Now I was sent the photos of the Mt. Airy location today, Tuesday. If the CSA pick up is on Thursday, are those leftover vegetables and have they been sitting there since then? Blech if true, and does that attract vermin ?
Also rather ironic but I actually have a jar of the lavender honey she sells. On the website it says “Raw Unfiltered Honey sourced from a local apiary company.” Yes, so how do you know that’s true? If you were doing your honey in a partnership with local beekeepers, wouldn’t you tell people where the honey was actually coming from?
I didn’t like the honey at all and I am tossing it. And it’s sold for $12 a jar on the website and it is the tiniest little jar. I love honey, and I buy local honey, but I know where it comes from as in where the hives are located and where the honey is actually processed. Thanks I will stick with Chester County grown and produced honey. Besides local honey is great for allergies.
And speaking of how much things cost one of my readers had left a comment somewhere on this blog about going to visit and finding the hours inconsistent (being kind) in Westtown, and that peaches were $2.00 each?! Were they flecked with gold leaf?
No, I have not gone over to visit in Westtown. I don’t really have any desire to. Maybe as time goes by that will change but for my asking questions, I received vile comments from her supporters and somebody who condones bad behavior like that I’m not going to run out and support, are you?
And something that I keep wondering about is it keeps talking about she’s in this agreement with Westtown but what’s the agreement exactly? How much does she rent the land for? I’m asking because I legitimately don’t know and I have no idea how much it was for the prior farmer Pete all those years. if the land lays follow for three years to become organic, did Westtown offer a period of rental abatement?
And if she’s all down with helping alleviate food insecurity in communities, she is now in Chester County correct? It would be nice if she participated where her business is. Chester County Food Bank, The Lord’s Pantry, People’s Pantry, etc.
This. No identity even on “grand opening weekend”. Still known as “Pete’s”. Other people promote the business, and the Farmer in The Dell seems to just promote herself?
Sorry not sorry. The Farmer in The Dell at Westtown has her socials profiles, but this big hunking 120+ acre piece of land she’s renting doesn’t really have it’s own socials. No Farmer Jawn at Westtown, etc. Does that make sense to you? She seems to have all of the identity, not her actual work so what’s up with that?
Organic certification as a process begins after land has sat for three years. Soooo how do we support ourselves on 123 prime acres until then? Is the store in Germantown or Mount Airy or wherever still open? (See photo at bottom of post taken today) Are tea sales brisk? Where are the ingredients to make said tea and honey actually coming from? What local apiary specifically? There are a lot of beekeepers so is it locally sourced honey because when you are talking allergies, etc., ask any beekeeper and they will tell you local honey is best. And if it’s not their own honey, do they say where honey comes from? Where does anything come from if there isn’t a vendor there to say “hey this is mine”?
Someone tell me why we are supposed to support this farmer and where is an itemized account of where the money is going, especially but not limited to donations? Are there grants as well?
And there seem to be lots of business and other names and who’s on first? Farmer Jawn. FarmerJawn Greenery. Life Leaf Organic Farms. Viva Leaf Tea. Grow Sip Repeat. Farmer Jawn Agriculture. FarmerJawn & Friends Foundation Fund. Is there a form 990 by now? Why is the state charity entry incomplete on the state website? Is the state just behind?
I have never had a problem with the stated mission of this woman. I have read all the articles, like these:
But it’s like she skips around? That’s expensive, right?
Ironically next to her Mt. Airy store, Tired Hands (yes the brewery folk out of Ardmore) have a biergarten at 6730 Germantown Pike, Philadelphia. At first it was the Farmer Jawn Biergarten but now it’s Mt. Airy Biergarten? So the Greenery place there is not officially closed, but is it actually ever open?
Maybe sometimes things that seem too good to be true are true, but will this be the case in Westtown? And they say the farmer moved to the Borough of West Chester? If so, that’s a great idea especially if she is going to be tilling fields in Westtown, right? The commute from Philadelphia certainly wouldn’t be an easy one or practical right? Northwest Philadelphia to Chester County would be a not so great commute, yes?
And hey remember Greener Partners? They have a similar mission…
So 6730 Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy? This is a business location that is more closed than open and supposedly has no staff left and is the address listed for the non-profit, etc.? And then there is the farm or whatever in Elkins Park? Described as “furloughed”? And The greenhouses went bye bye before all this so what is up? Is this just real estate hopscotch? Bad luck? Coincidence?
