Category: Making Do

Blondie’s Birthday – Part II

Mr. Monte is taking the day off. He had an exceedingly distressing experience last evening and is only now beginning to recover. Even though the events of yesterday will become part of Serendipity Farmhouse legend and lore, the details of the experience are best left unrecorded in this blog.

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As you may remember in Mr. Monte’s post Blondie’s Birthday – Part I, he and I had decided that we could celebrate Blondie’s birthday in small, but meaningful parts – with a daughter and family here, with a son and family there, with a dear friend on another day, and our second daughter on a different day. This post will provide highlights from the second part of our grand plan for “a magnificent SFH 2020-style birthday bash.”

As with Part I,  because of Mr. Monte’s meticulous planning, it will come as no great shock that Part II of our master plan was faultlessly executed during our visit with Son #1 and his family.

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While there is no need to describe how severely many families have been affected by the innumerable problems of the year 2020, there is a compelling need to state that some families, especially those families based in Faith and Love, are able to continue to find joy and humor in life.

Son #1 and his greatly loved wife are blessed to have such a family. Blondie and I are equally blessed in that their children, our grandchildren, are so loving, thoughtful, and unusually creative.

And that leads to an important part of the SFH 2020-style birthday bash. When children are given the chance, they can express their creativity in ways that you would never expect. For Blondie (also known as Granny), this was a highlight of the day. – Each child presented a handmade birthday greeting to Granny. Although there is not room in this post to show them all, please note that Granny has viewed each and every greeting several times. – There is no way my camera could ever capture the love and emotion that came to her face as she was presented these mini works of art.

Let’s take a look at a small sampling of what Granny found to be so very precious.Granny Birthday Card 2020

Example #1 – A tribute to Granny, the Master Chef of the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen: If examined carefully you will find several of the fine dishes created by Blondie and her able assistant Chef Monsieur Monte. (See if you can find him in the picture.)

 

Example #2 – What happens when a member of the SFH Security Staff, namely Bronto the Bear, requests the privilege of joining the family at dinner?

 

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Example #3: The family is intrigued by all the situations that can arise when our RV, El Camino Del Monte, heads out for another adventure. Based on the scenarios depicted below, I suspect that some in the family believe too much of what has been written by Mr. Monte.

And those were just three samples of what Blondie received from our dear grandchildren during Part II of the SFH 2020-style birthday bash. Mr. Monte and I think that the message in all those birthday greetings is quite clear –

There’s just nobody in the world like our Granny!

More to follow …..

 

 

 

 

Making Better Than “Do” – Sometimes

It’s not my intention to burden our readers, followers, and friends with needless words this day. Perhaps a few background notes, a descriptive sentence, and well chosen photos will suffice. Let’s give it a try.

In our post How We Make Do we discussed menu changes, food substitutions, and a few other ways to make a good meal even though we have the present set of challenges. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to experiment and develop our food preparation strategy. Some experiments have worked quite well – some have not. Here are some examples of both types of results.

Example 1 – Goat Milk Cheese – (Rating *****): This was a no-brainer. We have written IMG_20200416_144648722_editedseveral posts about how we make goat milk cheese here at SFH. We have plenty of supplies on hand and the goats at our local dairy farm have been very obliging this year. – – I’ll be making some more tomorrow.

Example 2 – Ham & Bean Soup – (Rating **): We had leftover ham and ham bone from Christmas. We have many pounds of dried beans. The Instant Pot recipe was highly confident in saying that the beans need no soaking before cooking – “No Presoaking Dry Beans.” The recipe lied!! Beautiful wife was unhappy. Mr. Monte and I sought shelter.

The next day the house was filled with the delightful smell of the first day’s failed ham & bean soup as it the cooked in the slow cooker. After hours of additional cooking, wondrous Spouse announced that the terrible mistakes of the preceding day had been successfully remediated.  Although the final result was acceptable, only two stars can be awarded to this meal.

Lesson Learned: Always, always presoak the beans.

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Example 3 – Pasta Carbonara – (Rating ****): There is no shortage of pasta in the SFHIMG_20200421_180304825_edited pantry. Bacon, however, is a precious commodity these days. No problem. We had some prosciutto approaching its expiration date. Farm fresh eggs are available in abundance at our local dairy farm and, most happily, our asparagus is now producing enough for limited use. Voila! Pasta Carbonara with the SFH magic touch.

