Locally Grown Foods

Our agenda is quality. And, we like it when our specialty items find their way to a local plate whether it be on a home or restaurant table. It makes the difference between mediocre and excellent. Why does locally-grown food taste so much different? Mass produced food is shipped thousands of miles across countries and across oceans before it gets to the table. We’re growing food on fields near to the restaurants and the towns here in Potter County, Pennsylvania. It’s fresh, high quality food and it translates to a much better product on a plate. So, have that eureka moment, and search out a restaurant that buys produce from local farms.

Bees and trees 103Today, we picked and packed a box of quality food for farm delivery to The Hotel Crittenden, Coudersport, Pennsylvania. And, what was in that box of wholesome goodness? Ohman red garlic, Red Thumb potatoes and shallots were the featured items this day.

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Yes, Two Bags Full

So you don’t like the strong flavor of garlic, but still want that intrinsic essence in your cooking  — then shallots are the choice. Shallots are members of the same onion family as garlic but a less spicy seasoning with a sweeter aroma.

The shallot is particularly popular in French dishes. And to whom do we thank for bringing these the little darlings of French chefs to our local tables. Shallots are thought to have originated in Ascalon, Palestine. And, history tells us that Hernando de Soto first brought shallots to the United States during his Louisiana explorations. So with that did you know that these Mediterranean natives are now locally grown, and hope to find popularity in your home-cooked dishes too?

So, one might ask, “Shall it be a good shallot season?” And we would reply: “Oui, Oui! Deux sacs plein.”

Two Bags Full

Two Bags Full

Use shallots the same garlic:

  • Dice is nice. Chop shallots more finely then an onion.
  • Less is more. One or two shallots finely minced are usually all that is needed to add a subtle, slightly sweet flavor to recipes.
  • Go On low. Cook the shallots in butter or oil on a low temperature. Just like garlic, shallots over cook easily.
  • Pair them well. Shallots are tasty when cooked in recipes with white wine, cream and butter.
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Growing For Taste

Bees and trees 081

Costata Romanesco

Today, we had the first harvest of heirloom Italian zucchini —  picked for farm delivery to Olga Cafe & Bistro, Coudersport, Pennsylvania. It features a distinctive nutty flavor, clearly better texture, and is delicious, raw or cooked. And, we have no doubts much better tasting than the hybrids commonly sold in the food stores. Once again, long-held customs prevail here giving phenomenal taste much as vegetables did “in the old days.”

Farmer Tip: Give regular patronage to restaurants that buy produce from local farms. It really helps small farms when establishments serve local produce.  We realize that buying directly from farms versus through a through large food outlets requires more work to coordinate deliveries and interact with several small farms.  But, the food is so much better because it is fresher and healthier (without having to travel long distances or added shelve-life extending chemicals). Your customer support will give these “farm-to-table” eateries assurance that the people understand the importance of it. Discover the value in eating locally and tell your friends.

And, we hope that it finds its way to your kitchen. Buy local as much as you can. You’ll be glad that you did. Start enjoying it today! To help inspire here is the Chef At The Market recipe from Chef Butch and Chef Colin:

Zucchini Mock Crab Cakes

Original Recipe – Mock Crab Cakes

  • 2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon OLD Bay seasoning (Do not substitute)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Mix together, form into patties

Form into very small balls and deep fry or form into small patties and pan fry in butter & oil until golden brown.

Serve as an appetizer or with sides as a main course.

Chef’s Preferred Recipe – Mock Crab Cakes

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 – 2 ½ cups coarsely grated peeled squash (If using large sized squash seed also – optional with smaller tender squash).The squash must be have the excess moisture removed by either pressing firmly in a sturdy colander, or, spreading the gratings on a dish towel and wringing.
  • 2 tablespoon OLD BAY SEASONING (Do not substitute)
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed oyster crackers ( divided)


  • 1/2 – 1 cup bread crumbs-(divided)

(Amount will vary due to moisture content of the vegetables),

If using seasoned bread crumbs, less will usually be needed, start with 1/4 cup.

  • 1 tablespoon minced scallion-green part
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon finely diced seeded jalapeno (optional)
  • ½ cup each finely diced red and green sweet peppers
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley

Liquid Ingredients

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon real mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco – about 6-8 drops or to taste. (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix gently the squash and the Old Bay to distribute the seasoning throughout the squash, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly the rest of the dry ingredients and ½ of the oyster crackers or bread crumbs.

Mix lightly buttermilk, egg, and mayonnaise to blend, add tabasco and Worcestershire and add to dry mixture and gently combine with additions of remaining crumbs to result in a easily formed patty cake about ½ inch in thickness- not too wet or dry – as each cake is formed coat nicely with crumbs or *(preferred Panko bread crumbs)*

Fry in medium hot mixture of oil and butter ¼ to ½ inch deep, until nicely golden browned, drain on paper towels to remove excess oil and serve.

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Little Ark of Taste

Did you ever wonder why all bananas in the grocery store are yellow? Where are the red bananas? Hint: It didn’t happen that way naturally.

Ask us, and we’ll tell you that our farm is a Little Ark of Taste representing some of Potter County’s best local foods. On our little Ark of Taste, we are dedicated to the cultivation of delicious and distinctive foods.  We grow them, eat them and promote them right here in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Where else but the local farmers market can you find  items such as local heirloom garlic and heritage varieties of potatoes and onions. Read through our farm’s local food guide to find some of these items — like the rare and almost extinct winter onion, the rare potato onion and the reestablishment of our farm’s original garlic.

