Saturday 16 June 2012

Guest Blogger Week 17 Dandylyons Garden


I would like to say a huge welcome
to Amber
Thanks to Susan for inviting me to be a guest blogger.
I’m Amber, co-owner (along with my husband, Jake) of Dandylyon’s Garden, and my blog is Dandylyon’s Blog.  While the mainstay of our business is herbal crafting and education on gardening and cooking (as you can see in my book, A Walk Through Dandylyon’s Garden), we dabble in a variety of crafts, including crochet.    Jake goes for large wool afghans, while I’m more into fashion accessories.  Lately, I’ve been all about the crochet hats.

Before I became a blogger / freelance writer / crafting artisan, I was among, other things a librarian and a graphic artist.  I feel like all my skills are coming together in all the rights ways since we decided to add a micropress to Dandylyon’s Garden, which will hopefully be ready to release two books by next spring.   We have had an Etsy store since 2009, where you can find herbal sachets, lavender spindles, garden aprons, vintage jewelry and more.
Today, I taught a cooking class out at The University of Texas at Arlington, focusing on how to shop and cook for just one or two people.  We made a full meal, including this beautiful single serve pot pie.

We discussed, among other things, how to make the most of your freezer.  I would like to share with you some of the tips from my presentation, focusing on how to make your own healthy frozen dinners.  
·         Look for recipes that can be frozen with minimal loss of texture.  Stay away from things that include milk, sour cream or coconut milk as a main sauce ingredient, as theses can separate.  Also don’t plan to freeze cottage cheese fillings (they get mushy) or potatoes (sometimes get mealy – not really noticeable when mashed).  Cooked eggs may become rubbery when frozen.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a more exhaustive list at:
·         Go light on seasoning for food that will be frozen.  Saltiness and herbal flavors tend to intensify in the freezer.
·         Don’t go for fried foods in your home-made frozen dinners.  They aren’t as healthy, and they never reheat as well as you think they are going to.
·         Undercook vegetables and pasta that will be part of your frozen dinners.
·         Always label your frozen dinners, both with the date and the contents.  Sharpies work well to write on zippered storage bags (this works best at room temperature, and is easiest when the bags are still flat)   A roll of freezer tape is inexpensive, and works like masking tape on containers you don’t want to write on directly.
·         Consider buying a bulk pack of foil take-out containers from a restaurant supply shop.  You have to heat them in a conventional oven, but things usually taste better that way.
·         Fill freezer bags with saucy items (like sloppy joes) and freeze in a single layer, laid horizontally.  Once frozen, they can be stacked efficiently, and in some freezers vertically, to take up less space. 
·         If you want to make more single serve casseroles  than you have oven-safe dishes, simply line the dishes with foil, fill, freeze until the contents are solid, slip out of dish, wrap the top with a separate piece of foil that you can remove (foil tends to stick when frozen into the food).
·         Be careful with glass containers.  Make sure any you choose can safely go from freezer to microwave or oven.  Avoid overfilling glass to ensure that nothing bursts in your freezer.
·         Allow food to cool completely before you put the lids on.  Cooling the foods before freezing prevents bacteria growth that can occur when the outside of food freezes while the inside is still warm. 
·         Don’t put large quantities of warm food into your freezer at once.  This can bring the temperature inside the freezer up too high and cause other things to thaw.
Next week, I will be teaching a day camp for kids, also at the University.  My class is Petite Pastry Chef (yeah! royal icing, sugar cookies and cake pops!), so if you wander over to my blog next week, I will be posting tips for cooking with kids, plus a list of children’s books that feature baking.

Thank you ever so much Amber
You are just so talented and create so many wonderful things.
Fantastic tips for healthier frozen dinners!
I hope you will all join in saying thank you to Amber
& pop over to her sites to see her wonderful creations.


  1. Thanks for introducing another talented member of the crafting community. It sounds like Dandylyon's Garden has some great stuff going on this summer.

  2. Thank you for having such a helpful guest blogger. I love the freezing tips.

  3. Great post! Enjoyed the tips :)

  4. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! I have forwarded them to Amber.


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