Coon Creek Herbs: behind the scenes

tin of dried herbs with fall leaves

This is Herbs de Provence (can you see the lavender flowers?). I wish I had a scratch-n-sniff plug-in here!

Coon Creek Herbs

Yesss, gentle reader, I have a nice surprise for you . . .  it’s not for everybody . . . just for little you.

Coon Creek Herbs is the name of my new business, and I’ll have lots more to tell you about it in the days and weeks to come. I’ll share the story behind the name, and the little lady raccoon it’s named after. 🙂 For today: our first Coon Creek Herbs product line is a set of three dried herb mixes, raised here on our tiny farms, dried, and mixed into delicious blends. They are totally grown with love, with no chemical sprays, then are harvested and processed by hand. They are truly small-batch products: once this year’s supply is gone, it’s gone.

That’s always a sad day. The day of gone-ness.

Especially with winter barreling down on us, I’m paying attention to the good things in each day: our little farm, my aromatic herb gardens, my hoop house full of winter greens and edible flowers, and all the endless wonders of God’s creation. My good husband. Our goofy dogs. My leggy fabulous loud son Mack. Our ducks and geese and chickens. Our turkey, Jenny. My dear friends and family. (Maybe I will be so busy studying what’s good in my life this winter that I won’t even notice frost-bitten toes. Icy sidewalks. Days when I drink a jillion cups of boiling hot tea to try to warm myself up. Yeaaah.)

Before I tell you any more about my new venture, I need to fill you in on a bit of a backstory. My farming friend Gene doesn’t even know this story, and how he played a part in keeping me sane and my family well-fed for real, a couple of years ago . . .

I love this old photo I ran across . . . it’s VINTAGE, folks! I interviewed Gene for my blog when I first met him, a few years ago. Here he is being exceedingly patient with my asking him a bunch of nosy questions, and all three of his pups are checking–me–out, and little Mack is still LITTLE!

The Backstory

Settle down with your milk and cookies, kiddos, it’s story time: We’ll climb into my time machine and travel back in time, to our kitchen remodel (if you’re interested, you can click on that link and read about all our missteps and triumphs) that we tackled a few years ago. We tore down the kitchen wall in late summer, and optimistic hubby and I had visions of enjoying the new kitchen with the fam that Thanksgiving. I think that would have been three or four months later.

*cue blank open-mouthed stare of incredulity at our naiveté*

Gentle. Readers. We actually sailed past TWO Thanksgivings before we were able to move back into the kitchen and start using it. There is a limit to how much fuel our pure optimism would propel us to finish it all. Fact: You may believe–quite ardently!–that something will happen, and you may work very hard toward your goal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to occur on your timeline. Positive Thinking alone doesn’t rebuild walls or apply varnish to new cabinetry, you could say. Even if you pair that positive thinking with puh-lenty of elbow grease. Things happen. Snags occur.

Our contractor, Reubsy by name, from the beginning had the insight/experience to insist on establishing a “temporary party kitchen” for me, on our sun porch (which flanks the kitchen), though I (in turn) insisted that it was not necessary. Cooking with a Crock pot and an electric skillet on a card table for two or three months wouldn’t kill me, I pointed out.

I’m glad Reuben didn’t listen to me on this point.

We packed up all my kitchen stuff in a huge rush of excitement (Bryan: “We’re going to demolish that wall in an hour, honey, so pack up all the cabinets!” Me: “Aaaaaaghggh!”), holding back only the scantiest supplies–a few pots and pans, a mixing bowl, a stack of paper plates, my pepper grinder, a salt shaker–with which to make do for the two or three months that I believed we would be displaced. No cookbooks.

We unwittingly stashed the boxes of kitchen stuff wherever we could find a corner, that is to say all over the blessed house: the basement, the caboose (the west end of the house), under the bed in the guest room, etc. (This is the definition of WILLY-NILLY: look it up!) We did all this so quickly that I didn’t pay attention to where everything was going. (Truth: I’m still missing some things.) I knew I could live without it for, ya know, a couple months.

In fact, I was looking forward to it! The culinary version of minimalism would be a real adventure! (Personally: I love peanut butter sandwiches and could live quite happily on them, for some time.) (With pickles. And apples. Nutella. An occasional roasted squash.)

Yeah. You see where I’m going with all this, right, and of course you know what’s coming?

Gene’s Gift

At Christmastime–when it was beginning to dawn on me that this project might not be finished in time for Thanksgiving . . . my mentor-cum-biz partner and friend Gene (formerly known as Papa Geno of Papa Geno’s Herb Farm, yeah, I know I’m lucky!) gave me some baggies of herb mixes, as part of a Christmas gift. Those herb mixes looked modest in their clear plastic baggies, but when I opened them up and took a whiff–yum! They were so aromatic and I couldn’t wait to start using them in my (at that time, scanty) meals.

Even I was beginning to tire of peanut butter sandwiches and baby carrots.

I appreciated Gene’s gift more than most, perhaps, for–though he had no clue about the sad state of my kitchen supplies–I had even packed up all my herbs and spices. Moreover, I was loathe (SOOO loathe, gentle reader) to start digging through all those boxes, looking for them. (I was too busy making this for Reubsy, not to mention countless pots of coffee.)

