The Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques And Family Recipes From A Classic Cuisine by Wendy Kiang-SprayThe Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques And Family Recipes From A Classic Cuisine by Wendy Kiang-Spray

The Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques And Family Recipes From A Classic Cuisine

byWendy Kiang-Spray

Paperback | February 8, 2017

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Winner of the Garden Writers Association 2018 Silver Medal of Achievement 
Wendy Kiang-Spray’s family has strong culinary and gardening traditions. In The Chinese Kitchen Garden, she beautifully blends the story of her family’s cultural heritage with growing information for 38 Chinese vegetables—like lotus root, garlic, chives, and eggplant—and 25 traditional recipes like congee, dumplings, and bok choy stir-fry. Organized by season, you’ll learn what to grow in spring and what to cook in winter.

Wendy Kiang-Spray’s articles about gardening and food have appeared in national, local, and web publications. Besides being a passionate gardener, she is a high school counselor, garden speaker, and volunteer with the D.C. Master Gardeners. Wendy blogs at
Title:The Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques And Family Recipes From A Classic CuisineFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 7 × 7 inPublished:February 8, 2017Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:160469677X

ISBN - 13:9781604696776


Read from the Book

Preface: My Story My own garden story didn’t begin until I was an adult. When my older daughter was seven years old, she suddenly said, “Hey, Mom, let’s have a garden!” and my obsession with gardening began.Though he has mellowed with age, my father has always disapproved of my interests. A life of hardships, the lack of a father figure as a role model, and Chinese cultural norms meant that my father never outwardly expressed pride in me and would often be dismissive. His stubborn temperament, like mine, meant that a disagreement on any innocuous topic—such as whether my children’s jackets were warm enough—could promptly escalate to a screaming match. Call me a glutton for punishment, but despite this, I have always consciously or subconsciously sought to gain his approval.My father’s immense vegetable garden dwarfs my entire backyard. Ducks swim contentedly around his immaculate 6-acre pond edged with lotuses and water lilies. Many evenings my father can be found fishing from the pier and deck he built himself. As an experienced gardener, he probably knew full well that my garden would offer challenges. A large maple tree casts shade over half my backyard. The virgin soil was less than ideal. The garden would be tiny. What did he think of my exciting new gardening idea? “No air! No sun! You can’t grow anything!” So what did I do? Set out to prove him wrong. Just as we’re both stubborn, we’re also both ambitious and determined.I tapped into the wealth of information on the Internet and studied into the wee hours of the night. I took notes, printed photos, joined gardening forums, and asked hundreds of questions. In the mornings, the thought of seed and plant catalogs sitting on the kitchen table got me out of bed early. I learned we were in hardiness zone 6, and then learned what that actually meant. I became fluent in botanical Latin, and memorized the soil, light, and moisture requirements for almost everything in Kingdom Plantae.Armed with this knowledge, I drew up a plan, built some beds, and bought some seeds. It is not impossible to begin gardening at this later stage in life—you just have to learn quickly from your mistakes. It didn’t take long for me to learn that you don’t support tomatoes with pencil-thin bamboo stakes. Or that dumping clay soil in a corner of the yard doesn’t make a compost pile, but simply makes a pile of clay soil in the corner of the yard.I delved full force into my garden, beginning with a tiny wooden raised bed that has changed in shape and gotten a little bigger each year. Soon thereafter, I found an interest in perennials and completed an overhaul of my front yard. After that, I feverishly planned and then tackled a DIY stone retaining wall and landscaping job in my backyard. I was so busy that I barely felt the need to share what I was doing with anyone, especially with my father.One year, I grew ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes for the first time. Because my father’s a big tomato grower, I thought it would be a shame if he didn’t at least get to taste the delicious results and know about the different colors, shapes, sizes, and tastes that are characteristic of heirloom tomatoes. I assumed that my tomato wouldn’t live up to his expectations, so I was shocked when he not only liked the taste, but was interested in obtaining some seed. The next year, he planted twenty ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes in his garden and only a few of his usual beefsteaks. He also asked me to order some beet seeds for him—this from a man typically too proud and independent to ask his daughter for anything.My father rarely expresses his feelings. However, despite his initial disparaging remarks, I know in no uncertain terms how he feels about my gardening. One day, as I was at my parents’ house for dinner, I was flipping through some albums containing photos my father had taken. There, in the middle of all the other haphazardly inserted photos of his beautiful property, pond, and fruit trees, were photos he had secretly taken of my own humble first-year garden.

