Gift Giving Ideas and More Yummy Winter Thyme Recipes

There is a light dusting of snow on the ground and the air is chilled… next Friday will herald in the first day of Winter… my personal countdown to beloved Spring.  I have Spring in the hoop house despite what the calender says right now… but today I am not feeling very well and thought I would do something else I love that I have been neglecting… “For Dragonflies and Me”… an essentially all of you who read this.  The days have been growing shorter and the sunshine diminishing more and more each day.  Today is a sunny day and I will be happy for that. Here are some great gift giving ideas for those of you that want to do something extra special along with some ideas on drying and freezing your herbs and of course a few recipes to use them in. Enjoy friends.

We are in the heart of the Gift Giving season and us crafty people are always looking for that extra unique gift that we can hand make for those special people in our lives.  Gift Baskets are a fun and super easy way to create a one of a kind gift.  Although we need to look out of the box, or should I say ‘basket’ and look around for unique and original ‘containers’ to hold the gifts!  Here a few ideas that you can expand on… just remember, be creative and have fun, that special person will know that you spent extra time in this gift of love!  Please remember that there are many Winter Farmers Markets going on right now, including our farms in Downtown Farmington, The Old Winery and we’ve got over 30 vendors there every Saturday that can easily help you create many of these novel gifts…

*Gift for the Localvore~ Container: Go to the local Farmers Market that you know the 

I have a Bolga Basket and just love it!

recipiant attends and purchase a shopper bag from the market if they have one or purchase a large shopping type basket from the Basket Vendor there.  If the market has neither of these, then purchase one from Bolga Baskets- a wonderful basket that is hand made in countries by the poor-  Contents: Again, patronize the local farmers market and purchase items from the vendors there to fill the container.  You can often get gift certificates from vendors and this will allow them to purchase what they like- especially from meat, egg, dairy and produce vendors- things that won’t keep in a ‘basket’but need to be included!  You can also include a gift certificate from a local restuarant that purchases and uses locally sourced items.  Get a copy of Edible WOW Magazine if you live in Michigan, it is the best source anywhere to find those local goodies.  They too hold classes that would be a great gift!
Depending on where you are located, go to www, to find an Edible Publication near you!

Garden Caddy would
make excellent

*Gift for the gardener~ Container Ideas: large Terra Cotta or Clay pot, Garden Caddy Bag, Old Wooden tool box from Antique or thrift shop, Wicker basket. Contents:  Hand tools- trowel, shovel, scratcher, weed digger; gardening gloves, pad for kneeling, few cute garden name tags, garden step stone, several seed packs- include veggies, flower and herbs, gift certificate for a seed catalog with the catalog- my choice would be Baker Creek Seed, gardening book- my personal choice would be “Tomatoes Love Carrots” by, Louise Riott, gardening magazine- my first choice would be Organic Gardening published by Rodale,

*Gift for the baker~  Container: big ceramic or stoneware bowl-, large cookie sheet, 9×13 baking dish, large enamel ware bowl.  Contents: Bag of flour, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, other flavored chips, sprinkles, sugar, vanilla, almond and maple extracts, salt, baking powder and soda, walnuts, pecans, rolling pin, hot pads, glove and towel set, cookie cutters, cookbook, gift certificate for a class at a local shop.

*Gift for the cook~ Container: Enamelware Roaster, Stainless Steel Stock Pot, Cast Iron Skillet. Contents: Several types of salt and pepper- Pink Hymalain, White pepper corns and grinder, several rubs, spices, cooking utensils, hot pads and glove,  cookbook for using LOCAL ingredients, gift certificate for a local cooking class- check out for local classes.

*Gift for the griller~ Container: Roaster. Contents: Grilling tools, rubs, several Bar-b-que sauces- pick up some at your local Farmers Market, hot pads and gloves, salts & peppers and grinder, cookbook for grilling and a gift certificate to a local grocery store.


