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April 2022

Carolina Country

Adventures Starting on page 12

Published by

NC co-ops and farms partner for success page 4

Know what to ask a home inspector page 20


Beat the heat by growing showy (but sweet) peppers—page 28 April 22 covers.indd 1

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Favorites 2 From Our Readers 4 Viewpoints 6 More Power 20 Energy Sense 28 Carolina Gardens 29 Marketplace 30 Carolina Kitchen 32 Where is This? 32 Carolina Creators

On the Cover If you’ve ever picked your own apples or stopped to pet the goats at a local farm, guess what? You’re an agritourist. The Ten Acre Garden in Canton is one of scores around the state open to visitors for a hands-on experience. Learn more starting on page 12. Photo courtesy of VisitNC.com.

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12 22 24 26


Adventures in Agritourism

Visit a local farm and learn more about the food on your plate.

On Location

Explore NC sites from the silver screen.

Vacation Fails

Memories of trips gone wrong from our readers.

Must-See Mountain Cheesemakers Yellow Branch is a storied farm along the WNC Cheese Trail.


Carolina’s Finest Where can you get the best doughnut in NC? Where are the best holiday lights? We need your help finding the best of the best in these and eight other categories! Tell us your picks for a chance to win one of three $100 gift cards. See page 9 for details.

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Carolina Country Adventures

(ISSN 0008-6746) (USPS 832800)

Michael Isom

As we’ve traditionally done each April, this month we’re exploring travel destinations around the state. For those of you feeling the call of the open road, our roundups of local farms, mountain cheesemakers and filming locations across NC should provide a worthy destination. (Just plan ahead so you don’t end up like our list of reader vacation fails on page 24). Also, electric co-ops and farmers in North Carolina are teaming up for success—read more on page 4.

Volume 54, No. 4

Published monthly by

3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616-2950 Warren Kessler Publications Director Scott Gates, CCC Editor Renee C. Gannon, CCC Senior Associate Editor Karen Olson House Contributing Editor

—Scott Gates, editor

Tara Verna Creative Director Jessica Armstrong Graphic Designer

From Our Readers Carolina Adven

Sara Brennan

Save Room for


And don’t forg et the milk dip

By Matt Lardie

Look, there on the No, no it’s...sonke table! Is it a pie? Is it a cobb ler? r!

Rockford Genera

l Store

If your first reactio n the heck is a sonker is, “Well, what served with a “milk you aren’t alone. ?” don’t worry, sweet sauce meant dip,” a creamy, Sonker is a desser to be poured over that hails from t the top of the western North desser Carolina, with Sonker varies fromt. a provenance center hill to holler, around Surry Count ed from family to y (home of Mount way to learn family, and the easiest Airy, the setting more about sonker for The Andy Griffith to try some for Show’s fiction is al town of Maybe yourse Surry Sonker Trail, lf: Enter the rry). The closest thing a journey to eight different would be a cobble to a sonker locatio r, but that’s where County, all serving ns across Surry the agreement their ends, and even own takes on this iconic then there are some Anchored Bakery dessert. You can who would chafe try the sweet at potato sonker that description. at The Tilted Shelton Vineya One family’s sonker Ladder in Pilot rds serves an upscal might be made Mountain, served version of sonker with peaches and e piping hot in a at have a pie-like martini glass with crust floating atop restaurant, a perfect their vineyard milk dip alongs ide. Or ventur the filling, while way to end a e up to Mount Airy for meal, especially just down the a stop at Miss road when washed down another househ Angel’s Heavenly Pies, with old might make a glass of desser where her ‘zonka their sonker from sweet t wine. Rockfo (bring your own General Store rd potatoes or apples Long offers Island accent with a batter-like their sonkers to to match wits travelers explor topping that bakes with ing this tiny, histori into the filling. made from fresh Miss Angel) is corner Many sonkers c of Dobson; a fruit grown on are her own farm. was a spiced peach recent version sonker with fresh 34 | Decem vanilla ice cream. ber 2021



11/9/21 2:10 PM

Herbal Observations I am writing you, as many likely will, about comments on page 24 in your March 2022 Carolina Gardens column: “Native Americans and early herbalists medicinally tinkered with the roots, but don’t follow in their amateur pharmaceutical footsteps: all parts of this plant can be toxic.” Please consider that the “amateurs” mentioned (Native Americans and early herbalists) spent centuries observing, experimenting with their tools at hand and knowingly risking death to develop the medicinals for their cultures. They passed on and shared their knowledge generously through oral and written methods. I think recognition and an apology is due. Our pharmacology, to this day, still includes many valuable

Joseph P. Brannan Executive Vice President & CEO Nelle Hotchkiss Senior Vice President & COO North Carolina’s electric cooperatives provide reliable, safe and affordable electric service to 1 million homes and businesses. The 26 electric cooperatives are each memberowned, not-for-profit and overseen by a board of directors elected by the membership.

Sam Dean

More Sonker, Please I’m sending this in regards to the wonderful article I read on the Sonker dessert that is around the Western North Carolina areas (“Save Room for Sonker,” December 2021, page 34). I would like to add one that was missed in your article that is also on that trail: Lorene’s Bakery in Dobson (facebook.com/LorenesBakeryCatering). [Owner/operator] Kristin Johnson makes it at her bakery and lots of other goodies. Call the bakery ahead of time to have one made. Peggy Cox, Tobaccoville A member of Tideland EMC

Keith Alexander Advertising Keith@carolinacountry.com


contributions from these early efforts. A statement on the plant’s toxicity could have been simply stated. Thank you for your time and attention. Lynne Ross of Vale Editor’s note: Thank you for pointing that out, Lynne, and we apologize for the unintended tone of that wording. From our Carolina Gardens columnist, L.A. Jackson: “I’m sorry the term ‘amateur’ came out the way it did [interpreted as meaning ‘unskilled’]. Early herbal research was done mainly through observation as well as trial and error, particularly when it came to ingesting a strange plant or even rubbing it on the skin, compared to how modern pharmaceutical labs can now break down a plant into its simplest chemical compounds before even rudimentary clinical trials begin.” But as Lynne and L.A. put it, Indian pink is for show only: all parts of the plant can be toxic.

Why Do We Send You Carolina Country Magazine? Your cooperative sends you Carolina Country as a convenient, economical way to share with its members information about services, director elections, meetings and management decisions. The magazine also carries legal notices that otherwise would be published in other media at greater cost. Your co-op’s board of directors authorizes a subscription to Carolina Country on behalf of the membership at a cost of less than $5 per year. Subscriptions: Individual subscriptions, $12 per year. Schools, libraries, $6. Carolina Country is available on digital cartridge as a courtesy of volunteer services at the NC Department of Cultural Resources, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Raleigh, NC 888-388-2460. Periodicals postage paid at Raleigh, NC, and additional mailing offices. Editorial offices: 3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616-2950. Carolina Country® is a registered trademark of the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives, Inc. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 707.4.12.5); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: Send address corrections to Carolina Country, 3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616-2950. All content © Carolina Country unless otherwise indicated.

Contact us Phone:



3400 Sumner Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27616-2950





Change of address: Please contact your electric co-op or go online to carolinacountry.com/address Experiencing a power outage? Please contact your electric co-op directly to ensure prompt service. Visit carolinacountry.com/co-ops to find yours online.

