Great Gift Giving Ideas and More Yummy Winter Thyme Recipes

There is no snow on the ground right now but the air is chilled… this coming 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… I am still seeing some Canadian Geese heading Southward… I wonder if they are like me… hoping, just maybe Winter won’t come this time.  But they, like I know it is inevitable… we live in Michigan, and the snow will fly. The days have been growing shorter and the sunshine diminishing more and more, but today is sunny and I will be happy for that.

My last post I talked about giving gifts and how much I enjoy that.  Here are some great gift giving ideas for those of you that want to do something extra special and of course a couple recipes. Enjoy friends.  

*Be sure to go to my blogspot at www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com to see all the photo’s that go with this post! See you there! 

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 recipient 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- 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 restaurant that purchases and uses locally sourced items.  Get a copy of Edible WOW www.ediblewow.comMagazine 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! 

*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 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 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, crafty patterns, 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 cook~ Container: Enamelware Roaster, Stainless Steel Stock Pot, Cast Iron Skillet. Contents: Several types of salt and pepper- Pink Himalayan, 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 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 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 accessories 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 recipient 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!

Here are some yummy winter themed recipes that you can create from those wonderful root storage crops you have tucked away or purchased from your local Winter Farmers Market…  

Cabbage Strudel- makes 2 rolls
8 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion8 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shreeded Swiss or similar cheese
3/4 cup bread crumbs- plain
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp. pepper
12 sheets thawed phyllo dough pastry sheets 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10″x15″ baking pan- set aside.
2. In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter and add onion; cood 5 minutes or till tender. Add cabbage & carrots; sprinkle with saol.  Cook about 10 minutes or till tender. Remove form heat; stir in cheese, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, pepper & herb.
3. In a saucepan melt the remining butter. Unrollphy7llo dough, cover wiht waxed paper & damp towel.  Brush with some butter; top with 1 tsp. of crumbs. Repeat layers with five more sheets phyllo, melted butter & crumbs.  Spread half the cabbage filling over phyllo layers, leaving a 2″ border on one of the long sides & both short sides.  fold both short sides over fillin; roll up from 1 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 5 minutes; to serve cut wiht serrated knife in slices. 

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

15-20 leaves1/4 c Olive Oil2 or 3 eggs1/2 c shredded cheese- your choiceSalt to taste 

1. Wash leaves, cut out white or colored midrib.2. Tear leaves into bite size pieces3. 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.  

Hope you all enjoyed and have found some inspiration to create and give!  

Happy Day,

www.thegardengatefarm.com   join us on our Facebook group!
www.theoldwinerymarket.com  Like us on Facebook!
See more of my writings and photography at

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!