June 28th, 2013

Summer is officially here!  It's been a week since the summer solstice and the weather is everything you expect: hot, humid, with a chance of thunderstorms everyday!  The veggies on the farm are also making that transition from spring to summer.  Those wonderful leafy greens of April and May and now transitioning into the classical summer fruits and veggies.  Already the squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and potatoes have been plentiful.  Additionally, the tomatoes are getting ready to ripen, and I've noticed a few small eggplants, peppers, and greenbeans in the fields.  It's been a good year so far and we're not even halfway through!

One question I periodically am asked is how Sugar Creek Farm was named.  The truth is that I like names with a physical meaning so we simply pulled out a topo-map and sugar creek was the only named feature.  I have learned in subsequent years that sugar creek actually has some historic significance.  For years, I've heard about how the family of Daniel Boone lived in and around Davie county, but recently I was exploring the history of Davie county on the internet and I learned that Daniel Boone, "lived for about ten years near the fork of Sugartree (or Sugar) Creek, approximately two miles east of Farmington."   After reading that statement I realized that our farm is 2 miles east of Farmington so I pulled up a map and noticed that there is a large fork in the creek about 200 yards south of the farm!  Other information went on to say, "During this decade while living on Sugartree Creek, Daniel farmed, hunted, explored, and worked as a wagoner. According to the records, he received bounties for killing wolves, wildcats, and panthers."  It's probably a stretch to think that Daniel Boone farmed on the exact same land that we now farm but I feel rather confident that he hunted and explored here!

Enjoy your produce!
Jeff and the Sugar Creek crew

Roasted Rosemary Fingerlings from food.com

2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and halved
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 450°F
In large bowl, toss potatoes with oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt.
Arrange potatoes in single layer, not touching, in nonstick roasting pan.
Roast 25 minutes until tender. Flip potatoes & rotate pan every 10 minutes so browning is even.

Zucchini Enchiladas from skinnytaste.com

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 medium zucchinis, grated
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
4 Large Whole wheat flour tortillas
1 cup of enchilada sauce (store bought, or make your own)

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Add store bought enchilada sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium nonstick skillet, saute garlic and green onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes; add zucchini, salt and pepper to taste and cook about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add zucchini mixture to tortillas, add Mexican blend cheese on top.  Enclose and put in your dish, seem side down.  Bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melty and delicious! Sprinkle cilantro on top.

June 21st, 2013

I feel like summer sneaks up on me every year. The summer solstice is on the 21stand officially marks that summer has arrived. Here at Sugar Creek we have been doing a variety of summer activities to correspond with the season. We pulled up all of the sugar snap peas (that were a joy to have this spring) and planted late tomatoes in their place (pic below). We just planted another round of cucumbers and squash out in the roadblock as well as some Seminole pumpkins, which are superb pie pumpkins! Summer also means we have to be on top of our harvest game. Every other day requires harvesting all of our squash, zucchini, and cucumbers; otherwise the fruits will become too large and inedible. I am always surprised by the amount of fruit the plants yield in just a few days time. This week we also started harvesting garlic.
We pulled all three beds of our Russian red garlic out of the ground. Garlic is ready to be pulled when the bottom leaves of the plant start to turn brown, which is usually late June or early July. We use a mini pitchfork to loosen the soil and then simply pull up the bulb. As we pull we make piles of ten bulbs, which we tie together with twine to make a bundle. We do this so we can cure them. Garlic can be eaten fresh but to ensure the longevity we cure them in the barn for a few weeks, or until the stalks lose moisture. The bundles are hanging from the rafters out of the sun and there is a fan in the barn to create air movement (pic below). In a few weeks the garlic will be cut down, cleaned up and be market ready.

Hope you have a great weekend,

Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

Shaved Squash Salad via: Farmhouse Delivery Blog

1 pound mixed summer squash, sliced very thin
1/4 c. basil leaves, coarsely torn
1 small red onion, sliced thin
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 c. olive oil
salt & pepper
1 Tbs. creme fraiche or sour cream
salt & pepper
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 c. ricotta salata, grated

Combine squash, onions, and basil in a bowl.  To make dressing, whisk lemon juice and creme fraiche in a small bowl.  Drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly, until emulsified. Toss squash with dressing, almonds and ricotta salata.  Serve immediately.

