The goals of chthonic cooking are pleasure and the establishment of sources, methods and traditions suited to this place and its resources. We accommodate dietary restrictions effectively but not food asceticism. Cooking for large groups, especially for games weekends, has resulted in the creation of a number of traditional meals, including: Hunanese cold noodles and Chinese dumplings; tacos with handmade tortillas and many options; many Middle Eastern/Greek meze salads with loukaniko sausage; barbecued pork shoulder; Ukrainian borscht with kielbasa, sour cream and fresh dill.
Outdoor cooking over hardwood (maple, ash, cherry) is a major method for us, sometimes done in an oven made from ceramic kiln shelves and brick, and sometimes in fireplaces made from truck wheels. The oven can be used for grilling, hot smoking and roasting all kinds of meat, vegetables and pizzas with excellent results. Pie-making and dessert baking in general is another strong suit of the kitchen. Also in the kitchen is a commercial espresso/cappuccino machine that is continually in use.
Significant chthonic food sources are foraging on site, which produces apples, wild leeks, a range of berries, and boletus mushrooms in usable quantities, at least in most years, and the garden, which tends to offer different items each year and is still, perhaps, in search of its sustained practices. (In 2013, an incredible apple harvest yielded nearly a ton of apples and hundreds of gallons of juice, some of which was made into 20 gallons of apple cider vinegar). Beyond the property itself, but within 20-minute drives, is an interesting and fairly deep set of sources for local foods that, in season, has a large impact on what we cook and eat. Russell’s farm stand in Franklin has a full range of high quality garden and orchard produce that he grows himself and sells at very reasonable prices. Muddy River Dairy in Otego offers delicious raw milk at a very good price. (The interesting thing about this milk is not its rawness, per se, but the fact that it is one of very few places anywhere that milk from a single dairy can be bought). Steiner’s Meat Packing, also in Otego, is a small slaughterhouse that also sells beef and pork from area farms (no factory farms) to retail customers. Covered Bridge Farm in Franklin (also called Johnson’s Farm) is a picture book farmstead with a magnificent roadside “sugar bush” (a long roadside row of mature sugar maple trees) that grows the best sweet corn imaginable through the entire summer. Frog Pond Farm in Bainbridge is a unique resource that sells regional fruit and produce in bushels and boxes, usually at astoundingly low prices. Annutto’s farm stand in Oneonta is also a broad operation, also with wholesale local produce in season. Last, and most cherished, is Pie in the Sky in Otego, which makes some of the finest ice cream anywhere and grows organic fruit and vegetables of the highest quality. At least two food-based chthonic weekends are on the 2015 calendar, Cooking with Ron Bubby and Harvest Canning and Pickling, both of which will rely on marketing at these sources at high points in the harvest.