Aley Chubeza #202, June 9th-11th 2014

Egg-stra Special Eggplants

Our eggplants are beginning to emerge, and will now be with us from mid-summer till autumn, as the outdoor temperatures remind them of home: Southern India and Sri Lanka. The eggplant first migrated from India to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, the eggplant is mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the local cuisine. The Muslim Moors from North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians came to know the eggplants via commerce with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

The eggplant, so adored in Israeli cuisine, is one of the vegetables grown in hothouses during the cold season in order to maintain a constant supply to its Israeli aficionados. On our farm, we bid it farewell in winter and are happy to welcome it back with the great heat of summer. The eggplant is considered a long annual or biennial crop, renewing itself at the end of the winter if the plants were left during wintertime. We once visited Iris Ben-Zvi, a veteran organic farmer from Emek Yizrael, who showed us how to keeps eggplants in the field during wintertime: at the end of their yielding, prune the plants and leave them in place for their winter sleep. In springtime they bloom again. We tried this method, but it was hard to determine whether or not the results justified the effort.  So we continue to replant the eggplant annually.

We plant the eggplants in our field when weather is turning to spring, around April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months, and the tomatoes are a month old. This is when the first eggplant plants acclimate in the ground, young and youthful with silky leaves. Two months later we plant the second round.

Two months after being planted, they start growing beautiful purple flowers. (A personal thanks – again – to Chana from Jerusalem for the very beautiful photos in this newsletter.)

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply slight pressure to see how soft it is. An unripe fruit will be hard and not respond to pressure from our fingers. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not softer. It is important to pick them at this stage, as we do not grow them with support or trellising. Fruits that are too big will be heavy on the bushes, causing them to bend over, become crooked or even break under the weight.

Besides, we find it hard to control ourselves. As soon as we start harvesting the eggplants, we can’t help but add them to our lunch menu. Should you happen to be around the ‘hood, you’re welcome to

come along and share our excellent eggplant and tomato platter!

The eggplant is one of the most fundamental vegetables in the Israeli kitchen. The first important test for basic essentials in the local kitchen is the Long-Term Adaptability Test, i.e., will this food appear over the years in simple and popular recipes alongside the “gourmet” recipes of prosperous times? The eggplant passes this test with flying colors: from various eggplant salads in nearly every meat meal, to eggplant-mocking chopped liver during austerity, from popular fast-food—the sabich–to high-falutin’ eggplant rolls in goat cheeses, eggplant cream, eggplant jam,  roasted eggplant with tahini and goose liver, eggplant a la tuna tartare, etc.

The eggplant is an androgynous plant, meaning every flower is both female and male. The flowers usually ripen themselves, but sometimes they get by with a little help from friendly insect passersby:

 And that reminds me, I’m duty-bound to refute the Number One Urban Legend: there is no such thing as a male (fewer seeds, less bitter) and female (more seeds, more bitter) eggplant. The difference in seed quantity has to do with spraying using vegetal hormones (oxen’s), done in order to prevent the leaves and flowers from falling, particularly during the cold months. (Naturally, in organic agriculture and in our fields we do not use those methods…)

Though today eggplants are of prominent status in kitchens worldwide, it was by no means love at first sight.

Eggplants arrived in Israel long before the Hebrew pioneers, for they were an important component in the Arab cuisine. The idea to match the eggplant with the charcoal grill must have arrived in the area just about the time the wheel was invented. But the love affair between eggplants and the Israeli cuisine was more complex. Remember the mock-chopped-liver eggplant popular during austerity? A traditional Friday night recipe that took full advantage of the three most prominent characteristics of the vegetable: availability, low price and an amazing ability to adsorb flavors.  In the beginning, the eggplant was used as a convenient replacement for the real thing. Liver was expensive, so let’s liver-flavor the eggplant! Tomatoes scarce and expensive? One tomato, ten eggplants, and voila:  a tomato-flavored eggplant! There is even a dessert dish: sugar-coated eggplant, baked like a strudel and served in Israeli restaurants during interesting times. And alongside these, the eggplant always starred in Mideast cuisine as a component of various salads, or sliced and fried to one day become, in Israeli culinary jargon… antipasti! There will always be those who claim the eggplant as king of the local vegetables, but in any case, it is definitely a guest of honor in the emerging Israeli kitchen.

