Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years Resolutions

Making New Year's Resolutions is a time honored tradition that people engage in with hopeful abandon every January.  However, they are often just as quickly abandoned.  So this year while I make my business and blog goals for 2017 I thought I would give you a few tips on creating goals and resolutions that actually stick and carry you through a prosperous new year.

Keeping your Goals in 2017

Basically resolutions tend to be stated like I will "lose weight" or "get in shape" during the next year.  These are ambiguous and gives no steps or include realistic expectations on how to accomplish these goals.  To make them work you must focus on something concrete like committing to losing 10 pounds or running a mini-marathon. These can then be broken into manageable bits like 1 to 2 pounds a week and running a certain number of miles each week or month to prepare.  Here are a few ideas to help you keep your resolutions in 2017.

Pick Just One Resolution
While you might have a long list of potential New Year's Resolutions it is suggested that you should pick just one and focus your energies on it rather than spreading yourself too thin among a number of different objectives.

Start With Small Steps
Planning is an essential part of achieving any goal. Experts suggest that you should spend some time planning out how you will tackle a major behavior change. You can start by writing down your goal, making a list of things you might do to achieve that goal, and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way.  Then break those down into steps. Taking on too much is a common reason why so many New Year's Resolutions fail. Dramatically slashing calories, over-doing it at the gym, or radically altering your normal behavior are sure-fire ways to derail your plans. Instead, focus on taking tiny steps that will ultimately help you reach your larger goal.

If you've resolved to run a marathon, start out by going for a jog two or three times a week. If you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing some of your favorite junk foods with more nutritious foods. While it may seem like a slow start, these small changes make it easier to stick to your new habits and increase the likelihood of long-term success.

Avoid Repeating Past Failures
Another strategy for keeping your New Year's Resolution is to not make the exact same resolution year after year. You want to have a large amount of self-belief to accomplish a goal, so trying the same resolution that you failed to accomplish last year can result in self-doubt that undermines your motivation.

If you do choose to reach for the same goals you've tried for in the past, spend some time evaluating your previous results. Which strategies were the most effective? Which were the least effective? What has prevented you from keeping your resolution in past years? By changing your approach, you will be more likely to see real results this year.

Remember That Change Is a Process
Those unhealthy habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter or days, weeks, or months? It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but remember that this is not a race to the finish. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behaviour, it is something that you will continue to work on for the rest of your life.

Don't Let Small Stumbles Bring You Down
Encountering a setback is one of the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year's Resolutions. If you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, don't view it as a failure. The path toward your goal is not a straight one and there are always going to be challenges. Instead, view relapses as learning opportunities.

Try keeping a resolution journal, write down the goal and the steps, and what you will gain when you achieve them.  And if a relapse occurs and what might have triggered it. By understanding the challenges you face, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the future. And a reminder of what you gain if you succeed.

Get Support From Your Friends and Family
Yes, you've probably heard this advice a million times, but that is because the buddy system actually works. Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. Explain what your goals are to your close friends or family and ask them to help you achieve your objectives. Better yet, enlist the help of others by joining a group that shares your goal.

Renew Your Motivation
During the first days of a New Year's Resolution, you will probably feel confident and highly motivated to reach your goal. Because you haven't really faced any discomfort or temptation associated with changing your behavior, making this change might seem all too easy.
After dealing with the reality of dragging yourself to the gym at 6 a.m. or gritting your teeth through headaches brought on by nicotine withdrawal, your motivation to keep your New Year's Resolution will probably start to dwindle. When you face such moments, remind yourself of exactly why you are doing this. What do you have to gain by achieving your goal? Find sources of inspiration that will keep you going when times get tough.  Write them down in your Resolution Journal.

By February, many people have lost that initial spark of motivation that they felt immediately after making their New Year's Resolution. Keep that inspiration alive by continuing to work on your goals, even after facing setbacks. If your current approach is not working, reevaluate your strategies and develop a new plan.

Be serious about keeping a resolution journal, where you can write about your successes and struggles. Write down the reasons why you are working toward your goal so that you can refer to them during times when you feel uninspired and unmotivated. By sticking with it and working on your goal all year long, you can be one of the few able to say that you really did keep your New Year's Resolution.

