CSA: Week 8

Back in the swing of things!

Harvey got to help with harvest a little this morning – it’s great to be on this side of his procedure. Thanks again to everyone for being so supportive and helpful!

We’ve got an exciting share this week. The first peppers, sweet corn and tomatoes are in the share! And we are putting in some fresh garlic! Yay, summer!

Sunpeach cherry tomatoes.

It’s always a funny transition into tomatoes. We don’t have quiet enough for a pound for everyone, so we’ll probably do something like quarts with some larger tomatoes and some cherry tomatoes to get us started this week, but don’t worry, there are LOADS of green tomatoes getting ready to ripen. We tried to spread out the tomato harvest this year by having an early planting in one tunnel, and a late planting in the other tunnel. We are hoping to have tomatoes into October!!

The sweet corn is exciting! For those who haven’t been a part of our CSA before, here is the sweet corn 411. We use organic growing practices, which means we don’t spray chemicals on our corn to keep the worms out. Many times a season I very jokingly think to myself, “man, if only I could just spray a bunch of chemicals all over this food it would be a lot easier.” I’m not serious, for anyone feeling up in arms. It’s what I say to myself to bring a little bit of humor into a situation that feels fairly depressing, like when the leaf hoppers decimate the potato leaves about a month too early, reducing yields by probably a third. Or when the downy mildew destroys the basil just as the tomatoes start to ripen. Or when the brassica flea beetle puts holes all through the arugula and bok choy leaves we didn’t cover on time . . .

We don’t spray because we believe exposing ourselves, our crew, our customers and our environment to chemicals isn’t worth the small amount of profit/reduction in hassle we might see in the short term. It feels awful in the moment, but its a part of what we signed up for. But, I love eating whatever I want out of the field, whenever I want and never worrying about whats on it.

So, what this means for corn – there may be worms in the tip of your corn. For those of you who are squeamish, we suggest finding someone who can handle it, or cutting the tips of the corn off before you shuck them, and just putting them in the compost.

We split the corn from three planting into four this year, with the hopes of giving smaller amounts of corn over a longer season. We will know better when we pick, but we are thinking it will be about 6 ears in the large share and 4 in the small share this week. The coyotes have been eating some ears, so we will have to see how much we actually get, but that is my best estimate now. Corn is best fresh, as you all know, so eat it soon after you pick up you share (if you can, it’s still great a few days later, but its soooooo good when it’s fresh).

Wait, did she say coyotes are eating the corn? Yep. We are glad to have them (despite their natural sweet tooth which makes them pests of corn and melons) because they keep the woodchucks, voles, mice and racoons at bay. Predators are an essential part of any ecosystem – and we are always glad when we see signs of their presence.

So, what else is in the share? If you could choose some onions, bok choy and beets this week, it would really make me feel great, but I won’t make you take them!! Don’t forget that eating greens is really good for you, and one bunch a week is definitely do-able!! Oh, and fresh garlic, it’s just note cured, but it’s delicious and there is nothing special you need to know – just enjoy!

Tomatoes
Corn
Choice: Peppers/Green Beans
Lettuce
Garlic!!!
Choice: Carrots/Beets/Fresh onions/Cucumber/Zucchini/Bok Choy/Kohlrabi/Chard/Kale/Radish/Cilantro/Dill/Parsley/other herbs . . .

Jess’s Recipes

REFRIGERATOR PICKLES: CAULIFLOWER, CARROTS, CUKES, YOU NAME IT

OK – I’ve been holding out on this one, but I think it’s time. This is my favorite “use up my share” recipe. It works great for the veggies listed but you can also include green beans, scallions, radishes, zucchini, onions, peppers, asparagus. The options are endless. I usually do at least a triple batch at a time and the kids LOVE to make them. They help cut up the veggies and then they build mini jungles in the jars. The tall veggies are the different trees, the garlic is birds, the seeds and spices are the leaves and (I hesitate to include this part but it’s adds significantly to their amusement level) the cauliflower is bird poop. LOL. To finish it off, we flood the jungle with the salty tsunami brine. It’s good clean fun. These pickles are not shelf-stable but will keep in your fridge for about 3 months.

