Aley chubeza #121, July 23rd-25th 2012

Slowly and sweatily, the month of July is nearing its end. At the end of this week, we will be charging your cards for the July vegetables. A few reminders:

  • Please note that there will be five Monday deliveries in July (including next Monday, July 30th)
  • The billing is in three parts: one for vegetables, fruits and dates (the invoice details all three. Of course, you will only be charged for what you purchased.) The second is for delivery (price includes VAT), and the third for extra products from our associates.
  • At the beginning of next month, you will receive a monthly bill detailing your orders by date. If you don’t receive it in your email box, please let us know.
  • Please make sure the bill is correct and let us know if changes must be made. At the bottom of the bill should be the words:  0.סה”כ לתשלום: If this is not the case, we must not have been able to charge your cards and we would appreciate if you could contact us. Thanks!
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Fairytales Can Come True…

Last week we started telling you about our dream team, the nine types of squash growing in our field this year. (They come in green, orange, yellow, cream, round, elliptical, sharpened, pear-shaped, flat, jagged, striped, smooth and coarse.) This week we’ll continue the descriptions. Meanwhile, we’re amassing a huge and beautiful array of potential coaches for (a miniature) Cinderella.

Abracadabra- We’re off! Be back by midnight!

The kabocha is a green squash, hard on the outside and sweet and orange inside. “Kabocha” is Japanese for any type of squash. The origin of the name comes from the squash’s journey from Mesoamérica to Japan. After the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in America and discovered the new fruits and vegetables of the land, they began distributing them to the next stops on their sailing itinerary. The squash probably arrived in Japan in the mid-16th century via Portuguese sailors who brought it from Cambodia. It was named Cambodia abóbor, which was eventually shortened to become kabocha. And thus, every squash in Japan is a kabocha.

The round green type portrayed in the picture above (who, like the kury squash from last week, belongs to the buttercup squash group) was developed and originally marketed primarily to Japan, which is why these types of squash were termed kabocha. Its orange flesh color testifies to its wealth of beta carotene (vitamin A), and it supplies a generous quantity of iron, vitamin C and potassium.

Kabocha is similar in taste to the small green acorn squash which we discussed last week as well. It is sweeter and drier than a regular squash or buttercup, and some describe it as a combination of squash and sweet potato, with a chestnut-hazelnut taste. Either way, it’s best to stop talking and start nibbling on it. It is hard to carve, which is why it should be softened first by steaming or baking slightly (first punch holes in the rind to allow the steam to escape). Then it can be easily cut and seeded for you to proceed and prepare it to your liking.

This year we’ve grown two new varieties of pumpkin. The first is a gift from Klara, a veteran client and avid pumpkin lover who brought us seeds from a type she tasted and loved. She said it was called hokkaido, a title used to describe “Japanese” squashes, similar to the kabocha and orange kuri squash. We planted the seeds and waited patiently for the outcome.

The result was strange and joyful: the plants grew green “Turkish Turban” squashes. One look at the photograph and you will understand the nickname. They look like somebody wrapped a scarf around their heads, creating a hat.

This variety probably came to the world with the help of a French farmer sometime in the beginning of the 18th century. The first harvest wasn’t very tasty, but it sure was beautiful. From there, they found their way to the United States, and they gradually became tastier (with a little help from some friends…) They’re frequently used in autumn decorations, but their odd demeanor makes some folks think they’re inedible. Mostly, these types of pumpkins are orange, but ours came out green and striped. They’re really good, and if you received one of them in your box, please let us know what you think.

In stark contrast to the strange-looking Turkish Turban pumpkin, this year we also grew a perfect round, orange pumpkin (with a short-size Cinderella in mind) called the “Mini Pam.” In the U.S., it is known as Baby Pam, and its smooth, fiber-free pulp and sweet taste make it a familiar, beloved choice for baking traditional pumpkin pie. This specific variety, too, is developed-in-Israel (just like the orangetti and acorn squashes). The advantage of the Mini Pam is its small size, suitable for a family meal. Its perfect round shape also lends the Mini-Pam to become a receptacle for soup or for serving pumpkin risotto. These little pumpkins are distributed to you whole. If we happen to encounter one that’s too big for the box, we split it in half.

