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My Book!

I wrote a book about preserving food. The same step-by-step instruction and full-color photos you find in my blog. Buy it at Yes, You Can 

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Sprouts is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.


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Yes, You Can! Holiday Giveaway

Use’s Look Inside feature to see the terrific job the art director did in designing and laying out Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too. Oh… and to get a good look at the book you might win if you enter this Holiday Giveaway!

Thank you for visiting Your Small Kitchen Garden! I love writing this blog, and I love that at least some people actually read it. In that spirit I’m giving away a copy of my book, Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too from Cool Springs Press.

I wrote Yes, You Can! last summer for people who are just starting to preserve produce—whether from their own gardens, from farmers’ markets and farm stands, or from grocery stores. Reviewers have been very kind to Yes, You Can! and (of course) I’d love to see it coach tens of thousands of gardening-, food-, and green-enthusiasts into more responsible relationships with the food chain.

Win a Signed Copy of Yes, You Can!

This giveaway has an ulterior motive: to introduce more people to Yard Birds. Here’s how it works:

I’m giving away one copy of Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too. The book’s retail value is $19.95, and I’ll cover the cost of shipping to the winner.

This is a judged contest. To enter, do the following:

1. Visit the Yard Birds store (this is a link to it)

2. Note the serial number (item number) of a Yard Bird that tickles your fancy

3. Return here and leave a comment that…

  • …includes the Yard Bird’s serial number
  • …proposes a name for the Yard Bird
  • …explains why you would give the Yard Bird that name

I was lucky to capture a photo of this small flock of Yard Birds in the artist’s yard before he sold off most of them at an annual arts festival here in Lewisburg..

How We’ll Pick the Winner

My wife and kids will select one winning entry from all the entries posted. They will read all the entries and select the one they agree is the most entertaining. Use humor, pathos, irony, wordplay… if you want to play to the audience, keep in mind that some of the judges are seriously geeky.

Our judges will not know the identities of the entrants; this is a blind judging. I’ll announce the winner on this blog as soon as the judges finish their task—probably within a day or two of the close of the contest.

Enter Now, Enter Once, Enter Again!

The Yes, You Can! Holiday Giveaway ends at midnight on December 7, 2011. We will consider only one entry per participant; if you enter more than one time, we’ll include only your LAST entry in the judging. Last entry? Sure. This contest includes an opportunity for a do-over. If, after you post your entry a much better idea pops into your head, go ahead and post another entry. We’ll enjoy all your entries, but only the very last one you post before midnight on December 7th will go to the judges… so make the last one your best!

The Prize

To be clear: I’m not giving away a Yard Bird. The prize for this giveaway is a single signed copy of my book, Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too from Cool Springs Press.

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Pepper Freaks from My Small Kitchen Garden

When I cut open this perfectly ripe California Wonder pepper from my small kitchen garden, I found several pepper-like fruits inside of it.

For the first 49 or so years of my life, bell peppers held no surprises. Even after I’d established my small kitchen garden in rural Pennsylvania, peppers were peppers. But then, last season, I grew and gutted a pepper that was full of surprises… and since then I’ve discovered three or four of these gems.

This Year’s Red Pepper Freak

When I cut open one of the few stunted but well-ripened California Wonders from my kitchen garden a month or so back, I found it packed with what might pass for pepper babies.

Have you ever found these in your peppers? Each is a hollow shape, apparently grown of bell pepper flesh. While the pepper babies are entirely inside the parent pepper, they fall out easily (once you cut the pepper open)—as if not attached to the parent in any way. Of course, these oddly-shaped gems must grow connected in some way, so I imagine a tiny bell pepper umbilical chord that connects each one to the inside of the parent pepper.

Please let me know whether you’ve ever cut open a pregnant pepper. I’m curious to know how common is this little phenomenon.

The pepper freaks shook out of their parent easily as if they weren’t attached in any way. Each seemed to be a small “pepper fruit” having the same texture as the flesh of a typical bell pepper.


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Small Kitchen Garden Bloom Day 11/11

This lone pink blossom is on a plant my wife set in one of her ornamental beds. A clump of buds just behind the blossom looks ready to pop. Forecast temperatures suggest the buds have a chance.

