For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Early Herbs, Edible Flowers and Yummy Edible Flower Recipes!

Only 59 more days till Spring.... ahh! Yes, that doesn't sound so long at all. The sun is shining midst the cold air bringing happiness to my day. I long for that warm feeling that only a bright sunny day can give. I am a firm believer that too many cloudy days start to make people feel just like the day looks. The birds are chirping outside my window right now and it just feels good! The hoop house is growing beautifully despite the cold and snow that surrounds it outside. The spinach's should be just about ready to cut along with the chard... oh yum! After I am done writing this that is my destination along with green house. I am excited about getting all the seeds started for this summers bounty in the fields... oh the dirt... that beautiful dirt that I long to dig into!
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Decorating with Herbs, Step Stone Patterns and More Rhubarb and Strawberry Recipes

Here we are just about in the middle of June... how the days fly. The other day Kyle & Ethan were planting another 50 pounds of Yukon potato seeds... I walked down the row punching the holes in the plastic where they were to plant... Suddenly I saw this big, bossy and majestic dragonfly... He lives here at The Garden Gate Farm... he sports an iridescent blue jacket and flits about like he doesn't have a care in the world. I love to watch them fly about... whip over this way and then dart over that way.  They are by far my favorite insect. I quick pointed him out to the boys and we watched awhile as he showed off.  I truly believe that God always sends me one because He knows how special they are too me.  We also had another 'not so majestic' flying critter that day~ this one though was darting through my house and I was screaming running out the door~  [Read More]
 
 

Dividing Iris', Drying Your Herbs, More Herbal Personal Care and Yummy Herb Recipe's!

Well we are already into June and summer is right around the corner.  We have enjoyed all the beauty that spring brings and now we can start to welcome all the special things that summer has to offer... vine ripened heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil along with garlic put together to make a mouth watering Brushetta, Black Eyed Susan's, daisy's and cone flowers are getting ready to show off their colorful faces while our peonies and iris' are bowing out graciously.  Now is the time to start doing some divisions of certain plants, iris' being one.  Herbs are producing prolifically and drying them right now is an optimal time.  If you are a canner and put up your summer's bounty, then you will want to have all those wonderful herbs well gathered and ready to add into your spaghetti and bar-b-que sauce's, not to mention salsa and soups.  I am excited about starting to put the good stuff up here... Rhubarb is ready to be froze and saved to make some yummy strawberry-rhubarb pies, preserves and sauces (more on that next time)... oh my... summer!  [Read More]
 
 

Window Boxed Herbs, Fabric Lined Baskets and Yummy Strawberry Salad

Believe it or not but we are already coming to the end of May... soon it will be summer!  I love summer but nothing is as special to me as Spring.  The rebirth and joy that comes with spring cannot be compared!  Gardening is in full swing right now for most of us who garden... the peonies are ready to pop, lilacs are dancing, columbine and iris are swaying in the breeze as softly as the light of the butterfly that settles upon them.  Monarchs and yellow Swallow Tails are hovering about now along with my first visit of the happy hummingbirds now flitting about.  There is such life right now, such joy... you can see it in the wings of the birds as they glide overhead...

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Cooking & Baking with Herbs, Herbs for Pets, Lovely Lavender and Yummy Lavender Recipes

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs; although I don't use it as a culinary herb even though you can, I am partial to it as a lovely hedge about my flower beds.  Evan loves lavender, he will often bring me a bouquet of the sprigs he has picked... so sweet. 

Cooking with Herbs is such a special treat... once you start using fresh herbs and taste the difference from the dried, it will be hard to enjoy them as much in the winter.  Fresh herbs are a culinary delight to the senses and add a flavor that is hard to beat. Many people skip herbs when baking, so here are some yummy 'Herb Additions' to your everyday meals along with some baked good recipe's!
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Preserving Herbs, Grilling Tips, Yummy Grilled Pizza

