Friday, November 14, 2008

I thought I'd amuse you all with some shots of our ultra-fancy organizational systems. :) This is our brain - our calender for the year. This is where we mark all our events - classes, bus tours, farmer's markets,anything we have going on. We did without one of these for years, but I'm not sure how.

here is our ultra-organized (ha) inventory tracking system. A whiteboard, with a list of stuff we are getting low on. By "stuff", I mean raw materials such as tins, oils, butters, essential oils, etc.

And here are the "in process" wholesale orders. This one is a BIG one, which will go to Iowa city hopefully tomorrow.

And 2 small ones in progress.

In short - our systems are not fancy, but they WORK. See, if I wanted to run a bakery - I'd go work at a bakery, and learn the flow of it, then visit lots of bakeries to check out how they are set up and how they operate. We don't know anyone, in the area, who does what we do on our scale, so we had to make it all up from scratch, which is harder than you might think. We didn't know what kind of space we'd need, how to organize it, and how to anticipate our needs. So we guessed, and have learned to make do with what we have. I'll post some pictures of our work areas pretty soon so you can see what I mean.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Can't write now. must crank Tom Waits albums and make bath salts.

While I do that, print off this recipe, and then make it. It's SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO delicious, and perfect for fall. (archived on our site here)


Every year, we sponsor a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair, which has the largest food department in the nation! Thousands upon thousands of foods are entered, and we feel honored to be a part of this fun event. PLUS, we get to eat really, really good foods, and then get to bring back the recipes to share with you! This recipe was a 1st place winner and tastes AMAZING. This would be a great addition to any holiday feast, but we also think it's great as a side-dish anytime. We'd like to thank Sally Kilkenny, author of this recipe - she is an amazing cook that astounds us with new, delicious herbal recipes every year.

Herbed Pumpkin Mushroom Stuffing

6 cups cubed pumpkin bread

1 cup butter

1 cup chopped celery

2 cups chopped red onion

2 cups sliced mushrooms (portabella, crimini, portini, or your favorite blend)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth*

optional: chopped, toasted pecans**

Spread cubes on a baking sheet and let dry overnight, or heat in a 200 degree oven until dry. Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 2 qt. baking dish.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium/low heat. Sautee celery and onions for about 10 minutes, then add mushrooms and continue cooking for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Add fresh herbs, salt, and papper. Fold in bread cubes and add enough broth to moisten. Transfer to prepared dish and cover with foil.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes, or until top is crisp. Garnish with fresh herbs and pecans.

* vegetarian Maggie suggests a nice vegetable broth as an alternative - Swanson's make a lovely certified organic veggie broth.

** We LOVE the pecans in this - and suggest adding whole, toasted pecans in the stuffing instead of sprinkled on top afterwards.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making 25 lbs. of peppermint bath salts all at once reeeeeeealy clears out your sinuses.

In case anyone was wondering.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Well, it appears that winter is on it's way.

We had snow already, which I find disgusting beyond belief. It actually snowed all day last Friday. The ground was warm, so there was barely any accumulation - a mere dusting of snow that melted on Saturday. But STILL. snow. :(

It's been grey, overcast, windy, and cold for the last few days. I think we narrowly missed an ice storm last night. This morning my deck, grill and fence were covered with ice, but the roads and driveways are fine.

It always surprises me how many people assume that our farm closes for the winter, or that we get to our "slow season" after the harvest is done. HARDLY! During October, as the harvest and garden work is winding down, we make a concerted effort to start stocking the store. See, we make, package,and label darn near everything in our little shop - which takes an awful darn lot of time. Not only do we do that, but we of course have to make sure all our herbs are dried and stores, and that we have FULL stores of all of our essential oils, butters, containers and labels. Plus keep the website updated, blog, and write a newsletter. All in all, our days are quite full. And as we get nearer to the holidays, we just get busier and busier. The time from October until the end of December is like running a marathon - it's a long haul, and we get really really tired (and a little loopy as we get nearer the "finish line").

But it's FUN too, cuz, see - we're like Santa's Elves. We make things that make people happy - nice smelling, happy gifts for people to give to the folks they love. People that come into our store are deliberately avoiding the "box" stores and the malls. It's relaxed, it's fun, they're happy to be out of the crowds and commercial gross-ness of the big stores, and we're happy to help them. We take time to do custom gift baskets, and gift wrap for free. We are grateful to our customers, because they allow us to do what we love - live and work this land, make fantastic products, and enjoy the seasons. So, it's a lot of work, and we do get tired at the end, but it's also a joy.

Speaking of work. I have about 150 lbs of bath salts to make. Those will go to three different stores, and our shop. Then, I have to make about 10 batches (around 100 bags) of milk baths. But first, I do want to take a moment to rave about a fellow small business owner.....

....Aroma Artisan. See - we've been working around essential oils and scents, professionally, for about 10 years now. And the longer we work with scents....the pickier we get. You have to work HARD to impress us with a perfume, or scrub, or bar of soap. But Aroma Artisan has set the bar VERY, VERY high. In short, her products are AMAZING. She makes absolutely divine handmade, small-batch, essential oil perfumes, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I have several of her perfumes, and each one is divine. Visit her etsy site and do NOT hesitate to order from her - I've yet to have anything from her that is not top-notch!!!