Category: Preserving

SFH Journal: 2020-08-31 through 09-13 – New Hire

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

To all my followers and ardent fans, as another sign of my dedication to duty and fervent desire to maintain security, good order, and peaceful tranquility here at Serendipity Farmhouse, in my capacity as SFH Chief of Security, I have taken on a new member to join the SFH Security Department. Our new hire, Rusty the Rat Snake comes with an impressive resume. He is adept at controlling destructive rodents and other pesky critters, especially subterranean dwellers.

Rusty rounds out our Security Department with his ability to identify and engage security threats at ground level and below. Meanwhile, Lightning, our broad-winged hawk, has secured the skies over SFH and Bronto the bear has ensured the integrity of our perimeter areas. Now, with no further ado, here is the official SFH Security Department staff picture for 2020.

Harvest and Preserving

Old Fuzz Face is our official SFH statistician. He maintains the planting, harvest and preserving tables. Because he’s currently tied up with other pressing matters, all I intend to do at this point is give you the latest preserving table. When he gets a chance he will tell you about the end of the tomato season and other changes as we move into Autumn. You will see from the table that, even though Blondie and Fuzzy were engaged in the great 2020 Birthday Bash, they still found time to harvest and preserve the bounty.

Date: Month/DayItemQuantityType of PreservationComments
08-04Okra4 pint jarsPickling
08-06Salsa6 pint jarsCanningHowlin' Coyote
1 Jalapeno, 1 Serrano, 1 Cayenne
08-13Banana Peppers1 1/2 pint jarPickling
08-13Jalapeno Pepper Mix3 1/2 pint jarsPicklingJalapeno, serrano, cayenne peppers
08/14Salsa6 pint jarsCanningSome Like It Hot
1 Jalapeno, 1 large Salsa, 2 Serrano, 2 Cayenne
08-18Popcorn7 quart jarsDry Canning
08-19Pasta Sauce5 pint jarsCanning1 clove garlic, dried basil
08-20Okra4 pint jarsPickling
08-23Salsa6 pint jarsCanningMax Karl's Bad
1 Habanero, 2 Jalapeno, 2 Cayenne
09-01Okra3 bagsFreezing
09-07Okra4 pint jarsPickling
09-07Banana Peppers1 1/2 pint jarPickling
09-07Jalapeno Pepper Mix3 1/2 pint jarsPicklingJalapeno, serrano, cayenne peppers

SFH by the Numbers

Canning season continues. The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-08-31 through 09-06

SFH WX 2020-09-07 through 09-13

 

SFH Journal: 2020-08-17 through 08-23 – An SFH Lament

It is harvest time and canning season continues here at SFH. We have planted and cultivated, watered and nourished, and now the fruits of our labors have been made manifest. As it has been with our gardens, so it has been with our family. Our young ones have come into their season and they are watching their young ones mature. – It brings parents and grandparents great joy and peace to the spirit.

Yet, this year, there is something lacking – it is a feeling that can’t be put aside or hidden from thought. And with that feeling comes an SFH lament. – To understand the nature of this lament, reach back with me to read a post written two years ago – The Great SFH Birthday Bash of 2018.

Frolicking fun, intense sporting rivalries, plenty of good food, family sharing, and a host of wonderful experiences highlighted the great, stupendous, magnificent, unforgettable Serendipity Farmhouse Birthday Bash of 2018.

There will be no such post this year. There can be no Great Birthday Bash of 2020. Oh, there will be little gatherings. Presents and greetings will be exchanged, but it will not be the family assembled as a whole. The four “birthday banditos” have to celebrate separately.

The most lamentable aspect, the part that brings the greatest sense of sorrow is DSC_1018-2this. For my dear and most loving Wife, 2020 was to be the year for a very, very special birthday, a once-in-a-lifetime birthday. It was to be as grand and as memorable as the SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash that she had planned and superbly executed for me last year.

Now, I can buy her presents. I can do special things for her. I plan on doing several things that might make her smile. But, the one thing I cannot do this year is provide a world-class SFH Birthday Bash; a party with all the family; a chance to see all the grandchildren together, frolicking on the vast Serendipity Farmhouse estate. – Dear readers, that inability to provide something that is truly meaningful to the love of my life is what I most lament.