CUCUMBER AND PEACH SALAD WITH HERBS

Not into pickles? Here’s another great idea for using up your cucumbers. The peaches are perfection right now and they’re amazing paired with cukes and herbs in this summery salad.

BENEFITS OF BOK CHOY

Did you know that Bok Choy is considered to be one of the healthiest forms of leafy green vegetable? It’s a powerful antioxidant, good for your bones, heart, blood pressure, eyes and more. Check out this article on the benefits of Bok Choy and then try the Dan Dan Noodles with Chicken and Baby Bok Choy recipe. SO good!  https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-health-benefits-bok-choy/

DAN DAN NOODLES WITH CHICKEN AND BABY BOK CHOY

BAKED PARMESAN ZUCCHINI FRIES

Got zucchini? I know you do! While zucchini bread is delicious and is often everyone’s go-to for using up zucchini, it actually uses shockingly little zucchini. These fries are delicious and easy and will use up quite a bit of your stash. I highly recommend adding some fresh chopped dill in with the bread crumbs and don’t use plain breadcrumbs – the panko breadcrumbs make them super crispy.

FRITTATA BITES WITH CHARD AND FETA

Like a frittata only more fun! The recipe calls for sausage but I’ve made them without, for a vegetarian crowd, and they’re just as delicious. These are great to bring to a brunch or party because they’re bite sized, can be a finger food and are still great at room temperature.

THAI CRUNCH SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

This is another great recipe for using up ingredients from the share. It calls for Napa cabbage but whatever variety you have will work well and it also uses up cucumbers, carrots, peppers, cilantro and scallions. I make up a giant batch of this and store it separately from the dressing and it keeps for days. It’s a great go-with for anything you’ve got on the grill or on it’s own for a lunch or snack.

Summer CSA: Week 6

Baby Bird. They grew up and flew away.

I started this blog just like a regular blog. It’s still here, a little further down, but I feel like I’ve got to get this part out early on, so I don’t lose you. Kevin and I both need to take 3-4 days off next week. Harvey has a very low risk, small PDA (patent ductus arteriosis) which needs to be corrected.

Every fetus has a small duct that allows blood to bypass the lungs, because while in utero, mom is providing all the oxygen through the placenta not the fetuses lungs. After birth, normally within a few weeks, this duct naturally closes off. In 2 out of 1000 births this does not happen right away. By being open, the PDA allows for oxygen rich blood to go right back into the lungs, forcing the heart to work harder, and can lead to a whole host of complications. We have been monitoring his PDA since he was just a few months old, when his pediatrician heard a heart murmur.

I also had a PDA which was surgically corrected at 9 months.

Fortunately, Harvey’s opening is small, less than 1mm, and with the medical advancements in the last 33 years (do some math and you’ll know my age!) he doesn’t need surgery. We were able to monitor the PDA with annual visits to the cardiologist, and echo-cardiograms. Because it was small and he had no other symptoms, we waited to see if it would close on it’s own. At this last check up, his heart was measuring slightly large for his age/height/weight so our cardiologist recommended that we have it closed.

The procedure (it’s not surgery, it’s a procedure) is done with a catheter. They will go in through his leg through a tube and place a small plug in the opening, and heart tissue will eventually grow over the plug. It’s still scary, and I worry about it being traumatic for Harvey, but it is very low risk, and we are going to Children’s. There is a day of testing beforehand, and then a possible overnight after the procedure if extended observation is needed.

We are scheduled for July 25th, his 2.5 year birthday.

I am grateful that we live in a place and time when it is possible to diagnose and treat this condition and that we have insurance. Even while I worry about our own situation, I grieve for other parents and children who are not as fortunate.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because I need help. One of our key crew members is flying home for his own wedding that same week, and we are going to be dramatically short staffed. Erin is very capable, but it takes a lot of skilled workers to get it all done (and we rarely even get it all done) around here. A lot of crew members are picking up extra shifts and Ali is willing to take field shifts if we can get the stand covered. I am looking for people who can cover the stand from 12:30-4:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, July 23, 24, and 26. Basically you just have to get vegetables onto the stand from the cooler, answer questions and help farm stand customers. The ability to lift 40 lbs is helpful, but not required. Please email Kevin if this is something you could do. We prefer if you are able to take a whole shift 12:30-4:30. kevin@upswingfarm.com

