Category: Recipe

RV Cooking – Two Easy Meals

For the intrepid crew of El Camino Del Monte (ECDM), RV Trip 2020-02 was an unqualified success. (See SFH Journal: 2020-06-08 through 06-21 – Father’s Day.) After two very short and frustrating RV seasons, ECDM is now cruising and camping with a qualified crew.

IMG_20200616_173857294_editedOne of the most notable and rewarding achievements this season, is the way in which my beautiful wife has mastered the art of preparing gourmet meals in the cramped confines of our RV kitchen. She is no mere camper. She is a “glamper”. She knows how to raise the level of any common dish to the sublime. And she does so using the most simple equipment and a bare minimum of space

So, let’s take a closer look at how she has developed her skills and elevates camp cooking to “glamp” cooking.

Planning: No adventure on ECDM begins without a menu, prepared in advance, with all ingredients neatly stowed in their appointed places. Likewise, recipes for main courses must always be available for reference. Below are the menu and recipes for our most recent trip.

Food Prep: Most efficient and adept Spouse has determined that it is best to do as much food preparation as possible prior to departure. The prepared items store better in the fridge and much time is saved. For longer trips, of course, food prep has to be done as part of meal preparation. Another thing, make sure you have all the necessary spices and they are clearly labeled. – Note that there was a menu change for the second evening. – One has to be flexible.

The Right Equipment: Storage space is limited on ECDM. That means that sweet Wife must make the most out of just a few select pieces of cooking equipment. For example, we have what essentially is a rice cooker. However, we have found dozens of recipes that can be prepared in that little wonder. Likewise, you will see later on several ways in which our master chef makes use of our large sauce pan.

Don’t Overdo It: Even for my amazing Glamper, breakfast and lunch are meant to be more relaxed – especially that first cup of coffee. Mr. Monte agrees that breakfast must be relaxing, savored, and enjoyed. Please note: In the picture below, Mr. Monte immediately washed down the dinette table and sanitized all surfaces after eating. He is a most fastidious feline.

Now to the food. The first recipe is one of a host of different curry dishes served at Serendipity Farmhouse. This particular recipe has been modified and improved over a period of more than 25 years. Slight changes have been made to allow for best results on ECDM.

The second recipe came off of the side of a Frigo Parmesan Cheese container. The reason we selected it was quite simple. We had a head of broccoli from our local CSA that needed to be eaten. This recipe made that possible.

Indian Chicken Curry – The ECDM Way

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Indian Chicken Curry - The ECDM Way

This has been a family favorite for 25+ years. There are several versions. This version has been adapted for cooking in a cramped RV kitchen.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Large sauce pan
  • mi AROMA 3-cup Mini Rice Cooker or similar

Ingredients
  

Chicken

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • 4 bite-sized, boneless chicken thighgs we prefer dark meat, substitute white meat if you prefer

Curry Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup tomato juice we use 1/3 cup catsup mixed with 2/3 cup of water
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Sticky Rice

  • 1 cup calrose rice
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Instructions
 

Chicken

  • Add olive oil to sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Add chopped chicken and cook thoroughly. Reserve cooked chicken when done.

Sticky RIce

  • Add rice and water to rice cooker and start on white rice setting.

Sauce & Final Touches

  • Add olive oil to sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Add chopped onions and celery begin to sautee. Stir in flour to coat vegetables. Gradually stir in broth and tomato juice (or catsup and water mixture), Stir in Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until mixture thickens.
  • Stir in cooked chicken and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve Indian curry mixture either over or on the side of the sticky rice. Garnish dish to taste. - - Please note, this dished can be served with any number of traditional sides, e.g. raisins, cashews, mandarin orange, etc.

Parmesan Broccoli Pasta

Parmesan Broccoli Pasta

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Large sauce pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head broccoli cleaned and trimmed
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 5 oz. Frigo Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place broccoli in boinling water until al dente, 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Bring water back to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of water.
  • Combine pasta with broccoli, remaining ingredients and reserved water to achieve desired consistency. Toss and serve hot.

SFH Journal: 2020-05-18 through 06-07 – Summer Arrives

Meteorological Summer: There are several conventions for what constitutes “summer.” Here at Serendipity Farmhouse we use the meteorological convention, that is, “summer” is comprised of the months of June, July, and August. That being said, we can now declare that Summer has arrived at SFH.

I didn’t need an encyclopedia to understand that Summer was here. There are literally hundreds of obvious clues and indicators to make the point. For example, the first blossom on our magnolia tree tells the story. It is surrounded by a myriad of buds, each ready to burst open in their magnificent seasonal display.

There is one exceedingly unavoidable sign proving that the hot, humid days of Summer have arrived. Observe the following pictures.