Smashed Potatoes with Chives via: Food Network

3 pounds medium-size unpeeled baby potatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
Salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with salted water by at least 3 inches and bring to a boil. Cover and cook potatoes until fork tender, about 30 minutes.
Drain potatoes. Return pot to stove over medium-high heat and add butter. When butter foams, add drained potatoes and stir to coat. Smash each potato just to break the skin and cook until golden brown. Stir in chives, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

 Garlic curing in the barn
Out with the SugarSnaps, in with the Fall tomatoes!

June 14, 2013

I agree with Jeff - we can’t seem to get the ideal weather: dry days, rain in the evenings, dry in the days before tractor work and gorgeous on Saturdays, but not too hot.  

All of the rain earlier this week has resulted in a burst of growth – crops and weeds alike.  We’ve spent portions of the last several days slowly, but surely conquering the tomato block – pruning the tomatoes, weedwacking the amaranth in the paths, and trellising the tomatoes so that they all line up together and are off the ground.  The cherry tomatoes went from being knee high to shoulder high to ankle high in no time at all.  Cute green tomatoes have formed and are marking time until fully ripe – end of June/early July.  We use a system called the Florida weave to support the plants.  This means putting a stake down every 3-4 plants, then sandwiching the tomatoes between trellising twine, giving us Trellising Thursdays.

The guineas make another newsletter appearance because they've been so darned entertaining.  Our awesome volunteer Liz determined that one of the birds has larger red sideburns than the other – meet Tom, the other is Josh.  We were planning on letting one out at a time during the day and cooping them up at night until they call the pen home. That lasted 2 nights.  Yesterday afternoon Ann and I noticed some strange behavior – they were pacing their respective sides of the fence in sync and periodically pecking at each other.  When we opened the door, the one inside (Josh) ran out chest bumping Tom and they chased and ran after each other all through the garlic, green onions, peppers and eggplants.  So much for walking in the paths! (This is something I’m a stickler about.)  They were establishing dominance.  They spent the night out yesterday and had a good study of the field and environs (still haven’t made their way to our goal of the squash block – where there is an endless meal of squash and cucumber beetle awaiting their attention).  They waited out the storm from the shelter under Ann’s car and made their way up to the pen to check themselves out in the mirror.  They know where home is!   

A new herb we are growing this year = summer savory!  This is wonderfully aromatic herb – also known as the bean herb. It helps digest some foods which are harder to digest.  It's great on a variety of vegetables: from mixed greens and rice, we sauteed it with summer squash last week.  According to the 1984 summer edition of Mother Earth News, "Boiled with strong smelling foods like broccoli or sauerkraut, it helps prevent cooking odors.  Steeped in vinegar or salad dressing, it lends an aromatic flavor.  People on low-sodium diets may find it an agreeable salt substitute."  

Have a great weekend,
Natalie and the Sugar Creek Crew

Tzatziki + Cucumber 

1.5 cups plain yogurt
1 large cucumber
1 lemon – juice of ½ bunch of dill 1 clove of garlic salt and pepper to taste Thinly slice cumbers.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Enjoy!
3 T bread crumbs
1 T olive oil
¾ diced onion
¾ c diced fennel bulb
1 t minced garlic
2 c diced zucchini
1 link (4 oz) andouille sausage
½ t crushed fennel seed
Salt and pepper
3-4 oz Swiss cheese
3 large eggs
½ c milk
For garnish: diced roasted red pepper, chopped black olives, or chopped fennel leaves.

Zucchini, Fennel and Andouille pie from Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook

½ T butter, softened
Heat oven to 350.  Grease a pie plate with the butter.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over buttered area.  Heat olive oil in skillet over med flame.  Add onion, fennel, and garlic; saute until vegetables are partially tender, about 5 min.  Raise heat to a med- high; stir in zucchini, andouille, fennel seed, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté until zucchini is tender, 3-5 min.  Spread mixture on platter; cool 10 min.  Meanwhile, grate cheese; sprinkle 2/3 of it into pie pan.  Beat eggs with milk in bowl.  Stir cooled vegetable mixture into egg mixture; pour into pan.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Rim outer edge of pie filling with garnish choice.  Bake until set, about 30 min.  cool 10 min before serving. Makes 6-8. 

