Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

Serenbe Farms



November 2012



Giving thanks

Written by , Posted in Fern's Market, marie nygren, Serenbe Community, Serenbe Farms, Steve Nygren, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

As we enter the holiday season, I find it important to pause and consider all that I have to be thankful for and what is truly important.  The “things” in life, while nice and very often convenient, are just that – things.  I am grateful for the blessings that have been bestowed on me, my family, and the many wonderful people with whom I associate both personally and professionally.

Toasting our exceptional Inn and Farmhouse staff
Steve and I are blessed to live in a forward-thinking community of caring and compassionate people in an environment that harkens back to villages of the past.  Serenbe is really such a study in contrasts. We employ all the latest in building technology and comforts here, but our community is based on old English hamlets from centuries ago.  
One of Serenbe’s resident goats
In Serenbe, we pick up our mail from central locations, walk to unique shops and restaurants on unpaved paths through meadows and woods, watch live theatre productions in the open air, and have the option to purchase local food products from our farmers market and community grocer

From the first time Steve and I saw this property, now known as Serenbe, we knew we had come “home.”  It feels as though we were entrusted with ensuring this beautiful piece of land was preserved and protected in ways not imagined by developers of previous decades.  Learning to be good stewards of the land has been humbling, sometimes trying, but always joyful. 

Steve and me with our daughters Garnie, Quinn, and Kara
I am particularly thankful to have my three beautiful and interesting daughters living nearby.  There is no joy greater than to be surrounded by family and dear friends.  I also appreciate having a satisfying career and outstanding staff with whom to work – these enrich my life. 

During this time of Thanksgiving, may you also pause to consider your blessings. 



October 2012



In a pickle

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Serenbe Farmers Market, Serenbe Farms, The Farmhouse at Serenbe

What do you do when you have a bushel of green tomatoes?  You pickle! 
On a recent afternoon, I enlisted the help of Joy Belyeu of the Farmhouse, and together we put up 36 quarts of pickled tomatoes and onions, all from the Farmhouse’s garden.  I love to can!  Every step requires strict attention to detail to ensure that not only is the end result food safe but also it tastes good.  I have an added criterion in that I like my pickled goods to look good in the jar.  To that end, it’s all about the layering and colors.  Since the jars will sit on an open shelf in the Farmhouse kitchen, why not have the contents be colorful as well, adding a dash of red in an otherwise green and white landscape? 

I taught myself how to can when faced with an abundant bounty from my and Steve’s first garden in Serenbe – before we opened the Serenbe B&B (which later became the Inn at Serenbe).  Acclaimed landscape designer extraordinaire Ryan Gainey designed our vegetable garden, and Steve put it in.  Ours is the only vegetable garden for which Ryan accepted a commission.  And what a garden it has been for us and now for the Farmhouse at Serenbe! 

I’m encouraged that the practice of canning and pickling is experiencing a resurgence.  Information abounds on the Internet about how to can.  Ball has a great website, complete with recipes and instructions, as does the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

There are terrific economic and health benefits to taking up the practice of home canning and pickling.  With an abundance of fresh produce at area farmers markets, now is the time to dive in and learn to can.

Come to the Serenbe Farmers Market on Saturdays, 9 am – 12 pm, now through November, and pick up your favorite produce so you too can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor in the middle of winter.

Green Tomato Pickles

3 cups thinly sliced green tomatoes

1/2 cup thinly sliced onions

1/2 cup cherry bomb peppers

5-10 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fennel seed

2-3 sprigs fennel blossom or parsley

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup kosher salt

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the vegetables in a large glass bowl and cover with a plate to submerge. Let stand at room temperature until cool. Then can place in a plastic container and refrigerate. Good for 1 month.



October 2012



The Serenbe Institute awards HGTV windfall to community projects

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Ryan Gainey, Serenbe Farms, Serenbe Institute, Serenbe Playhouse, Steve Nygren, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

4th of July parade
I hope you had the opportunity to visit the HGTV Green Home here in Serenbe while it was open for tours over the summer.  What a beautiful home it is.  HGTV was a wonderful partner and, as a result of the money raised from the tours, many community programs were recipients of the windfall.  One recipient, the Serenbe Institute for Arts, Culture & the Environment, used their proceeds and paid it forward, awarding funds to several more local programs and projects.