As a family we remain united in spirit and in love. These times will pass and our family will reunite physically and there will be magnificent SFH birthday bashes. In good times and in those that are not so good we will adhere most firmly to the SFH motto “Pray, Prepare, Preserve.” And it is important to celebrate birthdays. They are meant to be shared by families and preserved in family tradition.

So, for each of those whose birthday was to be celebrated at the SFH 2020 Birthday Bash, especially the most important person in my life –

Happy Birthday!!! May God continue to bless you greatly!

SFH by the Numbers

Canning season continues. The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-10 through 08-23

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-08-03 through 08-16 – Let the Canning Season Begin!

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Starting early this week, Blondie has been suffering from a chronic ailment. She’s been in some pain, but she still gets up, does her chores, and tries her best to keep Serendipity Farmhouse the warm, happy place it is meant to be. There are hopeful signs that she’s on the mend. 0924191726a (2)

Until she’s back to her old self, Ol’ Fuzz Face and I have called a truce and are working together to keep up with this year’s bountiful harvest and all the seasonal canning and pickling. I’ve put Blondie on a special diet designed to aid in her speedy recovery. Dearest friend Nancy has been advised and is coming over today with her legendary chicken soup, widely known for its curative powers. As you can see, I’m doing my best to encourage Blondie to eat and regain her strength.

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Thank you, Mr. Monte. Despite our frequent disagreements and physical clashes, you have a big heart when it comes to my dear sweet Spouse.

Yes! It seems that the plants in the vegetable gardens are ripening all at the same time. The tomatoes are firm, healthy, and plentiful. The okra plants, both the purple and the Cow Horn, are successfully handling the Summer weather extremes and are yielding several pods each day. Meanwhile, multiple varieties of peppers are presenting themselves in quantities large enough for pickling and joining us at our evening meals.

With the abundance, however, comes the need to practice the fine arts of preparation and preserving at a rapid pace. There is a penalty for delay – tomatoes, okra, and peppers demand processing on their own time schedule. Thus far, the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen has kept up with the demand and our pantry is filling up with the fruits of this year’s harvest.

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Boiling, steamy pots sanitizing, cooking, and processing

From Tomatoes to Salsa

The SFH vegetable gardens are not meant to break records on size and quantity. Rather, they are carefully planned to produce quality and flavor. The pictures below show that we have been successful. If a Mr. Stripey tomato should weigh in at almost 1 lb. 5 oz, well, that’s a good thing too.

Each batch of salsa produced by the SFH Test Kitchen is unique in its blend of spices and peppers. The first batch this year is called “SFH Howlin’ Coyote Salsa”. This batch is spiced up with 1 jalapeno, 1 serrano, and 1 cayenne pepper.

The second batch is called “Some Like it Hot Salsa”. Here, we increased the heat by adding 1 jalapeno, 1 large salsa, 2 serrano, and 2 cayenne peppers. Taste testing confirms that this mixture, although relatively spicy, leaves one with a mellow, rewarding afterglow of flavor.

Okra the Magnificent

My True Love and I are most delighted with all the wonderful ways in which one can enjoy homegrown okra. Perhaps our favorite flavor treat is when the okra is properly pickled. We use a very simple brine, pickling spice, and highlight the mix with fresh lemon and our own homegrown garlic.

Peter’s Pickled Peppers

My most creative and innovative Spouse decided that this would be the year that she would attempt to grow banana peppers. Erring on the side of caution we limited ourselves to a single plant. Happily, it thrived and produced enough peppers to be pickled in a single jar.

Meanwhile, we made sure that we had a good selection of other pepper varieties for salsa experimentation and for pickling. This year’s first batch of Peter’s Pickled Peppers looks like it will be excellent. Here again, the flavor of the peppers is enlivened and enhanced by the addition of one homegrown garlic clove per jar.

So, here is the result of the first two weeks of the SFH 2020 Canning Season.

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God is good! He watches over us and cares for us!

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s gone into the gardens and what has come out since our last Journal post. They will also update you on the hazy, hot, and humid days of Summer:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-03 through 08-09

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-10 through 08-16

Hot Peppers Above & Beyond

Last night was a food disappointment. Today was a Serendipity Farmhouse, spicy food delight.