These questions have nothing to do with the color of anyone’s skin, and they are questions that should be asked. We are asking to support this, and in THEORY, it’s a GREAT idea. (The regenerative agriculture movement is real and kind of cool.) But the reality of the Jawn of it all? Doesn’t pass the sniff test if we are honest, does it? But why are people afraid to say so out loud?
But hey what do I know anyway? I am just the villain in this play for asking questions.
But truthfully? Here’s hoping Farmer Jawn is a success in Westtown…but I do not see it happening. This photo below is why. And it begs one final question: is the new Farmer in The Dell in Westtown actually leaving the community that first embraced her for greener pastures? People move on all of the time, it’s called life. Perhaps just own it?
And Westtown School? What say you in all of this besides crickets?
Gosh, apparently I am a racist for questioning anything about the new Farmer in The Dell for Westtown?
Guess what? I am not a racist. I reject that as a label.
Everything doesn’t add up and water always seeks it’s own level.
This chick above wants to say that if you have questions you are tearing down a black owned business. I find that assertion on her part absolutely disgusting. And deliberately incendiary and divisive.
I have been tracking the comments. I watched on Instagram where they eviscerated a woman who not only lives in Chester County but lived a farming life for several years. She was not racist or anything remotely close, but Farmer in The Dell For Westtown allowed the people commenting to tear her apart and call her a racist .
I could post loads and loads of comments. Some good, some bad, some horrible. And there is a disturbing common theme with some comments: race baiting.
That’s wrong. I don’t care what your race, creed, or color is, it is wrong. And thanks but no, I don’t suffer from white fragility or white privilege. I can’t help the color of my skin, and that doesn’t make me bad or a racist. But it’s a great deflection tool in this scenario, isn’t it?
The message is clear even if that is not actually the intent: if you aren’t with Westtown’s New Farmer in the Dell, you’re against her. So is it you can only worship, you CANNOT raise or voice concerns about how things look (you know like the mowing issues), and you can’t say anything else? If you do, is there a shade of shade of inference none too subtly that anyone who has anything other than glowing praise and accolades is a racist? Come on, really?
And you wonder why I have zero desire to check out Farmer Jawn in Westtown and give them business at this point? I am not on the immediate bandwagon, therefore I am bad. And note, I am not saying racism doesn’t exist, it does. But I am not a practitioner.
I don’t see what this woman is actually bringing to Chester County that is positive in this moment. Hopefully it changes, and if it does that would actually and truthfully be pretty cool. The irony in ALL of this is I actually believe in her mission if it is indeed her mission. Food insecurity is a real is a real live issue, just ask Chester County Food Bank or People’s Pantry, or down on the Main Line, Narberth Community Food Bank and Ardmore Food Pantry just to name a handful of organizations who care and help.
And I actually support farmers in Chester County. But they are hard working men and women, and they spend a lot less time on Instagram telling everyone how fabulous they are. (Too much? ) And urban agriculture? It’s a good thing, just like regular gardening. But she’s in Chester County now, yes? Maybe as she asks we accept her, maybe she needs to work on some acceptance herself?
So screenshot chick and others, hope you didn’t turn blue on my account. That would be distressing. I also hope that your hate doesn’t eat you up inside. I can’t control how you feel, even if I feel it’s wrong, but you don’t have the right at attempting canceling other human beings because their opinions and questions don’t match yours, or perhaps neither their race, creed, and color.
And Grace? It’s earned. right now all y’all have earned is my disdain.
I will freely admit I am a bit salty about Farmer in the Westtown Dell’s latest post. The message is clear even if that is not actually her intent: if you aren’t with her, you’re against her. So is it you can only worship, you CANNOT raise or voice concerns about how things look (you know like the mowing issues), and you can’t say anything else? If you do, is there a shade of shade of inference none too subtly that anyone who has anything other than glowing praise and accolades is a racist?
Come on, really?
See this Instagram post from 2 days ago:
So yes I wrote a post about the way the place formerly known as Pete’s Produce looked. And this was after an email blast to her followers came out. And by her I am referring to Westtown’s New Farmer in the Dell, Ms. Barfield.
That email hit a bad chord in me. I felt as if those of us expressing concern were being chided for expressing valid concerns about how everything looked. Lady, it’s called communication and that is not necessarily one and the same as an Instagram post is it?
So I wrote about it and how I felt. It’s my right is it not? I was not being racist. But I had people saying I was and messages that were vile.
