Aley Chubeza #305, September 4th-5th 2016

 

The weather is changing, and autumn is waiting in the wings. On Sunday, there were even some hopes for light showers in the coast area, but they never reached Chubeza. Nonetheless, we are able to feel some relief in the weather department, spurring the recuperation of our cucumbers and aiding the rest of the winter crops which are seeded and planted to find their way in the field and properly settle in.

As the seasons change, Chubeza’s additional products are also undergoing change and renewal:

zahidiThe Samar dates are disappearing!  We’re now out of Barhi, and the Dekel Nur supply is nearly depleted. Fortunately, a new date harvest is about to commence in Kibbutz Samar’s groves.

To mark the changing season, we are declaring a special sale on the delicious organic Zahidi date: 15 NIS per kg, 70 NIS per 5 kg box.

Hurry up and order before they finish as well.

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lev hatevaAsaf, one of the producers of Lev HaTeva‘s excellent crackers, came for a visit bearing a first batch of gluten-free crackers. Although they are not organic, they are suitable for those who are sensitive to gluten and even for people with celiac. And here’s the best part – they are delicious, like the entire line of Lev HaTeva crackers, and perfect in their texture and flavor. I would never guess they are gluten free! Obviously, Lev HaTeva’s team worked hard to arrive at the ideal recipe, and they did a great job!

You may order them via our order system.

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Ein HarodHillel of Ein Harod will soon be arriving with a renewed stock of organic almonds from the kibbutz orchards, freshly harvested and shelled for you. From our experience, the excellent organic almonds from Ein Harod get better every year and the inventory quickly disappears, so be sure not to miss out on the opportunity. Hurry up and order your almonds! The organic chickpeas from Ein Harod are due to arrive this week, and we are patiently awaiting  their amazing olive oil after the olive harvest ends. Coming soon!

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izapzizaThis week we are happy to introduce a new goat dairy product manufacturer with excellent, healthy products: the Izza Pziza Dairy – Meshek Tzaban,Tal Shachar. Our matchmaker was Puah, remember her? When we sadly bade Puah and Oded farewell several weeks ago, she was happy to recommend Alon Tzaban. Here is the Izza Pziza Dairy’s story:

 The pen was established in 2004, followed by the dairy. Our love for agriculture and raising goats led us to take part in the tourist agricultural niche. We have always made certain to maintain a very small herd, with 30-60 nursing nannie goats that provide us with quality, fresh milk from which to produce cheeses and other dairy products.

In the pen, we are scrupulous about natural, wholesome growth conditions: the mating is natural; we do not use hormones, and upon birthing, the kids remain with their mothers, nursing till they are weaned (usually around the age of two months).

The goats are nourished from hay and a high-quality fodder mixture, as well as a two-to-three-hour grazing stretch in the pasture fields adjacent to the pen.

Most of the goat care and cheese production is handled by Alon, who is assisted by a team of family members. In the dairy we produce a wide range of products, including milk, yogurt in many flavors, fresh cheeses, aged cheeses and even goat dulce de leche.

We use no preservatives or artificial flavoring. All products are made of one hundred percent goat milk from our farm.

We learned to prepare the cheese from professional courses with a food technologist in Israel, and two additional educational journeys we embarked upon in France. Of course, experience is the best teacher, and we improve each day.

In addition to selling dairy products, we also host groups in our Visitor’s Center and offer professional classes to learn how to produce cheeses at home. You are welcome to pay us a visit!

For more interesting and detailed info, visit the Izza Pziza website. Izza Pziza has a broad, impressive range of goat milk products. Take a look at our order system for a detailed list of the different products and their prices.

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 The Next of (Pump)Kin

Last week Alon declared: “That’s it! We’re out of butternut squash and Provence pumpkin!” As of now, we remain only with the great big Tripolitanian pumpkin, booked to stay till wintertime.

She’d been riding along in our boxes for some months now, loyal, sweet and nutritious. She does it every year, at the precise time when summer vegetables are slowly disappearing while winter veggies have only just begun to surface. Today, allow me to shed a new light upon the vivid orange slice of pumpkin in your box.

