In the Kitchen with Brian and Lisa: November recipe roundup


WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their Got to Be Good Cookin’ segment using ingredients grown and available right here in North Carolina. This month recipes are Thanksgiving favorites submitted by WRAL-TV viewers.  Recipes included a holiday salad, cranberry fluff, a creative take on pumpkin pie, homemade oatmeal cream pies and sweet potato and sausage hash.

The first recipe was provided by Clare Turner of Belmont. Brian said, “It’s the dressing that makes this salad so special.”

Clare’s Holiday Salad


  • 1 pound raw spinach
  • 8 spring onions or 1 small red onion
  • 5 hard boiled eggs (chopped)
  • 8 slices crisp bacon (crumbled)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 fresh mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 cans Mandarin oranges (drained)


  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion juice (grated onion or found in the spice isle)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2⁄3 cup cider vinegar


Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with the salad ingredients. Leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Next is a tart recipe that is a throwback to the 1970s. “Mary Wehring from Raleigh says her little sister brought this recipe home from Brownies around 1970 and insisted they make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Lisa. “It has been a holiday tradition ever since.” If you are watching your carbs, leave out the marshmallows and the sugar.

Cranberry Fluff


  • 1 pack whole cranberries
  • 2 red apples (cut in small pieces)
  • 2 green apples (cut in small pieces)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 envelope Dream Whip
  • 1⁄2 cup cold milk
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla


Chop cranberries in a food processor until very small but not mushy. Mix together apples and chopped cranberries. Add marshmallows and nuts. Refrigerate. (The original recipe says an hour, but this is something we prepare to this point early in the day and finish when holiday prep allows.) Prepare Dream Whip (adding milk and vanilla and blend with hand mixer) and fold into cranberry mixture. (We have tried Cool Whip, Reddi-Whip and real whipped cream, but for our family it must be Dream Whip.) Add sugar to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

The next recipe is no-bake cream pie that is a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie provided by viewer Craig Partin of Fuquay-Varina. “It taste like a little bit of fall,” says Lisa.

Pumpkin Cream-Turtle Pie


  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 pack 3.4 oz.vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups frozen whipped topping (thawed)
  • 1 cup chopped N.C. pecans (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 7.25 oz. bottle caramel flavored Magic Shell ice cream topping
  • 2 tablespoon regular caramel ice cream topping


In a large bowl, beat together pumpkin, pudding mixes, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg with wire whisk until well blended. Fold in whipped topping and 1 cup pecans. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Pour caramel Magic Shell (entire bottle) over top of pie and spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans.
Freeze pie for 1 hour or until firm. Before serving, drizzle regular caramel ice cream topping over top of pie. Store pie in refrigerator.

The next recipe is for homemade oatmeal cream pies by Megan Talley of Fuquay-Varina. Lisa notes that they “have all the flavors of fall and make great gifts.”

Oatmeal Cream Pies


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole N.C. farm fresh eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup molasses
  • 1⁄4 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups quick rolling oats

Frosting (for center, as desired) – Megan recommends Pillsbury Easy Frost Vanilla Dream No Fuss Frosting, for ease. We used Pillsbury whipped supreme vanilla.


Cream the butter and sugar; add the eggs, molasses, and milk. Beat well. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves together. Add to creamed mixture along with the quick rolling oats.
Drop the mixture by heaping teaspoonful’s onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes until brown, but soft. Allow cookies to cool. Frost the bottom of one cookie with vanilla frosting of choice, place a second cookie on top of frosting to create a sandwich … or oatmeal cream pie!

