A chef / farmer shares homemade gift ideas

STONINGTON – Cheryl Wixson posted nine rules in her classroom at Deer Isle-Stonington High School, where she teaches Introduction to Food Safety and Food Systems.

“Rule # 5, five is my favorite,” she said during a tour of her farm, Rabbit Hill, on an October day. “And rule # 5 is ‘don’t apologize’.”

“If you are cooking for someone, or if you are creating something for someone, you have love in your heart,” Cheryl explained. “And you never need to apologize for that.”

Ellsworth American “Maine Dish” food columnist Cheryl is a food educator and business owner. She encourages people to prepare edible gifts and other homemade gifts for the holidays, on a budget and using recycled, salvaged and naturally stuffed items.

At her Rabbit Hill farm in Stonington, farmer, chef and educator Cheryl Wixson digs up some reindeer moss and other native plants to create a terrarium as a holiday gift. HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS AND ENTERTAINMENT PHOTOS BY REBECCA ALLEY

“There’s absolutely no reason we have to buy a lot of this new stuff and then throw it in the trash,” she said.

She carried on the traditions she started when she and her husband, Flip, were raising their three daughters in Bangor. During this time, crafts were more than just assembling gifts to send to extended family. During the holiday season, it was an activity to do together and foster artistic expression, all with Christmas carols playing in the background.

“It’s a real outlet,” Cheryl said. With crafting or cooking, “there is no right or wrong, it’s just your natural creativity.”

Promoting creativity is especially important to Cheryl in a world where technology, despite its benefits, can sometimes seem omnipresent.

“I sometimes think we have lost – we lose – the opportunity to harness our inner creativity that comes from the work of our hands,” she said. When teaching, she witnesses how practical projects often get her students to engage their minds. She sees potential in everyone, everywhere.

“Seeing something, measuring the ingredients, doing the math, seeing the chemistry as it goes up, then seeing the product and eating it, that for [the students] is an inspiration and something they were able to do with their hands.

So what are some easy, thoughtful, and inspiring gifts people can make for loved ones this holiday season? Cheryl has lots of ideas, including homemade terrariums and cake mixes.

For terrariums, artisans can find transparent vases in local thrift stores or large glass jugs at Renys.

To fill these terrariums with tiny ecosystems, Cheryl simply advises walking around looking for natural objects.

Rabbit Hill is a certified organic farm, cider house, and commercial food processing kitchen. Between farm chores, she likes to get away from it all and collect natural materials, like the many species of moss that line the forests behind her house and the pine cones that fall from the spruce trees. She also searches for seashells and rocks along the shore and nearby beach.

Most of the property was wooded when she and her husband bought it. The couple cleared the land by hand to have space to raise their rabbits and establish their gardens where they grow almost all of their food from soil enriched with rabbit manure.

After collecting materials in her antlers, Cheryl Wixson begins creating the terrarium starting with the bottom of a large glass container. She places an offset of small pebbles and large stones, some round and smooth and others jagged and quartz-like, inside the glass habitat. She then adds different foams and other elements.

“We came here to make a living off the land,” Cheryl said.

This year alone, the duo bought a tractor.

“That’s what really attracted me, it’s this foam,” she said. “You come here and the inspiration is right…” her voice trailed off as she gazed up at the lush green haven.

After collecting materials, Cheryl built the base of the terrarium inside a large glass jug with a lid. Using samples from her rock collection, she placed an offset of small pebbles and large stones, some round and smooth and others jagged and quartz-like, inside the habitat of glass.

Then she added her foam samples. Cushion foam has the same shape and bounce as its namesake. Another piece looks like seaweed.

A signature of Cheryl’s creations is to combine nature with a bit of glitter and glam. This terrarium features a metallic red ornament. A touch of color in the middle of its natural landscape.

She will also spray paint cans – some of which were made from recycled silver cans of olive oil. She transforms the boxes into vases, adorned with recycled jewelry and holding bouquets of branches and natural berries.

Cheryl Wixson shows off her finished Acadian chocolate cake mix and woodland terrarium that make quirky and personal gifts for the holidays.

For the sweet tooth, Cheryl has gathered the dry ingredients for a French Acadian chocolate cake mix in a mason jar.

On a whim, she decorated the glass jar with red and black ribbon and pulled out her glue gun to attach a pine cone and evergreen foliage to the lid.

“I am so inspired! She said, putting the finishing touches on the homemade gift that was made in minutes.

Cheryl wants others to feel inspired as well and participates in the farm open houses, where the public is invited to Rabbit Hill to learn more about organic farming. Farmers – Cheryl reports that around 50 to 80 people attend each time – can walk around the property and bring a picnic, learn about sustainability and water conservation, shop for prepared foods, and pet them. farm rabbits.

Everything from making homemade gifts to maintaining his farm to teaching his students about food and how to prepare it themselves, coincide with the larger mission of his life.

“I just want to change the world,” she said.

For more information, visit https://cherylwixsonskitchen.com.

French Acadian Chocolate Cake Mix

Makes 6 individual mixes

37.5 ounces pure cane sugar

20.5 ounces Buckwheat (Bouchard family farm in Aroostook county)

5.5 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder (processed Dutch is best)

.5 ounces. baking powder

0.3 ounce baking soda

In the bowl of your electric mixer or in a large bowl, whisk the above ingredients very carefully for 2 minutes or more.

Weigh each cake mix in a jar or bag. Each serving should weigh 295-300 grams.

French Acadian Chocolate Cake


1 bag or jar of French Acadian chocolate cake mix

½ cup applesauce, unsweetened

2 eggs

¼ cup melted butter or oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan or small cake pan.

In medium bowl, combine cake mix, unsweetened applesauce, eggs and melted butter or oil. Whisk together so that there are no lumps. Pour into prepared pan and cook until a toothpick comes out clean. About 20 to 30 minutes.

Serving suggestions: Garnish the cake with powdered sugar. Can be served with whipped cream, yogurt or ice cream as a garnish. This cake is also delicious with frosting (but not really necessary). A festive idea would be to attach a candy cane to the jar. Other options are to crush the candy cane and either add the chips to the batter or freeze the cake and sprinkle the chips on top.

Allée Rébecca
Rebecca is the Schoodic area reporter covering the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was happily welcomed in June 2020. Please feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]
Allée Rébecca

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