Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Catering For A Wedding

When son Joseph and his best girl Jennifer first began talking about their nuptials, a fabulous wedding feast was near the top of the list of must-haves. They envisioned a table that brought together all the tastes they've come to love - fresh vegetables, wild-sourced meat and fish and a side of sweets.
Joseph and Jennifer Metzger on their wedding day

Since the bridal couple lives in Alaska but were tying the knot in Elk County, Pennsylvania, much of the planning fell to the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom. And when the parents of the groom are organic farmers, you can imagine where this is heading!
But first, one must find a caterer who is up to the challenge of preparing wild-caught salmon and moose from Alaska and vegetables that still bear traces of the soil in which they were grown. Meet Ben Samick of Just Ben's Catering.
And so the menu was set - Salmon (with choice of two sauces served on the side so the exquisite taste of the fish stands on its own), Alaskan Moose Roast and Moose Sandwiches. That takes care of the protein side of the menu.

For the vegetables, the bride and groom chose an assortment of vegetables grown right here on the Metzger Heritage Farm.

Beets - a selection of Chioggia, Detroit Dark Red, Golden  

Mixed salad greens grown in our high tunnel
Tomatoes complemented the salad - golden, red and black cherry
Carrots are always delicious - especially when used in a
carrot cake baked by the bride's mother
Green beans were also grown in the high tunnel for an October harvest

A colorful potato assortment
And we didn't forget the decorations either ... pots of herbs (many transplanted from the gardens of the bride's parents and the groom's parents along with rosemary acquired from family friend Frank Zitnik) decorated the tables. Many friends and family members contributed hydrangeas, pearly everlasting, Japanese lanterns, thistle, and more - artfully arranged in antique containers by the bride's mother. Bountiful bouquets of zinnias added pops of color.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bird Egg Beans Revisited

Harvest 2017: Bird Egg Beans
We've posted about these beautiful beans before. As a matter of fact, that post has logged the highest number of views in the history of this blog!
We've not had much success in growing these heirloom beans in the past couple of years and thought better of using our stored seed for fear of perpetuating disease. So last year, for the first time in many, many years, no bird egg beans were growing on Crandall Hill.
We decided to try again this year and went to gardener extraordinaire Jack Lent to source seed. Jack's wife, Arthur's cousin Nancy Snyder Lent, shares the Gooch family's love of these old-fashioned beans. One cold spring day, Jack came to the door bearing a small jar of bean seed.
This represents our entire harvest of bird egg beans this year – borne on healthy vines and plump, colorful pods filled with fat, colorful beans.
We're saving all these beans for seed for 2018, hopeful that we can continue this piece of family heritage.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tasty Tomato Tart

I admit it. I have been known to watch cooking shows on television. I've been hooked since Julia Child walked me through the fine points of French cooking on The French Chef. These days I enjoy The Great British Baking Show, America's Test Kitchen, the Barefoot Contessa and of course, Top Chef.
It was Top Chef that first introduced me to Food and Wine magazine, for one of the prizes for the winner each year is a "spread in Food and Wine."

This colorful cover on the August issue sent me to the garden to harvest a colorful variety of heirloom tomatoes to create my own version of this fabulous Tomato Tart. How can one resist these words that accompanied the recipe.
"Taste the Rainbow. You've waited all year for them. Now that ripe tomatoes are here, instead of the usual salad, try piling them on this insanely good (and super easy) tart. We're in love!"

