Category: SFH Food Talk & Recipes

SFH Journal: 2019-05-26 through 06-14

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

You certainly would be justified to ask why there have been so few posts over the last three weeks. Don’t look at me. I am a highly organized and methodical Maine Coon cat. I live according to a rigid schedule and leave nothing to chance.

No, as usual, Old Fuzz Face is the problem. He blames it on work. He blames it on all the yard maintenance here at SFH. He blames it on family and social commitments. He blames it on just about everything. – – The truth is he has some sort weird attachment to my namesake, our Class C RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM). Yup, he spends every waking moment working on problems with ECDM when he should be paying attention to me and this blog. He’s also been noted using some vocabulary words with which I am not quite familiar – nor do I desire to be.

Oh well, he is as he is and someone has to write this post. So, sit back and relax while I make up for his laziness, incompetence, and negligence.

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There’s been a lot going on here at SFH, but I guess the biggest news is our vast, extensive, enormous, and generally huge vineyard has scored its first major success in its nearly five year history. Let me tell you, though, that success had nothing to do with our first vintner, Hector. In the picture above, you will notice that Hector started off on the wrong foot and things only got worse as time went on.

His first big mistake was trying to get the grapevine to attach itself to and grow on a black metal arbor. Wrong!!! When the sun came out that arbor would heat up and fry the little tendrils and cause the entire plant to scream in agony.

Hector wasn’t much of a planner and had no sense for return on investment. At the pace he was moving, we expected to be bottling a fine vintage wine by 2053 or so.

Just like Fuzz Face, Hector made excuses for his mistakes. He told us us that working conditions would be a little more pleasant if that cat weren’t watching so closely. When Fuzz Face told us about Hector’s complaint, I merely said, “Mmmmmmm yummy, what a tasty morsel he’d be.”

Hector’s poor performance was too much even for Fuzz Face and Blondie. He was given his walking papers and a poor recommendation. I’ll never know how he would have tasted – too bad.

Well, there’s big news here this year. Upon Hector’s departure, Blondie took over all vintner duties. She got rid of the murderous metal arbor and had Fuzz Face erect a wooden one in its place. During the intervening years, she has watered the vineyard, trimmed the vines, and battled the Japanese beetles. This year, her hard work finally paid off. Just look at the amazing bumper crop of grapes that is now growing on our vines. There are at least 16 of those beautiful darlings just waiting to be stomped by a joyous group of bare-footed stompers.

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Considering that it takes roughly 2.6 pounds of grapes to make a bottle of wine, I figure that we will need to get at least seven, 59-gallon oak casks for this years vintage. Of course, math is not my strong suit.

Someday, yes someday, the Serendipity Farmhouse label will become the hallmark of fine wines.

Enough for now. Once Old Fuzz Face can break away from fixing the problems he caused in El Camino Del Monte, I will have him post all the weather statistics since May 26. Until then, save your money so that you can be the first to buy a (very little) bottle of Serendipity Farmhouse Chardonnay.  – – Cheers!

 

 

 

Daring Dairy – The Next Generation

Mr. Monte here!

What a very pleasant, relaxing, and refreshing week this has been. Instead of having to sit up in that stuffy, dark office with Old Fuzz Face, I have had the great good fortune to have adorable, intelligent, and enchanting Granddaughter #3 here at Serendipity Farmhouse to visit me. Oh, to be sure, she spent some time with Fuzz Face and Blondie because she is a devoted granddaughter, but she really came to see me.

Because she is rather new at writing posts, she kindly asked me to assist her in telling you about how she has become the very first of her generation in this family to study and begin to master the difficult and demanding arts of “Daring Dairy”.  In this case, she wants to tell you how she took the challenge to make authentic homemade butter. (If you care to see what that entails, refer to the post Julia, Butter & Serendipity Farmhouse.)

So, with no further expository prattle, let me relate the story to you as she dictates the highs and lows of her butter making experience to me.

Hi! I’m new at this, but Mr. Monte is helping, so I don’t think much can go wrong. It all started when we were shopping in Wegmans. Granny told Granddad to get some heavy whipping cream. Granny then turned to me and said Granddad is going to show you how to make butter. – – I think I said something like, “That sounds like fun … it would be neat to try.”

By the time we got to Serendipity Farmhouse, we had to make supper and eat. So, it was too late to make butter. We’d have to wait until tomorrow.

The next day, in the early afternoon, Granny and Granddad said that it was time to make butter. Granddad joked with me and made it sound like butter making was really hard and I was going to have to do everything. Then, I found out he wasn’t joking. He gave me all the utensils and showed me how to use them. I guess he was showing me:

Step 1 – Prepare Utensils & Ingredients

Preparing the utensils wasn’t really that hard. Actually, it was rather easy. So, I wondered why was Granddad telling me it was going to be so hard.