Backyard Patch Goals for 2017

The Backyard Patch was very busy in December which cut into my ability to post recipes and herb tips, so this year we are going to get a head start on several posts by starting them early and doing the research so that when it is time to right them I do not have to spend time doing the background work.

To that end we will be adding a bi-weekly series, Beginning Herb Gardening. Every other week we will detail how to plan, start, plant, care for and harvest and use herbs for those who have never done it before, or those who want to improve their technique.

We will continue the Bath Blend of the Month.  I have been having fun creating new blends and trying them out, so I will share them with you around the 4th of each month.

Herb of the Week has never been published weekly and is too time consuming to research to ever be that frequent, so I am going to call it Herb to Know and publish it as often as I can based on time and research.  To increase the frequency of information, I will also publish Mini Herb to Know posts that share new information, cultivars and recipes about the chosen herb, especially if a detailed Herb of the Week post was done in the past.

In that same vein, I have been researching and writing Herb of the Week posts for 6 years now and have completed many posts.  We are creating a page on the Blog called Herbs A to Z that will link you to the previous Herb of the Week and Herb to Know posts, as well as recipes for each of the herbs listed.  This will take us some time to do, so check back during the year to see the links for new posts and previous posts.

We will continue to post How To and DIY posts, continue to share recipes as we have always done and hope to expand our sharing on gardening techniques and uses and benefits of herbs.  We will be creating a theme for each month to provide some focus for the posts and will use that theme to direct our research and perhaps even our growing experiments.

Our themes for 2017
        January - Hot Tea Month
        February - Mardi Gras
        March - Garden Planning
        April - National Garden Month (Herb Gardens)
        May - Salsa Month - Cilantro (herb of year)
        June - Dairy Month
        July - Blending Herbs
        August - Infusing Herbs
        September - Preserving Herbs
        October -  Vegetarian Month
        November - Gifting Herbs
        December - Biblical Herbs

Our biggest Goal in 2017 is to increase the mail order business.  Last year we strived to get out into the community and speak about herbs and succeeded in having at least one lecture or program each month. We will be continuing our pubic appearances in 2017.  This year we will be speaking at both the Darien Garden Symposium and the Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier in March as well as teaching classes at various libraries and garden clubs during the year.

Expect to see announcements about an improved website and saving opportunities on Etsy and Ebay for returning customers, as we work on our mail order business.  We are also putting together a couple of free ebooks which will be available to those who sign up for our newsletter.  You can sign up in the box to the right of the blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Elgin Show and Open House

I am prepping for a Show in Elgin On Saturday and my Open House at the House on Sunday so it is wild and hectic and clean, very clean!!  I am making myself stay downstairs in the herb room if I am even thinking about making a mess!  But mostly today I am packing the car and labeling the herbs!

If you want to stop over at the house on Sunday we will have the cider and cocoa ready beginning at 11 AM and welcome anyone up until Masterpiece Theater is on Sunday evening (7 or 8 PM)  Address and location info is included on the Facebook events page also, linked here.

For those too far away to stop by we have a Deal of the Day each day (however- as a bonus I will not be able to get online to update things until Monday 12/12/16 so technically all these deals will last all weekend!)


Friday - Bath Tower - for the weekend we will make the Bath Tower only $10.00 instead of $12 so you can get three decoratively packaged bath salts in lavender lemon and grapefruit with a cute wood scoop.

Saturday - 20% off anything in the gift and gift basket section of Etsy.  We have a gift basket section with teapot, tea mugs and tea cups, as well as manly basket called Master of the Universe and other gift items and any of them will be 20% OFF with this coupon code: BASKET20

Sunday - Free Shipping on all orders over $25.00.  Just use the code FREESHIP on our Etsy Store or Square Store. If for any reason it does not work, we will refund your shipping charges quickly!

Monday - and on the off chance I am still not recovered on Monday, here is the Monday Deal as well - Buy One Get One FREE on all Herb Mixes - this includes our Dill Dip, Ranch Dressing, Meat rubs and all the herb mixes we have.  They are included in several listings, you'll know them when you find them, as they are all priced at $2.35, but most of theme are here: Herb Mix TOTAL

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Backyard Patch Teas

Winter is a perfect time for tea.  I love it when it is cold, also when I am not feeling my best because of its soothing, warming and healing properties. I can never have enough flavors and styles and origins of tea, but I know that most people are not quite like that.  But think about tea like your closet, do you have only one color of clothing in your closet?  

