How to Host a Successful Friendsgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving time, to me, is about several different things: food, family, friends and being thankful for all three. I’ve always celebrated with my family, but this year my friends and I decided to do something different. Even though our families live close by, we decided to put together a second dinner – a Friendsgiving dinner.

For some, Friendsgiving is about gathering all your closest friends when your family isn’t around. But for my friends and I, it’s simply to celebrate how we’ve become our own family. Whatever your reason may be, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s going to take preparation and organization to get everyone on the same page. But thankfully, we’re here to help! All you have to do is follow the tips below and we promise you’ll deliver a successful friend filled bash.

Create the VIP List

The best part about Friendsgiving is that you can pretty much invite whoever you want. But, I would definitely make sure you invite only as many people that you can comfortably sit at your table. Start with your closest pals and then, if you still have some room, reach out to the people that might not have any family close by. It is Thanksgiving after all, and you could really make someone’s day if they don’t have any plans!

Turkey Time

Now that your guest list has been created, it’s time to talk turkey. The host should make the turkey (or if you’re my friends, a rotisserie chicken). This should be the one and only thing the host has to make, since they’ll be in charge of decorations and making sure the house is clean. It’s important to make sure you have enough, so decide how big your turkey should be. The rule of thumb is half a pound per person. So, if you have ten people, you would need a five pound turkey (and if you like having extra for leftovers, consider going a little larger with an eight pound turkey!). There are plenty of places where you can preorder so you are guaranteed you aren’t birdless the day of.

Don’t Stress Over the Menu

Getting all your guests involved is the fun part! And the best part is you don’t have to worry about having the normal Thanksgiving foods. If someone wants to make pigs in a blanket, go for it! But, there’s no need to bring green bean casserole or any vegetables at all if no one wants it. I do however, recommend sticking with some of the crowd favorites, because let’s be real, the more stuffing and mashed potatoes, the better.

For the non cookers of the group, you can give them the task of bringing the booze. Sparkling wines are perfect for this time of year, especially when kicking off the holiday season with a toast. If you’re not a fan of that, there are some great hard ciders that will do just the trick! And whatever you do, don’t forget to assign someone to bring the dessert. You know what they say, the more the merrier. So bring on the pies, ice cream, cookies and tea breads. Any and all is welcome!

Get to the Grocery Store Early

Don’t wait until the day before the party to get your cooking essentials. Beat the crowds and get to the grocery store early. And if you all live near each other, why not go together! It could make for a very interesting adventure and who knows what random items you’ll pick up along the way that make for a funny story later on. A lot of the memories come from the preparation before you sit down at the table. So, try to do as much together as possible to get the full Friendsgiving experience.

Get Festive With It

There’s no need to go over the top with decorations, since the food should be the star of the show. But, a decorative tablecloth, cranberries, gourds, and even some candles could go a long way. Decorating will give you the finishing touch you need before kicking off your Friendsgiving festivities.

Enjoy Yourself!

Friendsgiving is meant to be fun, a way to create a new tradition with the people you choose as your family. But it all means nothing if you don’t get a chance to sit down and actually enjoy it. So be creative with it, the sky is the limit! And make sure to soak it all in. If everyone’s stomachs are full and the table is filled with friends, you’ve successfully thrown a Friendsgiving dinner.

Mommy Mondays – Aggressive Asparagus

Spring!!!  It’s here, and hopefully to stay!  I don’t know about you, but Spring is my favorite season (beside Fall).  There’s just something so energizing about it.  The days start getting longer, leaves on the trees start popping, flowers start blooming, birds and other animals are out making noise, and people are out and about, soaking up the 62 degree weather as if it were 80 out!

D4S_5812As if that weren’t enough… this is when we know fresh local produce, grown here on our farm and other local farms, is NOW in season!  For us, Asparagus is the first crop, along with our potted herbs, that we grow and have available.  Weather plays a huge role with the Asparagus, as it is necessary for warmer temperatures to keep the Asparagus coming.  If and when the temperatures are cooler, it slows down the production, which we saw a couple weeks ago with that dreary, rainy weather.