It was a challenging Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for this kitchen gardener. Mainly, my small kitchen garden was finished by late summer. Rain, blight, rain, mud, rain, rot, rain, insects, rain, and rain conspired to shut things down well earlier than in any previous year. After all that, we had a significant snow storm in late October when peak fall colors were just starting to fade. Oh, and guess how the weather was when I went out to take photos? Yep, it was raining and overcast.

It impresses me that anything is in bloom around here, so I stepped out of my small kitchen garden and scavenged blossoms wherever I found them in the yard. Most of what’s in bloom is in ornamental beds or containers, and it’s all barely holding on. Please enjoy what’s left of summer in my wet little chunk of central Pennsylvania.

A diaphanous puff of white clings tenuously to a stem just a few feet from the pink blossom in the preceding photo. The two blossoms are all that remain on annuals my wife planted in late spring.

There are four potted plants on our front porch. They might have served as centerpieces at some banquet during the summer. Two have wilted back to their roots (one I recognized as a begonia). The other two show signs of stress, but they continue to put out blossoms resembling asters; the ornamental-savvy among you will have to ID them.

The second of two potted plants on our front porch that continues to produce blossoms despite many overnight lows in the twenties and a significant snowfall in late October.

Somehow, this makes sense to me: the holly bush that came with the house is in bloom, though it has more buds than it has blossoms. Still, if it’s just blooming now, will berries form within the month? Come to think of it, in 18 years, I don’t recall ever seeing berries on this plant.

Rain stunted my broccoli this year, but one plant continues to taunt me by putting out tablespoon-sized florets.

In the department of confused, a forsythia in a back corner of the yard is in bloom. Is it because an unseasonable warm spell followed a cold spell? Is it because the rain paused for two weeks after the freak October snow? Perhaps this branch of blossoms thinks winter ought to be just four days long?

Nutmeg provided drama on this month’s Bloom Day. She happily accompanied me on my photo shoot and discovered poop in the grass when I paused to photograph the broccoli. If my dog is going to roll in something stinky, I choose carrion. Sadly, today she chose poop. She’s damp in this photo because I dragged her straight to the shower where she had the lather, rinse, and repeat treatment twice! I’m pretty sure the camera captured a smirk; Nutmeg has a lot of attitude for several hours after a shower.

Don’t Forget to Post Product Next Week!!!

Your Small Kitchen Garden blog hosts Post Produce on the 22nd of every month. Create a blog entry that shares what you’re eating from your garden-what you’re harvesting, what’s ripening, what you’re cooking or preserving, or even what you’re taking out of your larder for an off-season meal. Then find my Post Produce post and create a link back to yours. Follow the link here for find more information about Post Produce.


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Raisins for Pie at Your Small Kitchen Garden

My entry in October’s Post Produce is about pie. The pie involves pears and homemade raisins–both visible in this photo. I hope you’ll join me and bloggers everywhere on Saturday, the 22nd to share whatever you’re consuming from your own garden.

My small kitchen garden still has a few winter squashes, green beans, peppers, and carrots holding on against interminable rain and increasing cold. There’s not much out there, so I’ve put more and more attention on what’s available at the local farmers’ markets. Recently, I bought several pounds of seedless grapes and used my dehydrator to convert them into raisins. I posted about the procedure over at Food Dryer Home. Have a look if you need encouragement to make your own raisins. Please trust me: homemade raisins are so worth the trouble to make them.

What Pie has to do With It

I made raisins because I’ve been developing a recipe—a pie recipe rooted in about seven years of experimentation with pears. The recipe uses stuff from my small kitchen garden, and I plan to present it presently in my pending Post Produce post.

Post Produce? Pear Pie? All will become clear before I go to bed on Friday, October 21 (tomorrow).

Join Post Produce!

Saturday the 22nd is Post Produce day. The idea of Post Produce is to encourage bloggers everywhere to share with the world whatever they’re consuming from their gardens. Are you harvesting citrus fruit? Post about it! Are you opening home-canned produce for dinner? Post about it! Do you have awesome vegetables fresh from the garden? Post!

Follow this link to find more details at the Post Produce page. On Saturday, show or tell us about your produce, and then return to Your Small Kitchen Garden, and create a link back to your post. If you’re so inclined, visit all the Post Produce posts to see what bloggers are growing to eat all over the world.


