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.
It has been a week of cooking. Right now I have a chicken roasting in the oven, Julia Child style. Along with the roast chicken, I am making a salad with poppyseed dressing. I’m making at the way friend. I had many years ago named Liza used to make it. It was one of her favorite salads to serve. I am also serving a mash of potatoes, celeriac root, and parsnips with sautéed baby Bella mushrooms.
Earlier this week I made pierogis for the first time. I have mad respect for old Polish grandmothers everywhere. Those suckers are work! I used a New York Times recipe, and adjusted the potato filling to my taste – I added sautéed mushrooms.
A couple of days ago I found some fabulous old Coalport plates. You don’t see them all the time in the US they are a British china. Coalport china ceased operations and production in 1926. Coalport was eventually absorbed into Wedgewood in the 1960s. I love old plates, so I will use them. I pretty much use old plates every day no matter what, I’m not really a modern china person. And my mother always said if you have the plates use them, you can’t take them with you.
Today for dessert I am making something I made up. I am calling it pineapple upside down trifle. it’s a semi homemade kind of thing, and never underestimate the power of a simple dessert.
Here’s the recipe:
1 box Jell-O instant pudding mix. Today I’m using banana, but you can also use vanilla. Make according to directions with whole milk and put to the side.
1 package of ladyfingers or one store-bought poundcake. I just got a Sara Lee that’s always still in the freezer section and let it thaw on the refrigerator.package of ladyfingers or one store-bought poundcake. I just got a Saralee that’s always still in the freezer section and let it thaw on the refrigerator.
1 cleaned, cored, sliced into small pieces fresh pineapple. I found a smaller one at the store, not huge one.
A couple tablespoons of brown sugar and butter.
I am making my trifle in a vintage Copco Enamelware Bowl. I’m not putting this into the oven. I’m just putting it into the refrigerator. I really like this bowl. I found that a few months ago. It’s stamped Michael Lax for Copco of Switzerland. It was a total deal and I purchased it well below what you would see these bowls going for on EBay or Etsy.
I sautéed the pineapple in a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter with brown sugar until they were caramelized. When they were cool enough to handle, I started to put my trifle together.
Trifle is really simple. It’s layered pudding and cake with fruit. Never underestimate the appeal of this desert. If you want to you can top it with a little whipped cream but you don’t have to.
The Frazer Diner on Route 30 in Frazer has closed. I am honestly concerned about this site, which has been written about a slew of times and is actually in a book about diners.
I love old school diners. Sorry not sorry, it’s scrapple and eggs for me, or a diner burger and a fountain coke. Remember the diner days of years gone by where you would see the lemon meringue pies with their high hats of meringue in the cases with other desserts? I remember that from the original Minella’s in Wayne and this cool old diner in North Jersey
Anyway, the Frazer Diner is a truly cool example of an amazingly intact diner. And now they have closed. Research indicates the Cavalati family still owns it, the owners live in Mechanicsburg, PA. So they are far removed from this now, will they sell? Find a new tenant?
Why am I concerned? We hear the continued whispers of developers sniffing around East Whiteland and the Route 30/Lancaster Ave corridor. West Whiteland is a hotbed of bad development and neighboring Easttown is not much better along Lancaster Avenue is it? Just look at that new construction gargantuan and hideous apartments or whatever dwarfing the Berwyn Pub.
Originally manufactured in 1935(though some sites reference 1929), it was purchased by Frances and Sylvester Cavalati in 1957 and moved to its present location at 189 Lancaster Avenue, Frazer, Pennsylvania in East Whiteland Township. In 1972, while retaining ownership, they leased it to others to operate and the name was changed to the Frazer Diner.
Around 1983, the diner was leased to Tam Nguyen and his wife Hao (law school graduate and nurse, respectively) who had fled communism in Vietnam and moved to the Main Line in 1980. They operated it as the Linh Diner, specializing in Vietnamese-Chinese food, and it became a regular lunch stop for nearby high-tech companies in the Great Valley. After five years building a successful business, they were running out of space and looking to move to a new location that was to be built as part of a new shopping center nearby. Before that happened, the Cavalati’s served the Nguyens an eviction notice, and noted there was a buyer who wanted to move the diner to Hollywood.
