November 27th-29th 2017 – Fennel-fest

This week we happily introduce a new supplier joining the stellar list of cottage industries affiliated with Chubeza. Assaf Anaki, founder of “Re-ach Sade” Spices, started off as a teacher, but felt something was missing in his life. This is his story:

A good friend of mine, Assaf Nov of “Minchat Ha’aretz, asked me to give him a hand in his flour mill. As I worked, I felt something filling the void within me. Working with raw materials, transforming the basic forms of food into an available, accessible product had me hooked. I learned the secrets of grinding by millstone, its health benefits, and the extra value it adds to a product.

 One day my wife reminded me how much I love spices and how hard it is to find the best quality. Why then, asked she, don’t you grind them yourself?

How did I not think of this myself?

So I took the knowledge, joy and love, and with the help and blessing of “Minchat Ha’aretz” I began grinding spices by millstone. The more I got to know the magical world of spices, the more I fell in love. I learned in motion, improving, changing, adding, consulting and punctuating, aspiring to create the best spice possible.

 Ground by millstone (excluding those spices which cannot be ground in such a manner) in a slow, cold grinding, preserving its benefits

  • Prepared from the proper raw materials
  • No additives whatsoever
  • Supplied as soon after grinding as possible. Fresh and aromatic.
  • Gluten free

As of now, some of the spices are local and organic, and we aim to enlarge the selection. Nature has supplied so many virtues in spices: excellent fragrance, wonderful flavor, beautiful colors, appetizing texture and an abundance of health and medicinal benefits. We are duty-bound to preserve these virtues for posterity.

“Re-achHhasade” (the fragrance of the field) spices are hand-ground in a boutique factory in Netivot, packed in plastic containers. Order them today via our order system.

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Eliezer and Rose of “Shorshei Tzion” are delighted to introduce new sweet products: chocolate bars made of rare cocoa, melted at a low temperature, thus keeping its nutritional values and virtues, for instance as an excellent source of magnesium. As always at Shorshei Tzion, abundance is the word. They’ve prepared five different flavors of this delectable chocolate: natural, orange, raspberry, spicy chili and coconut. These chocolate bars join the rest of their amazing sweets: caramel flavored pralines, almond butter and goji açaí, brownies, goji treat and caramel cocoa crunch.

All that’s left to do is prepare a warm beverage and enjoy a sweet delight which is healthy and nutritious. Wait no more! Order Shorshei Tzion products via our order system.

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Food for the Soul

Efrat Hermoni, a veteran client of Chubeza, is a musician and Jungian therapist as well as an author. Her newly-published book A World Thirsty for Rain – A Jungian Reading of Jewish Sources (Hebrew) deals with the connection between the psychological theories of Carl Gustav Jung and Jewish sources, and will be of interest to all those interested in the world of psyche and close to the world of Jewish sources.

The book is available in all major bookstores, specifically Tzomet Sfarim and the Modan website. Here are some more details about the book and its author (Hebrew). Good luck Efrat! May  we quench our thirst with blessed rain!

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Fennel Fun

Last week we discussed kohlrabi, a thick stem belonging to the Cruciferae family. This week’s Newsletter Star is the kohlrabi’s partner-in-your-box, a thick stemmed member of an entirely different family and a whole other story – the fennel.

The beautiful photos of our field are, as usual, courtesy of the one and only Chana Netzer (Thank you, Chana!)

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Fennel belongs to the Umbelliferae family, a relative of the dill, coriander, carrot, parsley, celery, anise, cumin and others. The fennel’s origins are in the Mediterranean basin– a neighbor! As it is well-accustomed to our surroundings, fennel grows peacefully and comfortably in many wild fields, and easily overtakes abandoned agricultural plots or even the random open urban field. It understands our fickle weather, demands order from the weeds surrounding it, lest they encroach on its territory, and grows in the winter sun, sometimes reaching a height of two meters! The fennel is indeed a strong plant: it successfully endures weather changes, even extreme ones (so appropriate for the Israeli winter), and hardly ever suffers from pests, perhaps thanks to its strong scent. When it is big enough, fennel gets along well with the weeds, staking out a territory for itself. Fennel’s dominant character is the reason it is recommended to avoid placing other plants alongside, and to give the fennel its own turf and garden-bed, though I must say in my own experience I have never seen it take over neighboring beds or influence them otherwise.