If you haven’t had our own, or any local asparagus before… you are missing out!!  It doesn’t even compare to any other asparagus. While it is always a great vegetable, you can taste the difference and freshness when it’s local.  Green vegetables are a category that is classified as a whole usually. You either like them or you don’t! This goes for kids and adults alike. But, I think you would be pleasantly surprised if you gave it a try!  The way you cook it can make all the difference in the world.  You can roast it, grill it, sauté it, bake it, steam it, fry it, or even eat it raw!   Want to disguise it for the kids?  Make an Asparagus Pesto… toss it with some Pasta and Voila!  If you don’t think that will work, try baking it and making Asparagus Fries! It worked for my kids and now they LOVE eating asparagus!

As a kid, I NEVER liked asparagus.  You couldn’t get me to eat asparagus, spinach, peas or brussels sprouts!  Now the only D4S_6011-3thing I won’t eat on that list is green peas.  We all have our issues, right?  As I got older and started cooking myself and beginning to be more open about trying new things, I gave more greens a chance.  I actually started eating asparagus because it was our own and in season.  First try and I was hooked!

I didn’t do anything fancy to make it. I did have an “asparagus steamer” that was given to me as a wedding gift collecting dust, so I pulled it out and figured I may as well use it now. Now I know not everyone has an asparagus steamer, but a large sauce pot will do just fine too! Just cut the ends off, place in pot, and fill with water just so it covers the asparagus. Place the cover on the pot and place on burner and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, give it 2-3 minutes in boiling water and then take off and drain. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and serve!! The hint to cooking asparagus and for best flavor… Don’t over cook it! It should be a vibrant green color. It’s just as simple to roast it.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees (standard temp for roasting vegetables), line a baking sheet with tin foil (makes for easy cleanup), trim and rinse asparagus, place in a single layer on sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, toss and place in oven for 15-20 minutes. That’s it! Want to get fancy? After you take out of the oven, sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese! Roasting asparagus is now my “go-to” way to make it. Simple, easy, and delicious!

I have included a few links to some great ideas and recipes for the more adventurous route, which i highly recommend! Don’t wait too long to try theses though.  Our own asparagus is only around now into early June!


Pesto Pasta with Asparagus


Asparagus Risotto


Asparagus Fries


A Long Time Connection

If you are from Guilford or the Shoreline Communities it is very likely that you have heard of the SARAH Foundation.

IMG_9308The Bishop family has connection to the SARAH Foundation that starts at the very beginning.  In the 1950’s there were three Guilford families who had children with intellectual disabilities and were having trouble getting them into school.  At this time there were no resources and funding to help these individuals.  The three families met and decided a change needed to occur, so they started SARAH.  Those families were the Reinhardsens, Spencers, and the O’Neils.  Dorothy Spencer was Jane Bishop’s mother.  Jane had a sister with intellectual disabilities.  Jane is married to 4th Generation Bishop family member, Gene Bishop.  We are fortunate to have this lasting connection that has continued for almost 60 years.  

Another direct connection to SARAH is through my aunt Mary Candace Gunther, best known as Candy.  Candy was the sister of Debbie Bishop, wife of 5th Generation family member, Keith Bishop.  Candy was born with down syndrome in 1948.  At the time, similar to the struggles the three families who started SARAH faced, there was not much support.  When the Gunther family moved to the shoreline in the 1960’s they found support in SARAH.  Candy was able to participate in activities, make friends, and get a job, with the help of those at SARAH.  She would eventually live in a SARAH-Tuxis assisted living home as well.

Because of these deep connections, it has always felt extremely important to continue involvement with SARAH and the community.  Personally, I have become a IMG_9303coach for the Special Olympics Cross Country team on the Shoreline and also am a partner athlete for Special Olympics Tennis.  From a business in addition to financial contributions, we also have a SARAH work crew that comes five days a week.  We realize the value that SARAH provides to all participants from birth through adults.  They provide families the support they need, hold activities, group living, day supports, supported employment, and the list goes on.  Participants strive in the community and can feel a sense of independence with the help of SARAH.

Last Thursday night, the Bishop family had the honor of receiving the Appreciation Award at the annual SARAH Foundation Gala.  Individuals there to present citations and certificates of achievement included; US Senator Chris Murphy, CT Senator Ted Kennedy Jr, CT Representative Sean Scanlon, CT Representative Noreen Kokoruda, and Guilford First Selectman Joe Mazza.  It is truly an honor to be recognized for the contributions our family has made.  We will continue to support the SARAH Foundation and agencies for their enormous contribution to the community.