The Institute received 15 applications, all for worthy projects.  The Institute’s executive committee gave thoughtful consideration to each application and ultimately awarded funds for the following projects:

Serenbe Playhouse’s
Alice in Wonderland
  • Serenbe community collaborative – to purchase chairs and tables for the Stables meeting room, signage for the trail system, software to upgrade the community website, and construction of a dock at Grange Lake
  • The Children’s House (Montessori school in Serenbe) – to support construction of a playground and purchase geocaching devices for the after-school program
  • Serenbe Farms – to support restoring the fertility of a 3-acre field and beautify and plant it with small fruits and flowers
  • Serenbe Artist-in-Residence program – to upgrade community outreach and communications capabilities
  • Courtyard studio meeting room – for maintenance and upgrade of the facility
  • Serenbe Playhouse – to purchase sound and lighting equipment, keyboard, and computer equipment
  • Serenbe Photography Center – to support interior renovation and upgrade, purchase of additional lighting and exhibition hanging systems, and upgrading database for use by the Center, the Playhouse, and other programs

Fun at Camp Serenbe
I encourage you to visit the Institute’s website.  The good people involved in the Institute offer inspiring programs.  The Institute’s mission is “to cultivate the community’s creative, intellectual, and ecological qualities through programs and projects that promote our social, spiritual, and aesthetic curiosity.”  As a resident of Serenbe and the greater Chattahoochee Hill Country, I appreciate their generosity in supporting local programs and projects. 

Team Blue – Serenbe Olympics
If you haven’t visited Serenbe for a while, please come see our community.  Great things happen where interesting people congregate. 



September 2012



This week at the Farmhouse

Written by , Posted in Rocking Chair Ranch, Serenbe Farms, The Farmhouse at Serenbe

This Week’s Dinner Menu at 
The Farmhouse

September 6 – September 8

Dinner served 6pm – 9pm


Mixed lettuces with Serenbe Farms tomatoes, cucumbers, Vidalia onions, and country ham vinaigrette – or – Serenbe Farms okra and tomato soup


Roasted chicken breast with Farmhouse garden collards, stone ground grits, and lemon onion butter sauce – or – Rocking Chair Ranch braised pork with Serenbe Farms tomatoes and rice


Strawberry cake – or – chocolate pecan bourbon pie

Visit the Farmhouse on line or call us at 770 463 2622 to make your reservation.
Come early and enjoy 2-for-1 happy hour from 4pm to 6pm. 

This weekend’s pork entrée features pork from local producer, Rocking Chair Ranch, which is committed to delivering locally grown, grass-fed beef and acorn- and garden trimmings-fed pork to the Middle Georgia area. Their pasture-raised livestock are free of growth hormones and antibiotics.  To learn more about Rocking Chair Ranch and where you can purchase their beef and pork (one location is right here in Serenbe at the Farmers Market, Saturdays, 9am-12pm), please visit their website.  



August 2012



Creating a Weekly Menu – The Farmhouse Way

Written by , Posted in Serenbe Farms, The Farmhouse

If you’ve been to the website for my farm-to-table restaurant in Serenbe, or better yet, dined with us, you know we create a weekly menu for our guests at The Farmhouse.  We’re open for dinner Thursdays through Saturdays.  Menu development for that week’s offerings takes place on the Friday prior.  Before the team begins cooking for dinner, we take a walk in the restaurant’s garden to determine what produce will be at its peak, and we consult the Serenbe Farms’ list to see what is coming off the farm in the coming week.  Serenbe’s fresh, organic produce inspires the menu. 

We then sit down, pen and paper in hand, and discuss what we want to do with the produce we’ll feature.  On alternating weeks, we offer fish and beef or pork and chicken.  We seldom consult cookbooks, instead relying on inspiration, tried-and-true preparations, and intuition.  In under an hour, we have a completed menu.  Due to our location in the “country,” unlike restaurants in the city that might receive daily deliveries, we are locked in to our menu, with not much room to wander from it, since orders must be placed early in the week. 

