Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Merry Anniversary

A group of us happily gathered last weekend to toast Rett and Pat's two-year milestone of being farmers at Merry Mount! 'Twas a beautiful weekend for such a lovely celebration amongst old friends. Following are some photos of the anniversary weekend...and my list of 24 (two years via months) things I love, love, love about the farm:

The absolute beauty of the "big sky" at Merry Mount -- be it pink sunrises, orange sunsets or a puffy-cloud afternoon.
Treasuring the same farm views during each glorious season.

Realizing that their move didn't mean losing good friends; it meant gaining a wonderful place to gather together.

The girl goats are pretty cute.

Rett's pure joy of Merry Mount in its entirety -- from her spacious pantry to her barn and garden!

Pat's joy of tinkering around the farm.

Oh, and memories of how much Rio enjoyed being a farm dog. And how she loved Jackpot! And yes, Jack WAS the farm dog!

Waking up early (as I do) to coffee on the sun porch. Added bonus when there's a candle already glowing. Super bonus: a brilliant sunrise.

Pat and Rett's joy and warmth at sharing their special place. And Rett saying: Oh, Vivi, this is what I've always wanted to do!

Hanging on the front porch w/ Jim's bloody Mary's and maybe the guys lighting up a fragrant pipe. 

Dinner al fresco under a full  moon. And yeah, the fabulous food whenever we gather at the farm, no matter the season!

Watching for meteors on the hammock (through our closed eyelids?)

Bourbon tasting on the patio at night

Gathering still-warm eggs from the ladies

Bocce ball tournament

The winter solstice celebrations

Fresh peas, fresh tomatoes, snapping green beans, digging potatoes, shelling peas.

Sunsets. 'Nuff said.

A bit of poetry in the morning, thanks to Pat.

Lots 'o laughter

Super moon which led to Piper!

Breakfasts -- always so good -- fresh eggs, bacon and tomato gravy! And Rett's biscuits!

You can do anything you want at Merry Mount

Knowing our friendship is forever!

And here are a few recipes from the weekend:

Rett’s Olive Cheese Balls
4  cups of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups of flour
¾ c. butter
½ tsp. of cayenne pepper
½ tsp. of salt

Let butter and cheese softened and blend together.  Add rest of ingredients and mix well.  I mix this with my clean hands.   Pull of small portion of dough( a little less than a golf ball size) and wrap around a green olive and roll into a ball.  I like the bigger queens sized ones.  Place balls on a cookie sheet not touching.  Freeze.  When frozen, pop them off the sheet and put them in freezer bags.  This way you can bake as few or as many as you want at a time.   Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degree oven.   These are great with Bloody Mary’s or beer!!  

Hash Brown and Egg Brunch Casserole
4 Tbls. butter
½ medium onion , chopped
½ medium red pepper, chopped
½ medium green pepper, chopped
24 oz. bag of frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
8 eggs
½ cup of heavy cream
1(4oz.) can of diced green chilies
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a deep 9” or 10” ovenproof skillet, melt butter and add onion and peppers and cook until onion is soft, bout 3 minutes.   Add potatoes and cook covered for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Beat eggs and cream together.  Stir in green chilies, salt and pepper.  Pour evenly over potato mixture.  Sprinkle cheese over top.  Cover and bake for 10 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for 15-18 minutes, until set in center.

Tomato Gravy
Fry bacon to get the drippings or use 2Tbls. of solid drippings.  Place in the bottom of a medium sized pan.  Cut up fresh tomatoes or use one can of diced tomatoes.  Stew until a little mushy.  Add 1 Tbls. butter.  Make a thin paste of about 2 Tbls. of flour and milk to make about 1 cup.  Get out all of the lumps!!  Slowly stir mixture into the tomatoes.  This will thicken.  Add more milk to the right thickness and it is a pinkish color.  Serve over hot biscuits!  Yum!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Piper Here!

