Fresh Organic Tempeh and Tofu for our Bangkok Fans

Fresh Organic Tempeh and Tofu for our Bangkok Fans

During the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have been exploring new ways to engage our supporters, and fundraise for our work. Previously, our in-person classes where our sole method of generating interest in our work. However, like many other businesses, we have been scrambling to do more online and reduce the face to face nature of our interactions. Now we host online classes to help you master Thai food, but have also been making efforts to sell food products locally. The most important of these projects has been the production of plant based protein foods, tofu and tempeh.

Lately when you see the term plant based protein mentioned, the reference is usually to efforts by food scientists to make fake meat. Many of these imitation meats have even become popular globally, attempting to lure both vegans and vegetarians, as well as their healthy eating friends. However, while the popular wisdom is go high tech, we’re going the opposite direction. Instead of helping to create highly processed imitation meat, we’re leaning into the lightly processed Asian traditions of tofu and tempeh. We’re confident these products made with organic soybeans, can encourage people to reduce their meat consumption, which is better for our bodies and the environment.

The gamble we’re taking is hoping our customers will recognize the value and craft necessary to make homemade tofu and tempeh. Often these are products that can be easily misunderstood. Both are soy products, and while tofu is very well known, tempeh is still a new item in many markets. Tofu is the cooked, squeezed, and coagulated soybeans that we press into blocks. Those blocks can be sold and sliced down to be pan fried or used in stir fries and other dishes in place of meat.

Hand crafted tofu made from Thailand’s organic soy beans.

While tempeh is made from the same beans and used similarly, the Indonesian creation has many of its own characteristics. For starters, the product requires you to ferment the soybeans before cooking them. Then the beans are dried and packed for a second, but more controlled fermentation. During this process, the bacteria added to the beans grow, attaching and connecting each of the beans. The result is firm patty of edible mold and beans. Despite how that sounds, you might be pleasantly surprised how tasty tempeh can be when properly cooked!

Since tempeh doesn’t enjoy the popularity of tofu, there is a learning curve to cooking it the first time. Tempeh can then be sliced and roasted, chopped, stir fried or stewed. The unique structure of tempeh, helps it to hold its shape when cooking, and gives it a toothsome bite (more similar to a meat product than tofu) when eating. Furthermore, the process of making tempeh, makes the nutrients in the beans more bioavailable, resulting in a healthy, probiotic, and protein rich source of nutrition.

Tip: Slice your tempeh thin before cooking and using as a meat substitute.

We suggest new customers to slice their tempeh thin, and to start out by substituting it for meat in a few of your most flavor-packed dishes. For example, given the right amount of time to soak up flavor, tempeh makes and excellent substitution in Thailand’s coconut milk curries. Alternatively, you can take sliced tempeh, season it, and oven roast until crispy. The resulting tempeh bites can be eaten as a snack, or added as a crispy ingredient in other dishes (salads, stir fries, and sandwiches for example).

Besides saving you time in the kitchen, our tofu and tempeh products are also made from organic soy beans. Like many places around the world, soy in Thailand is a cash crop, making it difficult to source organic beans. We work with small Thai farms, especially in Northern Thailand, to source the beans, giving us an opportunity to support organic farmers. This is important because these farmers can often be priced out of local markets by the glut of GMO soybeans and mass produced soy products prevalent in most stores.

Spicy tempeh pad krakow (Thai basil stir fry with tempeh)
Mixed soybean tempeh with Thai Choo Chee curry

We hope everyone is striving to eat better during this stressful time. One way is to add tofu or tempeh to your diet, and make an effort to consume less meat. We should also do what we can to support our farmers, and strengthen the food ecosystems feeding our communities during crises.

We’re so proud to be providing these products, so look out for them as options in your CSA boxes from Bolan Restaurant and Farmtastic. Soon you will be able to add them as a vegetarian option to your orders with Sloane’s as well. So please be on the lookout for them!