So let’s back up (again.) When they first announced Ms. Barfield was the new farmer, I was welcoming with a couple of basic questions – essentially concerning the Pete’s workers who had worked that farm for in some cases, years, and would she be hiring any of them. Here verbatim is what I said at the time (December 9, 2022) :
I welcome a new farmer to continue the tradition of Pete on this land. BUT with Pete, retiring, a lot of his workers are now unemployed, so I hope since so many of them worked so hard for him for so many years that this new farmer will adopt some of his workers as hers. What I am hearing Westtown School is that might not be so?
Truthfully, I thought it was kind of cool initially when she was chosen because she was a female farmer. I did not object to the switch to organic farming, but I will still repeat what I initially said because I know organic farmers: it is a BIG process. Going organic and getting organic certification is a lot of hoops, and expensive. I also noted it doesn’t happen overnight.
These are a sampling of the 250 comments on the Instagram post that I found distasteful:
BUT I have a huge problem with the way I feel those of us out here who are essentially being told we are racists because we asked what was going on over there and can anyone understand this? That is wrong. I am not a racist and I have read through all of the 277 comments (or that was how many at last count.) Just because someone is not your race and says “hey I don’t like something happening” that is not racist. People aren’t saying because she is a black farmer or even a female farmer that she is bad or can’t do the job. They are also NOT saying she shouldn’t own farm land. Out here specifically people were referring to how run down parts of the property looked because the freaking weeds weren’t cut along the sides of the road leading into the market area. Sometimes things are just about what people say. Sometime it’s not more or bad or wrong.
People did try to have a conversation about this on this Instagram post. Like one lady said and I quote:
I find what bothers me the most is that conventional farmers such as Pete and others are made to sound as if they are horrible stewards of the earth. I wish you the best but please respect all farming practices. There’s nothing unhealthy about the soil on that farm.
One of the replies this person received was horrible. She was told she had white logic essentially and what the offensive same hell does she mean? Just like the subsequent comment to someone else asking about “your species”? I am sorry was this person an alien?
And then there are the locals who feel they have to literally suck up and say that they are so sorry everyone is so negative and change doesn’t come easily and please forgive everyone for the negativity. The negativity is primarily coming from the supporters of Farmer Jawn. And yes, I agree change doesn’t come easily. But it’s all about how the change is presented.
Let’s review: when Westtown first announced the new farmer of that land people were excited. The land would stay farmed and not become a crop of cheap plastic mushroom houses. Then it was nothing really, including the weeds which didn’t get cut for months. That made people wonder and worry, myself included. I was not racist on my comments and am not a racist but yeah I am damn straight going to react to words like raggedy. And when I have never made the race or sex of this farmer (or any other farmer) an issue, why is she saying that is why people are asking questions?
Newsflash, Ms. Barfield, people asked questions and had understandable concerns considering how well tended the land had been by the last steward of the land even if he wasn’t organic. I will note he wasn’t exactly a straight Round Up farmer, either. He was just a conventional farmer, not organic. But for what it is worth conventional farmers I know do employ a lot of organic practices even if they do not have the organic official status because of the expense of becoming certified organic. This farmer could have played this straight and allayed fears people had. But she really has not in my opinion. And that is why I am finding this Instagram you did offensive to those of us who live here.
And that is the thing of it: you are the new steward of the land but you are unknown except for your social media out here in the community you are entering into. And you have kind of been putting this combative vibe out there. It’s not warranted. Life is difficult enough at times without that. Just because I am white doesn’t make me a bad person does it? So why would you assume I judged you by the color of your skin? I didn’t. And I won’t.
Ms. Barfield. I do not have a problem with either your mission or your vision. I do still wonder if the Westtown land will be too much and too expensive for you long term, but that isn’t wishing you ill or implying you can’t do it. I am not slamming you as a female farmer of any creed or color. What I have a problem with is anyone implying folks have a racial angle if they ask questions about your Westtown farming. That will not engender good will in the community you wish to be a part of.
Farming like gardening is kind of like life, especially when you are cultivating. Because lady, people require cultivation too. I was planning to show up and support you when you announced your August 18th opening. I was happy to hear this. But then came your Raggedyness post on Instagram and those comments. Now, I will get there when I get there.
My business in particular doesn’t matter a hill of beans, and I know that, but what I am saying that may resonate, is that if we had questions or reservations at all, are we really actually welcome as potential customers?
A customer wants to feel welcomed. That’s a pretty simple tenet of customer service.
Ms. Barfield, FarmerJawn, I wish you the best, but I am never one who will mince words when something strikes me as wrong or unfair.