Our family loves to grill and it doesn't matter the season. Neil as well as the boys get the grill fired up winter, spring, summer and fall~ it is respecter of no season! The only difference is the location; in the warm days it's on the patio, in the winter it's in the garage. When the warm days of spring roll around it is our daily companion for cooking! Neil won't let me touch the grill~ we, the grill & I go back a long way. You see when Neil & I were dating there were two incidents that banished me from the grill side. They now are quite funny. The first episode was when we were very newly dating. We went to a park and Neil wanted to grill some steaks. It was a beautiful day and we were having a very nice afternoon. Neil had to use the restroom so asked me to take care of the grill. Well, I had never grilled before, but I wanted to help where I could, so of course I said yes. I don't really know what happened but suddenly one of the steaks was on the ground. Horrified I quickly picked it up and put it back on the grill, dirt side down of course- Neil would never notice, surely it would cook off. There comes Neil leisurely strolling back with all trust in his eyes having faith I had taken care of his steaks that he was quite hungry for. Well, it didn't take him long to realize once he flipped the steak that something went awry while he was gone. I looked at him innocently and said it was a mistake and I was sure that it would cook off. He was not so sure, so I said I would wash it off. It was quite windy that day, and while I took it to the ladies room and diligently washed it, the coals had died out... so in the end, the sea gulls got the steak. I will tell the next story some other time... *Preserving Spring Herbs... We use herbs a lot in our cooking and I am fortunate enough to have greenhouse's and hoop houses to grow in year round. I do realize that not everyone has this luxury so here are some tips on preserving herbs starting right in the spring when many of the perennial ones are popping up right now~ chives, oregano, sage and parsley would be the main ones right now for us living in Michigan and similar climates. *The easiest way is to simply dry your herbs using a dehydrator; baking on a cookie sheet in a 150 degree oven until dry- length of time depends on herb- don't pile on the pan- just put in a single layer; you can also bunch and tie with rubber bands and hang upside down from drying racks, or rafters in the basement. Direct sunlight should be avoided. Parsley is the only one I don't like to do this type of drying to- although I am not sure why, but it looses it's color! To store, keep in air tight glass jars or plastic containers. *Freezing is also easy & fast- chives and parsley work best with this method. *We love Pesto- make your recipe in big batch quantity and freeze in plastic containers, baby food jars or jelly jars. Remember to leave at least an inch head space when freezing! *You can also pack 2 cups of any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup oil~ I would use safflower or canola- olive oil will leave a strong flavor- fill baby food jars, small plastic containers or jelly jars and freeze this way as well. This works great when you want to baste on any meat, saute veggies or meat in, or brush on bread for brushetta, pizza crust or bread sticks. Here are some grilling tips from Neil: *If you love garlic like we do, try throwing a few fresh garlic cloves on the hot coals to add extra flavor to your goodies. *Neil loves to smoke stuff~ if you want to wow your guests, try adding some hickory, apple wood or cherry wood chips or sawdust on the coals for an extra special treat. Make sure you soak the chips in water for about hour before you are ready to put them on the coals; if using sawdust just get wet. *If you are using charcoal, then keep a spray bottle with water to spray on the coals to keep temperature down so it doesn't get too hot. *Neil likes to brush the grill with some olive oil before putting the food on, this helps it to not stick. Yummy Grilled Pizza! Last summer we fell in love with grilling pizza! The children enjoyed it both in the way of having fun because they created their own masterpieces and it was absolutely delicious. Here is my pizza crust recipe and some of our favorite toppings! Crust: 2 cups warm water 1 Tbsp. yeast 1 tsp. raw organic sugar 1 tsp. sea salt 1 Tbsp. olive oil 3-4 cups flour, plus some for dusting Toppings: shredded cheese fresh Portobella mushrooms sweet peppers onions bacon, ham, sausage, ground beef or chicken pizza sauce, ranch dressing tomatoes ... these are just some ideas, use your favorite toppings 1. In a large, mixing bowl add yeast to water and stir gently; add sugar, salt and olive oil, stir in gently until dissolved. 2. Add 2 cups of flour, mix in until well blended; add 1 more cup flour, mix in well; and the rest of flour in 1/4 cups at a time until the dough is soft and doesn't stick to hands. Add a bit more flour in until the dough feels right; Knead dough for about 2-3 minutes until all flour is mixed in well. Form into a ball and place in bowl, cover with kitchen towel and leave on the top of stove to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. 3. While dough is rising get your toppings prepared. Sauteing the veggies is best and making sure any raw meats are cooked. 4.When dough has risen, punch it down using your hands and knead a bit more into a ball again. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 even sized pieces and roll out to about and 1/2 inch thick. The dough should be thicker so it doesn't fall apart on the grill. 5. Brush the dough with Olive Oil and put on heated grill; grill on one side for about 2-3 minutes, checking to be sure it doesn't burn; when the one side is done, remove from grill onto a cookie sheet, cooked side up; put your toppings on the cooked side; sauce, cheese, meat & veggies and add a bit more cheese; return to the grill to finish grilling- about 2-3 more minutes; put lid on for about the last minute to help melt the cheese. Remove from grill and have your feast! Happy Day, Jean
 
