Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

The Farmhouse at Serenbe



December 2012



A Joy to work with

Written by , Posted in The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

Allow me to introduce Joy Belyeu.  Since March 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joy at the Farmhouse.

She came to us with catering experience and readily learned the ways of a restaurant kitchen, becoming an invaluable member of the Farmhouse team.  If Betty Williams, our primary breakfast cook for Inn at Serenbe guests, is my right hand, Joy is the left, and both ladies know how I think.  As a result, whether I’m physically in the kitchen or not is of little concern when these women are on hand.

Joy is a talented cook of both sweet and savory dishes, which is not typical, as a good cook usually specializes in one or the other.  Joy expertly has worked all stations and is currently responsible for desserts at the Farmhouse.  She also has a knack for “tweaking” a recipe, knowing instinctively what ingredient is needed to achieve the desired result.

I think of Joy as the heart and Betty (see September 25, 2012 post) the soul of the Farmhouse and Inn kitchens, respectively, and would be lost without them.  I feel blessed to have an outstanding staff.
Joy is the proud mother of four daughters, two of whom work with us at the Farmhouse.  If you’d like to meet Joy for yourself, you’ll find her at the restaurant Thursdays through Saturdays for our dinner service. 

Congratulations to The Inn at Serenbe for being named a readers’ pick in the “Best Guest Accommodations” category of Lifestyles magazine’s Winter 2012 “Best of 2012” issue.  

A standing ovation to Serenbe Playhouse for being named a readers’ pick in the “Best Place to See a Play” category.




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. 



November 2012



What an Afternoon in the Country it was!

Written by , Posted in Blue Eyed Daisy, Les Dames d'Escoffier, Recipe Articles, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Hil, The Inn at Serenbe

The Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’EscoffierInternational held its 12th annual Afternoon in the Country fundraising event here in Serenbe on November 4th.  It was a spectacular afternoon! We enjoyed glorious fall weather, and the sold out crowd (numbering over 1,800) kept the energy high all afternoon.  The who’s who of the Atlanta metro area’s hospitality industry were on hand serving delicious food and thirst-quenching libations to the guests. 

This was a special year for me in that I was invited to join the ranks of Les Dames as a member this summer.  As well, I participated in the event with my restaurant The Farmhouse.  At our table, we served Serenbe Farms collard slaw (recipe below) and the Farmhouse’s now famous fried chicken.  Serenbe’s other eateries, the Hil and the Blue Eyed Daisy, were also participants.  It’s rewarding to have Serenbe fully represented at this event. 

Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction raised nearly $100,000 and benefitted the Les Dames’ scholarship fund, Wholesome Wave, and Georgia Organics.

A highlight of the afternoon is always the cake raffle; this year’s raffle did not disappoint. Beautifully decorated and uncommonly delicious cakes from the areas best bakers garnered much attention. 

For many Serenbe residents, Afternoon in the Country is the event they most enjoy.  The audible buzz of conversation and laughter confirms this is many people’s favorite event. 

For those of us on the serving side of the tables, it’s an afternoon of constant activity – an invigorating and exhausting day.  When the event wraps up, I’m equally happy for the chance to sit down and sad that we have to wait another year for it to happen again!  We are so fortunate to be the host locale for this terrific event.  I hope you’ll join us next year.

The Farmhouse’s Collard Slaw

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

¼ cup wild honey

½ teaspoon dry mustard

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together. 


4 cups raw collard greens, washed, destemmed, and julienned

1 cup carrot, shredded

1 cup radish, shredded

½ cup honeycrisp apple, diced

¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced

¼-½ cup peanuts, chopped

Place all slaw ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the chopped peanuts.  Serve and enjoy. 



October 2012



2013 Southern Chefs Series classes filling up – register today

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Southern Chefs Series, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe, Wholesome Wave

2013 Southern Chefs Series classes filling up – register today

Chef Chris Hastings
and “students”

The 2013 Southern Chefs Series is attracting attention, and classes are filling up. To date, three classes are sold out, with others nearing capacity.  If you want to work side-by-side with the bestchefs in the South, many of whom are James Beard Foundation awarded chefs, you’ll want to take advantage of this opportunity and register now! 

January 20-21, Linton Hopkins, Georgia

February 24-25, Anne Quatrano, Georgia

March 24-25, Andrea Reusing, North Carolina

Chef Kevin Gillespie

April 14-15, Sean Brock, South Carolina

May 19-20, Hugh Acheson, Georgia

June 23-24, Steven Satterfield, Georgia

July 28-29, Chris Hastings, Alabama

August 25-26, John Besh, Louisiana

September 29-30, Tyler Brown, Tennessee

October 27-28, Kevin Gillespie, Georgia

November 10-11, Johnny Currence, Mississippi

December 1-2, me! Marie Nygren, Georgia with

Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan, Connecticut

Chefs Series participants busy at work
Chef Michel Nischan

Proceeds from the coming year’s classes will go to a seed fund to establish additional Wholesome Wave chapters.  Wholesome Wave Georgia, launched in 2009, is going strong, and Wholesome Wave founder Chef Michel Nischan’s goal is to establish additional Southern chapters.   