I love to cook. You might have picked up on this by now. It was hard to make tasty meals with such scanty supplies, and a little discouraging to be serving such boring fare. Gene’s special herb mixes truly made my life so much better, and our meals tastier during those months and (cough) years.

Gene brought me three tasty mixes, all made from his own particular recipes, from herbs that he had grown and harvested and dried himself:

  • Spicy Tuscan Italian
  • Mexican Madness
  • Herbs de Provence

At the time, I didn’t even know that there were also wonderful stories behind Gene’s particular herb mix recipes. What I did know: they were fresher and tastier than anything I could buy in the store. I used an old desk for my countertop/cabinet space for TWO YEARS, and I’d look for reasons to pull open the drawer that I kept those herb mixes in, and pop open the bags, breathing in the wonderful scent of those herbs.

I found dozens of ways to use them.

me in my hoophouse full of plants

Here I am in my hoop house the week before my plant sale, happily fussing with some plants.

I shared this experience with Gene, after the remodel was finished(ish!), and how much those simple bags of herb mixes had made my life better. He proposed that we partner together in making the mixes from herbs that we both grow, and then market them together with his signature mix recipes.

Well. How could I say no? I was totally onboard. Gene knows his herbs; I’m learning to grow and process fresh herbs myself, which is a delight! I knew that I would be excited to share them with my friends.

So here we go! My plans–once I finish up about a hundred and three details–are to launch the sale of a limited supply of these herb mixes very soon . . . (honestly, as soon as the labels come from the printer!)

I’ll be releasing details until then, so if you’re interested in learning more you can do the following:

Thanks for popping in, for hanging out with me until the very end. I love ya. I mean it!

Take care!



37 thoughts on “Coon Creek Herbs: behind the scenes

  1. Kristina

    Oh! My dear Amy!! You have NO idea how happy this makes me! I’ve struggled with finding good, fresh herb mixes since my favored site closed down, then re-opened with a minimal selection. To purchase locally(ish), from a Nebraskan, and, added bonus, someone I knew and once shared tea and chats with, is amazing!! So thrilled for you and your new venture!

    Sadly, I admit, I’d hoard the herb mixes, because they sound lovely and I’m in need of some good mixes. However, I WILL share your announcement. As you produce more, I will also, hopefully, purchase as gifts.

  2. Sarah Auzina

    Hooray for Reuben, I couldn’t live without a kitchen. Even in my college dorm room I had an electric skillet I cooked everything in.

    I shared on Facebook, and I’d keep some of the herbs and share the rest! I still have my dried herbs hanging in the mud room, waiting to be packed up. Ah life and it’s curveballs!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sarah . . . I have clumps of herbs hanging on my kitchen pegboard, too. ALWAYS. And Reuben really did hang the moon, as far as I’m concerned. So happy that he helped us with our project.

  3. Sharon H

    Oh, how much FUN this will be for you! I shared your FB post and commented that you are living MY dream….hoop houses, chickens, all of it…except for the Nebraska weather. I live South of you, MO-KS, but not far enough South to be really warm!
    Of course, I already followed your blog and FB and now I follow you on IG. If I could, in the summer of course (LOL) I’d be your neighbor, and your farm hand (have tractor and trailer and can travel….) ha ha!
    Congratulations and much luck in this new adventure, and thank you for the chance to win a great prize! Oh, and I also shared to FB your Cranberry Sauce recipe. I just happen to have a bag of fresh cranberries in my fridge!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sharon, thank you, thank you! I wish that we were neighbors too! But at least we can be neighbors virtually! (You really have your own tractor?)

      1. Sharon H

        Yes! I have my own tractor with front bucket, Bush hog, 5′ tiller, a small trencher, a 2-bottom plow, and backhoe with 12″ bucket. It’s a 2 6 horse Mahindra, my pride and joy, and I LOVE her! We are summertime pals, she and I. She’ll meet most every need “I” have. You would have so much fun with her, Amy!

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          Sharon, gosh, I’m totally envious of you! Was this little gem a gift or did you go out and buy it for yourself? I’m going to start saving up for my own!

  4. Gene Gage

    How have you possibly had time to write this blog, build a hoop house and do auditions for your 2020 drama? Sheesh. To be young and have energy again! I had not seen that photo of you, Mack and me (and my three beloved pups) before! You look about 25 in that photo but I know you had to be at least 30. Teen age Amalia must have taken it.

    I did not share on Facebook, because geezer that I am, I have no idea how to do that. (And don’t “OK, Boomer” me because I am too old to be a Boomer!) But I’m hoping you have great success with Coon Creek Herbs. Can’t wait to hear more about Juniper.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks, Gene. As for how I’ve had time to write it . . in fits and starts, usually in the very early morning hours, that is to say the best time of the day!

  5. Sally Schroeder

    Neat to hear about your give away! Just cleaned out my herb/spice shelf in the kitchen yesterday – won’t mention how old some of them were! Making a list of new ones to get soon.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Perfect timing, Sally! I clean out my spice drawers every few years, too. I open all the caps–if I can’t tell what the herb is from the smell–or if it smells like hay, ha!–out they go!

  6. Sharon H

    By the way Amy, we loved that cranberry sauce recipe! It’s my new go-to from now on and it will be making an appearance at my Christmas table, but this time I will double it

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