January 14th-16th 2019 – It’s soooo COLD

What a red-letter month for mushroom gatherers (myself included)! In this blessed rainy season, buckets of delectable wild mushrooms are sprouting up everywhere. Nothing like a mushroom hunt for one great adventure on a dry not-so-cold day! These wondrous mushroom creations are neither plant nor animal, but occupy their own special category, unique and amazing to ponder, pick and eat.

And in perfect synchronization with nature’s current abundance, we are pleased to introduce Udi’s Sprouts (and fellow growers) organic mushrooms which you can now add to your Chubeza boxes. Their impressive assortment includes Eryngii mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms   and organic forest mushrooms. Each 200 gram package sells for 19 ₪.

Beside mushrooms, the diligent sprout growers have added a new and unique type of sprout – Leek sprouts:

Reminder: orders for Udi’s sprouts and mushrooms (as wells as Izza Pziza’s dairy products) may be made up to 10pm on Sunday. Don’t wait! Add sprouts and mushrooms to next week’s deliveries via our order system.  

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Winter Slumber

It’s been sooooo cold over the past weeks. We find ourselves mummified in our coats throughout the day, constantly rubbing our hands together, jumping up and down to warm up those toes… Even on sunny days its hard to defrost, and most of the times the warmish weather is temporary – only two to three hours in the afternoon, after which the Arctic cold plunges down on us once more. Even our vegetables feel this cold – sweet potato yields that need at least 10 degrees have been tugged out of the earth and completely distributed. The rest of them are growing, but it’s happening verrrrrrry slowly. True, carrots and beets are accumulating sugars in their root bulbs and we love their wintry sweetness, but they too are taking their sweet time till they thicken and get ready for harvest.

We are familiar with this time of year, taking pains to prepare for it in advance by feverishly seeding and planting during the warmer months of autumn. As the vegetable beds constantly filled up, most managed to grow satisfactorily prior to the bitter cold. Over these weeks, between December to the beginning of February, we don’t do much planting, as we discovered that vegetables planted or seeded in cold weather don’t really go far. If the weather is not too extreme, i.e., frost or hail, for the most part the veggies are not harmed. On the other hand, they don’t make much progress either. Similar to winter slumber, they slow down their breathing and cell distribution rhythm and grow very, very slowly.

This week, we’ll be including broccoli greens in your boxes.

Usually we only pick the broccoli heads and leave the leaves in the field. But like all vegetables, the “regular” Chubeza greens have been growing quite slowly and tending to doze off a lot. The past sunny periods have somewhat roused them from their slumber, but at this stage this resembles my attempts to wake up my daughters in the morning (“Yes, Mom, I heard you and I’m waking up, only it’s happening under the quilt…”). From my personal experience, we need a lot more sun rays, cajoling, encouraging and scolding to goad our greens into a growth spurt. In all fairness, we admit that over the entire season we do our share of disturbing them, periodically cutting off bundles of greens to add to your boxes.

In the meantime, the broccoli leaves that were planted in autumn and grew on the sturdy bushes managed to flourish as they became the sun catchers which yielded great broccoli inflorescence. Now, after the broccoli has been harvested, we’re sharing some of its fresh leaves with you.

Here in the Middle East, it’s not customary to eat broccoli greens, but overseas in Italy or in the Far East, there are broccoli varieties grown specifically for their leaves, like broccoli rabe (AKA broccoli raab/rapini/brocolini):

Usually these are types which do not grow a dense scalp like the broccoli head, but rather grow immediately in a delicate inflorescence. Their leaves are picked when they are young and tender. They are frequent additions to pasta or stir-fry dishes. The broccoli greens in your boxes are mature leaves. Use them as you would use kale or Swiss chard, but note that they are thicker and must be cooked longer. (They are most similar to kale in flavor and use). These greens are highly nutritious, rich in vitamins (A, B-complex and C) and in minerals (iron and calcium).

Before we part (to build a snowman?), we send love and hugs to Maya and Alon upon the birth of their brand new daughter, born on Sunday. Mazal Tov!

May we enjoy a great week of sun and rain, tranquility and storm, and acceptance of them all,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the wintry Chubeza crew

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Celery/celeriac, lettuce/mizuna, broccoli, turnips/baby radishes/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens, coriander/dill/parsley. Small boxes only: Leeks.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/onions, beets, artichoke/snow peas or garden peas, potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, bananas, red oranges, clementinas.