*Gift for the sewer~ Container: sewing basket, wicker basket. Contents:  Scissors, sewing needles, variety of thread, pins, measuring tape, seam ripper, buttons, couple spools of decorative ribbon, rotary cutter and mat, thread organizer, sewing machine needles, gift certificate to a local store for a class.  If you want to go all out, get them a sewing machine too!

*Gift for the Scrapbooker/ Stamper: Container: Any type of Scrapbook Tote, Large wicker basket. Contents- oh my where do I begin- this is one of my personal fave’s!!!  Paper Card Stock Stack pads- 12×12, stickers, ribbons, stamps & pads, paper cutter, adhesives, markers, chalks, pencils, any other accesories you can find. Scrapbook magazine and even better a subscription, gift certificate to a local scrapbook/stamping store for a class! I think it would be easiest to stick with a theme for the contents.  If you really want to go all out for a gift, pick up a die cut machine and a cartridge.

*Gift for the shopper~ Container: Large pretty shopper bag, large Wicker basket meant for shopping. Contents: Gift certificates to a few local shops in town taking into consideration what the ‘shopper’ enjoys shopping for! Nice pair of walking shoes, directory of shops, thrift stores or whatever else she likes, GPS.

Gift for the reader- Container: Wicker Basket, cloth bag. Contents: several books by favorite author, Readers journal, gift certificate to local bookstore, a few handmade book marks, magazines that would interest the person, mug with coffee, tea and cocoa packs, lap blanket to cozy up with while reading. If the recipiant is a techie- get them an e-reader.

*Gift for a pet~ Container: Dog or Cat bed. Contents: new dishes for food & water, home made treats- go to your local farmers market and find a treat maker and support local, toys, sweater, new leash & collar, gift certificate for a grooming at a local pet salon.

The point I hope I have made here when gift giving is source out LOCAL items to give… forget the prepack stuff and slow down. This time of year doesn’t have to be a stress induced manic moment… take a breath, get a note pad and pen and start jotting down the people who are giving too… think about their likes and start making your list!  You will have as much fun putting them together as they will opening them!

Cabbage Strudel– makes 2 rolls
8 tbsp butter
1 c chopped onion
8 c thinly sliced cabbage
1 c shredded  carrots
1 tsp salt
1/4 c shredded cheese– Swiss or other
3/4 c bread crumbs
1 tbsp snipped fresh parsley or thyme
1/8 tsp black pepper
12 sheets frozen ph7yllo dough– thawed
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 15×10 inch baking pan– set aside.
2. 2.  in a large skillet melt 2 tbsp of the butter and add onion; cook about 5 minutes or till tender.  Add cabbage & carrots; sprinkle with salt.  Cook about 10 minutes or till tender.  Remove from heat; stir in chasse, 1/2 c of bread crumbs, pepper & herb
3. In a saucepan melt the remaining butter.  Unroll phyllo dough, cover with waxed paper & damp towel.  Brush with some butter; top with 1 teaspoon of crumbs.  Repeat layers with five more sheets phyllo., melted butter & crumbs.  Spread half the cabbage filling over phyllo layers, leaving a 2 inch border on one of the long sides & both short sides.  Fold both short sides over filling; roll up from l long side.  Place roll, seam side down, in prepared pan.  Repeat to make a second roll.
4. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack; cool for 30 minutes. To serve cut with serrated knife into slices.

Swiss Chard, Spinach or Beet Greens. Combine all if you want to!

15-20 leaves
1/4 c Olive Oil
2 or 3 eggs

1/2 c shredded cheese– your choice
Salt to taste
1. Wash leaves, cut out white or colored midrib.
2. Tear leaves into bite size pieces
3. Stir fry leaves in hot oil till evenly coated and wilted– sprinkle w/ salt.
4. Place leaves in baking dish– pour beaten eggs to cover– sprinkle cheese over top.
5. Bake @ 350 until eggs are set and cheese melted- Appox. 20-30 mins.