Well hullo, there! I’m Piper and I’m waggingly-happy to be your FARM DOG guest blogger today. OK, so I’m not truly a farm dog every day but, heck, my peeps were raised as farm dogs (think Lassie) and I like to channel that rich heritage. Especially here at beautiful Merry Mount. And it was beautiful last weekend when my mom Vivi and I drove down to the farm to hang out with Rett and Pat, their dog Minnie (who, excuse my language, can sometimes be a little bitchy), some other friends and goats, chickens (yum!) and a curious little cat.
Boring start to the weekend because the grownups just wanted to talk and hug and talk some more and whip up stuff like blackberry-gin-mint cocktails and goat-cheese-and-sauteed-cherry dip. I say, where’s the beef?

We did get to take a walking tour of the property, though, and saw a HUGE garden that Rett has planted with tons of vegetables and herbs (can you grow bacon?), and her lovely rose garden that looks like a great place to maybe take an afternoon nap.
But whoa, what’s that SMELL? I usually like strong stinky stuff (even to roll in sometimes), but this billy-goat tops them all. He reeks! I think he’s trying to get a date with one of the pretty little girl goats. They like to tease him but by golly, I don’t think they’re ready for any deep relationship with Walt. He’s all a-flutter though and can’t stop yodeling and sticking his dang tongue out to try and get their attention. Whew-ee and P.U.

The chickens are pretty fun, especially in their moveable chicken wagon that Rett built. I say, a box of chicken is always fun! Preferably deep fried!

We sniffed flowers – lots of colorful flowers! Boy that Rett sure does have a green thumb. Everything looks so pretty at Merry Mount.

Especially the “big sky” down here. Mom took some neat photos.

The weather cooperated and everyone could, as they say, have dinner al fresco on the back patio. Well, by everyone I mean everyone but me and Minnie. The grownups had pork tenderloin with peach/mustard sauce, potatoes and roasted asparagus and a salad. Me? I had Earthborn Meadowfeast. Oh yeah, and their dessert was a white Russian sorbet. Now that sounded good! (I know mom liked it!)
Next morning I woke up early. Mornings at Merry Mount can be very pretty! We hung out w/ the animals and enjoyed the peacefulness
at the farm. And breakfast was served on the patio (Yes! There was bacon!)

Here are some recipes for you!

Appetizer: goat cheese with sautéed cherries and pistachios
8 oz soft goat cheese, room temp
1 cup fresh summer cherries, cut in half and pitted
1 T plus 2 t. olive oil
½ cup pistachios, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1 t chopped fresh thyme

Mound the goat cheese in a pretty serving dish. Run the back of a spoon through the soft cheese, forming peaks and valleys.

Warm 1 T of the olive oil in a sauté pan; add cherries and sauté until fragrant and beginning to caramelize, about 5 min. Spoon warm cherries over and around the goat cheese. Sprinkle with pistachios and thyme. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Serve with crackers. (NOTE: Mom thought this would be even better with some finely diced jalepeno peppers for a little "heat"!)

White Russian Sorbet
3/4 cup of decaf espresso, brewed
1/3 cup sugar
single serving packet of decaf instant coffee
 1 T corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup kahlua
1/2 cup nonfat milk

Add all to blender and blend. Refrigerate for several  hours. Whisk and process in ice cream maker!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May Day at Merry Mount

Piper and I headed to Merry Mount for our first May Day celebration at the little farm, a tradition that Pat and Rett hope grows and becomes a yearly event. You see, May Day holds special meaning at Merry Mount. Before they moved in, we had been brain-storming possible names for the estate, and Pat woke up the next morning with "Merry Mount" in mind. He knew it was a Nathanial Hawthorne short story. . . and sure enough, when he looked it up, the words seemed a perfect fit for their new adventure. Here's the first paragraph of the piece from 1836:
BRIGHT WERE 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.

And Pat and Rett are enjoying every moment at beautiful Merry Mount! Speaking of flowers, Rett now has more than 20 rose bushes planted in her rose garden! I'll post mid-summer photos showing the pretty blossoms in a few months!
It was a gorgeous day at the farm!