Wednesday: Lettuce, broccoli, turnips/fennel, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens/mizuna/New Zealand spinach, coriander/parsley, potatoes. Small boxes only: Leeks/scallions/onions.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac, cabbage, beets/kohlrabi, artichoke/snow peas or garden peas.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, bananas, red oranges, clementinas.

January 7th-9th 2019 –  Aiming to Peas

Congratulations are in order!

As you may recall, the Izza Pziza Dairy is in the midst of whelping season and now celebrating the blessed event of over 20 newborn (goat) kids – 11 who were born just this past weekend!

The newborns are enjoying their first milk, colostrum, produced from the mama goat’s milk glands in the initial days following birth. Therefore, since the goats are not being milked, this week there will be no delivery of dairy products. But never fear, by next week you will be able to order and delight in such mouthwatering products as milk, natural yogurt, labane, fetta and hard cheeses.

You are invited to come visit the brand-new little guys in the pen and offer your personal Mazal Tov.

Welcome!

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As the cold weather, winds and rain are raging outdoors, legend has it that on a similar stormy night, a fatigued and freezing princess was once wandering around, lost and woeful. To her great joy, she caught sight of a warm glimmer shining through the heavy haze and fog, which turned out to be a charming palace. She requested shelter from the storm and a place to rest her head for the night, but never expected that sleepless, eventful night to turn her into one of the most famous poster princesses for this cute little legume…

The delectable fresh pea has been coming and going from our boxes for some time now, but she’s never been one to overstay her visit.  So, while she’s here in all her glory, here’s a Chubeza close-up on the prestigious pea:

      

Hans Christian Anderson sure loved peas. So much so that he granted the pea extraterrestrial powers, both as a useful tool to distinguish a real princess from a fake (The Princess and the Pea) and even to make a sick little girl all better (Five Peas from a Pod).  You can’t help but love the pea. She’s chubby and charming, sweet and joyful, and she doesn’t like being pierced with a fork. If she can, she’ll roll off your plate and all through the house…

Though she pretends to be a young’un, she is in fact one of the most ancient vegetables that human beings have cultivated. The pea is said to have originated in three centers: Central Asia (Northwest India to Afghanistan), the Near East (yup, here too) and Ethiopia. After having been cultivated, this green wonder was spread via wayfarers, merchants, and conquerors till it arrived in the Mideast and the Far East. The remains of a primitive, almost 12,000-year-old pea (a wild pea, not the cultivated type) were discovered in caves on the border of Burma and Thailand. Traces of its granddaughters, only 8000 years old, were discovered in Northwestern Iraq, and remains of the great-granddaughters (5000 years old) were found in a lake in a Swiss village. The Greeks and Romans raised peas in the 6th century BC, but the vegetable only arrived in China much later, in the 7th century AC, acquiring the nickname “Hu tou”- foreign legumes.

The first varieties included peas which started out hard, and thus were used dried or ground for flour. These were also darker and smaller peas than those we know today. In Medieval times, peas became a major component of the European cuisine, due to the vegetable’s ability to keep throughout the long winter months and to fill a hungry belly. Only in Italy at the end of the 14th century were the first fresh peas developed, followed by the French variety, known for its diminutive dimensions. Yet it took several additional centuries for fresh peas to become quite fashionable.

The problem with fresh peas is that immediately upon being harvested, the sugar begins to turn to starch, and the pea quickly loses its sweetness. That characteristic is especially problematic in this day and age, where so much time can pass till the vegetables arrive at your local grocery. For this reason, even today, when peas are raised across the globe, only 2-5% of the produce is fresh on your shelves. The vast majority of peas are industrial crops which are canned, frozen or dried. Canned peas sport a khaki-like color because their chlorophyll is destroyed in the heat process, creating a major loss of the pea’s nutritional value as well. When vegetables began being frozen in the 1920’s, this became the preferred way to store peas. The vegetables were fresh-frozen almost immediately at harvest, thus maintaining their color and nutritional benefits. Fresh peas can only be eaten in winter and springtime as the summer heat does not agree with pea, so now’s the time to prepare your fingers for peeling and sharpen those taste buds!