No you have different fabric, textures, weights, patterns and colors.  The same is true of tea. A well-stocked tea  collection should be approached just as you approach filling your closet or your kitchen; choose a variety of different options, across a few broad categories, so that you know you’ll always have something to suit your mood. 

Not only are herbal infusions incredibly healthy, they are available in a huge array of flavors.  In fact, the choices when it comes to herbal teas might just be so wide that it becomes overwhelming.  If you feel like there are too many options to consider, you might be tempted to stick to the one brand or blend that you know, and forgo the rest of the possibilities.  But if you stick to only one herbal infusion, you’re missing out on some fantastic flavors, and some really valuable health advantages.  How can you branch out and expand your herbal collection without fumbling through the tea aisle of your supermarket for an hour?  

First of all, think about adding to your collection one herb tea at a time.  Try looking for an herbal tea in a different flavor profile than the one you already have at home.  Look at the options you have, and consider which category each belongs in:  floral (like hibiscus or orange blossom), fruity (like peach, berry, or apple), spicy (like cinnamon or Chai), or earthy (like rooibos or chamomile).  Once you’ve determined what flavor profiles you already have, experiment with a new flavor.  Or, try a new blend that mixes something you know you love with something you haven’t tried yet.  If you’re apprehensive about committing to a big bag of tea, before knowing whether or not you’ll like the flavor, seek out a sample size.

At Backyard Patch Herbs I make 22 varieties of Herb Tea, and a dozen teas with Green Tea and I create Black tea and herb blends whose number increases monthly as I blend custom flavors for groups.

One of my first herbal tea blends was called Nerve Soothing.  It was crafted to help people relax, but the blend also has medical properties as well, because of the herb ingredients.  Chamomile for reducing or handling anxiety, thyme for its medical cold overpowering properties and digestive help, marjoram for the cough and cold fighting abilities and sage to cool illness, anxiety and stomach issues so you can just relax.
Nerve Soothing tea

If you are interested in sampling teas, try out the Tea Samplers where you can get a grouping of three teas on various themes like Marvelous Mint or Luscious Lavender. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sage - Herb of the Week (#2)

Sage is a wonderful herb.  I have posted an herb of the week on sage (2010) and a mini one in 2015, where I spoke about its growing habit and care.  This time I thought I would discuss some great ways to use sage in cooking and in health remedies.

Sage’s botanical name “Salvia” means “to feel well and healthy, health, heal.” It comes from the Latin “salus” meaning “health, well-being, prosperity or salvation”.  “Officinalis” means that this particular herb has had a recognized herbal or medicinal use for centuries.

Common names: Common sage, garden sage, golden sage, kitchen sage, and true sage. Cultivated varieties include purple, variegated, tri-color and red sage.
tri color sage
Cooking with Sage

Sage can be used to make sauces and pesto , as well as an ingredient in stuffing and meat rubs. I love to make a combination herb vinegar using sage that we then use in cooking.  I combine sage with lemon or regular thyme, lemon balm, peppercorns and a bit of mint to add sweetness. It is a savory combo that is great for salads and marinades. 

Add about 1 cup of these herbs fresh to 2 cups of vinegar, apple cider or plain white and let steep for at least two weeks.  Hubby loves it in his sauces. 

Image result for sage pesto photosSage Pesto
1/2 cup packed sage leaf
1/2 cup packed flat leaf parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup walnut pieces
3 cloves crushed garlic (or to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil (or to desired consistency)

Wash and thoroughly dry sage leaves and parsley in your salad spinner. Put in food processor with parmesan, walnuts, garlic, and salt. Process until a gritty but even consistency. Gradually add olive oil until pesto has reached desired consistency. Divide into 3 equal portions. Each portion will coat enough pasta for 4.

