The Art of Meaningful Gift Giving, How to Preserve a Child and some Yummy Market Fresh Recipes

We’re at the time of year when everyone is in a hustle and bustle of the Holidays.  For us the Farmers Market is filled with beautiful gift items and our market friends are all too happy to stop by and pick up that beautiful, one of a kind, hand crafted item to give their loved ones.  There’s an art to gift giving.  Some folks like the idea of gift cards- quick & simple and they don’t have to worry about the ‘did they like it or not?’  Others love the thrill of searching and finding just the right thing for that special person.  Then there are those that take the time to actually create something unique for each individual… and all three are fine! I don’t think there is any wrong way to give a gift, especially when it’s given with love.  We are all different and we need to do what fits our personalities… and those that love us will know that whatever the gift is, it was given with heart. I hope this post will help all of the above and you will find something that helps you in this typically crazy time of year.

Homemade gift tags add a special touch. Use
old greeting cards or seed packets.

Here are some easy to create as well as purchased gift ideas that are special and will last a life time… and won’t get broke and tossed the day after Christmas…

In my previous blog (12/15) I wrote about creating one of a kind beautiful gift ‘baskets’, today I will touch on gifts that can be purchased, but more on the side of Hand Made with Love.  Hope you can all find something useful here to help you through the next few days of trying to find that perfect gift!

*Go to the Farmers Market! Of course I have a very biased opinion here- I’m selling at the Farmers Market and I run one where I have lots of vendors who have great items that would make incredible gifts.  If you want to find one of a kind, hand crafted baskets, bowls, water color paintings, quilts, jewelry, pen & pencil sets, photography, centerpieces, metal work, bird houses, rolling pins and ice cream scoops, we’ve even got gifts for your pets and coffee beans for the stockings… The Old Winery Farmers Market is the place to be.  Check us out at http://www.theoldwinerymarket.com and like us on facebook! You won’t be dissappointed!

*Give a Gift Certificate to a local Nursery in the gift recipiants area. Tell them the certificate is to be used for a tree in honor of the family, the birth of a child, a house warming gift or any other reason you can think of.  Arrange a day when you can all be together in the Spring to plant the tree and have a family bar-b-que.

*Homemade Potpourri:  here are several recipes
What you will need: cellophane bag, ribbon, twisty tie, homemade tag.
“With Love…”  Ingredients: Rosebuds for love, Chamomile for patience, lavender for devotion, marjoram for joy and rosemary for remembrance.  Place 4 cups of mixture in bag, twist and secure with twisty tie, then put pretty ribbon around and attach gift tag, be sure to lable the ingredients on the tag as listed above.
“Herbal Garden” Ingredients: 1 cup EACH: dried parsley, sage, thyme, mint- your choice of scent, cranberries, 2 cup dried rosemary, 10 medium size pine cones.
“For the Love of Lavender” Ingredients: 4 cups dried lavender blossoms, 1 cup EACH: dried ivory globe, blue salvia bloosoms, rose petals, 3 Tbsp. orris root, amaranth blossoms, 4-6 drops lavender essential oil. Mix ingredients and store in a sealed container for 6 weeks before using or giving.
“My Rose Garden” Ingredients: 3 cups dried rose petals- mixed colors, 1 cup rose hips, 7-8 drops of rose essential oil, 12 ivory strawflower heads, 1 cup star anise. Mix all ingredients and store in an air tight container for 4 weeks before using or giving


 

Sunflower Wreaths:  If you saved your sunflower heads like Ryan and I did this Fall (see photo) you can make this easy and beautiful wreath to give your bird feeding loved ones & friends.  This works best with Mammoth or Giant Grey Stripe heads.  Heres how:  Take the sunflower head and cut a hole our of the center- where the stem would have been- about 4″ in diameter; Take some evergreen boughs and make a small bouquet; glue gun or wire it on the sunflower wreath; put a piece of raffia or twine so it can be hung.   