This week your boxes will contain garden peas or snow peas! Of course, they have nothing to do with actual snow. A few years ago during autumn, I received a phone call from a farmer in the Golan Heights:

“We grow strawberries during summertime, and we’re looking for a winter crop. Someone recommended snow peas as a crop that can withstand heavy snow. What do you suggest?”

“Snow peas in the extreme cold of the Heights?” I asked in surprise. “We know these peas to be very sensitive to cold. Here, we seed them early and aim for a yield in November. True, peas grow in wintertime and manage the Israeli cold well… but they cannot tolerate frozen weather.”

“Wait, if it’s sensitive to extreme cold, then why is it named snow pea???”

Good question. One suggestion has to do with the white glare reflecting off its pod, so thin and shiny. I guess someone very poetic found that the pea awakened his/her yearning for white, shiny snow, thus bestowing this confusing name on the hapless pea. You can also go with “Chinese pea” or “sweet pea.” I have even encountered recipes that coin it the “French pea.” As far as I know, the French actually call it mange-tout meaning: eat it all, because the whole thing is consumable, pod and all.

The flat pea was developed by Dutch farmers in the 16th century. From Holland it traveled to England, and then on to the Far East. Of course, the Chinese coined it “hoh laan dau,” meaning “the Dutch pea.” The flat pea’s charming consent to be stir-fried, the preferred Chinese method of cooking, made it a favorite for a billion Chinese, granting it the new name of “Chinese pea.” It traveled to San Francisco in the luggage of Chinese immigrant workers on their way to build the great railways in the West. Those who ended up farmers named it Shii dau, snow pea, perhaps out of a longing for home and the Chinese winter. Hence the confusing name.

But between you and me, we are willing to forgive, because behind all the different nicknames lies a sweet, crunchy pea, with a flat-to-bulging figure, that is so yummy! It also denotes the start of pea season at Chubeza. In general, we grow two prominent pea varieties: the flat one (snow/French/Dutch/Chinese, what have you) and the chubby garden pea, from which we extricate the lovely roly-poly peas.

Our snow peas are grown by trellising (on a vine). But unlike the tomato, eggplant and pepper, which require us to bolster their support, the pea plants only require stretching a net between the poles and they do the rest, sending out their tendrils and climbing independently. The delicate nature of the plant with its thin, silk-like stems and leaves causes it to be exceptionally light, making it easier to climb and hold onto. Climbing plants always seem to me to be more intelligent, the kind that can find the solution with their own “two feet.” Not enough light out here? Let’s climb up and find some more!” When the pea tendril, which develops from the leaf, meets a hard object (even a thin net like ours), it begins growing cells in a varying manner–-those close to the hard object get smaller, while the ones farther away grow longer. This generates a twist and then a bounding of the tendril upon the net, like a little spring. Such a dance can continue from one to ten minutes. Amazing, don’t you think? Here’s some more from this wonder

As for us, this climbing makes us so happy, as we know that soon we will be able to straighten our backs. Now we are harvesting the first rounds of snow pea pods from the lower part of the plant. But gradually, as it climbs higher, the peas will ripen at a higher level, and we too will be able to raise our backs like homo sapiens and harvest peas while upright. What joy!

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Wishing you a warm and comfortable week amidst the winter winds and haze, and true health.

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Celery/celeriac, lettuce, broccoli/snow peas or garden peas, beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale, coriander/dill/parsley, Jerusalem artichokes/potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, mizuna, turnips/baby radishes.

FRUIT BOXES:  Green apples, red oranges/clementinas, bananas, avocado.

Wednesday: Celery/celeriac, lettuce/mizuna, broccoli/snow peas or garden peas, beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens, coriander/dill/parsley, turnips/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Leeks/onions/scallions, radishes/daikon, Jerusalem artichokes/potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES:  Pomelo, red oranges, bananas, avocado.

December 31st 2018 – January 2nd 2019 – What Is Green, Fragrant and Crunchy All Over?

This week we bid farewell to 2018 and welcome 2019 with open arms. This year, the transition takes place as rain is wondrously pouring down upon thirsty soil that well recalls its absence over the past winters. We too, working the earth, remember how our hearts sunk as our craving for rain soared.  Now, along with our fields, we take a deep breath and relax as raindrops tap the most beautiful tune in the world on the roof of our packinghouse.

