A Taste Of Potter County

cookbookcover-783x1024As you might have heard, The Taste of Potter County Cookbook is now available to benefit Norma Cobb Nichols, who lost her home to a Christmas time fire. The cost is $7 and includes a number of recipes submitted by county employees. Contact the Potter County Commissioners office for purchase. We encourage you to get a copy of this ‘Truly God’s County’ Cookbook.

We purchased a copy, and found that it is filled with great local recipes and stories. To demonstrate, we made the Spanish Creamed Potatoes recipe from page 27. Our highlight was to use a variety of locally-grown potatoes and other ingredients available here in Potter County from the local farmers. As seen below these local ingredients created a wonderful display that for sure says this is no ordinary fare.  This type of cookery is indeed particular to our region here in Potter County, Pennsylvania.

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Pine Cone Potato

We just recently discovered something interesting about the “Rose Finn Apple” fingerling potato that we grow on the farm. Namely that we have had the name wrong, as do so many others. The correct name is “Rose Fir Apple” or even more correctly “Rosa Tannenzapfen”. This medium sized, fingerling tuber has with pink skin and light yellow flesh. As the original name is German – Rosa is the color Pink, Tannenzapfen  (in Southern German dialect Tannenapfel) which means Fir Cone or Pine Cone. And due to very sloppy translation, it became mistakenly known as Rose Finn Apple.  As always, we like to keep our readers up-to-date on these important findings.

Rose Finn AppleDoes this potato look like a pine cone? We see it. The Rose Finn Apple has a pattern of dimpled eyes, that kind of resemble the individual plates of a cone known as scales. One thing that we know for sure is that it doesn’t taste like a pine cone. The Rose Fir Apple is considered one of very best tasting potatoes in the world.  And, there is no mistake about that fact.

Pitch Pine cone

Want to learn more about the many Heirloom potato varieties? Well then visit The Kenosha Potato Collection Catalog and scroll thought the listing to see them and find your favorites.

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Elegant By Design

Let’s face it, we’re small potatoes by commercial potato farm standards.  But, our fingerlings naturally taste better. When you taste a fingerling, the sensory impression is earthly and nutty  — and that makes the difference.

Fingerlings come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes — and have a variety of names. ‘Russian Banana,’ ‘Swedish Peanut’ and ‘Rose Finn Apple’ are the ones that we grow.  Shown here are the new arrivals: ‘Red Thumb’ and ‘Papa Cacho’.

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Fingerlings Get A Thumb

beet soup 098During last year’s farmers market we had a “Can you identify this potato?” contest.  This unusual potato was given to us by another Master Gardener at the farmers market in September. She told us that it was from Oregon, but wasn’t sure what it was called. So with that clue, our investigation has led us to believe that it is a “Red Thumb”. Notice that it matches a thumb profile — wide and squatty with a slightly upward pointed end.  And today, we cut into it to reveal its “unusual beautiful dark pink flesh”.  A tell-tale sign — Mystery solved. Yeah, it’s a Red Thumb.

We are adding this thumb to our hand-full of fingerlings. This interesting little potato  stores well (as can be seen here). And, it has a pleasing flavor with a firm texture. So to summarize, it fits our specialty crop boutique “like a glove”.

beet soup 105 cropThe Red Thumb was used as a side for our ” local” breakfast omelet. All ingredients are local food items!

  • 2 farm-fresh eggs
  • 1/2 cup farm-fresh Jersey Milk
  • 1 Red Thumb, thin sliced (*see note)
  • Tablespoon of home-made Salsa Verde (from Chef Butch for a little extra zip!)

* Technically, this one came from Oregon. But, it is one that we plan on growing.

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A Backyard Flock

beet soup 094 cropFirst one of the year! It’s sure to taste better than awful store-bought eggs. We’re thinking that an Omelet is in the works.

We have Black Orpingtons and golden-laced Wyandottes. Both are winter hardy and good layers. But during the winter, these chickens will stop laying. Hens are sensitive to day length, and particularly to the direction in which day length is changing, when it comes to laying eggs. Declining day lengths discourage egg production. It is usual for the flock to go out of production in the latter part of fall because the days get shorter. A flock owner can avoid this problem and maintain egg production year round by using artificial lighting to give the hens a long day length no matter what the season. We don’t do this, as it seems to us that the hens need a break.  In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. ~William Blake

Our hens are prone to being broody, meaning that they will try to incubate eggs to make them hatch. They are more likely to become broody if they are allowed to accumulate eggs in a nest. This happens mostly during spring under natural daylight as the hens come into production due to the increasing day length. To avoid this problem, we pick up eggs at least once a day to prevent the hen from building a clutch.

Mother Earth News says:

Not long ago, most farms and households in the United States played host to at least a small flock of chickens. Chores such as collecting eggs and butchering birds were a part of daily life for all but the most urban residents. In many cases, the household’s flock consisted of a multipurpose breed suitable for egg production and of sufficient size to fill a frying pan when young, or to roast when mature.

For those interested in reviving the tradition of a hardy, homestead flock, we’ve compiled key characteristics and anecdotal information on 20 compelling heritage chicken breeds, including the Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, Australorp, Jersey Giant and more. In addition to a short description of the breed’s dominant features, the following chart includes the bird’s size, comb type, plumage, egg color, primary use and origin.

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Music to Farmers Ears

For sustainable farmers, what’s music to their ears? Hint: it’s not a new thing, but a rediscovery of something old.

Old cherry springs

Answer: Farm to table is showing up everywhere. The farm-to-table trend has grown over the past few years. Nowadays, it’s not unheard of for restaurants to have partnerships with local farms.  And to think that just a century ago, all food was farm to table. The food then was fresh, local, and literally farm to table. And now there is a culinary rediscovery of the inherit goodness of local foods. We’re coming full circle. And this definitely is music to ours ears.

Shown above is the Cherry Springs Hotel, the tavern built by Jonathan Edgcomb in 1818 in Cherry Springs, Potter County, Pennsylvania. It was Potter County’s original farm to table establishment.

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One Farmer’s Opinion

Me and WooleylotWe read that the Sysco founder John Baugh was quoted as saying, “frozen foods taste better than anything I could grow in my garden.” Without a doubt, this gave us pause for thought.

Here is what we would like to tell the current Sysco CEO, whom ever he or she might be. Sysco is exactly why we don’t eat very often at restaurants. In our opinion, locally-grown food is better than frozen food, and food prepared from scratch by a trained professional is better than “heat, assemble, and serve” meals that are so common at restaurants today. Why pay extra money for pre-cooked, frozen food entrees. Many of Sysco’s products—the meat, the vegetables, the fruits—are not that different than what you’ll find at the local supermarket.

Some questions to ask the food server at your next fine restaurant experience — Do you offer any locally grown items on your menu? Where do the food items on your menu originate? How does the chef (or cook) prepare the entrees? Chances are the answers will be — No, we don’t have any local food on our menu. And, we order our menu items from Sysco’s 400,000-plus item catalog. Our chefs have been trained to properly defrost and heat the frozen entrees.

Our reply to Sysco — “Well, maybe we should rename restaurant chefs or cooks and start calling them Sysco defrosters.”

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