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A Bright Future for Co-ops and Agriculture By Donnie Spivey

Electric cooperatives across North Carolina have a long and fruitful history of support and cooperation with our agricultural communities. In fact, electric co-ops in the state were formed by farmers and rural communities banding together, working toward the common goal of improving their quality of life by electrifying homes and businesses throughout the countryside. I am proud to say their extraordinary efforts were tremendously successful! Today, that history of support and cooperation continues. North Carolina’s electric cooperatives work closely with our agricultural communities in a number of different ways. A never-ending focus is placed on farming safety, especially as it relates to electric hazards on and around the farm. Remaining aware of overhead lines when operating large machinery and locating underground lines before digging Co-ops and farms operations are critical safety practices. have a history of Another important mission for electric coopworking together, eratives is working with agricultural businesses to utilizing new assist with their strategies to reduce operating costs. technologies. In recent years, electric co-ops and farms have worked together to transition from incandescent lightbulbs to LED light bulbs in poultry and swine houses, resulting in a significant reduction in the farm power costs by using electricity more efficiently. There are other opportunities to reduce energy use through strategies around the concept of beneficial electrification — the transition to using electric power in place of fossil fuels. Beneficial electrification provides farms with a wide range of advantages, from improved energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions

to cost savings and increased productivity. A perfect example of this is a partnership between my home cooperative, Pee Dee Electric, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, and a local farming operation. The three entities worked together to secure a significant grant from the Beneficial Electrification League for White Rock Farms to replace a large diesel pump with an innovative single-phase electric motor and pump. This project resulted in an improvement in energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, lower operating costs, and improved labor productivity on the farm. Other electric cooperatives in the state are working with agricultural businesses to help them meet sustainability goals and improve grid resiliency. For example, South River EMC has partnered with Butler Farms to successfully develop a microgrid designed to improve system reliability and resiliency by seamlessly incorporating renewable energy (biogas and solar), battery storage and emergency backup power into the grid. North Carolina’s electric cooperatives and our agricultural community have a long and rewarding history of working together utilizing innovation and new technologies. Through this cooperative spirit, I am confident our future is even brighter. Donnie Spivey is CEO and executive vice president for Lilesville-based Pee Dee Electric.

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More Power


Quick Hits Don’t Be Fooled While others play pranks on April 1, take the opportunity to up your cybersecurity smarts. Visit cisa.gov for tips to thwart would-be hackers. Baskets of Eggs Easter leave you with a fridge full of hardboiled eggs? Search for crowdpleasing deviled egg recipes at carolinacountry.com/ recipes. Keeping the Lights On North Carolina’s electric cooperatives celebrate our lineworkers in April. If you see them out on the job, give a friendly wave and #ThankALineworker. Safe Grilling Clean your grill to prepare for warm weather cooking. Ditch the potentially hazardous wire brush for a wooden scraper, sponge brush or other alternative.

NC Electric Co-ops Join International Research Initiative Collaborative will help advance low-carbon energy technologies North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives have joined the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative, an international collaborative working to advance economy-wide decarbonization efforts (epri.com/lcri). Jointly led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Gas Technology Institute, the Initiative brings together industry stakeholders to address the need to accelerate the development and demonstration of new low- and zero-carbon technologies that will be necessary to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

“Global challenges to reducing carbon emissions require global solutions …” “Electric cooperatives in North Carolina are building a brighter future for our state and 2.5 million consumermembers through innovation, community support and a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Amadou Fall, COO for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “Because cooperatives belong to those they serve, we are focused on leading innovation and evolving our services to benefit our local members, while also preserving the reliability and affordability of electricity.”

The Initiative targets advancements in low-carbon electric generation technologies and low-carbon energy carriers, such as hydrogen, ammonia, synthetic fuels and biofuels. The worldwide collaborative will: ■

Identify and accelerate fundamental development of promising technologies, focusing on those that can be deployed beyond 2030 to support achievement of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050

Demonstrate and assess the performance of key technologies and processes

Inform key stakeholders and the public about technology options and potential pathways to a low-carbon future

Neva Espinoza, EPRI vice president of energy supply and low-carbon resources, said the work of the Initiative will shape the future of energy, as the technologies that will be required to meet aggressive sustainability goals are not yet available at the scale or cost that will be needed. “Global challenges to reducing carbon emissions require global solutions, and that strikes at the heart of why the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative was founded,” Espinoza said. “Working together with our 50-plus members, the Initiative is leading the charge by driving innovation that is key to a clean energy future. North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives brings yet another important perspective to the Initiative.”

Now accepting applications for the 2022–23 school year. NC K–12 teachers can apply online at ncbrightideas.com.

6 | April 2022

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NC Electric Cooperatives Celebrate 85th Anniversary Edgecombe-Martin County EMC was the first to flip the switch in 1937 Although many cities and towns in North Carolina enjoyed the benefits of electricity in the early 1900s, the majority of rural communities were left behind. “We didn’t have refrigeration [when I was a small child], and my mother would put butter in a bucket in the summertime and put it down in the well, not quite to the water,” remembered Edgecombe-Martin County EMC member W. Kitchin Benson, who grew up in Battleboro, in a 1984 interview. “When we got an Aladdin [oil] lamp, we thought we had something then.”

A historical marker in front of Edgecombe-Martin County EMC’s headquarters in Tarboro

Only 11 percent of all farms in the United States were receiving central station electric service in 1935, according to that year’s annual

agricultural census. A group of Edgecombe County farmers set out to change that, and in 1936, after years of meetings with local and federal officials, what would later be called Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corporation was formed. One year later — on April 17, 1937 — the cooperative threw its first switch to energize the homes of 82 members. The historical event made Edgecombe-Martin County EMC the oldest electric cooperative in North Carolina, and one of the oldest in the nation.

Big Questions About Our Brighter Future

Q: A:

What are the environmental impacts of electric vehicle batteries?

The environmental impacts associated with electric vehicle (EV) battery production can be broken down into three stages: raw materials procurement, manufacturing and assembly, and the fuel sources used for driving.


Raw Materials Procurement One concern surrounding EVs involves the materials that lithium-ion batteries are currently made from. These batteries consist of raw materials including lithium, cobalt, and nickel that are used in EVs as well as most consumer electronics. There are legitimate concerns about the impacts of mining and processing these raw materials, which generally occur overseas. Automotive and battery manufacturers are working to source the materials responsibly and have plans to bring sustainable mining operations to the U.S. In addition, lithium-ion battery reuse and recycling industries are poised to take off, which will decrease reliance on new minerals.


Manufacturing and Assembly Manufacturing an EV battery pack is an energy-intensive aspect of EV manufacturing. How energy-intensive that process is depends heavily on the electricity generation mix of the location where the battery is made. Automakers are investing in new battery production facilities in the U.S. that will take advantage of an increasingly carbon-neutral energy mix. Once an EV hits the road, it makes up for the battery manufacturing emissions in just a couple of years.


Fuel Sources for Driving Again, the local energy mix determines how clean driving an EV is. But no matter where in the U.S. you are, driving an EV (which doesn’t use gasoline or motor oil) is cleaner than driving a conventional gas-powered vehicle. Today in North Carolina, your gas-powered car would need to get over 110 miles per gallon to compete with an EV’s emissions footprint. It’s also important to consider the “well-to-wheel” implications and emissions of fueling. In the case of gasoline, that includes everything from fuel extraction to processing and refining, distribution and use. For an EV, the “fuel” that it runs on, locally produced electricity, gets cleaner over time as more carbon-free energy sources are added to the electric grid. —Jacob Bolin & Jonathan Susser, Advanced Energy

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More Power

Know What’s Below with NC811 Buried beneath the ground are miles of underground utilities essential to everyday life, but those lines — electric, natural gas, water and fiber optic — can be dangerous. Accidentally hitting one of those buried lines when digging could cost someone their life, depending on the type of underground utility. They are also expensive to repair. Before anyone begins an outdoor project that requires digging, whether that is as simple as installing a mailbox or planting a tree, they need to call or click 811 and request a locate for underground utilities. What is known today as NC811 was founded in 1978 as ULOCO (Underground Utilities Location Request). Today, 811 is recognized nationally as the number to “call before you dig.” Electric cooperatives and other utilities fund the nonprofit organization, making it a free service. Excavators are required by law to report any damages to the affected utility and NC811. In 2014, a state law was passed requiring all owners of underground utilities become a member of the NC811 notification center. Also connected to this new law was the creation of a governor-appointed, 15-person enforcement board — the NC Underground Damage Prevention Review Board. This board reviews complaints against people who have violated the statute and provides the Utilities Commission with