Our winter veggies are having a ball in the good rain, evidenced by their somewhat muddy arrival at your doorstep. For this week’s Newsletter, I will share the great secrets of an enduring winter guest who adores wet weather so much that it actually makes him plump around the edges… Ladies and gents, I’m pleased to introduce the star of the week… celery!

Its name carries the exotic origins of the French “céleri,” derived from the Greek “Selinon,” of the Apiaceae family. Celery is distinguished by the fact that all of this versatile vegetable’s parts are edible: the round root, its crunchy stalk, the nutritious leaves and its teensy, tiny seeds. Today, we will primarily discuss the leaves.

All celery varieties have tiny, miniscule seeds that take their sweet time sprouting. If you ever attempt to seed them in your garden, do not despair! Make sure they are plenty moist and that you have a very long book to read while you wait patiently for some sign of life. Mr. Celery is even slower than his cousin the parsley, taking at least a month till he feels he’s ready to sprout. We cannot wait so long with the seeds under the earth, specifically since ruthless weeds are liable to cover the bed five times before allowing one little celery shoot to peek above earth. This is why we start with actual plants that have already grown in a nursery, at the prime age of two to three months.

And here they are, the young ‘uns in our field (to their left, the red lettuce; to their right, the scallions)

Although celery is a native of the Mediterranean Basin, it has been carried upon the wings of history to reach almost every place on earth. Today the vegetable can be found in Southern Sweden, the British Isles, Egypt, Algeria, India, China, New Zealand, California, and even unto the southernmost parts of South America. Celery has a long history as a wild plant, and a relatively short one as a cultivated specie.

Celery is first documented in literature dating back almost 3000 years (making it evident that celery has been around for even longer). It is first noted by its Greek name Selinon in Homer’s Odyssey, circa 850 BC. Probably the ancient celery was collected from the wild to be raised in private gardens for a variety of medicinal uses (see below), but not for edible consumption. In the Mishnah, Tractate Shvi’it, it is mentioned as a wild plant (and therefore does not require a tithe) “… and the celery in the rivers… exempt from tithe.”

Only in the 17th century did celery begin to be used as a food and spice. It was cultivated by selecting the full and solid plants (not the hollow variety) with a milder, more subtle taste. The celery’s growing season was carefully chosen in order to produce celery leaves and stalks more suitable for consumption, with a less dominant taste. Growing celery during a cold season refines its taste. In the 19th century, the Europeans tried tempering its flavor by shielding the stalks from the sun, thus preventing the development of chlorophyll. To do so, they would mound earth upon the celery, thus whitening it (sort of like whitening a leek or white asparagus). Today there are species which are independently whitened and produce yellowish celery, however, modern green celery is, in fact, mild-tasting.

There are actually three subspecies of the celery, each grown to take advantage of a different part of the plant: The subspecies dulce is celery grown for its crunchy stalks, and is the most refined in flavor. The second, rapaceum, is grown for its root, making its stalks and leaves sharper tasting and more suitable for seasoning. And last comes the secalinum, resembling the wild species and grown in order to produce the strong, spicy-flavored miniscule celery seeds. This variety is also grown for its leaves, which – together with the seeds – are the most nutritious, useful parts of the celery with the greatest amounts of concentrates. Hence their strong flavor.

 

Back when it was a wild plant, celery was sanctified in classical Greece. Celery leaves were used as wreaths for the champions of the Isthmian Games. The Egyptians, too, revered the vegetable, as evident in braided bunches of celery that have been found in Egyptian tombs. The Romans, however, felt that in certain circumstances, celery can bring bad luck.

And yes, all those beliefs are well-rooted (sorry…..), as this vegetable is indeed a powerful one. It contains phytochemicals (yup, them again) called phthalid  which can relax the small blood vessels, reducing the excretion of stress hormones and therefore contributing to the balance of high blood pressure. In addition, celery reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood. Research shows that celery seeds are helpful in reducing blood sugar levels and may be useful in treating diabetes. This is probably due to celery’s ethereal oil content, apiol, derived from the seeds and promoting urination, thus relieving edema, disinfecting the urinary system and easing rheumatoid arthritis. Celery also contains a good amount of Vitamin K, folic acid and potassium.