We’d also be grateful if a few people were willing to come by with weed wackers and cut the grass under the deer fence. This is not critical, but it helps to keep the fence hot and keep the deer out (we’ve had at least one brazen deer making his/her way through the fence). This could happen any time, but would need to be coordinated. Please email Kevin if this is something you could do: kevin@upsiwngfarm.com

And then on Thursday, July 25th from 1:30-4:30, we’d like to invite volunteers to come help with whatever tasks Erin needs to get done. Maybe seeding, maybe weeding . . . it’s too far away to know exactly what will be needed, but many hands can make light work. If you’d like to be a general volunteer that day, please email Erin: erin.b.espinosa@gmail.com

That’s it on that. We’re also going to my grandmothers 90th birthday this weekend in Connecticut. It will be good to see a lot of family, my cousins fly in from Las Vegas tomorrow!

Now . . . back to the blog.

July is already half over. This summer really is flying by. We turned over what felt like half the farm (it wasn’t, it was a little under an acre) to prepare the beds for planting fall crops over the next few moths. I like the view in the photo above because it really highlights this time of year: beds being turned over, new beds just taking off, the beans which you can’t really make out, being all bushy . . .it’s a very mid-July photo.

It is finally fresh onion time! Erin encouraged us to try a new variety this year – Sierra Blanca. I’m very partial to Ailsa Craig and Red Long di Tropea (the fresh onions you are used to, if you’ve been with us a for a while) and since fresh onion season is only about a month long, and I love both these varieties I didn’t feel compelled to try anything else, even if the other farmers at the variety discussion last December were singing the praises of Sierra Blanca.

But when you have an assistant manager as amazing as Erin, and she wants to try something, you try it. You can also thank her for the purple radishes, ‘Bacchus” that I also love.

Aren’t they lovely? The are slightly earlier than Ailsa, pure white and delicious (pretty much all onions are . . .). I haven’t done the side-by-side taste test with the other two, but even if it doesn’t win, it will still be on the planting schedule next year.

For anyone who feels intimidated by a fresh onion, just think of it as an onion that hasn’t cured yet and has a slightly sweeter flavor. You can use them just like any onion, and the greens can be used like scallion greens. Or, you can celebrate these treats by cutting them in half, grilling them and then just eating them straight up! They are so good!

We have an abundance of cucumber, zucchini and squash again this week. We still have two healthy plantings that we are trying to stay on top of, that’s 600 zucchini and squash plants an 700 cucumber plants. Jess has a zucchini fritter recipe below, and if you are into baking with vegetables then you have to try the zucchini/carrot cake recipe I tried this weekend. It was delicious!

The cucumber on the left has scars from where striped cucumber beetles chewed on them when they were baby fruit. This is superficial scarring and the flesh is still good. Just peel and enjoy. Here’s a chance to be cool, and accept that organic farming might mean that the skin of your cucumbers isn’t pristine and that’s ok. Isn’t it better to have to peel your cucumbers once in a while (I bet a lot of you peel them anyway) than to have to wash pesticides off of them all the time?

See – it cleans right up! I dug up an old refrigerator pickle recipe my mom sent me back in 2011, the first year I managed a CSA. If you are overwhelmed with the summer cucurbits (the plant family that cucumber, zucchini, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, delicatta, butternut and all acorn squash belong to) give this recipe a whirl. We will have some dill and cilantro seed heads in the stand which you can use to add some extra flavor to your pickles. Cilantro seed is also known as coriander, in case any of you didn’t know the relationship.

So, you ask, what’s in the share besides onions, cucumbers, zucchini and squash? Beets! Lots of beets, Jess has some great beet 411 for you all, so read on! Also, I’d be really grateful if you ate some kale and lettuce this week – we’ve got a lot and we need to move it, but pretty much we are going to let you have a lot of choice this week. Next week is going to be a more standard, less choice based share.

