Aley Chubeza #70 – Shavuot – June 6th-9th 2011

We’re now taking orders for Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking. Please send your orders by Friday. Yiftah finishes preparing and baking the loaves next Wednesday, and they will be delivered in the boxes of June 15 and 20. You can order Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted breads via our order form or via email/telephone.

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To mark the Shavuoth holiday and summer’s rapid approach, Danny and Galit, our Granola&Cookies friends, are launching a new line of sugarless products: spelt cookies, granola squares and granola crispies. To celebrate, they are offering a special June sale on all products, new and old: all cookies 20 NIS, granola in a regular package 17 NIS, family package 26 NIS. This week and next week you will find their (Hebrew-language) flyers in your boxes. You can order via our order form, by email or telephone.

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Klara from Jerusalem sent me this information about macrobiotic cooking classes: Now that you get these great organic vegetables, what to do with them. Here’s a chance to learn with long time teachers, Melanie Waxman Brown from Philadelphia and Simon Brown, from London. Detailed info here.

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I began my week picking cucumbers and remembered my promise to devote some words to the HUS syndrome, the intestinal disease striking many Europeans as a result of a violent, toxic species of the E-Coli bacterium. After the initial scare and allegations of blame, the origins of the contamination are still unclear. At this point, the assumption is that the bacteria apparently came from a sprout farm. My knowledge in this area is very limited, but I found very informative and clear information (in Hebrew) from an expert. In the meantime, take a deep breath, wash a cucumber (pepper or tomato) in water and take a bite. Bon appetite!

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First Fruits

Over the past week, we’ve enjoyed an early first-fruits festival at Chubeza: great melons, the first eggplants, and one red tomato (devoured by my nine-month-old Talia, who did not wish to share with anyone.) What fun! The first fruits bring special happiness. They’re not always the biggest fruits (our eggplants ripened at medium size and we decided to lighten the bushes by picking an early first round), or the prettiest (the tomato Talia consumed had a black “behind”), but since they’re the first and they’ve been long and eagerly awaited, they are delicious and especially loved.

This week we seeded an early okra crop (in addition to our beloved long okra). This one is Mohammed’s okra, of the small-size variety. A first bag was picked last week. Mohammed looked at it with pity and said he couldn’t sell it for one shekel. The first harvest means you don’t really get a beautiful one. Our first okras were too big for Mohammed… but the happiness that bag brought about was the true joy of first fruits.

Shavuoth takes place at the beginning of the season of grain harvest and fruit picking. Fruit shelves that were occupied primarily by citrus and apples (from cold storage), take on a whole new spectrum with the month of May. Fruits of all shapes and tastes make their grand entrance: the loquat (shesek) is the first to come, followed by cherries, melons and watermelons. This is also the start of the fig season, accompanied by yet more of the delicious fruit fare this land has to offer.

The Holiday of the First Fruits (Chag HaBikurim) received its name from the wave offering of two loaves that was brought to the Temple on that occasion. This constitutes the first fruit offering from the first ripened wheat, and this day inaugurated the season when farmers would bring the first fruits of their yield to the Temple. The period continued till Chanuka, the holiday that marks the close of the fruit season. Of course, fruit ripened at different times, not all on Shavuoth. Those that ripened earlier were dried or sold, and the money received was taken to Jerusalem to buy an alternative for the giving. Some fruits ripen later and their time will come, but from the Holiday of the First Fruits, the cue was given to begin celebrating the prosperity and joy of ripening and harvest.

The joy of the first ripening fruit does not begin with the ripening. Every stage of its development is a source of satisfaction. When sprouts peek out of the earth, they are bursting with promise for the future. Discovering flowers on the plant causes the heart to sing anew. Several weeks later when the first fruits are starting to shape, we are once again filled with delight and wonder. And of course, there is nothing like taking a first bite of the ripe fruit!

Somewhat like a child, wouldn’t you say? (Forgive my clichéd similes, but this is how a mama-farmer thinks). The joy doesn’t begin when a child starts first grade (like my Netta, next year). It starts from the first ultrasound glimpse, then grows as the young’un shoots out of the belly, then again when she first rolls over, starts crawling, sits, stands, walks… the first time she says “Ima” or “Abba.” When she first holds a crayon to make her first piece of art. When she builds her first tower from blocks, then knocks it down cheering loudly. And yes- when she’s off to first grade, and so on (I guess… We’re not there yet).

This is what is so extraordinary about growing and ripening. The outcome is outstanding and desirable, but so is the journey to get there. The interim is, in itself, wonderful and beautiful and worthy of its own celebration.

First fruits- Netta and Chubeza produce, some six years ago:

We, at Chubeza, are celebrating our own first fruits: the first of the green beans already arrived in your boxes. Our cucumbers and fakus are thriving and we only need a small supplement of cucumbers (if you received cucumbers which aren’t exactly uniform in size, but are delicious and sweet- those were our very own!). Whiffs of the basil have also delighted us over the past few weeks. Our eggplants graced the big boxes last Wednesday and will arrive this week as well. With them are the melons, many of which we picked yesterday, but many more are ripening and will soon detach from the vine. If you didn’t receive any today, fear not—they’re on the way!

And of course, there’s the small okra, and yesterday we picked our cute little acorn winter squashes. We are waiting for the tomatoes to redden. In the meantime, they’re taking their time (at Talia’s pace). We await a group ripening. Coming your way soon!

Best wishes for a joyous Shavuoth to you and to all of Israel!
Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

Monday: Monday: Romaine or iceberg lettuce, Swiss chard or New Zealand spinach, parsley, sweet red peppers, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, green beans, zucchini, beets
In the large box, in addition: basil, melon, scallions

Thursday: beets, squash, cucumbers or fakus, Swiss chard, tomatoes, leek, parsley, green beans, lettuce, basil or New Zealand spinach, potatoes.
In the large box, in addition: melon, eggplants, green onions.

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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After Shavuot recipes:

  • More chard – after the Swiss chard newsletter last week, Howard from Jerusalem sent me the following:
    “Here’s my always good, trusty, easy to make chard recipe.
    – Wash and chop a bunch of chard. (I chop the stems smaller and the leaves bigger since the stems will take longer to cook. Large pieces of leaf will easily wilt down to edible size.
    – Saute a chopped onion until caramelized. Add some chopped garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
    – Toss in the chard, stems first, then the leaves. Add about 1T good balsamic vinegar. Cover and simmer on low heat.
    – Add some currants and just before serving, toasted pine nuts.
    How long to simmer? A short time leaves the chard fresher. A longer time lets the sweetness of the onions and currants meld with the slightly bitter greens. In short, a few minutes but if you leave it for longer it won’t hurt it.
    This also works well with beet greens.”

Laurel from Modi’in sent me this wonderful recipe a while ago. I tried it twice already and loved it – enjoy:
“A recipe for a beet salad, which is gobbled down by people who say they don’t even like beets. Because of the cheese and nuts, it can be a meal.
– Peel 3 beets, steam till tender, and cut into cubes.
– Chop 1 large or 2 medium onions, saute in a tablespoon of oil until they are golden or beginning to carmelize.
– Toast 1/2 cup pine nuts in a non-stick pan, until they start to brown, but don’t burn them.
– Crumble or cube 200 grams of bulgarian cheese.
– Toss these with a 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup balsalmic vinegar, 1 teaspoons of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

3 eggplants recipes from a wonderful blog (an English version of the Hebrew blog): My Bissim

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