in a bit of history so here goes;  as the early settlers began to colonize these shores, herbs were among the most important cargo.  Herbs for healing, herbs to improve the flavor a what would be considered a very bland diet, and herbs to disguise the smells that were a part of poor sanitation as well as spoilage.  Herbs were vital to the establishment of a thriving colony. (more…)

Lavender & Calendula Healing Salve

Lavender & Calendula Healing Salve

Whether you are suffering the effects of this current Arctic Blast or wintering is South Florida (lucky you), most of us are feeling the effects of winter on our skin.  Dry, chafing, itchy skin that looks nothing like those hand models on TV.  Here is a quick and easy way to use herbs to relieve and revive, as well as use those herbs that you grew all spring and summer.  If you don’t have any on hand, a quick trip to the your local health food store may provide all you need! (more…)

Savory Beef Stew

Savory Beef Stew

There is nothing better on a cold winter night than to light a fire, open a bottle of a nice deep, dark red wine, slice up a warm loaf of crusty bread and dip into a hearty bowl of Savory Beef Stew.

A few words before you begin:

Start Early – although it is possible to overcook this stew, I’d count on at least 2 ½ hours to make sure that your beef gets to that ‘shredded stage’.  I’m using our own grass fed beef with not a lot of fat, so slow and low simmering works best for me.

The Right Pot – use a good old fashioned Dutch Oven or treat yourself to a Le Creuset Casserole.  Honestly, I got mine at a deep discount at Home Goods and it’s gotten more use than my car!

Herbs herbs and more herbs – fresh is best, but if you are cooking this in the deep dark days of winter and the garden is a memory, used dried.  I can’t stand to see folks waste their good $4 on a clamshell of half dead ‘fresh herbs’! (more…)