Aley Chubeza #101 – January 30th-February 1st 2012

Last week we charged your credit cards for the January vegetable deliveries. You received a nice collection of receipts, so for those who may be confused, here is a brief explanation:
• The bill includes all of January deliveries, including Monday, January 30th. Last minute changes will go into next month’s bill.
• This month you will receive two bills, one for your vegetables and another for deliveries (except for those who pick up their boxes from the field, who will be billed only for the vegetables). Those who receive fruits as well will be getting *three* invoices! We realize that this is somewhat cumbersome, and working on finding a better solution soon.
• While the vegetables and fruits will be charged at the end of January, the additional products from our associates will be charged at the beginning of February.
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In honor of the upcoming Tu B’Shvat celebration, Melissa of Mipri Yadeha offers two festive products:

Tu B’Shvat baskets containing 100% fruit of the country, including, of course, Mipri Yadeha dried fruits, carobs, Samar Brahi dates – 30 NIS per basket

 

Fruit bracelets (Nature’s candies) – -An original, delightful way to celebrate the birthday of the trees of our land. Wear them in good health! – 10 NIS per bracelet.

Please book soon. Orders will be delivered from January 30th to February 2 (Tu B’Shvat).
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Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain

There are so many different aspects to the rain and winter. The rain cleanses everything, saturates the plants’ thirst and fills the vital reservoirs. But then again, it’s so… wet. And when it’s cold and muddy, the wet is even wetter. Over the past weeks, we have been receiving timely rains, blessed rains, cloudy gray days, cold and mud. This week I will continue our winter stories, this time focusing on winter’s wet face.

The rain is a blessing in our near-desert nation.  It transforms the seed into a blossoming reality, fulfills the farmers’ wet dreams (excuse the pun)–as well as the dreams of the goats, sheep and other grass nibblers– and sometimes drives the farmers’ spouses crazy from the gloppy mud tracked into the house daily, despite sincere attempts to remove shoes upon entry. Last week Alon’s two-year-old Emanuel came to play with us at Chubeza,, and when he saw Alon coming into the office with muddy shoes, he insisted that his obedient father scratch every trace of mud off his shoes (only to have them fill up with mud once more the minute he stepped outside…).

Lots of sticky mud is not that great for our vegetable beds. Mud testifies to tight earth with little air, that keeps the water from penetrating. Instead, it accumulates above ground, sometimes causing a landslide. Last year, after we started working in a relative empty field, a major rainstorm swept away our beds—complete with their tiny seeds–to the lower part of the field.

When I worked in California, Joe, the wise and anxious farmer for whom I worked (anxiety is a preferred characteristic for farmers, as opposed to the more risky complacence), would loosen the beds in autumn, leaving them empty and ready all winter to plant the first spring plants. Without such a strategy, we would reach this time of the year anxious and unsure of our ability to plant the seedlings waiting in the hothouse. But sometimes young farmers are too reliant on luck, perhaps because we don’t have enough years of experience to look back on. When I spoke to Alon about this two weeks ago, we kicked ourselves for the sin of complacence–The past two winters were not this rainy, and we’d had no real problem preparing the area over January for the big round of planting at the end of the month. This year, the ongoing rain has created so much wetness that it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to prepare the earth for planting in the near future.

Lucky for us, even though our memories are short and we rely on luck and miracles, we listened to sage advice from wise veteran farmers, like our friend Gaby, our tractor driver (and advice-giver) and farmer who has seen many a-winter in the fields of the Ayalon Valley. In order for the farm to fully enjoy the rain and make it through the saturated season none the worse for wear, Gaby went through the beds with his paraplow. This giant fork-like device attaches to the tractor to slice the earth without turning it over, ventilating and allowing the rain to permeate without accumulating in big puddles that form on condensed earth (like our paths.) When the rain permeates, we only need a few days of sunshine to dry the earth and we dare (actually, Gaby dares) to gently prepare the ground for planting.

The new plants arrived last Tuesday, which was an exceptionally warm and sunny day. On Wednesday, Melissa complained about the heat that she was unprepared for. On Thursday, Gaby came to prepare the beds for planting, although we were not sure when this would commence, as the forecast called for a very rainy weekend starting Thursday. But on Friday, when the rain was still taking its time, we hurried to gather our indulged little plants from the plant nursery inside their comfy saturated clods of Ayalon Valley earth. Gaby continued to assist very diligently. At the end of an action-packed day, in the late afternoon, with perfect timing, the clouds burst open to shower the field and new plants with myriads of glorious raindrops.