Breakfast Tacos

Lets face it, breakfast can be boring.  During the week I am trying to do a bunch of different things to get out the door on time so there isn’t much variation in the breakfast food.  Think cereal, yogurt with granola, smoothie, or that bagel which I know I shouldn’t get but always fill me up.  On the weekends it usually is some of those same things but we will add in scrambled eggs or when we are doing a “big” breakfast we will make pancakes, bacon, fruit salad, tater tots.   

We recently went to Houston and Austin, Texas to visit some friends and family.  The food in Texas, especially Austin, was amazing.  Most of our meals there were either mexican or BBQ style (side note if Torchy’s Tacos ever comes to Connecticut you definitely have at least one customer).  A couple of weeks after we got back we had some company staying over our house who are foodie types and we wanted to make sure they ate well.  One thing we had to be cautious of as well was making a gluten free meal due to an intolerance.  We decided that for breakfast on Sunday morning we would make breakfast tacos inspired by our recent Texas trip.  


  • breakfast tacos(*This served 4 adults)
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • ½ Red Onion
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Eggs (1 egg per taco)
  • Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 Avocado
  • Sriracha
  • Tortillas (we used corn due to the gluten free)

In addition you can really make the toppings whatever you want based on your own tastes

  1. Heat up griddle and spray with nonstick spray (you can also use pans on the stove).  Put tortillas on the griddle for about 30 seconds each side to heat quickly.
  2. On one side of the griddle cook jalapenos and onions.
  3. While the jalapenos and onions are cooking, crack egg and open onto the griddle.  Place each egg on griddle so they are separate.  Once one side of the egg is cooked, flip over.
  4. Add onions, jalapenos, and shredded cheese on top of each egg.  Add some salt & pepper your liking
  5. Once cheese is melted, pick up the egg with a spatula, place a tortilla on the griddle and place the egg towards one side of the tortilla.  Fold in half.
  6. Serve the tacos with other toppings to taste after taken off the griddle.  I added avocado to mine where my husband added some Sriracha.  

This recipe definitely adds a bit of flavor to a meal that can become a bit boring and overall is pretty healthy start to the day!   

Here We Go Again

We spend our winters on the farm preparing for the next growing season. We prune trees, fix equipment and order seeds, plants and material to be as prepared as we can be, but ultimately it is Mother Nature that determines when “Spring” starts on the farm. So far, this season (as measured by the trees breaking dormancy and starting to grow) is about three to four weeks early.

brad orchardIt is probably not news to anyone that it has been an unusual winter and spring (it is April 4th and SNOWING!! as I write this.) It was a pretty mild winter, but it was punctuated with some extremely cold nights (remember Valentine’s day weekend?) If you can wear flip-flops and snow boots in the same week, you must be in Connecticut.

What most people aren’t as aware of, is how the  weather we have been experiencing can affect our perennial crops for the rest of the season. For instance, the fruit buds that we are counting on to flower and set fruit this for this year’s crop were actually formed last year. The weather conditions and crop load last year determined how many and how strong the fruit buds are for this year. The fruit buds then need to survive the winter and spring cold and frost in order to bloom and set the young fruitlets that will become this year’s crop.

D4S_3139We get one shot. If something happens to damage the fruit buds during the winter and spring we are done for the year. The trees don’t form new buds to replace the ones we lose now.

Needless to say, this can lead to some sleepless nights for us as we sweat out these cold nights. In a year like this, when the trees start to emerge from their winter sleep in March, we have a few additional weeks to worry about until the threat of frost affecting the tender buds and blossoms passes.

Those of us who make our living in agriculture are careful to follow Benjamin Franklin’s advice to not count our chickens before they are hatched. There is a lot that can happen between now and harvest time. Understanding all the obstacles to growing that crisp apple or a sweet,  juicy peach makes us appreciate them all the more.

Getting Crafty For Easter

Parenting in the age of social media can be a bit overwhelming.  On Facebook I am of the age where many of my Facebook friends have kids.  Besides the funny things kids do, most posts are saying how great their child is.  Not many parents are posting about the horrible things their child has done. In addition, you get pushed the views of some parents.  So scrolling through you can feel like people have a perfect life and a perfect child (because of what they post) and also feel judged (or judge others) by what gets posted.  It can be a lot to take in.