– Can there be any doubt left in your mind? – One rather overheated kitty has retreated to his favorite place – a place of warmth in the Winter and coolness in the Summer. – Mr. Monte’s one smart feline.

The Great Scape!

No, not the 1963 American epic war film starring Steve McQueen “The Great Escape.” I’m talking about the stalk and flower that grow directly from the center of a garlic plant. With garlic you get two harvests. The familiar head, made up of a number of cloves, is the second harvest. The first harvest is the scape. It can be used in much the same way as garlic, and it can go directly into salads or be sauteed with other vegetables. For a quick description of garlic scapes and their uses, click here.

IMG_20200530_144937657_HDR_editedHere you see this year’s harvest of 30 garlic scapes. They’ve just been cleaned and resourceful wife is planning to use them in a number of dishes. But, before she dares use them in any of our food, they must pass a very strict inspection by the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen’s Chief of Food Quality. The following sequence of pictures shows the inspection process. As you will see, our inspector determined beyond any reasonable doubt that the scapes were high quality, clean, completely organic, and that they unquestionably meet the high standards we maintain here at SFH. You will also note that he considers scapes to be among his most favored vegetables.

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Today, we are going to gift all of our dear readers with a basic recipe for a simple cilantro pesto, featuring fresh garlic scapes. I must, however, confess that this recipe has only received one and a half stars from the SFH Test Kitchen judging staff. Nevertheless, it is our job to keep you apprised of all tests conducted in our highly esteemed test kitchen. We are committed to exposing the truth and let it stand on its own merits. So, without further ado here is:

"Not So" Fabulous Cilantro Pesto

When your Spring garden is overproducing garlic scapes and your community supported agriculture (CSA) farm has just handed you a half ton of cilantro, which your beautiful Spouse detests, this is how you modify a basic recipe from allrecipes to make it somewhat palitable. For the slightly atypical family that resides at and cares for Serendipity Farmhouse, this dish guaranteed that half the family would go to bed hungry.
Prep Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 3 each garlic scapes substitute for 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 taplespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan chees
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts substitute for walnuts or pecans
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and return water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain well. Reserve 1/2 cup water.
  • In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, vinegar, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
  • Pour pesto in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until pesto begins to simmer. Pour over cooked pasta and toss. Add reserved water to thin as desired.

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 arrival of the hot, humid days of Summer:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-05-18 through 05-24

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-05-25 through 05-31

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-06-01 through 06-07

 

And the morel of this story is …

What happens when Spring, wild chives, fresh asparagus, good neighbors, and a “honey hole” all come together at the same time? We here at SFH call it – “Serendipity!”

My creative and amazing Wife has made Sunday our official “Menu Day.” She thinks and ponders – I wait for her inspiration. Then it comes! She dictates – I type, feverishly trying to keep up with her burst of creative energy. Then, there it is, the menu for the week. A true work of glorious culinary planning has taken shape before my very eyes.

That wonderful weekly menu, however, is not set in stone. No, no, sweet wife is a believer in “Serendipity”, and because we have exceedingly generous and entirely unpredictable neighbors, “Serendipity” is a frequent visitor. (See related posts here and here.)

That is where the “honey hole” comes in. Whether it be the mysterious gathering of huckleberries in Idaho or the Spring rite of finding a highly favored mushroom in Virginia, the location of the “honey hole” is never ever revealed.

Thus it was on Thursday, an unnamed friend, provided an undisclosed amount of those highly favored mushrooms, gathered from a most secret “honey hole” somewhere within a 10-mile radius of SFH, to our dear neighbor. She, in turn, requesting utter and complete silence on the matter, gifted us with a dozen medium sized morel mushrooms.

Wondrous Spouse immediately set Mr. Monte and me to the task of finding an appropriate recipe that would highlight the delicate texture and flavor of the morels. We found several, but none was good enough to allow the morels to stand out as the deciding feature of delight that they certainly should be.

Saturday night, lovely Wife made the decision to take some ideas from the several recipes we collected, but she would improvise and make it a recipe truly her own. Immediately, the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen was mobilized. Mr. Monte would inspect all ingredients and supervise kitchen safety. I would slice, dice, and fetch. Meanwhile, the Chief Chef for the night worked with amazing speed and masterful zeal – this was an opportunity to take the best from what the Serendipity Farmhouse gardens were producing. It would also be an opportunity to invoke here “inner Julia”.

A key ingredient for the dish was our own garden asparagus. Wild chives grow everywhere in the yard. Mr. Monte recommended including some of them. Rather than use garlic, our beautiful Chef would mate the chives with a chopped shallot. With the exception of the gnocchi, all ingredients would be sauteed in just the right amount of butter and olive oil.

