Aley Chubeza #55 – February 7th- 9th 2011

Some messages and requests:

–       Lately we’ve had some unfortunate cases of missing boxes, ones which were left till morning at the drop-off points. To prevent this, please collect your boxes on the day they arrive! If this is not possible, please contact your “hosts” to request that they bring the box indoors for you to retrieve as soon as possible.

–       Once again, we remind you that you may send us messages regarding changes in delivery dates, vacations, breaks or other instructions to our email: csa@chubeza.com, but please do not respond to the email address from which you receive your receipt! We simply do not receive those emails. We do, however, send a “message received” to every email we receive, so if you did not get a confirmation email, please resend or call us and leave a message. Thank you!

–       A sweet message: as you requested,  we have decided to allow the purchase of Brahi dates in quantities less than 5 kg. We updated our order form with this option, so you can order via the form, or by email/phone call. The price per kg is 20 NIS, to help you enjoy a sweet winter!

–       And last but not least: We are delighted to provide an English-language description on Maggie, our sprout grower. Detailed information about Maggie’s sprouts in particular and the wonders of sprouts in general can be found here. To try these healthy, yummy treats and/or to make a permanent order, use our order form.

Bon Appetite!

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Cauliflower Power

This week we will continue to tell cauliflower tales, beginning with praise for its health and nutritional values. As a member of the Cruciferae family, it is packed with cancer-fighting components (along with its relatives the green and purple cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, rashad, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, turnips, and radishes). The main such ingredients are sulforaphane and an indole compound. Interestingly, sulforaphane is produced in the vegetables only when they are cut or bitten into, i.e., when an animal consumes them. Sulforaphane is an efficient antioxidant, but it also raises the level of certain protective enzymes in the body, which act as “policemen” that capture the cancer-causing elements and send them into the bloodstream to be washed out of the body. These enzymes are also excellent antioxidants, and unlike regular antioxidants, they are not consumed while they work. The indole compound in the cauliflower and its relatives protects against breast cancer by influencing the estrogen hormone (in various forms this hormone can actually encourage the development of breast cancer). The indole compound activates, on the one hand, the production of less active estrogen, the kind that does not encourage breast cancer, while on the other hand reduces the production of a more harmful estrogen type. In order to reduce the threat of cancer, it is recommended to consume at least 2-3 weekly servings of vegetables from the Cruciferae family.

In addition to the photochemicals it shares with its powerful family, the cauliflower contains other photochemicals such as phytosterols and glucaric acids that contribute to the reduction of cholesterol levels in the blood. Another cholesterol fighter comes from the dietary fibers so rich in the cauliflower, which aid digestion and prevent constipation, as well as slowing down the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from food. Of course, we cannot forget the venerable Vitamin C! One hundred grams of cooked cauliflower contain half of the daily-recommended portion of vitamin C.

The Cruciferae family has another connection to cancer prevention, one that is unique because it once again indicates why nature is so much more complex than simplified classifications of “good,” “bad,” “useful,” and “harmful.” A perfect example is one of the family’s most famous pest: the cabbage butterfly. The female butterfly lays her eggs on the Cruciferae plants, and hungry caterpillars feed from the leaves of this prevalent family. They also swallow very spicy matter found in the leaves (mustard glycocids) and isolate it in their bodies. When the caterpillar grows, it uses this matter as a defense mechanism: if attacked by a predator insect, the caterpillar secretes concentrated glycocids which cause an irritation in the mouth, esophagus and stomach of the attacker. When it is pupated, the cabbage butterfly defends itself using an interesting toxin: pierison. This toxin destroys cells by breaking their DNA. All the cells die and renew themselves, except for cancerous cells. Research has indicated that pierison caused nine types of cancerous cells to “commit suicide.” Thus, indirectly, by hosting the caterpillar that tortures it and eats its leaves, the martyred Crucifae family takes an important role in battling cancer.

I’m glad I wrote about the cauliflower, because after last week’s newsletter I received an email from Eitan from Tel Aviv, who wrote: “I beg to differ over one thing. I have been raising cauliflowers in my plot for two years in a row. I did not pull out last year’s plants, and sure enough, they bloomed this year as well. In addition, the cauliflower produced many branches that yielded a nice crop of cauliflowers. I pick the heads but do not pull out the plant.”