The next recipe is provide by Amy Smith of Raleigh and is an entree that is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash


  • 1 pound fresh sausage
  • 2 N.C. sweet potatoes (diced)
  • 1 medium red onion (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 4 N.C. eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salsa


Break up your sausage and cook it in a pan over medium-high heat. When the sausage is nearly finished, drain some of the grease and add the sweet potatoes and onion. Add the cumin and coriander and mix well. Continue to cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. When the hash is cooked through transfer to a medium serving bowl. Cover the hash with the extra-sharp cheese and cover the entire dish with foil. Wash out the pan and melt one tablespoon of butter. Crack the eggs into the pan and cook over medium-high heat. When the eggs are done (I prefer mine Sunny side up!), remove foil from serving dish and add eggs. Sprinkle the entire dish with salsa and enjoy!







From the Commissioner: Thanksgiving and agriculture

Commissioner Troxler with his wife and grandkids.

Commissioner Troxler with his wife and grandkids.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and like many of you, I will be enjoying the day with family and friends around a home-cooked meal. This holiday season I am thankful for farmers and what they provide to our state.

As you sit down to your meal, there’s a good chance what you are eating was grown by a farmer right here in North Carolina. Our state was built on agriculture and it remains our top industry with more than 50,000 farms of all shapes and sizes. Agriculture and agribusiness generate $78 billion for our economy and employ 640,000 people. It is something we can all be thankful about.

Nationally, North Carolina ranks first in sweet potatoes, second in hogs and pigs and third in turkeys. We also rank second in Christmas trees and poinsettias. Our state is home to more than 80 different commodities. Since there really isn’t much our farmers can’t grow, it’s very easy to make it a North Carolina Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for the safe, abundant food supply our farmers provide. I encourage you to support farmers this holiday season and look for ways to buy local. You can help by looking for the green and yellow Got to Be NC label where you shop. This label means that this product was grown, raised, caught or made in North Carolina.  Candles, honey, wood products and gift baskets full of N.C. products make great gifts during the holiday season as well. The NCDA&CS online General Store is a great place to start if you are looking for ideas on where to shop local.

As you enjoy this holiday season, I hope you take some time to be thankful for our agricultural community and support our local farms and businesses.

Support North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness by looking for the Got to Be NC label where you shop.

Support North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness by looking for the Got to Be NC label where you shop.



Today’s Topic: National Farm-City Week

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

It’s National Farm-City Week, which began Nov. 21 and continues through Thanksgiving Day.

Farm-City Week helps promote a greater understanding of agriculture and its connection to the foods we enjoy throughout the year. Communities across the state hold events to celebrate and strengthen the relationships between farmers and the public. It’s important for everyone to understand the connection between agriculture, the food we eat and the economic benefits this industry provides to North Carolina.

Thanksgiving is a great time to celebrate with locally grown food, and Commissioner Troxler tells Rhonda that the Got to Be NC program has made it easier to identify N.C.-grown food in grocery stores across the state.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss Farm-City Week and what the Commissioner is thankful for.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.


NC Forest Service officers recognized as 2014 Arson Investigative Team of the Year

Law enforcement officers with the N.C. Forest Service were named the 2014 Investigative Team of the Year by the North Carolina Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators at the N.C./S.C. Arson Conference in Myrtle Beach. The event was attended by more than 360 fire investigators, fire marshals and detectives from both states.

2014 NCIAAI Investigative Team of the Year

Left to right, Amery Wells, law enforcement supervisor, N.C. Forest Service; Capt. David Newton, Scotland County Sheriff’s Office; Michael Hardin Jr., senior assistant district attorney, District 16A; Sam Niemyer, D-3 law enforcement district ranger, N.C. Forest Service; Jamie Laviner, investigator, Scotland County Sheriff’s Office. Not pictured: Kristy Newton, district attorney, District 16A, and Dawn Layton,chief assistant district attorney, District 20A.

The honor was bestowed upon NCFS Law Enforcement Supervisor Amery Wells, Law Enforcement Rockingham District Ranger Sam Niemyer and other members of the team for an investigation that took place between July 2011 and May 2012. During that period, 78 fires were intentionally set in Scotland, Richmond and Hoke counties. The team used a combination of strategies to narrow down the case to a single suspect who would later be charged and convicted on 50 felony counts of setting fires and malicious use of incendiary devices.