There are those who are allergic to the psoralen contained within celery, which can cause damage to DNA and become carcinogenic if one is exposed to sunshine after consuming the celery. This allergen is probably not diminished by cooking or baking. And though I found contradictory opinions regarding celery consumption during pregnancy– including the Talmud which states that a woman who eats celery during pregnancy will bear beautiful children (Ktuvot 61) – I think it would be more responsible to refrain from eating celery during pregnancy due to its tendency to cause uterine spasms.

I would guess that most of the celery stalks in our world fulfill themselves and their true calling in vegetable soup, and that’s how I used to use it as well… That is, till I moved to a moshav populated by folks of Kurdish origin, where I was exposed to the Riza Hamusta, the sour Kurdish rice. Since then, it has been hard to convince me to save some celery for the soup… But there are so many other uses for it. Celery’s great when fresh and crunchy in a salad or in an invigorating, cleansing vegetable juice. Be creative! In our recipe section we even have a recipe for celery pesto.

Tips for using celery:

To keep celery fresh (this holds true for any bunch of seasoning herbs):

– Wash and dry completely, or don’t wash at all. Wrap in a cloth towel and place in a plastic bag or sealed container.

– Clean under running water, remove all loose leaves or unattractive stalks, and place in a large vase with lots of cold water. Within a couple of hours, the stalk will look like a beautiful bloom. This way you will be surrounded by freshness, and you’ll remember to use the celery instead of letting it wilt in the refrigerator.

Wishing us all a great week. With this week forecast to be sunny and rainless, we give yet another thanks.

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Celery/celeriac/leeks, lettuce/mizuna/arugula, broccoli, beets/turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach/Swiss chard, radishes/baby radishes/daikon, kale.

Large box, in addition: Cabbage, coriander/dill/parsley, Jerusalem artichokes/potatoes/snow peas or garden peas.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, bananas, strawberries.

Wednesday: Celery/celeriac, lettuce, broccoli, beets, cucumbers, cauliflower/cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, spinach/Swiss chard/kale, radishes/baby radishes//turnips, coriander/dill/parsley.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/snow peas or garden peas, potatoes, leeks.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, bananas, apples.

December 24th-26th 2018 – In Praise of Peelings

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.
 
Stanley Kunitz, The Layers

In summertime we peel off our layers, remaining in the basic lightest. Winter invites us to wrap up, cover ourselves, and contemplate life, while winter vegetables evoke an important discourse regarding layers and old habits.

Like peeling vegetables, for instance… The skin of fruits and vegetables is in fact living and breathing tissue. The English term “skin” is an apt name, as one of its functions is holding together the softer tissue in one piece, like Seran wrap does. Just like human skin. Think about a soft tomato, for example, or a ripe apricot – they definitely need to be held intact. The skin also serves as protection from pests, sunrays, bruising and  rotting. Especially before the fruit or vegetable ripens.

Sometimes, at that stage, the skin is hard and not very tasty (most of the time, just like the fruit itself), but it softens as the fruit ripens and its seeds are ready for dispersion. But sometimes the process is the other way around: at the  unripe stage it is soft (like the skin of the cucumber or zucchini eaten at their unripe stage). Once the fruit reaches maturity, the skin hardens in order to protect the seeds from unnecessary rotting (think of their cousins the pumpkin or watermelon’s rind which we eat at a very ripe stage).

In Hebrew, the word for skin – קליפה – derives from the act of removal, as if meant to be separated and tossed aside. Not fair. We peel the skin off so many fruits and vegetables out of sheer habit, and that’s a shame. The skin stores many excellent components that are critical to the absorption of the valuable nutrients of the entire fruit of vegetable. This week, I challenge you to bundle up in your winter layers and shed some stubborn old conceptions to begin thinking differently about peeling vegetables and fruit.

