Rachel's Table

A Tale of Three Vortexes

A few weeks ago I signed up for a winter vegetable share (CSA) with Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Having been a member last summer and the winter before that, I knew just what to expect: lots of fresh, organic veggies grown by local farmers and conveniently delivered to my pick-up spot.

But as you know, the United States (at least part of it)  is experiencing cold, snowy weather dubbed The Polar Vortex by those that give names to things. So ice and snow and NEGATIVE degree temps forced Lancaster Farm Fresh to put off the first pick-up day. No worries, I would just pick it up the next day.

Care to join me on the patio?

Care to join me on the patio?

My body had other ideas.

During The Polar Vortex, with snow falling on my head, I had to remote start my car so the doors would unfreeze, slide down my driveway on my boot-clad feet, and drive slowly and steadily to my nearby Urgent Care facility to get diagnosed with a sinus infection, double ear infection, and bronchial infection, otherwise known as The Infection Vortex.

As I rested in bed surrounded by tissues and catching up on Downton Abbey, all I could think about was my produce box. I wished I could send my Lady’s Maid directly into the snow to fetch it for me. After no Lady’s Maid materialized when I rang my bedside bell, I gave up. My produce box was lost.

Enter my heroes (otherwise known as The Parental Vortex). My lovely parents offered to pick up the box as they were headed that way for a lunch date.

The Lord and Lady at my front door

The Lord and Lady at my front door

I’ve never been so happy to see potatoes, beets, and parsnips in my life. And as usual, Lancaster Farm Fresh did not disappoint. I turned the veggies into a spicy soup that drained my sinuses (ew) and warmed my soul.

Jerusalem artichokes are the bomb digz - find some and roast them or saute them with mushrooms

Veggie Vortex – Jerusalem artichokes are the bomb digz – find some and roast them or saute them with mushrooms

So how have you been so far this year – any Vortexes of your own to report? And what do you think of the current season of Downton? 


If you’d like to see some recipes from last year’s winter CSA, use these helpful links:

Winter One-Pot Meal with Sausages and Jerusalem Artichokes

My Ode to Mushroom Bolognese

Thai-Inspired Vegetable Soup

Simple and Sophisticated Roasted Mushrooms


  1. I’m so glad you’re feeling better, and why thank you, I will take a seat. Hang on, you forgot to put ice in my drink. Oh. No. Wait. You actually forgot anything BUT ice.

    I could use some of that spicy soup – it sounds delish and I’m now fighting an Infection Vortex myself!

    • I wonder how long ice and snow from the Polar Vortex would keep in your 70s cooler….

      Oh no! You have House Vortex and Polar Vortex to contend with, you definitely don’t need to deal with an Infection Vortex too. If I could send some soup your way I would. Maybe the Parental Vortex will deliver it to your front door (and then my mom will cover you with her coat to keep you toasty).

  2. I’ve experienced way too many times this year the “Kids’ schools canceled so they have to hang out at home” vortex. And the “shovel 8 inches of snow” vortex.

    I’ve been forced to watch Downton and it’s slooooowwly starting to grow on me. But then, everything about it is slow. Carson’s a bad-ass though. And of course the Dowager rules.

    • I’m over the vortexes at this point.

      Did you watch the previous seasons of Downton? Because I liked those even more than this season, although the Dowager has had some classic lines so far. She’s the best. I want to be her when I grow up.

      • I just want her money.

        Only caught bits and pieces of previous seasons. Family had marathons with DVDs and I couldnt sit thru it.

        There’s going to be some tense moments this Sunday with Edith and that cousin with the singer. But nowhere near as tense as the showdown that’s going to happen when I want to watch the return of THe Walking Dead.

  3. We have the Drought Vortex happening here. My whole CSA plan is up in the air at the moment. 😦 Very unhappy face.

    p.s. Your parents are adorable — total Lord and Lady look there with the big box o’ veggies. haha

    • Oh no! Not the Drought Vortex. That’s the thing with a CSA – you are just as invested in the weather and the product as the farmer. If he can’t harvest, you don’t get your veggie box. I hope the rain falls soon! I’d gladly send you some of our precipitation.

      PS – Yes, my parents are especially adorable when holding veggie boxes. 🙂

      • I have several ideas for federal jobs involving transporting your snow and ice to my local reservoirs for water. Seems like a good, shovel-ready job that should pay $10.10 and hour, RIGHT? Win-win.