Medicinal Uses of Sage

Sage is a good choice for a natural remedy for colds and flu.  It is soothing to the mucus membranes, relieving sore throat, and coughs while easing feverish conditions.  It is also antimicrobial.  While oregano is often used as a strong antimicrobial for colds and viruses, sage can be used instead with the same actions. Sage being a natural anti fungal and anti-bacterial, so as such taking a bit of tea with sage in it is great when you are feeling a cold coming on.  I use sage in my Nerve Soothing and my Rose Blush teas.

One can also infuse sage into honey.  It is especially good to take a spoonful of sage honey when you have a sore throat or use it as sweetener in a cup of warm tea when you have a cold.

To make sage infused honey add 1 Tablespoon crumbled sage leaves to warmed honey and let steep for a day or two.  Warm the honey and strain out the sage and you will be left with a light earthy fragrance of sage and all its medicinal benefits.

Sage Oxymel
An oxymel is an ancient herbal preparation that combines vinegar, herbs, and honey.  “Oxy” means “acidic, sharp, keen, pointed” and “mel” means “honey.” Oxymels make bitter herbs easier to take, like the “spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down.”  It is considered a specific remedy for lung issues, for colds, and for sore throat. 
1 to 2 cups of fresh garden sage, chopped finely
1 to 1 ½ cups raw honey
2 to 2 ½ cups white balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar

Pick the sage herb from the garden.  Remove any damaged leaves and discard.  Allow the sage to wilt for a few hours to overnight.  When it is quite limp, chop the sage finely with a sharp knife, including all but the coarsest stems.  Set aside. 

Clean and sanitize a wide mouth quart jar.  Place the sage in the jar.  Pour 1 cup of honey over the sage.  Stir with a spoon to fully mix the sage leaves with the honey.  The jar should be about 1/3rd full with the herbs and honey.

Heat vinegar in a saucepan until it is just about 110F.  Don’t over heat.  Warming the vinegar allows it to mix more readily with the honey and herbs already in the jar.

Pour the vinegar over the herbs and honey. Stir to fully blend the ingredients.  The jar should be full.  Place a tight-fitting lid on the jar and set aside.  Remember to label and date the jar. 

Your sage oxymel is ready in two weeks.  But you can leave it for a month or two, allowing the flavors to meld further.  When you are ready, heat the jar slightly in warm water to make it free flowing.  Strain the herbs out of the oxymel, reserve the liquid.  This will keep at room temperature 6 months or refrigerated for up to a year.  If you notice any mold, discard it.  Both vinegar and honey are preservative.

TO USE: Serve it by the spoonful for sore throat, coughs, colds, fevers, indigestion, or upset.  Take as often as needed.  I like to mix a spoonful in a cup of hot water and sip it slowly for relief of sore throat and that under-the-weather feeling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Tuesday - Lighted Potpourri Jar

This is such a great item to make quickly and place in the bathroom.  It is festive, holiday themed and leaves a great scent when you have guests in the delicate room!

How to -

Step one - Gather your supplies.  You will need:

  • 1 wide mouth 1 quart canning jar
  • 1 string of 20 to 30 christmas lights (I got mine from the dollar store)
  • potpourri
  • two rubber bands
  • a paper or cloth doily
Step two - Potpourri
       I suggest making your potpourri rather than buying it, but in the essence of time, you can get some store-made at your local hobby center.  Here is recipe for seasonal potpourri if you want to try your hand at homemade.

Potpourri for the Holiday

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 1 to 3 star anise, broken is fine
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger or 1/8 cup dried ginger root pieces
  • Needles from a pine branch, or from one sprig of rosemary (about 1 tsp. dried rosemary)
  • 5 to 7 slices of dried orange
  • 1 to 2 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1 Tbls. dried bay leaves
Combine ingredients in a jar and shake to blend.  Store in the jar for a few days to meld the scents.
Use as the potpourri in this project or add 1 cup mixture to a medium saucepan and fill 3/4 full with water and use as a potpourri simmer on the stove.

Step three - Fill the jar with lights and potpourri

Place a layer (about 1 inch deep) of potpourri in the bottom of the quart jar.  Thread in the lights and arrange on top of the potpourri.  Plug them in while you are working so you can see your progress. 

Add more potpourri as you thread in the lights and arrange the lights and potpourri artfully so you can enjoy the lights and the colors of the potpourri together.

