August 30th, 2013

It has been a planting extravaganza this week at Sugar Creek. From transplants to direct seeding something has hit the ground almost every day. Crops such as beets, carrots, kohlrabi, turnips and collards will be ready for harvest within 60 days. The greens such as mustard, arugula, yukina savoy and chard can be ready in 30 days. We rely on these faster growing crops to ensure good harvest before the first frost date, which falls on October 7th. Don’t worry this is not the end all date.

Some crops are generally hardier for the winter like collards, kale, brussel sprouts and parsnips. These are usually overwintered and don’t need much protection. Other crops will be harvested even before that cold day hits such as radishes and turnips. If they fall in the in-between there are season extension techniques that we use. The most trusted is the row cover, this is a fabric that we tunnel over the crop and will keep the plant 3-4 degrees warmer at night. Our hoop house, now refurbished with raised beds, will be the best protection against the winter. This structure will absorb the heat during the daytime and can be around 8-9 degrees warmer than the outside temperature at night.

As of today we are keeping our newly planted crops well watered and cool. The end of summer heat can affect germination and growth. Soon we should see baby turnips, carrots and beets poking up where the tomatoes once stood only a few days ago.

Have a great weekend,

Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

Okra Cornmeal Cakes via:


· 2 cups fine yellow cornmeal
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· 1 tsp. fine sea salt
· 1 large egg, lightly beaten
· 1-1/2 cups water, more if needed
· 8 oz. okra, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
· 1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
· 1 clove garlic, mashed into a paste
· 1/4 cup corn oil, for frying 


Line a plate with paper towels. Set aside.To prepare the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, and fine salt. In a second bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine the egg and water. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add the okra, jalapeño, and garlic. Stir to combine. (The batter is thick, but should be wet, not dry. Add water as needed; the amount will depend on the size grind of the cornmeal.)
To fry the griddle cakes, heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto the heated skillet and press into an even layer. Repeat with additional batter, without crowding. Cook the cakes until the bottoms are brown and bubbles form on the tops and edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the paper towel–lined plate. While hot, season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately.

Squash and Sweet potato greens over polenta via:
· 2 cans (or 3.5 c) low sodium chicken broth, divided
· 1 c water
· 3/4 c cornmeal
· 1/2 c or so parmesan cheese
· 2 T olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· About a pound of some sort of summer squash or zucchini
· 1 large bunch sweet potato greens, most of the stems removed and cut into about 1″ strips
· 2 T flour
· 1/4 c chopped basil
· More parmesan for sprinkling

For the polenta:
In a large pot, bring 2 1/2 c chicken broth plus 1 c water to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking as you add. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and let the polenta cook, whisking occasionally, until it is thick like pudding. Whisk in the parmesan cheese and set aside.
For the vegetables:
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant. Add the squash and saute until softened. Add the sweet potato greens and saute until the greens have wilted down (2 minutes). Sprinkle the vegetables with 2 T flour and stir to coat evenly. Add the remaining 1 c chicken stock and simmer until it forms a thick sauce (3-5 minutes).
Serve the vegetables over a mound of polenta, top with the 1/4 c chopped basil and additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

August 23rd, 2013

In addition to growing lots and lots of fresh organic vegetables, Sugar Creek Farm also raises turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Our turkey chicks were born at a hatchery in Missouri on July 8th and that same day, they were grouped together and mailed to us in a special divided box via second day air delivery!  I realize this seems weird but hatcheries have been using the mail service to delivery chicks since 1940's.  In nature, a mother bird will sit on her nest of eggs and it may take a couple of days for them all to hatch.  During this couple of days, the birds have evolved to go without food and water since their belly still technically contains the egg yolk.  On July 10th, the Advance post office gave me a call around 6:30am letting me know my chicks had arrived.  I could hear them chirping in the background of our brief conversation!

Once they arrived, I kept them in a brooder that I made a few years back which provides warmth through 2 heat lamps.  This year we decided to keep the chicks up at the house so that we could keep a better eye on them and also because the shade of our front porch offers a cool open air place that keeps the chicks dry.   After a couple of weeks the chicks were getting too big for the brooder, so moved them to an area outside in the grass of my lawn.  I used a 10x10 chain link dog pen which has a roof and in the middle I placed a very large box.  This box offered more room than the brooder and after a week or so, I could begin to move the box to a new location within the pen which introduced the chicks to fresh grass.  The dog pen serves 2 roles at this point: 1) offering sun/rain protection with the roof, 2) keeps predators (feral cats, raccoons, coyotes) out.  Recently, we have enclosed an area of my lawn with a portable electric netting.  From now on, I keep the dog pen in the center of the netted area and let the chicks roam around free during the day.  At night, I herd the turkeys inside the pen for protection (nighttime is typically when the predators strike).  The turkey chicks will mow down the grass in 2-3 weeks so when the grass gets short, I will just moved the netting, turkeys, and pen to a new location! 

Below, I've included a few pictures of the turkey chicks from this year.  Also, there is a YouTube video of they turkeys I raised last year.  Like last year, I am raising broad breasted bronze turkeys.  Also, in the next few weeks I will send a few details to you by email in case you are interested in having a Sugar Creek turkey on your Thanksgiving table!

