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Posts Tagged ‘video’

What do You Know About DDT?

My daughter, a freshman in high school, participates in a scholastic program that goes by the name National History Day. She teamed with three classmates this year to produce a video inspired by the theme Debate & Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences.

National History Day (NHD) rules give teams enormous latitude to choose topics that fit the year’s theme. Consequently, you’ll see dozens of snippets of history at an NHD competition. Teams compete locally and winners gather from across the state. In a two-day state-wide competition, only two teams from each division (high school team video being a division) go on to the national competition. My daughter’s team is one of those two!

So, What About Kitchen Gardening?

The national-competition-worthy video my daughter’s team produced is a documentary about the debate over the use and effects of DDT.

I’m old. It was breaking news in my childhood when scientists discovered that DDT was decimating the peregrine falcon and bald eagle populations in the United States. There was never a question in my mind that DDT was a terrible, terrible product and that’s all I knew. Then I watched my daughter’s team’s video…

You know? I’ve so many more thoughts to offer, but instead I invite you to share my experience: please watch the video. It’s long; ten minutes. But I hope you’ll take the time to see it through and then leave a comment.


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Easy Strawberry Shortcake from Your Small Kitchen Garden

This is a robust display of strawberries in my meager deck planters. I look forward to the year when I finally create a large strawberry planting bed that produces the entire 40 or so quarts of berries we typically consume in June.

My small kitchen garden produces a mere handful of strawberries each year. That’s because I have a few planters each holding three or four strawberry plants. Eventually, I’ll add a generous raised bed bursting with strawberry plants but for now I satisfy my cravings with berries I buy from other local growers.

Yesterday, I saw on sale at the farmers’ market strawberries that had travelled from Lancaster… only sixty miles south. My planters sport a half dozen green berries that may be ready to pick in another week. These events spurred me finally to produce a video I shot last spring: How to make real strawberry shortcake.

What I mean by Real Strawberry Shortcake

At decent restaurants, I’ve seen pound cake with sweetened strawberries listed as “Strawberry Shortcake.” At grocery stores, I’ve seen sponge cake labeled as “Shortcake” and displayed next to fresh strawberries. I’ve had visitors who assured me they were quite familiar with strawberry shortcake… but who had never even seen a classic, traditional shortcake. Sure, all those strawberry/cake combinations are tasty… but they’re not really strawberry shortcake.

When strawberries are in season, a large serving of strawberry shortcake makes a delicious, well-balanced meal. I recommend that you not make shortcake with strawberries that grew more than sixty miles from your home; they’re just not as good.

A true shortcake is a lot like a biscuit: a little flour, shortening, and leavening: the same ingredients you might use to make pancakes from scratch. Of course, biscuit-making involves cutting the shortening into the flour, rolling out dough, and cutting rounds for the baking pan.

I’ve reduced making my own shortcake to a very simple procedure that eliminates cutting in shortening, rolling dough, and cutting out rounds with a cookie cutter. The approach I use doesn’t make a perfectly flaky biscuit, but the dessert isn’t strawberry biscuits, and the only complaints I’ve received about them is that I make the servings too large.

Actually, three or four times a year when local strawberries are available, I serve nothing but strawberry shortcake for dinner. To those who complain about the sizes of the servings, I apologize. Don’t mess up the part you’re not going to eat; I’ll deal with it, thank you.

Here is my video production of how to make the strawberry shortcake you’ll eat if you visit in June at Your Small Kitchen Garden. It’s just over eight minutes long. If you try making shortcake this way, please let me know how you like it:


Other ways to prepare and serve strawberries:

  • Coconut Waffle With Mango and Strawberry « Laila Blog’s – but for some reason i always have it as a dessert well im not much of a breakfast person anyway but i absolutely love this recipe its very fruity and very flavorful and quiet easy to make. Start by peeling the mangoes and cutting it into cubes. Start making the waffles by pouring the mixture into the waffle machine.