 

Simple To Make Birdbath, Say I Love You with Herbs, Recycled Cloth Shopper Bags And Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast!

Spring is a time of love and rejuvenation! The awakening all around us stimulates a desire to give and share~ everything just seems happy! The birds start returning, buds start popping, the first Snow Drops and Crocus's start peeking out giving us a foretaste of the Daffodils & Tulips not far behind. This Spring has brought some things earlier than usual and with it that energy has sprung forth for me as well. I love to be in the greenhouses and gardens working in the dirt... watching seeds sprout and develop into the plants we will take to market and plant in our gardens, beds and fields. As mentioned in the previous blog post birding is one of our favorite things to do~ here is a really simple & cool bird bath along with some gifty ideas and of course a yummy recipe from Taylor, enjoy! *Here is a super Simple Birdbath that even the most 'un-handy' minded person can make using just a few simple tools! First you will need: ~a really cool old banister or porch post, which if you don't have go to any antique or salvage yard and they will abound. If you want newer than simply go and buy what you would like. It should be at least 4 feet tall. ~an old granite dishpan for the bath. ~a bag of concrete, a Tap-con screw (for metal) and some clear acrylic caulk. Dig a hole about a foot deep, place the post in and pour enough concrete to fill hole to just about ground level. Cover with dirt and let set about an hour. Take the dish pan and center on top of banister/post; screw to banister/post. Put a dab of caulk over screw to prevent leaking and rusting. Plant flowers like Shasta Daisies, Black Eyed Susan's or Purple Cone Flowers around and enjoy the birdie frolic! *I love to give gifts especially those that say I love you with flowers or plants... or really any type of garden type stuff. Here is a gift that will keep on giving the recipient! Many plants have meanings, even the color of roses have specific meanings to them. Here are some herb's that you can give to express your admiration or love to them. Here are some ways to arrange the Herbs for gift giving: ~Plant them in a lovely window box or two. ~Pot each herb up in separate pots- choose Terra cotta, painted pottery or some old galvanized pails~ you will know what they will like best! ~Plant in one or two large patio pots if they have a patio or porch. Here are the Herbs and their meanings: Dill~ cheer and survival in the face of difficulties\ Sage~ wisdom Marjoram~ joy Bay~ achievement and success Rosemary~ remembrance and friendship Scented 'Attar of Rose' Geranium~ happiness Choose one, some or all... you know what you want to say! Recycled Clothe Shopper Bags have been a really big thing the last couple years and being a market vendor I notice more and more of our customers going to them. This in turn saves us from having to buy as many plastic bags! So of course I thought we could make and in turn sell them at market. Taylor & I decided to go pattern shopping and find a practical pattern to make. We decided to use old denim pants, scraps from our dress fabrics, old sheets, shirts and any other 'scraps' of fabric we could acquire. This was a lot of fun and if you enjoy sewing this is a really simple project to make a few 'one of a kind' shopper bags for yourself and even for gifts! We added buttons, pockets, ribbons and other little charms that we had. Be as creative as you like and before you know it , you might have a little business in bag making! Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast French toast can be way more exciting that just some bread dipped in egg & fried. We have eight hungry people to feed, six of them in the male category, so we need to keep things interesting around our house. This is a great make ahead breakfast great for Sunday breakfast or Brunch, or for any day of the week. 1/2 Stick of Butter 2 Apples cored, peeled and sliced 1 cup brown sugar 1 tsp. apple pie spice 8 slices bread- your choice- thicker the better in my opinion 4 eggs from Garden Gate Farm, beaten 1 cup milk 1 tsp. Maple Syrup Extract* 1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to med-low; add apples and cook until tender. 2. Stir in sugar and spice and cook until dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Pour apple mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. 3. Lay the slices of bread on top of apple mixture. 4. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over bread slices. 5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 6. Remove plastic and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggs are cooked & set, until firm and browned slightly. *Don't use regular maple syrup because the flavor with cook off! Serve nice and warm and if you for brunch add some yummy vanilla ice cream with it! Happy Day, Jean
 