7 Tips to Stay Safe As Covid-19 Quarantine Ends

7 Tips to Stay Safe As Covid-19 Quarantine Ends

Hey friends around the world, we hope you are healthy and getting back to ‘normal’ where-ever you are. The new normal, however, is being honest about the challenges we’re facing during the covid-19 epidemic and sharing high quality advice whenever possible. Whatever stage of lock down or quarantine your country is in, here are some tips to help you stay safe.

1) Don’t neglect the basics.

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash hands
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid activities causing unnecessary exposure
  • Limit interaction with people at risk
  • Remember you can spread the virus without being sick
  • Exercise and eat healthy

We’ve got songs for washing our hands now. Masks are becoming more readily available, and you’ve learned to keep hand sanitizer with you wherever you go. During this time we have even seen people going to extremes by wearing hazmats suits in grocery stores. This is evidence that we are learning to be better together, but we shouldn’t let our guard down as we return to work, school, and other activities. Please keep your hygiene practices up to maintain the basic level of protection for everyone.

Distributing reusable masks by going door to door in vulnerable communities.

Our organization Courageous Kitchen has been helping refugee communities with soap, reusable masks, and information to prevent the spread of the disease here in Bangkok, Thailand.

2) Avoid Confined Spaces

Many of us have to interact with others during this period for crisis response, work, and other necessities. When possible avoid confined spaces, especially where air can be trapped or is unfiltered. Although many places have restricted gathering in public parks, take advantage of any outdoor or open air areas which can allow people to meet while facilitating social distancing.

For example, instead of distributing aid to people in need in groups, we bring the items door to door. Of course this is more work, but we have to adapt to the challenges of doing aid under such conditions. Aid organizations, governments, and volunteers have a responsibility to provide aid safely, while ensuring efforts to help are not unintentionally spreading the disease to vulnerable groups.

3) Briefly Journal Interactions

One quick tip you can employ right at this moment is to begin journaling your interactions. In the face of disease that can be transmitted without symptoms we have to take new precautions and this is a simple, free task most anyone can perform.

“Until a vaccine is available, the more we return to normal, the greater our responsibility to society becomes.”

  • Did you meet anyone unexpectedly today?
  • Were you in close proximity to that person?
  • Did you cough more than normal today or experience any other symptoms?
  • Did you go somewhere high risk? Or interact with someone who may become sick easily?

Make a note on your phone or in a notebook of symptoms, interactions, and abnormal risk. Hopefully, you will never need to use this information, but in an emergency, this tiny task can quickly become invaluable to you and your family.

Finally, as soon as I begin showing symptoms of any infection, remember you are responsible for notifying people you may have exposed. This is a big, scary task. Having a journal of interactions, including brief occurrences will help us notify people more quickly of their exposure, and may even help us to identify how we became infected.

4) Have A ‘Coming Home’ Routine

Typically doctors, nurses, and medical staff are the ones who shoulder the responsibility of creating daily routines to prevent disease spread. For healthy people who are still working or in the community providing aid, this is now becoming part of our daily life. Thinking ahead to create a routine for arriving home can keep you from bringing infectious germs into your home.

Keep in mind your routine may be unique to you and your circumstances. For some this may be as simple as washing hands and cleaning personal items before coming in the house (keys, mobile phones, and things in your pockets). The proactive activity could happen in your front yard, garage, or some condos and apartment building may provide soap or hand sanitizer in the lobby.

Making these practices a habit can help everyone prevent the spread of the disease to our loved ones.

5) Be Considerate of the Most Vulnerable

Healthy people who have the ability to return to work and leisure activities must also spare concern and consideration for those who may never have any semblance of normal in the coming years. The most vulnerable people are groups such as the elderly, pregnant mothers and newborns, and immunocompromised. However, in this group we need to also consider people who are vulnerable due to their socioeconomic status. This may because of lack of resources, information, or living in crowded conditions where social distancing is made impossible. For example we have seen countries where the disease had been somewhat contained, only to ravage through crowded dorms and detention centers holding migrant workers and refugees.

