Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankful. . .

I asked Pat and Rett, what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend, after calling Merry Mount home now for well over a year. Here's what they said:

Rett said:

I am thankful for:
·      How much I love living at Merry Mount! The peace and serenity I feel here is so much more than I expected!

·      The joy I get from my animals, even when it’s freezing cold and I have to go out and take care of them!
·      I love the way my friends love to come here and enjoy MM with us. That we can share our special place with those we love!

·      The wonderful blog that you write and how you’ve chronicled our time here! I love to look back at all of the pictures and fun times we’ve had!
 ·      I love the open space all around me, the big sky, incredible sunsets and sunrises and just all of the beauty. I cold go on and on forever…but you said five.

And Patrick said:
 I’m most thankful for:
·      Rett, who shares my love of MM

 ·      Big sky that offers spectacular vistas

·      Seasonal change

 ·      All those who labored at Merry Mount throughout the decades that preceded us
·      Vivi, who has chronicled our year and 4 months.

And I say, CHEERS to Pat and Rett -- I'm thankful to see the pure joy that Merry Mount has brought to their lives, and I'm grateful to be able to share it with them! Rio and Piper have loved it too!

And while we're being thankful, here's an amazing ice cream that I made for my family's Thanksgiving celebration:

Honey Nutmeg Ice Cream  

4 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 T sugar
dash salt
7 T honey
1 scant t. nutmeg
1 ½ c. half and half

In a med bowl, whisk egg yolks until well combined. Set aside.
In a med saucepan, over med heat, whist together milk, sugar and salt until just steaming. Remove from heat.
Slowly drizzle warm milk into egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to  med saucepan and warm over low heat. Whisk until mixture thickens to consistency of a warm pudding (or until it coats the back of a spoon and you can run your finger through it and make a line). Remove from heat and strain into med bowl. Whisk in honey and nutmeg. Stir until honey dissolves. Stir in half & half. Chill for 4 hours. Churn in ice cream maker. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

November: A Certain Loveliness

Sunday morning, the sky was a flat, steel-gray, the grass frozen and crunchy underneath our boots, the mid-November arctic blast making our fingers icy, while tiny snowflakes brushed our faces as we walked to the gray barn. 

"Oh, I wish we would have had a nice sunset last night or a pretty sunrise this morning," said Rett wistfully; she loves her brilliantly hued orange-and-pink skies at Merry Mount. "I know," I said, gazing across the barren countryside where harvested fields of corn lay flat and brown, and the gray horizon stretched forever, "but every sky down here on the farm is pretty in its own way." 

John Updike put it this way:

"The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain

Not all was gray and bleak, however, at Merry Mount when Piper and I headed down on Saturday, where a cozy fire flickered in the fireplace, happy dogs (for the most part) traipsed around the house and yard, and college football teams gave it their best shot on the TV. Old friends (me and Rett and Pat) gathered for dinner, a cocktail perhaps, and a chance to see the adorable farm animals. . . and meet the newest addition, a cute, feisty rescue Jack Russell named Minnie.
While Jackpot and Piper are old pals, Minnie-Mouse wasn't too sure about this big, furry visitor. So we walked the 3 dogs on leashes around the farm about 4 times to see if Minnie would get a little more comfortable. Not so much, at first, so the dogs had to hang out inside on their leashes that evening.

But I got to visit the farm animals in their cozy indoor pens.

Then the three of  us had a lovely dinner of roast chicken with lemon and rosemary, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, and a salad with grapefruit and avocado.

By the next morning, the three dogs were united against a common enemy -- the cat!

While the Jack Russells barked their little tails off at the feline foe, Piper and I headed back to the barn for morning chores.
A little chicken scratch.

A chance to check out the feathered friends.

A nose kiss from the girl goats.
And the boys.
Another wonderful visit to Merry Mount! Goodbye til next time, all of our farm friends!
Roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes
3 lbs small, Yukon gold potatoes, halved (or quartered if they're larger)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into pieces about the same size as the Yukons
Place potatoes in large bowl. Toss with 1 T good olive oil and place on cookie sheet (I like to line the cookie sheet with non-stick foil). Sprinkle with 1 garlic clove, minced, salt and pepper, and a little fresh rosemary.

Roast at 400 degrees for 45 min to 1 hour until tender and starting to brown. (We ended with a few minutes under the broiler to get a little browner.) Serve with roast chicken and salad.

Hint: We made extra and the next morning, heated them in an iron skillet with a little bit of bacon drippings. Excellent with scrambled eggs from the resident chickens!

Bourbon-soaked cherry and chocolate chunk ice cream
We did not try this recipe (yet) but I had brought a book to the farm called "Bourbon Desserts" and Rett and I thought this sounded amazing. We'll try it one of these days!

1/4 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup bourbon, for soaking cherries
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup cream
1 cup vanilla sugar (or granulated sugar plus 1/2 t vanilla extract)
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (like Ghirardelli)

At least 1 day and up to 2 weeks in advance, combine dried cherries and bourbon in a tightly lidded jar. Shake briskly from time to time to infuse.

When you're ready to make the ice cream, combine the half and half, cream, vanilla sugar (or sugar and vanilla) and salt in a large saucepan over med-high heat.  Stirring constantly bring to 170 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Drain the cherries, reserving liquid to sip straight or use in cocktails.

Allow milk mixture to cool for 15 min. Stir in soaked cherries. Stir to combine and transfer mixture to a tightly lidded container; chill overnight in fridge. The next day, stir in the chocolate chunks and freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker. Because of the alcohol, the ice cream will not freeze hard in the  machine but will become aerated, and the texture will change ot that of a semifreddo.

Transfer the mixture back to the tightly lidded container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.