The Nguyens did eventually open the Linh Restaurant nearby, but the diner was not moved to California, and eventually re-opened, once again as the Frazer Diner.
Diners have a place in our hearts and communities. It doesn’t have to be haute cuisine. It’s a community gathering place historically, and some diners were just breakfast and lunch, some did 3 meals, some were open 24 hours.
I find today especially out here in Chester County, we lack a distinct variety from the most humble through to fine dining. We are a lot of formula food, fast food, sushi, brew pubs, quasi steak houses. The only good BBQ is Farm Boy, and they are a gem (hope they re-open soon!)
There always were historically good diners in Chester County. And one by one they are biting the dust. DK still holds court in West Chester. The West Chester Diner used to be pretty good, but the last couple of years it has sadly gone downhill. But West Chester Diner was always too big. Frazer like DK had that little joint feel, which I think is part of the whole diner experience.
The funny thing about the Frazer Diner is how often it has been written up in diner articles. I am putting into this post what I have discovered. I am putting this out there in the hopes someone saves it, or in the hopes that anyone is interested at all.
We need fewer crappy apartment and townhouse developments. How about adaptive reuse of literally a historic diner? Thanks for stopping by.
About two years ago my friend David randomly (and finally) gave me his grandmother’s poundcake recipe. I hadn’t made it yet until today, and finally did so as I was thinking about him this morning.
We lost David this year to a tragic, and senseless accident caused by a stranger. He was literally hit by a car as a pedestrian. It was a particularly hard lost process, because this was one of my oldest friends. He was also just a tremendous human being, and one of those genuinely good people you feel very fortunate to have known.
I always think of David around Christmas, because we used to go for decades with our parents to the same Christmas party on Christmas Eve. We would congregate in the host’s library away from all the adults and hang out.
We also went to JDA and SDA together, AKA Junior and Senior Dancing Assemblies for those of you Who did not grow up in the Main Line area. I always wondered if they ever found the remains of old stale pretzels we shoved down the heating grates at Merion Tribute House in the lobby. We shared many laughs there as Mrs. Farber in her gold lamé evening gowns, and her aqua net shellacked hair tried to civilize all of us. Mostly for all of us, it was like a bloodsport, trying to make her blow her stack at every dance we went to.
We always stayed friends, losing a connection for a year or two here or there as we grew up and lives took us to different states and locations per-Internet/social media. But as friends, we always found our way back to each other. When social media came around, it made it much easier to stay connected and we would talk or message more often. And then there was the one time he finally sent me his grandmother’s pound cake recipe. She made it with currants and walnuts, which makes it in my mind a perfect Christmas cake.
I did not have any currants left after baking, so I substituted this raisin mix I get from Nuts.com. I also did add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. It’s a straightforward recipe and it is not super sweet which I kind of like because Christmas cookies are so sugary.
I will admit, I was laughing when I was making the pound cake because it is a little bit labor-intensive given the nature of the batter. And I was laughing, because as I am creaming the butter, I’m getting stuff everywhere as I’m adding the sugar, then the eggs, and so on, and so forth. And my friend David was one of the neatest people I ever met, so I really was laughing.
I think in the end, it did not take quite two hours to bake this cake at 325°, but it did take probably an hour and a half and a few minutes.
It’s a wonderfully old-school buttery pound cake. For me, the 2 cups of eggs amounted to 9 raw eggs. Yes, you break them into a measuring cup.
Anyway, I don’t know if I will be posting more before Christmas or not. It’s been a weird year, and I hope you all enjoy your Christmas holiday with your loved ones and friends and family.
We also have our first fire in the woodstove tonight, and it is the perfect evening for it!
On Thursday evening, we made a rare venture into Philadelphia to see Nigella Lawson at the Kimmel Center. We don’t often go into Philadelphia these days, as it is somewhat of hot mess. And yes we saw that last night, and the sidewalk was actually torn up right in front of the Kimmel Center.
An Evening with Nigella Lawson was originally scheduled for November 10th at the Miller Theater, and was moved to the Perelman Theater inside the Kimmel. The Miller (formerly the Merriam) is under renovation. I am actually glad they moved it to the Kimmel, and the space is gorgeous and so clean! And my friend and food blogger Marilyn was two rows behind us!! Marilyn is the genius behind Philly Grub.
