SFH Journal: 2020-07-13 through 07-26

The Good

Allow me to start on a good note. Despite near drought conditions, high heat and humidity, the gardens of the vast 1.24 acre estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse (SFH) have begun to yield a bounty of tomatoes, okra, and peppers. As followers of this blog well know, these three crops constitute the primary focus of our yearly canning, pickling, and preserving efforts.

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A key ingredient for pickled okra and peppers is the addition of fresh garlic cloves. This year’s crop of 30 heads of garlic has been dried and cleaned, and is now in waiting to be used during canning. These lovely garlic cloves will also be the highlight of many dishes to be created in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. (Please click here to see what has been harvested to date.)

On another note, a severe deficiency here at SFH has finally been remedied. Until this week, to support such an extensive array of gardens and other estate holdings, needed supplies had to be transported in our two small passenger vehicles. At last, SFH can boast a truly worthy support vehicle. Yes, the massive SFH parking lot and utility area is now the home the high-quality, used pickup truck known as “Crockett”. Co-op and hardware stores, here we come.

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“Crockett” – King of the wild Frontier

The Bad – But Getting Better

In Mr. Monte’s post SFH Journal: 2020-07-06 through 07-12, you learned of our ongoing water shortage. Beautiful Wife and I considered our circumstances and drew up a plan to make it through the Summer. We realized that using our well water for watering our extensive assortment of gardens had to stop. We also understood that our conservation effort would have to extend to limiting shower time, loads of clothes to be washed, and even toilet flushing.

Eventually, rain would come (and so it did this last week), but we needed a good way to get water to the gardens, otherwise we would lose them altogether. Carrying buckets of water from the river was out of the question – too many gardens and too much of a risk for yours truly.

Eventually, we decided to buy a small water pump and use two 5-gallon, two 6-gallon, and one 15-gallon water tanks we had purchased over a decade ago. To make a long story short, the pump arrived and it worked. Over a two week period, we refined our techniques and now we can say the gardens will have more than adequate water for the remainder of the Summer. To supplement our conservation efforts for well water, the 5- and 6-gall water tanks are being used for flushing.

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As a side note, we have had to replace the tires on our utility cart twice over the last fourIMG_20200719_142937628_HDR_edited years. The tires were cheaply made and would go flat even under minimal loads. All four tires have now been replaced with a foam-filled type wheel that is guaranteed not to go flat.

 

The Ugly

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedHi! Mr. Monte here.

Warning to my 23, 417 feline followers: If you have a weak stomach please don’t read the next paragraph.

Ol’ Fuzz Face is a seemingly “intelligent” human being. He is, for the most part, hard working and occasionally even inventive. His efforts to obtain a supply of water from the river tends to support that conclusion. But, as you saw in my last post, his offer to quit taking showers in order to conserve water was not what one would consider to be “intelligent”. After Blondie and I voiced our disapproval, Fuzzie moped around for a while. Oddly, he kept watching me, especially when I was grooming my luxuriant feline coat. Last night, when I noticed that his shower was unusually short, I stuck my head into the shower stall and saw him licking his forearms and hands and then rubbing his balding head with them. – – Even for me, that was toooooooo much. – – I intend to keep my distance from now on and groom only in private.

SFH by the Numbers

Hot & Humid

July

Heat

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 WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-07-03 through 07-26

A Serendipitous Meeting

Oftentimes, unfamiliar cars come down our private lane. More often than not the drivers have made a mistaken turn. The cars then proceed down the lane only to find they are not where they thought. – – GPS directions are never to be fully trusted.

Sometimes, however, the driver knows more about where they are than we do. Today, this was the case. And this, dear reader, was the occasion for a most serendipitous meeting.

As I walked towards the unfamiliar vehicle, ready to provide directions to the local attractions, I was met by a most unexpected revelation. The two charming ladies sitting in the front seats represented two generations of a family that had lived in Serendipity Farmhouse many years before. Today was an important day to them, the birthday of a beloved husband and father.

Blondie and I were fascinated by their story of how the farmhouse had been renovated many years ago. They were equally interested to hear about what had been done here by a number of successive occupants.

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No, what took place in our driveway today was no mere chance meeting. It was, in fact, most serendipitous.

To the fine gentleman of fond memory, who did so much for this little farmhouse – Sir, may you have a most blessed and happy birthday!

SFH Journal: 2020-07-06 through 07-12

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Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Warning to my 23, 417 feline followers: If you don’t live in Virginia and you can’t handle heat and high humidity, do not, I repeat, do not venture to this Commonwealth during July or August. Don’t question me on this point and don’t disregard my warning – you will be very sorry if you do.