So the email came out today from Farmer Jawn about all those acres she’s renting where Chester County’s beloved now retired Farmer Pete and Pete’s Produce used to be. I will allow the new farmer her words (this email came out today):
A Heartfelt Update from our CEO, Christa Barfield
I am thrilled to share some wonderful news with you. FarmerJawn is ecstatic to announce the grand opening of the FarmerJawn Produce Market on Friday, August 18th, running through the Thanksgiving season. Get ready for a bounty of fresh, locally-grown tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, an array of greens, local products, and so much more.
I understand that some of you may have wondered why it took a little longer for us to open our doors. Allow me to shed some light on the process: It was essential for me to honor this Lenape land and prioritize the health of people and the planet. To achieve this, I made the conscious decision to let the foliage on our farm go through their natural life cycle, enriching the soil in the process.
Now that we have mowed it down, we are well on our way to converting our farm operation from conventional to fully organic, just as I promised.
The journey hasn’t been without its challenges. We’ve bobbed and weaved through irrigation woes, faced oppressive commentary, endured unkind visits, braved torrential downpours, and even navigated through the haze of Canadian wildfire smoke. Despite it all, I am immensely proud of what my team and our volunteer community have accomplished, and I stand firmly by my decisions thus far. I am filled with gratitude for all the farmers and environmentalists who understand the mission at hand and have stood by me as we see it through.
For those who don’t know me, I started my professional career as a healthcare professional before transitioning into farming. My dedication to “Food is Medicine” is rooted in my commitment to the wellness of our community, the Philadelphia metro area, extending to the great state of Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, but my impact is most certainly felt internationally.
I cannot express how excited I am to welcome each and every one of you to FarmerJawn at Westtown School. I named my organization FarmerJawn as a love note to my city, which also symbolizes that we all should know where our food comes from. It is truly an honor for me, my team, and our farm & food artisan partners to nourish you now and through to the 2023 holiday season and beyond. We are eager to serve you with the freshest and healthiest produce, grown with love and care.
In the coming weeks, we will continue regular communication and provide more details about our market’s hours of operation, our style of farming as it is clearly different and not understood and a warm introduction to our dedicated team members. We are committed to creating a welcoming environment, where you will find not just prized produce, but also a sense of community.
Additionally, if you happen to know anyone interested in part-time cashier/stock employment, we have openings available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your continued support and patience. Your belief in our mission is what drives us to do better and be better every day. We can’t wait to see you at the FarmerJawn Produce Market in the coming weeks, where health, sustainability, and community come together. Westtown is one location within the FarmerJawn ecosystem and we are driving systemic change for our region that will be felt nationwide.
With heartfelt gratitude, Christa Barfield aka FarmerJawn
P.S. For those of you, who know and love the Westtown farm and patronized the market over the previous years, please take into account that it began as a small farm stand and developed and experienced growth over two decades. Also understand that Less than 2% of U.S. farmland is stewarded by Black people and just over 0% is stewarded by a Black woman and the ‘why’ is rooted in the colonization of opportunity. Please think about all these facts as you form opinions about who FarmerJawn is…FarmerJawn is a Movement!
Ok. Deep breath. As a former customer of Pete’s Produce and a resident of Chester County who used to drive to Westtown to go to Pete’s BEFORE I lived in Chester County, I am actually trying to NOT be offended by this woman’s message.
For starters does she think none of us have seen farm fields go fallow to rest the land and rejuvenate? I certainly have and I know (for example) that Pete did not abuse the land and milk it without nourishment like the now former farmer at Immaculata did. When Immaculata switched tenant farmers, those farm fields literally breathed a sigh of relief. The new farmer tilled and added bone meal and manure and more. No more Round Up and his first season he planted a cover crop of soy that he just let grow to enrich the soil. I watched that guy care for the fields. And not one field was left to look like a hot weed filled mess. He respected the land and the neighbors and the school he is leasing the fields from. And today the fields have never looked better.
I also have known and do know other farmers who also will rotate their fields so sometimes some fields sit. When a field lies fallow, it doesn’t look like much is happening. But it is. It is resting and the land is rejuvenating. But when fields are laying fallow, other parts of a property can actually be maintained a bit. You know like the entrance to the old market etc.? Pete didn’t plant crops to the edge of the road.
And yes, I do know it takes a couple of years to be able to get land being farmed back to straight organic. And the process to get an organic certification is detailed and somewhat arduous to get established.
However, right or wrong, I feel like you are either WITH this farmer or AGAINST this farmer, and up until this point I was NEITHER, but like many many many other people I was wondering what the hell was going on.