What’s in the share:
Fresh onions
Cucumber
Zucchini/Squash
Beets

Choice: small 4 items, large 7 items

Kale
Chard
Lettuce
Arugula
Carrots
Beans!
Peas (probably no peas Thursday, the are really pea-tering out! but don’t worry, you got your extra pint already)
Basil
Dill
Parsley
Cilantro
Thyme
Oregano
maybe a few other things . . .

Now for some recipes from Jess!

LETS TALK ABOUT BEEETS:

Not everyone loves them. In my house I’m pretty much the lone beet-lover but I still love seeing them in the share. I boil them up and keep them on hand to toss into a salad or I make a little snack of beets with crumbled goat, feta or burrata cheese. If I’m feeling fancy, I squeeze an orange over the top and grate in a little of the zest and a quick drizzle of goat cheese. Or check out the recipe below for the beet, cucumber and feta salad with basil. Boiling your own takes very little effort but they’re SO much better than the over-cooked ones you get in a can.

Amazingly my kids are now excited to see beets when we pick up the share too! How, you ask? Two years ago Brittany posted a recipe for a Chocolate Beet Cake. I saw it, debated it, decided I couldn’t do it. Every time we got beets I considered it but couldn’t bring myself to try it. Finally, last year I pulled up the recipe again and read the reviews about how this had become people’s go-to chocolate cake recipe. I was still skeptical but decided to give it a try. Now if I could just sneak it past the kids…but alas, I was caught red-handed. Literally. They still tried it though and we all LOVED it! Super rich and chocolatey without any hint of beet flavor, just a delicious fudgy moistness. Give it a try – but maybe wear gloves if you’re trying to sneak the beets past anyone. 😉

CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE

BEET, CUCUMBER AND FETA SALAD WITH BASIL

I love it when I find recipes that I can make entirely out of the bounty from my CSA share and a few pantry staples. The perfect summer lunch!

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH FETA AND DILL

Got zucchini? I like to slice it into thin strips, toss it with balsamic vinaigrette and grill it for a few minutes on each side but I have a hard time getting the kids into eating it this way. Fritters are a great way to use up lots of zucchini that the kids will still eat. I love the different spin on these with the feta, dill and lemon.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE GREENS! (USES LETTUCE, CUCUMBER, ONIONS, CARROTS, BEETS, FENNEL AND MORE)

All the rain we’ve been having means the greens are still coming in strong! Luckily lettuce is the perfect vehicle to highlight any and all of those awesome summer veggies. Pick your favorites and toss them up with this zingy honey-lemon vinaigrette.

SWISS CHARD AND CHIPOTLE TACOS (USES GREENS AND ONIONS)

Swiss chard, kale and other hearty greens are all great sautéed with garlic as a side dish or baked into pasta dishes, but I have a hard time getting excited about casseroles in the hot summer months. These tacos are the perfect way to use up your greens AND fresh onions.

CHARRED VEGETABLE AND BEAN TOSTADAS WITH LIME CREMA (USES ZUCCHINI, ONIONS, CABBAGE AND CILANTRO)

While we’re talking tacos we shouldn’t leave out these hearty vegetarian tostadas. They’re a flavor explosion and brimming with good-for-you ingredients.

GRAPE AND FENNEL SALAD

I adore this salad. It’s crunchy and flavorful but easy and the leftovers keep really well especially if you toast the nuts and keep them separate and sprinkle them on as you serve it.

ZUCCHINI CARROT CAKE

I (Brittany) made this with Harvey, as you might know if you follow us on social media. I did tweak it: I used 2 cups zucchini and 3/4 cups carrot and added 1/2 cup flour. I also made buttercream frosting, because I didn’t have cream cheese.


Summer CSA: Week 5!!