On the following Thursday afternoon, we prepare that weekend’s menu for our servers  before the doors open at 6:00 p.m.  On Thursday afternoon, look for photos of that week’s meal on our Facebook page.  
This week, tomatoes figure prominently because right now they are spectacular, always healthy, and terrifically versatile.  For all of these reasons, we gave tomatoes top billing for the “Starters” course at The Farmhouse, and they can be enjoyed in our featured salad, gazpacho, or tomato plate.  This week’s menu, like each week’s, features local and regional specialties.

The Farmhouse Menu – August 23-25


Mixed Lettuces with Farmhouse Garden Tomatoes, Vidalia Onions, Bleu Cheese and Vinaigrette – or – Farmhouse Garden Gazpacho – or – Serenbe Farms Heirloom Tomato Plate


Chicken Paillards with Green Tomato Chutney and Corn, Okra and Farmhouse Tomato Salad – or – Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Mustard Seed, Farmhouse Garden Collards and Black-eyed Pea Sauté


Farmhouse Garden Apple Turnovers with Honey and Vanilla Ice Cream – or – Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie

Join us at The Farmhousefor dinner Thursdays through Saturdays between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. or for a Southern fried chicken lunch Saturdays and Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visit us online or call 770 463 2622 to make a reservation. 



July 2012



Catching the Wholesome Wave

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Serenbe Farms, Wholesome Wave Georgia

I have been encouraging you to attend this year’s Southern Chefs Potluck on August 5, benefitting Wholesome Wave Georgia, and there’s more to the story than just the delicious food, fun fellowship, and over-the-top auction items.  It’s important to share the broader story of the good this organization is doing in our great state and in states across the country.

Rows of organic produce at Serenbe Farms
Wholesome Wave programs, in 28 states and the District of Columbia, improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

Because they say it so well, following are the mission and vision statements from the national Wholesome Wave website. 
Wholesome Wave’s mission is to improve access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to historically underserved communities. Doing so creates economic viability through local food commerce that can rebuild our nation’s food system.

Our vision is to help lead the way in developing a more vibrant and equitable food system for everyone by fostering stronger relationships between local and regional agriculture and under-served individuals from both urban and rural communities.

Closer to home, “Wholesome Wave Georgia (WWG) believes that all Georgians should have access to good, wholesome and locally grown food.  Our goal is to increase access to good food for all Georgians while contributing to the local food economy.  By doubling each federal or state nutrition benefit (SNAP, WIC, SFMNP) dollar spent at our partner markets, we leverage existing government food nutrition programs to encourage shopping at local farmers markets.

Fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes
The execution of the Wholesome Wave Georgia program is very simple: Every nutrition benefit dollar spent at a WWG partner market becomes two dollars for the shopper and for the farmer.  This means more money for farmers and that more Georgians gain access to good, wholesome and locally grown food.”

Perhaps armed with this information, you now have a better understanding of why the Southern Chefs Potluck is an important event for our state.  I hope you’ll join me on August 5.  Together, we can do great things for all Georgians. 

Purchase your ticket today for the Southern Chefs Potluck 

Chef Linton Hopkins and me
Tune in to CBS during the 9:00 a.m. hour this Friday, August 3, to Better Mornings Atlanta.  Chef Linton Hopkins and I will be doing a segment on Sunday’s Southern Chefs Potluck.



June 2012



Sorrel, Sweet Sorrel

Written by , Posted in farmers market, Recipe Articles, Serenbe Farmhouse, Serenbe Farms

I was asked recently what food item is a quintessentially spring-season food to me.  My answer – sorrel.  Are you asking yourself, “What is sorrel and what do I do with it?”  Sorrel is a slender plant, resembling spinach in appearance but with a citrus taste.  Young leaves taste different than their more acidic older counterparts.  I use sorrel as a lettuce, in the preparation of my favorite soup – sorrel soup – and in sauces.

The color and flavor evoke an image of spring in my mind.  I adore it.  Unfortunately, I’m not the only one; sorrel is quite popular with moths and butterflies, rabbits, deer and probably countless other creatures who I compete with for the most tender leaves. 