It’s still really cold, and despite the beneficial natural irrigation, the plants are in for a slow, gradual assimilation. We feel the effect of the cold on the fava beans, whose pods refuse to fill. The peas, on the other hand, are starting to yielding beautifully, after a few very pitiful rounds at the beginning of the season (which you certainly noticed, as the Madame did not arrive in your boxes), and finally there is a nice-looking bed with reasonable quantities that we hope will grow. But the field has really slowed down. Even the greens, which are protected under agril cloth (thin unwoven material that guards them from the cold) are growing very slowly. This is why there are fewer greens in your boxes of late. The cold weather also impels plants to switch into their survival mode, and instead of putting energy into the leaves, the plant blossoms and its leaves turn yellow (of course, this also has to do with the age of the plant and the fact that the daylight hours are longer).

But the cold does come to our aid in our battle against the pests, specifically the onion fly that was so mean to our onion family over autumn (onions, garlic, scallions and leeks). The garlic beds had been damaged so badly that we feared we’d get nothing from the beds, but when the extreme cold hit us (and the garlic grew gradually), the fly lost his passion, allowing many of the plants to recover. Perhaps it’s the cold, or maybe the fly is just no longer interested in more mature garlic heads, onions and leeks. Either way, we hope we’ll be able to bring you a bountiful crop this year.

So even though our we are wet and it’s cold outside and our boots are heavy and lost somewhere deep in the mud, we join the flowers in their blessing, love the wet caress of the rain, take a deep breath and await the return of the rain this week as well.
May we all have a cold, wet and wonderful week!
Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team
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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES (BESIDES MUD)?

Monday: Red potatoes, radishes or daikon, small broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, Dutch cucumbers, sweet red or yellow peppers, lettuce, dill or    parsley, carrots, celeriac or parsnips or celery (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: green or red cabbage, scallions, Swiss chard, kohlrabi

Wednesday: Lettuce, daikon, cauliflower, parsley,
cabbage, sweet red peppers, cucumbers / Dutch cucumbers, kohlrabi or turnips,
tomatoes, carrots, potatoes-red or white

In the large box, in addition: Broccoli, leek, beets

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers and organic olive oil too! 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 soon.

Aley Chubeza #92 – November 21st-23rd 2011

Fond Farewells and Serendipitous Surprises

Our contented field has been lapping up the rain since last Wednesday. Silvery ribbons of droplets descending from the heavens have satiated the field with a generous outpouring of amazing aqua. Our joy is as plentiful as the puddles! The vegetables are growing vigorously, indulging in the joy of November rains, when the temperatures are not yet too low, the rain is plentiful, and the occasional sunbeam still glitters.

Last week we picked the last of our corn. Sadly but acceptingly, we bade farewell to Chubeza’s only grain, our summer’s sweet dessert. When we sealed last Wednesday’s boxes, I thought this was the last we’d see of the corn. But the next morning I was surprised by a rainy Chubeza tale which I shall share with you:

On Thursday, I got a phone call from Katy from Jerusalem. Katy is a veteran client, and a cook who hails from South America. This winning combination brought her to open the catering business Smells Good, specializing in Latin American food. She had a quick question: how could she obtain banana leaves? Could we possibly supply her with them or refer her to a banana farmer? I sent her to our neighbor and colleague Hilaf, but she needed a larger quantity than he could supply. Yet Katy did not despair. Instead, the intrepid chef decided to substitute corn husks for the elusive banana leaves.

She needed these in order to make “Hallacas,” a Venezuelan food traditionally served at the Christmas meal, and a beloved winter staple. The dish consists of a stuffed corn flour pastry filled with a mixture of ground meat, green pepper, onion, olives, raisins, almonds and capers, wrapped in a banana leaf (plantain) and steamed. The whole family takes part in preparing the Hallacas, with the cooking accompanied by music and drinking, and lots of stories and songs. The stuff that memories are made of, each winter.