Robert Smith, NCFS chief of law enforcement, said the investigation was challenging and unique due to the geographic area that covered portions of three counties, eight fire districts and two prosecutorial districts, among other factors. He pointed out that investigating a series of fires, even if a few are in the same general area, is complicated.

“Effective communications between investigative team members and numerous resources from different counties and fire districts was critical to the success of this investigation,” Smith said.

Smith said developing the working relationships and overall trust between all of those parties was essential. He credited the team with doing an outstanding job to develop and nurture longstanding relationships that transcended jurisdictional lines and using their individual strengths and skills to work extremely well together.

“They used a combination of good old-fashioned investigative skills mixed with technology such as tracking devices and GIS mapping, to put together a thorough case,” he said.

The factor of time and distance repeatedly challenged investigators to develop new strategies for static and mobile surveillance that covered a large geographic area over a lengthy time span. It was, however, a challenge to get the legal authority to use the tracking device. In January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in U.S. vs. Jones that required a search warrant for tracking devices. In May 2012, judges were still new to this case, as was the investigative team, making the warrant process more time-consuming than normal. The team collaborated on proper verbiage and content prior to discussing the case with the signing judge to be sure everything was in proper order and to the letter of the law.

The team also had the daunting task of collecting and analyzing a large volume of data, evidence, leads, witness interviews, photographs and other information, which quickly became a huge undertaking to sort and track. There was also the ongoing process of analyzing the data to formulate hypotheses, which was even more challenging and often frustrating for the team.

The suspect turned out to be a former law enforcement officer. As such, he was familiar with investigative tactics, interview techniques and surveillance techniques. It was later determined that he was also using a scanner to monitor radio traffic of emergency response personnel.

“Considering all of the challenges, the investigative team maintained a unified and determined effort to bring successful closure to one of the most complex wildland fire investigation cases in North Carolina history,” Smith said.

The team invested more than 1,000 man hours of time and resources and wrote in excess of 1,000 pages of discovery evidence. Their work led to 52 felony charges for intentionally setting fires and use of malicious incendiary devices, and a $1 million dollar bond set for the suspect, the largest in North Carolina for a wildland fire case. The suspect pleaded guilty in November 2013 to 50 of the 52 felony charges and was ordered to pay more than $15,000 in restitution. He was sentenced to 60 months of supervised probation to begin in May 2016 at the end of an unrelated federal prison sentence.

“I’m very proud to have played just a small role in this investigation. But even more so, to have witnessed the amount of dedication, professionalism and teamwork these guys demonstrated throughout this entire investigation,” Smith said. “They are all very deserving of this award for 2014.”