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Ol’ Fuzz Face has taken the day off to drink iced coffee and huddle alongside the air conditioner. He is not a native Virginian like I am and he literally wilts in the heat. Poor guy, his brain gets addled when he has to mow or perform the other outside chores I assign to him. Add to that the current concern that many of Fuzzie’s “little grey cells” are migrating to the few hairs remaining on his head. The poor guy just isn’t what he used to be. In fact, I’m beginning to question whether he ever really was.

However, Blondie and Fuzz Face do have a legitimate concern about the long string of hot days with virtually no rain. As you can see below in the stats for July, we are working our way towards drought conditions. Just yesterday, my two big cats realized that they could no longer water the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens as liberally as they had been doing. While watering the Coneflowers and strawberries, the water pressure dropped to nearly zero.

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Fuzzie checked the pump and it was operating normally. The filter was relatively clean and showing no signs of sediment buildup. After he, Blondie and I talked the problem through, we determined that the problem, simply put, is the well is not refreshing itself rapidly enough to keep up with the demand.

The SFH well is old, relatively shallow (less than 60 feet) and has always been considered low-yielding. Now that water tables are dropping, Blondie and Fuzz Face are going to have to moderate their water usage. For example, only food producing plants are going to be watered regularly. Flower gardens are going to have wait for rain or an occasional dousing from a watering can.

I love Blondie and Fuzzie because they were smart enough to bring me into their lives and because they are willing to sacrifice for their family and for the well-being of Serendipity Farmhouse. – – Sometimes, their willingness to sacrifice goes a little too far. Blondie and I both had to stop Fuzz Face from going ahead with his own personal list of sacrifices. Right at the top of his list was only taking a shower every two weeks. – – Blondie and I both vetoed that offer immediately. – – I suspect this was another manifestation of his migrating “little grey cells”.

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 WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-07-06 through 07-12

Serendipity River Park – Re-Creation

Lesson Learned: When it seems that you have exhausted all the possibilities, it’s time to look to your friends and be creative. Once you’ve done that, then it’s time for re-creation.

Blondie and I were becoming frustrated and irritable. Every RV park was either booked solid or we would have to stay in one spot one night and move to a second spot the next. That certainly was not what my dearly beloved Glamper or I wanted to hear. – – It looked like 4th of July week we would be confined to Serendipity Farmhouse.

Then, Blondie and I, almost simultaneously, remembered an offer made to us by Don and Louise. Don and “Lou”, as we call her, were very close to us and we go back a long, long way. They have a beautiful piece of land, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Long ago, they told us we could set up our RV there any time we wanted. Knowing of our regard for unexpected, happy discovery, they had named their little private RV camp Serendipity River Park (SRP).

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It didn’t take long to work out the schedule and details. The very best camp site at SRP was reserved for us. El Camino Del Monte was loaded up. Mr. Monte, with great pomp and ceremony, was escorted to the RV and positioned safely in his favorite travel spot. – – By 4:15 PM we were in our assigned site, which Don and Lou had dubbed “River View”. It was very hot that day, but River View was a full hookup site. So, there was 30 Amp AC electric service to run our air conditioner. We quickly made everything as cozy and comfortable as any dedicated Glamper could want.

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As usual, we had a full two-day menu prepared. My dear Master Chef, after taking a short break, got to work making a delicious Chickpea Scramble. It was perfect meal, light but filling, and ever so tasty. Our next post will document that happy culinary achievement.

The next day was for exploration, relaxation, and re-creation. And I do mean “re-creation”, not “recreation”. – – Along the river bordering Don and Lou’s property, they have cleared some land to make a wide grass pathway they call “River Walk.” There they have done their best to enhance the naturally beautiful scenery. Along the walk, they keep a couple of small meadows mowed, giving visitors a place to emerge from the forest setting and enjoy the Summer sky. – – Indeed, Blondie and I had a most enjoyable walk, our earlier frustrations and irritability had long since vanished.

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Having seen the open clearings along River Walk, an idea came to my mind. This is where the re-creation comes in. Almost two and a half years ago, my most thoughtful Spouse had given me a drone for Christmas. For two and a half years I had never even taken the drone out of its box. There never seemed to be a right time to attempt a first flight. Either the wind was too strong, or the fields at Reality Farm needed mowing, or it was too cold, or … You get the idea. – – Somehow, I had become an “old man” and forgot how to play, forgot how to enjoy fun things. I had intentions to do “fun” things, but I had forgotten how to let go and just do them.