Here’s what happened.

Granddaughter #1 was here for a visit last night – that, by no means, was a disappointment. No, it was the food that was disappointing. Yours truly engaged in the ritual outlined for making Italian Herb and Garlic Focaccia Bread sold by the Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho. I followed the directions nearly to perfection. Neither Granddaughter #1 nor the SFH Master Chef, Mr. Monte, found any flaws in my execution. The bread turned out as advertised.

So, what caused the disappointment? It was our choice to use store-bought, crushed red peppers. That was the mistake. Those peppers were lifeless, devoid of zing and zest, just humdrum, lazy old peppers that left one wanting and, as I’ve said, they rendered the overall meal disappointing.

Here’s what we did to rectify our error.

As the clock chimed Noon today, Granddaughter #1, Mr. Monte, Blondie, and I commenced our quest for a spicy hot pepper topping that would be “Hot peppers above & beyond”. So, without further needless prattle, let me explain how we took some of our own homegrown SFH peppers and turned them into a magic spice topping.

As you well know from many of our posts, SFH grows a new kind of hot pepper each year and preserves them. To make our new topping, all we had to do was pull out five jars of our dehydrated, dry-canned hot peppers, select, mix, and crush them.

Utensils & Appliances: As shown below, an electric coffee grinder, a FoodSaver with vacuum attachments, two measuring cups, two plastic bowls, and two small spice shakers were all the utensils we needed.

Ingredients: The five varieties of hot peppers we selected are listed below. To be sure, we paid great respect to the relative spiciness/heat of each of the pepper varieties. In addition to quantity of each pepper variety used, I’ve also provided the original date that we dehydrated and dry-canned the peppers. That will help to understand how preserving our harvest by dehydrating and dry-canning has saved us money over the course of several years.

1 cup – Jalapeno peppers – 2015-10-22
1 cup – Salsa peppers – 2017-08-18
½ cup – Seranno peppers – 2018-08-04
½ cup – Cow Horn peppers – 2019-09-13
½ cup – Habanero peppers – 2017-08-19

The time expended from beginning to the end of this venture was barely 30 minutes. As you can see, 3½ cups of peppers, when crushed and ground, reduced to a rather small quantity of finished product. But, that’s no problem because this mixture is gram-for-gram a very potent mix. It doesn’t take much of this topping to turn what was just a humdrum piece of focaccia into a fantastically tasty joy to eat. – – Today for lunch, yours truly, had a piece of focaccia that was a spicy food delight.

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Lesson Learned 2020-02: Before you try preparing this mixture in your own kitchen, please pay heed to my most earnest and sincere warning. Working with any one of these five varieties of hot peppers would require that you take precautionary measures during preparation. When all five of them come together, if not handled properly, they become a toxic brew that causes coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, and a myriad of other ill effects. At a very minimum, use a face mask as I did.

IMG_20200118_113640898_edited

Now, some people have an extremely strong reaction to airborne ingredients present during the preparation of our SFH spicy topping. Although you might not be able to recognize her, that is my dear, sweet wife who decided to use a more radical approach to self protection. Mr. Monte wore a similar suit, but I wasn’t able to get him to hold still for a picture.

Soldier_with_NBC-suit_edited

SFH Journal: 2019-11-11 through 11-17 – Abundant Harvest & Great Thanksgiving

0728191156a_HDR (2)Industrious and beautiful Wife, widely known for her fabled “green thumb”, has officially declared the growing season and the harvest of 2019 officially at an end. Using all the expertise at her command, and commanding back-breaking labor from her ever admiring hubby, she has planned and executed all that took place in the vast, expansive (somewhat less than 224 square feet), and fruitful gardens of the Serendipity Farmhouse estate.

The result of her labor and planning is the most bounteous harvest ever achieved sinceIMG_20140713_170722_748 (2) the SFH sign was affixed to the entrance way of our humble abode. Her struggle and sweat through one the hottest and most grueling growing seasons ever recorded in this area were rewarded with fresh vegetables on the dinner table on a daily basis, and with frozen, dehydrated, and canned food stores to brighten our table through the holidays, holy days, and days between now and the next harvest.