Happy Day,





PART 1: Autumn’s Bounty in the Root Cellar and Two Yummy Storage Crop Recipes!

Sunflower heads that Ryan and I harvested from our back field
 to feed the birds this winter

The Season of Autumn…
This is Neil’s and most of the children’s favorite season… I like it too, but I am all about Spring and Summer. I do love Autumn for the harvest though… the smell and crunch of the leaves under foot… the caa-caa of the Blue Jays feasting on the sunflowers in the front garden… the sound of the wind whistling through the leaves still hanging onto the branches… not quite ready to sail away…watching our can shelves, freezers and root cellars start to fill up to over flowing… Oh the bounty of Autumn, how thankful are we!  The children enjoy the slower pace that Autumn leans into… once the fields are plowed and all that is left is the hoop house and animal care duties, life seems to take on a slower pace… more relaxed and peaceful.  Now the boys and Neil are in full swing of making firewood to both heat our home and to sell at market. I love to hear the chainsaws roaring and the smack of the axe. I get to start using the cook stove again now… oh that smell of wood burning so close lends to a feeling more cozy than words can describe. I love our cook stove… it reminds me of when we would go way up North into Canada to visit my dad’s folks. They didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until I was about 12 years old… I loved the smell that rose into the upstairs when grandma was frying up fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast… covered and cozy under her quilts… not really wanting to venture out into the cold… the heat would start to move slowly through the old farm house upstairs and then I would jump out of bed and quick get dressed and run downstairs.  Everyone else was always up and moving long before I. It was a happy feeling… a cozy, homey feeling that I had there.  Now I have a cook stove of my own and although I only use it in the cold months, I can’t think of doing without it. 

Life is good right now and quickly moving by… We are trying to get all the last things done around the farm before the snow flies.
Harvest time is in full swing for most farmers right now. We are expecting some freezing temps here the next couple days so many of us are picking all the tomatoes~ green and all and everything else that will not sustain a frost or freeze.  Ryan and I got all the sunflower heads harvested from the back field this past week. They are drying out nicely in the barn (see photo’s on my blog spot or web site). The back field is ready to be plowed up now for the season.  We still need to get all the herbs from the Sausage Garden in though… Much of the Fennel is still green; I need to harvest the heads that are dry to save the seed. This will be what Neil uses in our farms Italian Sausages; Parsley will be harvested for our Italian Herb & Cheese; Sage will be dried for our Breakfast; Marjoram, Summer Savory and all the others will need to be brought in as well. Garlic needs to be planted within the next two to three weeks for next years harvest; spinach, lettuce, sorrel, and parsley need to be transplanted into the hoop house for winter production. Life keeps us busy, even in our slower time.

This is the hoop house right now. We just
pulled out the majority of the cherry tomato
plants, leaving only a few until they are killed
by a hard freeze. We will plant spinach, lettuce,
chard, sorel and parsley transplants from the sausage
garden. We will direct seed radishs beside them
for winter production for our winter markets. 

As I have been mentioning for the last several months, I will be discussing how to keep all this beautiful Autumn bounty in Root Storage as well as drying and freezing herbs.  The bulk of the info will be taken and adapted from “Root Cellaring- Natural Cold Storage Of Fruits & Vegetables” by, Mike and Nancy Bubel; published by Storey Publishing.  This is the best book out there and gives the most concise information on this topic.  It is a must have for anyone looking to store what they have grown.  Be sure to check my blog spot at for lots of great photos to go with this post! 

There are several aspects to consider when planning for a root storage crop and keeping it.  Much of this planning is done in January and February for the home gardener when the garden is being planned. The seed catalogs are abounding in the mail box and it is a thrill to sit with notepad and pen and jot down all the new things you want to try to grow… but you must take into consideration what you want to do with your crops~ simply have a small garden that you can snack on through the season or are you planning on feeding your family all that good stuff through the miserable cold days of winter when that beautiful garden is layered with white stuff and stone hard frozen.  Well, if the later is your intent, then planning is key & crucial… plus it’s just plain fun to page through those beautiful catalogs and plan that garden. Before I had my green houses and hoop house this was my only way to keep it together through the non-gardening months… now I am happily spoiled! 