  • Strawberry Pickle – My husband has been asking me when I am going to post his strange and innovative strawberry pickle recipe in our blog. We came up with the competition to create a uniquely delicious recipe using strawberries as a feature ingredient. …

  • Quick & EASY Strawberry Dumplings | Inspirational Ingredients – 31 Subscribe Socialize on Facebook” title=”Subscribe & Socialize on Facebook” style=”opacity: 0. Posted in Dessert, Easy, Half-way Homemade, Recipes, Spring, Sweets | Tags: Bisquick, Dessert, Easy, Quick, Recipe, Recipes, Strawberry, Sweets 3 Responses to Quick d=http%3A%2F%2F1. This is an excellent recipe! I’ll be sure to tell my wife about it.

  • Recipe: Balsamic strawberries – I first bumped into balsamic strawberries at a summer food festival in Edmonton half a decade ago. A local restaurant, now sadly departed, was serving up this unlikely combination with a dollop of mascarpone, a trio of flavours that I …


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Small Kitchen Garden VLOG

Here at Your Small Kitchen Garden, I’m always experimenting. Usually, those experiments have to do with fitting more vegetable plants into the same space I planted last year. They’re also about ways to preserve produce and to prepare fruits and vegetables fresh from my garden or the local farmers’ market.

Today I’m starting a new experiment. I’m inviting readers into my garden, my “orchard,” my larder, and my kitchen for brief visits to see or hear what I’m up to. These visits aren’t so much about “how-to” instruction as they are about “what-to.” In other words, I’m going to tell you what I’m doing for my garden, and encourage you to think about doing the same—or similar—things for your garden.

Visit with the Gardener

I’m starting a video blog called Visit with the Gardener at Your Small Kitchen Garden Blog. Each video post will be short—generally from one to two minutes. In the video descriptions, I’ll try to include links that lead to relevant posts in case you want the “how to” to go along with the “what.”

Please join me in my Small Kitchen Garden to see what I’m doing. Hop over to Youtube and subscribe to my channel—I’m Cityslipper over there: Cityslipper on Youtube.

Here’s the first installment. It’ll give you an idea of how lazy I can be. Oh, and if you want to talk about art, I don’t groove much on the camera angle either… but I really wanted you to be able to see the pear tree, and this captured it:


I found a few other references to Vlogs about gardening:

  • 2009 Garden Vlog 4, Planting Corn | Growing Peas Made Easy – 2009 Garden Vlog 4, Planting Corn • How To Grow Corn. by admin. Like the title says:) Video Rating: 4 / 5. Tags: 2009, Corn, Garden, Planting, Vlog. 25 comments. No ping yet. theblackstarorder says: …

  • [WATCH]: Moms SQFT Victory Garden – VLog Day 23 | ORGANIC GARDEN … – Watching the plants grow. Great soil mixture! Why it pays to experiment, sometimes. Mel’s Mix 1/3 vermiculite 1/3 peat moss 1/3 compost I used the following, Sticking pretty good to Mel’s mixing ratio. Triple processed top soil Moisture …

  • GARDEN VLOG. | – GARDEN VLOG. Y’ALL, this was my FIRST vlog. Video blog. Whatever. I only did it because Emily was on a mission last night to inspire people to make one and I guess it worked. It isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. …


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Plenty of Peppers? Make Gumbo

I’ve heard many kitchen gardeners ask, “I have a lot of peppers this year. Any ideas for how to use them?” One of my favorite uses for peppers is to cook them up in gumbo.

My small kitchen garden produced a lot of peppers this year. Mostly, I harvested Hungarian banana peppers, but I also enjoyed a variety of bell peppers and a handful of jalapeno peppers. Apparently, a lot of other kitchen gardeners enjoyed similar successes because one question I’ve heard often is, “What should I do with all my peppers?”

Make Gumbo, is my favorite reply. Making a vat of gumbo won’t put a noticeable dent in a surplus of peppers, but it will make for some great eating. Gumbo is a vegetable-laden, thick broth, usually including some type of meat such as chicken, sausage, or seafood. Common in the southern United States and nearly non-existent in the northern states, Gumbo comes in two distinct varieties… though there may be as many recipes as there are people cooking the stuff.

