Aley Chubeza #59 – March 7th-9th 2011

It’s Adar!

In preparation for the upcoming Purim holiday, we would like to remind you of the wonderful assortment of organic products available from our website to make your mishloach manot very, very special. Among the options are Danny and Galit’s granola and cookies, Daniella and Tamir’s natural honey in many flavors, “Lev HaTeva” organic crackers from whole-wheat grains, Rona’s goat cheeses from the Yotav dairy, organic dates from Kibbutz Samar, and Maggie’s sprouts from Nataf. All these products and more can be ordered here for delivery in your next boxes. 

The other integral aspect of Purim is, of course, charity, and we would like to remind you of the possibility to take part in our project to donate boxes of vegetables to the needy.  A hearty thanks to all of our loyal contributors who add a weekly/bi weekly donation of 5-10-15 NIS, enabling us to give large boxes to families in need. Those who would like to join, please email or leave us a phone message.

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For the past two weeks you have been receiving green garlic, which may have come as a surprise to some. I promise to write about it next week. For now, enjoy its delicious flavor!

This week’s newsletter is dedicated to the final protagonist of our Umbelliferae Seasoning Herb Trilogy, the delectable dill.

 

Striking a Dill

My Talia is six months old. She tries to stuff her clenched fist—or fists– into her tiny mouth, and cries bitterly. If you try to stick a finger into her mouth, it will immediately be snapped by her aching plier-like gums. She’s teething; no easy task for such a little ‘un. In honor of her and all the other tiny teethers, this newsletter is dedicated to dill, one of the most beneficial plants for babies.

 

The English name “dill” derives from the ancient Nordic “dilla” or “dile,” meaning “calming and soothing.” This probably reflects the common use of dill tea in folk medicine to help babies fall asleep and to ease their painful gums. Sometimes mothers would bake dill biscuits to soothe babies’ gums. Dill tea remedies stomachaches and other ills of the digestive system, as well as increasing nursing mothers’ milk. 

In Hebrew, the name “shamir” is mistakenly used. “Shamir” actually belongs to a thorny wild plant, used metaphorically in the Bible when describing a farm overgrown with weeds. Amotz Cohen, teacher and nature explorer, believes that dill is really the “poterium” found primarily in abandoned fields over the country. Officially, the proper Hebrew name for dill is “shevet reichani” – aromatic “shevet.”

Dill originated in Southern Europe (the Mediterranean Basin) and Russia. It is an annual plant from the umbelliferae family, sibling to (as we already know) such other seasoning herbs as parsley, coriander, and celery, and root vegetables like carrot, parsnip, and chunky fennel. The dill’s stem is branched and its leaves are feathery. It blossoms from the branches in a way that resembles a multi-tipped umbrella. After it blossoms, the seeds can be gathered and used for seasoning and for medicinal aids.

The dill is a plant that was probably cultivated many long years ago. Our forefathers used it to season stews and for pickling, taking full advantage of the entire plant. As the Talmud (Avodah Zara 7b) describes, “the dill is tithed, seed and vegetable and stalk,” i.e., all parts of the dill are in use and hence must be tithed. Such diversity continues to this day, with green dill sprigs being used to flavor pickling brine, and to decorate and garnish soups, cheeses, salads and seafood. Its seeds are used to flavor baked goods, potatoes, vegetables, cakes, sauces and liquors. In India, powdered dill seed is a main curry ingredient.

Dill’s strong scent may be the secret to its use as an amulet against ghosts and demons, and its integral presence in the beginner witch kit. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac, and Pythagoras recommended holding a bundle of dill in your left hand to prevent epileptic seizures (perhaps because seizures were perceived as being caused by the demon). The Greeks viewed dill as a symbol of prosperity, and flaunted their wealth by burning oil spiked with dill.

Herbs in the Umbelliferae family–including dill–contain phytochemicals, many of which have cancer- preventing attributes. These phytochemicals block hormonal activity that is linked to the development of cancer cells. Recent research has indicated that dill boasts a high level of antioxidant capabilities.

Other research analyses and reconfirms the virtues of dill in soothing the digestive system. It has been found to be chockfull of bactericide compounds and to have a protective influence on the Gastric mucosa.

To make dill tea: Pour boiling water over the green dill leaves and steep, or cook 5 teaspoons of seeds in 1 liter water for 15 minutes. Drain.

  • To relieve gas, to regulate digestion and encourage lactation for young mommies, to freshen your breath and ease a cough: sweeten with honey and drink 2-3 cups per day.
  • Give colicky babies 5 spoonfuls of this mixture (excluding the honey) per day.
  • To get rid of bad breath: gargle the tea several times per day.
  • For eye infections: dip a cloth pad in the warm liquid and place on the eye.

Dill is a source of such vitamins and minerals as potassium, beta carotene (pro vitamin A), folic acid, and vitamin C.

Tips for dill use

  • The dill that grows in India is a different species. Its seeds are bigger, but their taste is milder, which is why when you are cooking an Indian recipe, it is recommended to reduce the amount of dill seeds by 30-50%.
  • To make dill-spiced vinegar, use a mild vinegar (apple vinegar, for instance), place a bundle of dill inside, add a clove of garlic, and pepper, if desired. Store for a few weeks in a cool, dark spot.

The end-of-the-week forecast calls for a wintry “ve’nahafochu.” Let it rain! Let it snow! Let it precipitate!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, may we all have a fragrant week, free of all pain, toothaches, stomachaches and heartaches,

 

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

Monday: Kohlrabi, daikon or large radishes, parsley, lettuce, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, dill, broccoli or cauliflower

In the large box, in addition: fennel, scallions, green garlic

Wednesday: cilantro, parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, green garlic, carrots, celery or celeriac, cabbage, fennel or radish or kohlrabi, lettuce, broccoli.

In the large box, in addition: fava beans, dill, green onions or beets

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us to begin your delivery soon.

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Dill Recipes

Two gravlax recipes

Warm Carrot, Kale, Chickpea and Dill Salad

Spanakopita – spinach dill pie

Red lentil dill soup with dill cream

Croatian dill soup

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