Top off the jar with potpourri, leaving the tail end of the light cord outside the jar.

Step four - top the jar

Place a rubberband around the top of the jar to hold the string of lights in place over the rim.  Add the doily to the top and, using the second rubber band, secure the doily in place.   Now you have a scent opening.  Tie a bit of ribbon around the rubber band to cover it.

Step five - plug in to final resting place and enjoy!

We also had the one with the multi-color lights on the book shelf in the livingroom.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hot Cocoa and Chocolate Shortbread

Happy Monday -

It snowed Yesterday!  I have been waiting for it to snow this year!  It started around 10 am and was still coming down heavily at 2 in the afternoon!  I was out taking pictures and enjoying the muffled quiet that comes with snow falling and just getting myself in the spirit of the season.

I have many orders to make and a show on December 10 and my open house on December 11, both of which should have many visitors browsing so I have lots things to do, but I had to take a break and enjoy the snow!

And just to get you thinking about the outdoors and cocoa here is a chocolate shortbread recipe:

Chocolate Shortbread
This goes well with hot cocoa!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbls. cocoa powder
1/2 cup softened butter

Cream the butter.  Then add the entire package of Shortbread Mix and work in. Knead the resulting dough on an unfloured surface until nice and smooth.  Firmly press the dough, working from the center out into an oiled pan.  Prick the surface with a fork all over . Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath - Bath Blend of the Month

Bath Blend of the Month - Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or use Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert blend for other useful and healthy spices)

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it is a fine powder. Store in a tightly lidded jar.

TO USE: Just add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your bathwater for a soothing bath.

If giving as a gift, place in a decorative jar and attach a spoon for measuring!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rosemary Walnuts

I am in Winnetka today, at the Winnetka - Northfield Library on Oak Street in Winnetka, doing a program called Holiday Decorating with Marcy.  It discusses making decorations and gifts with herbs.  We are going to make wrapping paper, gift tags as well as some herbal gifts.

One of the items I am recommending making is a soup wreath.  I give step-by-step instructions for making this wreath of fresh herbs for soup here, with a recipe.

Here is an extra I am including for those who take the class and for those who cannot take it.

Rosemary Walnuts
I had to start with something edible, because tastes are always linked to the holidays.  This recipe is a twist on sugared nuts, giving you a savory recipe instead.
1 pound shelled walnuts
2 Tbls. of olive oil
2 Tbls. butter, melted
3 Tbls. minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsp. paprika
½ to 1 tsp.  salt or a salt substitute

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss to mix.  Spread on a baking sheet large enough to hold the nuts in a single layer.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice or until the nuts are golden but not browned and the scent of rosemary fills the room.  Remove and cool.  May be eaten when warm or stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 2 cups.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cinnful Pumpkin Pull Apart bread

The 12 Days of Herbal Gifting continues with another special item on sale just for today.  At midnight CDT this sale will end and another will take it place to help you get your shopping done before the USPS shipping deadlines!

Cinnful Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze

2 Tbls unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ tsp Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend
2 Tbls unsalted butter
Buttered Rum Glaze
2 Tbls unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbls milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbls rum (if you are not into rum you can sub a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown 2 tablespoons of butter, letting it bubble up and turn a dark golden brown but being careful not to allow it burn (turn black). Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the milk, return to stove and heat through. Pour the milk and butter into the bowl of standing mixer (fitted with a dough hook) and allow to cool so it is no longer hot but also not cool (about 100-110 degrees F). Once it has reached a warm but not hot temperature add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar and allow to proof (this can take up to 8 minutes, the top will look foamy and the liquid cloudy). Then add the pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until combined then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead for 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and just slightly sticky. If the dough is too moist, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Move dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.
While dough is rising, brown another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sugar, Cinnful Dessert Blend and mix well.  Making sure sugar evenly absorbs the butter. Set aside. Next, grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and flip out onto a clean floured surface and knead with hands for 1-2 minutes. Roll dough into a 20×12 inch rectangle.  Evenly sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar mixture and press into dough with palms of the hand. Cut the rectangle into 6 strips. Lay strips on top of each other and cut each strip into 6 even squares (cut in half then each half into thirds). Stack strips vertically into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. After rising in the pan, bake for 30-40 minutes or until top is a very deep golden brown.
To prepare the glaze, heat the butter, room temperature milk, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum and powdered sugar.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shipping Deadlines 2016