Gumbo with okra

Overgrown Okra

I don’t grow okra because, sadly, I gag when I try to eat it. Fortunately, I found a lovely photo of okra pods on When you cut these pods into sections and cook them in your soup, the pods soften up, become slimy, and thicken the broth.

This is a bit of a guess, but I imagine most people make gumbo using okra as the thickener. Okra is a plant with big leaves and gorgeous flowers, and it produces fruits that look vaguely like pods of a milkweed plant.

When you cut Okra pods into sections and boil them in water or stock, they break down into what most people describe as slime. The slime, of course, is thicker than water, so by using okra in soup, you make the soup thicken.

I’ve had okra-thickened gumbo several times, and, sadly, each time I had a very powerful gag response to its consistency. I can’t even comment on its flavor because I was so focused on the gag response that I recall little else about it.

Gumbo with roux

About when I experienced gumbo made with okra, I also happened to have visited New Orleans and eaten at K-Paul’s. The flavors of my meal at K-Paul’s were unique and exciting and I became a fan of Paul Prudhomme, the restaurant’s founder and namesake.

Happily, I got a copy of his cookbook, and read large chunks of it to gain an understanding of Louisiana- and Cajun-style cooking. That cookbook explained how to make gumbo using roux rather than okra as a thickener.

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed Prudhomme’s recipe to make gumbo, but the method I use strongly resembles what I learned from Prudhomme’s cookbook. It’s a big job, so when I make any, I make a vat of it. We eat gumbo for many dinners and lunches over the course of a week or two.

The Secret to Great Gumbo

Gumbo: Chunks of chicken and sausage in a thick broth churning with vegetables and served over rice. Use up some peppers from your small kitchen garden; make gumbo.

I’m convinced that the most important component of great gumbo is the roux. At its simplest, roux is a mixture of oil and flour—usually a one-to-one mix. When you combine white flour and vegetable oil, you produce a white or slightly yellow roux. Cook the roux, and the flour browns… the longer you cook it, the darker brown it becomes. As the roux cooks, you’ll see it gradually turn from white to tan to peanut butter brown. After that, it darkens to the color of milk chocolate and it even begins to redden a bit. Cook it too long, and it’ll burn, turning black. If you’re careless, some will burn to the bottom of the pan and produce black specks which altogether ruin the flavor.

A light roux will thicken gumbo without adding much flavor. However, a dark roux adds an indescribable nuttiness to the soup. While I recall cooking the roux on high heat for many years, I once discovered it cooks just fine on medium heat, and the slower cooking speed gives me freedom to turn my back on it from time-to-time with little threat of it burning.

Gumbo Tips

I’ve embedded a video of me making gumbo that explains every step. To keep it short, I omitted a lot of commentary. Here are a few things that are good to know:

  • Andouille sausage is a hot, smoked sausage native to Cajun country. I can buy it locally for about twice what other sausage costs… some day I’ll try making my own. In the meantime, I’m too cheap to pay so much for ground meat, so I use hot Italian sausage in my Gumbo. This works particularly well if I slow cook it on my grill with some kind of hardwood to add smoke.
  • Green and red peppers don’t add significant heat to the gumbo unless you leave the seeds in… but that’s a rather imprecise way to control heat. After you’ve finished the gumbo, let it simmer for five minutes or so, then taste. If the seasoning isn’t fiery enough for you, add more cayenne pepper, stir it in, and give it a few more minutes on the heat.
  • I used to use a few cloves of garlic in my gumbo, but I eventually discovered that garlic gives me heartburn. Use some if you want; peal the cloves and toss them in the food processor with your other vegetables.
  • A meat grinder works about as well as a food processor. Cut up the carrots and celery into small pieces so they don’t stall the mechanism… but you can put all of the vegetables through a meat grinder if you prefer that over a food processor.
  • Sometimes my family fishes a disproportionate amount of “goodies” out of the gumbo (sausage and chicken), eventually leaving only broth in the pot. If this happens I re-heat the gumbo to a boil and add more sausage (and sometimes chicken), giving the vat several more days of usefulness.