There are many types of eggplants in the world, in various shapes and colors. In Israel we are acquainted with the big dark purple elliptic variety, and over the past years, the striped zebra type as well. But eggplants also come in green and yellow, in elongated or round forms and in various sizes. The name eggplant refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs. (The hen is for illustrative purposes only. Trust us, those are eggplants):

And here is a glimpse of the various shapes and colors of eggplants in green, purple and black:

The first eggplants, members of the Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae is family to the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and certain non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for instance) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore are not injurious to most people. (The unsafe components exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems.) It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days, it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

Today the eggplant is acknowledged for its medicinal and nutritional benefits as well: it contains elements which shrink blood vessels, and is therefore considered to be beneficial for treating hemorrhoids and bleeding wounds. Eggplants promote secretion of liver and gall bile and are advantageous for anemia, constipation, stomach ulcers and infections of the large intestine. The eggplant contains antioxidants that can help prevent strokes and bleeding, and the phytochemical monoterpene which assists in preventing heart disease and cancer. Researchers have been examining the eggplant’s possible influences on battling cancer by reducing the steroid hormones which encourage the development of tumors, and preventing the oxidization of cells that lead to cancer’s spread. A folk cure for scorpion bites is a slice of raw eggplant applied directly to the sting, and to relieve frostbite, eggplant tea is chilled to room temperature and its compresses are placed over the burn.

But the most popular use of the eggplant is for food: steamed, toasted, baked (if fried, use only a little oil, because its sponge-like texture absorbs large quantities of oil), grilled, chopped and diced, stuffed, sliced or cut into cubes. It goes nicely with cheeses, meat, tehina or tomatoes, and does very well on its own as well, with some coarse salt, lemon juice and parsley.  Bon Appétit!

May we have a lovely bright, summery week!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the Chubeza team

________________________________

WHAT’S ACCOMPANYING THE EGGPLANTS  IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley root, eggplants, beans, parsley, leeks, zucchini. Small boxes only: Swiss chard, fakus/cucumbers

Large box, in addition: Fakus AND cucumbers, garlic chives, beets, acorn squash

Wednesday: Potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley root, beans/artichoke, parsley, leeks, zucchini, acorn squash Small boxes only: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, fakus/cucumbers

Large box, in addition: Fakus AND cucumbers, sage/thyme, beets, eggplants.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

Many eggplant recipes:

Imam Bayildi – stuffed eggplant

Easy Eggplant with Ginger

Eggplant Quiche With Tomatoes and Olives

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomato

Zucchini, Tomato, and Eggplant Risotto

Roasted eggplant

Aley Chubeza #163, June 17th-19th 2013

Eggplants

Our eggplants are beginning to emerge, and will now be with us from mid-summer till autumn, as the outdoor temperatures remind them of home: south India and Sri Lanka. The eggplant first migrated from India to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, the eggplant is mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the Middle Eastern cuisine. The Muslim Moors from North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians came to know the eggplants via commerce with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

The eggplant, so adored in Israeli cuisine, is one of the vegetables grown in hothouses during the cold season in order to maintain a constant supply to its Israeli aficionados. In our farm, we bid it farewell in winter and are happy to welcome it back with the great heat of summer. The eggplant is considered a long annual or biennial crop, renewing itself at the end of the winter if the plants were left during wintertime. We once visited Iris Ben-Zvi, a veteran organic farmer from Emek Yizrael, who showed us how to keeps eggplants in the field during wintertime: at the end of their yielding, prune the plants and leave them in place for their winter sleep. In springtime they bloom again. We tried this method, but it was hard to determine whether or not the results justified the effort.  So we continue to replant the eggplant annually.

We plant the eggplants in our field when weather is turning to spring, around April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months, and the tomatoes are a month old. This is when the first eggplant plants acclimatize in the ground, young and youthful with silky leaves. Two months later we plant the second round.

Two months after they are planted, they start growing beautiful purple flowers.

 

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply a little pressure to see how soft it is. An unripe fruit will be hard and not respond to pressure from our fingers. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not softer. It is important to pick them at this stage, as we do not grow them with support or trellising. Fruits that are too big will be heavy on the bushes, causing them to bend over, become crooked or even break under the weight.

