To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, after a rather heated discussion by the Serendipity Farmhouse board of directors, it was determined that I, due to my extensive electronic media expertise, would replace Ol’ Fuzz Face as Senior Blog Editor and assume control over all content creation on the SFH Blog.
After five full years of blogging, it’s time to return to the beginning and consider what was our original intent for starting the Serendipity Farmhouse Blog. So, today we went back in time and took a look at our About page – About Serendipity Farmhouse. It’s clear from reading that page that our original motivation was to tell a story, a story about a family, an old farmhouse, and the many events and happenings that make Serendipity Farmhouse such a wonderful place.
The final paragraph on our About page reads: “We are just the caretakers. We will be here for a while and then it will be passed on to others in our family. So, for you, and mostly for our family, here is the story of Serendipity Farmhouse.”
Unlike many blogs, our goal has never been about making money. Rather, it has always been about providing our recollections and perspective about life here in our little old farmhouse. These stories and insights are intended primarily for our family, especially for those who someday will reside here. Of course, we are happy that extended family and friends occasionally peek at our site to see what’s new. They have been very supportive and their words of encouragement provide great incentive to keep the site active.
If you were to look at our bottom line, you would see that we have invested well over $1,500.00 in this site and have earned exactly $0.00 in return on investment. By the standards and norms used for evaluating the success of other blogs, you would have to conclude SFH blog is an abysmal failure. For example, discounting Mr. Monte’s alleged 23,417 feline followers, we have a grand total of 31 followers and 16 email subscribers. And don’t think that I delude myself concerning my abilities as an author. After all, the statistics speak for themselves. Even Mr. Monte scores consistently higher view counts than I do.
However, statistics can be deceiving. Despite the numbers, Blondie and I know that this blog is not a failure. How can it be a failure, if our children and grandchildren have a living record of what we have done together as a family? How can it be a failure, if our Faith and values are shared with our family and friends? How can it be a failure, if Blondie and I have so much fun writing these stories?
There it is. After five full years of blogging, my beautiful Spouse and I are having fun, we are living a fulfilling life together, and our family remains close. And all of that is the answer to a prayer we should have prayed – a prayer that was answered here at Serendipity Farmhouse.
It’s been over three years since my girls have joined me for tea at Serendipity Farmhouse – three very long and trying years that need to be put far behind us. (See our posts here, here, and here.) After many recent texts, emails, and phone calls, it became clear that the time to restore our family tradition was finally here. The girls missed me, they missed each other, and they missed chatting over a hot cup of tea.
No, we weren’t ready for the formality and lengthy preparations needed for a high tea such as we had in August 2019. After all, we have grown to be more mature. For some, that means there has been growth in knowledge and confidence, and for me, that means perhaps a growth in the wisdom of age. – There is now a new SFH reality: no longer was I to be the only host and provider, my daughters and granddaughters now wanted to prepare the treats and take a more active part in planning – it was time for Granny to have more time to sit with the girls and share in all that makes our tea time a golden time for making memories.
To be sure, I still had to put on my apron and make sure the grand SFH dining room was clean and ready. Likewise, the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen had to be immaculate. Usually, my dearest friend Nancy would have been here to help with these tasks, but unavoidable circumstances made that impossible this year. So, Hubby voluntarily came out of his “tea time hiding place” and did a great job cleaning and arranging cups, pots, and kettles. Despite all his efforts, Nancy was sorely missed.
Mr. Monte is no longer a young cat. Rather, he has gotten much older and set in his ways over the last three years. The sudden, unannounced arrival of nine happy, chatty young ladies was not necessarily to his liking. In fact, he took the whole event rather poorly. Let’s just say Mr. Monte’s actions were not how you would describe a cat overflowing with hospitality and a welcoming spirit. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Mr. Monte was asked to retire to the upstairs office for the duration of the tea.
Daughters and granddaughters outdid themselves preparing the finest of foods to accompany our tea. None of their masterpieces were from box mixes. No, I say it quite proudly, my girls did it all from scratch, with great creativity and delightfully tasting results. See below some of their creations.
Beyond the excellent teas and the finest of edible treats, there was the joy of being together again.
It was so very wonderful to see my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters all together again. How everyone has grown and become so much more in every way. It reminds me of two verses from Ecclesiastes:  All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. …  That which hath been made, the same continueth: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restoreth that which is past.
And this past week saw the restoration of a beautiful family tradition – Saturday, January 7th, was “A Time for Tea.”
Girls, thank you for coming to Serendipity Farmhouse and sharing a cup of tea with me!
In our way of thinking here at Serendipity Farmhouse, our community needs Eagle Scouts and SFH needs bluebirds. So, what’s the connection between the Eagle and the bluebird?
