Category: SFH Food Talk & Recipes

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

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

 

Oh, Shenandoah, we came to see you

Mission: The mission’s official name is El Camino Del Monte RV Trip 2020-01. When the day began all systems were “Go”. We had a relatively late departure on the afternoon of May 27, because beautiful Wife treated herself to her first hair cut since March. That was no problem though, because Shenandoah River State Park check in time is 4:00 PM – we arrived at 4:10 PM.

Purpose: The mission’s official purpose was rest, relaxation, and checking out the RV. The unofficial purpose was to get away from TV, radio, Internet, and telephone. For all intents and purposes, this nearby state park allows one to go entirely off the grid. What a blessed relief!

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Mission Operations: How about the weather? The sun was out when we were up and the rain came down when we were in bed. So, on the 28th, the air had been washed clean of pollen and dust and the views were remarkable. It was a perfect day for a walk down to the Shenandoah. Sweet Spouse was doubly anxious to stretch her legs. She opined that this would be a good time to reduce the size of what she describes as her “Covid rolls.” It is advisable not to linger on this point. Instead, let’s allow her to lead us on a quick tour to the river and the meadows that were so close to our happy camp site.

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With our walk to the river behind us and the temperatures beginning to climb, we settled into the RV and told Mr. Monte all about the park. He tried to look interested, but it was my sense that he was more concerned about devising new ways to keep us awake during his beloved hours of nocturnal predation. – He has his priorities!

Entertainment: Loving Daughter #2 had given us a game to enjoy during RV trips. Perhaps the game requires skill. Perhaps it requires patience. Perhaps our daughter knows that her parents have neither skill nor patience. Perhaps she has learned how to think like Mr. Monte. Perhaps we shall never know for sure. We played the game. The pictures tell the story.

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Mr. Monte’s Log: Hi, Mr. Monte here. As the pictures on the wall proclaim, this RV belongs to me. You will note the one sign that declares “This house is under the protection of a Maine Coon.” Thus, it’s always an amazement how those two big cats of mine, Blondie & Fuzz Face, take so little notice of all I do for them. While they were out frolicking in the woods and skylarking by the river, I had to conduct my rounds and ensure absolute security aboard El Camino Del Monte.

They frolicked – I protected. Observe the picture of the lizard that menaced our RV. I suspect it was a Northern Coal Skink. As soon as he approached our camp site, I alerted and went into stealth predator mode. Fortunately for him, he sensed my presence and was urged by his instinct of self preservation to avoid conflict with a superior force.

Field Test: Until this trip, all of our RV cooking experiences have been inside on our three-burner LP gas stove. (We haven’t used the oven yet.) This trip afforded us the opportunity to test a newly acquired Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill.

Don’t be alarmed. I have not, repeat have not, lost my “inner cheap.” Nope, I simply redeemed some of my frequent flyer miles and this handy device was delivered to my doorstep. The primary ingredient for the test meal consisted of two grass-fed, grass-finished porterhouse steaks, raised on Reality Farm just three miles from Serendipity Farmhouse.

I’ll dispense with useless chatter. The grill worked as advertised. The chef performed with great skill and accomplishment. Add in baked potatoes and green beans and this was the all American meal, a worthy reward for two happy campers at day’s end.

Mr. Monte’s Last Word: As I said, “They frolicked – I protected.” And, as I must add, “They ate steak – I ate dry cat food.”

There will come a day of justice – a day of reckoning!!

 

 

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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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.

Inventory
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

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

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-01-13 through 01-19 – What’s our favorite comfort food?

Hi, Blondie here!

As you might have noticed, Hubby and I are foodies. Different seasons bring different foods and the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen is always experimenting with one recipe or another. But, when it’s 3:00 PM on a mid-January day and the temperature is in the mid-30’s, what kind of food do you start thinking about?

Many of us tend to forget about gourmet recipes, filled with sautes and reductions. Nope, that’s not what we think of. Instead, we think about something that Mom used to make or some dish that we developed a liking for over the years. It’s our “go to” food, it’s our favorite comfort food.

Now, Hubby, spent a long time in the Far East and his favorite food on a cold rainy or snowy day is S&B Golden Curry with beef on Japanese-style sticky rice.  And I have to admit I like it, but, no, it’s not my “favorite” comfort food. (Check out the featured picture and see our post here.)

For me, the dish that most means “comfort” is cheese and tuna casserole. It’s easy to make, easy on the budget, and the leftovers are as good as the first serving. What more could a girl like me want on a mid-January day?

This week’s menu is already made and, unfortunately, tuna casserole is not on it. But, just you wait and see what’s on the menu for next week. Dear Hubby, guess what you’re gonna be having for dinner.

So, if you have a chance, please let us know what your favorite comfort food is. Maybe, some day we will experiment with your favorite here in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen.

P.S. – – Mr. Monte says his favorite comfort food in the Winter time is a teaspoon of heavy whipping cream. – – Meowwww, purrrrrr!

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 2020-01-06 through 13-19