It was an amazing experience and some very amusing people watching. In front of us to the left was a woman who literally massaged the top of her companion or husband’s head the entire time. In front of my friend to the left of her there was a person who took off their socks and shoes and put their bare feet up on the seat in front of them!
Overall, it was not a bad audience at all, and we had super nice people immediately around us.
Nigella Lawson is warm and personable. Friendly, funny, self deprecating in the most amusing and human way. I have seen other personalities whom I admire “live”, and seriously I walked away thinking how truly nice I think she is. Of course part of it is I am sure is the fact I am an Anglophile.
I took notes while Nigella was speaking. I wish it had been recorded! She is as lovely in person as we see on our television screens. And I don’t mean just beautiful, because she is drop dead gorgeous. I also mean lovely as in the nice person you meet whom you want to have over to your house for dinner.
To follow are the notes I took as she was speaking. You will note her program wasn’t a cooking demonstration, it was also the woman outside the kitchen. And she is not a classically trained chef, like Ina Garten whom I also admire and follow, she’s one of us just elevated. She’s a home cook.
Michael Klein from The Philadelphia Inquirer was the moderator. He was excellent. He and Nigella had terrific chemistry and rapport. Michael’s manner also helped make this a memorable event. Not that any of us should be surprised if you have followed his columns for years.
So here are my Nigella Notes:
When she was 9 she wrote a play on the meaning of existence. Terrapins were the characters.
At 10 she penned a self-described “very bad” murder mystery.
Originally Nigella thought she would be a novelist.
She spoke about finding her voice in writing. Nigella’s voice evolved from writing about food. I guess that goes along with something that one of my friends and writing mentors who is a retired journalist has always has said to me which is “write what you know.“
Writing – find your own voice. Nigella touched on that again. She also noted her experience when writing about food that people are more connected, almost nicer. As a blogger I can appreciate that, because when I post a recipe everybody loves it and no one complains. But if I write about a politician or politics/political issues, the keyboard warriors salute (and charge.)
Funny little Nigella notes include how she feels about fruit bowls- she doesn’t mix her fruit. Every kind of fruit has their own bowl.
Regarding her first book How to Eat– wasn’t sure at first if she would have recipes. She wasn’t sure she knew how to write about food.
“Life is full of unexpected turns.”
Nigella remarked how inspiration comes to us in odd ways, as we “lurch” through life.
She found it fortunate in her work as a journalist to live through her words.
Nigella started with TV at 38 or 40. She had two small kids, a husband who had cancer. His name was John Diamond, and he was also a journalist. He was 47 when he died. On a rather personal note, this resonated with me because my sister became a widow at 43, when my brother in law, then 49, died of a swift moving cancer. So I respect what Nigella went through and was dealing with back then.
Nigella spoke about what her terms were back then in order to do TV. If she could do TV, she wanted to do it from home but unscripted. Wanted to speak naturally. And with two small children and an ill spouse, it was an early work from home arrangement, and good for her for getting that.
I always have loved Nigella programs because she is relaxed and has fun in her kitchen. Her own dishes and pans, and not everything is perfect, much like our own kitchens. And one of my favorite parts of her shows is when she would go into her kitchen late at night for a snack. It’s so human and real.
Oh did I mention her pink boots?? Seriously an important note, they were truly fabulous!
When asked about writing her books, she prefers to do her books as they evolve, not as a “churning out machine.”
This: a cookbook from the ingredients she loved that was an essay, reflecting on ideas, then recipes to follow.
Home cooking because of COVID seems to have inspired this book in part.
This book, Cook Eat, Repeat are essays with recipes, like a companion piece to How to Eat. For that reason, on my own book shelves, these books are together.
On making or creating a book with food- the feeling of creating something.
The practical can make you feel you achieved something- the dizzying feel of achieving from the blank page.
Cooking for one in book because of COVID but she’s done it before. But cooking for one is important- you can concentrate on process of cooking and learn.
Lockdown caused her to spend more time on Twitter. Also notes recipes for one are important. I agree. I have always cooked for myself, even when it was just me.
Nigella hates the term “guilty pleasures.” It “blinks to snobbery” as in liking the “right” things and being afraid to say that you like something.
