By Debra J. Groom
Friday night, I gathered with about 200 other folks to savor all that is grand about Oswego County agriculture.
From the lamb to the onions to the butternut squash to the strawberries, Oswego County has so much to offer that it’s easy as pie to put on a six-course meal using all that the county’s farmers serve up each and every year.
The fourth annual Oswego County Harvest Dinner, presented by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, was Friday at the American Foundry in Oswego. As Executive Director Paul Forestiere put it, the dinner wasn’t for the extension folks.
“We already know about agriculture in Oswego County,” he said. “This is for you.”
And off we went, through a culinary exploration of Oswego County.
First, a savory butternut squash soup. While different from my own recipe, it was fabulous to taste the squash and the spices dance on the tongue.
Next up, a salad of greens and apples.
Now, Oswego County is well known for its apple orchards, from all along the shoreline of Lake Ontario to up into the northern reaches of the county in Mexico. In fact, Oswego ranks 11th in the state in apple production.
Then on to the main courses. First, an apple-cider braised beef with corn succotash and potatoes. This was soooo good I can’t even explain it. The meat fell apart, much like a pot roast that has been simmering in the crock pot for hours. And the succotash was interesting — it was missing the lima beans I was expecting. Instead, there was broccoli and peppers, which gave it a sweet flavor.
The next course was a leek and cheese quiche. Yummy. How can eggs, cheese and cream taste bad?
Next was lamb kabobs with onion. And don’t forget the creamy Chobani yogurt to dip them in.
And if that wasn’t enough (I was pretty full by then), then came dessert — a warm strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with sweet cream. Not sure where I put it, but it was fabulous.
Yes, all of these courses contained foods produced or grown right here in Oswego County. Even items like the Chobani yogurt, butter from Queensboro Farm Products in Canastota and milk, cream and half and half from Byrne Dairy all are made with milk from Oswego County cows.
Sure, you may think, “So what? It’s a dinner.” But it really means something to sit there, eat the scrumptious food and realize that people you know, people you may have talked to, people you have seen at the post office, they work hard each and every day to make this food for you.
Agriculture is a $40 million business in Oswego County. While many counties are known for their dairy industry, Oswego County is one of the most diverse agricultural locales in the state, said Cooperative Extension Agriculture Manager Jonathan Schell. In fact, here’s a bit of trivia — Oswego County is the largest producer of cranberries in the state.
So I wholeheartedly recommend attending this event if it is held again next year. It is totally worth it. And you just might learn something.
Farms contributing to the Harvest Dinner
Agri-Mark, Mass., (Oswego County milk goes to Agri-Mark), cheddar cheese and butter
Appledale Orchards, Mexico, apple cider and apples
Behling Orchards, Mexico, apples
Bieler Enterprises, Williamstown, cranberries and cranberry juice
Black Creek Farms, Oswego, lamb
Black Sheep Farm, Hannibal, lamb
Brannan Farm Stand, Fulton, sweet corn
Bristol’s Weather Haven Farm, Parish, squash
Byrne Dairy, LaFayette, milk, cream and half and half
Caltabiano Farm, Phoenix, garlic
Chobani, New Berlin, Greek yogurt
Colosse Cheese Store, Pulaski, Swiss cheese
Dan Dunsmoor Farms, Oswego, onions
Dan E. Yoder & Family, Mexico, strawberries
Fowler’s Farm, Hannibal, sweet corn
Fruit Valley Orchard, tomatoes and Lady apples
Gaetano J. Basta Farm, Fulton, leeks, peppers and celery
Greco Family Farm and Orchard, Oswego, apples
Grindstone Farm, Pulaski, salad greens and herbs
Hess Family Farm, Hannibal, eggs
Heritage Hill Farm, Lacona, maple syrup
Hives of Howard, Oswego, honey
Hopkinson Farms, Williamstown, potatoes
Ingersoll Farms, Fulton, sweet corn, butternut squash and garlic
Jacobsen Farms, Fulton, shallots
Maryinuk Farms, Phoenix, asparagus
Mattland Farms, Richland, beef, chicken and Italian sausage
Maurice and Virginia Hurd, Sandy Creek, rhubarb
New York Bold, Oswego, onions
Ontario Orchards, Oswego, butternut squash, carrots and pumpkins
Paul’s Nursery, Fulton, lettuce, butternut squash and tomatoes
Queensboro Farm Products, Canastota, butter
Sorbello & Sons, Inc., Granby, onions
Wiltse Farms, Constantia, blueberries
W.W.Ranch, Bernhards Bay, beef