 

More Garden Theme's~ Shakespeare Garden's & more, Herbed Mushroom Omelets

"To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life... this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do."  Charles Dudley Warner

Gardens are such a joy and can be an inspiration to others.  When one walks through a garden they should be welcomed by a warm, fuzzy feeling that grabs hold of them to the point of not wanting to leave.  Quiet, rest and peacefulness ought to be the theme of every garden, and it can be accomplished simply by making it a small reflection of who you are.   When your friends are there it should be a time of not just visiting, but sharing secrets of both joy and sadness; a place where memories are in the making.  A garden says so much about it's creator~ favorite plants, colors, garden style~ mine is all cottage!  My hope is that these writings will stimulate that new, hopeful gardener to dive into a new project or inspire the one that has it 'all' to do something new.  Gardening is meant to be a joy, so be joyful & garden!
 
As I mentioned in the previous entry I am going to discuss for a few days some different Garden Themes. 
Many people are moved by Shakespeare's writings and find his work quite fascinating. Some may have even heard of a Shakespeare Garden Theme.  This garden represents plants that have been mentioned in many of his writings.  As you will notice, many of the plants listed are herbs, and therefore an Herb Garden would be a great way to incorporate this into your yard!  Remember, as with all gardens consider your area, drainage, available sunlight or lack of, and the plants growing habits.  As always, I suggest drawing it out and planning before you start~ this always saves a lot of disappointment.

*Mustard          *Strawberry
*Parsley          *Calendula
*Bay                *Carnation
*Burnet            *Columbine
*Savory           *Flax 
*Thyme            *Pink Rose
*Marjoram       *Hyssop
*Lavender        *Johnny Jump Ups
*Lemon Balm   *Myrtle
*Chamomile      *Flax
*Rosemary      *Mint

A few other Garden Themes are....
*Friendship Garden~  This is one of my favorites, and it is so easy to get started!  First make a list of some of your best friends and think about their garden's and what they have to offer in the line of perennials.  After you decide on your garden location, size and have it prepared for planting, you can begin asking your friends for starts of the plants you want to 'remember' them by.  They will be so tickled that they mean that much to you, they will gladly give you a 'baby'.  But be careful, you may get a whole group ready to start 'Plant Swapping' and garden making~ now wouldn't that be terrible ;-) !
*Sittin' Garden~  This garden is for quiet times.  At our other home I had a special spot where I could look over the garden and watch the birds, bee's and just relax.  I took two tree stumps and a wooden slab board; I then laid the board across the two stumps for a very rustic bench. You can use whatever suits your fancy & taste for your quiet spot.  Take a cup of tea, coffee or cocoa and just enjoy the moment. 

Herbed Mushroom Omelets
Try this yummy treat with of course Garden Gates awesome eggs!

6 eggs beaten  from Garden Gate
1 Tbsp. fresh Parsley from Garden Gate
1/4 tsp. of each dried Oregano & Thyme
1/4 tsp.  seasoning salt
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 1/2 cup Portabello Mushrooms


1. Whisk together eggs & seasonings and set aside.
2. Melt 1/2 the butter in skillet over medium heat and add sliced mushrooms; saute until tender~ about 5-10 minutes. Remove from skillet, set aside.
3. Melt rest of butter in skillet over low heat; pour in half the egg mixture. Stir the eggs slightly, without scrambling. When almost cooked, spoon the mushrooms in and fold over. 
*If you would like to add cheese try some from Grassfields Organic Cheeses!