April is National Safe Digging Month Visit nc811.org to learn more about safe digging, or call 811 to schedule a location request.

recommendations for penalties. Fines can reach $2,500, as well as requiring violators to cover all repair costs. “Calling NC811 can save lives, and limit damage and extensive repairs,” said Greg Puckett, executive vice president and general manager of Dobson-based SurryYadkin EMC, who has served on the Underground Damage Prevention Review Board since November 2014. “I’ve been honored to be able to serve on this board on behalf of the electric co-ops.” —Wendy Wood, Surry-Yadkin EMC


Categories are:

Nothing could be finer ... Carolina Country is proud to offer up our fourth annual Carolina’s Finest Awards, showcasing the finest North Carolina has to offer. We need your help! We’re leaving it up to you, our readers, to pick the best of the best. Visit carolinacountry.com/finest by June 30 and cast your votes in the categories to the right. Each voter will be entered into a drawing for one of three $100 gift cards.

  BBQ

  Made in NC Product

  Doughnut Shop

  Main Street/Downtown

  Festival

  NC State Park

  Food Truck

  Sports Mascot

  Holiday Light Display

  Weekend Getaway

Vote for your favorites at

carolinacountry.com/finest by June 30 for a chance to win $100! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete online entry form at carolinacountry.com/finest, or mail in your votes to Carolina Country’s Finest, 3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616, for a chance to win. All contact information will remain confidential. One entry per person, drawn by random; odds of receiving one (1) of the three $100 gift cards depend upon number of entries received. Entries must be submitted by June 30, 2022. Random drawing will take place July 1, 2022.

y carolinacountry.com | 9

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Best performance by a location.

Get inspired by our short documentaries – each based on a true vacation. Then plan your own trip at visitnc.com

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Plan your getaway visit to the “Yadkin” of the Yadkin Valley. Yadkin County, North Carolina is home to 12 vineyards producing award-winning wines. While you explore the area, visit the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, Yadkin Memorial Park at Lake Hampton, canoe down the Yadkin River, wind through the countryside along the Yadkin Quilt Trail... memories await you in Yadkin!

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Adventures in Agritourism Visit a local farm and learn more about the food on your plate By Vanessa Infanzon

12 | April 2022

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Most people have participated in some form of agritourism without realizing it: Picking strawberries or pumpkins, riding on a wagon, or attending a composting workshop are all forms of agritourism. It means spending time on a working farm, discovering how food makes it to the table and what farmers do to grow fruits and vegetables and raise animals. “It’s an enjoyable family adventure,” says Theresa Lowe, co-owner of Mike’s Farm in Onslow County. “[Visitors] actually get hands-on experience when they go to a farm.” Get your own hands-on experiences by exploring these eight farms in North Carolina:

Fun Frolic Farm

Burnsville, Yancey County | funfrolicfarm.com Fun Frolic Farm produces goat milk soap, lotion, cheese and herbal body products. They also offer educational workshops and interactive farm tours that last between one and two hours. Tour guests may experience the vegetable, herb and medicinal gardens, and meet the baby goats, dairy goats, laying hens and pigs. Most tours also finish with a cheese tasting and a visit to the soap-making studio and farm shop. Farm tours are scheduled by appointment and are for ages 18 and older. The farm welcomes children in private groups and family tours.

Jeter Mountain Farm

Hendersonville, Henderson County | jetermountainfarm.com Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 400-acre family farm is open for seasonal u-pick activities and educational programs. Visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at how apple cider donuts are made. Wagon rides to u-pick orchard stops are offered during harvest season, typically July through October (the full harvest calendar is posted on the farm’s website). Depending on the season, visitors choose from apples, blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, peaches, pumpkins, raspberries and sunflowers. Enjoy hard cider and barbecue, both made on site, while listening to live bluegrass music on the weekends.

Mike’s Farm

Beulaville, Onslow County | mikesfarmnc.com Mike’s Farm dates to the 1940s when Mike Lowe’s parents settled in Beulaville to run a small tobacco farm. Today, Mike and his wife, Theresa, bring guests a family-friendly experience through education and delicious food. Pet farm animals, pick strawberries or pumpkins and shop in the NC Products Barn. Mike’s Farm Restaurant specializes in country cooking, and the bakery features apple turnovers, Danish pastries and more.

Millstone Creek Orchards

Brittany Garrett

Ramseur, Randolph County | millstonecreekorchards.com In 2004, this 84-acre family farm opened its doors to the public. The Sweet Retreat Ice Cream Parlor, cider press demonstrations, hayrides and live music keep guests busy year-round. The store supports other local farms by selling meat, honey, eggs and other products. The u-pick experience starts in June with blackberries and blueberries. Peaches make their debut in mid-summer. Zinnias and sunflowers, apples, muscadine and scuppernong grapes, gourds, pumpkins and pecans follow the seasons.

On page 12, top to bottom, left to right: The Ten Acre Garden in Canton; Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur; Fun Frolic Farm in Burnsville; Riverbend Farm in Midland; and Mike’s Farm in Beulaville. carolinacountry.com | 13

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Nebedaye Farms

Bernard Singleton

Indian Trail, Union County | nebedayefarms.com Bernard Singleton has created an immersive and multisensory experience at his farm. His work is about healing African American’s ancestral trauma caused by enslavement. Special events celebrate the land and contributions of Black culture to food and farming, and teach about sustainable practices and healthy eating. Events such as Taste of Africa, featuring meals from Senegal and Ghana; and Shuckin’ and Vibin’, a Gullah-style oyster roast, highlight growing and cooking techniques. During the spring and summer, blueberries and blackberries are available for picking.

Perry Lowe Orchards

Perry Lowe, IV

Moravian Falls, Wilkes County | perryloweorchards.com More than 30 varieties of apples are grown at Perry Lowe Orchards, a sixth-generation farm. Weekends, September through November, visitors get a tractor ride around the 100-acre orchard before picking apples. Kids are welcome to play on the jump pad and shoot apples from the apple cannon while parents take in the beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain. Add apple cider donuts and slushies to the menu for the perfect day. The store is open year-round and carries local jams and jellies, old fashioned candies, honey and more.

Riverbend Farm

Jesie Hartsell

Midland, Cabarrus County | riverbendfarm.net Known as the “Pumpkin Patch,” Riverbend Farm opens once a year for the pumpkin-picking season — 2022 will mark its 30th year. Children speed down the Super Silo Slide and Triple Grain Bin Slide, climb aboard an International Harvester Tractor and take photos with a 10-foot cow. Picnic tables and open spaces throughout the farm are perfect for family gatherings. A wagon ride to the pumpkin patch completes a full day at the farm.

The Ten Acre Garden

Canton, Haywood County | facebook.com/TheTenAcreGarden This mountain gem offers seasonal u-pick strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The farm, located in a fertile river bottom, grows a wide range of vegetables available from April to October. Its on-farm market is stocked with local produce, as well as eggs, jams, jellies, honey and more. Vanessa Infanzon moved to Charlotte for college and never left. When she’s not writing about business or travel, she’s paddle boarding on the Catawba River.

Know Before You Go

Tips for the best farm experience, recommended by the NC Agritourism Networking Association ■ Find a farm near you using the Visit NC

Jeter Mountain Farm

Farms app (visitncfarmstoday.com), which provides details on agritourism opportunities across the state. ■ Once you’ve found a farm, check its website for payment options, reservations and schedule changes. ■ Wear closed-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. The ground may be uneven and muddy.

■ Follow the signs posted about parking and

restricted areas. ■ Touch only the animals included on the

tour or in a designated petting area. ■ Feed the animals when allowed to do so.

