Category: Faith, Family, & Country

St. Benedict of Nursia – July 11

St. Benedict of Nursia is the patron saint of Serendipity Farmhouse and this blog. Today is his feast. We are Oblates of St. Benedict and we strive to live by his Holy Rule. Prayer and Work, practicing hospitality and leading a spiritual life have become primary considerations for daily life at SFH.

Because we are in the midst of our growing season, and the heat and humidity are oppressive, we take heart from the Rule of St. Benedict. This extract from Chapter 48 provides an insight on how we try learn from the Rule and apply it to our daily lives.

 

CHAPTER 48: THE DAILY MANUAL LABOR

364px-Heiligenkreuz.St._Benedict-AIdleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.

We believe that the times for both may be arranged as follows: From Easter to the first of October, they will spend their mornings after Prime till about the fourth hour at whatever work needs to be done. From the fourth hour until the time of Sext, they will devote themselves to reading. But after Sext and their meal, they may rest on their beds in complete silence; should a brother wish to read privately, let him do so, but without disturbing the others. They should say None a little early, about midway through the eighth hour, and then until Vespers they are to return to whatever work is necessary. They must not become distressed if local conditions or their poverty should force them to do the harvesting themselves. When they live by the labor of their hands, as our fathers and the apostles did, then they are really monks. Yet, all things are to be done with moderation on account of the fainthearted.

(As taken from The Rule of St. Benedict – In Latin and English with Notes – 1980)

Picture Credit: St Benedict of Nursia writing the Benedictine rule, portrait in the church of Heiligenkreuz Abbey near Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria. Portrait (1926) by Herman Nieg (1849-1928) |Source= own photo |Date= 21 June 2006

4th of July Glamping

Nestled along the North Fork of the Thornton River, deep in the heart of the Blue Ridge, there is a camping spot quiet and serene. My beautiful and exceptionally talented spouse chose that particular spot as the perfect place to celebrate Independence Day.

We had to drive our Class C RV, El Camino Del Monte, precisely zero miles to access this perfect spot. I had to pull out my wallet and pay precisely $0.00 to rent this site to park the RV and set up camp. Even before the setup was complete, we could see the that adorable wife had chosen quite wisely.

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While the day was still young, just a bit past mid-day, the Master Glamper and Wife Extraordinaire, decided it was time for tea.

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Afterwards, we discussed the holiday menu. Yes, certainly a steak would be in order. That would be joined by corn on the cob, yellow squash recently picked from our vegetable garden, and watermelon. As we made the final adjustments to the menu, we watched the cool mountain water as it flowed by on its sparkling and gurgling way.

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It was a unanimous decision (yes, Mr. Monte was allowed to vote) that ice cream would be the finale.

To enjoy this independence that we celebrate, this freedom that we share, is a great blessing. It’s not just the words written on a piece of paper 243 years ago; it’s what is written on the hearts of men by their Creator that makes this celebration so important.

Happy 4th of July & God bless! – – Serendipity

 

Daring Dairy – The Next Generation

Mr. Monte here!

What a very pleasant, relaxing, and refreshing week this has been. Instead of having to sit up in that stuffy, dark office with Old Fuzz Face, I have had the great good fortune to have adorable, intelligent, and enchanting Granddaughter #3 here at Serendipity Farmhouse to visit me. Oh, to be sure, she spent some time with Fuzz Face and Blondie because she is a devoted granddaughter, but she really came to see me.

Because she is rather new at writing posts, she kindly asked me to assist her in telling you about how she has become the very first of her generation in this family to study and begin to master the difficult and demanding arts of “Daring Dairy”.  In this case, she wants to tell you how she took the challenge to make authentic homemade butter. (If you care to see what that entails, refer to the post Julia, Butter & Serendipity Farmhouse.)

So, with no further expository prattle, let me relate the story to you as she dictates the highs and lows of her butter making experience to me.

Hi! I’m new at this, but Mr. Monte is helping, so I don’t think much can go wrong. It all started when we were shopping in Wegmans. Granny told Granddad to get some heavy whipping cream. Granny then turned to me and said Granddad is going to show you how to make butter. – – I think I said something like, “That sounds like fun … it would be neat to try.”

By the time we got to Serendipity Farmhouse, we had to make supper and eat. So, it was too late to make butter. We’d have to wait until tomorrow.

The next day, in the early afternoon, Granny and Granddad said that it was time to make butter. Granddad joked with me and made it sound like butter making was really hard and I was going to have to do everything. Then, I found out he wasn’t joking. He gave me all the utensils and showed me how to use them. I guess he was showing me:

Step 1 – Prepare Utensils & Ingredients

Preparing the utensils wasn’t really that hard. Actually, it was rather easy. So, I wondered why was Granddad telling me it was going to be so hard.

Well, all I had to do was to wait and then the hard part came to me. It was:

Step 2 – Churning the Cream

It was then that Granddad said the next thing to do is “churn the cream”. He said it wouldn’t take too long. One time, he had made butter in four minutes. What Granddad didn’t tell me was, one time it took him almost half an hour of churning. So, I began to churn. And I continued to churn. Then, I churned some more. Granddad stood beside me and just smiled.