The eggplant is one of the most fundamental vegetables in the Israeli kitchen. The first important test for basic essentials in the local kitchen is the long-term adaptation test, i.e., will it appear over the years in simple and popular recipes alongside “gourmet” recipes of prosperous times? The eggplant passes this test with flying colors: from various eggplant salads in nearly every meat meal, to eggplant-mocking chopped liver during austerity, from popular fast-food—the sabich–to high-falutin’ eggplant rolls in goat cheeses, eggplant cream, eggplant jam, etc.

There are many types of eggplants in the world, in various shapes and colors. In Israel we are acquainted with the big dark purple elliptic variety, and over the past years, the striped zebra kind as well. But eggplants also come in green and yellow, in elongated or round forms and in various sizes. Here is a glimpse of the various shapes and colors of eggplants in green, purple and black:

The name eggplant refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs (the hen is for illustrative purposes only. Trust us, those are eggplants):

The name aubergine which is used in British English, is an adaptation of the French word, derived from Catalan albergínia (or the Arabic al-baðinjān).

The first eggplants, members of the family Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae is family to the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and other non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for instance) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore are not harmful to most people (they exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems). It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days, it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

Today the eggplant is acknowledged for its medicinal and nutritional benefits: it contains components which shrink blood vessels, and is therefore considered to be good for treating hemorrhoids and bleeding wounds. The eggplant promotes secretion of liver and gall bile and is beneficial for anemia, constipation, stomach ulcers and infections of the large intestine. The eggplant contains antioxidants that can help prevent strokes and bleeding, and the phytochemical monoterpene which assists in preventing heart diseases and cancer. Researchers have been examining the eggplant’s possible influences on battling cancer by reducing the steroid hormones which encourage the development of tumors, and preventing the oxidization of cells that lead to cancer’s spread. A folk cure for scorpion bites is a slice of raw eggplant applied directly to the sting, and to relieve frostbite, eggplant tea is chilled to room temperature and its compresses are placed over the burn.

But the most popular use of the eggplant is for food: steamed, toasted, baked (if fried, use only a little oil, because its sponge-like texture makes it absorb large quantities of oil), chopped and diced, stuffed, sliced or cut into cubes. It goes nicely with cheeses, meat, tehina or tomatoes, and does very well on its own as well, with some coarse salt, lemon juice and parsley. Bon appetit!

Wishing you a fine summery week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team

___________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, parsley, corn, tomatoes, melon, New Zealand spinach/ Swiss chard, scallions/garlic chives, fakus/ cucumbers, beets, potatoes. Small boxes only: eggplant

In the large box, in addition: Butternut squash, green beans, zucchini, garlic

Aley Chubeza #72 June 20th-22nd 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 29th and July 4th. This will be the last baking for some time – Yiftah is taking a maternity leave, and will not bake during summer. You can order Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted breads via our order form or via email/telephone.

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More Tomatoes, I Say!

Our tomatoes are ripening like crazy. Those who would like a large quantity of tomatoes for cooking, sauces or juice can buy 10 kg of canning tomatoes for 25 NIS. This special order will be delivered along with your veggies.

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Roll Out Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer!

Summer has burst upon us, withering the potato plants that stood green and erect only a few weeks ago, signaling that we’d best pull up the last of them. The corn stalks are valiantly standing upright, flying, fighting to fertilize and produce oh-so-sweet cobs. The cucumbers and fakus are rapidly ripening; the tomatoes are blushing. On the other hand, the viruses are quickly spreading to our zucchini, warping the shape of the elder portion of the crop. (Not to worry: these are plant viruses, not human!)

The loquat tree near our packinghouse yielded fruit a while ago, leaving those fruits remaining on the tree to dry and get carved upon the branches. The grapes covering the shed by the office are already clustered, heavy and bountiful, winking at us from above as we wait for them to become plump and soft.