And a breath-taking sunset.

Piper seems to really like it here.

And Minnie is her cute and zippy self!

We said Hi to the chickens and sweet goats.

Did some farm chores.
Had a late afternoon toast in the yard.
And Piper and I had fun with our shadows!

We had a nice dinner together -- I brought the ingredients to experiment with something new -- Thai Chicken and Coconut Noodles.

And later I even talked Rett into playing Gin Rummy. You've heard of large-print books; well the only cards she could find were large-print cards! The three of us had fun and lo-and-behold, Rett won!

Another nice visit to Merry Mount -- hopefully the start of a May Day tradition!

Here's the recipe for the Thai Chicken and Coconut Noodles:

16 ounces rice vermicelli, uncooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 ounces chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup light coconut milk
14 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 garlic cloves minced
12 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
12 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 scallions,, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 lime
12 cup toasted coconut
12 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 hot Thai chiles, minced (optional)

Heat water for noodles and cook pasta 6-8 minutes or according to package directions.
Drain noodles, rinse under cool water and allow to drain; cut into smaller pieces if desired.
Meanwhile, toast coconut.
Using a whisk, mix together ingredients for sauce: coconut milk, sunflower butter, soy sauce, garlic, curry powder, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.
Heat oil in large pan until almost smoking.
Add chicken and stir-fry until almost done and nicely browned.
Add bell pepper and cook 1-2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook until they are tender.
Add chopped scallions, basil, and the juice of the lime and cook briefly.
Stir in sauce mixture and allow to heat.
Add cooked noodles and chopped cilantro and toss until thoroughly coated.
Allow to heat through then remove from heat.
Serve garnished with toasted coconut and minced chiles.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It's-Almost-Spring Visit

After a long, gray Ohio winter, Piper and I were ready for a little Merry Mount visit, even though the weather was a bit chilly and the land a bit muddy. We didn't care! It was great to be back at the farm!
 All I had to do was don some super-hefty farm boots.

And head out to the barn with Rett. Why hello girls!

A little exercise.

Showing off their climbing skills.
And a kiss from "mom"!
I was lucky enough to get the chance to gather some still-warm eggs from the hen-ladies. Breakfast tomorrow, of course!
We are all ready for spring. . . and Rett is busy planning the expansion (serious expansion) of her rose garden. She showed me a catalog that she'd ordered some rose bushes from --  this one, and that one, and oh yeah this one too. I think she happily ordered at least 10 new rose plants -- beautiful colors and names like Sunset and Moondance and Summer Nights. Can't wait to see the results!

That evening, while Ella enjoyed her dinner, we made a pretty fabulous meal too -- blackberry pork tenderloin, roasted asparagus and brown rice. Enjoy!
Blackberry Pork Tenderloin
2 lb pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
¼ cup salt
3 cups warm water
2 T apple cider vinegar
dash red pepper flakes
2 T brown sugar
1 cup ice cubes

1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

½ cup blackberry preserves
¼ cup soy sauce
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t grated ginger
dash red pepper flakes
2 T apple cider vinegar


In a gallon size freezer bag, place brine ingredients and pork. Brine for exactly 20 min, remove and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 425. Meanwhile, prepare blackberry glaze. Melt butter in small saucepan; add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in blackberry preserves, soy sauce, vinegar and pepper. Let bubble for a minute or two.

Rub pork w/ olive oil and salt and pepper.  Heat 1 T of olive oil in skillet; add pork and sear each side until browned, about 1-2 min per side. Place pork on baking sheet (covered with nonstick foil).

Divide glaze in half. With one part, brush pork with glaze and roast for 15 min. Brush with glaze again and roast for another 15-25 min or until it registers around 150 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 min.

Warm the reserved sauce. Slice pork, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with scallions. 

Goodbye til next time, Merry Mount!