News Roundup: Nov. 15-21

News Roundup logoEach week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  •  “FDA Holds Listening Session on Food Safety Rules,” Time Warner Cable News: North Carolina produce farmers and animal-food manufacturers are learning about updated rules proposed under the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA is holding meetings across the country to get industry input. The law goes into full effect in about three years and is said to be the most sweeping reform of US food safety laws in more than 70 years. Signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act marks a major shift in food safety, changing the federal strategy from responding to contamination to preventing it. …
  • “Dixon: Farm finds a niche in baby ginger, turmeric,” Winston-Salem Journal: One of the best parts about writing this column is discovering new places, new people and new plants. Recently, I discovered Plum Granny Farm in Stokes County — and the unique crops that they cultivate. Owners Cheryl Ferguson and Ray Tuegel are best known for garlic. Growing more than 20 varieties has put them on the food map. …
  • “Local TV show features Lejeune mess hall,” DVIDS: Local TV station UNC-TV’s program Flavor, NC is dedicated to showcasing local food producers, their products and restaurants who prepare dishes with those ingredients. Mess Hall 82 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will be featured in an upcoming episode of Flavor, NC. “The show features a variety of local ingredients from fresh fruits and vegetables to dried goods and meats,” said Paul Friday, director of government and external relations with Marine Corps Installations East. “Not only do we provide wholesome, nutritious food for service members, but we also recognize local food producers.” Flavor, NC starts at the origin of produce, and describes the process the food takes to arrive at its final destination. …
  •  “Tree-mendous Haul For NC Forest Service,” WFAE: An unusual North Carolina Forest Service program has staff compete to collect tree seeds. After a fertile year, the service is touting the results. James West manages a nursery and publishes a most-wanted list—both for the North Carolina Forest Service. The list names types of seeds state and county forest officials might find as they patrol the woods. They bring them back to grow into seedlings in the nursery, West says. “It’s really interesting to watch how much comes in,” says West. …
  • “Keep an eye on gas receipts to find inaccurate pumps,” WRAL: When filling up at the pump, most of us just set it and forget it. And for the most part, people trust the numbers on the pump. A woman who contacted 5 on Your Side was on empty when she filled up, which may have helped her catch a problem with her gas pump. “According to my owner’s manual, I have 13.2 gallons capacity in my car, but the pump went over 16 gallons,” Kathy Potter said. Potter needed gas when she stopped at the WilcoHess on Western Boulevard in October. “When I saw that hit 13 gallons, I got concerned, and then when it kept going I was really, you know, puzzled,” Potter said. “I thought wow, I was really on empty.” Her receipt shows the pump finally cut off at more than 16 gallons. “Over three gallons is a pretty pricey error margin,” Potter said. “That cost me over $10 and if we’re doing that every time we fill up, that’s a lot of money out of my pocket.” Potter said the clerk wasn’t worried about the difference. “She didn’t seem very concerned, she just kind of laughed and shrugged it off,” said Potter. So the Potters called state inspectors, who tested the pump and shut it down. “It’s nothing the store did on purpose, it’s just equipment and it does go bad,” said Jerry Butler with the state Department of Agriculture. Butler said the inspector pumped 20 gallons but was charged for 26.6 gallons. He ended up closing both sides of the pump. …
  • “Tobacco Trust Fund provides $500k for agricultural projects at NC State,” The Technician: The North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund provided $500,000 to two agricultural projects based at NC State geared toward helping struggling farmers during what has been a difficult economy for agriculturalists. The organization announced that it will provide about $300,000 to fund NC AgVentures, a new program that will seek to help tobacco farmers update and revamp farms through the use of individual grants. The Tobacco Trust Fund will also give about $200,000 to Developing Future NC Farmers, a program that hopes to encourage college students to develop a career in the agriculture industry. “The money goes directly to the farmers so they can implement new projects on their farm,” said Jacqueline Murphy Miller, the extension assistant of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. There has been a significant decline of tobacco growth in the United States, according to Miller. However, North Carolina remains the number one producer of flue-cured tobacco, the primary ingredient in cigarettes in the country. “The bottom line is we want to keep farmers in business,” said Jeff Jennings, program officer of the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. …
  • “Conference unites women across meat industry supply chain to address common issues,” Indy Week: Bacon is easy. I want to say that loud and clear. Bacon is easy.” That’s Tray Satterfield, meat associate at Skagit Valley Cured Meats in Washington State and she’s speaking about curing pork to 36 women gathered for a three-day conversation about all things meat. Now in its second year, Women Working in the Meat Business is a conference hosted by NC Choices, a program of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. …
  • “Farm-City Week showcases local agriculture,” Richmond County Daily Journal: Culture and agriculture will meet here Saturday as Farm-City Week kicks off, bringing those in the city and those in the country closer together. This year’s theme is “Who’s Your Farmer?” and Susan Kelly of the Richmond County Cooperative Extension office believes it’s a way for those unfamiliar with farming to become a little more educated. “Farm-City is a national movement. City folks and country folks getting together,” said Kelly. “This is a fairly rural county, but a lot of people don’t know about agriculture.” The agriculture agencies in the local N.C. Cooperative Extension office are in charge of this year’s festivities, said Kelly, along with several Richmond County residents. …
  • “NC-inspired menu creates a Tar Heel Thanksgiving,” Charlotte Observer: At least we spared you the possum. There was a time, according to Southern food historian David Shields, when hotels in the Carolinas featured the critter instead of turkey at their Thanksgiving feasts. But when we decided to dig into some of North Carolina’s most beloved cookbooks for a Tar Heel-centric Thanksgiving menu, we decided that turkey, as one of the state’s leading products, really should stay on the table. Same for sweet potatoes. We’re No. 1 in the country in sweet potato production.And there are plenty of other holiday foods that we could find around the state. How about scuppernongs? And cranberries, of course. …
  •  “Raleigh drone company looks to farmers for business,” WRAL:  Most people associate drones with the military. They have played a major role in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A Raleigh company is trying to change that impression. Precision Hawk believes drones can be money-makers. A North Carolina State University farm serves as a test site for Precision Hawk near Bahama. Motors start, propellers spin and, with a gentle toss into the wind, aircraft take flight.”The term drone has such a negative connotation, you see it on the news all the time,” said Tyler Collins, Precision Hawk’s director of business development. …
  • “AdvantageWest gets $1.2 million for ScaleUp WNC,” Asheville Citizen-Times:  With 14,000 gallons produced this year, Noble Cider is not the same company it was two years ago when the market’s big thirst for their small batch of 2,000 gallons caused the barrels to run dry before the next apple season. “That’s when we had our first realization that we needed to make a lot more because we can’t just stop selling. We have to continue to have something to sell in order to still be a business,” said Trevor Baker, co-founder of Noble Cider. …