The Chubeza team gets very hot by the middle of the day. Our water containers empty quickly, and we remind each other to drink. We all work with covered arms to protect us from the relentless sun, and last week was the first time we turned on the blower in the packinghouse to suck out the hot air and slightly cool off the facility. It’s still not terribly hot, and we’re appreciative of the mild, temperate summer we’ve had till now. But yet, the body that still recalls the pleasure of the cool winter and spring must now get used to the burden of summer. This is why it’s harder for us now than during the peak of the season when the body is already used to the heat.

This season is full of beginnings, reflected in the changing composition of your boxes. After remaining fairly constant from week to week with only minor changes, it’s time to greet the happy newcomers who arrived last week. Let’s hear your applause for: the corn! the acorn squash! the eggplant! the melon! In close proximity, our tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are ripening nicely, along with the okra, watermelon. And coming very soon: more pumpkins, Yard long beans, lubia and other happy vegetables.

The melons are ripening rapidly, juicy and sweet with a heavenly scent, and they have already graced your boxes. On harvest days our packinghouse is filled with the fragrance of melons. We have two types this year, the round Galia, green on the inside, and the elliptical pineapple melon, with a light orange-tinted peel.

The first watermelons have ripened as well. How do we know? We watch the blackbirds. These intelligent birds are the first to identify good, sweet watermelons. They never touch one that’s not ripe, but they adore plunging their beaks into the sweet ones. For this reason we’ve rushed to cover the watermelon bed with netting to keep out the birds and cancel the big watermelon bash they were planning. Coming soon to your boxes! (the watermelons, not the birds…)

The eggplants, too, are ripening slowly, as is their wont. This year we planted our first eggplant bed earlier than usual. We wanted to see if they could cope (with a little help from a light cover) with the late winter cold, which hasn’t existed over the past few years of ever-warming winters and ever-scorching summers. However, this winter actually did eventually come, sending cool rain even at the end of May, so the eggplants had a tough challenge. And yet, just when the time was ripe, so to speak, they began blooming and yielding fruits. We thought we saw them bending under the weight of the fruit, which was slowly growing heavy, so we began the eggplant harvest with relatively small fruits. Since then, the weather has become warm and summery, and the eggplants have shown their appreciation by becoming plump and soft. What a pleasure to harvest summer eggplants, which absorbed the sunny warmth into their soft skin and show their thanks with their shiny black-purple mane. We welcome Mr. Eggplant, and his delicious summer savor.

As mentioned, our tomatoes have begun ripening quickly. Last week we had no need to supplement our crop by buying tomatoes or cucumbers from other organic farmers. What a great feeling! Just like our cucumbers from the open field, our tomatoes, too, look different than hothouse tomatoes: they’re less uniform and round, they come in varying shapes and sizes, but their taste is simply delectable. We pick them red and ripe so they reach maximum sweetness, which is why they are sometimes softer than hothouse tomatoes. Don’t let anything bother you–Just dig in!

We also have a pest in the field that is leaving its teeth marks on the tomatoes. This is the Tuta Absoluta moth, currently attacking the country. Conceivably, it is liable to cause great damage to the tomatoes, and it has been biting away at ours. But so far it hasn’t managed to destroy the fruit, only leave unsightly signs of evidence that it’s been around. An onsite visit with Moshe, our agricultural instructor, clarified matters: the Tuta infestation brought about an influx of (good) green bugs which eat the Tuta and join forces with us in battling against it. Don’t be alarmed if you meet a tomato with small bites on the outside. This means the pest failed to penetrate the fruit, and the tomatoes are still sweet, juicy and delicious.

Aside from the big tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes are also gradually ripening. We have two different varieties this year: round ones, as well as oval-shaped. We hope both will soon appear in your boxes.

This year we planted six varieties of winter squash and pumpkins, now ripening according to their sizes, with the small acorn squash coming in first. Following them are the bright orange Kara pumpkins, the butternut squash, the spaghetti squash and the Provence pumpkin. Our big Tripolitania pumpkins still need some time, so we’re giving them all the time they need (till midnight, of course, when they turn into royal coaches…) Some of you have already received acorn squash, and they will be gracing your boxes this week as well.

