SG533: How Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers Go Together in Vegetable Literacy with Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison is nothing short of amazing. Her cookbook, Vegetable Literacy, has become a staple for many aspiring chefs around the world. Vegetable Literacy is exciting to both gardeners and cooks alike because it draws a connection between the vegetables, herbs and edible flowers in 12 plant families. It’s more than a cookbook - it’s an invaluable resource to cooks and gardeners; helping cooks learn about garden edibles while helping gardeners learn how edibles work together in the kitchen.

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison on the Still Growing Gardening Podcast 6ftmama blog

Interview Questions

Let's chat briefly about the ingredients you regularly use in the kitchen. What are some of your favorite staples?

Time Stamp: 16:15

A lot of people have not cooked with ghee before, what is that like?

Time Stamp: 17:25

You are a gardener in addition to a cook - what are you growing in your garden right now?

Time Stamp: 20:20

Gardeners and chefs are on two ends of the same spectrum - has the growing vegetables enhanced your skills as a cook?

Time Stamp: 24:20

How are you finding the experience of growing winter squash for the first time?

Time Stamp: 26:40

What are some of your favorite recipes that incorporate umbels like carrots, parsnips, and celery?

Time Stamp: 28:10

You love to cook with leaves as well. I hear that they contain more nutrients than the actual plant itself, is this true?

Time Stamp: 34:40

How do you like to add radish leaves to soups?

Time Stamp: 36:45

Do you grow a lot of herbs in the mint family in your garden?

Time Stamp: 37:40

You mentioned that the sunflower family (Asteraceae) also includes lettuce. That seems a bit odd to me. How can I remember that lettuce included in this family?

Time Stamp: 40:25

Have you ever made the mistake of growing Jerusalem artichoke in your garden?

Time Stamp: 42:05

I have a friend who just gave me my first tarragon plant. What do you like to do with tarragon?

Time Stamp: 44:00

The knotweed family (Polygonaceae) includes rhubarb and sorrel. This is a tough group of plants to imagine combining together in the kitchen, right?

Time Stamp: 45:40

When we talk about the cabbage family (Cruciferous or Brassicaceae), it seems people either love it or they don’t.

Time Stamp: 46:40

Let’s chat about the black sheep of the vegetable kingdom - the nightshade family. People resisted this family of plants for decades due to its poisonous nature, yet where would we be without our beloved tomatoes and potatoes?

Time Stamp: 50:15

Spinach, chard, beets, and the like belong to the Chenopods or goosefoot family. You once told me about the time you had a farmer show you his goose’s foot to make sense of this name. Was that helpful?

Time Stamp: 53:05

There is this fabulous photo of you that I've seen on your website where you are holding the most ginormous allium. It's gorgeous! It was a photo taken by Christopher Hirsheimer. I have to ask, is that from your garden?

Time Stamp: 55:22

You call the Curcurbit family (which includes cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, etc) the sensual family. Why is that?

Time Stamp: 58:00

Another important family is the grass family, which contains grains. Not a lot of people would think about grains as part of the grass family, would they?

Time Stamp: 1:00:35


My husband loves peas and I saw that you had a pea recipe with baked ricotta and breads crumbs. Can you virtually cook that meal for us?

Time Stamp: 1:01:25

Soups are so popular, yet there are very few vegetable soup recipes during the summer. Can you talk us through making a simple vegetable stock?

Time Stamp: 1:03:10

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What listeners are saying...

I never write reviews but this is the best gardening podcast out there. Jennifer has interesting topics and guests and is not one bit annoying like some others are. I love that she involves her kids at the end of the podcast - usually with poetry or music. Really good podcast.

- Barbcfc, Mar 23, 2016

Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.

- cwaigl, May 29, 2014

Best gardening podcast out there. Her preparedness leads to a good interaction with the guests and brings out the best in them. Very informative and yet personable.

- Corn bug, June 15, 2016

This is a great podcast. Really well produced and organized with good sound quality. I love the mix of information and personal touches. Jennifer has great guests and asks the best questions. You can tell she really does her homework. I listen to several gardening podcasts and this is my absolute favorite!

- So Cal Gardengirl, June 19,2016

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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