November 22nd, 2013

Hello all!

The cold days and the lack of sunlight makes things grow slower but there is never a lack of things to do at the farm. We are still in deconstruction and cleanup mode. This week Natalie and I tackled the perennial area, where we keep asparagus, rhubarb, okra, some fruits and tuber roses. We cut and hauled out all of the woody brush, weeded and mulched the plants. Besides Sugar Creek giving me (hopefully) my last round of poison oak it has been a pretty stark transformation and quite a rewarding job.

Besides preparing for winter I suspect all small farms have been worried about the FDAs new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). If you haven’t heard about it, this policy is aimed at cutting back food borne illnesses. Recent out breaks the past couple of years, in melons and sprouts have caused people to be concerned, according to the CDC 48 million people in the United States will suffer from a food borne illness each year. Although this law has some good purposed regulations it also has the power to hurt small local farms where these food borne illnesses are not coming from. Here are just a few of many issues about the purposed law:

  • The use of manure and compost. Manure is natural compost many small farms use in order to return nutrients back into the soil. Here at Sugar Creek we follow organic guidelines on the use of raw manure. If manure is added we wait 120 days to harvest if the crop is a root vegetable or has any contact with the soil, or we wait 90 days to harvest if the crop is a leafy vegetable or above soil contact. The FDA wants to make it nine months between applying manure to harvest. This regulation will make it virtually impossible to put down manure on a field and expect to harvest anything from that spot in the same year. In turn many farmers would stop using manure and switch to a synthetic, costly soil amendment.

  • Irrigation and Agricultural water. Water is an essential use for a farm. I am likely to be doing something with water at the farm at any time, whether it is irrigation, washing or cleaning.  While I agree that the water should be safe, the new law would be costly for farmers.

 While I am pro-food safety many purposed regulations of the FSMA have the potential to really put extra burden on small farmers and discourage new farmers. If you are interested I suggest to check out this website for more information and details,

Hope to see everyone at market this weekend,

Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

 Sweet Potato Pie by Edna Edwards

·      2 c mashed cooked sweet potatoes
·      1 c sugar
·      ½ tsp salt
·      1 c milk
·      2 eggs
·      ½ c butter, melted
·      1 tsp vanilla
·      1 tsp lemon extract
·      Unbaked pastry for 9” pie

Mix all the ingredients together, blending thoroughly. Turn into 9 inch pastry – lined pie pan and bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Autumn Napa Cabbage Salad

Serving Size: 4 to 6


•    1 pound sweet potato, unpeeled, sliced into strips/matchsticks
•    ½ pound carrots, unpeeled, sliced into strips/matchsticks
•    2 tablespoon coconut oil
•    Pinches of sea salt
•    4 cups ribboned Napa cabbage
•    1 cup sliced onion
•    ¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
•    ¼ cup fresh parsley
•    1 small (one-ounce) fresh pepper, seeded and diced
•    for the dressing
•    ¼ cup olive oil
•    1 teaspoon Greek yogurt
•    Juice of one lime and half a lemon (about ¼ cup)
•    2 teaspoons honey
•    2 teaspoons warm water, plus more as desired
•    squirt of siracha
•    ½ teaspoon salt
•    ½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375F and melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in an 8 X 8 glass baking dish. Toss sweet potato strips with the oil and a pinch of sea salt in that dish; place dish in oven for 30 minutes. Repeat process in another dish with the carrot strips.

While the sweet potatoes and carrots roast, combine cabbage, onion, pecans, parsley, and pepper in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining olive oil, Greek yogurt, lemon and lime juices, honey, warm water, and siracha, whisking well. Taste the mixture and adjust to your liking --- add more water to thin it oil, more honey to sweeten, more siracha for a greater kick, etc.

When sweet potatoes and carrots are roasted, add them to the cabbage bowl. Drizzle dressing on top; keep adding until the salad is coated to your liking; you likely won't need all the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.

November 15th, 2013

And all of a sudden, winter is here!  We received our first good frost 3 weeks ago and this week we had a good hard freeze with low temps that hit 23 on Wednesday, and Thursday morning.  One of the many reasons I like North Carolina is that our seasons change and each one has its own unique weather signature.  In the summer I love those thunderstorms that pop out of nowhere and dump 2 inches of rain in an hour.  In the fall and winter what I love most is when a cold, artic, high pressure system rolls in.  That is what happened on Tuesday.  There is an old saying to describe the weather on days like Tuesday and it is:  "The hawk is out!"

To correctly use this phrase it means the wind is blowing hard and the temps are dropping fast because a cold front is coming.  Once it's cold and the wind has died down then this term really doesn't apply.  Winter weather in North America is dominated by the movement of cold, dry air masses that form just east of the Canadian Rockies.  As these cold air masses grow in size, they eventually start to get pushed by the jet stream.  As the cold high pressure system tumbles south a great deal of wind is created at the "front" of the air mass.  Since cold air sinks, hawks and other migratory birds fly up high to escape the cold, turbulent, dense air.  So it is very common to see hawks flying very high as the Canadian cold front approaches as it gets windy and the temps begin to plummet. 