Wow, week five already? Can you believe it? I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like 2019 is flying by. We are so fortunate for the excellent growing conditions of the last month and a half (that rain on Saturday was PERFECT). Our crops are coming in strong, and the variety is exciting. I’m just going to do a quick photo update from around the farm. It’s pretty random, so bear with me.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars on Fennel (we promise we try to notice them and get them onto another host plant during harvest).
Picking peas last Thursday with our super cool crew. Yields have been high, but it’s still and incredibly time-consuming activity. So far we’ve picked over 100 buckets of peas!! This week might be the last week of peas, so enjoy!!
Harvey came to “help” with harvest on the 4th. He did great. He helped me put about 30 rudbeckia stems in a bucket, then ate a bunch of carrots, peas and cucumbers as he ran from person to person to check in, give hugs and carrots. Then the crew went with Harvey for a dip in the reservoir while I did wash, which is mostly like going for a swim.
Have you enjoyed the garlic scapes? Garlic harvest is happening on Wednesday! We’ll see some fresh garlic in the next few weeks! We are going to attempt a no-till conversion of the garlic field into the brussel sprout field by planting by hand then using more mulch around the brussels – we’ll see how it goes!!
Flower shares started last week! There is still time to sign up and there will be lots for sale in the coming weeks!

We have some veggies we need to move this week (scallions, red cabbage, zucchini/summer squash, peas and lettuce that will be in all your shares), but after that we are going to open up the last few items to a full choice. Small shares will choose 4 extra items and large shares will choose 7 extra items out of a list that includes: basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano, chard, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, celery, fennel, pea tendrils, micro-greens, more lettuce if you want it, cucumbers, beets, kohlrabi, carrots and . . . that might be it.

Jess thought up some great recipes for the produce this week – we hope you enjoy!!

GRILLED GRUYERE AND ZUCCHINI SANDWICHES WITH SMOKY PESTO (USES ZUCCHINI/SQUASH & BASIL)

I make these sandwiches weekly during the summer. They’re quick, inexpensive and the whole family devours them. I usually make up a big batch of regular pesto whenever we get basil in the share and freeze it in silicone ice cube trays so I have plenty on hand which makes this recipe even faster. I love the Hearth & Stone Garlic Herb English Muffins (I get mine at Whole Foods) for these but they’re good with whatever kind you have on hand. I frequently swap out summer squash for the zucchini if that’s what I have on hand and they’d be delicious with tomatoes or peppers too.

BEER-BRAISED CHICKEN TACOS WITH CABBAGE SLAW (USES RED CABBAGE)

Who doesn’t love tacos?? This German inspired twist will keep things interesting but will still be on your table in 35 minutes.

11 WAYS TO USE SCALLIONS

Running out of ways to use up your scallions? This article has 11 different ways to use up whatever you have leftover.

SANTA-FE SALAD WITH CILANTRO-LIME-PEANUT VINAIGRETTE (USES LETTUCE & CILANTRO)

Whenever I go to The Cheesecake Factory I get a giant salad with chicken and corn and black beans with the most amazing cilantro-lime-peanut dressing. I love it so much that I finally googled and found this recipe so I can have it whenever I want. I despise canned corn though, so I use the frozen roasted corn from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or better yet, I roast my own on the grill.

GRILLED KALE SALAD WITH PAPRIKA BREADCRUMBS (USES KALE & RADISH)

If you’ve never grilled a salad before, the time is now! Kale holds up very well on the grill and it’s amazing with this creamy honey dressing, apples, radishes and crunchy breadcrumbs.

BEET SALAD (USES BEETS & PARSLEY) – PLUS 4 METHODS OF COOKING BEETS

Beets topped with pistachios, goat cheese and a super simple vinaigrette. Great for barbecues or lunch on a hot summer day: Toss 6 chopped cooked large beets with 1/2 cup each chopped pistachios and parsley, and 1/4 cup each sherry vinegar and olive oil; season with salt. Top with crumbled goat cheese. If you’re not familiar with cooking beets here is a helpful article that details four different methods:

GIGANTE BEANS WITH FETA AND BITTER GREENS (USES CHARD/DANDELION & DILL)

Gigante beans are just fun. This hearty vegetarian meal highlights them in a tasty one pot dish packed with dill and feta cheese. This is also a great way to use up tomatoes so I keep this on stand-by for when the tomato crops are booming.