Special Delivery!  Riding home from the post office!
A close up

The chicks are getting used to their new brooder

I've found a new way to weed
 the garden beside my house
The new pointer puppies really enjoy
watching the birds!

August 16th, 2013

Greetings from a chilly desk in the barn!  What a wonderful feeling.  A welcome change as we seed carrots, beets, turnips and some winter radishes.  Our first frost date is October 27.  Working back from that, we determine how late we can plant what.  The possibilities for fall are endless!  I just ordered some more kohlrabi seed.  We pulled a bunch of winter squash out of the ground this week and you should be seeing those at the market and in the boxes in a few weeks.

On Wednesday, we put white plastic down, dug in the sides really well and mulched the paths in preparation for planting.  It was confirmed that our volunteer Liz is a mulching pro, she out mulched Ann and I put together!  Yesterday morning we transplanted kale, collards and cauliflower into block 8.  We've got more on the way and soon will be putting out our head lettuces in - yes!  it comes around again.  Cooler weather = greens are on their way to accompany the eggplant, okra, and peppers.

Unfortunately where 3 weeks ago I was writing all about tomatoes, we are predominately down to cherry tomatoes.  We harvested the last of the regular season tomatoes this week.  We should have a couple more weeks more of cherry tomatoes.  Our late season tomatoes are coming along slowly but surely, but are missing the nice green canopy that protects the fruit.  We will be foliar spraying some liquid fish on there later today to help encourage some green growth - the product smells exactly as you would expect.

On a better smelling note, the tuberoses are in season right now!  This is one of my favorites and the only flower we grew this year.  Asked earlier this week if it was edible, the answer is yes!  All of this time I'd just been smelling them, when they can also be added to vegetable soup.  Their oils also used to fragrance the Aztec's chocolate.  From Margaret Robert's Edible and Medicinal Flowers,  "A single flower added to a cup for green tea immediately imparts its rich oils and fragrance and this calms and settles a wildly beating, anxious heart.  Taken as an after dinner tea, it will ease digestion and make even the most stressful day dissolve into restful calm."

Have a great weekend,
Natalie and the Sugar Creek Crew

Tuberose Vegetable Soup again from Margaret Roberts' Edible and Medicinal Flowers
this is a adapted form the old Chinese recipe.  it is light and refreshing, perfect as a starter to be followed by a rich meal.
serves 6

2 T olive oil
2 c finely chipped onions
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
2 cups chopped green peppers
4 cups diced celery stalks
2 liters chicken stock
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 T pure soy sauce with no added msg
3 T fresh lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup tuberose flowers lightly sliced

Fry the onions in the olive oil,  add the mushrooms and brown lightly:  add the green peppers and celery and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add all the other ingredients and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Serve hot in bowls with a fresh tuberose flower floating on top.  Dust with nutmeg.  

Provencal Summer Squash and Potato Gratin from the food network

This dish is based on a traditional Provencal dish called a tian, the perfect baked dish for showcasing summer vegetables. Try swapping rosemary for thyme or oregano, or adding thinly sliced summer eggplant to the mix.

Cooking spray
1 medium yellow summer squash (about 8 ounces)
1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces)
1 small Yukon gold potato, about 4 ounces, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1/4 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Manchego cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly mist a shallow 2-quart baking or gratin dish with cooking spray.

Thinly slice the squash, zucchini, potato, and onion 1/4-inch thick with a mandolin or by hand. Shingle the vegetables in the prepared baking dish in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the rosemary leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake until the potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove the foil; sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 45 minutes more. Let stand at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

August 9th, 2013

Bring on the fall. Today I spent part of my morning counting how many trays we currently have seeded of fall transplants. From kales, broccoli, cabbage to lettuces I feel like our outdoor greenhouse or shade house is filling up fast. The cool weather has really gotten me excited to be back in the greens. Natalie and I decided to put in two full rows of arugula and lettuce mix. Hopefully with the cloudy days the seeds will have enough time to germinate without any problems. This will add a little extra greenery to the mix and until fall brassicas are in full swing.

In the meantime I have been enjoying our summer greens.  Here at Sugar Creek Farm we grow two types of greens that flourish during these summer days. Callaloo is a Caribbean cooking green similar to spinach. This green it is in the amaranth family and grows really well in the heat. It is high in Vitamin A, Calcium and will add a little bit of iron to your diet. If you have seen it at the market you may have noticed its lacy appearance. This is due to the insect pressure, but once they cook down these will not be noticed. We have also started harvesting sweet potato greens. Personally these are my favorite. Not only do we get to grow the potatoes but also we get to enjoy the greens. Once the sweet potato vines grown long enough usually a couple of feet we can trim them down and harvest the leaves without harming the potato. These greens are very tender and mild tasting. They are low in calories, high in vitamins A, C, B2 and contain many antioxidants and essential fatty acids. They are eaten all over the world especially in Asian and African cultures. Both of these delicious greens should be enjoyed while we are still in summer mode because we won’t see them again until next year!

