Category: SFH Food Talk & Recipes

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

 

 

 

 

 

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!!!

 

Crisis Averted in Rainy Day Catch Up

Question 1: What was the crisis?

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Running low

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

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

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

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

Answer 3: Read this post and find out.

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

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Note:  Not Cow Horn peppers

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

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

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

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FoodSaver with regular & wide mouth sealers

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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The perfect jar of  Cow Horn peppers

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

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

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

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

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

High Tea – High Serendipity

The Hostess

There was anticipation and there was anxiety. There was planning and there was preparation. There was cleaning and there was cooking. There were all the things that are essential to a successful “high tea”. Yet, with composure and confidence, dear, sweet, beautiful wife managed to make it all come together. Therefore, we can say with great pride of accomplishment, the Annual SFH High Tea for 2019 now belongs to the glorious history and tradition of Serendipity Farmhouse.

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The charming hostess wearing the apron handmade by her big Sister, Admiral #1

The Banished

As announced earlier by Mr. Monte in his post Annual High Tea at SFH, the world renowned SFH Maine Coon Cat, the  clever, articulate, and ever-faithful Son #1, and I, your humble author, were banished for the duration of the “high tea” to a safe shelter from feminine frivolity, our Class C RV El Camino Del Monte. There, we enjoyed manly conversation, discussed matters of great import, and generally set about solving the world’s problems. Banishment is not necessarily an unhappy thing.

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Old Fuzz Face rescues Mr. Monte from the “high tea” – He was ever so grateful

The Ladies

There wasn’t an opportunity to record all the arrivals. Nevertheless, it is worthy noting that each and every lady attending the SFH High Tea was dazzling, radiant, and beautiful beyond words. We see below just one example of the grand arrivals.

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Daughter-in-law #1 with Granddaughters #3 & #5

Gentle Reader, I am just a “banished” male, and was not privy to all the events of this Annual High Tea. Yet, it is clear to me that all was as it should have been and was meant to be. When I was finally summoned to take the group photo of all the attendees, there was no doubt that all were in fine and elevated spirits.

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The amazingly wondrous and enchanting attendees of the 2019 SFH Annual High Tea

The Food

Food preparation began days before the High Tea. Several people baked pastries and other items for the event. Even Old Fuzz Face lent a hand for baking scones and lavender tea bread. Most of the difficult cooking tasks fell on the shoulders of dear Wife and her most faithful friend, Nancy. Let me just say, culinary miracles were performed in the kitchen, and I was fortunate enough to partake of some of the leftovers.

So the 2019 SFH Annual High Tea is a memory – a very good memory, indeed. I leave you now with the menu as a reminder of just one small part of that joyous event.

 

2019 SFH High Tea Menu

ItemContributorComments
English Buttery SconesBlondie & Fuzz Face
Blueberry SconesNancy
Parmesan Mini MuffinsBlondie & Fuzz Face
Carrot CakeGranddaughter #1
MacaronsBlondieVanilla, lime, lemon, rose, lavender, strawberry
Lemon BarsNancy
Almond BiscottiBlondie
Lavender Tea BreadBlondie & Fuzz Face
Fresh Fruit SaladBlondie & Fuzz FaceStrawberries, peaches, raspberries & blueberries
Assorted Dark ChocolatesBlondie
Butter MintsBlondie
Iced TeaBlondieLavender & regular
Peach TeaBlondie
Strawberry White TeaBlondie
Raspberry TeaBlondie
French Vanilla TeaBlondie
Sugar CubesBlondie
LemonBlondie
MilkBlondie
Cucumber SandwichesBlondie & Fuzz Face

 

 

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”