Spencer Street Community Garden, Bed-Stuy, Green With Envy Tour 2008 III.06

This is the Spencer Street Block Association Community Garden, at 230 Spencer Street, between Willoughby & DeKalb, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This was the 6th stop on the third 2008 Green With Envy tour of Brooklyn Community Gardens last October.

Spencer Street Garden

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Tour Bed-Stuy Community Gardens, Saturday, October 4
Flickr photo set
View slideshow


Greene Acres Community Garden, Bed-Stuy, Green With Envy Tour 2008 III.04

One of the paths defined by hexagonal raised beds at the Green Acres Community Garden in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Hexagonal Path

Stop #4 of the third 2008 Green With Envy (GWE) tour of Brooklyn community gardens was the Green Acres Community Garden, at the corner of Greene and Franklin Avenues [GMAP] in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

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Tour Bed-Stuy Community Gardens, Saturday, October 4
Flickr photo set
View slideshow

Madison Street Garden, Bed-Stuy, Green With Envy Tour 2008 III.01

Winter is a good time to dig into my photo archives. October seems so warm right now.

This is a slideshow from the Madison Street Block Association Garden at 88-90 Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This was the first stop on the third of the Green With Tours of Brooklyn community gardens I attended during 2008. GWE 2008 III visited gardens in Bed-Stuy.

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Tour Bed-Stuy Community Gardens, Saturday, October 4
Flickr photo set

2008 Wrap-up

A young raccoon in my backyard in Flatbush, Brooklyn in June of 2008. My post about them was in the top five of 2008, measured both by visits and number of comments.
Flatbush Raccoon

It was a year of great changes and terrible losses for me. I began 2008 by taking classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden toward a Certificate in Horticulture, which I hope to complete by the end of this year. I remain involved in the gardening activism of Sustainable Flatbush, both in the Gardening Committee, and in the Flatbush CommUNITY Garden. I organized a Brooklyn Blogade, a meeting of bloggers, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and helped with the 2008 annual Blogfest. I also lost two of my best friends: my cat, Spot, at the beginning of the year, and my father, Jerry, just four weeks ago.

To see out this old year and welcome in the new one, I thought I’d review and recap some of what I’ve written for this blog during 2008, and your responses to it.

Overall stats

Number of posts published: 236 (averaging 2 posts every 3 days)
Busiest month: April, with 38 posts (more than 1 per day)
Slowest month: November, with only 10 posts (1 every 3 days)

22,896 people visited this blog during 2008. There were 32,073 visits, an average of 88 per day. About 70% were first-time visitors.

Greatest Hits of 2008

The most popular content on the blog.

By visits

According to Google Analytics, from which I’ve collected these stats, “unique page views” are the number of visits during which a page was viewed. Page views are higher, since the same page may be viewed multiple times during a single visit. Unique pageviews, however, doesn’t distinguish multiple visits from the same person or IP address.

  1. (Magi)Cicada Watch, about the Brood XIV Magicicadas, which unfortunately have been extirpated in Brooklyn, 2008-05-21, 763 visits
  2. Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, my report on a public hearing and analysis of the proposal, 2008-06-13, 483 visits
  3. Summer Nights, my photographic report on raccoons in my backyard, 2008-06-26, 405 visits
  4. Sources of Plants for Brooklyn Gardeners, 2008-04-29, 367 visits
  5. These two posts, both of them memorials, are close enough to call it a tie:

Special mention goes to my tutorial on the OASIS mapping service. Although I wrote it in February of 2007, almost two years ago, it was the third most popular page during 2008, with 433 unique page views. It’s got “legs”.

By comments

It’s interesting to me that my two most commented posts this year were both obituaries. It’s been a year of big changes in my life.

  1. Spot, 2008-02-23, 14 comments
  2. Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008, 2008-12-01, 12 comments
  3. Summer Nights, my photographic report on raccoons in my backyard, 2008-06-26, 11 comments
  4. Snake in the Garden, Prospect Park, about a guy ripping branches off a cherry tree, 2008-04-26, 10 comments
  5. Three-way tie, with 9 comments each:

In case you missed it

Here are some other posts that remain relevant, interesting, or which I’m otherwise proud of.

Recipe: Soft Molasses-Spice Cookies with Cardamom

No photos (yet) for this recipe. My motivation for this experiment was making use of a spice that was new to me: cardamom.


A couple of weeks back, on the recommendation of a friend of ours who’s a professional chef, I picked up some ground cardamom (alt: cardamon) for baking. I’m unfamiliar with this spice and had never used it before this recipe.

It’s intensely fragrant; even closed, the small baggie of loose cardamom I bought at the Flatbush Food Co-op has been perfuming our kitchen and dining room. It smells like Christmas gingerbread. The scent has strong citrus tones, and at first I thought it might be in the Rutaceae, the Citrus family. But it comes from the Zingiberaceae, the Ginger family, which also makes sense.

The plant is Elettaria cardamomum, a mono-specific genus native to a wide range in southeast Asia. (Some authorities separate the Sri Lankan population as its own species.) The fruit is a pod, a capsule containing multiple seeds. The spice is made from the ground seeds.

Credit: JoJan (Wikimedia Commons)
Cardamom fruit, seeds, and ground spice

Elettaria cardamomum under cultivation. Credit: Rhaessner (Wikimedia Commons)
Elettaria cardamom under cultivation

Searching for recipes on the Web, I found that cardamom is a common ingredient in many recipes from Nordic countries. I’m not familiar with Nordic cuisine, so I wouldn’t be able to judge so well the success of my baking endeavor. Cardamom also shows up in many gingerbread recipes, so I fell back on something more familiar to me to try out: molasses spice cookies. Once again, King Arthur Flour provided the basic recipe which I tweaked to make use of my available ingredients.