Example 4 – SFH Salad Deluxe – (Rating *****): Our motto is Pray, Prepare, Preserve. This year, our vegetable gardens add some meaning and illustration to why we say “Prepare.” Food will be there when we need it. So, last night there was an amazing salad featuring Serendipity Farmhouse vegetables. The veggies that came from our own garden included: garlic leaves, parsley, red leaf lettuce, purple kale, and romaine. We added fresh asparagus to the baked chicken thighs. They absorbed the flavor of the chicken and, in turn, added a minor but noticeable accent to the chicken.  The pictures below show how far the vegetable garden has come already this Spring.

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Example 5 – Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (Rating ****): As promised in our post How We Make Do, we made our first loaf of bread machine wheat bread yesterday. This required that I take out the wheat grinder we purchased in 2010 and grind up enough hard red wheat to make flour for at least one loaf of bread. We used a recipe called Easy Whole Wheat Bread by Allrecipes. A whole egg was added instead of egg substitute or egg powder. With one minor exception, the results were excellent. Flavor and texture were perfect, but the top rose and then fell. No damage to the bread, mind you, but an imperfection not acceptable in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. – Thus we could only award four stars to this beautiful loaf of the staff of life.

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Example 6 – She Won’t Let Me Do it (Rating – We’ll never know): There are many plants in this yard that are edible but not on our regular menu. Long ago I told you that Redbud tree buds, leaves, and seed pods are all edible. Imagine how delighted I was when I found out that the leaves on the hosta bushes that surround SFH are also edible. I immediately wanted to try out this new wonder. Lovely Wife objected. – Ergo, we will not eat the hosta leaves unless in extremis. However, I can’t help but looking at all those hostas and wondering.

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SFH Journal: 2020-04-13 through 04-19

Easter: For us here at Serendipity Farmhouse, Easter and the Octave of Easter were celebrated with great joy despite the many problems around us. This feast, by its very nature, takes precedence over worldly cares. – He is truly Risen!

In IMG_20200412_164104759_editedthe spirit of “making do” (see How We Make Do), we found a fantastic rack of lamb hiding in our freezer. We had never prepared one before, but a quick study of recipes and a few minutes on the grill and that rack became the centerpiece for our Easter dinner. (We used this recipe for Grilled Rack of Lamb with Garlic Herb Marinade.)

Desert presented a greater challenge. We had a can of cherry pie filling. Why not have a cherry pie? I’ll tell you why not. We only had one pie crust, not the required two. – Pause for a momentary, “Drat!” – End pause and look for an alternative. Our search was rewarded with the flavorful desert you see in the picture at the top of this post. – Yes, there was still vanilla ice cream in the freezer and some of it adorned the cherry cake on our desert plates. (We used this recipe for Delicious Cherry Cake with Crumb Topping.)

Inventory: The pie crust problem encountered on Easter Sunday highlights a need for the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen to have an up-to-date listing of all food items on hand. That is why we have spent several days inventorying and reorganizing our pantry.

To keep track of our supplies, items on hand, quantity of items, expiration dates, etc. we have been using a program called “Food Storage Planner” (FSP). We have used it for years, but have not been as careful to update it as we did early on.

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The canned salsa entry in FSP

Because we didn’t have a current inventory and, because yours truly is not so very observant, we had to make a last minute recipe substitution for Easter Sunday dessert. As I started accounting for every item in the freezer, low and behold, hidden behind bacon and other items, I found an unopened box containing two frozen pie crusts. – Beautiful Wife said words to me – fortunately, they were melodious and forgiving.

Lesson Learned: Keep your pantry inventory up to date.

The Notorious Ma “G”: She is cunning and fearless. She commands respect and can cause shivers of fear to overcome your being if you cross her. She is everything that a strong, forceful, and loving mother can be. She is, after all, the notorious Ma “G”.

Early in the day at an undisclosed location, her vehicle quietly pulled into a parking lot, precisely on the hour. She had her cell phone in hand while a 320 ounce Maine Coon cat gave her updates gleaned from a network of police scanners. – She had made it to the rendezvous point undetected.

It only took a minute or two. The items were transferred. A sum of cash was exchanged. All items were disinfected. Then, the vehicles warily pulled out of the parking lot. Once again, the notorious Ma “G” had shown the truth in the saying, “A mother’s work is never done.”

Ma G

PIMG_20200414_170746643_editeditcher Plant: Observant and curious Spouse asked me to take a picture of this probable pitcher plant that appeared in our garden this week. Hopefully, I can find out more about it and why it might like to make a home in our garden.

 

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-13 through 04-19