N.C. Forest Service’s Greg Cox receives 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence

Cox Accepting Gov Award

Cox Accepting Governor’s Award From NCDA&CS Assistant Commissioner Scott Bissette; Neil Alexander, director of the Office of State Human Resources

Greg Cox, mechanic supervisor with the N.C. Forest Service, was recently awarded a Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Efficiency and Innovation at a ceremony at the N.C. Museum of History. He was nominated for devising a program to save money on the Forest Service’s equipment repairs and maintenance. The Governor’s Awards for Excellence are the highest honor a state employee can receive. Greg was nominated at the state level after he was selected as Employee of the Year at the department level.

“Greg demonstrates a can-do attitude and a spirit of innovation that is admirable, and I’m thrilled to have his work acknowledged by the governor,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It’s great to have others recognize something I’ve known for many years – that our department has the best employees in state government.”

Cox is responsible for the maintenance and repair of more than 100 pieces of rolling stock across an eight-county district. This equipment ranges from pick-up trucks with slip-on firefighting units to heavy equipment such as bulldozers, forklifts and motor graders. These units must be kept in a state of readiness in order to fulfill the legislative mandate that the N.C. Forest Service protect residents of North Carolina from destructive wildfire. Greg also has direct supervision of three employees, a mechanic, forest fire equipment operator and smoke chaser.

“Greg demonstrates a dedicated work ethic, can-do attitude, and a spirit of innovation on the job,” said Don Watson, district forester out of the N.C. Forest Service’s Rockingham office. “Many of Greg’s ideas or innovations have saved the State of North Carolina tens of thousands of dollars. Greg is an expert in metal fabrication and can often times make the parts that most others are required to purchase.”

According to Watson, Cox has improvised and or invented many pieces of equipment for the district, including rebuilding about 20 heavy duty hitches that have broken. At a cost of more $600 per hitch, the savings add up quickly.  The hitches are used on bulldozers to pull large, heavy, fire plows and are about 2 inches around and 6 inches long.