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In just a very few short minutes, my ever so capable Wife had prepared a masterpiece. It spoke of Spring freshness with our own chives and asparagus, and it mysteriously punctuated the entire meal with the exotic yet earthy aroma and flavor of morel mushrooms. – –

And the morel of this story is – never make a menu set in stone when there is the slightest chance that “Serendipity” might appear.

Gnocchi with Morel Mushrooms

Serendipity
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 package fresh gnocchi
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 dozen morel mushrooms sliced in halves
  • 2 wild chives chopped
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 2-3 spears asparagus sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 - 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup reserved gnocchi cooking liquid
  • 1 pinch kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest for garnish
  • 2 wild chives for garnish, finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • Boil fresh gnocchi 2-3 minutes until soft; reserve 1/2 cup liquid prior to draining.
  • As gnocchi cooks, add olive oil and butter to wok or large skillet and warm over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add morel mushrooms and saute, tossing occasionally, until they soften slightly.
  • Add chopped shallots and chives and continue to saute for about 3 minutes.
  • Add gnocchi, asparagus, peas, and reserved cooking liquid in with mushrooms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until asparagus and peas begin to warm and sauce starts to thicken.
  • Serve and add grated parmeson cheese, lemon zest, and uncooked chives to garnish. - - The flavors have now reached their peak. Eat without delay!

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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How We Make Do

For some time to come, what is now in the Serendipity Farmhouse pantry will have to suffice. Oh, to be sure, some items such as milk, eggs, and greens can be found locally. Yet it’s quite clear that in the coming weeks dearest Wife will have to call upon her imagination and incredible resourcefulness to plan our weekly menu. In fact, she has already demonstrated some of the skills that are essential for times like these. – So, here are some examples of How We Make Do here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

IMG_20200322_170557204_editedTaco Salad: In this case, beautiful Spouse brought together a a simple meal by using what was at hand. We had leftover salad and a third of a bag of corn chips. We learned long ago that solid and shredded cheese could be frozen, so we had the necessary cheese. And, of course, we have many jars of salsa from last year’s growing season. Ground beef was in the freezer. Unfortunately, this was the last of the sour cream. But, a dollop of sour cream on a superbly crafted taco salad is one of life’s great joys. – In short, resourceful Wife benefited by using preserved items and leftovers.

Modifying an Instant Pot Recipe: There is an excellent instant pot recipe for ground beef and pasta that we have used several times. (You can find it here Instant Pot Ground Beef and Pasta.) It’s easy to make and doesn’t take much time to prepare. When my wondrous Spouse began to prepare this meal, she found that we lacked two items in the recipe – 8 ounces of campanelle pasta and a jar of marinara sauce. No problem! We have an entire assortment of pastas to substitute – we chose penne rigate pasta. To solve the marinara sauce problem, clever Wife mixed a can of tomato sauce with our very own SFH G&G Pasta Sauce. – The end result was a much more flavorful version of this instant pot dish.

Bread Machine Bread: It’s not worth the trip to a grocery store to get a loaf of store bought bread – ever. Read the ingredients – if you can’t pronounce it, perhaps you shouldn’t eat it. Sweet Spouse has been making bread with a bread machine for decades. So, it’s no wonder that, over the last few weeks, that beloved homemade staple has become an important item in our menu planning.

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White Bread: The soon to be famous SFH kitchen recommends a very simple white bread recipe for beginners. (Check it out here White Bread For The Bread Machine.

Wheat Bread: To stretch out our flour supply, we will start making wheat bread this week. We have a good supply of hard red wheat berries and a flour mill. I will grind up sufficient quantities of wheat flour for bread making. We will try out a number of recipes and will provide updates to let you know which recipes you might want to try.

So there it is. We’ve given you a small taste of How We Make Do here at Serendipity Farmhouse. And, I suppose, we have also given you a small taste of How We Make Dough here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

Bon appetit!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-03-23 through 03-29 – Oh, Happy Routine!

I won’t dance around the subject. Life is not the same as it was this time last year. Right??

Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion. Let’s look back a year and see what we were doing. Take a look at this post – SFH Journal: 2019-04-07 through 13 – Things You Never Expected! Take special notice of the entry “13 APR: Mother Nature Still Calls the Shots:“. Yep, gentle readers, we had set out to power wash and paint the railings on our deck. Did we ever finish that job? Nope.

Well, nope, until this last week. Despite bad weather, procrastination, and very studied and highly skilled forms of laziness, our collective conscience forced us to return to that task. I must say, my dearest Spouse was a very strong motivational force for me.

To be sure, the job took a very, very long time. But please note, we did complete it in less than one calendar year. So, in addition to the picture of my dearest and most sweet Motivator-in-Chief at the head of this post, I will give you a few glimpses of before and after of this now completely completed task.

