July 12th, 2013

The rain has slowed down and I feel like we finally got some looming chores done on the farm this week.  We finished trellising eggplant and the pepper rows and got them mulched as well. All the garlic has been harvested and all of the weeds in block 6 have been tilled under (special thanks to Mr. Bill White for helping us fix our PTO shaft for the tiller today!). We conquered the weeds in the hoop house, and put on the shade cloth Natalie purchased. There is continuous planting going on in the new roadblock and it is filling up fast. Also we got around to weeding and doing some much needed maintenance on the hops.

My independent project this year has been hops. I have always been a craft beer fan and spending time in Asheville really got me interested in different flavors and aromas beer can take on. Last year while at the CFSA Sustainable Ag conference I took a workshop about growing hops in the Carolinas. Most of the information given was tentative because growing hops on this latitude is experimental. Commercial hops usually are grown from latitudes of 35 and 55 degrees because the yield depends greatly on the day length. North Carolina, specifically Advance falls on the 35.9 degree so we are right on the line where they can or will not produce. As of now there are two experimental hops yards in Western North Carolina and from what I read they were doing pretty well. So I approached Jeff and Natalie about my idea this winter and they liked it. After doing some research I chose the Cascade hop variety and ordered the rhizomes. Once they arrived I felt a fire to get the land ready and set up a trellis. I opted to do a tepee or a single pole trellis system. This seemed like a good fit for the space and the amount of rhizomes I planted. The team erected a 27ft pole and with the tractor and Jeff’s sturdiness we attached twine from the outer circle to the pole, creating a teepee effect. I planted 26 rhizomes in March and have kept them weeded and watered. Now in July they are starting to cone. The cone creates a powder called lupulin this is used to give the beer the bitterness or aroma. Later this month when the cone begins to loose moisture I will harvest. This first year will not yield enough for market but I look forward to doing a homebrew with them. In the future I am looking to sell them to a local microbrewery interested in local hops for a wet hop brew.

Drink a beer and enjoy the weekend!

Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

Cucumber-Dill Soup via: Williams Sonoma

3 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 cup Greek-style or other thick, whole-milk plain yogurt
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 green onions, including tender green portions, chopped
3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 cup vegetable stock or reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs. fruity extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely chop 5 of the cucumber halves and transfer to a large bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, green onions, dill, garlic, caraway seeds, salt and white pepper. Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to blend the flavors. Dice the remaining cucumber half and set aside until ready to serve. 

In a blender, puree the cucumber mixture until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the stock and puree until it is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a pitcher, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. (The soup can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If it separates, simply stir it until emulsified.) 

Just before serving, stir in the diced cucumber and olive oil. Pour the soup into widemouthed glasses or cups and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Warm Garlic String Beans via: thedailygreen.com

1 pound mixed yellow and green string beans

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1. Blanch string beans for 2 minutes.
2. Rinse to cool.
3. Return to a saucepan with olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
4. Cook 4 minutes on medium-high heat.
5. Toss with parsley and lemon zest. Serve warm.

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