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Indispensable Books and Resources
  • Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    by Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    by Eliot Coleman
  • The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    by Gary F. Zimmer
  • The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    by Barbara Damrosch
  • 1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    Organic Insect Control
  • Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.

    The best farming and growing magazine money can buy!

  • Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks
    Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks

    2" Soil Blocker

  • Mini Soil Blocker
    Mini Soil Blocker
  • New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    by Emily Brooks
  • What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    by Tasneem Bhatia, Editors of Prevention







Short journal entries detailing the nuts and bolts of our ventures in growing food at our micro-farm

Entries in camp hill farm (2)


Keeping the Tradition: The Chinese Tamale

A melting pot of cultures is a great thing.  Growing up, living near, and working in New York City affords the adventurous food eater many opportunities to dine like they live in other countries.  However ethnically diverse an area may be, there are the little things that make home-cooked foods and family traditions still difficult to find and experience.  Sure, I like to taste every ethnic food available to me, but there are still many things that just don’t make it to the menu.  There are two specific food traditions that have been handed down in my Chinese family: “fon saw,” a pork filled dumpling encased in a doughy rice-based flour that is like no other you’ve ever tasted and “Joong” a Chinese version of the tamale.  You can find forms of these in Chinatown but I’ve never purchased one that tastes as good as the recipe that was handed down in my family.

As my aunts are aging, I have decided to make sure that I am as adept at making these delicious treats so that I may continue the tradition for many more years.  I’m going to document the recipe for the Chinese tamale called “Joong” from start to finish.  Like most Chinese things, this food has a fantastical story to it.  In 278 BC, Chinese scholar and poet Qu Yuan, a  favored minister of the people but unpopular with the ruling regime, drowned himself out of despair because of accusations of conspiracy and wrongdoing by his prior sovereign.  He was so beloved by the people that in order for the fish to spare his body, they threw joong into the river so that the fish would eat the tamales and not Qu Yuan.

Making joong is an undertaking that starts 30 days before by salt-preserving duck eggs.  Amazingly, even in Manhattan, it was extraordinarily difficult to find duck eggs even at all the upscale foodie markets.  I didn’t want to go to Chinatown for these - who knows, they could have been made with melamine.  Instead, we got a dozen eggs from our friends Dan and Larry at By Pond Farm in NJ and the other dozen from John and Alex at Camp Hill Farm in Pomona, NY.


2 dozen eggs
2 1/2 cup kosher salt
7 Tbs white wine
3 tsp peppercorns
14 cups water

Using a large vessel with a tight lid, add water and salt and mix until dissolved.  Add the wine, peppercorns and carefully add all the eggs.  Seal the container and let sit in a cool location out of direct light for 30 days.  Drain and eggs are ready to use.  For this recipe, you will want to use only the yolks.  Look how gorgeous they came out.

Looks like salmon roe. These came out so beautifully.


You want to make this traditional food in large quantities both to share with family or to freeze and enjoy in the coming winter months.  This is not a recipe that is easy and there is definite technique to the wrapping portion but once you get it, it’s easy to make.  The effort is well worth it.  It is a carbohydrate dense meal packet that is satisfying and takes little time to defrost and prepare once it is made.  There is flexibility to this meal and ingredients can be added or taken away based on preference.

Makes 50-60


24-36 duck eggs done salt preserved 1 month in advance.  See first recipe.  The day of assembly, separate whites from the yolk and use only the yolk.  They should look like large salmon eggs, congealed.  Cut into quarters or halves depending on your preference.

2 packages of dried bamboo leaves submerged and soaked overnight

5-7 lbs Sweet Rice soaked for 30 minutes and drained.  Add 2TBs sea salt and mix throughly. Set aside.

3-4 lbs split mung beans, soaked for 30 minutes, drained.  Add 1 Tbs sea salt and mix throughly.  Set aside.

1-1.5 lbs Chinese sausage “lap cheong”, steamed, skin removed and cut into 1/2” diagonal strips. Don’t get the lean variety.

3.5 lbs pork shoulder roast (or pork butt) cut into 3/4” pieces and salted overnight.  My pork was from White Thunder Organics.

1 lb Dried Shrimp soaked for 30 minutes and drained

1 lb raw peeled peanutsChinese sausage: "lap cheong" - so good!

2 lbs chestnuts, frozen, steamed and drained

Bakery twine


Soak bamboo leaves in a large basin for at least 24 hours.  You will need a few pots or bowls filled with water to weigh down leaves so they are completely submerged.


Soak and steam all necessary ingredients and have them “mise en place” for assembly.


