Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 3
Week 16: April 22, 2023
Samuel came home from work on Thursday and waved me outside, “I have a surprise for you!”
I followed, naturally.
The surprise was a pickup truckload of planting mix and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
We are in the middle of revamping the vegetable garden. Once a week, Sam brings home a load of “green waste;” shredded tree trimmings with leaves to cover an area of the garden to improve the soil, smother weeds, and reduce watering needs. This time he surprised me with soil.
He created 2 contoured beds and I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty and start planting. In went carrots, cabbage, beets, cilantro, radishes, kale, lettuce, and Swiss chard; all from seed. We also planted German Butterball potatoes, saved over from last year which had begun to sprout.
We had several “springy” days in a row before yesterday’s surprise snow, so we decided to stay home and work in the gardens instead of going to cut firewood on Saturday.
What a surprise to find Sadie, my beautiful Muscovy duck, and a Sapphire hen sharing the same favorite nest box, peacefully I might add!
A MeWe friend shared a plump packet of Moringa tree seeds with me. I purchased a packet from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company last year and succeeded in growing a moringa tree. Whether or not it overwintered successfully in the greenhouse remains to be seen. It was generous of my friend to share seeds from her tree with me. Thank you, Anne!
The antique hutch in the living room is a busy place. From left to right: (left) Pyrex glass food storage containers hold newly planted seeds to grow salad shoots, (middle) brown lentils, pumpkin seeds, and a sprouting mix ready to be soaked for sprouts, (right) grocery store organic potatoes left to sprout for planting.
Hulled pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, which helps the body fight bacteria and viruses, vitamin K, manganese, phosphorous, and nutty flavor. They’re tasty briefly soaked and sprouted. I order bulk organic items once a month from Azure Standard to be delivered to a local drop point.
There are so many ways to grow sprouts! The large opaque white cup is an Easy Sprout Sprouter. It works well for large quantities of larger seeds like lentils and bean sprouts. Canning jars with special perforated lids are low-tech and reliable. These green and yellow lids are old and should be replaced.
Melon Patch ~ Bashtan
Reverting to my roots, I decided to put in a melon patch, known as a bashtan again this year. A bashtan or bastan is a German-from-Russia concept, a supplemental garden separate from the main vegetable garden. We are using a pen off of our unfinished barn. Sam broadforked a strip along one side and we planted peas and potatoes. When the weather stabilizes we will plant winter squash and melons and let it do its own thing, without a lot of care or attention.
Weekly tea at Mom’s
I’m so lucky to still have my sweet Mom. Each week several of us gather at her and my stepdad Rolly’s house for tea. It started out as hot cups of tea with just Mom and me on my weekly errand day in town. In time, I realized Mom had lost her zest for cooking, so I started packing a homemade lunch to share. Now a niece or two often pops in; usually my daughter Miriam, and Mom’s best friend Joy come. And Rolly joins us, though this time he had a dentist appointment.
This week I made a new recipe: Butter Chicken Meatballs over rice. Mmm! So good! I love Indian food, thanks to my dear friend Bhanu who taught me to the importance of “blooming” spices by heating them in a hot pan before adding the other ingredients.
Joy brought fresh asparagus, which she steamed just before we ate, and mini cherry cheesecakes with chocolate ganache. Oh my! Tea was Red Velvet Cake, a perfect fit for lunch. (Find the tea here)
Mom re-told childhood stories of growing up on a farm in North Dakota, which I never tire of hearing. Joy and I compared notes on our indoor salad gardens and Miriam, who is 8 months pregnant, talked all things baby to an appreciative audience.
“Let’s do it again next week,” we always say, and we do.
Advance Book Review: The Modern Pioneer Cookbook by Mary Bryant Shrader
You can Pre-Order YOUR Copy of the Modern Pioneer Cookbook NOW!
If you don’t know Mary, allow me to introduce you to one of the most wonderful people I know and a very dear friend!
Mary is the creator behind Mary’s Nest, a highly successful YouTube channel (with nearly a million subscribers!!) where she shares videos on how to make bone broth, sourdough, ferments, and more in her Texas hill country kitchen.
Mary’s warm personality is a perfect match for teaching! The essential cooking techniques she shares used to be common in home kitchens, but with the advent of processed food gradually fell away.
Mary has received countless requests to write a cookbook containing her excellent recipes and tutorials in print form for easy reference and she did it – she wrote a cookbook!
I have pre-ordered my copy and it will go on the shelf right next to Nourishing Traditions.
Thank you for visiting!
Michele and Samuel
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