(2/2018) Our family farm corporation is located 9 miles north of Gettysburg on Route 34. The farm sits on about 500 acres, but only about 350 acres are actively "farmed". The balance of the land is consumed with ponds (11), farm homes, barns and similar structures, and wood land. To say that we
don’t utilize all 500 would be an error. The ponds are used for irrigation purposes, the farm homes are inhabited by family members and/or employees, the out buildings are filled with everything agricultural imaginable (tractors, sprayers, bins, ladders, crates, maintenance equipment) and the woodland is harvested periodically for use in our bin-building enterprise. I like to
think we are really good stewards OF that land – because we are!
But what are we doing now? Are we on an island somewhere, enjoying the winter months? Ah, I can dream! For those of us in the office, we are doing now what we do the rest of the year - paying bills, ordering supplies, attending continuing educational sessions. We are planning for the 2018 season – including the daunting task of interviewing potential
employees. We lost 2 key managers at the end of December, as well as a hand full of market staff. We are working on evaluations and doing end of year tax work.
Our production team (which currently numbers about 10 full time guys) has already begun the very labor-intensive job of pruning all of our trees. We prune apple trees during the coldest months, as they are less susceptible to freeze damage from tender open tissue – as opposed to peach and pear trees. All of our trees are pruned by hand – yes, your read
that correctly – by hand – and apple trees alone number about 75,000 trees. When you add in the apricots, peaches, plums and pears, over 100,000 trees are pruned by our very skilled production team – by hand – every year. I cannot give them enough accolades, as they are out almost regardless of the weather. On extremely bitter (or snowy) days, they work in one of our barns
that is converted to a repair shop. During this time, they would be fixing containers, maintaining equipment and/or prepping things to be used in the spring. They are a hardy, valuable group of men!
The owners of our business are catching up on everything that piled up on our desks from September through November! We are reviewing insurance policies, figuring out health insurance, meeting with our accounting firm. There truly never IS a down time, although I will say that the winter months are much more forgiving. We can come in at 8 and leave at
4:30 – knowing that there’s no fruit to harvest!
Since we’ve just come off of near record lows for a very long time, I believe I’ll share some favorite soup recipes this month. For me? Cold, winter days are synonymous with a hot bowl of soup, a crusty loaf of bread and maybe an apple crisp for dessert – severed with vanilla ice cream, of course! The recipes submitted are those of our family, friends
and/or employees. I hope you enjoy them!
Baked Potato Soup
- 6 lg. russet potatoes, peeled
- 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives
- 1 lg. onion, chopped
- 1 (8 oz.) container of sour cream
- 3 (13 oz.) cans of chicken broth cream (optional)
- Roasted garlic
- 4 bacon strips (cooked)
- ¼ cup of butter crumbled
- 2½ tsp. salt shredded cheddar cheese
- 1¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup of whipping cream or half-and-half
Cooking directions: Combine potatoes, onion, chicken broth, butter, salt, and pepper in a 5 qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or on low 8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Mash mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped and soup is slightly thickened; stir in cream, cheese, and chives. Top with sour cream, if desired, and sprinkle with
bacon and cheddar cheese before serving.
Cream Of Asparagus Soup
- 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ¼ cup of diced onions
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 cups of asparagus chopped
Cooking directions: Melt butter and sauté onion until clear. Add flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk and chicken stock. Cook and stir until it boils and thickens. Cook asparagus in a small amount of water. Drain and add to sauce. Blend until texture is as smooth as you like. Garnish with
grated cheddar cheese.
White Bean Chicken Chili
- 1 lb. boneless chicken breast
- 1 tsp. cumin cubed
- 2 cans (15 oz. ea.) white beans
- ½ tsp. salt rinsed and drained
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 3 cups of chicken broth
- 2 table spoons of olive oil
- 1½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 med. onion, chopped
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- 1 jalapeZo pepper chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- Minced fresh cilantro
Cooking directions: Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium
heat, brown chicken in oil. Stir in the onion, garlic and jalapeZo; cook 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with oregano and cumin; cook 1 minute longer or until chicken is browned and vegetables are tender. Transfer to a 3 qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of beans; add ½ cup broth
and stir until blended. Add to the slow cooker with the remaining beans and broth. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 3½ hours or until chicken is tender. Stir before serving. Add cream cheese and heavy cream. Stir until melted and combined. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.
Note: I usually double this recipe to feed my family and have some left over! I prefer this soup creamy so I usually cut back on the chicken broth and just use more cream cheese and heavy cream! Add more (or less) jalapeZos to taste.
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes/chillies
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 can shoepeg corn
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 envelope taco seasoning
- 3 cups of water
- 1 envelope Hidden Valley ranch dressing
Cooking directions: Brown ground beef, drain excess fat. Stir taco seasoning and ranch dressing into ground beef. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce Heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Read other articles by Kay Hollabaugh