Contrary to other cultivated vegetables, the Florence fennel we grow is not very different from its brother, the wild fennel, except for the fact that it is shorter and puts most of its energy into thickening the leaves at its base until they become a sort of white bulb, sweet and juicy, which we can eat. Here too, it is a mistake to think we eat the root or bulb of the fennel when in fact we’re eating its lower leaves that grow out of the base of the stem, which in the case of the Florence fennel are puffy and fleshy. These leaves taste more delicate and sweet than the wild and common fennels, grown to extract seeds.

The vegetable’s aroma and distinctive taste derive from a unique phytochemical, anethol, which is the main component of the volatile lubricant it contains (similar to anise). This phytochemical retards inflammation and reduces the threat of cancer. The volatile lubricant in fennel can also protect from various chemical toxins in the liver and other organs. Its strong smell can be used to refresh and prevent bad breath (if you fancy its aroma), and it is a component in most natural toothpastes. Those who do not enjoy the smell can identify with the pests who stay far away from fennel, and with medieval witches, who were scared off by sheaves of fennel and St. John’s Wort hung on thresholds during the June 24th European agricultural summer festivities.

But let’s continue to sing its praises……
Plinius Secundas, otherwise known as Plini the Elder, an ancient Roman writer, wrote highly of the fennel. He attributed 22 medicinal qualities to fennel, including the fact that snakes eat it while shedding their skin and sharpen their sight by rubbing up against it. Fennel is considered an important medicinal plant, one of nine Anglo-Saxon sacred herbs (along with mugwort, plantain, watercress, betony, chamomile, nettle, crabapple and chervil). The oil is found primarily in the seeds, which are a major component in Indian and Chinese blends.

And a little more flattery: the fennel’s (its seeds, but not exclusively) main claim to fame is as a digestive aid. In India it is served at the end of a meal (in Indian restaurants it comes with the bill, instead of sticky toffee) and chewed in order to help the food go down. Perhaps this is the reason fennel is considered to be a good diet supplement. The leafy bulb is rich in dietary fibers which in themselves contribute to efficient, healthy digestion. Fennel is also recommended for colicky babies. Even I drank the… hmmm, how shall I describe it… strong-tasting brew, composed of fennel seeds and anise stars, to help my babies out during colic times. Young mothers who are known for their willingness to do whatever it takes will be rewarded twofold by imbibing the fennel: helping the baby and increasing their own milk. And if that still doesn’t work and the baby keeps screaming, a fennel drink will help his/her throat, relieving hoarseness and coughs…

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But the fennel has a dark side as well (depending of course on the full or empty part of the cup…). It is one of the spices in absinthe, a strong alcoholic liquor made of wormwood, moss, anise, Melissa and fennel. Absinthe’s anise-taste and green color give it the nickname “the green fairy.” Absinthe has been known to cause hallucinations (or to inspire the muse, depending on who you ask) and was very popular in the 19th century with bohemians and artists, with Van Gogh being one big aficionado. Some claim that he cut off his ear under the influence of absinthe.

Oh, let’s forget about hallucinations for a minute, and take a deep breath. If you’ve decided to go out picking wild fennel flowers, you can add them to salad dressings, to soups and sauces. If you chop the flower very thinly (or use a mortar and pestle) and mix with soft butter, you can make a great spread for fish or grilled chicken. The flowers can also be used for décor. The seeds should be gathered immediately after the flowers have bloomed and withered and the seeds are still green and fresh.

This week we don’t ask for much, only a nice wintery week for us all, and lots and lots of blessed rain.
Shavua Tov,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Coriander/parsley, Swiss chard/kale, arugula/totsoi, cucumbers, kohlrabi/fennel, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, celery/scallions/leeks, red bell peppers. Small boxes only: beets. Special gift for all: green/red mizuna.

Large box, in addition:  Sweet potatoes/Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage/eggplant, baby radishes, winter spinach.

Wednesday: Coriander/parsley, Swiss chard/kale, arugula/totsoi, cucumbers, kohlrabi/fennel/beets, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, red & green bell peppers, baby radishes/turnip/daikon. Small boxes only: celery/scallions. Special gift for all: green/red mizuna.

Large box, in addition:  Onions/leeks, Sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke/eggplant, winter spinach.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, raw probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, sourdough breads, gluten free breads, granola, natural juices, cider and jams, apple vinegar, dates silan and healthy fruit snacks, ground coffee, tachini, honey candy, spices 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!