Eitan’s words reminded me that I did indeed read about the cauliflower’s ability to produce two years in a row if it is not uprooted, but because I was not experienced with this (as farmers, it is not recommended to leave vegetables for the next year because this usually reduces crop size), I asked Eitan for full details on what’s the cauliflower on its second year. This was his response: “The cauliflower is smaller in the second year, but still tastes sweet. The advantage is that in the second year, a bunch of cauliflowers emerge. Branches extend from the trunk at the bottom part of the plant, looking like cauliflower transplants from the nursery, and the inflorescence starts there. Since I have a small garden, the cauliflowers were watered over summer, but did not blossom, although I covered them with a 50% shade net. In any case, there was no evident change in the cauliflower over the summer. I think whoever has enough space should leave the cauliflower and broccoli to grow a second year. These plants are bi-annuals. By the way, the broccoli, too, remained from last year, and it continues to supply me with very handsome “baby broccolis.”

So for the farmers among you- try this at home (in your garden). Keep the cauliflowers growing a second year, protect them in the summer from radiation and heat, and tell us how this works. Thank you, Eitan.

The cauliflower we know and love is white, and I told you how much effort we put into keeping it that way. But there are cauliflowers that come in various colors, such as purple, orange (rich in beta carotene) and green:

And a weird-looking variety as well, the name is Romanesco:

Despite their different shape and florescent colors, they aren’t products of genetic engineering. I grew these cauliflowers in an organic field in California. They were developed in the traditional breeding method of selecting plants of various types and crossing them with plants of other types until a colorful one is produced. Creation of this kind of species usually takes years, even decades. The result is amazing (somewhat psychedelic). There are those who shy away from the stark “unnatural” colors (which remain even after being cooked, by the way); others delight in the color they add to the dinner table.

It is recommended to store any type of cauliflower in the refrigerator, wrapped in an unsealed plastic bag (the sulphur needs to escape; otherwise the cauliflower is tainted and rots), with the stem downwards in order to prevent accumulation of moisture on the inflorescence. Stored correctly, cauliflowers can keep for two to three weeks, but are tastiest during the first several days, afterwards the sweetness subsides.

The weather forecast is for more rain. Hoping you enjoyed the rays of sun in between showers, and looking forward to the next raindrops!

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

Monday: Lettuce, beets, parsley, arugula, white or red cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, fennel, broccoli

In the large box, in addition: radishes, celery, garden or sweet peas

Wednesday: fava beans, cilantro / dill / parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, beets, fennel – small boxes only.

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower, kale or Swiss chard, radishes, arugula

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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One of the links did not work last week, so here it is again (thanks Howard):

Roasted cauliflower

Fried cauliflower with tahini – Yotam Ottolenghi

Pasta with cauliflower

Aloo gobi – An Indian dish of cauliflower and potatoes

Aley Chubeza #54 – January 31st – February 2nd 2011

 Reminder: We’re now taking orders for Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking. Please send your orders by Friday. Yiftah finishes preparing and baking the loaves this Wednesday, and they will be delivered in the boxes of the 9th and 14th of February. You can read about Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted bread products here.

Yiftah has now introduced a new line of “synergetic breads.” In his words, “Synergetic breads, all made from organic sprouted spelt, contain a variety of additional components, carefully selected, that act according to the rule of synergy: effective cooperation. The combination of nutriments and the active components they contain improve and expand effective absorption in our bodies—thus, the whole that is produced by the total of its parts. These breads express the principle of nutrition for a healthy life, with each bread containing its own special feature. This is a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind, original line of breads. Eat in good health!”

A more detailed explanation about all the different types of synergetic breads can be found in the attached document (in Hebrew). Yiftah’s bread can be ordered via our order form or simply by e-mail/phone.

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A Cauliflower Bouquet

This week, as I once again reviewed the list in search of this newsletter’s “Featured Vegetable,” she was there, just as she has been over the past few weeks, waiting modestly, quietly, almost imperceptibly. The cauliflower. For some reason, this time she caught my eye. I tried to check if I’d ever mentioned her, in a newsletter, a paragraph, a few words…? All I could find was a reference she received some five years ago. Perhaps I missed something, but still, it has been a long while, and surely you’ll agree that she deserves some attention. Then, when I finally started writing, I realized how exciting the subject matter really is, and I want to tell you more and more. I also found numerous recipes. In short, the feature became pretty long, so I’m dividing it into two. This week and next week will be dedicated to the long-overlooked, yet charming Cauliflower.

The cauliflower is the flower of the cabbage (Caulis in Latin). Apparently, the cauliflower was developed from the wild cabbage during the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin (Greece/Italy/Turkey–it is unclear exactly where). From there it traveled to European countries, the Middle East, India and China. When I say “developed,” I mean developed by human beings, almost like a modern agricultural start-up, only much, much slower. Some of the most incredible changes in the field of species development didn’t occur as part of a budgeted, constructed research, but rather due to the very simple act of collecting and saving seeds from the plants favored by the farmer and preferring them over seeds from lesser-loved plants. This simple act of propagating one plant and not another had a tremendous influence on the improvement and change of a given specie or crop.  Long before man understood the genetics of plants, his actions caused slow, small changes in the cultivars that accumulated with time, yielding genuine results.