Enjoy some greens this weekend,
Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew
Sautéed Sweet Potato Greens


1 bunch sweet potato greens

1/2 small white onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ Tomato, diced

Salt and pepper


- Wash greens and chop stems from greens, roughly chop greens up.
- Heat olive oil in medium-sized pan over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until just softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add stem pieces and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add leaves, salt and pepper to taste and tomato. Sauté until leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve. 

Callaloo with Hot Pepper Vinegar via:
            3 Tbs. canola oil
            1 large onion, cut into thin slices (2 cups)
            1 bunch callaloo
            5 cloves garlic, minced (1½ Tbs.)
Hot Pepper Vinegar
            ½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
            ½ cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
            ½ to 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced
            ½ cup cider vinegar
            ½ tsp. sugar

1. To make Callaloo: Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until beginning to brown.

2. Add callaloo, and garlic; cover, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often with tongs, or until greens wilt. Add 2 cups water, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 45 minutes, or until greens are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

3. To make Hot Pepper Vinegar: Combine bell peppers and Scotch bonnet chile in 2-cup glass measuring cup. Stir together vinegar, sugar, and ½ cup water in small saucepan. Bring vinegar mixture to a boil, then pour over peppers. Cool.

4. To serve: top each serving of Callaloo with Hot Pepper Vinegar.

August 2nd, 2013

With all the rain lately, I am considering building an arc.  Last Saturday morning I was walking down to the barn to help load the truck for market when I noticed an occasional flash of lighting in the Western sky (it was still dark at the time).  I checked the radar an saw a large line of storms over Statesville and headed our way.  I don't really like to see rain on Saturday mornings because that is our day at the farmers market and generally rain hurts our sales.  In this case, I figured the storm would blow through before 8am so it wouldn't be that big of a deal.  However, this storm was slow moving and it parked over our area for several hours.  Here at the farm we received over 3.5 inches of rain before 1pm which resulted in water streaming down our driveway and also creeks overflowing their banks and washing over our drive as well.  Fortunately, no crops were damaged and the good news is that we didn't have to worry about irrigation for the rest of the weekend!

Sugar Creek Farm primarily markets it produce directly to customers through farmers markets and our CSA.  When we have extra produce beyond what our traditional customers need we have a small list of restaurants/stores that we contact.  One of the restaurants that we work with is Spring House in Winston-Salem.  Chef Tim Grandinetti, co-owner of Spring House, is one of our favorite chefs to work with.  His enthusiasm and love of good food always bring a smile.  Spring House opened last year and has quickly become a hot spot in the Winston-Salem dining scene.  One of the unique things that Chef Tim does every year is a week long event called, Dr. Brownstone's Sweet Summer LuvLuv Festival.  Each evening during this event guests will enjoy multi-course tasting menus; showcasing “hot-off-the-grill” specialties prepared by an all-star cast of visiting Chefs. Each evening’s tasting menu will be paired with top notch NC micro-brews, local food, fine wines, and spirits. Soulful, live music allow the decadent festivities to continue into the night.

This year, Spring House has teamed up with local farms who will provide vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  Sugar Creek Farm is proud to kick off the festival on Tuesday, August 6th by providing produce for first event, Lipstick on the Pig Reception Extravaganza.  Here are some specifics of the event which I copied from the Spring House website:  The Lipstick on the Pig Reception Hour & Dinner celebrates the culinary talents of our local Chef community: Pit Master Mark Little of Bib’s Downtown, Chef Shane Moore of Foothills Brewing, Chef Stephanie Tyson of Sweet Potatoes, and Chef Joseph Lerner, Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar. Chef Jeff Bacon of Triad Community Kitchen will prepare a 4-course Chef-crafted Tasting Menu. Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers from Sugar Creek Farms, Davie County, NC. Ice Cold craft brews from Winston-Salem’s Foothills Brewing.

If your schedule allows for a unique dining experience on Tuesday, we recommend that you come out.  Betsy and I (Jeff) plan to attend so make sure to say hello.  The event starts this Tuesday at 6pm and reservations are strongly recommended as seating is limited.  We hope to see you there!

Here are two recipes to use with your produce.  The first is very, very, strange, but surprisingly delicious!  And yes, how you layer this sandwich really does matter.

Enjoy your produce,
Jeff and the Sugar Creek Crew

Diane's Dad's Summer Sandwich from NPR

Thin slices white sharp cheddar cheese
Tomato, thinly sliced
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Vidalia or red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
2 slices whole grain bread

Make a sandwich by layering the ingredients in the order given; eat with the cheese layer on top.  This sandwich actually won NPR's taste of summer contest!

Fresh Tomato Sauce from

2 to 2-1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
4 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly chopped parsley leaves

Peel tomatoes by scoring the skin of each tomato with a sharp knife (do not cut too deep). Then, place scored tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and boil for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove tomatoes and plunge into cold water. Peel and dice tomatoes and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. When hot, add garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute until garlic turns slightly golden. Add chopped onion and saute an additional 2 1/2 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes and cook approximately 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add chopped parsley and additional extra virgin olive oil if desired, just before using.