Christmas tree hunt: basket of cocoa mugs

Kitchen Day and Christmas Tree Hunt

Kitchen Day and Christmas Tree Hunt

Chocolate Box Cottage, Volume 2
Week 47: November 26, 2022

One of the perks of working at, from, and in the home is taking a “kitchen day.” Scheduling a day to restock the freezer with essentials like broth, whilst preparing food for the Thanksgiving feast is a pleasure and a privilege that adds to the enjoyment of days off – days like our annual Christmas Tree Hunt. More on that later.

kitchen day projects

Kitchen Day

We are deep into soup season, so I knew I needed to make broth, specifically beef broth, for those delicious soups and stews we love to cook on the wood stove.

We appreciate well-flavored broth for sipping year-round, but especially in winter. Comforting and warming, broth fortifies the body against cold and illness, improves digestion, and tastes wonderful. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the smell of cooking beef bones into broth, but wants nutritious homemade broth, using the Mealthy Multipot or Instant Pot (or other multicooker) might be the answer. There is very little cooking odor when making broth in a multicooker.

Don’t laugh, but we have His and Hers freezers.

The broth goes in mine. This includes two types of beef bone broth: regular and pho, which is an Asian-style broth flavored with fish sauce and spices. Pho broth is our favorite sipping broth! You will also find in our freezer chicken bone broth, fish stock from fish bones and skin for Salmon Chowder and Thrifty Stock (my version of vegetable scrap broth) for cooking rice and beans. And occasionally other kinds, such as turkey, deer, and pork broths when available.

At the end of my Kitchen Day, I had 12 quarts of beautiful broth from organic ingredients: 6 quarts of Roasted Beef Bone Broth and 6 quarts of Beef Pho Broth. When Samuel came home from work and saw the “wall” of broth cubes ready to go to the freezer, he wondered aloud about the cash value.

High quality organic bone broth is currently valued around $23 per quart (close to a liter). Twelve quarts = $276. Wow! It would be nice to have straight sided Weck jars for freezer storage of broth someday. For now, I am working with what I have; inexpensive freezer containers labeled with a piece of masking tape.

Good things happening in this small space: Fermented-from-scratch vinegars are ready to strain, Goldenkraut has completed first two stages of fermentation and is ready to move to cool storage to complete stages 3 and 4. Four quarts are valued at $14 per jar, $56 total. Sourdough starters have been fed and are relaxing at room temperature for a spell before returning to the fridge. Two frozen packs of homegrown pumpkin puree are thawing for pie with a combined value of $3.56. A whole pumpkin pie made is valued at $23. This isn’t organic; I could reasonably add 15% for a value of $26.45

Today’s kitchen day yielded $358.45 worth of products. This does not include the organic specialty vinegars!

Pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving is a tradition with many families – it is for us, too. Knowing the pie is made from a pumpkin we grew in our garden, eggs from our own hens, with organic flour in the crust and local whipped cream makes it extra special.

Cranberry Fluff is a childhood favorite I’ll never outgrow. I made a triple batch of Mom’s recipe, which if memory serves me, originally came from the mini marshmallow bag. I use more less sugar and less marshmallows these days and it is every bit as good.

More than the food, I am thankful for people. Some important faces were missing, but I am thankful for the ones that were there. Catching up on life and sharing family stories and jokes is both strengthening and comforting.

Samuel’s projects

Like many families in the Pacific Northwest, we go on an annual Christmas Tree Hunt on the weekend after Thanksgiving. But before we could do that, Sam had to fix his truck.

Fixing his truck yet again was not in his plans, but when Samuel noticed a warning light, he set aside his plans for the day after Thanksgiving to find and fix the problem.

My husband isn’t a mechanic, he doesn’t have a heated shop, and his tools are just basic.

Repairs and maintenance of our vehicles, appliances, home, and property are one of the ways he contributes to our budget in tangible, money-saving form.

Whenever Samuel encounters a new fixit problem, he consults YouTube. Researching solutions, parts, tools, and methods is part of his process, along with prayer and determination.

I am so thankful for his hardworking hands that saved us between $400 – $640 for replacing a glow plug and harness in his Ford.

In the spare time he had while waiting for a part to be delivered to a local-ish (25 minute drive) parts store, Samuel worked on the garden, pulling tomato cages, uprooting spent plants, removing some of the sides to the raised beds in preparation for redoing the garden in Back to Eden style.

Christmas Tree Hunt

The woods were flooded with sunshine, with patches of snow in shady places. Samuel explained to Miriam that the base of the tree she and her dog Pumpkin posed by was an ideal spot to create a shelter in case of need.

When the tree fell it created a hollow in the ground and the roots formed a canopy. A few roots could be cut for a warming fire and the rest could be covered in branches for further protection from the elements.

The sweetly intoxicating aroma of white fir makes it our ideal Christmas tree. This one is exceptionally full, allowing plenty of room for tiny lights and our collection of ornaments. Some lower branches will be removed to allow it to fit the tree stand – and the living room! The needles will be saved for Christmas Tree Potpourri and Enchanted Forest Chai.

We found the perfect tree very quickly, which left extra time for a campfire and mugs of Hot Cocoa made from a homemade mix!

Black Friday crafting

Our Black Friday tradition is a craft day with Christmas movies and tea or hot cocoa.

Fun Finds

A walk yielded these treasures: giant Bigleaf maple leaves in lustrous gold and a handful of Egyptian Walking bulbils scavenged from a throw-away plant.

Bookshelf

THE CHRISTMAS PROJECT PLANNER by Kathi Lipp πŸŽ„

“Christmas – whether you really love it, secretly dread it, or fall somewhere in between – shows up the same time every year, as unavoidable as your aunt’s fruitcake”… (taken from back cover)

Author Kathi Lipp is right, and yet somehow many of us feel unprepared for it. πŸ™ˆπŸ™‰πŸ™ŠThis book will change all that.

The Christmas Project Planner lives up to its subtitle: Super Simple Steps to Organize the Holidays. You’ll find this highly approachable book to be a good friend. It has pockets, for goodness sake! And perhaps more importantly, it walks you through your holiday preparations, step by step, the way YOU want to celebrate.

Brimming with tips and humor, preparing for Christmas has never been so…uncomplicated. Really! I am lucky enough to be acquainted with the author and have been using her book for the last 4 years.

*Please note there is a knock-off book with a very similar name and cover. It is not the real thing, so be careful!

Blessings to you as you prepare for Christmas!
Love, Michele and Samuel

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