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Small Kitchen Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, Oct 2011: Butterflies

Before I left for the meadow, I photographed zinnias that grow within four feet of my small kitchen garden. Actually, I planted the zinnias (please don’t tell anyone). When I expressed frustration with how moisture was killing bean plants in my vegetable bed, my wife offered up one of the ornamental beds for an auxiliary bean garden. I planted a row of climbing beans in the back of the bed, and several types of annual flowers in front of them. Zinnias took over, but there’s a decent crop of green beans as well.

I wasn’t anywhere near my small kitchen garden for yesterday’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, but I tried to post. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and energy before I started writing (I chose and cropped photos before I went to bed).

Not only don’t my photos feature my kitchen garden this month, they only barely feature any garden. Rather, I stepped into the meadow across the street and down the road and captured photos of what’s in bloom because nature wants it to be.

From Meadow to Forest

Few gardens are as sustainable as those that start themselves, and these meadows emerged from abandoned farmland. Left to their own devices, in 70 to 100 years the meadows will be young climax forests of native hardwoods. If you pull up a lawn chair and watch for a few dozen years, you’ll see a diverse assortment of organisms at every stage of the forest’s development.

I tried to capture some of the diversity in my photos. It’s not hard to recognize a theme other than just blooms in my Bloom Day post. A healthy wild meadow teams with insects, arachnids, birds, reptiles, and mammals. On a recent sunny day (or two), I captured photos of dozens of meadow creatures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

I don’t know flowers—particularly wild flowers. Perhaps you can tell me what these are. (My guess: Heath Asters.) Wherever I see stands of these happy blossoms, there is a swarm of winged critters flitting among them.

In case the previous photo lacked detail you need to identify the flowers, I include this for another look. What are those plants?

Are these purple flowers wild asters? I love seeing a clump of these in the meadow—particularly mixed in with goldenrod. Nature knows which plants to pair up for brilliant displays.

Speaking of goldenrod, it’s passing its prime, but it has been spectacular this year. I like to make huge bouquets of goldenrod for our dining table, but we’ve been so busy that I haven’t gotten to it. Fortunately, I have found some time to get out in the meadow and enjoy the goldenrod with bunches of other critters who also enjoy it.

Invitation to Post Produce

In a similar vein to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, I invite the blogging community to join me on the 22nd of each month to Post Produce. On Saturday, October 22, create a blog post that reveals whatever you’re eating from your garden. Then return to Your Small Kitchen Garden and link to your post. There are more details on my Post Produce page. I hope you’ll share your kitchen gardening successes on October 22, and Post Produce.


Barbeque Sauce from Your Small Kitchen Garden

My pear-and-tomato barbeque sauce begins with equal parts of tomato sauce and pear mash. I created it because I hated composting the mash left over from juicing pears when I made jelly. It will be very satisfying to use tomato sauce cooked down from tomatoes that grew in my own small kitchen garden (didn’t happen this year because I lost my tomato plants to late blight). The sauce has a curious balance of sugar, fruit, and sour so it works well with savory dishes and with sweet ones.

While Your Small Kitchen Garden blog may have seemed quiet for the last few weeks, I have posted! First, I created a new page on the site that lists all the articles I’ve posted—on my web sites or on friends’ sites—about preserving produce. Some of the posts are about things you can find in my book, Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too. Others are recipes or techniques that didn’t make the book or that I’ve only learned about (or created) since the book came out.

Click the Preserving option on this site’s menu to find the list of articles. Once there, scroll down and you’ll also find a few videos about preserving produce.

Where’s the BBQ Sauce?

As I add more articles to Your Small Kitchen Garden, I’ll choose some longer, photo-heavy pieces to place on pages rather than within the blog. I did that recently with an article about canning tomato chunks, and even more recently I added an article about making and canning pear-and-tomato barbeque sauce.

This is a classic tomato and molasses BBQ sauce but with a whole lot of pears included. It’s fruity and sweet, but with noticeable sour. It has no heat, though I once mixed some with cayenne pepper and decided the heat didn’t improve the flavor; it just changed it.

Check out the recipe and procedures on the Pear and Tomato Barbeque Sauce page. Once you make your own sauce, make pizza using the BBQ sauce in place of standard pizza sauce. Then leave a note with your reactions; I’d love to hear you gave it a try—even if you don’t care for it once it’s done.


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