Autumn Walking Tour and Virtual Cooking Class

The Sylvia Center just wrapped up a two-part event in partnership with Olana State Historic Site and The Olana Partnership! On Saturday, six local families joined us for an in-person guided Autumn Walking Tour of the farm complex at Olana, led by Education Director Carolyn Keogh and Education Coordinator Liz Bouyea. We toured Cosy Cottage, the historic orchard, the site of the historic kitchen garden, and the lake, all while learning about Frederic Church’s family, their lives, and their favorite foods. After the tour, the families received meal kit bags with cabbage, carrots, butternut squash, beets, potatoes, swiss chard, and kale donated by Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook. We all regrouped in our virtual cooking class on Tuesday evening, where Carolyn gave a slideshow presentation on Olana. We learned about some of Church’s favorite recipes, his family gatherings, and that he spent his Winters in Mexico. We used the ingredients from our meal kits to make Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Quesadillas and a Seasonal Slaw, which featured hints of lime and cumin.


Frederic Edwin Church purchased a 126 acre farm in 1860 which would later become a central part of Olana, Church’s 250 acre artist-designed landscape. Church planted a 1.4-acre kitchen garden that provided the Church family and guests with a diverse selection of vegetables and flowers. On his orchard and in his kitchen garden, Church grew crops such as apples, peaches, berries, hay, rye, and corn. He also had some animals such as horses, cows, chickens, geese, and donkeys. For more information, check out Olana State Historic Site.


Roasted Veggie Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 4-6 + extra filling



1 onion, halved and sliced thick, divided

1 cup kale, coarsely chopped 

1 cup Swiss chard, coarsely chopped

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups potato, diced

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

2 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. cayenne (optional)

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

½-2 cups water

8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

6-8 large tortillas (preferably whole wheat)

Salt and pepper, to taste


Optional toppings:

Diced avocado

Sour cream




  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Combine ½ of the onion, potatoes, and squash in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. cumin, cayenne (optional) and salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast until squash is golden brown and potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium pot over low-medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add remaining ½ onion and cook until translucent.  Add garlic (optional) and cook until fragrant.  Season with remaining 1 tsp. cumin and salt and pepper.  Add beans and ½ cup water.  Cook until beans begin to soften and break-down, adding additional water as needed, about 5-10 minutes. Add kale and chard to bean mixture and cook until wilted.  
  5. Combine bean mixture and roasted vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread grated cheese all over each tortilla. Spread filling onto ½ of each tortilla.
  7. Cook the quesadillas open-faced for 2-3 minutes until the bottom starts to brown and the cheese starts to melt. 
  8. Remove quesadillas from oven and allow them to cool just slightly. Fold each one in half, and cut into 3 triangular pieces.  


Beet, Cabbage, and Carrot Slaw
Serves 4-6



3 beets, peeled and grated

2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled and grated

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lime, juiced

1tsp. cumin

Salt, to taste



  1. Whisk together yogurt, olive oil, cumin and lime juice. Stir until combined. Season to taste, adding more yogurt and salt if desired.
  2. Combine beets, cabbage, and carrots with 1/2 the dressing and toss to coat. Taste, and add remaining dressing to taste.