It was not so at Serendipity River Park. On a whim I had packed the drone. On another, ever more important whim, I actually took that drone out of its box, charged the battery and prepared to make my first flight.

One point must be made here. I attempted to read the directions, but they were an example of the very worst possible machine translation into some language no way resembling English. That is when I decided to cast away all caution and be young again. Nope, there’s really no need for instructions, I’ll figure this out all on my own.

– – And that, gentle reader, was an act of “re-creation”. I had found something that had been lost in me and literally re-created an element of youthful daring. – –

You can be sure there will be many more flights for the newest addition to the Serendipity Farmhouse Air Squadron. Someday, there will even be pictures and videos from the air.

While on another “great explore” of the areas near Serendipity River Park, Blondie and I found that we were in the midst of an historic Civil War site. We read the story and decided that SRP might be a perfect place to search for Civil War relics.

And that brings me to a second act of re-creation. For over five years, a metal detector has sat alone and abandoned in our shed at SFH, never to be used.

– – Now  I can tell you that forlorn electronic gadget has been thoroughly cleaned and restored to working order. It will be among the first items packed for our next trip to that fantastic place called Serendipity River Park. – –

No, it’s not a second childhood, it’s a return to how I was created.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-06-30 through 07-05 – Happy 4th of July!!

Nothing but high 80’s and mid-90’s in sight. July is here. Our featured picture clearly portrays what life is like here at Serendipity Farmhouse when July arrives. In the foreground of the picture you will note the pleasant and eye appealing arrangement of  Tiger Lilies and ferns made by beautiful Spouse. In the background, however, something quite different is taking place on this hot July 4th afternoon.

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Friendly Fan & Feverous Feline

There is no end to the list of merits to be found in the wondrous vegetable* known as garlic. Here at SFH it is a highly prized commodity. Garlic and butter are featured prominently in many of our favorite dishes. This is the second year we have grown our own. We increased the size of our harvest by over a third to 30 heads. At minimum of six and up to 10 cloves per head, we are coming close to being self sufficient in this precious vegetable. – – Two weeks of drying in the woodshed and this year’s crop will be ready for use.

– – The soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen rejoices!! – –

*Botanically, garlic (Allium sativum) is considered a vegetable. It shows characteristics of a vegetable as it has a bulb, tall stem, and long leaves.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …

To celebrate this wonderful day in our history, the entire week was spent in the enjoyment of the Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness that was won for us on the field of battle and secured in our Constitution. We made use of our RV El Camino Del Monte (a post is forthcoming) and our new six-burner gas grill. Baby back ribs, corn on the cob, and Blondie’s spectacular transformation of our home grown green beans into a dish of culinary perfection – it was an Independence Day to remember.

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To add to the holiday festivities, my charming Sweetheart and I roasted marshmallows over an open fire. That was soon followed by the traditional SFH Annual Fireworks Display. Expense was no object in this magnificent show of patriotic emotion.

To one and all, Happy 4th of July and may God Bless these United States!!

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 WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-06-30 through 07-05

SFH Journal: 2020-06-22 through 06-28 – A Study in Green

Preparing fantastic foods, planning and making trips in our RV El Camino Del Monte, keeping pace with an unusually brilliant and wily Maine Coon cat, and harvesting vegetables from our plenitude of gardens  – it’s hard to maintain and care for all. But, that’s what we do here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

Now, with Summer firmly settled in, we are focused on the gardens. As with any preceding growing season, there are highs and lows. The beet crop was underwhelming and the basil plants were a total disappointment. On the other hand, our vast vineyard has recovered from the late frost and is now prospering.

We have staggered our okra plantings and added purple okra to the mix. There is hope for an extended and abundant harvest. This year, we intend to pickle twice as many jars as last year.

Our garlic crop, which is almost ready for harvest, will be 30% larger than last year and we have, once again, added new varieties of peppers. Enough green beans have been picked already to serve with at least two meals.

We planted fewer tomato plants than last year and have staggered the plantings. We also are experimenting with different varieties. Interestingly, we are successfully growing young Mr. Stripey plants that came from seeds we saved from our first Mr. Stripey plant five years ago.

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The one mature asparagus plant and the seven new plants in their second season are resting now. There is the promise of a relatively large harvest come next Spring. We already have the recipes ready to go. We’ll let you know how it all turns out.

 

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 2020-06-22 through 06-28

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: 2020-06-08 through 06-21 – Father’s Day

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Hi! Mr. Monte here.