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I don’t know why humankind thinks the apple was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. I’m pretty sure that all clues lead instead to the pumpkin. First and foremost, a pumpkin patch can easily look like a piece of “heavenly” jungle: a thick stem sending its roots anywhere it touches the earth, huge leaves protecting the fruits and enormous glamorous yellow flowers. And apropos to the Garden of Eden, amidst these long tendrils, it is not at all rare to find… snakes! (nice ones, usually) Indeed, the pumpkin abounds with the highly beneficial yellow-orange pigment “lutein,” renowned as the main antioxidant protecting the eye, so it comes as no surprise that this fruit was an eye-opener for Adam and Eve. And finally, as it was a pumpkin, huge and overwhelming as pumpkins can be, it’s no wonder Eve couldn’t clean her plate and had to invite Adam to take a bite or two…

This Garden of Eden was most probably located in Mexico, the site from which our pumpkins originated. The farmers of Central America raised pumpkins for thousands of years. Except they did not use them for food. Pumpkins of old were used for their seeds, as a canister, as musical and ritual instruments, and in the production of weaving mats (from slices of dried pumpkin rind). The reason for this abstention from consumption was not due to a moral truth learned from the Fall from Eden, but rather the simple fact that it was not tasty or easy on the tongue, for the first pumpkins were quite fibrous and very bitter.

Today too, most of the pumpkins that grow in America are inedible, and aimed specifically for the special rituals of Halloween when the flesh of the pumpkin is emptied out and its shell carved in the shape of a face or anything else in order to place a candle inside and turn it into a one-night lantern. The origins of this rite of pumpkin go back to an Irish myth that featured a turnip, not even a pumpkin (in accordance with the cold Irish climate.) The story tells of the miserly Jack, an alcoholic no-gooder who deceived the devil, exacting from him a promise that he would not take his soul to hell upon Jack’s death. However, Jack did not take into consideration the devil’s shrewdness. When he died, he found there was no place for him in heaven either, thus poor Jack was doomed to a life of wandering, holding a piece of burning ember to light his way, which he placed inside a hollow turnip. The Irish used to prepare Jack’s lantern by carving a scary face into a turnip, potato or beet, aimed to scare away the restless Jack. When the Irish immigrants arrived in North America, they discovered pumpkins and turned them into Jack’s lantern, otherwise known as Jack o’lanterns!

תוצאת תמונה עבור דלעת

In a different American autumn tradition, the pumpkin stars as a main component for the grand Thanksgiving Day meal. Today’s pumpkin pie is made from pumpkin pulp, but the original pie was really a headless pumpkin, seeded and filled with milk, honey and spices and baked upon hot embers.

The most famous magical pumpkin is Cinderella’s, whose garden pumpkin was transformed to a magical coach, but there is also a Chinese tale about an old doctor who arrived to the city of Ranan carrying a remedy that could heal every type of disease. He opened a pharmacy, and hung a pumpkin shell outside his door. Every evening, after the sun set, the doctor would suddenly disappear from his pharmacy, leaving behind an empty store and a pumpkin shell. No-one knew his whereabouts. After some time, a clerk found out the old man’s secret: at the end of each day, after sunset, the elderly doctor would jump into the pumpkin shell. The clerk made friends with the old man and was invited into the pumpkin getaway, where he discovered an enchanted world.

But the pumpkin does not belong only to exotic traditions and nostalgic tales. Like the immortal creature it is, the pumpkin maintains its charm, roly-poly grace, and timeless intrigue. If Cinderella is my immediate association with pumpkin, my daughters dream of gobbling pumpkin cookies and drinking pumpkin juice in magical meals they attend alongside Harry Potter.

And there’s a good reason for that: the pumpkin is a very easy vegetable to digest, with a very low caloric content. Great for babies, kids and adults.

The Chinese believe the pumpkin eases depression and soothes digestion by working on the spleen and stomach.  In the West, it is claimed that pumpkin seeds help heal diseases and infections in the urinary tract and battle intestinal parasites. Alternative medicine sings the pumpkin’s praises for preventing constipation, cold-related ailments, and even in relieving allergic reactions. Oil extracted from pumpkin seeds is used to treat prostate cancer.

