Wednesday, March 31, 2010


In the 1940s and 1950s, the Potter County farmers working these rocky fields began growing more and more potatoes. They shared in the development of the "Potato City" complex at the summit of Denton Hill on Route 6 dedicated to the breeding and development of new potato varieties. The complex served as a site for field trials, demonstrations and meetings all aimed at marketing Potter County as the potato capital of the east.
Here on Crandall Hill, the Mattesons and Metzgers were part of the Potter County potato growing family. Though it's been many years since potatoes were grown commercially on these acres, we've ordered organic seed potatoes to plant this spring and hope to market several unique and time-tested varieties of organically grown potatoes this fall.
Here's our six-month-old grandson, Rowan Eugene Day, surveying the seed potatoes that his parents (Jonathan and Kate Metzger Day) will soon plant in their Oregon garden. I calculate that he's the sixth generation of a potato growing family!

Monday, March 29, 2010


I love shallots. Until I was introduced to the unique taste of shallots, I would substitute onions when I came across shallots as an ingredient in recipes - not knowing what I was missing!
We have grown shallots for the past two years on the Metzger Farm. The first year was strictly an experiment with one packet of seeds. Last summer we experimented more, growing four varieties with staggered plantings and were rewarded by harvesting enough to offer some for sale at the Coudersport Jubilee.
This year we're planning to grow more and market more.
In the meantime, we still have some of last year's harvest left as they're keeping well- as evidenced by the photo accompanying this blog post.
Today I'm planning to fill the old farmhouse with the aroma of carmelized shallots - an idea sparked by a visit to Williams-Sonoma yesterday afternoon.  On their gourmet food shelves, I spied jars of carmelized shallots and checked the label for and idea of how to make it at home.;
Here's the recipe I'm going to use. I'll let you know how it turns out and if you'd like to try your own, let me know and I'll provide the shallots!
Caramelized Shallots
2 lb. shallots, peeled but left intact
3 Tb. unsalted butter
2 Tb. sugar
Melt butter in an ovenproof skillet, add the shallots and sprinkle with sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots begin to turn golden brown, stirring to keep them from sticking.. Add 3 Tb. red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper and stir. Place the skillet in a 400 degree over and roast 15 to 30 minutes until they are tender. Season to taste.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Showers

Only a few lonely patches of snow remain on the hill behind our old farmhouse this morning after days of warm breezes and yesterday's fitful rain showers. I heard the heavy rain on the skylights last evening but I missed the promised thundershowers. I mention this here because I remember someone telling me that there was a correlation between the first thunderstorm of spring and the first frost date in the fall. Do any of you know of that old farmer's tale?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Treat

If you would like a source of fresh, naturally-grown vegetables this summer, consider the Metzger Farm.  For the past two summers we've grown a large assortment of vegetables and sold some through the Farmer's Market and the Food Matrix's CSA program. This year we're expanding our farm and are ready to offer a broad selection of fresh produce. I'll tell you more about our plans in upcoming blog posts.
How many of you remember the little natural foods store that Carolyn and Francis Castano opened on North East Street in Coudersport? It was located in the building that had housed Dominic Castano's tailoring shop I remember from my childhood. The Castanos ran weekly ads in the Potter Enterprise (where I worked as a compositor/graphic designer at the time) and sometimes included recipes. I remember this recipe for Colcannon when St. Patrick's Day makes its annual appearance.
You'll note that it uses ingredients that we can still enjoy from last summer's gardening season.
3-4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and quartered (no need to peel them!)
2 cups chopped cabbage
2 Tb. butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
Milk or unsweetened soymilk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Cook potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and put in a casserole dish that has been lightly coated with butter or oil or cooking spray Mash potatoes but leave a few chunks. Cook cabbage in a skillet with a small amount of water until nearly tender. Drain and add to casserole dish. Saute the onion in butter or oil until lightly carmelized. Add to casserole dish along with the cheese and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and bake at 325 until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Potter County Potatoes

One of the crops we're investigating growing as we transition to organic is potatoes. For years we've grown our potatoes without chemical fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides so we know it can be done - as evidenced by this photo of the 2009 crop. For 2010 we've ordered a selection of organic certified seed potato varieties and can't wait for the package to arrive!
Meanwhile, we still have a goodly amount of last fall's potatoes in the cellar. If anyone is interested in purchasing some, let us know and we'll get them to you. We have reds and whites.
Here's a recipe, modified from my dog-eared copy of a 1972 version of "Recipes For A Small Planet," for potato soup.

1/4 cup butter (you can use oil and and/or use less but I like the rich flavor that butter adds)
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
In a large soup pot, saute the onions, carrots and celery in butter until the onions are transparent. Sprinkle with a bit salt and pepper during this process.
Add 6-8 medium potatoes, diced (you can add more if you wish), 1 tsp. dried marjoram, 1 tsp. dill seeds, 1 tsp. caraway seeds and about a quart of vegetable stock or water to comfortably cover the vegetables. Simmer until potatoes are cooked.
Dissolve 1 1/2 cups milk powder in 2 cups of the cooking liquid (I use a blender for this process) and add back to the soup. Adjust the seasoning - it will probably need additional salt. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or chives or a bit of chopped sweet onion. Homemade salt rising bread is a wonderful accompaniment but we'll need to invite a guest blogger to provide that recipe!
If you don't care for the strong flavors of the caraway seeds or dill seeds, omit them. A little bit of dried dill is good with the soup.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Using Winter Vegetables

My freezer is still stocked with blueberries, beans, broccoli, green peppers and one prized package of peas from last year's bounty. The jars on the wide old shelves in the cellar are about half empty ... or should I say half full?
In the old refrigerator in the shop I still have a couple of heads of cabbage - both red and green and a bag of carrots. We planted several varieties of carrots last summer and most have stored well, keeping their sweetness and texture. This year we're going to try some of the purple carrots to add some variety to the carrots we'll be offering for sale. Let us know if you have any special requests!
Here's a recipe that uses some of those stored vegetables.
Cabbage Salad
3 carrots
1/2 green cabbage
1/2 red cabbage
1 red bell pepper
1 sweet onion (red or white)
cilantro to taste (since cilantro is one of the few things Arthur doesn't appreciate, I leave it out of his portion)
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
minced garlic to taste (1 -3 cloves)
salt and pepper to taste1/2 tsp. tabasco (more if you like it hot!)
1/2 cup olive oil
I use the food processor to chop the vegetables, then mix everything together in a large bowl.

Tomorrow I'll post a wonderful potato soup recipe. I'm headed outdoors now to see how spring has progressed with the melting snow yesterday. We're promised one more good day before the rains come.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Robin!

Winter came early this year and though Potter County was spared the major snowstorms that paralyzed southeastern Pennsylvania, the gardens and fields are still asleep under blankets of dirty snow.
Betsy and I heard geese on our morning walk today. Arthur saw a robin in a neighbor's yard. The chives in my herb garden are poking through the earth. I must cut some forsythia branches to force.
Arthur is busy working on our new greenhouse. He's modifying a corner of the "shop" with floor-to-ceiling windows to capture the sunshine. It's in this new spot that we'll start our crops of heirloom tomatoes, a selection of hot, sweet and middle of the road peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, melons and eggplants.
We're planting Alderman Tall Telephone peas this year, with hopes to get them in the ground on Good Friday if the weather cooperates. Early crops of lettuce, spinach, carrots and beets will follow shortly thereafter.
(Welcome to our new blog. We'll update frequently.)