For us, it’s about heirloom and heritage varieties because “these foods naturally taste great”. Taste some and see if you agree.  Visit the Potter County Farmers Market and you’ll see a flotilla of Little Arks of Taste as each individual farm has something special to offer. And by the way, if we could, we’d grow red bananas.


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Field O’ Garlic

Since the slow start in the early spring, the garlic has grown well. In fact, it looks like we’re back on schedule. We anticipate picking the scapes in mid-June with the bulb harvest in late July. While we wait, we would like to share some information that we found on the Natural News website and The Garlic Song from YouTube.

Bees and trees 009

(NaturalNews) Hospital antibiotics have become one of the most over prescribed “medicines” today. As a result people have ruined their digestive systems, and ironically, have lowered their natural immunity to all types of infections in the future.

Garlic possesses potent antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties and is able to help protect and facilitate removal of unfriendly bacteria. It is also very high in natural antioxidants that destroy free radicals, which also supports a strong immune system.

The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, is the key component to killing and warding off harmful bacteria. Crush it to activate these compounds, and eat it raw, in a warm tea, or in lightly cooked food.

Learn more: Read Natural News a science-based natural health advocacy organization led by activist-turned-scientist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger.

And last but not least, here’s The Garlic Song

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Go Bananas Making Wine

Advise from a beginner wine maker — Go Bananas! So, you are probably thinking of a tropical fruit wine, right? Well actually, we’re making wine using our very own Potter County grown potatoes.

Peeled Bananas

Peeled Bananas

We have abundance of Russian Bananas fingerling potatoes, which we are making into a potato wine. The interesting thing about potato wine is that every time you boil a batch of potatoes for dinner, the potato cooking broth that usually gets poured down the drain is the part that is needed for the wine making. The cooked potatoes then can be use as they normally would as a food item. And, oh by the way, potato wine tastes fabulous. At least as good, if not better than, the potato salad.

Sliced Bananas

Sliced Bananas

In case anyone was wondering how Russian Bananas got their name, we have a hint. We have some nice ones, shown here. They could pass for banana slices — don’t you think? Look at before slicing photo  — They look like a pile of bananas. These ones were harvested last October, and kept in our old-fashion root cellar, and have held up nicely. They had a few small sprouts starting, but are still very firm and very much useable.

Wine makers notes: To begin, we washed and peeled the potatoes, then we sliced them, and then boil them. Most recipes say to boil them whole and unpeeled. So why did we peel and slice them? To peel or not to peel, that is the question! We find that after long storage time, the Russian banana skins toughen. It is noticeable when they are boiled for potato salad, for example. When they are freshly dug or haven’t been in storage long, the skins are very tender and do not need peeling even if used in potato salad. It is only when they have been in storage for a long time that the skins become slightly tough. In this case, these potatoes are for dual purpose: Boiled to use potatoes for normal uses like potato salad, and we retain the cooking water (potato broth) for the wine making. So, we wanted the potatoes to be scrubbed for the wine-making recipe. And we also wanted in this case, that the potatoes be peeled and sliced for potato salad recipe.

Banana Wine Must

Banana Wine Must

We used Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast, Pectic Enzyme and yeast Energizer (nutrient booster). And, we are using 10-gallon stainless-steel milk can for the primary fermentation vessel. As of today, we have two wine musts in the works. And, the yeast has taken nicely as shown here with thick form layer on both of the musts. For secondary fermentation, we have some 5-gallon glass carboys with airlocks. And, we have a hydrometer and siphon tube at the ready for the next steps in the wine making process.

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Ohman Red Garlic

Bees and trees 028We are down to our last bag of garlic bulbs from last year’s harvest. But no need to worry,  because last fall, we planted about 150 pounds of cloves to harvest again later this summer. Our last of the 2013 is Ohman Red (shown here) and it is still firm, and has it’s very strong garlic flavor.  So, it is indeed a good keeper.

About 5 years ago, we bought some of this kind of garlic from Andy Heffner, who lives over in Ormsby, Pennsylvania not far west of Smethport. And since then, our farm has been growing it. A couple of years ago, we sold some to the Good Growing Gardens at the Poor Farm in Smethport, Pennsylvania.  And, now they grow it too. That’s how heirlooms have remained viable over the years — by being passed to new growers. So with that, here’s the rest of story:

The variety Andy Heffner  grows came from Carl Ohman, a long-time garlic grower in East Smethport. Carl had worked for Tidewater in the 1920’s when they were bringing in Italian immigrants to dig lines by hand. One particular workman Carl taught to speak English and, over the years, they became friends.
Every day for lunch, this Italian worker had two red garlic cloves, pepperoni, Italian bread and a liquid from a green bottle. He was never sick.  Carl eventually learned that the garlic came from the Milan region of Italy. In fact, when people came from Italy to the United States they were told to smuggle in the garlic – men, in their pockets, or women to sew it inside dresses. Any garlic packed in luggage would be found and thrown away.
When Carl finally got some of these bulbs, he had to promise he would replant half of his crop every year. By the time, Andy met him, he was peddling four tons of it. Andy would end up buying 30-35 pounds of it to plant.

Story based on a newspaper clipping: (2009, September 25). ‘Round the Square. The Bradford Era.

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