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.