Why? Simple, when I drove by July 17th and this was the view:
Sorry not sorry, it looked like shit. That was a beautiful property and when it wasn’t in season, umm the basics were done….like the mowing.
When I posted about this on my blog’s Facebook page oh the oh so uglies came out to the point that I had to remove most comments because people were not being civil to each other or to me for expressing MY opinion that the property looks like crap.
I said after I was forced to remove comments:
Please note that I have removed the majority of the comments. Not because all of them were objectionable or because I didn’t agree but because I’m sick and tired.
I am sick and tired of being judged because I expressed my opinion.
I’m sick and tired of people saying it entirely stupid things like, why don’t I personally ask the farmer what’s going on or why don’t I show the farmer some grace.And then there were the dancing thinly veiled comments that I found utterly reprehensible that basically to say what once was beautiful land looks like crap right now is borderline racist. That is not what I’m saying at all that is not what anyone else is saying AT ALL.
And I’m also sick and tired of people, saying I am raising hysteria by what I wrote. What I said is the property looks sad. What I said is it looks really sad to drive by and not even see a farm stand. I went on further to say that I think the property kind of looks like crap because they’re not even cutting the weeds.
I am fully cognizant of how hard farming is, and I also know how hard organic farming is, but I am wondering, as are many other people if the new farmer has bitten off more than she can chew. And I don’t wish that on her because it would be great if she could succeed, but while she is hyper focused on her other properties in her other areas, she seems less concerned about all of us out here and she’s our new neighbor. Maybe smart marketing should include putting the minds of the new community she is joining at ease?
That is not a hysterical opinion or bad.
Some of you need to get over yourselves.
Above you see a photo I took I think sometime in October of 2017. It shows the beauty of this place. Even when not organically farmed. It was beautiful because Pete took care of the land and so did his crews. He loved it, you could feel that. When you reward the land it rewards you back.
So this email sent to people today. Personally I felt alienated, like it was an email shaming for those of us who expressed concern as to the tumble down state of the place. And the paragraph with too much usage of the word professional in the same paragraph was just annoying. She isn’t the only professional woman on the planet, is she?
Someone said to me recently:
I think Farmer Jawn is a great content creator and branding extraordinaire but a terrible farmer. Because it’s a lot of work. 100% organically dope is her tagline…which really means 100% not profitable. There is a reason the average age of US farmers is almost 60 years old….
I agree with that sentiment sadly. Her not really taking the time out here until a random act of email now and some long overdue mowing leaves a bad taste. Whose community is she referring to in her email? All of us equally? I hope so.
I will also point out that we had a sense of community until Westtown School decided to go a different direction. We all knew Pete was approaching retirement age but people still wonder what role Westtown School had to play in last year being his last season don’t they? Pete also employed a steady roster of dedicated employees and farm workers I was told, so when he retired and Farmer Jawn came on the scene, they were part of out with the old, weren’t they? Farmer Jawn is looking for workers, did she reach out to any of Pete’s former employees, I wonder? Or will she?
So Farmer Jawn has a national mission? Will she actually have time for us little folk in Chester County? That remains to be seen. I mean she already in her own email thinks us rubes who can’t possibly grasp the concept of organic farmer or other styles of farming. Lady, I know other organic farmers and with respect kindly don’t patronize the people you need to cultivate.
That email was patronizing. We all know that Pete’s started small. I also am going to say personally, that I respect farmers in general. They race, nationality, gender, etc. does not make me respect any farmer any less. Although I do have a soft spot for female run farms. Which is why initially I was excited a female farmer was coming to Westtown. For me it’s pretty simple: it’s not the hype of social media marketing, it’s what they actually do with the land.
I am going to point out some Chester County history now. Brackbill Farm Markets. Started by an East Whiteland farmer once upon a time in a land far, far away. Mr. Leasa as far as I can see is the reason there ended up being what evolved into what we know today as the Ardmore Farmers Market.
So truly, I do not intend to be unkind here. But I will reserve further judgement until I see an actual anything happening off of social media. I don’t disagree with what she is trying to do at all. So I hope people have the comprehension abilities to understand that. But this is our part of the world and every day we see farms disappear. We don’t want this farmland to disappear. Honestly, the other issue is I am not trusting of Westtown School so that is part of my overall reservations. I know people who live around the school who have been fighting turf fields and nasty lights, which in order to be paid for are always constantly rented out. They also aren’t exactly organic.
Westtown is a lovely school, I had many friends who went there and then sent kids there, but do they really want this new farmer to succeed? Or do they ultimately want the land for something else or to sell it off some day? THAT is what people WORRY about. They want a successful farming operation and farming to stay.