Then there is Pinterest.  Here you see all of these wonderful things; recipes, crafts, decorating, DIY. While scrolling through I feel excited and motivated to be this amazing person and mom doing all of these things.  The percentage of things I have “pinned” to what I have actually completed it pretty small.

A few weeks ago I saw a suggested link on Facebook called “Easter Egg Potato Stamping Craft for Kids”.  I saved the link thinking it would be something fun to do with my 2 year old daughter. Realistically, I was thinking this is another thing to save that I wouldn’t actually do because who has time for this stuff.  This post is our journey through this project, I made the time for my daughter.

All you need to complete this project is:

  • Potatoes (could be those ones sitting on your counter growing eyes)
  • Washable paints
  • Paper
  • Paint brush (not required but can be helpful)

When I Grow Up

AGKJ_135thMamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don’t let ’em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make ’em be doctors and lawyers and such
(Ed Bruce, 1975)

When I was growing up if you asked an elementary school-aged kid what they wanted to be when they grew up, Cowboy was pretty high on the list, at least for boys. Farmer, Doctor or Lawyer? Not so much.

I grew up on a farm so I was exposed to it every day. We rode along with our dads when they checked the fields and at a fairly early age would drive the tractors and trucks putting out cabbage crates or apple boxes ahead of the picking crew or picking up bales of hay or boxes of harvested fruit. As a teenager I didn’t love working but, as my dad explained to me at the time. “You don’t have to work on the farm, but you have to work somewhere.” Given the alternatives, the farm wasn’t so bad and by the time I went to college I had decided that coming back to the family farm was what I wanted to do with my life.

“So where will the next generation of farmers come from?” is a question I find myself asking myself more and more as I approach my 60th birthday. Times are different and even the next generation of Bishop family members didn’t have quite the same exposure to the farm side of the business that my generation did.

I think farming gets a bad rap because a lot of the “entry level” jobs are not glamorous and involve being outdoors in all kinds of weather, but once you get past that, it can be a pretty good career choice. Farmers all over the country are looking for that next generation of farm managers, so there is pretty good upward mobility too. (I am talking about production agriculture. Farms with sustainable business models and the scale of operation to be successful.)

So… Mamas, maybe the time is right to let your babies grow up to be farmers.

Service in the Community

Our family has been part of Guilford since the beginning with the signing of the Covenant in 1639. In addition, we have had this growing business in the same community since 1871.  Guilford means a lot to each of us.  It is where we grew up, learned, played, worked and has made us into who we are today.  This is a strong knit community.

12552990_10153977783604962_6652054120308351591_nIt was instilled in my siblings and me from a young age by our parents and grandparents the importance of helping others, giving back, and being grateful for what we have.  We were always involved in some way, whether it was delivering meals with my grandmother for Meals on Wheels or supporting my aunt in the Special Olympics, the list is long.  

As soon as I moved back to Guilford in 2014 I knew I wanted to find something in the community to be involved with.  After the request from Gene Bishop to be his guest for a Guilford Rotary meeting, I found the group to be something I would be interested in.  The basis of Rotary International is service.  Rotary holds a few large fundraising events during the year.  The funds raised go directly back into community organizations and a couple national/international Rotary Projects.  

Guilford Rotary is made up of members in the community that volunteer their time.  The members are all people who are part of the community through their occupation and live here.  The weekly meetings bring together all these people; Realtors, Bankers, Reverends, Librarians, Teachers, Chiropractors, the list goes on and on.  All these different people come together for a common purpose, service to our wonderful community.  

I was just inducted as a member of the Guilford Rotary on February 3rd.  In becoming a member I am excited to meet more people from Guilford.  The people and organizations are part of what make this town wonderful.  By connecting with people at the events and meetings it helps us as a business for feedback and knowing what our customers want.  As businesses and people in town, we rely a lot on each other for support and to add value.  This is just part of how we support our local community.

Mommy Mondays

As a full time working mom of two, I often find myself questioning “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”… at 5pm!   No matter how many times I have told myself, “I am going to plan out our meals this week,” I rarely follow through.  It’s not for the lack of trying or caring… It’s just one of those things that sometimes gets pushed to the back burner as there are so many things to do and keep track of.

12745908_10205531826678005_286096985411683840_nJust like many other moms out there… we just wish that there was more time in the day.  More time in the day to get work done, to spend with the kids, to clean and do laundry, maybe run errands, not to mention maybe  5 or 10 minutes to ourselves to relax?   A girl can dream, right?