It’s Father’s Day and for some strange reason I felt compelled to give Ol’ Fuzz Face the day off. He’s been getting calls from his kids and grandkids. I guess it’s important to him. – More on that later,

As you might have guessed from the feature picture, Fuzzie and Blondie took me out for another adventure in El Camino Del Monte (ECDM). For record purposes this was RV Trip 2020-02.

The trip itself was a technical success – no breakdowns, no water leaks, no bad meals. Fuzz Face is finally getting the hang of things and as usual, Blondie again confirmed her status as the Master Chef of ECDM. Fuzzie was so impressed with the two main meals, he intends to put out special posts with recipes, pictures, and instructions.

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So much for the introductory notes, let’s get on with most recent “Fuzzie Fiasco.” Although RV Trip 2020-02 was a technical success, Fuzzie proved that the Three Stooges were mere amateurs compared to him. Here’s the scenario: One of the last steps in RV departure procedures is unhooking shore power (30 Amp, 120V AC). Blondie had confirmed that the breaker was in the “off” position. Fuzzie approached the shore power box with due care and caution. I watched him closely from the porch. The old guy reached for the power box and ever so carefully lifted the cover.  – –  And then it happened. – –  There was a loud, blood curdling shriek. Fuzzie’s right hand lifted high into the air and he began to hop and jump and bounce away from the power box, shaking his right hand violently. – – Slowly, ever so slowly, the old man began to recover his composure. He checked his hand. There was no sign of damage, no blood, no burns. He had not been electrocuted as he had first thought. No, it was something else that caused his most humorous dance around the power box.

The gray tree frog is native to this part of Virginia. It is by nature a reclusive creature, seeking no contact with humans. The shore power box offered this particular tree frog aIMG_20200616_145519104_HDR_edited most comfortable dwelling place. At least it did until Fuzz Face disturbed its day by rudely opening the power box cover. In his attempt to retreat from the scene, the frog had jumped onto Fuzzie’s unsuspecting hand. Though not electrical, it was a most shocking experience to the old guy. For me, it was the highlight of my day.

IMG_20200616_174001340_HDR_editedThis RV trip was blessed with unusually cool weather for this time in June. For all involved, that meant that the noisy air conditioner would not be needed. It took us just a short time to set up and assume our duties as assigned by the “Watch, Quarter, and Station Bill.” (If you don’t know what that is, either you’ve never been on a Navy ship, or you never lived with Ol’ Fuzz Face.)

As ECDM Chief of Security, I quickly reported to that area of the RV where I could IMG_20200616_201158574_editedmonitor areas of primary security concern. Since the main door was opened, I knew that position was most vulnerable to intruders. Our RV was now in my safekeeping. I reported to the Skipper – “All secure!”

IMG_20200617_072613514_editedThe second day of our trip was even cooler than when we arrived. But, for me, this is when things began to go down hill. If my primary job is to provide security, what threats are there on a rainy day? And that’s what it was, it was a very rainy day. No lizard, no squirrel, no bear, there wasn’t a sign of anything threatening anywhere.

Blondie and Fuzz Face watched movies, read books and magazines, planned dinners, and quite often came back to talk about the coming Father’s Day. Fuzzie, speculated about what interesting presents he might receive. Meanwhile, all I had was a view of a rainy world and the unrequested opportunity to ponder what is the meaning of Father’s Day.

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There is a great divide between humans and Main Coons when it comes to fathers. I never really met my Dad. Mom told me his name was Rocky Top and that he was brave, fearsome, and proud. She said I was a lot like him. But, I never got to see him or play with him.

I know that Fuzzie taught me how to play, how to stalk, how to attack. He sometimes gives me snacks and almost every day he grooms me. Sometimes, when Blondie goes to bed early, he and I watch TV together and occasionally he’ll give me a piece of my favorite cheese.

Yet, I know Fuzz Face can never be Rocky Top. I also know I’ll never know what it would have been like if I had grown up with my real Dad. – – So there it was on the second day of our RV trip. All I had was a view of a rainy world and the unrequested opportunity to ponder what is the meaning of Father’s Day.

I guess I will have to adopt the Serendipity Farmhouse philosophy, especially on rainy days: “I am not living the life of my dreams. I am living the life of my realities. And, because I have Fuzzie and Blondie, that will be good enough for me.”

Oh, and before I forget, Happy Father’s Day, Fuzz Face, and Happy Father’s Day, Rocky Top, wherever you are!

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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 2020-06-08 through 06-14

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-06-15 through 06-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!