So what’s in the skin? One of the important characteristics of fruits and vegetables is the dietary fibers they contain. These fibers divide into soluble and insoluble types. Fruit itself contains only soluble fiber, while its skin contains both types. How are they beneficial? Soluble fiber aids in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood sugar, while insoluble fiber absorbs liquid and then expands, improving digestion, alleviating constipation and hemorrhoids, cleansing the stomach and increasing the feeling of satiation over time. Such a pity to peel them away…

Skin also contains a good quantity of vitamins and minerals which we lose when we peel it off. Peeled fruit only contains a fraction of its nutritive potential. Sometimes the skin is more colorful or darker than the inside of the fruit, which usually means that it is richer in antioxidant phytochemicals that fight the free radicals, thus aiding the prevention of cell damage and its resulting damage. At times, the skin contains antioxidants which do not exist in the fruit itself.

Take the tomato, for example. Research conducted at the Weizmann Institute has found that antioxidants belonging to the lignin class exist in the skin but not in the actual flesh.

A slice of ripe tomato: the orange is the distribution of sucrose in the flesh, while the green is one of the antioxidants created in the skin. The components were mapped in the fruit cell by use of Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MSI). The photo is from “a journey in the scientific magic” published by the Weitzman Institute of Science.

Here are some additionalexamples:

Carrot – The peeling contains a sizable quantity of nutritional components ,Vitamin A, beta-carotene, calcium and dietary fibers.

Potato – The peel is very important, as the flesh contains primarily starch which transforms to sugar upon consumption. The insoluble fibers within the skin help to regulate sugar absorption. In addition, the peel is rich in folic acid, iron, Vitamin B and potassium. Potato peels contains polyphenol antioxidants while red peels contains antosianin antioxidants as well.

Cucumber – The peeling contains the highest quantity of  Vitamin K within the entire vegetable (five times more than a peeled cucumber), as well as vitamins B and C. Cucumber peeling contains cholesterol-like molecules that aid in reducing the level of cholesterol in your blood, while the flesh only contains a very slight amount of phytosterols. To top it off, the peel is rich in Omega 6 as well.

Sweet Potato – A very interesting case of flesh and skin that contain different substances: the bulb is rich in vitamins A and B, while the peeling contains large, critical amounts of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A and dietary fibers.

Beets – Like the sweet potato, the beet, too, is a root with an abundance of minerals and vitamins inside: magnesium, potassium, selenium, calcium and folic acid. The peeling is rich in Vitamin A and nutritional fibers.

I chose only to discuss vegetables which do not actually require peeling. In our family we don’t remove the skin, less out of health concerns but more from laziness. We eat the peel along with the fresh or baked vegetable without giving it much of a thought. Sometimes a more vigorous scrubbing is necessary to remove mud from the cracks, but after researching the praises of the peeling, I gave myself a little pat on the back for my resolute laziness…. In that same (unpeeled) boat, you may add the Jerusalem artichoke which really does not require peeling – a hearty rubbing will suffice, parsley root and of course, the various radishes and turnips.

While I’m at it, why not tell you about a couple of fruits that are better consumed along with their skin. Far more challenging, but definitely worth considering:

Banana – Its peel is rich in lutein antioxidant, vitamins A and B, magnesium, potassium, tryptophan (to give your mood a boost) and dietary fibers (which will make you feel full). Not bad, eh? But how strange is it to think about eating banana peelings? You’d be surprised, just like I was, to find out it can even be tasty. Here are some ways to eat it

Should you choose not to eat the banana peel, it has many other uses, like soothing bruises, skin irritations and sores (acne, bites, rashes, calluses, you name it…). Place on the injured area as if you were bandaging it or rub lightly.

Citrus Fruits –The white flesh situated between the skin and fruit contains anti-inflammatory Bioflavonoids which fortify body cells and promote Vitamin C absorption in the bloodstream. The peel contains an abundance of Vitamin C, polyphenol and halimunan that is anti-inflammatory and can aid asthma sufferers. There are those (my Significant Other, for example) who eat the skin as is while peeling it off, but for the rest of the world there are many other ways to combine citrus zest in our nutrition: in cooked dishes, spreads or sauces, or old fashioned candied orange peel.

And if you’ve gone ahead and prepared a few jars of candy and still have leftover citrus peels, they are great in other ways besides in your food. For example, using the lemon as a powerful cleaning agent.

Of course, the question of to peel or not to peel is a personal decision. If the peel disrupts your eating and you can’t get used to eating the sweet potato along with its jacket – by all means, peel away and eat in good health. Sometimes the skin can be a burden on our digestive system. If you feel it causes too many insoluble fibers that complicate digestion, pare of the skin and enjoy it peeled. Keep an open mind: explore the possibilities and decide what’s best for you.