Yet, my humble Spouse is the first to say that none of this would have been possible without His help and watchful care. That is a reason to be thankful, that is a reason for giving thanks. That is but one of many reasons why we will pray to Him in thanksgiving on November 28th.

And now, without further ado, Mr. Monte, in his capacity as SFH Chief Statistician, has gathered pictures and compiled statistics to show what Blondie has accomplished in her gardens during Anno Domini MMXIX.

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SFH 2019 Harvest Totals

ItemQTYSeason End
Apples708-27
Arugula9 bunches11-13
Asparagus1605-20
Basil13 bunches08-23
Beans, green stringless19107-07
Beans, Monticello19907-07
Beet greens2 bunches06-06
Beets3306-06
Cucumbers607-18
Garlic heads1807-01
Garlic scapes1805-27
Grapes1608-09
Kale4 bunches05-25
Okra41310-23
Parsley6 bunches08-18
Peppers, Cow Horn3710-18
Peppers, jalapenos22610-18
Peppers, pimento1308-29
Squash, yellow4309-26
Strawberries905-25
Thyme1 bunch07-31
Tomatoes, Big Beef13109-26
Tomatoes, Cherry65411-02
Tomatoes, Golden Jubilee2009-19
Tomatoes, Mr. Stripey11809-26

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SFH 2019 Preserving Totals

ItemQTY
Okra, frozen7 packages
Okra, pickled8 pint jars
Pasta Sauce18 pint jars
Peppers, Cow Horn, dry canned1 pint jar
Peppers, pickled10 1/2 pint jars
Pesto5 4-oz containers
Popcorn, dry canned6 quart jars
Raspberries, frozen1 package
Salsa27 pint jars

Serendipity Farmhouse is not a hobby. Serendipity Farmhouse is our way of life.

Serendipity Farmhouse is where we Pray, Prepare, and Preserve.

 

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2019-11-04 through 11-10

 

SFH Journal: 2019-09-09 through 09-15

On one hand, things have been very good this year. For example, the Okra harvest keeps coming in bit-by-bit. To date, we have frozen six packages and pickled eight pint jars of that tasty vegetable. This year’s crop has also provided for many meals for ourselves and for guests.

WS5On the other hand, weather events from as far back as March of last year continue to rack up their toll in destruction. During Winter Storm Riley in March of  2018, our beautiful pine tree in the front yard was damaged and was leaning at a bad angle. (See our post SFH PPP 2018-01: Living the Life of Riley for details.)

Apparently, the tree was damaged more than we suspected. This year, when the rains subsided, the tree began to go brown. Now, it looks like the tree is past saving. It’s likely that some of the root structure was damaged and, when water became scarce, the roots couldn’t supply enough water to sustain growth. It’s a sad thing, but it looks like we will have to have it taken down and removed.
SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2019-09-09 through 09-15

Crisis Averted in Rainy Day Catch Up

Question 1: What was the crisis?

0913190957 (2)
Running low

Answer 1: The official Serendipity Farmhouse Pantry inventory revealed we were almost out of popcorn – the single most important and tasty food snack known to humankind.

Question 2: What relationship could possibly exist between popcorn and dehydrated Cow Horn peppers?

Answer 2: Both items have an extended shelf life when they are dry canned.

Question 3: What in the heck is “dry canning”?

Answer 3: Read this post and find out.

0913190927_HDR (2)Normally, we buy popcorn twelve pounds at a time. There is a cost savings when bought in quantity. When we realized we were running low on this essential snack, we found that the dealer had been out of the large bags for almost two months. So, we purchased two four-pound bags to get us through the crisis.

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Note:  Not Cow Horn peppers

Meanwhile, we had amassed a quantity of Cow Horn peppers from the garden. They weren’t needed any more for canning with salsa. Following our SFH maxim “never waste anything”, the Cow Horns were dehydrated last week and temporarily stored in a mason jar.

Now, with popcorn and peppers ready for preserving, we waited for a convenient lull in household activities. Yesterday came with rain, fog, and cooler temperatures. There was no outside work that could be done on our vast, rambling, 1.24 acre estate. This was the perfect time for “rainy day catch up”.