Happy Day,
Jean

 
 

Simple To Make Birdbath, Say I Love You with Herbs, Recycled Cloth Shopper Bags & Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast!

Spring is a time of love and rejuvenation! The awakening all around us stimulates a desire to give and share~ everything just seems happy!   The birds start returning, buds start popping, the first Snow Drops and Crocus's start peeking out giving us a foretaste of the Daffodils & Tulips not far behind.  This Spring has brought some things earlier than usual and with it that energy has sprung forth for me as well.  I love to be in the greenhouses and gardens working in the dirt... watching seeds sprout and develop into the plants we will take to market and plant in our gardens, beds and fields.  As mentioned in the previous blog post birding is one of our favorite things to do~ here is a really simple & cool bird bath along with some gifty ideas and of course a yummy recipe from Taylor, enjoy!

*
Here is a super Simple Birdbath that even the most 'un-handy' minded person can make using just a few simple tools! First you will need:
~a really cool old banister or porch post, which if you don't have go to any antique or salvage yard and they will abound.  If you want newer than simply go and buy what you would like.  It should be at least 4 feet tall.
~an old granite dishpan for the bath.
~a bag of concrete, a Tap-con screw (for metal) and some clear acrylic caulk.
Dig a hole about a foot deep, place the post in and pour enough concrete to fill hole to just about ground level.
Cover with dirt and let set about an hour.
Take the dish pan and center on top of banister/post; screw to banister/post. Put a dab of caulk over screw to prevent leaking and rusting.
Plant flowers like Shasta Daisies, Black Eyed Susan's or Purple Cone Flowers around and enjoy the birdie frolic!

*I love to give gifts especially those that say I love you with flowers or plants... or really any type of garden type stuff.  Here is a gift that will keep on giving the recipient!  Many plants have meanings, even the color of roses have specific meanings to them.  Here are some herb's that you can give to express your admiration or love to them. 
Here are some ways to arrange the Herbs for gift giving:
~Plant them in a lovely window box or two.
~Pot each herb up in separate pots- choose Terra cotta, painted pottery or some old galvanized pails~ you will know what they will like best!
~Plant in one or two large patio pots if they have a patio or porch.
Here are the Herbs and their meanings:
Dill~ cheer and survival in the face of difficulties\
Sage~ wisdom
Marjoram~ joy
Bay~ achievement and success
Rosemary~ remembrance and friendship
Scented 'Attar of Rose' Geranium~ happiness
Choose one, some or all... you know what you want to say!

Recycled Clothe Shopper Bags have been a really big thing the last couple years and being a market vendor I notice more and more of our customers going to them. This in turn saves us from having to buy as many plastic bags!  So of course I thought we could make and in turn sell them at market. Taylor & I decided to go pattern shopping and find a practical pattern to make.   We decided to use old denim pants, scraps from our dress fabrics, old sheets, shirts and any other 'scraps' of fabric we could acquire.  This was a lot of fun and if you enjoy sewing this is a really simple project to make a few 'one of a kind' shopper bags for yourself and even for gifts!  We added buttons, pockets, ribbons and other little charms that we had.  Be as creative as you like and before you know it , you might have a little business in bag making!

Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast
French toast can be way more exciting that just some bread dipped in egg & fried.  We have eight hungry people to feed, six of them in the male category, so we need to keep things interesting around our house.  This is a great make ahead breakfast great for Sunday breakfast or Brunch, or for any day of the week.

1/2 Stick of Butter
2 Apples cored, peeled and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. apple pie spice
8 slices bread- your choice- thicker the better in my opinion
4 eggs from Garden Gate Farm, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp. Maple Syrup Extract*

1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to med-low; add apples and cook until tender.
2. Stir in sugar and spice and cook until dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.  Pour apple mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. 
3. Lay the slices of bread on top of apple mixture.
4. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over bread slices.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
6. Remove plastic and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggs are cooked & set, until firm and browned slightly. 
*Don't use regular maple syrup because the flavor with cook off!
Serve nice and warm and if you for brunch add some yummy vanilla ice cream with it!

Happy Day,
Jean
www.thegardengatefarm.com

 
 
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