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Then, still with a smile on his face, Granddad started taking pictures of me churning and churning and churning. My wrist began to hurt. My fingers became a little numb. And my legs began to ache from standing in one position for so long. – – Granddad took some more pictures.

It seemed like 40 minutes of churning, and churning, and churning. But, Granddad pointed to the clock on the stove and said, “No, no it hasn’t been 40 minutes.” Then I looked at the clock and saw it was only about eight minutes. – – Granddad just smiled. Granny was nearby and she just smiled. Mr. Monte had been watching and he was rolling on the floor. – – I think he was laughing.

Step 3: – Rinsing the butter

The rest was easy. Granddad helped me scoop the butter out of the churn and then we put it into the butter dish. – – I had made butter! – – As Granddad would say, “The pictures show that this story is all true!”

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Now, when you use 10 ounces of heavy whipping cream to make butter, you get 4 ounces of butter and 6 ounces of something very special – – fresh, sweet, tasty butter milk. As our reward for the hard work making the butter, Granny divided the butter milk in two cups and Granddad and I drank it all down. – – If you every have the chance to drink fresh butter milk, do it. You won’t be disappointed.

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Hi, again! Mr. Monte here. Tomorrow, Granddaughter #3 has to go back home. I guess there won’t be much to do around here when she goes. It’s going to be a little lonely. I think I”m going to miss her. After all, Maine Coon cats have big feelings.

 

 

 

Memorial Day – Thoughts & Leftovers

Memorial Day – Thoughts: My Dad always told me to do the hard things first. So, I will.

I’ve been in harm’s way several times, but I always came home to my family. However, many I knew, some acquaintances and some close friends, are still on patrol. That I am here and safe and free with children and grandchildren is both by God’s grace and their sacrifice. This is no small topic nor is it easy to ponder. It is a hard thing to remember, a very hard thing to recall, but on Memorial Day, I do the hard things first and to those still on patrol, I salute you all!

Memorial Day – Leftovers: It all came together yesterday, the 28th of May. Today will be spent in recovery. – – “What happened? Why need for recovery?” you ask. Allow me to lay out the timeline and you will begin to understand.

25 May: Our celebration of the national holiday and the unofficial start of Summer began in a quite unexpected and pleasing way. While piloting my massive and powerful lawn tractor, navigating through the varied and pleasant grounds of our vast (nearly 1.25 acre) estate, my excellent and most neighborly neighbor entered the yard carrying a quite heavily laden sack of something.  My curiosity as to the contents of the sack was quickly satisfied as he handed me the parcel containing 42 Chesapeake Bay oysters.

Beautiful wife saw the exchange of oysters and a relatively small amount of cash and quickly closed in on us. She had a very justified suspicion that this transaction would bring about some type of change to her menu for the holiday weekend – and so it did.

Because chicken thighs and legs had already been thawed for supper, dear Spouse declared that the oysters would have to wait until the following day. Although somewhat disappointed that we would have to postpone the oysters, the grilled chicken, potatoes, and salad made a great meal and all of us, including the somewhat hard-to-please Mr. Monte, were content. – – So it was on 25 May.

26 May: Dawn brought with it the delightful anticipation of an evening repast of more oysters than we could have ever imagined. When the appropriate time arrived, yours truly, following the same procedures we outlined in our post of SFH 0520181632 Journal: 2018-09-20, prepared a seafood feast fit for royalty. Needless to say, we found that large quantity of oysters more than sated any cravings or hunger pangs that we might have had. Then, we called our neighbor to thank him for his efforts in procuring the oysters. Instead of replying with a simple thank you, he said he had actually shortchanged us and within minutes he was at our doorstep with 20 more oysters to complete our feast.

Oysters don’t keep well and we were too full to eat any more. So, we stored the tasty sea critters carefully in the fridge, knowing they would have to be prepared very soon. – – So it was on 26 May.

27 May: The intended, planned, and clearly outlined intent for dinner on Memorial Day was aDSC_0273 rack of baby back ribs. They had been removed from the freezer on the 25th and thawed. Yours truly, following the same procedures we outlined in our post Baby Back Ribs at SFH, grilled the ribs to perfection. There were some slight modifications to side dishes, but the main ingredient, that huge rack of ribs, was present before us. We ate heartily and for a second day we had eaten to our capacity. Well almost – that is when we remembered the ice cream and chocolate syrup. Yes, we added the ice cream to finish the feast. But there was still a half rack of ribs unconsumed. It was stored in the fridge alongside the extra oysters. – – So it was on 27 May.

28 May: The fridge was now overflowing with leftovers. But my dear, creative Spouse0908181555 (2) noted that to make a meal with just oysters and ribs left something lacking. There were no vegetables to adorn the plate. Having been in the garden recently and imagining how good the newly planted okra would be when mature, it came to her that we had frozen several packs of okra at the end of the last growing season. (See our post SFH Journal: 2018-09-06 through 08 for details) She immediately seized upon the idea to add fried okra to the evening repast – the okra surely would be the item to bring together oysters and ribs and make them a balanced meal.