The last first class retail shipping day is December 15.
The last first class shipping day is December 20 and
The last Priority mail shipping day is December 21. 
To help you not procrastinate I have pulled together 12 days of Herbal Gifting.  Each day I will place an item on sale in my shops and post it as the deal-of-the-day at the top of the blog.  The blog may then be other ideas and information but the top will give you your herbal gift.  The sale item will expire at midnight CDT.  These herb-inspired items make great holiday gifts for yourself and others.
Shop that item and we will make sure it arrives to you or your recipient in plenty of time for Christmas.

Barley Vegetable Soup - makes a great gift!

Find this mix on Etsy right here!

This quick and easy soup mix is salt-free and tasty in cold weather! And the packaging is so cute for gift giving you might want to give it to all your friends and office mates!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mason Jar invented today!

John Mason of New York City, patented the Mason Jar on November 30 1858, and changed homemakers' food preservation habits forever.

The jars we tend to recognize today are the Ball Mason Jars.  These were produced by the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Co., but not until 1885.  Although they produced a jar with the ”Patented 1858” imprint in the glass for many years, it was the patented jar style and the technique of mould casting they were using, the jars were made in the late 1800s into the 1900s.

I love a good mason jar.  They are sturdy, inexpensive and versatile.  These days making gifts in Mason Jars is especially popular, especially with the color jars Ball has been reproducing recently.

I pulled together these two cookie recipes so you can make some gifts and avoid the mad dash to store.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
·         3/4 cup white sugar
·         3/4 cup packed brown sugar
·         1 cup rolled oats
·         1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
·         1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Using a 1 quart jar, layer in the ingredients in the order given. Pack down the jar after each addition. Put the lid on, and cover with an 8-inch circle of fabric. Secure the fabric over the lid using a rubber band, then cover the rubber band by tying a nice piece of ribbon or raffia around the lid. 

Attach a tag to the ribbon with the following instructions:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, cream together 3/4 cup of softened butter, with 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Add the entire contents of the jar, and mix by hand until combined. Drop dough by heaping spoonfuls onto an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven.

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies in a Jar
·         1/2 cup packed brown sugar
·         1/4 cup white sugar
·         3/4 cup wheat germ
·         1 cup quick cooking oats
·         1/2 cup dried cherries
·         1/2 cup golden raisins
·         2/3 cup flaked coconut
·         1 cup all-purpose flour
·         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Starting with the brown sugar layer the ingredients in a 1 quart jar in the order given. Ending with the flour mixture.

Attach a card with the following directions:

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line one baking sheet with parchment paper.  Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon blend the mixture until well combined. Using your hands work in 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup milk. Still using your hands or a wooden spoon blend the egg mixture into the dough until well combined. Drop teaspoon sized mounds 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Place cookies on a rack to finish cooling. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

At Backyard Patch Herbs I make soup mixes in Mason jars which are also perfect for gift giving.  You can check them out here: SOUP MIXES IN A JAR 

If you want to get an awesome cobalt blue reproduction 1858 Mason jar check out this listing at Amazon Drygoods!

Monday, November 28, 2016

French Toast Day

Okay it is Monday and this is a great day for leftovers, so why not use up the left over bread and biscuits and make some French Toast.

Nobody knows for sure how French toast began, but recipes date back to the sixteenth century. In France, it was called pan perdu or lost bread, because it was a way of using lost (stale, unusable) bread. In England, it was known as "poor knight's pudding"—a basic, affordable dish that a family with a few chickens and a cow could afford. 

Simple French Toast
Serves 4 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 4 slices of bread, air dried or day old is best.
  • Beat egg and vanilla in shallow dish. Stir in milk. Dip bread in egg mixture, turning to coat both sides evenly. Cook bread slices on lightly greased nonstick griddle or skillet on medium heat until browned on both sides.

Kitchen Note:  Make a Holiday Special French Toast or Pancakes
Stir ½ teaspoon of Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend into every 2 cups of French toast custard (egg-milk mixture) or 2 cups of pancake batter before cooking.
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