Thankfully, Serenbe’s talented resident farmer, Paige, has perfected growing sorrel at Serenbe Farms, so I’m assured a supply of the brilliantly green leaves for Farmhouse patrons as well as for my family’s pleasure.  You, too, can pick it up at the Serenbe Farmers’ Market. 

I hope you are enjoying the foods that remind you of spring.  It’s such a great time of year.   

One of my favorite ways to experience sorrel is sorrel soup.  I’m sharing my recipe.  Please enjoy!

Sorrel Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound onions, coarsely chopped

1 small garlic clove, minced

6 cups chicken stock

½ pound potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

¾ pound sorrel, trimmed and torn in large pieces

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

sour cream

Heat butter in a deep pot and sauté onions until wilted and turning golden, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Add stock and heat, then add potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are done, about 10 minutes.  Stir in sorrel and heat thoroughly. 

Transfer to a food processor and puree.  Return to the pot and heat for another few minutes, correcting seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top of each serving.  This recipe doubles and even triples quite nicely and easily.



July 2010



Southern Chef Series with Ford Fry

Written by , Posted in cooking demo, Ford Fry, JCT kitchen, Serenbe Farms, Southern Chef Series

A wonderful day in my kitchen with Ford Fry and a lovely group of guests! I love the Chef series not only for the great food but a get together with a small intimate group is one of my favorite things.

Not only was Ford down to earth and charming but he brought along some truly amazing recipes- Paella, Smoked goat cheese, Pimento cheese, Soft Shelled Crab salad and the best Banana Pudding with homemade Vanilla wafers!

 This time our group was made up of several couples which has been different than previous times. The energy in the room and the instant camaraderie between everyone made for a very special weekend!

Please click Southern Chef Series with Ford Fry to share our wonderful day in pictures.

For a perfect summer salad, here is Ford’s recipe for a Farm Salad of the Moment with “Wooden bowl” dressing.

This salad is whatever looks good at the farmer’s market. It could be anything from: greens, radish, sungold tomatoes, thinly sliced fennel, definitely whole fresh herbs (delicate herbs), beets, raw corn, interesting carrots, shaved celery, boiled farm egg, etc.

“Wooden bowl” dressing

  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 each Meyer lemon (zests and juice)
  • 2 Tbs. GOOD red wine vinegar
  • 5 Tbs. EVOO
  • Kosher or Grey salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
As in a Ceasar salad, begin by forking the garlic clove until finely smashed. Add the mustard and make a paste. Add the Meyer lemon juice, zests, and vinegar and mix well. Slowly, while mixing, drizzle in the olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Toss salad in the dressing an serve.



April 2010



A wonderful salad recipe

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Serenbe Farms

I featured my new salad recipe last week at the Farmhouse and everyone loved it. I know  you will enjoy it too!

Mixed Lettuces with Mushrooms, Radishes, Bleu Cheese and Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt
  • Tabasco

  • 4-6 heads young lettuces, washed and torn into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 12 radishes. trimmed and sliced
  • 6 tablespoons crumbled bleu cheese

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a bowl to blend or in a glass jar and shake. Season with salt and Tabasco to taste.

On plates or in bowls, place washed lettuce leaves. Scatter mushrooms and radishes on the leaves. Spoon vinaigrette on the salad.
Sprinkle cheese all over.



December 2009



November Contest Winner!

Written by , Posted in cooking demo, inn at serenbe, marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Serenbe Farms

I am excited to announce the winner of November’s recipe contest featuring Sweet Potatoes.

I received many wonderful recipes so again I thank all who participated. Sent in by Tina Collins Eib, the combination of ingredients makes this one a real treat sent.

Sweet Potato Compote

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 medium Fugi apples, peeled
  • 2 medium red pears, peeled
  • 1/4 cup dried red cherries
  • 1/2 stick non-salted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh is great)
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted pecan pieces (optional)

Cut potatoes and fruit (omitting cherries) into bite-size pieces then cook potatoes first on med.-low heat in the butter until nearly soft, but slightly firm. Add the apples and pears sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cherries and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until dried cherries have plumped and apples are nearly soft, but retain some firmness. Stir in pecan pieces.
Serve piping hot!

Serves 4-6.