Yours truly, following the same procedures we outlined in our post of SFH Journal: 2018-09-20, prepared for the second time in three days a seafood feast fit for royalty. At the same time, I warmed leftover ribs and corn on the cob.

Our timing was perfect. Charming and creative wife fried up two bags of okra using her as yet secret fried okra recipe. She finished precisely at the same time I pulled the last oyster off the grill.

We brought the oysters to the table and ate them as an appetizer in the same way the rich and famous would do at a fine restaurant. Then, we made our way to the kitchen and filled our plates with ribs, corn on the cob, and the most tasty fried okra in the universe. Returning to the table, Mr. Monte examined all the components of the feast and nodded his head in approval. And then we ate. – – Perhaps we ate more than we should have, but, surely, there was never such a fine array of leftovers assembled in all of Creation.

Of course, knowing that this meal and all meals come to us by God’s grace, we gave thanks and prayed in remembrance of those whom we honor on Memorial Day. – – So it was on 28 May.

Mother’s Day at SFH

When it comes to Mother’s Day, either there are not enough words or there are too many words. For example, I cannot say enough about my Mom and my Mother-in-law, but the cards you buy in the store never ever get it just right no matter how many words they use. – Perhaps the best I could ever say to my Mom and my Mother-in-law or hear from my children is just a simple, “I love you, Mom!”

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DSC_0341 (2)I spent today with wonderful Daughters #1 & #2. They are both mothers and, because of that common experience, we have so much we can share. I’m so proud of the mothers they have become. There is no greater joy.

Daughter-in-law #1, a truly wonderful match for Son #1, is also a great joy in my life. Today, we spent over half an hour on the phone talking about children, and cats, and gardening, and all the great loves of our life. She too is a terrific mom.

Finally, in this beautiful month of May, it is a time to remember our Lord’s Blessed Mother. By His words, she became a mother to us all.

I love you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

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SFH Journal: 2019-04-14 through 20 – Easter Vacation

Question: Why have there been no posts over the last two weeks?

Answer: Life at Serendipity Farmhouse requires a balance between activity and time for reflection; conversation and silence, work and rest; and spiritual and physical endeavors. That is why Holy Week and the Octave of Easter are so very important to us. – We don’t take a “Spring break” – We take an Easter Vacation.

That is not to say that nothing has been happening here at SFH. To the contrary, much has been going on. But instead of cluttering this post with words, let me show you some pictures so you can see for yourself. Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-04-14 through 20 – Easter Vacation”

SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash

Many who don’t know me well think it odd that I often speak of Godzilla movies and Japanese monsters. They would think it even more odd if they knew that the first time I held each of my grandchildren I said, “God, Baseball, Godzilla.” And it would seem to those same people entirely unfathomable why my dear, sweet spouse would choose Godzilla as the theme for my 70th birthday. Yet, so she did. – Here’s the reason why. Continue reading “SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash”

Reflections on Spring at Serendipity Farmhouse

Science or ArtIt will happen in 58 minutes – the Spring Equinox. It happens in an instant of time. It is defined by science, yet, it is the key that opens the artist’s mind to beautiful paintings and it is the muse of the playful poet. Most people, with the exception of meteorologists, will call this the first day of Spring. Religions use this event to fix their liturgical seasons. And, this year, there is the awe inspired by a “super moon”. But, for those of us at Serendipity Farmhouse, all of that is merely the backdrop to events that have even greater meaning.

There are two major cycles to life at SFH. The first is our motto, the way we approach each day – Pray, Prepare, Preserve. The second is the underpinning of our relationships – Faith, Family & Country. Following are some reflections of Spring that evoke those themes. Continue reading “Reflections on Spring at Serendipity Farmhouse”

Chicken with Mushrooms and Cream – or – Chef Monte’s New Bib

We here at Serendipity Farmhouse are in the midst of our Lenten observances. For us, that means there is no meat on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On the other days, meals are based on basic ingredients and we reduce our portions.

This self-imposed austerity, however, does not mean that we can’t have a good meal or try out something new in the soon to be famous SFH Test Kitchen. And so it was yesterday when we prepared Chicken with Mushrooms and Cream from Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook.

I will spare you all the cooking details because you can easily view the whole process on the Youtube link we have provided. Instead, I will recount for you two highlights of our most recent foray into the Julia’s world of cooking.

Continue reading “Chicken with Mushrooms and Cream – or – Chef Monte’s New Bib”

Liver & Onions IHO Tim

In our post On Time – For Once, my hubby promised that the soon to be world famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen would make liver and onions in honor of his brother Tim’s birthday. He even went out on a limb (as he often does) and committed the entire staff of the SFH Test Kitchen to attempt to master Sauté of Calf’s Liver with Onions from Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook.

My hotshot husband figured that we in the kitchen staff would all jump to the opportunity because we had watched Julia make the dish on a video. He said Julia made it look easy. Surely, we could pull it off. But, when hubby says we, he usually means me. Continue reading “Liver & Onions IHO Tim”