With Mr. Monte’s advice, consent, guidance, and watchful assistance, I assembled all that was needed to do the job at hand – dry can five quarts of popcorn and one pint of Cow Horn peppers. All that was needed for the job was:

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FoodSaver with regular & wide mouth sealers

1 FoodSaver unit,
1 regular mouth jar sealer,
1 wide mouth jar sealer,
1 one accessory hose,
6 oxygen absorber packets,
5 quart size mason jars,
1 pint size mason jar,

 

The rest was simple. (Only because Mr. Monte kept nagging and pointing me in the right direction. He has no patience for those who obviously have inferior intellect.)

0913190940a (2)Popcorn was added to the five quart jars and Cow Horns were added to the pint jar. One oxygen absorber packet was added to each of the six jars.

 

0913190943a (2)Because oxygen absorber packs immediately start absorbing whatever oxygen is available, unused packets need to be vacuum sealed to preserve them for future use. So, even before I sealed the jars, I made a new bag for the unused packets and sealed them.

Next, I sealed the five wide mouth jars. I finished up by sealing the regular mouth jar containing the Cow Horn peppers. Note: The ring is not screwed onto the jar until after the sealer does its job.

 

Question 4: What was the result of my half hour investment in time?

Answer 4: When dry canned, dry food goods such as popcorn and beans remain unspoiled for between 10 to 20 years. For example, we have some great northern beans that were dry canned in 2012 and they are just as good as the day we dry canned them.

Rather than growing four or five different types of hot peppers each season, we usually

0913190928 (2)
The perfect jar of  Cow Horn peppers

grow only two types – jalapenos and “something else”. We dehydrate the “something else” peppers and dry can them. Last year it was serranos, the year before it was habaneros, and this year it is Cow Horns. These can easily be reconstituted by sitting in water or merely cooking them in with whatever recipe calls for them.

We also mix three or four types of dehydrated hot peppers and crush and grind them. This becomes a spicy topping for pizzas or it can be applied (very carefully and cautiously) to various dishes.

In addition to dehydrated peppers, we have dry canned dehydrated apples. Over the coming years we hope to expand the dehydrating and dry canning to other foods.

Bottom Line: It’s easy. It’s practical. It’s not overly taxing on the nerves. And, it saves money.

So, now you know how to prevent a popcorn crisis and turn a rainy day into a sunshine event. God bless!

SFH Journal: 2019-08-04 through 11

Hi, Mr. Monte here! – – Old Fuzz Face is once again trying to convince all at Serendipity Farm House that he has been overworked, is bone-weary, and is generally incapable of performing any task, no matter how minor. – – He even pleads to be spared from bringing in a single, 40 pound bag of cat litter. – – So, I guess I will have to write this post while the old man feigns fatigue and a host of other maladies.

04 August, Sunday (Cat Cousins continued): If you remember my wonderful, enchanting, and ever so truly true post about the two cat cousins Gizmo and Cosmo (refresh you memory here), we were all concerned about how this relationship would develop. Well, as may observe in the picture below, there appears to be a growing affection between the two. You have to understand feline body language, however, to read between the lines and see that this, at best, can only be considered a temporary truce – tolerance is not affection – and it easily wears thin. I’ll keep you updated on how this tense situation finally resolves itself.

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05 August, Monday: First full day without Blondie. As you know, Blondie went to see her big sister for a few days. Fuzz Face reacted to the absence in the manner I had anticipated and expected. The lazy lout took almost no heed when I beckoned for his assistance. He had his face stuck in an expressionless trance, staring at that computer screen and calling his actions work. I responded to his lack of attention by splattering, flipping, and tossing cat litter in all directions. I only achieved true satisfaction, when I spread some between his sheets.

06 August, Tuesday: Second full day without Blondie. Once again, Fuzz Face told me that he had to work at his desk. He got away with that for about an hour – then, I bit his leg and said quite clearly, “It’s time to brush Moi!” – – He got the message

07 August, Wednesday: Third full day without Blondie. Fuzz Face said it was another work day and foolishly sat at his desk, thinking I would let him accomplish anything that wasn’t related to me. So, in the most subtle and discreet fashion, I jumped on his lap, climbed on his shoulders, and threatened to bit his ear lobe. I indicated, that when finished, he would have enough piercings to be able to wear more earrings than Blondie and both of his daughters put together. Once again, he got the message. – – I allowed him to brush me for almost half an hour.