Bird Suet Feeders: Another gift for your bird loving friends.  You can make super cute suet cakes, here’s how:
Ingredients: 1 part Peanut Butter, 2 parts bird seed, 5 parts cornmeal, 2 parts melted lard.
How to:  Melt lard on low heat; add peanut butter, stir till melted in; remove from heat and immediately add remaining ingredients, stir with wooden spoon till evenly mixed.  Line cupcake cups with paper liners; press mixture into cups and place in refrigerator until firm.  Using a thin pencil, press through center to make a hole right through where a wire can be put through so it can be hung.Transfer to plastic bags and keep in freezer. 
When you’re ready to give as gifts, place in cellophane baggies and tie with ribbons. These make cute stocking stuffers.

 
Gift of Food:  Most of us make jams, jellies, relishes or salsa’s each year. Why not give a few as a gift.  If you don’t do this, again you can find these types of goodies at The Farmers Market as well! Hope to see you there! 
If you are interested in making something now, that you can still get ingredients for here a few easy and yummy recipes.
These recipes were taken from Taproot Magazine, Issue 3:: Retreat http://www.taprootmag.com

Lavender Infused Honey5-6 cups fresh or dried lavender flowers, chopped
48 oz. Honey
1 drop lavender essential oil (optional)

Place the flowers in a soup pot. Put the honey over them, packing with a long handled wooden spoon to ensure that all the flowers are covered.
Allow this mixture to sit overnight, or even up to 3 nights, covered with a lid.
Place the pot on very low heat.  When the honey turns to a liquid (just a few minutes), immediately strain into jars.
Press the herbs to release every bit of the honey, and compost eh herbs.
Add the essential oil, if using, and stir.
Cap the jars and sore them in a cabinet



Peppermint Ginger Pancake Syrup1/2 cup fresh peppermint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh ginger, chopped skin is fine
3 cups water
1/2 cup honey

In a large saucepan, combine the peppermint, ginger, and water. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the volume has decreased to approximately 1 cup.  this creates a strong, fragrant eat. 
Strain the liquid and return it to the pot.
Add the sweetener, and heat gently until completely blended.
Store the syrup in a 1 pint jar in the refrigerator.





I thought this was cute and wanted to share it here…
“How To Preserve Children”
Take one large grassy field
1/2 dozen or so children, all sizes
3 small dogs, and a few big ones- a cat is fine too!
one narrow strip of brook, pebbly if possible
several large trees for shade… and of course a tire swing on one
a large picnic basket filled with goodies

Mix the children with the dogs and cat, empty them into the field, stirring continually;  sprinkle with field flowers, pour brook gently over pebbles, cover all with a deep blue sky and bake in a hot sunshine.
After done, place under tree, take turns swinging and have a yummy snack.
Enjoy them while they’re little, for they won’t be little long.

Pick up these ingredients at the Farmers Market all year long… we’ve got em’ at The Old Winery!
Thyme Grilled Vegetable

16 baby potato– about 1 quart
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c Olive Oil
2 tbsp fresh Thyme, minced
1/2 tsp salt
3 large peppers, sliced– use different colors to make it pretty!
2 c sliced onions

In an un-greased 9×13 inch baking casserole, combine the potatoes, broth, oil, thyme & salt.  Grill, covered over medium heat for about 25 minutes.
Stir in peppers & onions.  Grill 25-30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest
1 Bunch of Chard, Kale or Spinach from Garden Gate, stems & ribs discarded
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp. fresh snipped Parsley
4 Eggs from Garden Gate

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Chop your greens into bite size pieces and toss in the oil and seasoning to coat evenly. Spread evenly in the bottom of a 10″x10″ glass baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes, till crisp.  Remove from oven and divide into 2 bowls and create a ‘nest’ with a hole in the center.
2. While greens are baking, bring a 2 quart pot of water to a rolling boil and gently lower eggs into water, turn off heat and cover.  Let eggs sit in water for 6 1/2 minutes for soft boiled eggs.
3. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let sit for about 1/2 minute.  Working carefully and quickly, peel eggs, and place in center of nests.  Season with a bit of sea salt and serve immediately.

Happy Day,
Jean




 

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- http://www.bolgabaskets.com  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 http://www.ediblewow.com 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,ediblecommunities.com to find an Edible Publication near you!

Garden Caddy would
make excellent
container!

*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 http://www.rareseed.com, 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, www.organicgardening.com

*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 http://www.ediblewow.com 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,
Jean