(Sharing your lunch with a pig may seem friendly, but it may not be part of its diet.) ■ Leave your pets at home unless the farm

says it’s OK to bring them.

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Carolina Living


Pack Up the Car:

We’re Going Camping Plan an adventure to suit your needs By Pamela A. Keene

Since the start of the pandemic, camping and outdoor pursuits have grown. More than 10 million households camped for the first time in 2020, according to KOA’s annual North American Camping report from that year. The report showed one-third of these new campers considered it a safe way to travel and avoid crowds.


f you want to join in on the fun, learn the lingo to find the right kind of camping for you and set expectations.

Wilderness camping Also known as backpacking, primitive or backcountry camping, hikers take all their equipment, food, water, tents, etc., to an undeveloped designated area. Permits are often required by the managing entity. Tent camping This involves pitching a tent, often on a maintained site in a campground that may include a grill, firepit and picnic table; typically, tent campgrounds offer community washhouses. North Carolina is rich with tent camping spots, many of which are in state parks and offer amenities such as restrooms, showers, and electric and water hookups, as well as varied levels of access from handicap accessible to hike- or canoe-in spots. Search ncparks.gov/find-an-activity/camping to find the perfect spot. Glamping Upscale accommodations in the outdoors feature semipermanent furnished canvas-sided tent-like structures with beds, seating areas and accessories such as lamps and décor, plus access to indoor plumbing. Glamping can include safari tents on platforms, Conestoga wagons, yurts, tipis and treehouses. “Glamping — a way to enjoy overnights outdoors with the comforts of a hotel — is gaining in popularity,” says Nathan Self, who is co-CEO of Georgia-based Timberline Glamping along with his wife, Rebeka. “It is especially popular with people who have never camped before and with older

people who formerly enjoyed tent camping but now find it much more convenient to stay in a tent-like setting without all the set-up and worries about what to bring.” Western North Carolina has several glamping options, but spots can be found in the Piedmont and eastern parts of the state, as well. Visit glampinghub.com/northcarolina to scout out locations. Recreational vehicle camping This form of overnighting involves using a self-propelled motor vehicle, a pull-behind fifth-wheel or a portable unit placed in the bed of a pickup truck. HOA’s report found interest in RVs is at an all-time high and will continue to grow — not only with more people choosing RVs, but campers saying they will increase their trips in the coming year. Frontcountry camping Visitors drive their cars to a site where they can pitch a tent, park a camper or RV, or glamp. Many have electrical hookups. Those with RV spots provide dump sites to offload toilet waste. In addition to our state parks, North Carolina has a wide variety of private and federally managed destinations, including national seashores, historic sites, military parks and the most frequented national park in the country: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visit recreation.gov to find your next adventure. Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who writes for magazines and newspapers across the Southeast and nationally.

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Carolina Living

A Formula for Healthier Living


Put the ‘triple seven’ rule into practice By Pamela A. Keene


mnemonic or acronym can be an easy way to remember a concept. Take “WWS,” for instance. It stands for “walk, water and sleep,” and fitness experts — including Natasha Weddle, founder of The New Beginnings Center in Nashville — help their clients add these three vital health components into their everyday lives. Natasha suggests taking on the WWS/Triple Sevens gradu“Even if you’re not trying to run a marathon or become a ally and keeping a log or notes on your calendar to keep up. competitive athlete, WWS is a good practice to get into,” “If you’re not walking regularly as exercise, begin with 10 says the former college basketball player. “When you add minutes and increase your time three to five minutes each in Triple Sevens, you have a formula for better health no week,” she says. “The same goes with adding more hydramatter what your fitness level.” tion to your diet. If you’re not consuming plain water but Developed by fitness company Strength Matters, the instead are drinking caffeine or soda, add one 8-ounce formula is straightforward: glass each day for a week or so and omit one non-water beverage. Continue to increase your water consumption ■ Walk: Seven days a week, take 7,000 steps a day. as you reduce your other beverages over several months to work up to seven glasses a day.” ■ Water: Seven days a week, drink seven glasses a day. ■ Sleep:

Seven days a week, sleep seven hours a day.

Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who writes for magazines and newspapers across the Southeast and nationally.

Love Carolina Country? Don’t miss an issue! Subscribe and get Carolina Country in your mailbox every month for just $1 an issue! Co-op Members, check with your electric cooperative to find out if they offer complimentary subscriptions as a benefit of membership.

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Make checks payable to: “Carolina Country.” Mail to: Carolina Country Subscriptions, 3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616 Or subscribe online at carolinacountry.com/subscribe

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E t




Carolina Living

Do You Know About Lineworkers? Every April, we celebrate lineworkers and the hard work they do to make sure we have electricity to power our lives.

How much do you know about them? Take the quiz below to find out! (Use the answer key to check your work.) 1. Lineworkers have to wear a lot of gear to do their jobs. A lineworker’s gear can weigh up to

a. 15 pounds

b. 50 pounds

c. 80 pounds

2. Lineworkers maintain and repair electrical lines, but they do not install them (no installation) a. True

b. False (They maintain, repair and install lines.)

3.There are approximately

a. 50,000 4. Lineworkers must wear

a. fire resistant

lineworkers in the United States.

b. 90,000

c. 120,000

clothing to protect them from a possible electric arc while working.

b. extra thick

c. leather or rubber

5. Lineworkers must wear special conductive boots when climbing a steel structure.

a. True

b. False

Answer Key: 1. B 50 pounds 2.B False 3. C 120,000 4. A fire resistant 5. A True

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Carolina Living

Celebratory Passover Desserts

Sweet treats for your Seder


hen celebrating with family, it’s hard to beat passing a light and homemade dessert around the table. These two decadent chocolate desserts don’t contain chametz (leavening, wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oats) and are completely scrumptious options for celebrating Passover. Find more sweet treat recipes for any holiday celebration at culinary.net. —FamilyFeatures.com

Chocolate Coated Strawberry Treats These strawberries are not only fun to make, but will give you that perfect little snack you have been longing for, which can also be perfect for date night, a romantic date or just a picnic in the park with friends. 1¼ baking chocolate chips ½ baking peanut butter chips 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided 1 pound fresh strawberries Shredded coconut Crushed almonds In saucepan, add baking chocolate chips and two tablespoons of coconut oil. Melt on low to medium heat and whisk until smooth. In a small bowl, add baking peanut butter chips and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Whisk together until smooth. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip all strawberries into melted chocolate. Then, dip 1/3 in coconut, 1/3 in almonds and 1/3 just chocolate and lay on tray. Drizzle the melted peanut butter over the plain chocolate strawberries. Put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until strawberry treats are chilled. Yield: 5 servings

Simple Macaroons Simple to make and easy to eat, this sweet dessert is a crowd favorite. With a fresh kick of lemon zest and crunch of shredded coconut, they are a bite-sized, delicious way to end your meal. Recipe adapted by culinary.net from marthastewart.com 1 2¼ ¼ ¼ 1¼ 5

large egg tablespoons honey teaspoon vanilla extract Grated lemon zest teaspoon salt cups shredded coconut ounces dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In bowl, whisk egg. Add honey, vanilla, lemon zest and salt; whisk. Stir in coconut until completely coated with egg mixture. Using 1½-inch ice cream scoop, make 15 balls, transferring each to parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake macaroons 10–12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until coconut starts to brown on edges. Transfer sheet to wire rack and let cool. Before serving, drizzle with melted chocolate or dip bottom sides of macaroons in melted chocolate to cover bases. Refrigerate 15 minutes to set. Yield: 15 macaroons

Digital Extra

Find a recipe for Apple Matzo Kugel, courtesy of Manischewitz, at carolinacountry.com/extras to add a sweet tradition to your Passover.

