Farm fresh beauty and treats: The Chef’s Garden

Many years ago, a wizened hippie gal managing a health food store informed me, “Anything you put on your body should be good enough to eat.” Yeah, fine . . . but these days, we’re even more careful about what we eat! Part of a limited edition gift set — well, of course you want a farm to be seasonal — Farmer Lee Jones’ The Chef’s Garden has some really cool value-added items! I was happy to be hosted to experience it.

A famous cookbook author wrote about how his mom, when she was stressed or needed cheering up or just wanted to keep things simple, made dinner of a cup of tea, crackers and a certain jam. That has to be a special spreadable for that to be your entire dinner, no? Carrot (Cake) Marmalade, made in partnership with Ohio’s Prospect Jam Co., certainly fits the bill. I’ve traveled to Ohio many times in my life, pretty much all my meals are still memorable. This marmalade uses the farm’s heirloom carrots, which come in orange, yellow, purple, red, etc. So flavorful and nutritious! Maybe that saltines and marmalade routine for dinner is more balanced than you’d think, in this case.

The ingredients include heirloom carrots, organic apples, oranges, cane sugar, baking spices of the kind used in the Middle Ages – post Marco Polo era — such as black pepper. It has a carrot ginger nose, like the Jewish side dish tsimmes, if that gives you an idea. It has a burnt orange color with carrot threads, rich and thick with veggies. It’s semi-sweet, with a good hit of spice and hints of citrus.

I collect vintage restaurant menus and cookbooks; many mention jellies, etc. as a course. This would make a perfect foil for earthier cheeses like Epoisse and Tomme. It’d also be fantastic with a Southern extra aged, funky country ham. Mix it with yogurt: it’s better than carrot cake!

Farmer Lee Jones grows so many beautiful edible flowers for chefs and also, for you if you order them. Flowerhouse Lotion is a non-edible way of enjoying them! Moisturizing ingredients like almond oil, Vitamin E and aloe vera are combined with citrus marigold, blood orange and cedar.

I experienced citrus plus stone fruit and gourmand notes. It has a classic lotion consistency, but isn’t greasy. I found it does a remarkable job smoothing my dry skin and nails!

There are a million teas on the market, but what a tea made with the exact same ingredients prized by Michelin chefs? That’s an affordable luxury for you. In conjunction with Rare Tea Cellar, The Chef’s Garden has created a variety of teas, including Flowerhouse Black Tea Malvaceae. It has some very exotic ingredients in an unusual combination: cranberry hibiscus, roselle hibiscus, cocoa nib, beet, vanilla, organic regal Earl Grey.

It’s packaged in a sleek black keepsake jar. I experienced a floral, but tangy nose: hibiscus, heady Earl Grey bergamot. It’s a loose tea. I steeped it for 5 minutes. It achieved a deep burgundy color.

Flavor-wise, it’s an Earl Grey with extra tang. Sweetener brings out more of the floral notes. I think refrain from milk with citrus tea, it’s better that way!

Then there was — and may be again — the Flowerhouse Salve. This is a luxury workhorse! Really, I’m not sure what you couldn’t use it for. It’s rich with organic olive, avocado, fair trade shea butter, cocoa butter, lemon verbena and beeswax. It’s very solid with a silky touch. It has a lemony scent. I use it for lip balm, softening smile lines, cuticles, even crispy hair ends!

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