2. For assembly see this video

on how to layer, fill, fold, wrap and tie the tamale.  You will need 4 bamboo leaves for each Joong.

The starting point in ensuring the tamale is securely wrapped. Overlap leaves like above.


Have several large stockpots 3/4 full of water ready.  Bring to boil and place joong in the pots enough to submerge them in the water.  Bring back to boil then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 4 hours.

4. Remove joong, cut twine, discard leaves and ENJOY!  The rest can be easily frozen for 6+ months.  To defrost, steam for 25-30 minutes.

Comfort food Chinese style


This recipe was from my Aunt Betty and it is in memory of my Uncle Wing.



The Celebrity Carnivore "Meats" Hook Mountain Growers in the Hudson Valley

Scenic Hudson River and the Bear Mountain BridgeWhat a whirlwind of events this past weekend.  Because of a meeting arranged by best HMG friend Anne H. with her nephew Michael from South Dakota, we were asked to partake in a lower Hudson Valley local food gathering with Anthony Bourdain, host of the reality food show No Reservations.  And because of an interesting set of connections, Michael and his brother-in-law Cody, visiting from Alaska, both gifted in skinning and grilling wild game and other animal meats, were asked to prepare local goat and venison for Anthony Bourdain as he made his way up the Hudson Valley on a boat.  We were asked to join the festivities and bring along some local Hudson Valley vegetables along with Camp Hill Farm.  Hook Mountain Growers not only brought a beautiful bounty of vegetables to show, but prepared the night's side-dishes from our homestead to feed 20 people including Anthony and the show's staff, the boat's crew, and the few others involved in assembling this laid-back but momentous night.  The two of us had less than 48 hours to prepare, squeeze fours hours of seeing patients in our medical offices that morning, and fly home to harvest and prep the vegetables and cook the meal and transport it 30 minutes north of our kitchen.  Somewhere in between, we had to water and care for the farm which is not an inconsequential chore.  May seem like a lot of time considering cooks on Top Chef are able to produce a first course meal from 3 ingredients in 40 minutes.  Remember, we're medical doctors by day, farmers by night and food fanatics during all hours.

I first became aquainted with Anthony Bourdain after reading his first tell-all book, Kitchen Confidential (2000) followed by A Cook's Tour (2001).  Bourdain's sarcastic humor and cocky insouciance made me a fan from the start.  The rare times we do watch television, we usually like to view programs about food, culture and cooking (OK, and Heroes too) and Bourdain's show No Reservations tops our list.  As Bourdain explores almost every corner of the world he quickly becomes part of the local scene whether it be in Laos or in the home of a Hindu family in Queens, New York.  His ability to listen to and easily bond with people enables them to open up to him and his devil's advocate questioning always bring intelligent conversation to the table.  When we met Bourdain, he was the man you see on screen; there was no offCody and Charlie with local goat-screen persona or ego.  You get what you see, which is a New Yorker's charm.

On the food end, Cody and Michael procured the goat the night before, slaughtered and disemboweled the goat that afternoon and hung it on a tree in preparation for the skinning.  A large grill pit was started with washed up pieces of oak from the shores of the Hudson River. The Bear Mountain Bridge was in the background and combined with the crisp sunny weather set the stage for an incredible evening.  It's hard to imagine that such a well put together show, one that won an emmy for cinematography, was so quickly and almost haphazardly put together. Whatever my concerns, the evening turned out to be a laid-back scenic event that made you feel like you were at a friend's BBQ on the beach.  Pam and Michael at the grill with film crew

Pam, Anthony and JoanieWhile the goat was being prepped, the only thing to munch on was the green and purple roasted tomatillo salsa I made and watching Bourdain go back again and again to sample more made me feel like an Italian grandmother watching her family heartily eat and enjoy her cooking.  At one point, after repeating dippings into the salsa, Bourdain called it "irresitible." 

As serving time came along, I was ready to start grilling the Adirondack blue and Nicola white Potatoes I pre-roasted at home.  The idea is to make the potatoes crispy as I had done in the past with the recipe.  This grill pit was a bit challenging.  It was a rectangular area of cinderblocks with what looked like a subway grate on top and wood slowly burning and smoking underneath.  The result wasn't crispy as I had hoped but instead, it became deliciously smoky.  Once done, I added it to a pan with red currant and sungold cherry tomatoes,  blanched green beans and tossed with a basil-garlic vinaigrette. Is there anything more beautiful? Yes, my new French Bulldog pup, Henry Hudson


The other dish we served was a braised rainbow swiss chard with garlic, anchovies and parmesean all made by my sous chef farmer Charlie before leaving home.  It was simply heated on top of the grill and served right out of the pot.  Bourdain was seen tearing off bread we brought from Amy's Bread in Chelsea Market, dipping in the chard and throwing his head back in delight.