KAF provides weight equivalents for the volume measures in many of their recipes. I use a kitchen scale and weigh bulk ingredients like sugar and flour whenever possible. It’s much faster, more accurate, and leads to more consistent results. It also reduces cleanup, since fewer measuring cups are involved! This is especially convenient for liquid or sticky ingredients like the molasses in this recipe.

I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, sifting it and leaving out the coarsest remaining bran to give it a finer texture. Since I had “robust” molasses, and I was using whole wheat flour, I increased the total amount of spices. I also added vanilla, allspice, and of course cardamom, none of which were in the original recipe. This created a complex taste, where none of the flavors overwhelm, but I think I would miss any I left out.

Yield: About four dozen (48) cookies

  • 2 sticks (1 cup, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
  • 6-1/4 ounces (a little more than 1/2 cup) molasses, robust flavor. (6 ounces would have been 1/2 cup.; the extra 1/4 ounce was a mistake on my part, but I recorded it as what I did.)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large eggs (original called for large)
  • 14 ounces whole wheat flour (not sure of the volume equivalent)
  • sugar, for coating (This gives the outside of the cookies some crunch. The recipe calls for coarse or even pearl sugar, for more crunch. I’d use them instead if I had them.)


  1. Let the butter come to room temperature, if possible, for easier creaming.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. (Be sure you have an accurate oven thermometer! I had a devil of a time baking in our horrible kitchen until I bought a thermometer and discovered that the oven dial was off by 100F!)
  3. Prepare a small bowl with some of the sugar for coating the cookies.
  4. (The recipe calls for greasing baking sheets or lining them with parchment. Since I have some well-seasoned, non-stick baking sheets, I didn’t bother and it wasn’t necessary.)


  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the the molasses, salt, and spices. (Here’s where you can taste-test to adjust if needed. I added the spices at 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon at a time to make sure I didn’t over do it. I ended up with 1 teaspoon of each, as listed above.)
  3. Beat in the baking soda.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they’re mixed well into the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters and mix well.
  5. Slowly stir in the flour. (This is something I’ve learned recently. Stirring the flour in at low speeds keeps the cookies tender. Beating the flour in at higher speeds makes the cookies tougher.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters and mix well.

This is a fairly soft, wet dough. Although I didn’t try it this time, I bet you could refrigerate the dough for a few hours, or even overnight, to set up before baking.


  1. Using a tablespoon cookie/ice-cream scoop, create a small ball of the dough. (A scoop is the fastest, easiest way to get a consistently sized, professional looking, batch of cookies. You could also just use two tablespoons.)
  2. Drop the dough ball onto the coating sugar. Coat thoroughly.
  3. Place the coated dough ball on the baking pan. Space them evenly, and leave plenty of space for them to spread. (The recipe says leave 2-1/2″ between them, which sounds about right.)
  4. Bake for at least 10, at most 11, minutes at 350F. (With experience, your nose and eyes are the best guides here. When they smell like they’re just starting to burn, and the edges are visibly just darker than the center, they’re done.)
  5. Remove the pan and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (But try at least one with a glass of cold milk while it’s still warm!)

Related Posts

Other recipes on this blog


Soft Ginger-Molasses Cookies and Ginger Syrup, Recipes, King Arthur Flour

Stand Still / Dona Nobis Pacem

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

It’s the longest night and shortest day of the year for my half of the world. This season’s Solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), occurred at 12:04pm UTC on December 21, 2008. That was 7:04 AM Eastern Time, my time zone, about six hours ago.

The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.
Solstice, Wikipedia

It feels like winter. It’s cold outside, icy and frozen over the layer of snow we got on Friday. We will get a deep freeze tonight.

Later this week, I will see what’s left of my family of origin for the first time since we flew back from North Carolina a little more than two weeks ago. It feels like it’s been much longer than that. It will be a bittersweet reunion. We are incomplete for the first time, and for all the seasons to come.

The days start getting longer again, earlier sunrise, later dusk. It feels like more than a metaphor this year.

Lots of “it feels”, which really means, “I’m feeling.” Sometimes that’s the work to be done. To stand still. And simply feel.

If, like me, you can’t read music cold, this page has a little MIDI file which bangs out the tune so you can follow the score.

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2007 December (Winter) Solstice


Solstice (Wikipedia)

Happy Holidays

The MTA thwarted our plans to attend a concert of a women’s choir this evening. So Blog Widow and I turned back and walked around our neighborhood, taking in the snow-beings and holiday lights.

Enjoy this slideshow of my Flickr set of photos from the evening. For best viewing, click the play button, then click the icon with four arrows in the lower-right to view it full-screen on a black background.

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Flickr set

Winter Storm Watch

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for Brooklyn and the south shore of Long Island for tomorrow, with the possibility of 6 or more inches of snow:



Gardening by Satellite

Here in Brooklyn, at the end of last week and into the weekend, we got drenched with a couple days of rain. Fellow gardeners in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, I sympathize.

New England Ice Storm, 2008.12.13

In this image, snow is red and orange, while liquid water is black. By the time this image was taken [On December 13], the top layer of ice was undoubtedly starting to melt, and the resulting watery ice ranges from dark red to black. The icy region extends over parts of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire … The normally green-blue tone of plant-covered land is nearly black throughout most of New Hampshire, the state most severely affected by the storm.
New England Ice Storm, NASA Earth Observatory

If you’ve blogged about the ice storm in your area, give us a link!


New England Ice Storm, NASA Earth Observatory

The following Garden Bloggers reported on the ice storm where they are.
Common Weeder, Heath, Massachusetts
Garden Path, Scarborough, Maine
The Vermont Gardener, Marshfield, Vermont