Essentially she remarked the hell with you shouldn’t be eating something, just try it. Life is too short. Don’t be counterproductive. Guilty pleasures with food doesn’t really work. Feel grateful not guilty.
When asked about things that she can’t live without or would prefer not to live without, there was bread and butter. “Life would be poorer.” She says she definitely needs lemons and salt in life. She remarked about a chips sandwich and referred to it as an English delicacy. As near as I can grasp it, this would be a sandwich of french fries or chips in between two slices of bread with butter.
She loves English mustard. Coleman’s, specifically. I always have Coleman’s dry mustard in my spice rack, and when I can get the actual jarred mustard I do. It has a bite. I use Colemans mustard in deviled eggs along with curry powder.
Now she and Michael Klein chatted about “brown food.” She said she wants to write about not just bright food and color. Not everything has to be high octane in your face. Or Instagram worthy. There is a need in life for the quiet bits. Food might not always blow your mind, sometimes it has a quiet kind of dignity, comfort. Lasts longer. “ A stew doesn’t shout for you to come to the table, it whispers.” (I loved that description.)
Quiet food, comfort food, has equally rich rewards.
It’s not all about the “shouty look at me.” Not everyone needs to be the same. (Amen. I wasn’t destined to live in a beige, beige world for one.)
We evolve our ideas, but your cooking evolves the way your life currently is. “I bumble away” referring to being a home cook. The more you cook the more you know.
“If you can’t deal with a cracked cake in life, life is going to be more difficult.”
What do you want to eat ? People have different palettes.
Recipes express the nature of cooking. Recipes express the nature of the chef.
Then she and Michael took a few questions from the audience. We were all asked to write a question down and basically put it in a little wicker basket when we were checking into the event.
The event actually went over the time allotted, and I could have listened to her for a couple of hours more. It was delightful. It was such a nice change from the obnoxious world we’ve been living in recently.
This was a really cool experience, and well I didn’t particularly enjoy the City of Philadelphia because it’s just so dirty and the streets and the sidewalks are such a hot mess these days, but the Kimmel Center was really nice.
I have a slight obsession with French Onion Soup. I’ve written about it before and my quest to find and develop a recipe I really liked and I think that was in 2015. I have been fiddling and fiddling with the way I make it, and I think this is the best batch so far.
My friend Karen‘s mother made the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had anywhere. It was even better than the H.A. Winston soup that we all loved growing up. But I’ve kind of developed my own now which isn’t bad if I do say so myself. But I definitely have a memory of being in Karen‘s mother’s kitchen when she had that soup cooking. The aroma and the fragrance of it just filled the room.
I start my soup the day before with roasting my beef bones in the oven for beef stock. Then I throw everything into a stockpot with wine, water, and a 32 oz. container of low salt beef broth. To that I had a couple of carrots, celery or Celeriac (celery root), onion, fresh herbs, and that’s how I make my beef broth. This time I made my beef bone broth with Celeriac, because that is what I had. I cook this for a few hours. I let it simmer and cook down and condense. If I do it in the instant pot it takes a lot less time for the broth component.
I prepare the beef bone broth the day before because I like to fish the bones out of the broth and dispose of them, and then put the broth in the refrigerator overnight because then as you can see from the photo I shared above, I can skim the fat off the top very easily. This bone broth I made this time was truly gorgeous. This morning it was totally gelatinous like a consommé. That’s what you want.
Also, people always ask me how many beef bones I use. Honestly? It varies and this time I had 10 beef bones.
I line a big sheet pan with aluminum foil. Then I sprinkle them with just a smidge of olive oil and add salt pepper, Herbes de Provence, and garlic. When I roast them I do it at a 375° oven. I just keep an eye on the oven I think they were roasted through in about 35 to 40 minutes. Then I just turned the oven off and let everything cool down a bit before I bring them out of the oven and throw them into the stockpot as indicated above.
These bones were actually a surprise I did not know I still had in the bottom of our chest freezer they had come with a meat order from our local butcher, Worrell’s. Truthfully, you really do have to go to a local farmers market meat purveyor, or a local butcher shop to get good bones. And ask before you want to make the soup, because it’s not like the good old days and they don’t always have the bones.