Here is a list of the considerations that are crucial:*Choose crops that are meant for winter storage along with all the fresh eating crops during the growing season.
*The amount of moisture required for each particular crop.
*Temperature required to hold the crop.
*Where are you going to store your crops?
*Learning what can & can’t be kept together.

Today we will look at what crops are Good Keepers and Temperatures and Amounts of Moisture Required for crops.


~So here is a list of vegetable that keep well; I have not listed anything that I have not tried myself, the above mentioned book has a much more extensive list of thier successes.
*Beets- Detroit Dark Red and Long Season
*Brussels Sprouts- Long Island Improved
*Cabbage- Late Flat Dutch, January King and Danish Ballhead
*Carrots- Danvers and Chantenay
*Celery- Utah
*Kohlrabi- White Vienna and Purple Vienna
*Leeks- American Flag, Lexton and Bandit
*Onions- Copra and Red Zeppelin
*Parsnips- All American
*Sweet Potatoes- Beauregard
*Potatoes- Russet (White baker), Yukon Gold (yellow), Kennebec (white) and Red Norland (Red)
*Rutabaga- Laurentian and Purple Top
*Winter Squash- Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Buttercup, Butternut and any Hubbards.
*Turnips- Purple Top White Globe
*Apples- any late season hard apples will do well.
~ This is such a minute list of what is available, but I don’t feel comfortable telling you things that I haven’t personally experience. You can get really good details about crops and their holding qualities in Johny’s Seed Catalog along with our topic book.  Have fun with your garden and try two or three varieties of each crop to do your own testing and see what you & your family like. 

The next important factor to take into consideration when you are planning your crop choices is your location for storage and the amount of Moisture and Humidity that you are going to be dealing with.  This will help you determine which crops and varieties as well.  

Here is the list of “Storage Requirements of Vegetable and Fruits” that is in the above mentioned book which can be found on page 51-52. (I have adapted slightly).
*Cold and Very Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 90-95 % relative humidity):
Carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery, Chinese cabbage, celeriac, salsify, Winter radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, collards, broccoli (short term), Brussels sprouts (short term), horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, Hamburg rooted parsley.
*Cold and Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 80-90 % relative humidity):
Potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower (short term), apples, grapes (40 degrees F), oranges, pears, endive, escrole, grapefruit.
*Cool and Moist- (40-50 degrees F and 85-90 relative humidity):
Cucumbers, sweet peppers (45-55 degrees F), cantalope, watermelon, eggplant (50-60 degrees F), ripe tomatoes.
*Cool and Dry- (32-50 degrees F and 60-70 % relative humidity):
Garlic (keeps better in even lower humidity, around 50%), onions.
*Moderately Warm and Dry (50-60 degrees F and 60-70% relative humidity):
Dry hot peppers, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and green tomatoes (up to 70 degrees F is OK

In the next post I will go into more detail with where to store all this wonderful bounty… keep posted!

Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling

1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves


1. Preheat oven to 350 digress.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle.  Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high.  Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes.  Press on dough, draping over rim of pan.  Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly  browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once.  Drain bacon on paper towels.  Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown,  10 minutes.  Spread mixture evenly in crust.  Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows. 
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper.  Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust.  Top with sage.  Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes.  Let cool 15  minutes.

Asian Chicken Slaw


2 chicken breasts, deboned & skinned, cooled & diced
4 c cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 c  onions thinly sliced
3 tbsp rice vinegar or regular
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar


1. in a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage and onions.
2. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend.  Add salt & pepper to taste.
3. Serve as a salad or fill pita pockets

Happy Day,