GRATED CARROT-KOHLRABI AND RADISH SALAD (USES KOHLRABI, CARROT, RADISH & CILANTRO)

Grate a mix of carrots, kohlrabi and radish through the large holes of a box grater until you have about 4 cups worth. In a separate bowl mix together 1 ½ cups water, 1 Tbsp sugar, ½ cup rice vinegar, ¼  to ½ tsp kosher salt and 2 Tbsp  mint or cilantro until the sugar and salt dissolve and then pour it over the grated veggies.

CURRIED COUSCOUS WITH BROCCOLI AND FETA (USES BROCCOLI & CARROTS)

Another quick and inexpensive vegetarian summer main dish that can be made in advance and served up whenever you’re ready for it. For an extra protein kick you can add grilled chicken or steak.

Summer CSA: Week 4

For those of you who don’t follow us on social media, the above photo is of the chipping sparrow that has a nest in our sugar snap peas (which are now 7 feet tall!). We manage to leave her alone, although we do have to pick the peas every two days, we just skip over her section. Hopefully the incubation period is almost over because this planting of peas is about to have it’s last harvest tomorrow. Don’t worry, we won’t take the trellis down before she’s done nesting, and there is another planting of peas, so you’ll still get peas for another week or two.

That’s it for content this week. It was a long day preparing for our first flower share pick up tomorrow, plus starting harvest for Tuesday and finishing planting the 4th planting of sunflowers, and the last plantings of eggplant, peppers and cantaloupe!

In case you missed it, we are trying to be more flexible with pick up this week because of the holiday. Please complete this form and let us know when you plan to pick up your share.

It’s a great one! Enjoy!

What’s in the Share
Carrots
Sugar Snap Peas
Lots of Lettuce
Arugula or more lettuce
Bok Choy
Kale
Cucumber
Zucchini/kohlrabi/beets mix and match
Broccoli
Scallions

Jess’s Recipes

CRUNCHY BOK CHOY SLAW (Bok Choy, Carrots, Scallions)

If you’ve never tried bok choy raw (and even if you have) this slaw recipe with an Asian flair is a must try! Bok Choy is a sturdy green with a lot of crunch that will hold up well even with dressing on it.

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249249/crunchy-bok-choy-slaw/

KING OF GREENS KALE SALAD

This is one of my favorite kale salads. The trick is in “massaging” the kale – kale can be a bit on the tough/chewy side but this quick little trick softens it up and the flavor combination of tart lemons, sweet currants and salty pecorino cheese is amazing. I frequently substitute parmesan for the pecorino.

https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/kale-salad-the-king-of-greens-498832

ROASTED KOHLRABI WITH PARMESAN

Still not sure what to do with your kohlrabi? Roasting it is another great way to serve it up. Just toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes and sprinkle with parmesan and parsley.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/roasted-kohlrabi-with-parmesan-3561919

BROCCOLI-BACON SALAD

Now that summer is in full swing I love to have a bunch of side salads on hand so when the kids finally come in for dinner I can throw something on the grill and serve it up with whatever salads we have handy. This is a big favorite in our house.

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252137/broccoli-bacon-salad/

DANISH PICKLED CUCUMBERS

This super easy summer salad is a favorite that my kids can make all by themselves. Keep it in your file in case we get inundated with cucumbers later in the season too. 😉

https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/danish-pickled-cucumbers-syltede-agurker-137037

ZUCCHINI BREAD (or muffins) WITH OATS

We’re up in Maine camping this week so I made up a big batch of these muffins to have on hand for breakfast and snacks. The recipe makes two loaves of bread but I put the batter into muffin tins and reduce the cooking time to 25-30 minutes (makes 24 muffins). I also swap out most of the flour for white-whole wheat flour.

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/zucchini-bread-oats

GRILLED BEETS WITH BURRATA AND POPPY SEED VINAIGRETTE (beets & scallions)

If you’ve never tried burrata cheese you’ve been missing out. It comes in balls that are mozzarella on the outside with a creamy filling. It’s amazing – especially on top of grilled beets with a zesty orange vinaigrette. YUM!

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grilled-beets-with-burrata-and-poppy-seed-vinaigrette

TACO SALAD

This link has some great ideas for customizing your own signature taco salad. Always a big hit at barbecues or at home on a hot night when you don’t want a hot meal.

https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/taco-salad/#pinit