Category: Ol’ Fuzz Face

Lifelines to Clotheslines – The Right Fix

From lifelines to clotheslines things can go wrong – strive to be prepared with the right fix. We here at Serendipity Farmhouse continue to learn that any day can be a bad day if you haven’t used forethought and built preparedness into your plans. – This week we had another example of why this is so true.

Hi! Ol’ Fuzz Face here – Let’s talk preparedness.

be prepared

In my post No Need for A Farmhouse Nightmare I waxed eloquently about ‘lifeline functions’. I made some good points, but I didn’t really get into practical solutions.

Likewise, in my post How to Prepare – Graceful Degradation I probably left you scratching your head with my use of terms like ‘upgradation’ and ‘graceful degradation‘.

The Right Fix – A Practical Example

Last Wednesday, our dryer died. My dearest Blondie could wash clothes as usual, but she needed a way to dry them. – No problem! – We had the right fix! We went into our graceful degradation mode. Just like the first residents of our nearly 100-year-old farmhouse, we merely had to hang the clothes out to dry on our clotheslines.

be prepared
Blondie hanging the wash out to dry.

The loss of our dryer is temporary, it should be repaired this coming week. But the ability to use our clothesline is permanent. Should the dryer fail again or if there is a major lifeline power outage, we just gracefully degrade to our backup mode.

Cost Factors – The Right Fix

You may have had better experiences than we have. Our recent experiences have caused us to reconsider our strategy for home repair preparedness. Here’s what we’ve observed.

  • Major appliance repair costs have risen greatly.
  • Home warranty and appliance warranty service companies have become far less responsive, especially since COVID.

Our home warranty service used to pay for itself almost every year. But service degraded so badly that we had to drop it. Other warranty plans are expensive. For example, Sears Appliance plan starts at $49.99 per month ($599.88 per year).

Now, we act as our own home warranty plan. We put away $50.00 each month and don’t touch it until a need arises. – This works well, and for us it is the right fix.

Clotheslines – Right Fix vs. Wrong Fix

Even when you have a good preparedness backup plan, there may be some bumps in the road. For example, on the second day of using the clothesline, it broke.

The Wrong Fix: A number of repair options were open to us. It was our job to determine which was the best. One option was to use a clothespin to hold the broken clothesline together. – This was obviously a wrong fix.

be prepared

The Right Fix: A square knot is not the best for joining two lines together. But, if you don’t have the needed length of line for a better knot, the square knot will do in a pinch. – In this case I used a square knot so my dear Blondie could dry the clothes. – It worked and it was the right fix.

My point is this. Use forethought and build preparedness into your plans. Be prepared to change your plans when conditions and circumstances dictate. Always be prepared to improvise and select the right fix.

Back Porch Baby Back BBQ

What could be better than baby back ribs for the 4th of July? Here at Serendipity Farmhouse, the answer is nothing could be better. For eight years, we’ve used our special back porch baby back rib recipe. We’ve enjoyed it, refined it, and perfected it.

Whether it be for honored guests, for close family, or just for Blondie and me, this recipe has never failed. And today, I’m going to share our family tradition with you.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Okay. I’ve donned my official SFH Test Kitchen Chef’s apron. I’m ready to go out onto the back porch. It’s hot and humid out there! (After all, this is Virginia in July.) But I’m not worried about that. Nope! – With the exception of little bit of up-front tender loving care, I won’t be out on that hot deck for long.

Allow me to lay out for you our baby back rib BBQ cooking secrets using Persnickety Pierre’s Criteria of Excellence.

1. Level of the challenge

We originally came across the basic recipe for Foolproof Baby Back Ribs at It worked well for us, but we soon realized tweaks and changes were in order. We had a good recipe in hand. Our challenge was to make it better.

A large part of our testing would be focused on documenting the proper cooking temperatures. That’s because the original recipe was not specific. – If the goal is to have a good recipe that’s repeatable, it’s necessary to eliminate as many variables as possible. Temperature is a tremendously important variable. So, our big challenge was determining and documenting the cooking temperatures that would bring about consistent results.

2. Selection of good-quality ingredients – It’s the Baby Back Ribs

Our Test Kitchen staff emphasizes that proper sourcing of the baby back ribs is critical. We’ve found that the ribs sold at Sam’s Club are consistently high in quality and they are affordable. – Make sure you shop around and get the best in quality and price.

3. Use of cooking techniques

Earlier, I talked about not being concerned about the heat on the deck. That’s because the first steps in cooking the ribs are minimal. The ribs will spend an hour cooking, and they should remain covered. All you need to do is check the temperature of your covered grill periodically (Every 10 to 15 minutes).

When you preheat the grill, try to get to 450℉. Once the ribs are on the upper rack of the grill and the cover is in place, let the temperature drop to about 350℉. That’s where the temperature should remain for the entire first hour.

Note 1: Suppose it’s a rainy day or a blizzard is heading your way. This recipe can be adapted for use in your kitchen oven.

Note 2: If you want to cook some corn on the cob like we did, feel free to open the cover and quickly place the corn on the lower rack. When you do the periodic temperature checks, quickly turn over the corn and close the lid immediately.

Except for a few temperature checks, you can vacate the hot deck and seek out a cool place to relax.

For sweet Wife and me, that means it’s time to enjoy the SFH signature drink – The Serendipity Cocktail! (See: French Cuisine & GRITS)

4. Development of superior taste and flavor

Pay attention to the spices you choose for the rub. For example, my dear, sweet Blondie has trouble with some types of garlic powder. To avoid this problem, we have substituted onion powder in the rub. – Voila! That solved Blondie’s problem and good flavor is retained.

Consider the personal tastes of your guests and their dietary preferences. Be prepared to modify the ingredients for the rub accordingly.

5. Presentation of the Baby Back Ribs

Remember, this is a 4th of July or other summer holiday meal. Presentation is not the primary concern. However, keep a large supply of paper napkins or paper towels nearby.

Happy cooking!

Back Porch Baby Back Ribs

What could be better than baby back ribs for the 4th of July? Here at Serendipity Farmhouse, the answer is nothing could be better. For eight years, we've used our special back porch baby back rib recipe. We've enjoyed it, refined it, and perfected it. - Whether it be for honored guests, for close family, or just for Blondie and me, this recipe has never failed.
Note: This recipe can be adapted for use in a kitchen oven.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Gas grill or oven


  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp onion powder You can substitute garlic powder.
  • salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 lbs pork baby back ribs
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce Use your favorite or make your own.


  • Place aluminum foil on lower rack to capture drippings and prevent flare-ups.
  • Preheat gas grill for high heat. (Try to get to 450℉)
  • In a small bowl, combine cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper Mix well.
  • Trim off the membrane sheath from the back of each rack. You can do this by running a small, sharp knife between the membrane and snip or "shimmy" off the membrane as much as possible. (We prefer just to slit the membrane between the bones.)
  • Sprinkle or "throw" as much of the rub onto both sides of the ribs as desired. Do not rub the spices in, because the ribs will turn too dark and spicy. You may have some spices leftover, depending on your taste.
  • Brush grate with oil, and lay ribs on top rack of grill.
  • Reduce heat to 350℉, shut grill, and leave undisturbed for 1 hour. Try not to lift lid at all during this time period! Check temperature every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • After one hour check for doneness, depending on your grill you may need to continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes (our grill takes one hour exactly). Brush ribs with barbecue sauce and grill an additional 15 to 30 minutes until sauce is slightly absorbed and a little brown around the edges.
  • Serve ribs as whole rack or cut between bones and pile individual ribs on the platter or plate.
Keyword Baby Back Ribs