Every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the stems, leaves and soft roots, which are used in Italy in omelets or soup. The flowers are great for stuffing or to toss into a salad or risotto. And of course, the pulp goes with any dish you may be cooking up. Even the rind is edible. In southern Italy, specifically in Calabria, residents used to dry pumpkin rinds in summer. Throughout the winter, they would soak these peels, coat with flour, and then deep fry.

Remember how we started out discussing pumpkins grown for their seeds? Well, today, too, this is the case. Even bitter fibrous pumpkins make delectable seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also very healthy, rich in unsaturated fatty acids as well as zinc. Austria has been known for producing the best pumpkin seed oil for 300 years now, which they prepare by growing a special type of rind-less pumpkin with seeds, a pumpkin that appeared out of nowhere around the year 1870, probably the result of a mutation or of a unique genetic coincidence.

     

We grow various types of small pumpkins, but our great big tremendous one is seeded in wide spaces (2-3 meters) in order to allow plenty of growing room, as each pumpkin plant can reach the length of up to 9 meters! We seed it in March, sometimes even at the end of February, and wait patiently for 4-5 months till it ripens and changes color to light cream. The pumpkins, some of which are enormous, are gathered from the field to be stored in their very own storage shed with net shades, where they are placed alongside one another and allowed some post-harvest breathing space, prolonging their lifespan.

Some magic that can be created with pumpkins:

Cooking        in water, only if you’re making soup. The water will be rich in vitamins, minerals and yummy pumpkin flavor. Slice pumpkin into pieces and cook in boiling salted water. Having difficult cutting it? Cook the pumpkin in its shell, which will then slip off easily after cooking.

Steaming      if you wish to soften the pumpkin, steaming is better than cooking. Place equal-size slices in a steamer over boiling water.

Baking           in the oven, this way the pumpkin is softened without adding liquid. If towards the end of your baking you remove the cover, the excess water will totally evaporate.

Frying            a firm mealy-textured pumpkin is suitable for the preparation of chips (fries) or to coat with flour and fry.

Grill     cube or slice pumpkin, brush with olive oil and grill on all sides till brown and soft.

 

Storage:

A whole pumpkin can be stored for months in a cool place (but not too cool, under 8 degrees). A sliced pumpkin can be refrigerated for 3 days, wrapped well. A cooked pumpkin (regardless of the cooking method) can be frozen for up to 3 months, but it is not fond of a long stay in the refrigerator.

Flavors that go well with pumpkin:

Almost everything – spicy, salty, sweet: black pepper, nutmeg, a combination of ginger, garlic and soy. Curry, fresh herbs: rosemary, sage and bay leaves. Cinnamon, cloves, anise, coconut milk, date honey.

Those of you who still have some closed pumpkins (butternut and others) at home, Dora sent me a recipe for buckwheat filled pumpkin, definitely worth perusing for both Dora’s gentle and kind way of writing and because of her beautiful photos. Bon Appetite!

Wishing you peaceful days of autumn and the transforming season.

Shavua Tov,                                                                      

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Cucumbers are still in short supply, but we can now see the light at the end of this dark era in Cucumber Life. Once again: one of our cucumber rounds has reached its end. The others, however, are bravely fighting the heavy heat of summer’s end. They are beginning to yield, but it should take several weeks till the quantities increase. In the meantime, we are attempting to buy cucumbers from other organic farmers to add to your boxes, but the situation is similar throughout the entire organic market. Which is why some of you will be getting cukes while others will receive red peppers. We hope the plants will soon yield more and the shortage will end. Thank you for your understanding!

 

Monday: Leeks/scallions, coriander, tomatoes, Thai lubia/lubia/corn, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/basil, cucumbers/bell peppers, lettuce, sweet potatoes/potatoes/carrots. Special gift: nana mint

Large box, in addition: Onions, okra, parsley

Wednesday: Leeks/scallions, parsley/basil, tomatoes, Thai lubia/lubia/okra/cherry tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers/bell peppers/carrots, lettuce, sweet potatoes, potatoes. Special gift: nana mint

Large box, in addition: Onions, coriander, corn.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now