So what am I going to do about it? How can I plan better? How can I make it so that I am not still trying to figure out what’s in my refrigerator or freezer when I get home with the kids at 6pm? Oh, and don’t forget that time needed for homework!!!  I know that I am not the ONLY Mom out there that thinks like this, am I???

This year, we, as family members in the business, are going to be blogging for the Bishop’s Blog on our website.   Each week we will each take a turn to start, holding each other accountable for writing about something that will hopefully catch the attention of our customers and readers.  You may not be able to relate to all of us, but hopefully at least one of us does!

Keith and Jonathan Bishop are Co-CEO’s and Cousins.  They are 5th generation Bishop’s.  They have been around for a while and will most likely write on more topics that relate to the Farm, the history, the change in times… or something completely different.  Then there is the 6th Generation.   That is where my sister Carrie and I come in.  We are both Full time working moms, I have two elementary aged children, and Carrie has a toddler.  We both volunteer our time with different organizations in town and on the Shoreline and are trying to juggle many balls in the air, as so many women our age do.  With that said, you will most likely get very different topics from us and we will most likely hit a different demographic for readers.

So why do I mention this? This blog is to hold us accountable!  This means that I have no excuse not to plan what I am going to write about or hopefully make for dinner.  I want to share these ideas with all of you, so that you too might find some tips and good ideas on how to make your life a little easier (maybe?)!  We can do this together!

I will be posting easy meal ideas, ideas for kids lunches, new products in our market that you will want to give a try, events here or in and around the shoreline, and that’s just the short list.  I will try my best to keep you engaged and wanting more!  I encourage your feedback and questions.  You can always leave your comments in the comments field below, or email me directly at [email protected].

I look forward to connecting with you!

Vision for Generations

gratitudeMONTH_22I recently had my annual eye exam.  Yes, I’m getting older and my vision has continued to change since my first pair of glasses at age 20. Very gradual changes, yet my progressive lens prescription gets tweaked to compensate based upon my eye exam.  Surprise! this time my change was to decrease the strength by .25 Diopters. Despite that, I still need to lower or remove my glasses when I get really close when fixing something on the farm.

That got me pondering when glasses help and when they don’t.   When is it we see more clearly? With or without? Translate that to our family farm business… when is it we need new glasses aka vision?  We established our latest vision statement in 2010, and it has continued to guide our family and staff. Each year how we execute gets tweaked, just like my glasses, but the framework is solid.

Bishop’s Orchards Vision

Preserve and enhance the value of the land for current and future generations and provide exceptional products and services to our customers that emphasize “family, food, and recreation.”

Future generations.  In 2009, the first child of G7 (Generation7 since founding the farm in 1871) arrived, followed by the 2nd and 3rd in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Daughters Sarah and Carrie in G6 (mothers of the aforementioned children) are working full time in the family business. Ideas abound, changes are constantly underfoot and adaptation continues to occur, just as Bishop’s Orchards Vision directs us.

Family, Food and Recreation can be substituted with  Relationships, Nutrition and Fun.  Our goals are to intertwine these in every visit to Bishop’s Orchards. A glimpse thru your eyes and the postings on #pickbishops and our Facebook page reflect this happening.

I’m proud of our work, our staff’s responsiveness to our customers and community, and in turn, of their reciprocal support of our family farm. As G6 continues to be a more integral part of managing our family business, it is also important to thank the 248 individuals who worked on the Bishop’s Team for part or all of 2015 to get our jobs done. My vision upon starting full time work on the farm in 1977 after college was to continue the family farm, but not the scope of what it is today.

Our farm is continuing to deepen our roots, knowing that we must focus on our core, yet be nimble to grow and prune as the world around adapts and challenges each of us.   Helping our customers know more about our food, wellness and food safety is part of our vision. We’re also continuing to adapt and responsibly use our resources.  By mid February, we will invest $100K in energy efficient upgrades to help reduce our carbon footprint in cooperation with the Small Business Energy Advantage Program. New lighting, motors and display case doors will be installed. Stop by or check in on Facebook to see our changes.
I hope you’re thinking about your vision. Our eyes must be open to observe, sometimes needing a new prescription so our minds can focus on what we take for granted.  Let’s use that knowledge to enhance our lives together for our future generations.