Please enjoy the video:


Here are some other approaches to making gumbo that might appeal to you (including one that uses okra):

  • Shrimp Gumbo Soup – Add in about 2/3 of the can of broth, the can of Chicken Gumbo (NO additional water) and chopped tomato. Cover and bring to a slow boil. Add in the raw shrimp, cover and cook for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. …

  • National Gumbo Day!: Andouille Sausage and Chicken Gumbo – This recipe is truly at its best when prepared 24 hours ahead of serving time. Simply reheat the gumbo on the stove for several hours on the day of serving. This technique allows for all of the flavors to combine and marry together – a …

  • louisiana chicken gumbo – 1/4 cup flour 1 tsp salt 1 3 lb chicken cut into 8 pieces 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 cup chopped celery 1 cup chopped green onion 3 cloves garlic; mashed 1 quart chicken broth 2 cup canned whole tomatoes in juice; …

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Small Kitchen Garden Rhubarb

Rhubarb in my Small Kitchen GardenWhen you buy a house from a kitchen gardener, you may find a rhubarb patch in the yard. Rhubarb requires relatively little maintenance, and it rewards you with a delicious, fruity crop when most other food crops are just sprouting.

Do you have rhubarb in your small kitchen garden? I can’t imagine my garden without it. I’m certain that Rhubarb is almost strictly a food of gardeners; I don’t remember seeing it in the produce section in Boston’s grocery stores when I lived in Boston—or at the farmers’ market near Faneuil Hall.

In rural Pennsylvania, you can buy rhubarb in a grocery store and at the farmers’ market during the month or two it’s in season. I’m always overwhelmed by the price of rhubarb, and I note that it rarely has a prominent position in the produce section or on a farmer’s table at the market.

It seems unlikely you’ll experience rhubarb by chance. In my experience, people who know rhubarb grew up eating it at home. I imagine, however, that a lot of people have acquired rhubarb plants along with houses they’ve bought; if a former owner planted rhubarb, it’s quite likely still growing there. That gives the uninitiated a commitment-free excuse to try rhubarb.

If you’ve never tasted the stuff, don’t invest in plants. Rather, find a neighbor who’s willing to share—or buy some rhubarb stalks somewhere—and make some rhubarb sauce. The flavor might surprise you… but if you don’t care for rhubarb sauce, don’t give up on rhubarb. I’ve seen people who won’t touch rhubarb sauce devour rhubarb pie… and strawberry rhubarb pie, jams containing rhubarb, and rhubarb breads. I suspect they’d also go for a good rhubarb cake, but I’ve never seen a rhubarb cake, so I can’t be sure.

About Rhubarb

Once you’ve decided you like rhubarb, you’re ready to commit to one of the most rewarding home kitchen garden plants. Around here, you can buy rhubarb plants in nursery pots at garden stores and nurseries. A single plant runs about six to nine dollars, depending on where you buy it.

Small Kitchen Garden fertilizerIf you cut sod when you dig a hole to plant rhubarb, place the sod, grass-side-down, in the bottom of the hole before adding soil and compost. The sod will provide excellent nutrition for the young plant as it gets established in its new home.

Rhubarb grows thick, tuberous roots that don’t like to be wet for extended periods. It also likes lots of sunlight and very rich soil. My dad used to dump raw horse manure around his plants to make them happy in the spring, and they never complained.

When you plant, select a place where the soil drains quickly. This is important: All my plants died one very rainy season when standing water collected for days on end. The next season, I planted in a slightly raised bed, but still lost two out of four plants when another rainy stretch saturated the soil.

Dig a hole at least six inches deeper than the nursery pot and about twice its diameter. If you cut sod to start the hole, put the sod grass-side-down in the bottom of the hole and cover it with soil and compost. If you didn’t cut sod for the hole, fill with compost and soil until the hole is as deep as the nursery pot. You should set the rhubarb roots two-to-three inches below the soil line, so if the nursery pot is full to the brim, make the hole you plant in a bit deeper.

Remove your new plant from the pot, set it in the middle of the hole, and fill around it with compost and soil until the hole is full. If there are young rhubarb stalks already growing from the roots, it’s OK for the soil to cover the bottoms of the stems. The stems themselves may not like it, but in the long-run, the plant will adjust to this planting depth; ideally, the top of the root should be three inches under ground.

