Christmas baking

Christmas Baking, Chimney Cleaning, and Indoor Salad Gardening

Christmas Baking, Chimney Cleaning, and Indoor Salad Gardening

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 51: December 24, 2022

What with the Christmas baking, chimney cleaning, and restarting the indoor salad garden we are as busy as Santa’s elves! What a busy and blessed week at Chocolate Box Cottage!

Indoor Salad Gardening

Let’s start with salad gardening. Growing salad shoots in cereal bowls keeps us in salad greens all winter, right up until the outdoor garden is producing.

Traditional “sprout” seeds like broccoli and peas join microgreen seeds, buckwheat and tendril peas. In about a week, they are ready to harvest with scissors.

By planting a batch of bowls every few days, the indoor salad garden keeps producing. Enjoy beautiful gourmet salads with just a little work.

Christmas baking

Looking for an easy, festive drop cookie?

Mix up a batch of Confetti Cookies; they’re simple, colorful, and fun! A delicious vanilla cookie batter is shaped in balls, rolled in sprinkles, pressed with a glass, and baked. The satisfying cake-like flavor of these cookies will grab you!

Granola is always a welcome gift. This batch of Pecan Promise Granola will be divided: 1 tray gifted and 1 tray kept.

apple pie
Homemade apple pie

There’s nothing quite like homemade pies for Christmas and it’s (almost) as easy to make two as one. One for Christmas Eve and another for breakfast on Christmas morning with coffee, tea, and cottage bacon (ham). See my recipe for Butter Pie Crust.

Miriam and I enjoyed an old-fashioned Christmas baking day which included these delicious apple pies and a batch of Confetti Cookies.

And since I was not planning to bake bread, I decided to use up the accumulated starter in my jars by making a batch of German Bread-Spice Crackers this week. What is bread spice? A mix of spices used in German breads; brotgewürz in German. It varies, but mine includes caraway, anise seeds, fennel seeds, celery seeds, and coriander seeds, ground to a powder.

I added most of the sourdough from the jars to the Ankarsrum mixer bowl, leaving enough behind to feed and maintain my starter. Whole grains were milled into flour in my KoMo grain mill, including whole wheat, spelt, rye, einkorn, and millet.

Cracker dough was rolled very thin – the thinner the better – then cut in squares with a fluted pastry wheel or crinkle cutter. Docking the crackers with a fork releases air bubbles. And don’t forget to sprinkle with salt! I don’t have an exact recipe for these, I go by feel.

Sam’s projects

Samuel has been mysteriously busy in the barn. I’m not sure what he’s up to, but I am sure it will be good. We agreed to give each other practical gifts this year, and I asked for a pantry makeover, while Sam hinted at a backpack leaf blower. The “economy” leaf blower he has been using for years is giving out – it’s requires tinkering each time he wants to use it.

We both could use new wheelbarrows. A stout metal one for Sam, capable of hauling firewood, hot coals, rocks, dirt, and manure; a plastic one for me, to tote compost, potted plants, and garden harvests to the kitchen for preserving.

Samuel climbs the ladder to the roof for several tasks: blowing leaves off, cleaning out gutters, and cleaning the chimney.

cleaning the wood stove
Wood stove clean out

In addition to cleaning the chimney, Samuel disassembled the stove pipe, carried it outside and cleaned it out; vacuumed out the elbow in the brick chimney; emptied the wood stove of ashes; cleaned the glass window.

Christmas Tea

Weekly tea at Mom’s took on a Christmasy theme this week. Granddaughters Miriam and Savannah + Emberly joined us for non-alcoholic Holiday Wassail, homemade clam chowder, fruit salad, carrot sticks, and Confetti Cookies. So thankful to have Mom and Rolly to celebrate with.

Gift baskets

I whipped up a triple batch of Maple Vanilla Syrup and added jars to a couple of Christmas gift baskets. This basket for my son Clayton includes Hot Cocoa Mix + a bottle of mint extract, dried Paragon pear slices, Pecan Promise Granola, gourmet coffee, Vanilla Lace Pear Jam, Vanilla Maple Syrup, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, and a half gallon jar of Goldenkraut (not pictured).

This Christmas gift basket for my sister’s family includes a full dehydrator batch (9 trays) of blackberry applesauce fruit leather along with a variety of pear preserves: dried, jam, and butter + Crock Pot Apple Butter + Maple Vanilla Syrup nestled in paper shreds in a thrift shop picnic basket.


Persian basil vinegar
Straining homemade vinegar

I finally got around to straining my made-from-scratch Persian basil vinegar. It tastes and smells delightful and the color is captivating! After straining the herbs out, the resulting young vinegar was transferred to a boiled jar with a lid to complete fermentation.

In about a month to 6 weeks it will be ready. I can already envision Persian basil vinegar used in salad dressings and marinades for meats and vegetables.

Christmas Eve dinner included Old World Roast Beef and Vegetables, like my Grandma used to make. The roast is first soaked in clabber or cultured buttermilk for 1-3 days, then drained and baked with root vegetables.

I love this spattered yellow and white enamel roaster! I use it for roasting meat and veggies and for baking bread.

Family pictures


In honor of Christmas, I encourage you, dear reader, to read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible. You’ll find it in Luke chapter 2. Like many families, we cherish the tradition of reading this story every Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas, dear reader! I wish and pray for God’s best for you this Christmas and in the coming year.

Michele and Samuel

Note: This post contains links to products and vendors I use and appreciate for their quality and usefulness. Some are affiliate, some are not. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases when you use the links I provide; this does not change your price.



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