Meet the Staff: Garden Interpreter Barbara Fetchenhier

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Meet the Staff: Garden Interpreter Barbara Fetchenhier

Categories: Blog, Meet Our Staff

If you’ve visited the Heartland Harvest Garden during the past year, chances are you may have tasted some of the wonderfully creative concoctions developed by Garden Interpreter Barbara Fetchenhier.

As the interpreter for the Heartland Harvest Garden, the nation’s largest edible landscape, Barbara shares her passion and enthusiasm for growing edibles with visitors through informal tours, ‘Fresh Bites’ demos, workshops and fresh-from-the-garden fare she develops–from popsicles to relishes.

Away from work, Barbara is a beekeeper and farmer. She and her husband Jeff run Fetchen’ Honey Farm, where they grow fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms, and raise poultry. She is also a Master Gardener with the Master Gardeners of Johnson County, Missouri. Barbara’s farm has been featured in publications, including Nature’s Garden (a Better Homes and Gardens’ magazine) and was included on the Master Gardeners of Johnson County, Missouri Garden Tour in June 2012.

Barbara recently planned the menu for Powell Gardens’ newest tradition: The Wassailing of the Apple Trees. Here she shares some of the recipes served during the Wassailing dinner:

Chunky Chai Applesauce
Adapted from “Holiday Cookbook”

1/2 cup apple cider
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of freshly ground black pepper

Combine cider and apples in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients; simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick. Cover and chill. Yields 3 2/3 cups.

Roasted Winter Root Veggies

Select any or all of the following:

1 potato, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 turnip, peeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into sticks
1 sweet potato, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 beet, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 Jerusalem artichoke, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 or 2 onions, trimmed, peeled and cut into quarters
Olive oil
2 or 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 or 3 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all vegetables in a large bowl or pan. Add enough olive oil to coat thickly. Mix all herbs into vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir vegetables. Roast another 10 minutes. If tender and golden brown, remove. If not, continue to stir and roast until done. Eat warm!

Todd Schulte’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apple-Bacon Marmalade
(as printed in The Kansas City Star)

Makes 24 (8-ounce) servings

2 pounds diced nice quality, thick-cut bacon, cooked and drained of fat
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped into small dice
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and chopped into small dice
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

5 pounds butternut squash, peeled and quartered with seeds removed
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with a knife
4 medium-sized yellow onions, peeled and quartered
6 medium-sized carrots, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
10 cups chicken stock (preferably made by you or a friend), plus more as needed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish

For the marmalade:
Over medium heat, combine all ingredients in a pot and cook slowly until liquid becomes syrup-like, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to be sure the mixture does not begin to scorch. Season marmalade with salt and pepper, remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. To serve, reheat gently in a saucepan.

For the soup:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of the cut vegetables (squash, garlic, onions, carrots) with olive oil and thyme in a large bowl. Toss all ingredients together and give it a nice amount of seasoning with salt and pepper. Place all vegetables in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan in a single layer. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours or so, stirring vegetables occasionally, allowing them to get all brown and delicious-looking, otherwise known as GBD (golden brown delicious) or caramelized.

Remove roasted vegetables from the overn and place them in a heavy-bottomed 6-quart soup pot with the chicken stock. Simmer vegetables on medium heat for 20 minutes; allow to cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup using an immersion blender until smooth, adding chicken broth until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Finish by stirring in the heavy cream.

Ladle soup into warm bowls and garnish with a dollop of Apple-Bacon Marmalade and freshly grated nutmeg.

Powell Gardens’ Traditional Wassail Recipe
4 cooking apples
1 cup unrefined cane sugar
1 medium orange
15 whole cloves
2 quarts hard apple cider
1/2 cup brandy
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
1 tsp grated nutmeg
6 allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
Special Equipment
muslin and cotton cooking string
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Scoop out the core of the apples without fully penetrating the apple. Fill each apple with unrefined cane sugar. Place the apples in the baking sheet. Stud an orange with 15 cloves and place it on the baking sheet. Bake the apples and orange together for 35 minutes.
3. While the apples and orange bake, pour apple cider and brandy into a large stock pot and warm over moderately low heat. Whisk in powdered ginger and grated nutmeg. Do not bring wassail to a boil.
4. Cut a small square of muslin and place allspice and cinnamon into the square. Tie with 100% cotton string and float this sachet of spices in the wassail as it warms. Add remaining sugar to taste. Enjoy!

And in case you didn’t get to join us, here’s a peek at our first-ever Wassailing event:

Blessing the trees with rituals of old.

‘King’ David and ‘Princess’ Claire led the festivities in the Apple Spiral of the Heartland Harvest Garden, paving the way for what should be a bumper apple crop.

After the ceremony, guests returned to the Grand Hall to enjoy the menu prepared by Barbara and her team of volunteers and staff, complete with bread by Meadowlark Acres.

Don’t forget to look for Barbara the next time you visit the Heartland Harvest Garden. She’s sure to be cooking up something of interest and will be sharing some of her ideas on this blog this season!