Sukkot is the time of harvest, both for Chubeza, our neighbors and our associates: The olive harvest at Didi and Shira’s and at Mohammed’s is starting imminently. The dates are on their way (and this year, a new surprise variety will be introduced!), and in the meantime Gili from Samar has replenished our Dekel Nur date supply. This end-of-last-season’s stock is sweet and delicious, and being sold at the bargain price of 15 NIS per kg. These relatively dry, mild-tasting dates are perfect for those who prefer a firmer variety. Order via the order system.
Daphna from Givat Yearim has informed me of an Open Day this week at the Ruach Ye’arim studio for yoga, movement and voice, in the serene Jerusalem hills. The Open Day will take place Wednesday, October 17th in the afternoon. Full details on the attached form.
A Field in Movement
Winter is nearing. We wear long-sleeved shirts in the mornings and late afternoons. In the heat of the day, we even find the sun pleasant. Who would have believed this only a few short weeks ago? The insects have sprung back into action, after overcoming the shock of the Israeli summer. They are punching gaping holes into our greens. Here and there, aphid colonies are attempting to suck something out before their natural enemy, the parasitic wasp, who always follows them, gets comfortably settled in. Birds are crossing our skies again, this time on their journey south. And these same skies are no longer a blinding white, but sport a rather bluish hue, dotted by clouds.
The field is slowly bidding the summer veggies farewell, and happily welcoming the ripening of autumn vegetables. The greens that have begun occupying your boxes will continue to do so over the next few months: Swiss chard, mustard, arugula, totsoi and, coming soon, kale. The seasoning herbs are continuing to grace our presence. Dill and cilantro are recovering from the heat and are nimbly growing. The lettuce – some of you met with its bitter summery side — will grow sweeter as the temperature falls, for they no longer have to fight for their life. They can now breathe, calm down and grow with less effort.
And under the earth, protected from the heat of summer by a thick layer of dirt, the first autumn roots are growing round/long/chubby. Autumn and winter are a celebration of roots. The plants shoot their nutrients to these underground storehouses for protection and storage, while we, in our unmitigated chutzpa, rob them a bit to enjoy the nutritious culinary wealth of these bunkers. This week, we continued to pull out orange sweet potatoes, joined by our first incredible carrots of the season. Together with the veteran pumpkin, they are a perfect trio for orange soup. Check out the recipes for recommended soups.
The first radishes visited you in last weeks’ boxes, and will continue to arrive this week. They are particularly piquant this season due to the heat, but as it cools down they will become less tear-inducing and tongue-burning, and milder tasting. For those of you who prefer them spicy, now is the time to take a bite. If you like them milder, wait patiently–they promise to mellow soon.
The Jerusalem artichoke is almost ready. The flowers have dried up, and now the plants are beginning to turn yellow, so now is the time for us to check out how it’s going. On Sunday, we test-harvested some of the plants, and this week, over lunch, we will continue to examine their quality (it’s actually amazing!). The bulbs are still small and medium-sized, and we will let them grow thicker till the end of the month before distributing them. In anticipation of the big day when we celebrate the first Chubeza Jerusalem artichokes, I will gladly receive your favorite recipes for this unique, terrific vegetable. Send them on! When the day comes, we will hold a recipe fest.
There are some other hidden roots, already planted and seeded, whose maturing we patiently await. For some, we will have to wait at least a few of months; others will be ready very soon: beets, celeriac, parsley root, turnip, daikon, potato and garlic. The latter we will only meet at the end of winter, just before spring. In the meantime, lots of cute, tiny garlic stems have sprouted in our beds, peeking from the ground to check out the situation as they begin their long journey. They can take heart from the Jerusalem artichoke, which spent a similar length of time in the ground during the opposite season.
The broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and cabbage are no longer invisible. The first round is already strong and impressive. We will give them the time they need to develop the inflorescence scalps we’ve missed so much. For the time being, the plants themselves must strengthen and grow, after a not-so-easy time over the end of summer. Keep them in your thoughts, and send them a mental boost of encouragement.
The last of the summer vegetables are still occupying the field, somewhat surprised by the cool air, but holding on, albeit slowing down a bit. They will remain till the cold weather and rain arrive. Splendid eggplants are ripening on the plants (stay tuned for a great recipe), lubia (cow-peas), short and long, are yielding less and less till they hand the torch over to the next runners in the legume relay race: the green bean and pea, both already blooming in good health. The okra is making its final attempts to produce pods and seeds, but its time with us is short-lived at this point. Now is the time to blanch and freeze it for wintertime use, for those who wish. The red bell peppers are squeezing out every drop of heat and sun, to spur their efforts to redden and ripen.
We’ve harvested our last popcorn bed and have distributed these tough cobs. Do not be confused– these are not sweet corn cobs, and even a long and stubborn cooking won’t soften them. Details and recipes for popcorn can be found here.
This is such an enchanting season! The field is all green, with the transformation from summer to winter quite palpable in the air. The renewal and energy of the new vegetables infuses us with new energy as well (as will a drop in temperature, we must admit…) We are bidding a difficult summer farewell, hoping to be met with a rainy winter, satiated by timely showers of the right quantities at the proper intervals.
May we all be blessed with a great month of Cheshvan, full of happy new beginnings, the pleasures of a temperate season and the first baby steps into a New Year, and a smooth Acharei HaChagim entry into this season of change and renewal.
Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES—FROM THE HEAT AND FROM THE COLD?
Monday: Sweet potatoes, carrots, slice of Provence pumpkin, tomatoes, dill, cucumbers, popcorn, tot soi, eggplant, garlic chives, red bell peppers (small box only)
In the large box, in addition: zucchini, short lubia (cowpeas) or long Thai lubia or okra, radishes, corn
Wednesday: zucchini or short lubia (cowpeas) or long Thai lubia or okra, New Zealand spinach or arugula, a slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, corn, dill or parsley, cucumbers, radishes, tatsoi, garlic chive or scallions, tomatoes
In the large box, in addition: carrots, eggplants, cilantro or lemon verbana
RECIPES FROM HERE AND THERE
Alexandra from Rehovot sent me this recipe for Eggplant in Techina Sauce, which we happily tried and devoured:
1. Slice around 3 eggplants into “sticks” (like French-fries). Fry in fairly deep oil (also like French-fries) till nicely golden, and lay them on a paper towel.
2. Chop garlic-chives (I used half the bunch that came in my Chubeza box), inhale them with pleasure, then mix them with techina and parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and water (to taste). At this point, add 2 garlic cloves (with love). Naturally, you can extend the ingredients to include any other herb of your choice—dill, coriander, basil, etc.
3. Pour the resulting techina sauce over the eggplant “fries,” and serve hot.
The day after, you can warm up the leftovers (if there are any leftovers), and the sauce will retain its delicious flavor.