Another participant in our parade of champs is the familiar butternut. Possibly it originates from Columbia, where there is a huge assortment of butternuts, but it is indeed fond of hot, humid tropical weather. More than her sisters, the butternut really can’t take cold weather, which is why it is the most popular of Israeli squash varieties. The first species of this type were chubby-looking (with seed-filled bellies) and had long, sometimes curved necks. Over the years, other variations were developed, some with chubby and shorter necks to provide a uniform vegetable demanded by the market. They can also be picked at an earlier stage, like zucchini, and they’re very tasty when young (some say even more than regular squash). They’re fun to grow in a home garden, where you can pick some to be used as summer squash and allow others to ripen till they become the genuine butternut.

The butternut’s smooth rind makes it easy to peel with just a regular vegetable peeler. It is sweet and its pulp becomes soft after cooking, although there are those who claim that baking makes it better. It is very rich in vitamin A, and under good conditions can be kept for six months (but how could you resist?).

Sometimes people ask me why we grow so many varieties of squash, instead of growing more cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, the “normal” vegetables eaten by “normal” people. Our answer is that we try to grow a few varieties of each vegetable. There are a number of reasons for this. One, it is important for us to see how different varieties respond to our very specific field, and which grow best in Chubeza’s micro-climate. New types are always appearing (like the three new squash varieties we tried out this year), which is why these experiments never cease. But more than the constant choice of the best variety for us, we also believe in maintaining the genetic wealth that has been gathered throughout the agricultural development of humanity. The genetic diversity of plants is a live entity that cannot be kept behind a show window or in a lab. After some time, seeds lose their vitality and become sterile and dry. To keep them vital and active, they must be grown in order to produce new, young seeds. This is why it is important for us to grow nine different varieties of squash and many other types of vegetables.

The coming weeks will be inundated with small pumpkins, which you are already receiving in your boxes. Those of you who feel there’s too many pumpkins, just remember- you needn’t use them right away. These pumpkins keep perfectly on your kitchen counter, and make a fine display at that. If you keep them dry and ventilated, they’ll last another month or even two!

So… what have we so far? The spaghetti squash, the acorn squash, the Japanese kuri squash, the kabocha, the Turk’s turban, the Mini Pam, and of course, the butternut. All of the above have already been picked from their bushes and are patiently waiting in our storage house. But this parade is not yet over. The finale will be led by two pumpkins still growing peacefully in their patches: the Cinderella pumpkin (or: Provence pumpkin) and the large Tripolitanian pumpkin, which we will tell you about later. Till then, we wish you much enjoyment from the beauty and taste of our squash and pumpkin array. Here’s hoping they bring some fairytale magic into our Israeli reality!

Wishing you a good summer, just hot enough, and filled with freedom and happiness,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: parsley or cilantro, lettuce, melon or watermelon, corn, long Thai lubia (cowpeas) or okra or soy, tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks, cherry tomatoes, red or yellow potatoes, kabocha squash

In the large box, in addition: zucchini or Provence pumpkin, eggplant, green soybeans (edamame)

Wednesday: eggplants or zucchini, lettuce, Provence pumpkin, tomatoes, leeks or onions, kabocha or acorn squash, cucumbers or fakus, potatoes, parsley, cherry tomatoes, Thai yard long beans.

In the large box, in addition: melon or watermelon, corn or green soybeans (edamame), okra

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RECIPES FOR PUMPKINS LARGE AND SMALL:

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

Sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash

Kabocha Squash (Pumpkin) Cheesecake with Graham-Lime-Walnut Crust

Red Kuri Squash Gratin

Baked Kuri Squash and Apple Maple Pudding (vegan!)

Red Kuri Squash

Three delicious acorn squash recipes by Limor Laniado Tiroche:

Roasted acorn squash with Parmesan and purslane leaves

Spelt grain and acorn squash salad

acorn squash spread with techina

Acorn squash flowers and Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chestnuts and Mushrooms (scroll down)

Eight things to do with a butternut squash

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