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In April, take time to celebrate our Join us the in thanking the April 11 iswe Lineworker Appreciation Day.lineworkers. Join us in thanking dedicated dedicated night and day, through and challenging crews whocrews work who nightwork and day, through storms and storms challenging conditions, conditions, build and linesour thatlives. power our lives. to build andto maintain themaintain lines thatthe power

NCElectricCooperatives.com NCElectricCooperatives.com

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3/9/22 5:18 5:21 PM

Energy Sense

Five Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

Assess energy efficiency before buying By Miranda Boutelle

Many factors go into buying a home. For most people, energy efficiency does not top the list, and unfortunately, houses don’t typically come with energy efficiency ratings. It can be difficult for a buyer to know how efficient a home is when viewing the listing online or taking a tour. But a home inspector can help you identify potential energy costs and energyefficiency upgrades. Some homes may already be efficient, while other homes may need improvements. There’s nothing wrong with buying an inefficient home, but you will want to know what you’re getting into and that you can afford the energy costs once you get the keys. Here are five questions to ask your home inspector:


How old is the HVAC system, and how efficient is it? Has it been maintained? The typical lifespan of an HVAC system is 15 to 25 years. As the largest energy user and often the most expensive equipment in the home, you will want to know the energy, maintenance and replacement costs. If the HVAC system is old, consider the cost for a replacement.


How old is the water heater? The lifespan of a storage water heater is about 10 years. The cost to replace a water heater ranges from $400 to $3,600, depending on the unit type and installation costs. If an older water heater is in a finished space or on a second floor, replace it before it fails and potentially causes water damage.


What are the levels and conditions of insulation in the attic, walls and floor? Insulation is one of the easiest and most beneficial energyefficiency upgrades you can make. It isn’t as pretty as new countertops, but it can make a home more comfortable, waste less energy and reduce outdoor noise. To cut down on drafts and make insulation more effective, air seal before insulating. Seal cracks, gaps or holes in the walls, floors, ceiling and framing between heated and unheated spaces. If your new home needs insulation and air sealing, make this your efficiency priority. The sooner you do it, the more energy you will save over time. Recommended insulation levels vary by location. You can find information about insulation and air sealing at energy.gov.


What is the condition of the electrical panel and wiring throughout the home? A panel upgrade or rewiring can be a costly endeavor. An older panel and wiring aren’t inefficient, but they can delay or make some energy-efficiency projects more expensive. In several homes I have worked on, older wiring had to be replaced before insulation could be added. Make sure the panel can accommodate any new appliances you might want to add, such as air conditioning or an electric vehicle charger.


Are there any extras in this home that will increase my utility bills? Any motors in the home or on the property should be assessed, including pumps for wells and septic systems. When it comes to extras, remember life’s luxuries aren’t free. You will want to be able to afford the cost of operating amenities, such as pools, hot tubs and saunas. You can also request the home’s utility bills for the previous two years from the seller or realtor. Your bill will not be the same due to your personal energy habits, but this information will give you an estimate of the home’s energy costs. When buying a home that checks all your boxes, ask your home inspector the right efficiency questions. Understanding the condition of appliances, features and building materials can save you from hidden surprises in your home and on your first utility bills.

This column was written by Miranda Boutelle of the Efficiency Services Group. Visit carolinacountry.com/your-energy for more ideas on energy efficiency.

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Notes from the field:


n paper, I was in Switzerland to ski the Alps and eat my weight in fondue. According to some, I was actually there to keep an eye out for Karloff, a rival spy who’d been attempting to rip off a Swiss bank. Walking through Bern’s picturesque Old City, passing Einstein’s house,

I noticed that I was being followed by a dark figure in a trench coat. No matter how I zigged and zagged through the old cobblestone streets, I couldn’t shake him. Finally, I turned a corner and quickly ducked into an old watch shop. The place looked like it had been there for ages, as did the shopkeeper. Taking me for a customer, the shopkeeper began giving me the full story on why Swiss-made watches are renowned the world over. In 1971, he said, rules were established mandating that any timepiece bearing the “Swiss-made” hallmark must have its mechanics, casing and final inspection take place in Switzerland. Swiss watches are built to last several lifetimes. I smiled, because I knew only Stauer can build Swiss-made watches without it costing a fortune. Now you can also enjoy the precision and accuracy of a Swiss-made sports watch with a moveable bezel. Introducing the Pride of Bern Watch, a timepiece built to keep pace with the underworld of spies. The first time we offered this watch it sold out in TWO DAYS. Finally back in stock after six months, supplies of this quality Swiss-made timepiece are still limited. Get your hands on it before we run out again!

 “A Swiss-made watch at this quality under $200 is an unbeliveable value!” — George Thomas Rendered in black and gold with a precision Swiss movement and a date complication at 3 o’clock, this watch is a steal of a deal that Karloff would love to get his hands on. — Jack B. Watch Specifications: • Precision Swiss movement • Stainless steel caseback and bracelet • 43 mm case diameter • Date magnifier lens at 3 o’clock • Water resistant to 3 ATM • Fits wrists to 8"

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Your Insider Offer Code: PBW151-01 Stauer, 14101 Southcross Drive W., Ste 155, Dept. PBW151-01, Burnsville, MN 55337 www.stauer.com

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3/9/22 3:57 PM

On Location Explore NC sites from the silver screen

The filmin g of “Dirty Lake Lure Dancing ” in resulted in The D Dancing irty Festival.

By Leah Chester-Davis Photos by VisitNC

” “Nights in Rodanthe at y rtl pa was filmed . the Inn at Rodanthe


ouble-takes are on the rise in North Carolina. Imagine driving through the small, picturesque town of Sylva and seeing a large sign welcoming you to Ebbing, Missouri. Turns out the sign was all a part of the production for the movie “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.” Or how about seeing people suspended from cables between the Wilmington Convention Center and the Isabel Holmes Bridge (stuntpeople for the blockbuster “Iron Man 3”)? Sylva and Wilmington are just a couple of the many locations across the state used by the film industry, which added more than $416 million to the state last year in terms of payroll, goods purchased, rentals and other services, says Guy Gaster, director of the NC Film Office. The state is noted for a well-trained, skilled film workforce, and many of the state’s locations can play as “Anywhere, U.S.A.,” which is attractive to filmmakers. The true value, however, is much more. These projects help put a spotlight on our state that creates even more interest in terms of exploring various regions, local restaurants and other attractions. The state has had a role in more than 1,000 films. Here are a few film destinations.


This favored port city has plenty to offer and it shows in the credits lists. Among attractions is the city’s Riverwalk and Riverfront Park. “Scream” is one of the latest to film here since the COVID-19 shutdown. The local tourism website (bit.ly/wlm-film) offers ideas for touring film sites

Parts of “T he Hunger G ames.” were film ed in Uptown Charlotte .

including those used for “Sleepy Hollow,” “One Tree Hill” and “Dawson’s Creek.” Scenes from all three plus “The Choice,” the film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book, were also filmed at nearby Airlie Gardens.

Outer Banks and other Beach Locations

“Nights in Rodanthe,” another Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, was filmed in Manteo, at the Inn at Rodanthe (available for rent) and the Rodanthe Pier, and on Ocracoke Island. Sparks’s books seem to keep North Carolina in the spotlight. The film adaptation for “Safe Haven” was filmed in Southport. Some other credits for the coastal town include “Crimes of the Heart,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Under the Dome.” Bald Head Island was the stand-in for the Hamptons for “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

Burgaw and Wallace

The new series, “Welcome to Flatch,” which debuted in March on Fox, is creating excitement in the small towns of Burgaw and Wallace. The Pender County Tourism office (visitpender.com) is the site for some scenes, and it offers a free walking tour of various locations for this production and others such as “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Silver Bullet” and “Under the Dome.”