Well, all I had to do was to wait and then the hard part came to me. It was:

Step 2 – Churning the Cream

It was then that Granddad said the next thing to do is “churn the cream”. He said it wouldn’t take too long. One time, he had made butter in four minutes. What Granddad didn’t tell me was, one time it took him almost half an hour of churning. So, I began to churn. And I continued to churn. Then, I churned some more. Granddad stood beside me and just smiled.

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Then, still with a smile on his face, Granddad started taking pictures of me churning and churning and churning. My wrist began to hurt. My fingers became a little numb. And my legs began to ache from standing in one position for so long. – – Granddad took some more pictures.

It seemed like 40 minutes of churning, and churning, and churning. But, Granddad pointed to the clock on the stove and said, “No, no it hasn’t been 40 minutes.” Then I looked at the clock and saw it was only about eight minutes. – – Granddad just smiled. Granny was nearby and she just smiled. Mr. Monte had been watching and he was rolling on the floor. – – I think he was laughing.

Step 3: – Rinsing the butter

The rest was easy. Granddad helped me scoop the butter out of the churn and then we put it into the butter dish. – – I had made butter! – – As Granddad would say, “The pictures show that this story is all true!”

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Now, when you use 10 ounces of heavy whipping cream to make butter, you get 4 ounces of butter and 6 ounces of something very special – – fresh, sweet, tasty butter milk. As our reward for the hard work making the butter, Granny divided the butter milk in two cups and Granddad and I drank it all down. – – If you every have the chance to drink fresh butter milk, do it. You won’t be disappointed.

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Hi, again! Mr. Monte here. Tomorrow, Granddaughter #3 has to go back home. I guess there won’t be much to do around here when she goes. It’s going to be a little lonely. I think I”m going to miss her. After all, Maine Coon cats have big feelings.

 

 

 

Memorial Day – Thoughts & Leftovers

Memorial Day – Thoughts: My Dad always told me to do the hard things first. So, I will.

I’ve been in harm’s way several times, but I always came home to my family. However, many I knew, some acquaintances and some close friends, are still on patrol. That I am here and safe and free with children and grandchildren is both by God’s grace and their sacrifice. This is no small topic nor is it easy to ponder. It is a hard thing to remember, a very hard thing to recall, but on Memorial Day, I do the hard things first and to those still on patrol, I salute you all!

Memorial Day – Leftovers: It all came together yesterday, the 28th of May. Today will be spent in recovery. – – “What happened? Why need for recovery?” you ask. Allow me to lay out the timeline and you will begin to understand.

25 May: Our celebration of the national holiday and the unofficial start of Summer began in a quite unexpected and pleasing way. While piloting my massive and powerful lawn tractor, navigating through the varied and pleasant grounds of our vast (nearly 1.25 acre) estate, my excellent and most neighborly neighbor entered the yard carrying a quite heavily laden sack of something.  My curiosity as to the contents of the sack was quickly satisfied as he handed me the parcel containing 42 Chesapeake Bay oysters.

Beautiful wife saw the exchange of oysters and a relatively small amount of cash and quickly closed in on us. She had a very justified suspicion that this transaction would bring about some type of change to her menu for the holiday weekend – and so it did.

Because chicken thighs and legs had already been thawed for supper, dear Spouse declared that the oysters would have to wait until the following day. Although somewhat disappointed that we would have to postpone the oysters, the grilled chicken, potatoes, and salad made a great meal and all of us, including the somewhat hard-to-please Mr. Monte, were content. – – So it was on 25 May.

26 May: Dawn brought with it the delightful anticipation of an evening repast of more oysters than we could have ever imagined. When the appropriate time arrived, yours truly, following the same procedures we outlined in our post of SFH 0520181632 Journal: 2018-09-20, prepared a seafood feast fit for royalty. Needless to say, we found that large quantity of oysters more than sated any cravings or hunger pangs that we might have had. Then, we called our neighbor to thank him for his efforts in procuring the oysters. Instead of replying with a simple thank you, he said he had actually shortchanged us and within minutes he was at our doorstep with 20 more oysters to complete our feast.

Oysters don’t keep well and we were too full to eat any more. So, we stored the tasty sea critters carefully in the fridge, knowing they would have to be prepared very soon. – – So it was on 26 May.

27 May: The intended, planned, and clearly outlined intent for dinner on Memorial Day was aDSC_0273 rack of baby back ribs. They had been removed from the freezer on the 25th and thawed. Yours truly, following the same procedures we outlined in our post Baby Back Ribs at SFH, grilled the ribs to perfection. There were some slight modifications to side dishes, but the main ingredient, that huge rack of ribs, was present before us. We ate heartily and for a second day we had eaten to our capacity. Well almost – that is when we remembered the ice cream and chocolate syrup. Yes, we added the ice cream to finish the feast. But there was still a half rack of ribs unconsumed. It was stored in the fridge alongside the extra oysters. – – So it was on 27 May.

