Quiet Week of Recovery
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary Vol. 2
Week 4: January 26, 2022
It’s been quiet at Chocolate Box Cottage. We have had a quiet week of recovery from a well-publicized virus, thankful that our illness was mild. Sam and I are both feeling better and appreciate your prayers and kind messages. I made up my muddled mind to appreciate the gift of quiet time.
Since I had little energy I enjoyed a lot of reading. I’m so thankful for books! Marie Kondo and I sharply disagree on how many books are permissible to keep in one’s home library. I will never be a minimalist.
Our garden is planned, seeds have been ordered and received, and I started a new Netflix series: Sweet Magnolias. Very cozy and Gilmore Girls-ish.
I kept meals very simple: a pot of soup and homemade bread served for several meals in a row. I lost my sense of smell and taste for a week, but thankfully they were restored through olfactory retraining.
Somehow this time ended up being sweet, in spite of illness…
Enjoying my books and a comfy spot to sit. Art credit: Alexandra Thompson
We opened the curtains wide and let the sun stream in.
I am thankful for my books during times of illness when I can’t get to the public library! For more book recommendations, visit the Chocolate Box Cottage Shopping Guide.
Books seen here: Milk Cow Kitchen by MaryJane Butters, Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin, Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules, 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health, and Home by Jan Berry, Wildcrafted Fermentation by Pascal Bauder, The Mary Frances Cook Book by Jane Fryer, Permaculture for the Rest of Us by Jenni Blackmore, Song of Increase by Jacqueline Freeman, and Jane of Lantern Hill by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Garden planning with seeds, seed catalogs, garden journal, and my garden map at hand.
Christmas cactus in bloom and me with time on my hands to actually see it.
Scenes outdoors at Chocolate Box Cottage this week include our big, rascally tomcat Toby and new plant babies.
When my mind feels clear enough to study, I watch videos (and take copious notes!) inside the Homegrown Herbalist School of Botanical Medicine course that I am enrolled in and study soil science.
That sounds geeky, I know, but soil life is fascinating and it’s not as hard as you think – with good tools. If you garden and are interested in growing the most delicious and nutritious vegetables and fruits possible, I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient-Dense Food by Steve Solomon from Thriftbooks, a reputable online used book merchant.
This homey (and hole-y) loaf of 🍏🍇 Apple Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread was made with my Dakota Pioneer Everlasting Yeast, an old-time North Dakota leavener that is a type of sourdough starter my grandmother used on the farm for all of her baking through the 1950’s. Diced apples were sautéed in a little butter and stirred into the dough along with raisins and plenty of cinnamon. It makes superlative toast, with or without tea! ☕️🫖
Hen Party quilt has been sandwiched (the process of layering the quilt top with batting and backing) and basted (temporary stitches that hold the sandwich in place until the “real” quilting stitches are done.)
A special meal to celebrate feeling better: Oregon coast crabmeat, fresh pineapple, and raspberries. Pineapple scraps were added to a jar to make Pineapple Vinegar.
Soup is such a comfort when you’re not feeling well; it goes down smoothly and digests easily. I made a big pot of soup or stew and a loaf of sourdough bread every few days, which made meals (and Sam’s work lunches) easy.
I especially enjoy starting a pot of soup on the kitchen stove and once it comes to a boil, I move it to the wood stove to simmer slowly to perfection. Click here to learn how to use your wood stove to cook soups, stews, beans, broth, and more.
A gorgeous (if I do say so myself) 50/50 loaf of freshly ground rye and whole wheat, leavened once again with my Dakota Pioneer Everlasting Yeast.
This is sturdy, substantial bread that keeps well due to the nature of sourdough. Sliced thinly it is makes a hearty piece of toast to accompany an egg.
I use my Ankarsum Assistant mixer for bread, a capable and beautiful assistant in the kitchen. I’m in the process of creating a worksheet to use for sourdough bread with this special mixer.
Keeping up with work is easier when you work at home. With little energy, I paced myself for small tasks like cooking, dishes, and laundry, just the most basic things to keep the household running.
Lost your sense of smell/taste due to a certain virus? Olfactory retraining (or training) can help you restore this sense. Learn more here.
Thank you for visiting Chocolate Box Cottage! Charla in her pink knit cap and I would like to bid you farewell. 👋🏻
I’m so glad that you and Sam are both feeling better. I love all of your photos, such a fun peek into your world. Talk to me about your mixer! My Kitchen Aid is 25 going on 26 and she is having a rough time. I watched a video on YouTube that walks you through the steps of cleaning and re-greasing all the bearings and gears. I’m going to give it a go but I definitely need to know what I want to purchase if my “fix” doesn’t work. I know that Carolyn loves her Bosch, is the Ankarsum similar? What is in your German vegetable soup with dill? Sounds delicious!
Thank you for the well wishes and the kind comment! If your Kitchen-Aid is a Hobart, it is worth rehabilitating; if not, I would start comparison shopping for a new mixer. (Just my opinion. I do own a Kitchen-Aid; it is a Hobart, and it still gets plenty of use for small tasks in my kitchen.)
I made a video for Carolyn’s Art of Homemade Bread course using the Bosch. It should be uploaded to the course in April 2022. Having used all 3: Hobart Kitchen-Aid, Ankarsrum Assistent, and Bosch Universal, I give the Ankarsrum Assistent top billing for bread making, hands down. It is powerful, it is quiet, it is built to last. The stainless steel bowl holds nearly 8 quarts (7.9) compared to 6 with Bosch, which means bigger batches and more loaves of bread! Unique roller and scraper system mimic hand kneading, which yields softer whole grain breads with better ovenspring. The open bowl design makes it simple to add ingredients while the mixer is running and it doesn’t walk off the counter. It even has a timer, which allows you to do other tasks while the mixer is working. The Assistent comes in a range of beautiful colors to coordinate with your kitchen. I have enjoyed using mine since January 1997; it has saved me untold hours of labor in supplying baked goods (bread, cookies, birthday cakes) for my family of 7 + mashed potatoes, lemon curd, meatballs, noodles and pasta, applesauce, tomato sauce, berry syrups, ground venison, and more with attachments.