Courageous Kitchen staff giving instructions on wearing and washing masks (left), and a mom helps her son put on his reusable mask correctly (right).

We have to do our best to be more considerate of those most heavily impacted. For more on this topic, read our list of 10 Ways to Help the Most Vulnerable During this Pandemic.

6) Keep Cautious Friends

Social distancing has changed our lives. We’ve begun doing more via video calls and online communication than we ever thought possible. However, as we return to gathering socially with family and friends, we should maintain a certain level of caution. This includes distancing or limiting interaction with people who don’t maintain the same level of concern about the virus. We have no way of knowing where someone has been, or their level of exposure to possible infection, our best protection is to be cautious or avoid meeting people in the early days of quarantine ending altogether.

“I was at the pharmacy today and someone was having a coughing fit. I know we were supposed to meet tomorrow, but let’s talk online instead to be safe.” – A Responsible Friend

This does not mean we need to publicly shame people who aren’t following guidelines to our liking. However, we do want to limit interaction with people being casual about virus prevention, irresponsible with their hygiene, or spreading misinformation about the disease. To prevent this from causing friction in the workplace, school, and in social groups, don’t wait until face to face meetings to bring up topics about safety.

7) Enjoy Lunch Alone

One of the things we consider being the most social, may put us in danger — our coveted time eating together at our table. Whenever the time to eat comes around, people should be ready to carve out their own personal space. This is important because when eating you may let your guard down by removing masks and gloves, and relaxing social distancing.

When working or in public, try to maintain your distance from others while eating. For those who can, arrange meetings or work tasks in way that you can eat at home or the car. Other suggestions may be packing snacks or quick meals for work, while saving more substantial meals for home.

Until a vaccine is available, the more we return to normal, the greater our responsibility to society becomes. If we understand this, stay compassionate, and plan accordingly we can help save lives together.

Thank you for reading and if you have other great suggestions during these unprecedented times, please share. We hope you are healthy, stay safe, and appreciate your support of Courageous Kitchen.

10 Ways to Help the Most Vulnerable During the Covid-19 Crisis

10 Ways to Help the Most Vulnerable During the Covid-19 Crisis

The world has been engulfed by the current health crisis surrounding the coronavirus, Covid 19. We have seen global travel come to a halt and local businesses closed indefinitely. As a charity fundraising by offering cooking classes in Bangkok, we have also been impacted by the abrupt end to tourism.

The quiet days however, have given us plenty of time to brainstorm how we as an organization can make a difference in the communities we serve in Bangkok. Like a lot of communities around the world there are areas of the city that have all the perfect conditions for rapid spread of the virus, including: poor sanitation, compact and crowded housing, varied language and cultural contexts

Our team going door to door to give away reusable masks, food aid, and preventative info in a refugee community in Bangkok, Thailand.

This has forced us to ask difficult questions about the likelihood of an outbreak in those areas, and hypothesize about our response. Today we want to share a few ideas with you, and invite everyone, whether organizations or individuals, to start thinking strategically about assisting the most vulnerable during this time.

Feel free to adapt and expand these ideas for your locality, and to share them with others. We encourage everyone to give to organizations helping this fight, and don’t forget you can make calls and advocate online from the safety of your home.

1) Free Testing and Treatment

The easiest way to help vulnerable people is to make sure they have access to testing and treatment freely. This should happen regardless of people’s ability to pay, or nationality.

“We can’t treat what we can’t track…”

While different governments have had different policies, those most successful in combating the spread understand made testing widely available. We can’t treat what we can’t track, and this virus is unique in its ability to be spread by people with few or no symptoms. If there is no policy for testing and treatment for those at risk, please continue to advocate a vocal advocate for this crucial need on and off line.