When we finally sat down, as Bourdain often does with a local family at the end of each episode, we were asked to join his table.  While everyone was getting settled and the goat meat gathered, one of the boat crew members injured his eye when a top flew off unexpectly from some locally-brewed beer lacerating his conjunctiva and causing some mild blood loss.  Luckily they had us, 2 docs on the scene for a medical evaluation.  Thankfully, there was nothing serious. 

Closest I could get to professional culinary instructiSo in addition to providing the only non-meat items on the menu, we were pretty handy medically as well!  As the cameras tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible while filming our conversations, Bourdain made the comment down the table to me that usually he doesn't really get excited about vegetables but he was sure digging ours.  Ahh, maybe this is the start of my culinary second career...

Anthony Bourdain unable to resist the salsa verde; Anne sitting

 Grilled New Potatoes with Summer Beans and Tomatoes

As the conversation got underway, Bourdain played his usual devil's advocate stance, teasing out the issues at hand and making the topics much more complex and interesting.  The talk that night was about Hudson Valley food and eating locally and what it all means.  Alexandra Spadea of Camp Hill Farm and one of the founders of the Rockland Farm Alliance spoke of the importance of preserving farmland -- RFA's mission.  Bourdain asked, what is local Hudson Valley food?  I think the term "local" no longer implies the particular area's known crop like Idaho is potatoes and Ohio is corn nor is it a set of specific foods that make up a particular cuisine, like Mediteranean fare which is fish, olive oil, tomatoes etc.  I think it's whatever it is that you can grow in the particular climate or zone.  For example, the lower Hudson Valley of New York is at the same latitude as southern Italy, so in terms of sunlight strength, we have similar growing conditions.  At HMG, we grow whatever we like to eat (except sub/tropical veggies and fruits).  To me, growing Hudson Valley food means the usual varietals of tomatoes, bell peppers, beans etc and their unusual heirloom varieties but the more esoteric vegetables as well: Chinese bitter melon (see earlier blog entry), Vietnamese fava beans, puntarelle, and lemongrass.  Bourdain also broached the topic of accessibility and palatability of local fresh fare to people who were raised on cheap meat and include iceberg lettuce as their entire day's vegetables intake.  I think it's a really valid point.  In my last journal entry on eating local pasture-raised beef and the evils of the factory farm, I advocated a few things like paying more for quality meat from small farms and eating less of it to compensate the expense of doing so.  Sounds like good advice especially if it creates less disease and illness saving untold millions in health care costs.  Bourdain brought up a legitimate point: How do you convince the person who has eaten cheap meat all their life to suddenly change their eating routine.  Or, how do you asking the working mother or father to come home after a long day of work and a possible long commute and cook up a meal when fast food options are so quick, cheap and easy.  I agree that this is a hard sell but it starts with education and creating an awareness of actions and consequences.  This is something that we see time and time again in our medical practices.  How do you help someone who is obese, comes from a long family history of diabetes and heart disease, to finally make choices that are not easy.  To lose weight.  To stop drinking soda.  The family unit has changed so dramatically over the last few decades.  Where we used to rely on our extended family for help, we are more and more isolated thus making tasks like cooking a low priority.  I grew up with a grandmother who lived at home with us while both of my parents worked full time jobs.  She cared for my brother and I and shopped, grew and prepared all of the food for our family.  But my brother and I were crucial in the household as well; there were chores.  I helped peel vegetables.  My brother fertilized the garden (See blog entry "Origins").  The household today doesn't have a grandma typically so closely involved in the daily cooking and children's activities consist of internet browsing and computer games, 5 different afterschool activities and TV.  Families may have to look to the past to be able to make the necessary changes we desperately need.  I'm glad Bourdain brought these points up because these are the questions that will need to be answered before we are able to become a healthier, more responsible nation.



Serves 2-3

1 bunch Swiss Chard
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3-4 anchovy fillets
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare chard by removing the stems or ribs from the leaves and cutting them into 2” ribbons.  Chop stems to 1/2-3/4” size and reserve.  
Heat olive oil in pan and saute garlic in oil for 30-45 seconds, do not brown.  Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add anchovies to hot oil and stir until they break down.  Add chard stems and cook for about 5 minutes, then add leaves and cook until tender (about 5-8 minutes).
Remove from heat and add in garlic, lemon juice and parmesan.  Stir to combine and serve warm.

Adapted from Gourmet July 2009