Last year, our Knights of Columbus council sponsored a young man and his Eagle Scout service project. A member of our parish, his goal to was build a large number of birdhouses, designed specifically to provide shelter to Eastern Bluebirds, and to place them throughout the county.
To make a long story short, he was highly successful in that project. As you drive through the county you will see how his hard work and initiative have payed off. You can see the birdhouses that he and his fellow Scouts constructed in parks, near private homes, and in our parish cemetery. Yes, we even have one here at Serendipity.
You might ask, do these birdhouses really attract bluebirds?
Here are three pictures taken just a day ago that answer that question quite well.
It was my great honor last August to present this new Eagle Scout the Knights of Columbus certificate for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and a letter of congratulations from Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight.
Also, it is our distinct pleasure here at SFH to have bluebirds as new neighbors.
Whether you are starting your day with toast and coffee or attempting to master a challenging recipe by Julia Child, a necessary ingredient will surely be butter. My beautiful spouse and I take that to be a fundamental law of cooking. But, we have wondered, if you can buy butter and use butter, is it possible to go one step further and learn the hidden secret and make this mysterious dairy product yourself?
We here at Serendipity Farmhouse (SFH) have found that the processing and preparation of dairy products is an adventurous mixture of mystery and chemistry. That is why we have a page entirely devoted to Daring Dairy.
Join us now as we dare to make butter in the soon to be famous SFH test kitchen.
Butter Making Preparation
A few weeks ago, my loving and caring spouse surprised me with two unusual birthday gifts. The first was a Kilner Butter Churner. She is convinced that if she puts the right tool or utensil in my hand that I will do something with it – for her. Obviously, she was giving me not just a present but also a strong signal that it’s time to learn how to make butter. Out of love, obedience, curiosity, and an almost inordinate love of butter I accepted the gift and the challenge.
With the exception of a butter churner, every kitchen has the utensils required to make butter. With a little ingenuity, you could probably improvise a way to churn the cream with common kitchen utensils. Following is a list of the items we used:
|1x – Butter churner||We used our Kilner Butter Churner|
|1x – 2-cup measuring cup|
|2x – Spatulas (rubber or silicone)||In lieu of butter paddles|
|1x – Glass bowl|
|1x – 8 oz. drinking glass||For the residual butter milk|
Nothing that occurs in a kitchen is without controversy. Almost always, the debate is centered on choice of ingredients. Butter has only one ingredient – cream. Why would there need to be any argument? Well, in the 1860’s when Louis Pasteur introduced his process for killing microbes, the preparation of milk, cream, and other dairy products was influenced by the new process. The advent of ultra-pasteurization further complicated the issue. Thus, when you ask a simple question about making butter you get convoluted, ambiguous answers.
We here at SFH only drink raw cow and goat milk. However, we didn’t have enough raw cream for our first butter making attempt. We chose the simple solution, we used ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream from the local grocery store. It worked just fine – end of debate.
|10 oz. heavy cream||Ultra-pasteurized worked for us|
|2 to 3 cups cold water|
Step 1 – Prepare Utensils & Ingredients: Now fully armed with utensils, ingredients, and official Kilner instructions I was ready to make butter – right? No, wrong! I was ready to make my first mistake.
The directions clearly state: “Remove cream from refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours.” Oops! Missed that! So, I had to improvise with a bowl of slightly warm water.
Lesson Learned: Read the butter churning directions well in advance of the project. Otherwise, you will get nasty stares from your 18 lb. Maine Coon cat, who has been waiting all day for a lick of fresh butter.
Step 2 – Churning the Cream: Lovely spouse and I took turns churning. Kilner estimates 10 – 12 minutes should do it. We had a quarter pound of butter in less than 8 minutes!
Step 3: – Rinsing the butter: This is where the cold water, optional ice cubes, and spatulas come into play. First you pour off the residual butter milk. You can drink it right away or save it for making scones or something else. Scoop the butter out from the churn, rinse it in the cold water, and shape it as desired.
Voila! You have butter – mission accomplished
If you would like to watch the butter making process in action, check out the Kilner butter churner video.
The second gift my wonderful wife gave me for my birthday was a Norpro Glazed Stoneware Butter Keeper. This handy-dandy little device will keep butter fresh at room temperature for up to three weeks. All that is needed is a quarter pound of butter and bit of water to seal out air from the butter while in the keeper. It’s simple, it’s easy to use, and most importantly, it works.
My beautiful wife thinks of everything!
Now, for those of you who love butter and appreciate the joy brought into kitchens and dining rooms by Julia Child, here is a video worth watching.
- SFH Food 2018-04: Julia, Butter & Serendipity Farmhouse
- Daring Dairy 2018-01: Julia, Butter & Serendipity Farmhouse