This week we happily welcome back Majdi, who has been recuperating from surgery. Great to have you back!

Wishing you a wintery snuggle among your various layers with or without the peeling, and a comforting wintery week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza team.

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Fennel/cabbage, lettuce, kohlrabi/beets/turnips, cucumbers/bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach/totsoi/kale, Jerusalem artichokes/broccoli, Swiss chard. Small boxes only: potatoes/ sweet potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Celery/celeriac, coriander/arugua, radishes/baby radishes/daikon, leeks.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, apples, bananas.

Wednesday: Fennel/kohlrabi/beets, lettuce, cucumbers/bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach/totsoi/red mizuna, kale/Swiss chard, Jerusalem artichokes/broccoli/snow peas or garden peas, potatoes/sweet potatoes, celery/celeriac/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Red or green cabbage, radishes/baby radishes/daikon, coriander/parsley/arugula.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, apples, bananas.

December 17th-19th 2018 – Satisfied Fields

With the end of the olive harvest season, we have replenished our supply of the incredible Ein Harod olive oil. But that’s not all! Last week Hillel came to personally bring us fresh Barnea olive oil and a completely new stock of almonds, chickpeas, teff seeds and honey from the kibbutz apiary. Plus, delicious  eucalyptus honey to add to the already outstanding selection of jujube, citrus, avocado and thistle honey.

Order Ein Harod’s amazing array of field crop and apiary products today via our order system.

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And this is a perfect opportunity to remind you of the other excellent products you may order along with your vegetable boxes – all products of very special small manufacturers and farms from all over the country. You will find organic fruit; natural juices, ciders and jams; apple vinegar, olive oil, honey, date honey, almonds, dates, chickpeas and teff seeds, crackers, olives, tahini, coffee, cookies, chocolate, seasoning, flours, sour-dough breads, sprouts and goat dairy products.

Our website has a short description of each of the products and manufacturers. Read all about them and make your order via our order system.

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Singing in the Rain

Over the past weeks we have been blessed with wonderful allotments of rain. The field has received a nice big rainfall at least once a week, satiating the earth and bringing joy to the vegetables and farmers. Around a week and a half ago, the rain began on Thursday at 9:00 am and did not stop until late afternoon on Sunday! To our great delight, the steady continuous rain was not too strong in its intensity. Despite minor flooding at the edges of the vegetable plots, we did not experience any major erosion, with most of the water joyfully absorbed into our very fertile soil.

Arriving at the field on Sunday, we discovered that we had to think twice before taking each step to work in the field. Our feet eventually pulled out, but our boots were deeply buried in the mud…

Subsequently, after several days in which the sun came up and dried up all the rain before another rainfall came last Thursday, we can now work peacefully in our field. This week, too, we are enjoying the wintery sun and happily awaiting the approaching rain.

In honor of these thrilling rains and to share the beauty with you, I asked Avraham, a loyal worker and a skilled photography enthusiast, to snap some photos of the after-rain field.  Thank you, Avraham!

Our drenched field (note the unused irrigation hose resting on the far-end, staring dumfounded at all this rain…)

After the tractor plows the soft earth, deep furrows form. Here’s a close-up of the new Chubeza Brown Canyon…

The moisture caused even our tractor to grow tiny sprouts in between the weights hanging on its front. What will be next?!

One last photo, taken before the downpours, but still – so beautiful I cannot resist. One of the reasons these raindrops make us so very happy: the healthy, fresh and vigorous growth of arugula sprouts in our field.

Wishing us all a wet season blessed with steady welcome rain and peaceful happy days.

Shavua Tov, Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Fennel, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, kohlrabi/beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach/totsoi/kale, coriander/parsley/dill, Swiss chard. Small boxes only: celery/ celeriac.

Large box, in addition: Broccoli/red or white cabbage, sweet potatoes/Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, radishes/baby radishes/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, apples, bananas.

Wednesday: Fennel, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, kohlrabi/beets, cucumbers/peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower/broccoli, spinach/totsoi/kale, radishes/baby radishes/turnips, Swiss chard, celery/celeriac.

Large box, in addition: red or white cabbage, leeks, coriander/parsley/dill

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, apples, bananas.