The next day I start with caramelizing my onions, and today’s onions are the last I will ever get at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown which makes me sad. I use a combination of red and white onions. I add a little salt, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a couple of dashes of balsamic vinegar to the bottom of the pot. You do want to caramelize your onions, but pay attention or they will burn. I almost killed them today because I was on the phone when I was doing this.
I also add mushrooms now to my recipe and that is pretty much because my husband loves mushrooms. The mushrooms, Cremini, came from Pete’s as well. I am so going to miss the produce and that store because these mushrooms were the prettiest I’ve had all year to cook with. But I have to admit that adding mushrooms especially this kind to soup add another layer of flavor that is just wonderful.
When I’m putting it all together after the onions have cooked down and caramelized, if I feel there is not enough liquid, then I will use a little additional bone broth or Better Than Bouillon to help it along. And you also cannot forget your healthy dash of Flavor Master’s Gravy Master. Why? Because that is something they put in the H.A. Winston soup when they were making it.
Today I did add an 8 ounce container additionally of bone broth. I also added a good half a bottle of wine
I wish I had a more exact and proportionate recipe written down, but I don’t a lot of times I cook things by the way I think they feel.
I will serve my French onion soup in a few minutes with a little shredded Gruyère on top but I don’t do the whole thing with the big hunk of bread and put it in the broiler. That’s too much work for me. The soup is work enough on its own. Besides it’s something I always eat around French onion soup when I get it at a restaurant, anyway.
We are also having an arugula and spinach salad with elite seasoning tomato and a honey mustard vinaigrette.
I am making soup. And I had to start at one step of the soup which involved caramelizing onions, and the phone rang. It was someone I hadn’t spoken with in a while and I moved to the next room to take the call and forgot about what I was cooking on the stove.
I am sorry I forgot to take a picture of what it looked like when I returned to the kitchen and almost had a stroke. I removed the onions that were caramelized and not utterly destroyed and put them in a mixing bowl.
But then I was looking at the bottom of the pan and I’m thinking to myself I am never going get this clean. And it’s one of my favorite pots (by Great Jones– I am a fan of their cookware.)
So I’m standing there wondering what I’m going to do and I remembered what my mother’s mother, my maternal grandmother taught us to do. She used to make a paste out of baking soda let it sit for a minute, then add water and basically boil it on the stove. The burnt on bits literally float to the top of the water surface which is what you see in the first photo.
Next you allow the pan to cool down and it’s an easy cleanup with not a lot of scrubbing. Basically I used one of those safe scrub sponges with Dawn dish soap on it and cleaned the rest up.
I don’t know if anyone else does this or knows about it. But I’m glad I remembered it this morning because the second photo you will see as what the pan looks like now.
I will now go back and start this step of my recipe over.
Sometimes old hacks are the best, and I was reminded not to leave my pans unattended when I’m cooking!
Hi there! It’s me your friendly neighborhood kitchen sink cook here. I am really making a concerted effort because of inflation vis-à-vis food costs to cook with what I have on hand, and not go out of my way for extra special items.
I had some beautiful cod fillets in the freezer, we get seafood every few months from Wild Alaskan Seafood Company. We only buy sustainable fish, and generally speaking, it’s a lot of “white” fish.
And one of the things I like in the winter is cod stew. I have actually written about it here before. But I don’t feel like the winter heaviness so I decided to go it slightly different.
In my cupboard I had an unopened jar of red curry paste. So I decided a red curry sauce it was. I sliced up two onions thin and halved – like semi-circles. To that I added four diced cloves of garlic, a little extra-virgin olive oil, a little salt. I needed a little moisture there while I was cooking the onions down so I added a couple dashes of this German red wine vinegar I have.
Once the onions were cooked, I added a 15 ounce can of these little Mutti tomatoes. They literally look like miniature plum tomatoes. I also added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and fresh basil. I smashed the little tomatoes before adding them to the pan to release all their juices. Once that started to come together in the pan on a low to medium flame watching it so it didn’t boil, I added about 3 1/2 tablespoons of red curry paste. I use the Thai Kitchen curry paste if you’re interested.