Summer Savory Vinaigrette a take on Amanda Hesser's recipe in "the Cook and the Gardner"

2 T red wine vinegar 
6 T vegetable oil
1 shallot lobe, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 T freshly chopped summer savory leaves
Combine all and use to dress netural ingreidents like potatoes 

June 6th, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea is beginning to make her appearance at Sugar Creek Farm today.  Already we've seen 1 inch of rain and the forecast is calling for 2 more tomorrow (Friday).  Fridays are one of our big harvest days on the farm so it's going to be a bit sloshy and muddy but all that rain should be gone by Saturday and I have a feeling it's going to be a nice day at the farmer's markets.  Farmers are optimist by nature so we're pretty glad to see the rain coming because that means we do not have to worry about irrigation for the next few days! 

In 2005 I put the first crop into the ground here at Sugar Creek.  The first crop was tomatoes that I started from seed in the basement of our old house in Winston-Salem.  In late May of that year, I transplanted out about 300 tomato plants into the area that today we call block 2.  Back then you needed a 4-wheel drive vehicle to access the farm in winter and there was no electricity on the property much less a well.  I'm not entirely sure what I was planning to do for irrigation but after I planted those first 300 tomatoes I noticed that they were beginning to wilt.  This taught me my first lesson in farming:  don't transplant into dry soil in the heat of the day.  I quickly drove the truck down to the creek and loaded up a bunch of 5-gallon buckets with water.  As I drove back up to the tomatoes, half the water sloshed out of the buckets but after a couple of trips back and forth to the creek I did manage to hand water all those plants.  Fortunately, the summer of 2005 was not dry and those tomato plants made it.  In August of that year, I sold the first harvest of those tomatoes at the Dixie Classic Farmers Market, for a grand total of $80.  It was the start of something special that has grown into what you are helping us with today. 

Since 2005, obviously a lot has changed.  We have electricity now, heck even a well!  The irrigation well we use for the farm only puts out 8 gallons per minute.  However, we use micro-irrigation to conserve water and this technique enables us to water our 2 acre annual area, plus another acre on the other side of the creek.  If I ever want to complain about the low yield on our well, all I do is recall carrying those 5 gallon bucks out of the creek and loading them onto the truck only to watch half the water slosh out.  A smile quickly takes over and I realize our small well is working just fine!

Stay dry and enjoy your produce,
Jeff and the Sugar Creek Crew

Massaged Kale Salad with Avacado from Frog Bottom Farm

  • 3/4 lb curlyor russian kale, chopped into 1-inch ribbons
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 avocado
  • lemon juice
  • additional vegetables, nuts, seeds
  1. Put kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Massage with your hands so that it’s well coated with the olive oil and it begins to wilt and darken, less than a minute.
  3. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the avocado, and massage again so that the avocado coats the kale like a thick dressing.
  4. Dice the rest of the avocado and add it, along with the lemon juice and any other ingredients (try grated hakurei turnips, grated beets, or grated kohlrabi). Toss. Eat!

Baked Squash Fritters from Frog Bottom Farm

Ingredients (6-8 fritters)
  • 2 cups grated summer squash or zucchini, pressed between layers of a clean dishtowel or paper towels to absorb some of the water
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the squash and onion with the flour, cornmeal, and cheese. Add the beaten egg and some salt and pepper, and mix until everything comes together. Use your hands if you like; it’s fun! It should have the consistency of meatloaf.
  3. Using your hands, gently form the mixture into small balls (about 3 tablespoons of mixture for each fritter). Place them on the baking sheet and use your hand to flatten them into small patties about a half-inch thick.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Then broil for 2-3 minutes longer. The fritters should be a lovely golden color. Good warm or at room temperature. Serve with ketchup, fried eggs, tzatziki, or yogurt sauce.