The cauliflower and broccoli owe their lives to the farmers (or perhaps the farmers’ wives and children who were growing bored with cabbage quiche) who developed a craving for the undeveloped flower buds of the cabbage. They chose the plants that produced large blossom heads, producing seeds from these plants which they then planted the next season. And this was how cauliflower and broccoli were born, both different variations of an embryonic florescence of cabbage. The accurate name of the cauliflower is var. botrytis, meaning “cluster” (Broccoli, developed in Italy, received the title var. italica.)

 

In the case of the cauliflower, like the broccoli, we eat the immature flower curd composed of densely clustered flower buds and stalks that thickened and became meaty. As the cauliflower grows, this head  is surrounded by a dense circle of leaves that close themselves and cover it, similar to the cabbage. The inner leaves bend a bit inwardly, protecting the developing cauliflower and preventing sunrays from penetrating, thus blocking the production of chlorophyll and retaining its white color. This is why when we farmers select a variety of cauliflower, we give credence to choosing one whose leaves close well over the inflorescence. Sometimes, when the farmer notices that the leaves are not doing their job, he walks through the field and ties the outward leaves with a rubber band to make them cover the cauliflower and protect it from the sun. Unlike the broccoli, which develops additional heads on its side after the main head is harvested, the cauliflower only produces one, in the center of the plant, and does not produce more after this singe harvest. Usually, the cauliflower is picked when it reaches its maximum size, still keeping its density and solidity (or when we notice the leaves beginning to open, threatening a cauliflower “sunburn”). If we leave it in the field, the inflorescence will begin opening and separating, preparing for the blossoming of the tiny yellow flowers, like a great big bouquet.

 

Like the rest of her family, the Brassicaceaes, the cauliflower consumes a great deal of nitrogen. For this reason, it’s important to grow cauliflowers in fertile soil, fortified with compost, and precede its planting with the growth of legumes or “green manure” that enrich the ground with nitrogen. Following a crop of cauliflower and other Brassicaceaes, we try to grow only cultivars that require less nitrogen and can deal well with the earth that must recover from the previous high level of nitrogen consumption. The gourd family (pumpkins) that grows in springtime and summertime, after the Brassicaceaes season, are a good example of a “crop rotation” after the Brassicaceaes.

Cauliflower grows in cool seasons. We used to plant it over two rounds, once in autumn (September- November) and then at the end of wintertime/beginning of springtime (February- April). But after some experimenting, we realized the cauliflower is happiest in our field during wintertime. The autumn and winter cauliflowers yielded beautiful plants, whereas the February harvests had a hard time growing, became too hard, were attacked by insects, got blotched with stains, and didn’t really grow. We learned to bring up the planting to August, and over the past few years we have begun planting cauliflowers continuously from August to December. In August, we plant species that do well in the heat – White Corona, Fata Morgana and Barcelona, and from September we welcome our old friend, the Candid Charm.

This year, because of the never-ending heat, the plants encountered many a mishap at the beginning. They were attacked by black mildew, had difficulty growing and were very late developing the bud scalp. We watched plants that grew and grew, but something in their mechanism and internal clock indicated that it is too bare out there, too radiant, too sunny and hot, and no heads were seen in the horizon. Only when it began cooling down, the plants (very big by now) produced their cauliflower heads. But by the time the late head developed, it was already cool, and the black mildew was nowhere to be seen. This is also the reason why the cauliflowers you’ve been receiving this year can be very large.

More to come…

We share your happiness with these wintry days, and hope for more wetness and cold to come!

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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Escorting the Cauliflower in this Week’s Boxes Are:

 Monday: Lettuce, fava bean, coriander or parsley, spinach, cauliflower, celeriac, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, broccoli

In the large box, in addition: potatoes, red beets, scallions 

Wednesday: small radishes, parsley, cucumbers, fennel, tomatoes, carrots, arugula, cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, beets

In the large box, in addition: celeriac or scallions, potatoes, peas

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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Cauliflower Cooking:

Cauliflower couscous: (from Six Easy and Healthy Cauliflower Recipes by Rachel Tal-Shir, Ha’aretz)

Ingredients:

One large, lovely head of cauliflower; vegetable soup or roasted vegetables with sauce

Preparation:

Separate the cauliflower head to small sections, place in food processor, and press “pulse” several times till cauliflower becomes granules. This is the couscous. Serve with any favorite soup or stew. The result: a rich, healthy, light and satisfying dish!

 

Fresh cauliflower and caramelized pecan salad

Roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower puree