These beginnings also are bringing certain endings for us. This is Suwet’s last week at Chubeza. He came to us from Thailand over six years ago, hesitant and shy, but always smiling. He later became a most dedicated worker, then a foreman, and he’s still smiling. It is hard to find words to say goodbye to someone who is such an inseparable part of the field and staff: he steadfastly, responsibly and gently handles matters, always willing to teach and be taught, to ask questions and receive answers. One of his nicest traits is how he just loves the field and the crops, celebrating each new ripening vegetable, getting upset when one of them goes wrong, and being blessed with a true green thumb. Even after very long days in the field, he always has the energy to plant vegetables and Thai greens near his house, to plant papaya (!) trees that are actually standing and yielding amazing fruit.

When I’m working in the office, Suwet will always find a ripe cluster of grapes and pick them for me, or he’ll bring along some loquats, reminding me to take a break and not take the computer so seriously… And of course, any child or baby who ever visits Chubeza gets his undivided attention: he plays with them and makes funny noises, which my Talya will happily attest to.

Next week he returns to his own baby (16 years old) and his wife, who can’t wait to see him. The entire Chubeza team extends Suwet huge thanks for his time, his energy, his talents, his efforts and for being such a great worker and good friend. We will sorely miss him, and we wish him much luck!

A very good week from us all,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

_______________________________________

What’s in This Week’s Summer Boxes?

Monday: leeks, corn, parsley, eggplant, potatoes, scallions, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, green beans, zucchini, beets

In the large box, in addition: melon, Swiss chard, acorn squash

Wednesday: beet, zucchini, cucumbers or fakus, basil, tomatoes, acorn squash, parsley or dill, green beans or okra, leek. Corn. Potatoes, melon or watermelon

In the large box, in addition: Swiss chard, green onions, eggplants

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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Summer Recipes

Hot/Cold Zucchini Soup – from Melissa’s sister

8-10 zucchinis (or other summer squash)
olive oil
generous amount of fresh garlic cloves
bunch of basil (stems removed)
salt and pepper to taste

Slice zucchinis, peel garlic cloves, saute in olive oil on high flame. Lower flame, add basil leaves, simmer for at least 2 hours till soft. Cool and blend to desired uniform consistancy. Serve hot or cold with optional dollop of sour cream or yogurt or sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with green onions or chives.

Japanese Style Grilled Eggplant

Pickled Eggplant under Oil

Spicy Green Beans and Tofu “Stir Fry”

Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme

Aley Chubeza # 28, July 19-21 2010

Eggplants

Our eggplants are beginning to emerge, and will now be with us from mid-summer till autumn, as the outdoor temperatures remind them of home: south India and Sri Lanka. The eggplant first migrated from India to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, the eggplant is mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the Middle Eastern cuisine. The Muslim Moors from North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians came to know the eggplants via commerce with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

The eggplant is one of the vegetables grown in hothouses during the cold season in order to maintain a constant supply to its Israeli aficionados. In our farm, we bid it farewell in winter and are happy to welcome it back with the great heat of summer. The eggplant is considered a long annual or biennial crop, renewing itself at the end of the winter in areas where the plants were left during wintertime. Two years ago, we visited Iris Ben-Zvi, a veteran organic farmer from Emek Yizrael, and learned how to keep eggplants in the field during wintertime: at the end of their yielding, we prune the plants and leave them in place for their winter sleep. In springtime they bloom again. We tried this method, but it was hard to test the results, as we were moving from our old plot to the new one and the eggplants were the victims. This in our first summer in the new field, at the end of which we will attempt this method once more.

We plant the eggplants in our field when weather is turning to spring, around April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months, and the tomatoes are a month old. This is when the first eggplant plants acclimatize in the ground, young and youthful with silky leaves. Two months later we plant the second round.

Two months after they are planted, they start growing beautiful purple flowers.

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply a little pressure to see how soft it is. An unripe fruit will be hard and not respond to pressure from our fingers. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not softer. It is important to pick them at this stage, as we do not grow them with support or trellising. Fruits that are too big will be heavy on the bushes, causing them to bend over, become crooked or even break under the weight.

The eggplant is one of the most fundamental vegetables in the Israeli kitchen. The first important test for basic essentials in the local kitchen is the long-term adaptation test, i.e., will it appear over the years in simple and popular recipes alongside “gourmet” recipes of prosperous times? The eggplant passes this test with flying colors: from various eggplant salads in nearly every meat meal, to eggplant-mocking chopped liver during austerity, from popular fast-food—the sabich–to high-falutin eggplant rolls in goat cheeses, eggplant cream, eggplant jam, etc.

