homemade crackers

Tea, Crackers, Pineapple Vinegar, and Pack Rats

Tea, Crackers, Pineapple Vinegar, and Pack Rats

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary Vol. 2
Week 5: February 5, 2022

Alyssa and I celebrated Mom’s/Grandma’s birthday with a 🫖 tea party. Aunt Linda joined us, and Alyssa made omelets and fried potatoes and rutabaga for lunch. Mom loved her FarmHouse Teas gift box – we sipped Birthday Cake Tea! 🎂

I’m slowly returning to normal life in all its poignant beauty, after the illness that spreads like wildfire. I’m able to do small tasks, then 📚read or 😴rest; still being careful not to overdo. 🌤🛍

Follow along with me this week in pictures as I turn a 🧡butternut squash into veggie “rice,” make crisp, salty crackers with extra ripe sourdough starter, strain a batch of “gourmet” made-from-scraps 🍍pineapple vinegar, and get an early start on the garden.🥬

Meanwhile, Sam takes care of another 🐀pack rat nest and completes lots of other small tasks that I didn’t manage to capture on camera.

I said goodbye to a dear friend this week and while I will definitely miss her I’m also thankful that I had a chance to know her and be her friend. Good memories last forever. ❤️ See you in heaven, Terri.

Even though it was Mom’s birthday, she enjoyed pouring.

pouring tea

Birthday Cake Tea from Farmhouse Teas is a perfect choice for a birthday, naturally. Rooibos tea leaves contribute maple-y vanilla tones and it’s sprinkled with flower petals – natural confetti!

My niece, Alyssa, brought all the fixings for omelets, including eggs from her backyard hens and pea shoots from her indoor microgreen garden. On the side: seasoned fried potatoes and rutabagas.

Aunt Linda and mom

Aunt Linda opened her Christmas gift: a framed family picture, a copy of one from long ago and a handmade quilt that I sewed from big squares of flannel. The quilt is appropriately named Farmer’s Daughter. The rolling pin and handwritten recipes were from my Grandma, Aunt Linda’s mother, so they are extra-special to her. Especially since her house burned in the Almeda fire in southern Oregon on September 8, 2020.

quilt, framed photo, rolling pin

Close-up of the gifts before wrapping. The photograph was taken mid-1970’s and includes Linda (far left) with her husband Russ Cooley and her two brothers and their wives: my parents Donna and Clay Gangnes, and Larry and Lois Gangnes.

Recipes were three of Grandma’s specialties: Snickerdoodles, Lemon Fluff Dessert, and Cherry Dessert.

butternut squash rice

We are eating our way through the winter squash harvest. This fluffy pile of neon orange bits is butternut squash, made with a spiralizer and food processor.

Extra sourdough starter (I refuse to use the term “discard” because that sounds like something you throw away) makes tasty crackers. Here you see the tools I use to make crackers. The grooved rolling pin is a lefse pin (learn about our annual family Lefse Day) and the scalloped edges are made with a ravioli and pastry cutter. You can of course use a traditional rolling pin and a knife. Crackers can be as basic or fancy as you like.

It’s early, but with the balmy weather I couldn’t resist planting carrots spring greens, including my favorite lettuce, Yugoslavian Red Butterhead. Garden beds were spread with a thick layer of leaves in the fall. I use blackberry brambles to keep cats from digging in my planting areas.

Frost-sweetened kale for soup.

Soup on the wood stove

Zuppa Toscana, Italian kale and sausage soup, is simmering on the wood stove next to the Turkish tea kettle that humidifies the air al winter. Click here to learn to harness the heat of your wood stove for cooking.

Butternut squash seeds

Seeds saved from butternut squash, roasted and seasoned with salt, pepper, and Fire Cider seasoning.

Time to strain a batch of pineapple vinegar, made from peels and cores of the fruit. Pineapple vinegar will age for about a month in my over-the-fridge fermentation cupboard where it stays 75-80F (24-27c). Note the thermometer strip fastened inside cupboard door.

Cake batter for a Bundt cake in the Ankarsrum Assistent mixer.

Marble Bundt cake

Marble Bundt cake and Red Velvet Cake tea from Farmhouse Teas. (It’s a Special Edition flavor, so get yours soon or pick another delightful flavor.)

Squirrel buffet

Douglas pine and gray squirrels have been busy. Discarded pine cones resemble well-nibbled corn cobs.

The gap in the brush is, or was, a 12×12 foot pack rat nest.

Elk grazing in a local pasture.

The Murray Family

See you in heaven someday, sweet friend.

In-lawfully yours

If you’re looking for a good, clean, romantic comedy. Highly recommend!

Thank you for joining me on this walk down memory lane of the past week. Chronicling the happenings at Chocolate Box Cottage reminds me that a lot happens as I work at home! There is value in what I, what we, do at home. And photos help me see God’s grace in all the large and small things throughout the week. Thank you for being here.



One Comment

  • Thank you for sharing. I hope you had a delightful Valentine’s Day. I cannot believe February is more than half over and spring be it early for some is around the corner. I think I am a week ahead of your February 5th post. Deborah S Prather in Virginia.


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