After the sauce came together, I took my next step. I opened one can of classic coconut milk unsweetened. It is either a 15 ounce can or maybe it’s a 14 ounce can, I forget. I gently incorporated all of the coconut milk into the tomato onion basil sauce, and added a few more leaves of basil and turned the sauce to low.
Next I took my cod fillets out of the refrigerator and put them onto a plate. I added a little salt and pepper to both sides and let them sit for a minute. Now they have been added in to the red curry sauce and everybody’s cooking nicely on a lowish flame.
I am making rice with saffron to go with it. It’s very simple, it was so easy to make, yes the recipe came out of my head, and finally the sauce tastes amazing!
To cover the $11.6 million cost, Radnor plans to use a $10 million bond issue (previously approved by Radnor voters) as well as supplementary grant funding requested from DCNR, Delaware County and private fundraising, according to the township document.
“The bond payments would be largely funded by revenue from our Open Space Fund, which comes from the real estate transfer tax, rather than from property taxes. However, for an 11 year period (2015 to 2026) the projected payments will exceed the amount available in that fund and we would need a millage increase to make up the difference,” reads a township document on the acquisition.
The document continues, “The millage increase would be structured to sunset in 2026. The millage increase required would be .15 mills. The median home assessment in Radnor is $264,710. That landowner would pay $39.71 a year with such an increase. Further, 67% of the properties in Radnor are assessed under $344,682 and those taxpayers would pay an average of $29.34, with the highest in that range paying $51.70.”
“Board President Elaine Schaefer said the community has had a ‘long-standing desire’ to preserve Ardrossan as open space. She pointed to a 2006 referendum that allowed the board to sell up to $20 million in bonds to pay for open space that was approved by 80 percent of the residents,” reports Main Line Media News.
“Also, in the four recent hearings held to discuss the purchase where “scores of people spoke,” residents supported the plan 3 to 1, she said. While Schaefer said that she understands the financial concerns of ‘the minority,’ Schaefer, who was just reelected, said that Radnor was a democracy,” the newspaper reports. According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”
OK, let this sink in again for a minute “According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”
I have to ask, are their proper trails back there yet and has all of that mentioned years ago happened? Or just cows grazing up against McMansions, so McMansions get tax breaks and the farmer grows his cow’s food and no one seems to wish to actually release a comprehensive report since he signed off on his original lease and Radnor developed the ordinance to produce the lease or whatever?
Not to be picky, but from said document of 2015:
And here, the entire document signed by Bill Spingler in 2015:
So in theory, the chemicals would have to be human, domestic animal and wildlife friendly, right? Also in theory, chemicals used could not pose an actual or potential threat to natural water sources, right?
So if the list of chemicals used by said farmer as part of the lease agreement is supposed to be provided, are they regularly and PUBLICLY available (as in always posted on township website as exhibits in the form in which they arrived with only personal email addresses and phone numbers redacted?) ??? At this point why can’t the issue be discussed at Radnor meetings whenever and why can’t the public seem to ever quite know the truth? I still don’t understand what the big deal in Radnor Township’s mind is since that agreement lays out disclosing of chemicals, etc?
So Radnor what about the chemicals? Has that creek been tested regularly and by whom and where are the test results? Why are no outside environmental groups involved or are they involved and if so who? Does Trout Unlimited know for example? What does Delaware County say or a state thing like the PA DEP?
OK now let’s think about the folks who think the lease agreement is ridiculous and come on where else can someone get a deal of renting gobs of land at a $1 and they keep all the lovely moola they make off of the land as well? That my friends, is a farmer’s dream. I can’t blame a farmer for wanting a great deal because farming is brutally hard work and ungodly expensive. However, there is an original ordinance and lease and lease agreement correct? So what happens if the farmer isn’t keeping with the agreement? Has the lease been changed in any way since it’s original issuance?
So yes, to those who wanted the lease overturned in 2021, did you ever think another way to invalidate a lease is if the terms of the lease weren’t being adhered to? And wouldn’t super nasty chemicals be a lease issue?
Bringing it full circle to today, is that why Radnor doesn’t seem to want to release all of the information the public is entitled to see because it is public land?
Seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? But sadly, hasn’t Radnor Township had transparency issues in the past? Sunshine doesn’t just help the crops grow, yo’.
