Aley Chubeza # 97 – Welcome 2012! January 2nd-4th 2012

With the arrival of 2012, we remind you that a small box will now cost 85 NIS, and a large box 110 NIS. Delivery prices remain unchanged.

 

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Introducing: Vegetable Storage Tips

My secret Chubeza “Facebook” group informants have alerted me that some of you out there are wondering how to best store winter vegetables in order to extend their lifespan. Up to now, I’ve devoted the newsletters to the vegetables themselves, their history, and their virtues–and included tips for storage and cooking. One of the projects on my endless “to do” list is to create a special section on the website dedicated solely to tips for each vegetable. Until this New Year’s resolution becomes reality, I’m beginning the effort with this very newsletter, featuring tips for greens. Stay tuned for upcoming “tips” publications devoted to root vegetables, cauliflower and broccoli, and other winter vegetables, coming soon! And maybe that website section will make its own debut in the not-too-distant future. ….

Storing and Keeping Greens:

Here’s a simple but great way to keep the various leafy greens (lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, etc.) crunchy and fresh, as opposed to soft and saggy:

Wash with cold water and dry well, or don’t wash at all. Wrap the greens in a cloth towel or thick paper towel (the kind that will not disintegrate onto the vegetables…) and place in a bag. Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly. The greens will then keep for 1-3 weeks (!)

Parsley, cilantro, dill (and basil) can be placed in a cup or container of water, similar to flowers, in the fridge or on your countertop. They revive and remain fresh.

Two ways to keep celery leaves fresh: (this goes for all herbs in bunches)

*Wash and totally dry leaves, or don’t wash at all. Wrap them in a cloth towel and place inside a plastic bag or sealed Tupperware.

*Clean celery well under running water, remove loose leaves or any unattractive part of stem, and place in a large vase with lots of cold water. Within a couple of hours, you’ll have a lovely bouquet. Thus, you’ll be surrounded by freshness and you’ll remember to use the celery, noting its exact state instead of letting it wilt unseen in the fridge.

Ideas for keeping parsley, cilantro and dill (this may take some preparation):

Don’t wash them. Open up the bunch; remove the “weeds” (i.e., the yellow or unattractive parts); separate into clusters. Spread a thick paper towel or newspaper horizontally, place one cluster close to you and start rolling the towel. Two rolls later, add another cluster, and continue to the end. Seal the paper well, also along the sides, place in a plastic bag and keep refrigerated. Every time you need some, open the roll until you reach the nearest bunch, remove, and reseal. This way, the remaining leaves are not exposed to damaging air and moisture.

A few words about the leaves attached to the vegetables:

We try to send you vegetables that are as close to their natural state as possible, which is why we do not chop off the carrot tops or the radish, beet and kohlrabi leaves. But beyond their appealing looks, these leafy tops are delicious for food:

The beet and Swiss chard are in fact brothers, but like brothers, they have their own particular talents: one is concerned with producing a bulb, while the other tends to the leaf cultivation. But the beet root leaves can be used in the same manner as Swiss chard or spinach.

Radish leaves can be added to the salad or used like any other “greens” in a soup, quiche, sandwich, and along with the radishes themselves. For a fresh meal, try to always choose the younger, tenderer leaves. You can chop the tender leaves finely, grate the radishes, add to butter with some grated lemon peel, season with salt and prepare a delicious spread for your bread. Like other greens, they are rich in vitamins and iron. Go for it!

Kohlrabi and broccoli leaves, like the kale and collard, are well-respected leaves in U.S. Southern cuisine and can be used in a like manner.

Carrot leaves are edible and rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, which is missing in the carrot. They can be used like parsley: in soup, salads, etc. In truth, they’re not quite as tasty as parsley, and a little coarser, but definitely usable. If you have a pet rabbit, serve him this carrot leaf delicacy and he’ll be grateful for life. And for the rabbit-less among you, our website wizard Talya suggests adding carrot leaves to flowers in a vase.

Herbs:

Parsley loses vitamins in cooking. Best consumed fresh.

For the tastiest parsley, add it only at the final stages of cooking, or use it fresh to garnish dishes before serving.

Chewing parsley after eating garlic diminishes the garlic odor (replacing it with parsley odor…)

The dill that grows in India is of a different type, with larger leaves but milder taste. In preparing Indian food, it is advisable to decrease the amount of dill seeds by 30-50%.

To prepare dill-flavored vinegar, use a mild vinegar, add a bunch of dill, one clove of garlic and some black pepper. Keep for several weeks in a dark, cool place.