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– And from all this we derive a great bit of Serendipity Farmhouse Wisdom – A task worth doing is even more worth doing when it is put off to when it can be put off no more.

Once again, I won’t dance around the subject. Life is not the same as it was this time last year. Right??

Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion. Let’s look back a year and see what we were doing. Take a look at this post – Reflections on Spring at Serendipity Farmhouse

Take special notice of the portion of that post that says:

“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.”

This year as last, Spring has come. Here are some pictures to remind us that beauty and growth are part of the “Happy Routine” here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

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And the best sign that life goes on here at SFH is when the potting table has been returned to its normal place and industrious Wife is nurturing the young tomatoes, peppers, and herbs as she waits for just the perfect time for planting.

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God provides many, many blessings. It our job to seek and to understand them, even when they are shrouded in mystery.

By the way, today is our Anniversary.

Oh, Happy Routine!

 

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 2020-03-23 through 03-29

 

 

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.

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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.

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SFH Test Kitchen – Hubby Under Pressure

OK you foodies, I had hoped to bring you a very fine food & recipe post based on our most recent adventures in the culinary arts. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen in this post because my dear, sweet Hubby once again succumbed to his knack of “over thinking” a problem.

A little background is needed. I have the distinct pleasure of being one of those “girls raised in the South” (GRITS). New Year’s Day would not be complete without the traditional black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread. Hubby is a Yankee, but this traditional meal is one of his favorites. In fact, he offered to make it the first featured meal of the soon-to-be-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen for the year 2020.

Being the geek that he is, he declared that the ever so important black-eyed peas would be prepared in our almost brand new Instant Pot. Hubby has background experience with pressure cookers since he was young and he thought using the Instant Pot would be a stimulating challenge. – – This, devoted readers, was his plan – his Plan A. He had no Plan B.

Hubby chose the recipe “Southern-Style Black-Eyed Peas” by Laurel Randolph in her book Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook. He elected to go with leftover Christmas ham rather than bacon and added and subtracted a few other items.

Late in the morning on New Year’s Day, the clock was ticking. My dear friend Nancy would be here at 1PM. I had prepared the collard greens – perfect! The cornbread had just come out of the oven – heavenly! Freshly homemade butter was at room temperature waiting to meet the cornbread.

Hubby, with flair and enthusiasm, had sauteed the onions and ham in the Instant Pot. The aroma incited high expectations for what was to come. The broth and black-eyed peas and other ingredients were added to the pot. The lid was locked in place. Hubby set the pressure cook time … and then … and then … and then there was nothing. – – No indicator lights, no build up of pressure.

Meanwhile, Mr. Monte jumped up on the counter. We told him it wasn’t time to eat. He insisted on staying on the counter and was laboring to get an important message across to us. We had no time for that. Mr. Monte was removed from the counter.

My almost but not quite in a state of panic Spouse checked the plug. He moved it from socket to socket. He cycled ground fault buttons. He noted that there was some warming in the pot, but still no indicator lights and no pressure build up.

It was past 1PM. Nancy was late. Hubby was turning in tight little circles. His ears were turning red. Nothing was going as it should.

Then, Nancy arrived. We greeted her. Hubby attempted to look untroubled. He wasn’t very convincing. His ears turned more red and it was obvious that he was suppressing his speech out of consideration of the presence of dear friend Nancy.

At just about the same time, Hubby and I asked the question, “Can’t we take the black-eyed peas and finish cooking them in our old pressure cooker?” Hubby immediately answered the question and said, “That’s it, that’s my Plan B.”

Within 30 seconds, my enterprising spouse had pulled out the old pressure cooker; transferred all of the black-eyed peas; and had the pot heating up on the trusty SFH Test Kitchen stove.

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While the peas were heating, Hubby cleaned out the Instant Pot and was preparing to put it away. – – That is when he saw it! – That’s when he realized that Mr. Monte was calling the wrong person Blondie. That’s when he saw that the plug was no longer attached to the Instant Pot.

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Now to make a very long story very short. The peas went back into the Instant Pot. When they were served they far exceeded the expectations of all gathered around the table. Dearest Hubby said not a word as he completed cleaning the old pressure cooker and, of course, the Instant Pot for the second time of the day.

Lesson Learned 2020-01: An Instant Pot is not like a crock pot or a toaster. The electric cord is detachable. That cord is subject to Murphy’s Law and it will detach itself when you least expect it.

Lesson Learned 2020-02: When your 20-pound Maine Coon Cat jumps on the counter and tries to tell you that the Instant Pot electric cord is detached – – Listen to him!!!

Happy New Year!!!

 

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”