Yes this new farmer has taken to social media and podcasts and what not, but seriously? She needs to make some time for the people out here she wants to support her and whom she needs to support her.
I understand Rome wasn’t built in a day and no farm was ever built in a day, but please be real with us, right? And I miss sunflowers in the farmhouse front field.
For us to support her movement, we might actually need to see some movement, eh? That means, not left feeling chided and talked down to or patronized in an email sent out to an email list. I am not a social media influencer, don’t have any desire to be, just want to know when the farm is going to stop looking haunted and start looking like a farm where I can patronize a local business and buy my produce etc. once again.
I don’t need partnerships with wineries and cider makers and posts from State Rep. Madeleine Dean, who is probably gearing up for her next re-election campaign or something.
I don’t need chef collaborations, I am a rather good cook on my own. I want to see life again in this part of Westtown. I want to feel as a potential customer that I will be welcomed. Will we all be welcomed equally? I hope so because I honestly want to support this business because I like it and I want to.
I am sure there will be many who think I have some nerve stating my opinion. Take a ticket and stand in line, that’s like every day with whatever I write. This is how I feel about all of this and I look forward to hopefully all of my doubts and questions being put to rest.
I will close with my post saying good bye to Pete’s last fall:
This is a semi homemade kind of a cooking post. Languishing in the chest freezer. I found a random graham cracker crust. I had been thinking of making a pie because I had leftover cherries and a couple of apples that needed to be used.
So I decided that I was going to make my fruit pie with my graham cracker crust. I let the graham cracker crust thaw, and while I was doing that, I got the crumb topping and the fruit prepared for the filling.
A fruit pie is not rocket science. It is fruit, sugar, lemon, or lime juice, and a few tablespoons of flour, or some people use tapioca. And spices if you’re adding any. In fruit pies, I like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger.
First, I pitted all my black cherries. I will admit that is a bit labor intensive because I don’t have one of those handy little pitting machines. I added them to the bowl with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom. Not a lot of spices because it’s a summer pie not a fall pie — just enough to give it a delightful flavor profile.
Next, I peeled my apples and sliced them paper thin like I was going to make a Tarte Tatin. I added them to the cherries and the sugar and spices and added the juice of two small lemons. That’s what I had on hand I said that to the side.
For the crumble topping I used half a stick of unsalted butter, cubed, into little pieces, a handful of oatmeal, brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and flour. I used one of those fun pastry cutters to cut everything into a crumble status.
Oh, and I almost forgot. I had an oven preheating to 350°.
Pie assembly was very simple. I put the filling in the graham cracker crust. Next I patted in and slightly mounded the crumble topping over the filling.
**I assembled this pie on a baking sheet because I put pies on a baking sheet in the oven so if they bubble over, they don’t cause a huge oven mess**
My final step before the oven was using my silicone piecrust cover around the edge of the graham cracker crust, so nothing burned.
I baked my pie for about 50 minutes in my preheated oven, and the result was surprisingly delicious. I had never used a graham cracker crust before on a summer fruit pie. I actually like the way it turned out. I forgot to take a picture of the pie before I cut it last night so above is just a photo of a little slice.
I am sorry this is a little of this and dash of that recipe, but that’s kind of how I roll in the kitchen half of the time. But I am writing this down enough that I can repeat my happy pie accident.
The pie tasted great, and the graham cracker crust was a good complement to just a fruit pie. It also cut down the preparation time considerably since I didn’t make a crust from scratch.
There is a summer salad, that Wegman’s makes and it’s a corn and bean salad. For a store made salad it’s not bad, but it’s too sweet. And that is the thing with a lot of salads involving beans and even corn, sweet is added to the dressing and it just doesn’t taste right.
So I decided to try to make my own version of it because I had leftover ears of corn from the weekend.
First, I removed the corn from the cob with one of my paring knives. I stand the ears up in the bowl with one of those corn holders in the top to hold it because that way when I hold the holder, it keeps my hand away from the knife, and then I just shear off the kernels. After that, I broke the kernels up some because they don’t necessarily get broken up because they come off the cob almost in little strips.
Next, I chopped a sweet white onion. Not particularly huge just regular sized or medium. I added that to my bowl. After the sweet white onion, I chopped up a little more finely a small red onion. to the corn and onions I added a little Jane’s Crazy Salt, and gave it a toss.
I thought peppers would be a good addition to this salad so the next step is chopping up red sweet peppers. I happened to have a bag of those small seedless red peppers from the grocery store that I had used in another recipe so I cut a bunch of those into rings and added them.