To prepare cilantro-flavored oil (good even for those who are not overly fond of cilantro): place two cups of cilantro leaves in a jar, lightly heat a vegetable oil (i.e,. canola, sunflower, olive, safflower) and add to the jar. Close tightly for two weeks. Then remove the cilantro stems or leave them in, as you prefer. (If you do intend to leave them in the oil, chop cilantro well in the beginning.)

A dry cilantro spice is scentless and tasteless. Use fresh leaves.

Cilantro leaves and seeds cannot be substituted for one another in recipes. They taste different! Usually cilantro seeds are toasted before being ground, which eliminates the taste.

When adding cilantro to a dish, try to do so at the very end. Lengthy cooking dulls the taste.

Cilantro root may replace garlic in cooking.

Perennial herbs like oregano, thyme, mint, lemon verbena, Marjoram and White-leaved Savory enjoy a dual role: They can be used fresh and green during the week you receive them, but as they are usually taken in small dosages, don’t feel pressured to use them up. They’re equally as great to use when they’re dry! Place them in an open dish on your countertop, or dangle them head-down from a string to dry. Once dry, separate from the stems and store in a sealed jar.

They can all be used as healthy and curing tea (absolutely!), including thyme, oregano, za’atar, and of course, verbena, mint and white-leaved savory. They are known to be cleansing and anti-inflammatory, and are great for preventing and treating wintertime ills. The oregano, thyme and marjoram (the main herb in Israeli za’atar) are cousins, resembling each other in taste and scent. All three are great for seasoning any type of food: soup, pizza, pastries, sandwiches, vegetable dishes or meat, fish and chicken. Fresh or dry.

Dare to dare! Use mustard greens for cooking, not only in salads. Just ask the Japanese how good they can be…

A great combination in cooking is mustard greens and arugula. They both have strong, pungent tastes, although distinct from one another. Cooking decreases the spiciness, but their individual tastes make a great combination and add real tang to the soup.

Add lemon to arugula recipes: it augments the taste. In addition, the lemon’s vitamin C helps preserve the arugula’s vivid green color.

Connoisseurs do not slice lettuce with a knife, as the friction with the metal oxidizes the tips of the leaves, causing them to turn brown. This is why lettuce is lovingly torn by hand, or, for a revolutionary innovation: slice with a special, sharp plastic knife.

Those same connoisseurs dry the wet lettuce in a special lettuce spinner comprised of a colander that spins inside a plastic bowl, shaking the water off the leaves.

The iron in spinach is soluble, which is why the water you cook it in contains iron and other soluble minerals and should be reused.

In order to enjoy the folic acid contained in cooked spinach, best to steam it and not cook in water. Cooking for approximately 4 minutes will cut the folic acid levels in half.

Spinach loses most of its nutritional value after a few days. Even the refrigerator cannot prevent the loss of folic acid and cartonoid. It looks great and tastes fine, but has less nutritional value. In the Chubeza boxes, you receive spinach picked that very same day or a day before, so your spinach has a longer life expectancy than the supermarket’s. But use it quickly!

That’s all for now. More next week!

Wishing us all some great, plentiful, blessed and enduring rain. A week of new beginnings and great resumptions,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: White potatoes, arugula, Swiss chard or kale, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, Dutch cucumbers, coriander or dill, leeks or celery, carrots, beets (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: small broccoli, red leaf lettuce, fennel, kohlrabi

Wednesday: Romain or red leaf lettuce, Swiss chard or kale, mustard greens or arugula, dill or cilantro, green cabbage, kholrabi, Dutch cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes.

In the large box, in addition: fennel or radishes, cauliflower or snow peas or garden peas, leek or red beets.

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RECIPES AND OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY USES FOR GREENS

Do try it at home (or office):

Ruth from Jerusalem wrote me this “green” story: “yesterday, I had to run out of the house and knew I would be at work during lunch time. So in addition to some other food, I took the bunch of (mustard?) greens that had been sitting in the fridge for more than a week but still looked fine. At work, there is only a microwave and a toaster oven. I decided to try an experiment: I chopped the greens into strips, poured on a tiny bit of olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper and wrapped the whole thing in tin foil and put it in the toaster oven on bake – 180c. In 10 minutes I had yummy, steamed, perfectly done greens”.

Oregano, thyme and almonds pesto

Uses for arugula besides salads

Instructions for sprouting carrots, compliments of Atara and the book Sprouts by Isabell Shipard:

– Chop off carrot leaves (and use in place of parsley).
– Slice off the top 1/2 centimeter from the carrots, and place these carrot heads in a container filled with 1/2 centimeter water.
– Within 4 days, the carrot tops will begin to sprout.
– Within 6-7 days, they will provide you with sprouts ready-for-use in salads.
– You may keep the carrot tops in the container, making certain to keep it filled with water, and “harvest” an additional crop of sprouts.

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