Later in the day, I had to save his bacon. He had over seven pounds of tomatoes that he foolishly promised Blondie that he would turn into canned pasta sauce. – – Consider the prospect of that prize dolt attempting to can six jars of pasta sauce – without assistance. Needless, to say, in order to protect the soon to be world famous SFH Test Kitchen from total destruction and ruin I had to direct him in his every move. The idiot almost lost a finger in the blender while pureeing the tomatoes – you really don’t want to know the details.

08 August, Thursday: Blondie’s coming home! It is rumored among humans that, by virtue of her hair color, Blondie has some extra challenges. I don’t hold to that line of thought, but I will say that Blondie is perfectly paired with Fuzz Face. Nevertheless, it is better to have her here, taking care of me, than it is to have her elsewhere, leaving me alone with Fuzz Face. So, when he said to me that today she’s coming home, I immediately got into a better mood. Fuzz Face, on the other hand, went into deep depression. – – He had to clean the house that he had so thoroughly messed up. Not only did he have to clean it, he had to clean it to Blondie’s standards. – the old man was in a compete panic. Sensing that he needed my help, I made sure that the floor throughout the house had layers of cat litter sufficiently deep to trip a circus elephant. – – – Oh, what amazing bliss when Blondie walked in the door – – – She immediately spotted the cat litter and took Old Fuzz Face to task.

09 August, Friday: Perhaps the most important event of the year took place on this day. Blondie and Fuzz Face decided it was time to harvest the grapes from the massive SFH vineyards. You can see the full harvest in the featured picture. It’s most unfortunate that critters and varmints consumed three of the grapes leaving us with only 81% of the original crop. Although a final decision hasn’t been made, yours truly has offered to stomp the grapes. Nowhere else in the world could you get fine wine made from grapes masterfully processed by the four large paws of a handsome 20-pound Maine Coon cat. The wonderful vintage of 2019 should, of course, be called SFH Cat’s Paw Wine. (We were going to copyright the name, but found a winery in South Carolina already has it. Perhaps we’ll just call it Monte-ster Mash)

10 August, Saturday: Life was getting better with Blondie back at home. It was getting better until Friday night when Fuzz Face decided he was going to take me out to the RV with him. I was not enthused. – – But, then I thought about it. If I go out with Fuzz Face, he and I could play. He would be a captive audience – captive in more ways than one. So, we played all night long. I purred and rubbed up beside him and showed my teeth, and we played some more. – – – We came back in at 4:30AM and I slept all day. — Blondie added to my enjoyment of the experience by working Fuzz Face nearly to exhaustion.

11 August, Sunday: This was a day of rest. I did, however, take some pleasure in chasing Blondie up the stairs. She threatened to throw her pink flip flop at me, but I’m so cute she couldn’t follow through.

So, the weather continues hot and dry. Here are the stats.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: See SFH WX 2019-08-05 through 11

Serendipitous Salsa – No Sweat!

“Too few tomatoes … too tired from yard worktoo blasted hot!!!

This has been our constant refrain every July since 2014.

But it isn’t that way this year!!!

What’s different?

Of course, every season starts off with “Too few tomatoes”. This year, we have found two local sources of organically grown tomatoes to provide us sufficient numbers until all of our bushes are producing at full capacity. We have seven bushes. Three are just now coming into their maturity, while the other four will start producing in a couple of weeks

Of course, every July there is much to do and we are “… too tired from yard work”. We have studied this problem and devised ways to spread the yard work and other chores out over the week so that we don’t get overly tired. We’ve also moved heavy work periods to the early morning hours, before the heat of the day sets in.

That leaves the most serious problem – “… too blasted hot!!!  Canning salsa or pasta sauce in mid-July in Virginia without air conditioning is not for the faint of heart. It might be 95° with 90% humidity outside, but when the jars are sterilizing, the tomatoes are simmering, and the lids are heating up, the temperature in the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen begins to soar to well over 100°. The only sensible dress under those conditions is shorty pants and matching wife- and husband-beater shirts. – – Believe me, it’s not a pretty sight and Mr. Monte is not so pleased by the odors brought on with the heat.