2) Quarantine or Isolation Beds

Space is a luxury many communities do not have. While social distancing has become a common term for many, the tactic to prevent the spread is unrealistic, especially in crowded cities. One idea would be to look at repurposing space in communities to provide quarantine or isolation areas. This may mean different things in different places. For some communities the priority may be on housing the homeless temporarily, while other highly dense areas could provide food and shelter to elderly or immunocompromised people most at risk. This may mean rethinking how best community spaces like schools, community centers, and others can best serve. Communities can even repurpose unused space or buildings.

3) Soap & Sanitation Stations

Provide free access to sanitation and supplies that help prevent the spread of the disease. This may mean complex projects like portable sinks or showers, or be as simple as makeshift community refilling stations where people can bring their containers and refill on soap. Masks could be provided freely, or people can learn in small groups how to repurpose household items as makeshift masks and face guards. Weather permitting, this could be done in open air areas in small groups, but it may be best to make these solutions portable to prevent crowding, and reach people with limited mobility.

Kids look on as their parents refill plastic containers with liquid hand soap donated by Courageous Kitchen.

4) Food Sponsorship Programs

One of the essential businesses allowed to continue operating are restaurants. We can support these local businesses and lean on their relationships with the community to serve the most vulnerable. A simple program would allow me to purchase a meal, while providing a meal to someone else. In turn, restaurants could provide food, cash, or products to local organizations — or even give it our directly to people. Partnerships with schools, churches/ temples, and community centers would speed this response.

5) Donate to Existing Organizations

Find an organization in your area and donate. Choose large and small organizations to support, and especially those who already have programs in place for assisting the sick, elderly, or vulnerable communities.

Keep in mind organizations are under a lot of pressure. They have to provide aid while protecting their staff, and insuring while helping people they are not spreading the virus from one place to another. Remember as the economic impact worsens, small charities who really depend on small $10-$100 individual donations, will see many of these resources dry up.

6) Jail & Detention Moratorium

Included in the communities most at risk to the spread of disease are the incarcerated. We should remember them during this time and be sure they have the supplies and care needed. In most cases you can assume they do not.

Governments should also not use this time to enforce petty laws or warrants. Compassionate responses would include a moratorium on immigration raids and arrests as well. However, it is unlikely government will come to these conclusions on their own and we can be busy advocating for such solutions online or sharing petitions for such calls.

Knowing this can be controversial, we would like to reiterate that this isn’t forgiveness of immigration status, or an end to law enforcement. Instead, it should allow enforcement to focus on the most serious issues, and provides some consideration for exposure and spread of the virus by law enforcement agencies.

7) Bolster Neighborhood Clinics & Pharmacies

We have to do what we can to make sure people can get the medicine they need nearby. This is essential for non covid related issues, and for people whose symptoms are mild enough to recover from the virus at home. This also relieves some pressure from our hospital systems, who are already being overwhelmed in so many places around the world.

In visits limited to people’s doorway, we can see the community has been making use of their masks, answer questions, and identify at risk groups like pregnant women, elderly, and the disabled.

8) Sponsorship for the Pregnant and Elderly

Sign up with an org today to sponsor a pregnant woman, or someone who has recently given birth. Make sure these women have the protection and transportation they need to get to hospitals safely. Remember this should include a long term vision for check ups, immunizations, and emergencies. Support for food and housing also helps ensure women and their children are safe and supported during this crisis.

There are so many neglected elderly people everywhere in the world. In addition to checking up on people in your own family, make sure people who don’t have family or resources are well cared for, whether that’s providing cash, groceries, or a friendly weekly checkup call for people who are even more isolated than usual right now.

9) Free Mental Health and Mourning Resources

Are we prepared for the conversation we need to have about mourning people we’ve lost? How do we do this from a distance? Do impoverished communities have the resources they need to deal with the death and burial of someone who dies at home?

There are so many questions to answer about mental health and mourning during this period. While they may seem peripheral to so many other pressing concerns, we should be careful not to be blindsided by the compounding ramifications of the loss of a loved one, isolation, and financial instability.

10) Free Wifi

Sounds simple, but lets not underestimate how much this could make a different in at risk communities.