Wholesome Wave improves access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to historically underserved communities.  Wholesome Wave programs benefit consumers and the farmers who provide for them. 

One of their innovative programs is the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP), which matches the value of a consumers federal nutrition benefits (i.e. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], formerly Food Stamps) when used to purchase fresh, healthy, local produce at participating farmers markets. 

Chef Anne Quatrano and Star Provisions
cheese monger Tim Gaddis

Every SNAP dollar spent at a Wholesome Wave partner market becomes two dollars for the shopper andthe farmer.  DVCP consumers realize health benefits, and farmers reap the economic benefit.  Wholesome Wave programs impact the economy and the health and well-being of the communities and consumers they serve.  

To register for Chefs Series classes, please call the Inn at Serenbe at 770 463 2610.  

See you in my kitchen!



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



Delectable dining this week at The Farmhouse at Serenbe

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

Fall is in the air, and this week’s menu reflects some of the season’s vivid colors and enticing flavors.  I hope you will join us for dinner this Thursday or Saturday evening.  Please note, The Farmhouse will be closed Friday evening, October 12, for a private event.

The FarmhouseMenu
October 11 and 13

The Farmhouse is closed October 12 for a private event


Serenbe Farms lettuces with Serenbe Farms radishes, Bleu Cheese, and Vinaigrette – or – Serenbe Farms Sweet Potato Soup


Wild Georgia Shrimp Jambalaya with Rice – or –
Rocking Chair Ranch Beef Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and Serenbe Farms Kale


Caramel Cake – or –
Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie

Join us at The Farmhousefor dinner between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.  Visit us online or call 770 463 2622 to make a reservation. 



October 2012



Experience an Afternoon in the Country at Serenbe

Written by , Posted in Afternoon in the Country, Les Dames d'Escoffier, marie nygren, Steve Nygren, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

The Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) is holding its 12th annual Afternoon in the Country fundraising event at the Inn at Serenbe on Sunday, November 4, 2012, 1pm to 4pm.  The Farmhouse again will be represented at the event, and I will participate not only as proprietress of the Farmhouse but also as a new member of Les Dames. 

Patrons will enjoy tastings from more than 90 of Atlanta’s best chefs, restaurants, caterers, retailers, wineries, 
distributors and breweries; live Bluegrass music from the band Drivetrain; a silent auction; opportunities to win pastry art from the area’s best pastry chefs during the cake raffle; hayrides; and children’s activities. 
 There is something for everyone at this popular event. 

Proceeds benefit the Atlanta chapter’s scholarship fund for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality arts and the Georgia farming community.  LDEI reports its 26 chapters around the U.S., Canada, and Australia have awarded more than $2 million in culinary scholarships.

LDEI fosters excellence and promotes the achievement of women in culinary professions through educational and charitable activities.  It is exciting for me to be selected to join this prestigious society of women.  Atlanta Dames include chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, retailers, event planners, cookbook authors, food journalists and historians, winemakers and wine industry professionals, food publicists, culinary educators, and hospitality executives.

Afternoon in the Country sells out early every year. Don’t miss your chance to attend.  Visit the Atlanta Les Dames’ website today for more information and to purchase your tickets.

See you at Serenbe. 

Photos by



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



Everything’s better when Betty’s in the kitchen

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Serenbe Bed and Breakfast, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

Betty Williams at home
in the Inn at Serenbe’s kitchen

In 1996, Steve and I hired Betty Williams to help with housekeeping at the Serenbe Bed and Breakfast.  When we added the conference center a year or so later, I realized I wanted assistance in the kitchen, preparing conference breakfasts and lunches.  It was then I asked Betty if she’d join me in the kitchen.  To my delight, she agreed.  Betty is a consummate professional who didn’t enter the restaurant business with professional training but, rather, brought real-world experience to the kitchen. 

Fast forward, and Betty is the lead breakfast cook for the Inn at Serenbe.  In addition, she prepares lunches for conference guests.  Her long tenure has allowed her to see the complete evolution of Serenbe, and she has watched our daughters grow from little girls to young women. 

A proud mom of four children (two sons and two daughters), Betty brings sensibility and compassion to the kitchen.  Betty is my right hand and the soul of the Inn’s kitchen.  I’m told Betty finds me “easy to be around and easy to work with;” I appreciate that immensely and feel the same about her.  And, we agree that our personalities click.      

Like her colleague at the Farmhouse, Joy, Betty’s presence provides me with peace of mind.  She follows through and knows exactly how I like the kitchen to run. 

My heartfelt thanks to Betty for being an integral member of the team and a cherished friend. 



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.