Charlotte and Concord

Uptown Charlotte, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Whitewater Center were all in scenes for “The Hunger Games.” McGlohon Theater and Johnson C. Smith University were scenes in last year’s “The Eyes of Tammy

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Faye” starring Jessica Chastain. The Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord gets credits for “Speedway,” “Days of Thunder,” “Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Stroker Ace.”

Burke County

Several scenes of “Last of the Mohicans” were shot in Burke County. Its Tourism Development Authority is planning a 30th Anniversary “Last of the Mohicans” Festival May 12–14 at the Courthouse Plaza in Morganton (bit.ly/lotm-30). Guided tours to film locations at Chimney Rock State Park (in neighboring Rutherford County , Hickory Nut Gap Falls was the backdrop for the dramatic climax) and Lake James are planned, along with an all-day event on May 14. The event coincides with the Catawba Valley Beer Festival on May 14.


The Henry River Mill Village (henryrivermillvillage.com), an abandoned mill village, became District 12 in “The Hunger Games.” Tours are available and travelers can spend the night in a restored mill house.

Lake Lure

Lake Lure attracts for its scenic beauty nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Several movies have been filmed in the area, but “Dirty Dancing” starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey is the one


that has resulted in an annual Dirty Dancing Festival (dirtydancingfestival.com). Enjoy the beautiful Flowering Bridge if you visit early spring to late fall.


The Biltmore Estate claims numerous film credits. “Last of the Mohicans,” “Forrest Gump,” “Patch Adams,” “Ritchie Rich” and “Hannibal” are some notables.


Sylva has a charming main street with quaint shops and restaurants and plenty to explore in the town and nearby, particularly for those who love beautiful scenery and the outdoors. The town was featured prominently, becoming a character itself as a sleepy little Missouri town in the critically acclaimed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Several of its buildings and others in nearby towns — Maggie Valley, Black Mountain, Cullowhee and Dillsboro — were used. Carolina Country Contributing Editor Leah Chester-Davis (chester-davis.com), loves to explore North Carolina.

Ready to scout out these filming locations and more? Numerous tour itineraries are suggested at visitnc.com (search for “filming destinations”).

We’re ready for our close-up.

in Upcountry South Carolina

UpcountrySC.com 864-233-2690 Perfectly Seasoned

Get inspired at visit nc.com

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Readers share lessons learned from less-than-relaxing getaways

We recently asked readers to share tales of woe from past vacations that didn’t quite go as planned— you know, the kind of thing you hope to be able to one day look back on and laugh. You responded with some doozies, but one common thread ran through the stories: even when things were the bleakest, most could find a silver lining and make the best of it. Here are some of our favorites. Hurricane Honeymoon

On June 22, 1996, my wife and I were married in a simple but elegant ceremony at our local church. After an evening at a local motel, we headed to North Myrtle Beach for a glorious and uninterrupted seven days of fun and sun. Well, lo and behold a fast-moving and “track-changing” hurricane decided to head our way. On Tuesday, our resort started making preparations, and on Wednesday it called a meeting for all guests to attend. They encouraged voluntary evacuation and stated that if we chose to stay they could not guarantee our safety. It was an easy decision for my wife and me. We packed up and got out of there. You see, my wife had lived in Florida and had some past experience with hurricanes, and she had been through a tornado while teaching at a school in Kentucky a few years earlier. Seeing as she came through those unscathed, we did not want to push our luck. To this day, 26 years later, she tells me I still owe her a honeymoon.

The Lost Key

I looked forward to exploring a particular part of Australia for months. During my few days off, I rented a car for my journey to the pristine coastal area of Victoria’s Croajingolong National Park. I started having doubts about the three-hour drive, though, after I left the last point of civilization. Those doubts only grew exponentially when the road abruptly transformed from pavement to gravel. My curiosity and sense of adventure, however, outweighed any lingering questions. This trip better be worth it. Overjoyed at finally arriving, I eagerly walked along the beach, stretching my toes in the white sands and feeling the crisp Tasman Sea

breezes. The gently rolling waves distracted me, and in less than a split second, it was gone: My rental car key had vanished in the beautiful clear blue water. Shocked, I looked around only to see a handful of beachgoers (since this was Christmas Eve)! In the distance was a lighthouse — my only hope for help since this was before cell phones. Reaching the lighthouse, I was elated to meet the “lighthouse family.” The lighthouse proved to be my refuge, and I spent Christmas with the lighthouse family before being rescued the following day by the rental car company. Mary Ellen Muesing, Huntersville A member of EnergyUnited

Kevin Johnson, Mooresville A member of EnergyUnited

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Illustrations by Warren Kessler, Carolina Country

3/11/22 1:53 PM

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

We were limited on funds, and our vacation had to be the week my workplace shut down. We decided to rent a one-room cabin in the Allegheny National Forest. My wife called to reserve a cabin and was told there were no openings the week we required. Two weeks later, we were called and told that miraculously someone had canceled the week we had requested. We couldn’t believe our luck! When we arrived at the cabin we decided to unload prior to heading to the lake. Before we finished it started to rain. It rained continuously for the next three days. Getting to the outhouse became near impossible, especially at night. (We had made the mistake of feeding the raccoons and now had to eat inside for fear of being attacked.) On the third evening, my wife slipped on the steps and got a bad bruise. The next afternoon everyone who was still in the park was told that two escaped convicts were in the area. By evening we were the only ones left. It was still raining the next morning, and now with our lives at risk, we decided to pack it in. Richard Hastings, Youngsville A member of Wake Electric

A Tight Spot

We were five daughters and two parents in an RV in the summer of 1972, on a family trip to the western United States. At the top of Needle’s Eye in South Dakota, described today as “a narrow roadway … sharp turns, and low tunnels” (online at dangerousroads.org), our engineer dad decided we could make it through the tiny and very dark tunnel. After all, he had measured the RV. Yikes! We all ducked down as he drove in, saying quite cheerfully, “Here we go!” We would have made it, except when he measured the width of the RV, he did not include the mirrors. Shattering glass and screaming kids, BUT we emerged on the other side! Susan Shikany, Indian Trail A member of Union Power


Unwelcome Tentmate

I was camping one summer with two of my teenage granddaughters. We were in a 10-person tent. They slept on one side, and I slept on the other. While getting up one night to go to the restroom, I felt a bump under the tent floor. I was surprised, because I knew when we set the tent up that the bump was not there. So I put my hand on the bump and discovered it was breathing. Bumps don’t breathe. To say I was startled would be an understatement. I woke the girls up. They were very frightened. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do. So I just put my hand on the bump and slowly maneuvered it toward the tent opening. I knew it was close to being out from under the tent, so I carefully unzipped the opening — to see a skunk coming out backwards from underneath. The skunk looked around at her surroundings, not seeming one bit concerned, and slowly walked away. We had been skunked, but not sprayed! Vicki Martin, Shelby, a member of Rutherford EMC

Little Sailboat, Big Adventure Several years ago my husband, daughter and I decided on a day trip. We rented a daysailer from Morehead heading to Shackleford Island to picnic and see the wild horses. As we passed the Morehead Harbor buoy left and right, we chose the one on the right. This led us into the sea channel. Seeing marine transport craft, we immediately started working our way out, taking all of the strength we had. Finally the island was in front of us and we got out on the shore to eat our lunch. Mosquitoes decided we were their lunch! The sky suddenly changed, clouds and wind appeared from nowhere. We climbed back on the boat and sought to get out while we could. The powerful wind blew us into the Beaufort Harbor into an empty boat slip next to a yacht. The owner was not pleased as the wind was bumping us into him. The

owner of the boat slip approaching in his fishing boat was even more displeased. We felt quite helpless until a Good Samaritan appeared. Seeing our distress, he towed us back to Morehead. Next time, we will take the ferry! Rebecca Wroten, Supply A member of Brunswick Electric Digital Extra

Read more harrowing tales of vacations gone wrong at carolinacountry.com/extras.