Having good information and the ability to connect with people from afar has never been so important. Let’s remember people who may not have regular access to the internet, or whose services may be impacted because of loss of work by someone in their family.

Online communication also eases the burden of organizations who may be deciding which situations are most urgent, especially in changing rapidly cases. If people are connected they can be provided information, have that information translated, be entertained, and even talk face to face with volunteer doctors and nurses who can save time and reduce risk with such activities.

We hope these ideas have been helpful for you! Please help us to share and kindly consider visiting our donation page to support our work in Thailand.

Bangkok CSA Boxes Full of Organic Fruit and Vegetables

Bangkok CSA Boxes Full of Organic Fruit and Vegetables

ทางเลือกผักสดๆจากฟาร์มส่งตรงถึงบ้านคุณ

What is CSA? CSA = “community supported agriculture”

CSA คืออะไร? เค้าคือกล่องผลิตผลทางการเกษตรจากชุมชนเพื่อชุมชน

CSA Box – A subscription service delivering fresh produce from farmers directly to consumers with the goal of better supporting farmers.

An organic fruit and vegetable filled CSA box from Veggie Favour.

CSA box คือการสมัครสมาชิกเพื่อรับผลิตผลทางการเกษตรต่างๆ โดยส่วนมากจะเป็นผักผลไม้ตามฤดูกาล เพื่อให้ผู้บริโภคอย่างเราได้รับผลผลิตจากเกษตรกรโดยตรง และสนับสนุนคนภายในชุมชนท้องถิ่นด้วยกันเอง

In most cases the ingredients in each delivery are not set, giving the farmers flexibility to provide you food based on seasonality and not rigid menus.

ผลผลิตแต่ละรอบโดยมากจะไม่สามารถกำหนดได้ (ความสนุกอยู่ตรงนี้) เพื่อให้เกษตรกรได้เพาะปลูกและเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิตตามฤดูกาลอย่างแท้จริง

To increase the value and avoid food waste, remember you can order and share with other family members, friends or neighbors.

เพื่อเป็นการเพิ่มมูลค่า ลดการสร้างขยะและวัตถุดิบเหลือทิ้ง เราสามารถสั่งกล่อง CSA box และแชร์กับญาติพี่น้องในละแวกบ้านใกล้ๆกันหรือเพื่อนบ้านก็ได้

ด้านล่างนี้ เราได้รวบรวมรายชื่อของกลุ่มเกษตรกรหรือร้านค้าที่มีบริการ CSA box มาแนะนำค่ะ

A market style CSA box from Bangkok based Farmtastic.

Farmtastic

Veggie Favour

  • Farm: Nakhon Chai Si, Nakhon Prathom, Thailand
    • CSA Box: 100-300 baht (deposit for box required)

OrgBox Thailand

One of the largest and most diverse CSA boxes is available from local restaurant Bolan.

Bolan Restaurant

  • Local restaurant offering high quality food, CSA boxes, and a cooking essentials box.
    • LineID: bolanoffice
    • 022602962
    • CSA Box: 800 baht (includes recipes, curry, coconut milk and eggs, delivery not included)
    • http://www.bolan.co.th/

The Basket ตะกร้าผักจากสวนของคุณ

6 Tips for CSA Newbies:

  1. Be flexible. At the heart of CSA is being open to what farmers have on offer. Take that spirit into the kitchen when preparing and making use of your produce.
  2. When in doubt, stir fry. Don’t have time to look for a recipe for those alien looking leaves and veggies? Don’t stress. Throw them in the wok with noodles and your favorite seasoning.
  3. Covid-19 isn’t a foodborne illness. While you should be cautious with everything at the moment, food is an arena with fewer worries. Don’t get lax though, continue to wash your hands, surfaces, and produce religiously.
  4. Prevent spoiling. When your veggies arrive, have a plan for how to store them. Keep in mind some fruits do better outside of the fridge. Do your best not to forget about them because organic veg doesn’t have the same shelf life we’ve become accustomed to with things from the grocery store.
  5. Share. Got ideas on a great smoothie for digestion? Created a recipe apt for seasonal veg? Love to pickle, candy, and jam your produce? Be sure to spread those ideas, especially among our youth!
  6. Ask. Don’t know a vegetable? Ask your producers or online community. Need a quick answer? Try one of the many free apps like ‘PictureThis’ for a quick and fairly accurate answer.