The final ingredients before the dressing were two cans of beans, drained. What I had on hand were cannellini or white kidney beans and a can of pinto beans.
I’m sorry I didn’t write down the proportions of the vinaigrette, but what it was is easy. The juice of three fresh limes, olive oil, garlic powder, Jane’s Crazy Salt, olive oil, and a combination of balsamic and red vinegar. I just whisked all those ingredients together until I felt I had the right consistency. I didn’t want it to be too oily.
Then I mixed the salad all together with the dressing and chilled until dinner. It’s really good and the fact that it is not sweet like most commercially available I think makes it better.
Thursday marked an end of an era officially when the Hunan name came off of the facade at 47 East Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore, PA.
At some point after Covid, one of my favorite places in the whole world, Hunan restaurant in Ardmore, closed their doors .
I had been going here since I was 11 or 12 and like everyone else I think the pandemic has just worn them out. It is no fun being a restaurant. First you couldn’t be open. Then you could only be takeout. Then you could re-open but a lot of places found their employees scattered.
The family that owned this restaurant (the Foos) are family friends to me and we had so many celebrations there, My sister and I used to have birthday parties there upstairs when we were younger, and so on. And for many years up until A couple of years before they closed, many of my birthdays were still at Hunan.
I was gladly part of the Save Ardmore Coalition when Ardmore was threatened by eminent domain for private gain, and it was specifically because of Hunan and the Foos I got involved in the first place. I still have a very distinct memory of the Friday evening. I went into Hunan for dinner, and Betty came up to our table and said with tears in her eyes “They want to take our building.” Betty then asked me to get involved with a new group that was forming, and I said yes.
I can tell you that living in Chester County sadly made this restaurant just far enough away for weekly visits, and Ardmore has the worst parking ever thanks to Lower Merion Township.
This family however prevailed through everything. And for 50 years they served us their food, some of the best food imaginable. I used to love when Chris their son and chef would let us order things he was trying out off the menu. This is a place where every time you went in the door it was one of the nicest vibes possible. Everyone was welcomed whether it was the first time or the 500th time they had been in.
From the time I was a kid, there was nothing more fun than introducing new people to Hunan restaurant in Ardmore.
Also, once upon a time, Betty taught cooking classes. My mother and I took one. It was awesome.
Dumplings. The dumplings here, whether they be regular, special like curry or something else were legendary and no one will ever beat Hunan in the dumpling department. And the sweet and sour soup was the best there is. And then all the other things like the dishes with duck, or dishes made with little tiny, fresh sardines, or really spicy, minced pork with peppers that were hot enough to make the roof of your mouth come off.
And something else you always had to have were the Chinese vegetables. It was what was seasonal at the time, and always delicious. In the vegetable department, the spicy string beans, and the hot and sweet cabbage, which was essentially pickled, were amazing.
I remember when we were in the restaurant on my birthday in 2014 when the actress Kate Flannery stopped by. She had worked in Hunan as a waitress when I was in high school or somewhere around that time.
Every time you went into Hunan, no matter where you had been, it was like coming home. And we were treated like family.
There are so many memories for me, associated with Hunan from all different stages of my life. And that is the way it was in this restaurant for so many.
The Foo family also survived a fire after surviving Lower Merion Township’s failed attempt at eminent domain for private gain.
If I back up to the days of eminent domain in Ardmore for a moment, we had most of our meetings on the second floor of Hunan. And Betty and E Ni always fed us. We even introduced Congressman James Sensenbrenner to Hunan once upon a time.
After eminent domain, and after the fire, Hunan rebuilt. An architect who was part of Save Ardmore Coalition helped them create an updated look. The updated Hunan was gorgeous and the walls for the most part we’re lined with Dr. Foo’s artwork.
It was July 2010 when they re-opened. And it was packed and beautiful. I still have photos so here I’ll share some:
So the sign coming off the building this is so much the end of an era. And it’s not just for those of us who loved this restaurant, it’s an end of an era in Ardmore as well because this was a business that stuck with this town through thick and thin, quite literally.
I know businesses can’t stay in a place forever. And I actually accept that, but this was a place that was just so special. So thank you to the Foo family for the memories and for feeding us for decades I hope whoever goes in here does well now that the building is sold.
Hunan was one of those places that even if you didn’t live in the area anymore, whenever you were in town, you would come back and go there. I secretly wish that they would create a cookbook. It wouldn’t be the same as eating there, but it would be something so worth having in a cookbook library in your home.