Previous owners of Serendipity Farmhouse ran air conditioners, but it was a somewhat risky situation. The house only had 100 Amp service. We changed that last year. (See SFH Journal: 2018-11-29 through 2018-12-03 – 200 Amp Service!!!) With that upgrade, we feel a bit more confident about running multiple air conditioners.

And that brings us to the meaning of this post’s title: Serendipitous Salsa – No Sweat!

DSC_1173 (2)Our first tomato canning event for this season was accomplished without bleating out our old constant refrain. We had enough tomatoes to make seven pint jars of salsa in a single session. We were well rested and up to the task at hand. And, most importantly, we were dressed comfortably and not in the manner that so scandalized poor Mr. Monte. In fact, he even came over and rubbed my leg several times in animated appreciation of my lack of troublesome and annoying odors.

Yes, dear friends, this was a serendipitous occasion and the preparation of the seven jars of salsa was – No Sweat!

There were several other happy facets of this uncanny canning event. One was the introduction of Cow Horn peppers to our tried and true salsa recipe. These peppers are roughly in the same range as Jalapenos, measuring in at 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat units. They bring with them their own distinctive flavor.

Another change to our recipe this year was leaving most of the Jalapeno and Cow Horn seeds in the mix. This will make for a little stronger kick, hopefully without shocking the taste sensibilities of the regular fans of Granny & Grandad’s (G&G’s) Salsa.

G&G’s Salsa is becoming a regional favorite for as many as tens of people. This fantastic rate of growth attests to the high quality of our products. In keeping with our aspirations to become a world-famous brand, this year, we have modernized our labeling as you will see below. But, keep in mind, it’s not the label that counts as much as the quality of the product inside. So, dear readers, we present to you the story of this year’s G&G’s Serendipitous Salsa. We put a lot of work into it, but it was No Sweat!

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Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

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Here at Serendipity Farmhouse we try to live by our motto – “Pray, Prepare, Preserve”. That motto has meanings on many levels. One level speaks to mankind’s most primitive and essential need – food. We “Pray” for our harvest; we “Prepare” the gardens with physical labor and constant care; then, when all is ripe and ready, we carefully “Preserve” a portion of the harvest so there will be “food for tomorrow”.

And so, this preserving season has begun. No, I don’t say the canning season has begun because there are many ways to preserve food. Yes, we do canning, but we also freeze, dehydrate, dry can, ferment, and many other things to preserve our food. By way of example, while this preserving season is quite young we have already:

  • Frozen three 4oz containers of pesto, made from our own basil;
  • Pickled five ½ pint jars of hot peppers; and
  • Frozen one package of sliced okra.

Granted, in the grand scheme things, many might think that SFH is just a very small, amateurish enterprise. That’s OK. Let them think what they will. Lovely Spouse, Mr.Monte, and I, however, greatly enjoy what we do and we take pride in what we do.

It’s the little things that add up. For example, let’s take a look at those five ½ pint jars of  “Peter’s Pickled Peppers”. You cannot find the equivalent in any grocery store. First, the jalapeno peppers were perfect in every detail. Then we added Cow Horn peppers to impart a subtle nuance to the flavor. Finally, each jar of peppers has a clove of garlic grown in our very own herb garden. Everything in each of those five jars is fresh and high quality.

Dear and gentle Reader, when we open one of those jars in December, and spread out the contents on a relish tray for Christmas dinner, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that only the best of the best will be on the table as we call to mind the birth of the One Who has given us everything.

So, quietly and without fanfare the 2019 SFH preserving season has begun. There will be time enough for fanfare and compliments when the cold days of Winter are upon us.

This year, we have added a page to the blog to allow you to keep up with the daily harvest. Go and check out SFH 2019 Harvest to see how bountiful this growing season has been already.

Another new page, just added today, will give you a chance to see how the harvest translates into “food for tomorrow” by means of preserving. Go check out SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow because this is going be a great year for tomatoes, okra, and peppers.

P.S. Mr. Monte has been especially vigilant this year, performing inspections all of our preserving supplies, monitoring general cleanliness, and ensuring adherence to SFH Test Kitchen “best practices”.