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Carolina Adventures

Must-See Mountain Cheesemakers Yellow Branch is a storied farm along the WNC Cheese Trail Story and photos by Emory Rakestraw


n the early 1980s, Karen Mickler and her husband, Bruce DeGroot, found themselves owning a small farm in Robbinsville. The rolling hillside on the cusp of Fontana Lake seems chiseled within the Smoky Mountains. Named after the creek that flows down the valley, Yellow Branch Farmstead was a place the two envisioned as a sustainable farm and location for Karen’s pottery studio. But the purchase of a Jersey milk cow, Rosebud, took them on a new route. Licensed in 1986, Yellow Branch Pottery & Cheese currently holds the title as the oldest farmstead cheese producer in North Carolina. “We originally started making cheese in 1981, and worked on recipe development for several years. When we decided to get licensed, I went to the University of Wisconsin for two weeks and then to the University of Guelph in Canada to learn more about cheesemaking,” Karen says. “Going to school and seeing it done helped me settle on the recipe and process.” Back-to-the-land As the two purchased more Jersey cows and built Karen’s pottery studio on the farm, the national “back-to-theland” movement had produced artisan cheese trailblazers such as Laura Chenel and her French farmstead techniques; Mary Keehn, who crafted Humboldt Fog cheese; and Allison Hooper of the internationally-recognized Vermont Creamery. Karen and Bruce crafted their signature style embracing garden-grown ingredients to form their Yellow Branch Pepper Cheese and Yellow Branch Basil. Today, Yellow Branch is best known for their buttery and full-bodied Farmstead Cheese, which Karen describes as “not gouda, not cheddar — it’s Yellow Branch.” While today Karen has retired from pottery and scaled back production to three dairy cows (from a peak of six before the pandemic), one can still purchase Yellow

Branch from Earth Fare and French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville, and encounter it on the menu at Asheville’s Homegrown Restaurant. Yet, there’s still a lack of awareness for the diversity and presence of artisan cheesemakers across western North Carolina. Spreading awareness To entice the public and attract hopefuls, the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail, created in 2012, boasts creameries, farms and wineries for visitors and potential cheesemakers, including Yellow Branch. Trail stops count 10 cheesemakers, including Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery, known for cave-aged cheeses that nod to European methods developed long before modernday refrigeration. Round Mountain Creamery is home to 60 Alpine and LaMancha dairy goats that make for an eventful tour. Looking Glass Creameries’ cheese shop in Fairview lends an idyllic afternoon enjoying seasonal, Southern and Farmstead cheese and hard cider. “All of the cheeses on the trail are so unique to the cheesemaker,” says Membership Coordinator Carolyn Frykberg. “Western North Carolina is primarily known as a beer area, so I think it’s really beneficial to spread knowledge about the cheeses produced here and even spark interest in young farmers.” While Yellow Branch was a regional spearhead in the artisan cheese movement, the WNC Cheese Trail is eyeing its own fromage renaissance. Today, visitors can enjoy rolling vistas, the gentleness of cows in the pasture and a farmstead way of life — all in one delicious afternoon. Emory Rakestraw is a Wilmington-based freelance journalist. Read more of her work at emoryrakestraw.wordpress.com.

Digital Extra

Learn more about all the stops along the WNC Cheese Trail at carolinacountry.com/extras.

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3/9/22 2:45 PM

Carolina Gardens

Stay Cool

Showy peppers don’t have to be hot Story and photos by L.A. Jackson


hen it comes to growing peppers, gardeners who don’t want to scorch their insides refrain from the hot varieties and settle for sweet selections instead. But while hot peppers come in many dazzling shapes and colors, the poster children for sweet peppers are the blocky bell varieties, many of which can be about exciting to the eyes as brown shoes. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of sweet peppers beyond bells that not only deliver a yummy yet mild taste, but have the visual bang to doll-up vegetable and even ornamental gardens. Need examples? Below are three of my current favorites: Sweet Banana. The name gives away its color and shape and, yep, this pepper does produce six-inchlong, yellow fruits that resemble small bananas. This would make for a pretty plant as-is, but left on the stems, the fruits continue to mature, changing from yellow to orange and eventually red. Whatever color they

are, these peppers have a no-bite-yetyummy taste that can be a pleasing addition to salads and sandwiches as well as cooked in stir-fries or on pizza. Also, they are a favorite pick of pepper picklers. Cubanelle. Like Sweet Banana, this pepper does a nice color shift as it matures with four- to six-inch, elongated, crinkly fruit starting out green and then gradually brightening to orange and then red. They can be added raw to sandwiches or salads, but their thin skins also make them a great choice for roasting and frying. Home cooks in the know often pass up standard bell peppers at grocery stores for this tastier treat. Mad Hatter. What’s not to like about a pepper called Mad Hatter? An All-American Selections winner, its name, and color — a blazing red — implies that it could be hot, but it’s not. Instead, the weird, knobby, diskshaped fruits (which make them great additions for, say, an extraterrestrial garden) are sweet, with only a hint of heat close to the seeds.

The Mad Hatter pepper might look hot, but it’s not.

Although not as common as bell peppers, these three selections shouldn’t be hard to find. Heck, for the last two years, I bought ’em all as starter plants at big box garden centers. If you are interested in growing such cool peppers from seed, or exploring other varieties of sweet as well as hot peppers, you can find more online from Pepper Joe’s (pepperjoe.com), Johnny’s Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com) or Burpee (burpee.com). L.A. Jackson is the former editor of Carolina Gardener Magazine. Contact L.A. at lajackson1@gmail.com.

Garden To-Do’s for April Water gardens are shaking off their winter hibernation hiatus and stirring to life. Are you ready to feed their needs? For the best flower displays from water lily and lotus plants, fertilize them about every four weeks. Common granular fertilizer will work, but for better results, ask the folks at your local friendly garden center for specialized water lily/lotus tablets. F


For the best flower displays, fertilize water lilies through the growing season.

Also for your water garden, marginal plants such as aquatic canna, spike rush, cardinal flower, rose mallow, colocasia, dwarf papyrus and sweet flag will put on stronger shows if lightly fertilized every five to six weeks. Caladiums might look gorgeous, but when it comes to their nutrient needs, these pretties are pigs. However, overfertilizing them can lead to root rot. The best way to do more good than harm is to apply a

diluted liquid fertilizer about every three to four weeks, or simply go with a time-release fertilizer. F

A garden is never complete without a bird house. But if you’re planning on putting up any birdie domiciles, shy away from the metal models and opt for traditional wooden ones, instead. They are much better at insulating nesting birds from the heat of the summer sun.

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Advertising published in Carolina Country is accepted on the premise that the merchandise and services offered are accurately described and willingly sold to customers at the advertised price. All ads must adhere to Carolina Country’s advertising policy, which can be found in our media kit at carolinacountry.com/advertise/MediaKit. The magazine, North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives, Inc., and the member cooperatives do not necessarily endorse the products or services advertised. Advertising that does not conform to these standards or that is deceptive or misleading is never knowingly accepted. Should you encounter advertising that does not comply with these standards, please inform Carolina Country at 3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27616. 919-875-3091.

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Carolina Kitchen

Enjoy these “Deli Dinners” for nights when you want a prep break and quick suppers. All of our ingredients came right from our grocer’s deli, salad/antipasto bars and produce department, plus a few pantry items. Browse yours, think outside the box, and get creative!