Cox’s skill is not limited to repairing hitches. IIn fact, he developed and built two new fire plows that allow for more accurate control of the fire plow depth. This allows the plows to be used in lighter, sandier soils, while still having the capability to operate in the parts of the state where a heavier, deeper fire line is required to get through the thick root mats in the organic soils.

Since this type of fabrication work requires specialized tools, in addition to specialized skills, Cox acquired two pieces of large equipment from the a community college that no longer needed them. The fabrication equipment was valued at between $10,000 and $15,000.

Cox also fabricated shrouds for some of the older shop tools that satisfies the safety requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which saved the Forest Service thousands of dollars that would have been required to update their shop tools.

In addition to his fabrication skills, Cox has made other money-saving recommendations. This includes researching and recommending that the district invest in a transmission flusher to help maintain the districts’ initial attack vehicles. Current maintenance standards require the transmissions to be serviced every 30,000 miles, which usually takes place every other year at a cost of $165, which equates to a savings of over $3,000 a year.

Cox’s dedication extends outside of the garage as well. As one of only two mechanics in the district on call every day, he is often called on after hours for repairs needed on firefighting equipment in the field, where conditions are usually anything but ideal. On a recent Sunday morning, Cox was called at 2 a.m. to help get a tractor that was stuck while fighting a fire. He responded promptly to the fire scene and was instrumental in getting the tractor back to work.

“Greg is the go-to-guy for repair advice, not only in the district but across the state,” Watson said. “He is often called by other mechanics to give his thoughts on a situation with a piece of equipment from another district.”

During a busy fire season in 2011, Cox was dispatched outside of his district seven times and was out of town and away from his family for a total of 93 days that year. For many of these dispatches Cox was requested by name because others across the state also recognize the great work that Greg does.

“Greg is one of the most dedicated people to his job that I have been around,” Watson added. “One of Greg’s best characteristics is that he demonstrates that nature with a positive attitude. He genuinely enjoys his job and likes to have fun doing it.”


Flavor, NC: Mapleview Farm

Flavor NCTwice a month we feature local restaurants, farms and farmers markets featured on episodes of UNC-TV’s Flavor, NC. This week, we highlight episode six from the first season, in which hostess Lisa Prince highlights Maple View Farm and Panciuto Restaurant in Hillsborough.

“Get ready for your milk mustache,” said Lisa at the beginning of the show. “This episode is on tasty Tar Heel milk and ice cream.” Maple View Farm is a family-run dairy and milk company that has been located in Orange County since the 1960s. In 1996, the farm started bottling their own milk for sale.

In this episode, Lisa visits the farm to follow the process from milking the Holstein herd, bottling the milk and packing the ice cream.

Lisa also visits with Aaron Vandemark, chef and owner of Panciuto Restaurant, to see how ricotta is made from Maple View milk.  More of Aaron’s recipes are also included in the episode. Below is the recipe for homemade ricotta.


  • 1 gallon milk
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon of rennet or 1 rennet tablet
  • ¼ cup cold water

Place milk and cream in a saucepan and heat to 200 degrees, then transfer it to a cold pot. Add salt, and allow the mixture to drop to 125 degrees. (To speed this up, you can place the pot into an ice bath.) Dissolve rennet or rennet tablet in ¼ cup of water and pour into milk. Stir well, then allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. After mixture has rested,  then cut an X in the top of the milk with a wooden spoon to check that it has coagulated, then stir well for 20 seconds. Reheat as needed to separate curds from whey.

Ladle the mixture into a strainer over a pot to separate curds from whey, then transfer separated curds into second strainer lined with cheesecloth. Continue with another ladle, drain well in first basket, transfer to second. Continue until you’ve finished. Allow ricotta to remain in a cheesecloth lined basket to drain overnight.


DIY cankerworm management: It’s that time of the year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to protect your yard trees from cankerworms, that is!  A small act now can save you (and your trees) in the spring. You may remember cankerworms as those annoying little inchworms that dangle from trees by silken strands and cause significant defoliation each spring, especially in urban areas.