It was so good I made it again to serve
friends who came for dinner the next evening.
If you'd like to try this recipe, comment below and I will post the recipe for you. Though tomato season has been slowed by the cooler than normal weather, we should be able to help you source many of the pictured varieties!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Grand Duchess

The Duchess of Oldenburg
significant because it's the first fruit of our tree grafting efforts
Development of our apple orchards includes a grafting program. For the past few springs, Arthur has set up shop in "the shop", surrounded by buckets of grafting sticks and root stocks. The rusty one-burner propane stove (used to heat water for morning coffee on long-ago camping trips) sits on the workbench to warm up the grafting wax concoction he uses.
One major goal of his grafting program is to identify and save trees that populate the back yards and fields of our neighbors.  These old trees have been bearing fruit that has been finding its way into pantries and pie crusts for generations.
Some of these trees are varieties that are not identified by names, such as the one we've tagged as "Snyder Milk House Apple." This early apple grows on a gnarly tree in the pasture of Paul and Cathy Snyder down the Dingman Run Road from us. Paul's father, Steven, referred to it as "common fruit" and the family has used it for applesauce for generations.
Our fledgling nursery has grafts for the Snyder Milk House Apple as well as the Tucker apple from Colesburg, Kenyon's Sweet Apple and Strawberry Apples from the Kidney farm and many more.
In the picture above, Arthur holds the first fruit of a tree he grafted three years ago. It's an old variety called Duchess of Oldenburg. The scion for the graft came from the Sunset Valley Farm of John and Karlene Peet.
The Oldenburg “kept up the hope of prairie orchardists in times of great discouragement,” according to The Apples of New York, Volume II, by S. A. Beach (J. B. Lyon Co., 1905).
And so today, the Oldenburg is keeping up the hopes of the Metzgers on our heritage farm on Crandall Hill, Potter County, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here Comes The Sun .... Flower!

 Here's proof that our new hive of bees has settled in. There's a row of sunflowers bordering the Mama Wanda garden and the early morning light was so very beautiful this day that I grabbed the camera. I explained to our bees that I was there only to snap a few pictures and they continued on their quest, visiting the flowers, gathering nectar and acting as pollinators.

Golden Glow
Planted by family members in years past
Neighbor & cousin John Peet calls this "back house daisies"
because the vigorous habit provides a screen around outhouses!
also known as horsemint, wild bergamot, Oswego tea

Reminiscent of the old song sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.
"Every flower's reachin' for the sun
Every petal opens when the day has just begun"
(written by Noel Paul Stookey, Bob Milstein, Peter Yarrow

Monday, July 17, 2017

German Johnson

I almost hesitated to post a picture of this giant tomato because it definitely will not find its way to the Farmers' Market.
This fine specimen is a German Johnson. It has pinkish skin and dimples! Also known as German Johnson Pink, this heirloom is said to have come with immigrants to Virginia and North Carolina. Aren't heirloom tomatoes intriguing!
Heirloom tomatoes were once simply tomatoes. Those tomatoes are the ones folks grew in their home gardens, perhaps saving seeds year to year. Or tomatoes were grown on local farms, finding their way to your dinner table only in late summer. These tomatoes, with their soft skins that bruise easily, don't ship well.
These days, tomatoes are bred for mechanical harvest, bred to withstand shipping and bred for a long shelf life. That's why you can find tomatoes in the supermarket year round. Of course, you sacrifice taste and texture.
So what determines an heirloom variety? It's generally accepted that "commercial" heirlooms are varieties at least 50 years old. There are also family heirlooms, heirlooms created by crossing open pollinated tomatoes, and mystery heirlooms, a produtc of natural cross pollination.
We're growing many heirloom varieties, along with some carefully selected hybrids and they will find their way to market soon.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Buzzing Of Bees

Every orchard needs bees. That's a fact that did not escape our Emporium friend Bob Stampee who showed up at our orchard gate a couple of years ago with a hive of honey bees.
Bob has been supporting our foray into beekeeping ever since, encouraging membership in the Beekeepers' Association, providing equipment, resources and his vast store of expertise.
The original beehive made it through the worst of the winter this year and on the unseasonably warm February days, bees were coming out to warm themselves in the sunshine. Fast forward to the fickle mont of March when a ferocious windstorm in March dislodged the top of their hive, something that wasn't noticed until some time had passed and alas, we lost the bees.
Upon hearing that sad news, Bob set out to find us more bees and last week, he showed up with this in the back of his van.

With Arthur and Laura's assistance, the bees were unloaded and established in their new home. We are looking forward to a long and happy relationship.