heart of summer

Heart of Summer and Small Swaps

Heart of Summer and Small Swaps

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2

Week 28: July 16, 2022

It’s the heart of summer and I am loving it! The garden is flourishing, the foraging baskets are picked full again and again, tea with Mom has become iced tea, and this week featured a German-style sausage lunch.

heart of summer

A quick pic on Mom’s front porch, left to right: Michele, Joy, Donna, and Miriam.

Mom cooks the sausage

Even though I bring lunch, Mom enjoys helping with the cooking – especially if it’s her favorite German sausage.

A generous handful of the sweet peas you see pictured in the basket below made their way into this summery salad. Joy brought dessert, soft and chewy oatmeal cookies dotted with dried fruit. Mmm!

Foraging baskets

foraging baskets

One day’s picking and foraging yielded St. John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum; wild sweet peas, Lathyrus latifolius; calendula, Calendula officinalis; red clover, Trifolium pratense; and wild chamomile, matricaria discoidea. Each has its place in my kitchen, apothecary, and/or tea station.

harvesting herbs

On another morning: common chives, Allium schoenoprasum; feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium; and yarrow in pink and white, Achillea millefolium.

processing St. John's wort

St. John’s wort was given a quick wash in the salad spinner before being finely chopped and weighed for a glycerin preparation known as a glycerite. St John’s wort can be useful to people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. (I am not a doctor, but it has helped me tremendously, so take this as a personal testimony.)

Working around the homestead

We are putting our heart into the many homestead maintenance and improvement projects we have going this summer while trying to balance work with play.

I can’t say we are always successful. I will admit we probably work too much and too hard. But we took time to attend the memorial service for a man we often sat next to at church, Dick Mast, and went out to lunch.

chicken cage

Sam took a Saturday to build a new cage for the growing chicks to give them room to spread. They love picking at the grass and weedy herbs beneath the wire floor. He rigged up a heat lamp in case of a cool night and I clothes pinned an old sheet over one end for shade.

Garden delights

The garden has gotten off to a very slow start this year. In a usual year, we would be inundated with summer squash by now and the vines would be clamoring up the teepee. The ephemeral beauty of this Giant Rattle Breadseed poppy is captivating.

Sadie's nest muscovy eggs

Sadie, our muscovy (duck) hen, is determined to be a mother. I discovered this nest tucked in among the roots of a black locust tree.

Food and family

We enjoyed lunch at a local Mexican restaurant where our daughter works. Seating on the patio overlooks the Rogue River. She tricked us out of paying the bill and we were delighted to see Miriam’s BFF Margarita by chance.

adding fruit leather to the pantry

Adding more fruit leather to the pantry and eyeballing what is there to cook with. I see dried tomatoes and zucchini slices, and colorful crushed tomatoes, for starters.

New video on YouTube: Best Fruit Leather Method walks you through making your own homemade fruit leather from fruit to beautifully rolled up in jars!

Schupfnudla and turkey ragout

Schupfnudla and Turkey Ragout dinner. Schupfnudla (pronounced shoopfnoodla) is a simple bread-like noodle made from leftover mashed potatoes, eggs, and flour, while the ragout is made of leftover turkey and chopped veggies and herbs.

Cherry Carob Cookies

Cherry Carob Cookies, an allergy-friendly treat I still enjoy. The mixer in the background is my Ankarsrum Assistent in pearl pink. You can click on the highlighted words to learn more about this serious kitchen appliance. Thank you kindly for using my affiliate link.

Instant pot fail

Instant Pot fail. 😑 We ate the food off the top.

sweet Squirrel

Our sweet little dog Squirrel is enjoying a cozy nap. She is 15, approaching 16 and we are so thankful for all of the years with her.


Encyclopedia of Country Living

I was fortunate to meet author Carla Emory in 1999 when the world was preparing for Y2K. The Encyclopedia of Country Living is a compendium of basic skills and homespun wisdom. It is also the story of a woman who held onto her dream in spite of an adverse marriage.

You can find a reasonably priced used copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living at my favorite online used bookseller. Thank you for using my affiliate link, which gives me points towards more books!

Small Swaps

I am putting real thought and effort into using up odd bits of food rather than throwing anything away, or even composting it.

This week I pulled 2 sad green onions out of the fridge. They were anemic, wilted, and on the verge of becoming slimy. I decided they would be salvageable if trimmed and peeled and they were.

I also decided not to buy any more green onions – for a while at least. The chives growing in the wine barrel on the patio are lush and we should be eating them! To that end I made the mental decision to swap chives for green onions in my cooking, and I harvested, chopped, and dehydrated half of them for the pantry.

Small swaps like this free up dollars in the food budget for other things. I would love to hear what small swaps you are making to balance your budget. Have a wonderful week!




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