Chester County, like her neighboring counties used to be a farming seat. Acres and acres of fields as far as the eyes could see. Cows, horses, sheep. The landscape dotted with old barns and farmhouses. Sounds of fields, being plowed, or crops being brought in, and more.
Dairy farms were a big part of Chester County. Now all we have for the most part are memories of the farms that used to exist before development and before developers drove up land prices, making farmers unable to keep their land for future generations, like their fathers and grandfathers before them.
Now, for the most part, the memories we have are of those great dairy farms large and small are old glass milk bottles. I have little pint sized ones on my kitchen windowsill. I use them to root plants and hold flowers.
I really don’t think that government and politicians no matter what political persuasion really value farming anymore. Just like in Pennsylvania I don’t think they value the way we want our communities to look, as opposed to being stampeded and trampled by new development that feels like it arrives every minute of the day.
What once was hangs on in little memories like when you come across the little bottles. Here’s hoping people eventually wake up before all is lost. Yes, we do need some development, like it, or not for us to move forward. But there is simply too much of it. It has become a problem. It is destroying us.
Remember those fresh vegetables you love do not grow on the roof of Whole Foods in Exton, nor do cows and horses and sheep and goats and more graze there.
So what do you do when you end up with two giant heads of celery less than a week? You make soup. I went through recipes for cream of celery soup and I didn’t really want something that delicate. I wanted something with a little bit of flavor, so I came up with my version. Yes, wing it soup.
I saved some of my celery for the salmon cakes I’m making on Friday, but the rest of it got a rough chop and tossed into one of my soup pots with about 3 tablespoons of butter, four cloves of garlic, also chopped, and rough chopped onions. I also added salt, thyme, a couple of bay leaves, and 1/3 cup of water. I put the lid on the pot and let the vegetables cook down a few minutes.
Normally cream of celery soup calls for leeks but when I went to Aldi this week they didn’t have any, so I used red onions and yellow onions specifically are used one big red onion and two regular yellow onions.
To the onions and garlic and celery, I next added two chopped up yellow Yukon Gold potatoes I had. I also peeled and chopped small a bunch of parsnips that arrived in my vegetable box from Lancaster this week. We use Doorstep Dairy if you’re interested and are in their delivery area.
I let all the vegetables kind of meld together and cooked down about another 15 minutes. Then I used a box and a half of prepackaged chicken stock. Each box is 32 ounces so in total, I added 48 ounces of chicken stock. Two that I added a dash of Herbes de Provence. I brought it all up to a boil, then reduced to low and covered, and let everything cook.
When the parsnips and potatoes were both soft, I removed the bay leaves, and I took out my Cuisinart hand blender and puréed everything. I then let it all cook down more. I did this part of the cooking on low heat, and I stirred fairly often, so nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan. This was probably about another 40 minutes.
Then I added half a cup of half-and-half, and a dash of curry powder. Not a spicy curry powder just Keen’s Traditional Curry Powder. I know that sounds weird to add, but it just struck me that it would make a good addition to the flavor profile and I was right. I love curry so I do add curry powders to a lot of recipes.
I then use my hand blender once again, and emulsified everything a little more. I served the soup with Italian breadsticks. I have always loved breadsticks, and people always forget about them.
Now you have my semi homemade recipe for cream of celery soup. I will note I rarely use heavy cream when I do a cream based soup because I don’t like the extra thick and heavy, which means I will use half-and-half, canned unsweetened coconut milk, or even buttermilk. I think this recipe could be done with any of the above, but I just happen to have half-and-half in, so that’s what I used.
I know people don’t like it when I say a dash of this or a dash of that, but it really just is depending on what your taste level is and if you’re unsure of some thing you can always add a little less at first because you can always add a little more later.
Good soup, even semi-homemade, does take a little bit of time, but the thing about soup is you can cook it while you’re doing other things. So if you work from home it doesn’t really interfere with life.
I have been working really hard to try to use and not be wasteful with food. That even includes with leftovers. Like a pasta sauce and ricotta that was the leftover last week became baked ziti.
Food prices are crazy and what’s even nuttier are what the stores are out of from week to week and it’s not even Covid anymore. And with high food prices, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat well, it just means sometimes you have to be a little more inventive and use what you have versus buying lots of new things. I have been shopping more at places like Aldi, because they have great prices and their products are not bad.
Anyway, this is an easy enough soup to make, so I thought I would share it with you, because it did turn out to be quite delicious. I will probably have more for lunch today since it’s damp and rainy.