Here at the farm, the evening freezes have taken their toll.  The leaves are almost off the trees and most of the grasses have turned brown.  We've planted some cover crops and now we are beginning the process of "putting the farm to sleep" for the winter.  We're still harvesting plenty of your fall and winter favorites and while the farm share program technically ends next week (Saturday before Thanksgiving) we plan to attend a few markets into December. 

Today I am going to recycle a couple of recipes that we posted from earlier in the year.  These are personal favorites:

Kale Chips

Olive Oil

Pull stems from Kale and arrange on a baking sheet in a single (or so) layer, toss with a little olive oil and salt, and bake at 375° for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, giving the cookie sheet a shake or two if you remember, until the edges get crispy.

Sauteed Chard with Garlic and Red Pepper

2 tbsp  olive oil
2 stalks green garlic (white part finely chopped)
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 lg bunch chard cut into small pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon or a few teaspoons red wine vinegar

Heat the oil with the garlic and pepper flakes in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to color. Add the chard and toss to coat it with the oil. Add 1/4 cup water (carefully) and cook until it's absorbed and the greens are heated through. Season with salt and a little lemon juice or vinegar.

November 8th, 2013

Sunchokes and luffa?  You know it’s getting colder outside.  Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke, sunroot, earth apple, and topinambour are all names for a ginger- looking root.  Over 7 feet tall, these flowers brighten up our perennial area for a solid month in the early fall.  The sunchoke has a mild, sweet and nutty.  Quoting From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook “Surprisingly, sun chokes are free of any starch, and have instead a polysaccharide called inulin that’s  digested slowly and lowers blood sugar, making it a highly recommended food choice for diabetics.”  It turns out there’s a sweetener on the market based on the Jerusalem artichoke!
The other new thing to add the list is the luffa sponges.  Not creatures of the sea, but presented in the shape of a sponge, these luffa sponges are a wonderful ecological way to exfoliate your skin in the shower or clean your dishes. 


Third try is a charm.  Each year, we’ve started the luffa earlier and earlier in the spring to get it to complete its long growing cycle to dry down so that we can collect the fibrous fruit.  The timing coupled with a change in seed have allowed us to finally present you with this sponge!  This vining affair needs some solid support, the vines will create a wall or a carpet if needed. 

Once the greens have established, contrasting little yellow flowers erupt along the trellising.  Then the bees come and visit regularly until the frost.  Cucumbers start to appear – the young ones are edible – popular in China and India.  We wait for them to get several feet long, and they get very heavy with the water weight.  Thus the solid structure -- we didn’t trellis them in time this year and they decided the high tinsel strength electric deer fence would do.  They pulled down the top several strands of wire, grounding the wire and inviting for the deer to step right over.  Surprisingly, the deer did not take the bait, sparing the neighboring sweet potatoes.  I think they were concerned about getting their hooves tangled up in the vines, I get tripped up in every venture between the fence and luffa rows.      

When the luffa gets to its desired size, it starts to dry down and turn brown.  You can hear the seeds rattle inside when they are ready.  Peel the outside and ta da – a sponge awaits.  We remove as many seeds possible and soak them in a mild bleach solution to remove the stains.  Both the Dixie Classic Farmer's Market and the Old Salem Cobblestone Market have some excellent homemade goat soaps available, a good combination with your new luffa!

Have a great weekend,
Natalie and the Sugar Creek Crew

Sunchokes au Gratin from Harmony Valley Farm via Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook
·        -  2 pounds sun chokes
·         - Salt and pepper to taste
·         - ½ c grated Parmesan cheese
·         - 2 T butter, in pieces
S    Scrub or peel Jerusalem artichokes.  Steam or boil until just tender.  Slice thinly and lay out in a casserole dish.  Add salt and pepper.  Cover with cheese and dot with butter.  Bake at 375 degrees 7-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted and browned.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Mustard Greens Pancakes from Ariane
·         - 1 small onion, diced
·         - Large handful of mustard greens, coarsely chopped
·         - 1 T olive oil
·         - 2 eggs
·         - 2 c milk
·         - 1 c flour
·         - ¼ tsp salt
·         - 1 T melted butter

Put olive oil in a hot skillet, add onions.  When onions are translucent, add the greens and cook until wilted and add another 2 minutes.  Set aside.
Mix eggs, milk, flour and salt together.  Let sit ½ hour.  Add melted butter.  Mix the greens in and make thin pancakes, like crepes.  Good with lignonberry sauce (like cranberry), or bacon. 

Stir–Fried Bok Choy with Cashew Sauce from Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook
·       -   ½ c raw cashews
·        -  ¼ cup white wine vinegar
·         - ¼ cup sugar
·         - ¼ cup soy sauce
·         - 1 T minced ginger
·         - Pinch of red pepper flakes
·         - 1 ½ pounds bok choy
·         - ¼ cup peanut oil

Toast cashews in a dry skillet, tossing frequently, until lightly brown and fragrant.  Combine cashews, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, and 2-4 T water in a blender or food processor; puree until smooth.  Set aside.  Wash bok choy stems and leaves well, making sure to rinse away dirt in the ribs.  Separate the bok choy leaves from the stalks.  Cut stalks into 1/2” pieces and roughly chop the leaves.  Het peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add bok choy stems and cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes.  Add the leaves and cook until they wilt and turn bright green, another minute or so.  Remove to a platter and cover with cashew sauce, or serve sauce on the side.