Hey Bangkokians, we hope this list is helpful for you, especially during times when people are doing their best to avoid venturing too far from home.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and we know there may be more new companies in the future. With all of the options, be sure to share with friends and in your favorite online communities. Be safe and support a farmer!

Easy Thai Cilantro Leaf Salad Recipe

Easy Thai Cilantro Leaf Salad Recipe

Today’s recipe is a simple dish called ‘yum pak chii’ which is made with an abundance of cilantro leaves. While not everyone enjoys the taste of cilantro, also known as coriander, even those who do, may not have considered using the distinctive leaf as a salad green.

This recipe is simple and perfect for gardeners who have an abundance of this herb in their garden. Whether you’re a lover, hater, or somewhere in between, we hope this recipe encourages you to rethink how we can better use the herbs and vegetables we have on hand.

“More than a garnish, not yet a main”

Yum Pak Chii Ingredients

2 cups of picked, washed cilantro/coriander leaves
2 tsp of coconut cider vinegar
3-4 hot Thai chilies chopped (adjust to your preference)
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1-2 tbsp lime juice (about half a lime)
2-3 tbsp of peanuts

Yum Pak Chii Ingredients

  1. Wash your leaves and chop from the larger stalk. The smaller branches are easy to eat, but you don’t want to include any thicker stalks.
  2. Set to dry or put in a salad spinner while making your dressing.
  3. Combine palm sugar, chili, soy sauce, and coconut vinegar in a small bowl.
  4. Add 1-2 table spoons of lime to taste.
  5. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the leaves and mix thoroughly before plating.
  6. Finish plating by scattering the peanuts over the top and serve.

Is it common to make salad with cilantro in Thailand?

No, although Thais love cilantro it is mostly consumed in curry pastes or as a condiment. There are few dishes where the herb is the main ingredient. This recipe was inspired by experiences eating the salad with hill tribe cooks in Northern Thailand.

Although development has been rapid in the past few decades, the culture and the cuisine of the tribes in the North is often a departure from food around the rest of Thailand. The resulting recipes vary, as do the ingredients from in one village to the next. Don’t be surprised to see some recipes including everything from common Thai ingredients like shallots and tamarind juice, to even spicy red chili paste and crispy pork rinds (as in ยำผักชีแคบหมู).

What can I substitute for peanuts?

We realize so many people around the world have an intense allergy to nuts, especially peanuts. One simple solution to add texture and color, would simple be adding half a cup of halved cherry tomatoes. Some versions of this recipe call for the crispiness to come from pork rinds.

Peanuts are not native to Northern Thailand. In fact, the peanuts pictured with the distinctive ’tiger striped’ skin were introduced by the Royal Project Foundation. The cultivar was successful even in areas of high altitude, which helps local farmers earn income and diversify their crops. Now we’re able to purchase these local organic peanuts from farmers in Chiang Mai and similar provinces.

Are there Thais who think coriander leaf tastes like soap?

They may be out there somewhere, but I haven’t met them. Of course there are people who dislike coriander, but we haven’t met many Thais with as strong disdain as the westerners we encounter. If there’s a community of Thai coriander haters somewhere, please correct me. Also, I have lots of questions for them because the ingredient is extremely common in Thai cuisine, with the seeds, leaves, root/stalk all being consumed.

Is there an alternative to coconut cider vinegar?

You can use similar products such as apple cider vinegar, rice wine, or regular cooking vinegar. You can also use tamarind juice which will add more body to the dressing, or even adjust the recipe by increasing the amount of lime used. Since each ingredient is slightly different be sure to taste and adjust.