28 May: The fridge was now overflowing with leftovers. But my dear, creative Spouse0908181555 (2) noted that to make a meal with just oysters and ribs left something lacking. There were no vegetables to adorn the plate. Having been in the garden recently and imagining how good the newly planted okra would be when mature, it came to her that we had frozen several packs of okra at the end of the last growing season. (See our post SFH Journal: 2018-09-06 through 08 for details) She immediately seized upon the idea to add fried okra to the evening repast – the okra surely would be the item to bring together oysters and ribs and make them a balanced meal.

Yours truly, following the same procedures we outlined in our post of SFH Journal: 2018-09-20, prepared for the second time in three days a seafood feast fit for royalty. At the same time, I warmed leftover ribs and corn on the cob.

Our timing was perfect. Charming and creative wife fried up two bags of okra using her as yet secret fried okra recipe. She finished precisely at the same time I pulled the last oyster off the grill.

We brought the oysters to the table and ate them as an appetizer in the same way the rich and famous would do at a fine restaurant. Then, we made our way to the kitchen and filled our plates with ribs, corn on the cob, and the most tasty fried okra in the universe. Returning to the table, Mr. Monte examined all the components of the feast and nodded his head in approval. And then we ate. – – Perhaps we ate more than we should have, but, surely, there was never such a fine array of leftovers assembled in all of Creation.

Of course, knowing that this meal and all meals come to us by God’s grace, we gave thanks and prayed in remembrance of those whom we honor on Memorial Day. – – So it was on 28 May.

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”

On Time – For Once

Even Mr. Monte knows this simple truth – February is the shortest month of the year. For those of us who seldom consult our calendars, we often realize far too late that we are about to miss an important deadline in early March. And so it was with me. Almost every one of my birthday cards to my older brother, whose birthday was on March 3rd, included a sincere apology for tardiness and an equally sincere promise that next year my card would be on time.

In the picture heading this post, you will see my brother on the day of his First Holy Communion. I was just a recent newcomer to the family, but Tim felt it important to share in the joy of this special day by holding me up for the world to see. I, in my own characteristic way, decided to raise my hand and wave to all of Tim’s adoring fans. It was one of my first lessons in the true meaning of “family”.

For years, Tim and I sat at the same dining room table and enjoyed many meals together. That tradition of enjoying great yet simple, home-cooked meals followed us throughout our lives. He was exceptionally happy when he learned that my beautiful spouse shared a passion for his favorite dish. So, whenever my lovely wife and I visited him and my sister-in-law, Tim would take us out to a local restaurant where that particular dish was a specialty of the house.

This week, combining our celebration of Tim’s birthday and our love of Julia Child’s delightful recipes, the soon to be famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen will attempt to master Julia’s Sauté of Calf’s Liver with Onions from her book The Way to Cook.

Yes, Tim counted liver and onions as a delicacy. It was good growing up with a big brother who understood the joy that can come from the simple things in life.

So, on this first day of March, I’m taking the time to say, “Happy birthday, dear brother Tim!” – There, I kept my promise.

 

 

 

Blondie’s Biscuits – Yes!

All is well with the world! My beautiful and highly skilled spouse has made all things right – she made biscuits for breakfast. No, they still weren’t quite up to par with her Mom’s, but she’s getting closer. She has sworn to keep that goal in sight. There is no doubt that breakfasts at Serendipity Farmhouse will become even more enjoyable as time goes by. Continue reading “Blondie’s Biscuits – Yes!”

Blondie’s Biscuits?

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Let me set the scene for you. Old Fuzz Face is in hiding. He’s afraid he might be caught laughing. Blondie is gnashing her teeth. And I, Mr. Monte, am trying to get this post out before she catches me at the keyboard.

What happened? Well, it all started last night with Blondie’s post Biscuits and Mom’s Birthday. Blondie had said that she was going to make some of her mom’s biscuits for breakfast. Fuzz Face was delighted with the prospect. And I, a true lover of buttered biscuits, ran into the bedroom and moved the alarm clock a full hour ahead. The entirety of Serendipity Farmhouse was poised and ready for biscuits in the morning. Continue reading “Blondie’s Biscuits?”

Biscuits and Mom’s Birthday

When we were young, my big sister and I would hang around the kitchen watching howMom-biscuits (2) Mom would do what she would do. Many mornings our eyes were fixed on a ritual that seemed so simple and so certain. Virtually no words were said. We knew that too many questions in the kitchen would only lengthen the wait for breakfast. But, we watched – we watched every measurement and every move. Our thinking was, “Someday, someday in the far, far away, we would be able to make biscuits just like Mom’s. Continue reading “Biscuits and Mom’s Birthday”

SFH Journal: 2019-02-08 through 16

Highlight: Without a doubt, the highlight for this period was Valentine’s Day. Our own soon to be world famous Chef Monte prepared a Valentine Cherry Pie for us that was, shall we say, the “cat’s meow”. (See How to make Valentine Pie, by Mr. Monte) Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-02-08 through 16”