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.


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