Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Little Merriment

Pat and Rett are getting settled in at beautiful Merry Mount, and had a few visitors after their first full week at the farm. Our vivacious and long-time friend San was back in town -- we've all been friends since our (now 24-year-old) daughters were in Girl Scouts in third grade. In fact, San and I were 2 of the Girl Scout leaders and we loved to go "camping" with our troop in a big log lodge with a big campfire outside. . . and special Girl Scout juice in our travel coffee mugs. But I digress.

San and her doggie came to the farm with a tropical distraction! It was made with pineapple-coconut rum. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It looks like this:

Her refreshing recipe included 1 1/2 ounces of the beach-bum kinda rum, 1 ounce of orange juice, and 1 ounce of sprite. Poured over ice it was seriously reminiscent of a pina colada -- without all those pesky calories. Tropical isn't really what Merry Mount is all about. But I guess we could re-name it:  Down on the Far-Rum.

Sorry. Meanwhile Rett has learned to stock up now that she lives in the middle of nowhere. Especially her diet grapefruit juice, which she likes on an occasional evening with a bit of gin:

It was a beautiful day at Merry Mount with puffy clouds floating above the fertile soybean fields.

Happy little dogs.

And Dolly and her friend J poised on an old balance beam in the garden.

Rett and Pat are pretty happy at Merry Mount, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Merry Beginning
Pull up a bale of hay, pour yourself a glass of lemonade (or something) and join me in exploring all that is Merry Mount, a quaint little farm in south-central Ohio — from the transformation of its gardens-to-be and its big-sky country views to the exploits of Jack the Farm Dog. Oh, and there will be recipes. Really good ones. Promise.

This tiny corner of the blog world is dedicated to following the country-life adventures of my friend Rett and her husband Pat. They just bought a farm! After 17 years in the big-city suburbs of central Ohio, they packed it all up and realized their long-time dream of owning a farm. A farm! And a barn! And land! Here's one of the views from the back porch:

Why, you might ask, is this little farm on a lazy country road dubbed Merry Mount? That's a story that started on their suburban porch — a stone's throw from my house and a cozy place to chat with a glass of wine (me) or bourbon (them) in the evenings. One warm July evening they were excitedly talking about the farm they had found…and said they thought they might christen it "Serenity Farm." Well, thanks to a glass or two of Cupcake chardonnay, I bluntly panned the name. Too much like an old folks home! Sounds like an incontinence product!

Those outbursts, however, led to a good discussion about the area, what they wanted to convey in the name, etc, etc. That night, the name Merry Mount just popped into Pat's head, and he looked it up. Turns out it's a short story by Nathanial Hawthorne, and the first paragraph deftly defines their dream for Merry Mount:

BRIGHT WERE the days at Merry Mount, when the Maypole was the banner staff of that gay colony! They who reared it, should their banner be triumphant, were to pour sunshine over New England's rugged hills, and scatter flower seeds throughout the soil. Jollity and gloom were contending for an empire. Midsummer eve had come, bringing deep verdure to the forest, and roses in her lap, of a more vivid hue than the tender buds of Spring. But May, or her mirthful spirit, dwelt all the year round at Merry Mount, sporting with the Summer months, and revelling with Autumn, and basking in the glow of Winter's fireside. Through a world of toil and care she flitted with a dreamlike smile, and came hither to find a home among the lightsome hearts of Merry Mount.

Anyhoo, I visited Merry Mount for the first time to help unpack a few boxes.

 I got to say hello to my friend Jackpot,

who now gets to be a Farm Dog!

 And I brought Rett some goodies from the fabulous Farmers Market in my town – bright red tomatoes and fuzzy Ohio peaches and just-picked sweet corn.

She lamented that she had no idea what they could have for dinner because we were in the midst of unpacking her kitchen. A great Southern cook who originally hails from Tennessee (think biscuits and sweet tea), Rett had a lot of kitchen to unpack. I suggested one of my favorite recipes of hers – a very simple summer pasta, using the tomatoes from the Farmers Market. Hands down, this is my favorite summer meal. Even my 20-year-old son requests it!

Rett’s Summer Pasta

2-3 fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped, or a basket of cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 T good quality olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh herbs (mostly basil, but you can also add oregano, thyme, mint)

Spaghetti or angel hair pasta

Shredded parmesan cheese (not grated)

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs. Let sit on the counter for a half hour for flavors to combine. Cook pasta to al dente stage. Drain. Top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!  Note: you can easily alter this recipe depending on how many people you are serving.