Water rhubarb plants heavily for a few weeks after planting until you see new, vigorous growth.

Low-Maintenance Bounty

It’s hard to kill a rhubarb plant by accident. I’ve never seen one burn from getting too much fertilizer so fertilize heavily in the spring, two or three times through the growing season, and again when you put your garden to bed in the fall. If you eschew chemical fertilizers add compost or manure often. Rhubarb grows most aggressively in mid-to-late spring, and may look pretty beat in the heat of summer. By fall, a rhubarb patch can look shot as the leaves wilt and stalks shrivel. I usually have some rhubarb-looking growth until fall, but everything above soil wastes away well before snow falls.

Don’t let the plant’s summer droopiness cause you to overlook it when watering. If the rest of your small kitchen garden needs water, so does the rhubarb. Give your plants occasional deep watering especially during dry spells.

Home Kitchen Garden Rhubarb In LeavesRhubarb emerges within a few weeks of the ground thawing – even from under a thick mulch. I was just starting vegetable seeds indoors under lights when I snapped this photo in early April.

Once stalks and leaves die back at the end of the season, mulch over the area with compost, manure, leaves, or grass clippings. Mulch will protect roots from early deep frosts, and provide some nutrition as young stalks push through in the spring. Rhubarb wakes up very early, and may be the first food you harvest in a season.

And that’s one of the most compelling reasons to plant rhubarb in your small kitchen garden: you do nothing to it from fall until spring, but it wakes up and quickly gives you a delicious fruit-like crop. This year, I harvested my first rhubarb stalks in early May while just a few of my herbs and vegetables were starting to grow. Only hardy herbs are ready in my garden as early as the rhubarb is.

In case you’ve never harvested rhubarb and made sauce, I wrote a blog entry detailing how. You can find it under the title Eat Rhubarb from Your Home Kitchen Garden. If you prefer watching over reading, here’s a video I created that explains how to make rhubarb sauce. It’s about seven minutes long. I hope you find it useful:

Here are links to articles that describe other uses for rhubarb:

  • Rhubarb Juice: A Many Spendored Thing – by David Perry. Many of you have heard or read me raving about rhubarb juice, a simple, healthy nectar that Dave Brown, wooden bowl maker, bread baker, birder, master canoeist, photographer, storyteller, life magician and director of the Wildbranch Writer’s Workshop first introduced me to…

  • Back to the Locabar: Rhubarb Margarita I’ve been hinting for weeks that I wanted a special cocktail for my birthday. Last summer we got so used to fresh, seasonal ingredients that our long winter presented a special challenge for the Cocktail Study Club. More often than not, Friday night rolled around and Charlie would say, “How about a martini?” I love his martinis but enough is enough….

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Small Kitchen Garden Pea Notebook Video

For the past six installments, Your Small Kitchen Garden has been all about getting a garden ready for planting, and then starting seeds in the ground. If you’ve been following along, you’ve read about how I plant peas. I crowd my pea seeds, and provide a strong trellis for them to climb. By the end of the pea season, each trellis resembles a thick hedge of pea plants stretching five or six feet high.

Plant Peas Now

In hardiness zones six and lower, it’s not too late to plant peas. Especially if you’re still getting overnight frost, if you can work the soil, you can plant just about any variety of pea and expect success. However, as your region’s last expected frost date approaches (mine is but 10 days away), you’re flirting with “too late.” Your peas may start strong in the cooler weeks, but any significant early heat could kill the plants—or at least stunt their growth.

I’ve planted peas as late as three weeks after the last frost date and still had terrific yields. At that point I probably wouldn’t have planted at all if not for wilt-resistant varieties of peas. It’s a little sad to choose varieties for any characteristic other than flavor, but I’ve yet to grow a pea variety that was less than awesome. Around here, I can reliably buy Wando pea seeds, and they stand up remarkably well against the heat of early summer.

In this video, I wordlessly summarize how I prepare the soil in a row in my small kitchen garden. Then I narrate the steps as I plant a row of peas and erect a trellis for them. Please enjoy:



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