Editorial Reviews

“Wendy Kiang-Spray brings together clear instructions, enticing recipes, and touching family tales in this delightful and approachable guide to Chinese kitchen gardening. Divided into seasonal sections, the book includes well-known Asian vegetables such as Napa cabbage and garlic chives, as well as less familiar treats like Malabar spinach and stem lettuce. This book made me long for a Chinese vegetable garden of my own!” —Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking and Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China “The Chinese Kitchen Garden is not just about gardening or Chinese vegetables. Rather, this is a book about food and family, how food brings family together, how food can define a culture, a heritage, a sense of self, even a bridge to one’s heritage. Kiang-Spray weaves together memories of her childhood, stories of her parents’ lives, and reports of her own daughters’ shenanigans, welcoming us into her world, at once Chinese and American. . . . The Chinese Kitchen Garden is that rarest of non-fiction books: a reference built for pleasure reading.” —Andrew Weidman, blogger on GRIT “The Chinese Kitchen Garden is Wendy Kiang-Spray’s family story—a daughter’s tribute, really—told through the lens of gardening and cooking. It’s also a superb guide, packed with tips and insights for growing Asian vegetables, including water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, lotus root and winter melon. An added bonus are some of her family’s favorite recipes. Beautiful photos of both Kiang-Spray’s and her father’s vegetable gardens will inspire cooks and growers alike that cultivating a garden—small or large—is a labor of love that bestows immeasurable rewards.” —Grace Young, James Beard Award-winning author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge “This amazing read brings to life the Chinese way of gardening and cooking. You’ll learn wonderful methods to implement in your own garden and kitchen.” —Jere Gettle, founder and co-owner of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds “Writer and avid gardener Wendy Kiang-Spray grew up watching her family tend to Chinese vegetables and herbs, and now she passes on that tradition with her new cookbook.” —Food and Wine Magazine  “An irresistible addition to the home library.” —NYBG’s Plant Talk “Recommended for strong cooking collections.” —Booklist “An essential guide to designing gardens, aimed at prospective professionals and anyone wishing to design their own. . . . The attention to detail is fantastic. . . . reading it felt like I was on a refresher course. . . . Even if you don’t want to become a designer, it is a book worth having.” —Gardens Illustrated “An exhaustive volume exploring new trends in garden design: from ecological design to fifty must-have plants for the modern gardener.” —Marie Claire House & Home Italy “Part garden guide, part cookbook, part memoir, Wendy’s book introduces readers to 38 Asian vegetables and 25 family recipes.” —Better Homes and Gardens “With so many books on growing food available, those that are new have to capture the imagination, offer something personal, provide reliable guidance and give information on what to do with the produce in the kitchen: this book delivers on all.” —The Garden “In The Chinese Kitchen Garden, [Wendy] beautifully blends the story of her family’s cultural heritage with growing information for 38 Chinese vegetables like lotus root, garlic, chives, and eggplant, with 25 traditional recipes like congee, dumplings and bok choy stir-fry.” —Herbs Magazine “Garden books and cookbooks are usually meant for dipping into as information is required; this book you may want to sit down and read right through, because it holds together so well as an integrated story of family, garden, and food.” —The Washington Gardener “Fabulous book. . . . chock-full of great gardening tips and creative recipes.” —Garden Therapy  “Kiang-Spray nicely melds the gardening wisdom of her Chinese family with the viable realities of growing Far East veggies in American gardens. The result is a brave, tasty new world for adventurous gardeners.” —Cary Magazine?