Sticky band around the trunk of a tree, covered with trapped moths. Image: William A. Carothers, USDA Forest Service,

Sticky band around the trunk of a tree, covered with trapped moths. Image: William A. Carothers, USDA Forest Service,

When this occurs, unfortunately it’s too late to do anything at that point. That’s why each fall, before the damage occurs, homeowners who experience regular cankerworm activity are encouraged to band all of their yard trees to reduce damage in the spring.

The sticky bands work by preventing the wingless adult female moths from making it to the tops of the trees. As they emerge from their pupae in the fall, they crawl up the trunk of a tree to the upper branches where they mate with a male, then lay eggs. However, if you intercept them before they make it to their mating and egg-laying sites, then you will probably see considerably less damage. No female ascent means no eggs to hatch next spring!

It’s easy as pumpkin pie! Wrap or staple duct tape or paper tree wrap around the trunk of your tree and evenly cover the band with Tanglefoot Insect Barrier. Tanglefoot is a non-toxic, sticky substance that captures the flightless moths. It is available online and at local hardware stores. If there are crevices in the bark, put cotton or insulation between the tape and the tree trunk so that moths can’t just crawl underneath. Also, if you have an unusually high population of moths, they may quickly cover the sticky band, so checking it and reapplying Tanglefoot every few weeks may be needed.

A hungry cankerworm.  Image: Joseph Berger,

A hungry cankerworm. Image: Joseph Berger,

There is strength in numbers, so persuade your neighbors to do this, too. If you don’t, and the canopy of your tree touches the canopy of their unbanded trees, the moths can easily crawl right over and infest both trees. If both trees are banded, both are protected. This is one situation where “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a good thing!


Today’s Topic: Crop report shows record soybean yield in North Carolina

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

The November crop report from USDA shows a big year for North Carolina soybeans. The yield is forecast to be 40 bushels per acre, a new state record. The previous record of 39 bushels per acre occurred in 2012.

Soybean production is forecast at 68.8 million bushels, which is 42 percent more than last year’s total. Harvested acreage is estimated at more than 1.7 million acres.

The peanut crop is also strong this year. The yield is forecast at 4,100 pounds per acre, which ties the record set in 2012. Total production on 93,000 acres is estimated at 381 million pounds, a 21 percent increase over last year.

Cotton acreage held steady this year at 460,000. But with better cooperation from the weather than in 2013, the yield is forecast to be 1,012 pounds per acre. That’s 213 pounds higher than last year’s yield and just a little lower than the record yield of 1,014, set in 2012.

The corn yield is forecast at 136 bushels per acre, down six bushels from last year’s record of 142. Some corn growers were hurt by Hurricane Arthur, which heavily damaged crops in the eastern part of the state in July.

Total corn production is down about 14 percent, to 106.1 million bushels. Lower production was expected, as growers planted less corn this year. Harvested acres are forecast to be 780,000, which is down 90,000 from a year ago.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this crop report.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.


Food Business Almanac: How to source local products

NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources that agribusiness owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at

There is no denying consumer demand for local products, but how can you make sure that your product is a true North Carolina product from ingredients to the store shelf? We have three resources available for you on the department’s website.

The North Carolina Grower/Shipper Directory gives you a listing of local growers who have the capacity to ship large quantities of agricultural products to your processing facility. For smaller quantities of produce, you can turn to for a directory of statewide roadside stands and farmers markets. There’s also the North Carolina General Store, which has a listing of fresh products as well as processed ingredients for your food product.

In addition to these directories, the department also offers information on locating shared-use kitchens, establishing your own certified home-based kitchen, or becoming a certified meat processing facility.

Grocery stores in the state understand demand for local products, which presents a great opportunity for your food business. For more information on how to get your product into North Carolina stores, contact one of our retail marketing specialists.

Yours to success!