Tex-Mex TacoBellas Over ranch salad

Although this supper is meatless, you can easily add shredded rotisserie chicken to these stuffed mushrooms. Check out available deli and salad bar goodies to make these outsidethe-box “tacos!” 4 medium portabellas for stuffing Fresh cilantro ¾ pound grain salad (we used quinoa with corn) From salad bar (no exact amounts): Small cup of black beans Sliced onions Colored bell peppers, finely diced Pickled jalapeño 2 cups shredded cheese Chopped lettuce Ranch dressing Nuts or seeds (we used pumpkin seeds) Crispy tortilla strips Pico or salsa 1 lime Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray baking dish. Gently remove stem and gills inside mushroom caps. Place (inside down) on microwave safe dish lined with a paper towel. Cook about 2 minutes to remove moisture and soften caps. Place caps into baking dish. Add chopped cilantro to grain salad, then divide with beans into caps. Layer with onions, bell peppers and jalapeño. Cover with cheese and bake 8–10 minutes until hot and cheese is bubbly. While baking, toss lettuce with ranch dressing. Garnish tacobellas with seeds, tortilla strips and pico or salsa. Sprinkle with lime juice and serve over a bed of dressed lettuce. Yield: Makes 2 servings (2 each)

Unless otherwise noted, recipes and photos on these pages are from Wendy Perry, a culinary adventurist and blogger, who chats about goodness around NC on her blog at WendysHomeEconomics.com.

Surf & Turf Asian Stir Fry

When a quick and flavorful supper is needed, pull out the wok or big skillet for a speedy stir fry. The grocery store salad bar is your friend for these nights. While the deli slices your beef, grab nearby cooked shrimp and salad bar veggies … in no time you’ll be eating this 20-minute meal. Cooking oil 1 bag shredded slaw mix (cabbage with carrots) 1 large zucchini, sliced in ½-inch half-moon pieces 1 bunch green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces Salad bar veggies (no exact amounts: sliced bell peppers; sliced mushrooms; broccoli, cut small) 2–3 tablespoons garlic paste ¾ pound thicker sliced rare London broil, torn into bite-sized pieces ¾ pound cooked, shelled and tail-off large shrimp 1 bottle Asian salad dressing (we used NC’s Little Black Dressing Far East Flair) Toasted sesame seeds Heat wok or large bottomed skillet over high heat. Lightly coat with cooking oil. Add all vegetables and salad bar items. Cook, stirring frequently, until crisp tender and larger pieces are getting a light char. Stir in garlic paste, beef, shrimp and dressing just long enough to heat while tossing (1–2 minutes). Be sure not to cook too long or beef and shrimp will become overdone and tough. Remove from heat. Scatter with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately. Yield: Makes about 4 servings

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3/11/22 1:09 PM

Carolina Kitchen

Toasty Italian Antipasto Melts Served “au jus”

From Your Kitchen

These are so gosh darn g-o-o-d (and creativity is welcome). Meats don’t have to be cooked, but we like to give half of ours a quick crisping to add a little crunch. Serve with little bowls of oil for dipping “au jus” style. All you’ll need is in the deli, salad bar and your pantry for a sandwich worth salivating over! 2 pounds sliced meats (we used a variety of salamis and ham) 2 focaccia breads 1 pound melty cheese (we used dilled Havarti) 1 package (3-ounce) julienned sun-dried tomatoes (located in produce shelf area) From salad bar (no exact amounts): Red onion

Pickled banana peppers Black olives Greens from bar or deli* Oil mixture 1¼ cups olive oil ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning 2 tablespoons garlic paste 1½ teaspoons salt Crushed black pepper Crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook half the meat slices in microwave for 2 minutes until crispy and almost burnt. Slice breads in half horizontally. Brush cut sides with oil mixture. Place bottoms onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (If bread is thick, remove some of the “insides” before filling and toast for bread crumbs.) Layer with ½ of the cheese and remaining meats. Top with pieces of the oiled tomatoes, bar toppings and greens. Drizzle with a little of the oil and repeat layers using microwaved meats. End with final layer of cheese. Put top of bread on and tent with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, remove tent and bake 5 minutes more. Cut and serve while hot with individual cups of the oil for dipping “au jus” style.

Strawberry Whipped Wonder

*When shopping, we saw a delicious kale apple salad in the deli so that’s what we used! Think outside the box or just use salad bar greens. The apples were great in these spicy sandwiches!

Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with foil. Mash 2 cups of strawberries in a large bowl. Stir in condensed milk, juice and 2 cups of Cool Whip. Pour into pan. Top with combined chopped cookies and butter. Press into mixture. Cover and freeze at least 6 hours. To serve, invert onto plate. Remove foil. Drizzle Magic Shell if desired. Frost or dollop with remaining Cool Whip. Top with remaining strawberries, sliced.

Yield: Each makes 4–6 servings.

If you’ve been longing for hot weather, this dessert tastes like summer, chocolate dipped! With its creamy, icy strawberry center, dark cookie crust and billowy topping, it’ll be a wonder if this dessert lasts long! 4 cups fresh strawberries 1 can (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk ¼ cup lemon juice 1 tub (8-ounce) Cool Whip, thawed and divided

8 Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies, finely chopped 1 tablespoon butter, melted Magic Shell® Chocolate Flavored Topping, optional

Yield: 12 servings

Unl a cu NC

Recipe courtesy of Gustava H. Miller, West Jefferson, a member of Blue Ridge Energy

Send Us Your Recipes Contributors whose recipes are published will receive $25. We retain reprint rights for all submissions. Recipes submitted are not necessarily entirely original. Include your name, address, phone number (for questions), and the name of your electric cooperative. Mail to: Carolina Country Kitchen, 3400 Sumner Blvd., Raleigh, NC, 27616. Or submit your recipe online at: carolinacountry.com/myrecipe.

Digital Extra We take food seriously. Visit carolinacountry.com/recipes to search more than 1,000 recipes by name or ingredient, with a new recipe featured every week! carolinacountry.com | 31

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in Carolina Country is this ?

Send your answer by April 6, with your name, address and the name of your electric cooperative. Online:


By mail:

Where in Carolina Country? 3400 Sumner Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27616

Sign up for email updates to guess next month’s “Where Is This” ahead of print publication: carolinacountry.com/register Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. The winner, chosen at random and announced in our May issue, will receive $25.

Last month’s winner The March “Where Is This” photo by Carolina Country’s Senior Associate Editor Renee Gannon features a blue bear statue with the Cherokee alphabet emblazoned on its body. This Cherokee Alphabet Black Bear is located on Highway 143 at the intersection of Snowbird Road, just outside of Robbinsville in Graham County. The spot is along the Cherohala Skyway, a 43-mile National Scenic Byway and National Forest Scenic Byway (and named for two national forests in the area, the Cherokee and Nantahala). The bear is part of the Cherokee Bears Project, which showcases the works of artists living within the Qualla Boundary. Bears play a large part within the Cherokee culture. Many readers thought this blue bear was part of the bear pack found in the town of Cherokee, but this guy, though related, lives further to the west. The winning entry chosen at random from all correct submissions came from William Ryan of Havelock, a Carteret-Craven Electric member.

carolinacreators Jereann King Johnson Jereann King Johnson is a textile artist, community activist and founding member of the Heritage Quilters in Warrenton (heritagequilters.net). As part of her work, Jereann mentors Warren County youth, and is working to share the storytelling power of quilting. Growing up in Bainbridge, Georgia, Jereann has known quilts and quilting as far back as she can remember. On cold winter nights, her mother would put a quilt or two, and sometimes even three, on her bed. Back then, quilts were for keeping you warm and didn’t carry the broad artistic value they do today. Jereann still sees their use, however. “They still are utilitarian in the sense that they sustain us,” she says, “and they are for a purpose.”

carolinacountry.com/creators HelloNC, an initiative of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, is proud to bring exciting NC creators to readers of Carolina Country.

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Learn more about Jereann and listen to an interview with her by HelloNC.

3/10/22 1:55 PM

We' Nor Nat Wh stat step you Nor stor to le

We're celebrating 50 years of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources! Whether you're looking to explore a state park, visit a museum event, or step back in time at a historic site, you're in the right place! We help tell North Carolina's story, which is your story too. Join us at www.ncdcr.gov to learn more.




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