  4. What is wrong with you and these infections every winter!?? Geez… Well, at least you’ve got the Granthams to keep your company. When you finally get bored with the predictable soap opera plot twists and can’t stand seeing Mr. and Mrs. Bates put through any further torture, check out “Sherlock” on Masterpiece Mystery — best show on TV by a lonnngggggggg shot. Feel better!

    • I know the saga of Mr. and Mrs. Bates is just too much. I liked them polite and happy.

      I have seen all of Sherlock. Love it. Love Benedict Cumberbatch.

      I think I need to move to California where there’s only forced hot air heat a few times a year. I blame the cold and indoor dry heat. Poor me.

  5. Well, if you can’t have an Anna or whatever her name is for Lady Cora now, it’s a good thing to have parents! Aaaargh. Just finished my second week of working from home. And today a friend came to pick me up to get supplies and, after walking 1/4 mile down and wading through our creek, I had to push her car out of the very start of our Arctic driveway. This winter is the pits. And I don’t even have a cold weather CSA this year. 😦 Jealous of those beautiful Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips!

  6. That is an awful lot of vortexes for one petite woman! But, I’m glad both that you have awesome parents and are on the mend.

    And those vegetables! I am literally swooning I am so in love with them. I’m off to my farmer’s market right now, and I highly doubt I will see anything as lovely. No one does produce better than the mid-Atlantic.

    As for Downton, I have SO much to say! But, I’ve already watched the entire new season (friends in London hooked me up during my surgery recovery), so I don’t want to say too much since I’m not sure what you know and don’t know yet. What I will say, however, is that the final scene of the season is one of my absolute favorite Downton moments. If at any point you find your attention flagging — the start of this season was sloooowww — just hold out for that scene. It’s worth it.

    • Yes! I’m caught in a Vortex Vortex. I’m hoping Spring will save me.

      I have watched only the current episodes, so no spoilers please! I agree – the beginning has been a bit slow and I’m not too thrilled with the Mr. and Mrs. Bates story line.

      I still love to watch the very first scene of Downton – when they’re all getting the house ready and the camera is sweeping through it. Made me fall in love with the show instantly.

  7. Love, love, LOVE farm boxes. I guess I’m lucky to get to pick my own (sometimes in flip-flops), judging from your back porch. Yikes!

    Here’s a delicious risotto recipe I’ll be trying, without the sunchokes, of course, ’cause we don’t have ’em here. I immediately thought of your co-op box (http://wp.me/p1k0v2-1sl).

    Stay warm and toasty, Rache…and GET WELL. If I’ve not already told you about it, sinus rinsing is DA BOMB for preventing infections, if you’re not already doing it. Spring’ll be here before you know it, and then it’ll be pollen wreaking havoc with your membranes. Always something.

    PS — had a peek into Downton Abbey and I can totally see why it’s such a winner! If you have Netflix (I think you do), also watch the 12-episode streaming “Titanic: Blood & Steal” for an equally riveting period piece, pre-iceberg. Even my husband got into it.

    • Thanks for the recipe, Shannon! Looks tasty!

      I do rinse – or irrigate – as I like to call it.

      Have you gotten any snow or cold weather where you are? Friends of mine in Austin had a bit of snow and it was like the world was ending.

      • We’re close enough to the coast to have the warm Gulf Stream to keep us toasty. Just cold (43) and windy for the most part. We did get a deep freeze, but it was short-lived. We are the place to be for fresh food! 12-month-out-of-the-year growing here. I’m hand-picking plentiful (and cheap) kale, beets, turnips, chard, romaine, and butter crunch while you guys freeze your tushies waiting for the co-op box. Jealous?

  8. Oh my! So glad that parental vortex was there to the rescue. We are having lovely weather and deliveries to our door. So much to be thankful for right now. Get well Rachel!

  9. First, your parents are incredible people! I hope to have a relationship with my children like they do with you! And I am going to make them call me Lady of the home!
    Second, I would join you on your deck any time.
    Third, there is nothing like local produce regardless of the time of year!

    • Yes, the Parental Vortex is incredible!

      I think it makes good sense for your kids to call you Lady. “Would you care to take your tea in the library, My Lady?”

      Thanks for stopping by, Kerri. You’re invited to my patio during any season. 🙂

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