Here are links to articles relevant to the farmer and the original lease. I looked for stuff on the trails that were part of this idea and purchase and subsequent leases or changes in lease verbiage, but…. ???? Does this stuff exist?
An elected official in Radnor is pushing for the township to cancel its lease with a cattle rancher on publicly owned land that had once been part of the sprawling Ardrossan estate, saying the deal helps wealthy landowners on other sections of the former estate take unfair advantage of tax breaks for agriculture.
Richard Booker’s motion, which he plans to introduce at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 22, would end the agreement that lets rancher Richard Billheim’s Fern Valley Farm use 71 acres of township-owned property for its beef cow operation in exchange for $1 a year.
Booker said in a memo with his motion that he decided to take action on the lease after reading an article published earlier this year by The Inquirer about the tax breaks at the former estate enabled by statewide agricultural-conservation programs under Act 319 — better known as “Clean and Green” — and Act 515.
The programs tax land for what it is worth as a working farm and not what its value would be if sold on the open market for housing, strip malls, or offices. Under Act 319, by far the most commonly used of the programs at Ardrossan and elsewhere, the land must produce $2,000 a year in farm goods.
At least two dozen parcels on more than 260 acres are successfully enrolled in the programs, accounting for more than 40% of the former Ardrossan estate’s acreage sold over the last quarter-century, according to an Inquirer analysis of Delaware County records.
Properties covered by the tax breaks include homes of a leader at a major real estate firm, members of the family that cofounded the Apple Vacations tour business, and the top-ranking member of the County Council for surrounding Delaware County.
The only known agricultural products coming from the enrolled land are the corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay grown there to feed Fern Valley’s cows. While cows do graze on a portion of that land, most of their grass-munching is done on the township-owned property. To Booker, that means Radnor is helping private property owners get their tax breaks because those cows wouldn’t be there absent the generous lease.
Officials in Radnor have defeated a measure to cancel a lease on township land for a cattle operation that also helps residents on parts of the former Ardrossan estate save hundreds of thousands each year on their taxes.
In a 4-2 vote with one abstention, the township’s Board of Commissioners on Monday rejected member Richard Booker’s motion to terminate Fern Valley Farm’s $1-a-year lease to use 71 acres of publicly owned property for its 60-head Black Angus beef business.
Booker said at the sometimes combative hearing on Monday evening that this was not a good use of the land that Radnor paid $11.7 million to purchase in 2013 and now costs the township $600,000 a year in debt service payments.
“I don’t want anyone to lose their job or for the farm to go away,” said Booker, who is one of two Republicans on the seven-member panel. “What I do want is to get the township out of … the business of farmland-assessment reductions it has been in for the last seven years…….”However, commissioner Lisa Borowski, a Democrat whose ward includes part of the former Ardrossan estate, said residents are benefiting from the deal…..
Borowski also said that the farmland-preservation programs give Ardrossan landowners an incentive not to subdivide and develop their large properties, which they could opt to do. This does not appear to be accurate, since all of the privately held properties enrolled in such programs are also covered by deals known as conservation easements that prohibit them from being further developed in perpetuity, according to an analysis of property records by The Inquirer.
When the former estate was first broken up, buyers of those properties qualified for federal tax breaks for land conservation thanks to those easements, as The Inquirer has reported.
Asked in an interview Tuesday about which properties she was referring to in her public remarks, Borowski referred the question to Township Solicitor John Rice. Rice said he had not performed an analysis that would identify such properties.
Oh and don’t forget, Lisa Borowski is running for State Rep in the 168th against Chris Quinn, right? So maybe it would benefit State Rep Chris Quinn to inquire as to the chemicals used on the fields, etc,. right?
Look, I love open space and I will admit it, I love cows and those cows are awesome and special. BUT chemicals are a big deal and look at all of the things in the news about glyphosate and paraquat-based herbicides? And what about the pesticides they warn about that can harm bees and other beneficial insects? I totally get that not all farmers can go completely organic BUT where this land is being farmed should be part of a more organic plan if not a completely organic conversation, correct?
So time to show ALL of the cards on this, Radnor. At a minimum if you like and respect your farmer, don’t you want him to be able to farm in peace? And farm safely to protect humans, domestic animals, natural water sources, nature in general, etc, etc?