There are many types of eggplants in the world, in various shapes and colors. In Israel we are acquainted with the big dark purple elliptic type, and over the past years, the striped zebra kind as well. But eggplants also come in green and yellow, in elongated or round forms and in various sizes. Here is a glimpse of the various shapes and colors of eggplants:

The name eggplant refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs:

The name aubergine which is used in British English, is an adaptation of the French word, derived from Catalan albergínia (or the Arabic al-baðinjān).

The first eggplants, as members of the family Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae is family to the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and other non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for instance) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore are not injurious to most people (they exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems). It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

Today the eggplant is acknowledged for its medicinal and nutritional benefits: it contains components which shrink blood vessels, and is therefore considered to be good for treating hemorrhoids and bleeding wounds. They encourage secretion of liver and gall bile and help in cases of anemia, constipation, stomach ulcers and infections of the large intestine. The eggplant contains antioxidants that can help prevent strokes and bleeding, and the phytochemical monoterpene which assists in preventing heart diseases and cancer. Researcher have been examining the eggplant’s possible influences on battling cancer by reducing the steroid hormones which encourage the development of tumors, and preventing the oxidization of cells that lead to cancer’s spread. A folk cure for scorpion bites is a slice of raw eggplant applied directly to the sting, and to relieve frostbite, eggplant tea is chilled to room temperature, and compresses placed upon the burn.

But the most popular use of the eggplant is for food: steamed, toasted, baked (if fried, use only a little oil, because its sponge-like texture makes it absorb large quantities of oil), chopped and diced, stuffed, sliced or cut into cubes. It goes nicely with cheeses, meat, tehina or tomatoes, and does very well on its own as well, with some coarse salt, lemon juice and parsley. Bon appetit!

Wishing you a fine summery week,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

____________________________

In addition to eggplants, this week’s basket includes:

Monday: cucumbers, yard long bean/checkpea, cherry tomatoes, melon, butternut, tomatoes, parsley/cilantro/basil, leek/green onions, lettuce, eggplants, corn.

In the large box, in addition: zucchinis, okra, more cherry tomatoes.

Fruits boxes: small: figs, mango, apples, grapes. Large: watermelon/melon, grapes, figs, mango.

Wednesday:  corn, basil, tomatoes, eggplants, green onions, butternut, dill, long bean/checkpea, cherry tomatoes, melon, cucumbers

In the large box, in addition: potatoes, okra/ademame, zucchini/pumpkin.

Many eggplant recipes and one okra:

Imam Bayildi – stuffed eggplant

Easy Eggplant with Ginger

Eggplant Quiche With Tomatoes and Olives

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomato

Zucchini, Tomato, and Eggplant Risotto

Roasted eggplant

On Thursday, I got a call from Guy who enthused, “I have never seen or tasted okra like this in my entire life! So big, so purple, so sweet—and I come from a Greek household. I’ve eaten many an okra creation in my days, but there is no comparison!” He then told me that he’d prepared an okra-chicken dish that was so outstanding that he called his wife home from work to sample it. As always, I demanded the recipe, and Eli was kind enough to send both the recipe and a photo, below:

Chicken with Okra in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

Olive oil
2 fresh chicken legs
1 large onion, cubed
2 garlic cloves, sliced in half
1 bag of authentic Chubeza purple okra, long and sweet (rinsed and whole; do not slice,  just remove the tip without damaging the okra)
3 cups water
1 heaping tablespoon tomato sauce
1 T. chicken-soup powder
1 pkg. Stevia (or 1 level T. sugar)
Salt
Pepper

Preparation:

In a flat pan, sauté the chicken legs with onion and garlic.
Cover and continue to sauté till browned.
Add okra and 3 cups water. Cover and wait 3 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon tomato sauce, stir to mix ingredients smoothly, season with soup powder, salt and pepper.
When sauce bubbles, add package of Stevia to sauce (and remove after 5 minutes), then lower heat and cook over a low flame for at least one hour.

The result: an indescribable delicacy!