This is how the Hallacas looks in preparation:

There is real logic in substituting corn husks for the banana leaves, as this dish is the sister, or at least the cousin, of the Mexican tamale, a popular dish of cornmeal dough steamed in corn husks. This is probably the origin of the Hallacas, but over the years many colorful tales have emerged to describe the birth of Hallacas, traditionally told and retold during its preparation. The most popular legend purports that Hallacas were created by slaves during the colonial times. In those days, the slaves used leftovers from their master’s Christmas feast to place in a bit of cornmeal dough. Then they would wrap them with banana leaves and boil to blend the flavors. Another tale narrates the toil of the native workers who built the “Cerro El Ávila” to the nearby port of La Guaira, feasting on tamales prepared from cornmeal. However, during the construction project to improve the road, the Indians workers began dying en masse from diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies. The Caracas families then donated from their meat and vegetable dishes in order to fortify the workers’ diet.

Meanwhile, back to Israel 2011 and rainy Jerusalem: I told Katy we could give her a couple hundred corn husks, but only the next day, and that she would have to pick them herself as we were working in-house due to the rain. Katy replied that she’d make one more stab at procuring banana leaves from the market. If unsuccessful, we would talk the next day. On Friday morning, she informed me that banana leaves were no longer an option, and she was going for the corn husks. Later in the afternoon, I guided her and her husband David by phone to the edge of our wet field. I wished them a successful harvest, and warned them not to try to drive into the field, as their car is liable to sink.

Katy wrote today to thank me for the corn-husks-that-saved-the-day. I asked for full details as to how they managed to pick between the raindrops. Her response: “It was beautiful!!!!!” Even via e-mail, her excitement and wonder came through loud and clear. Our corn is truly a wonder, and once again it surprised us all by giving a lovely farewell gift at the end of autumn.

May we all have wonderful days, after the blessed and abundant rain that brings joy to our hearts. And don’t be too sad about bidding adieu to the corn. The cauliflower, broccoli and kohlrabi are already here!

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in our After-the-Rain Boxes? Lottttttts of Mud, Plus:

Monday: Baby potatoes, beets, red mustard, scallions, cauliflower, tomatoes, sweet red peppers, parsley, carrots, radishes, lettuce

In the large box, in addition: Cowpeas (lubia) or yard-long beans or peas or eggplant, arugula, kohlrabi

Wednesday: arugula, lettuce, cucumbers, parsley, scallions, beets, red bell peppers, Swiss chard or kale, tomatoes, carrots, daikon.

In the large box, in addition: cabbage or cauliflower or broccoli, mustard greens, baby potatoes

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Recipes:

The first recipe, Vegan Hallacas, calls for seitan, a wheat gluten similar to tofu. It’s fine to substitute tofu for the seitan:

Vegan Hallacas

In the next recipe for festive Hallacas, feel free to ignore the pork, a staple element of the Venezualan diet.

Venezuelan Hallacas

To inaugurate the start of the radish season, Ornit sent me this recipe for Pickled Radishes (you can try it with daikon too):

Pickled radishes

From your responses, I see that it’s time to refresh your knowledge of how to prepare those tangy, healthy mustard greens that are filling your boxes.

Pickled mustard greens

Mustard greens with cumin and balsamic

Mustard greens and red lentil soup

Aley Chubeza # 90 – November 7th-9th 2011

As winter waits in the wings, Hilaf, the fruit grower of ?Melo Hatene” is at your service to help prevent colds, flu and other cold weather-related ailments, by offering healthy organic fruits. Over the next three months, you will be able to purchase by the kilo: oranges (6 NIS), lemons (8 NIS) and pomegranates (8 NIS). We will be glad to add these to your boxes upon order.

(Thank you, Ornit, for initiating and setting this into motion)

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Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me by Mary Oliver

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!

Rain came in perfect timing, on the eve of the seventh of Cheshvan, Thursday night. The seventh of Cheshvan is the date we start adding a prayer for rain. When pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem took place over Sukkot, this cutoff date in Cheshvan marked the time that most pilgrims had already returned home. With all due respect to the much-needed rain, when it surprises you on your way home with all your luggage, it puts a real damper on any warm, fuzzy feelings that precipitation evokes. So in order for people to pray for rain and actually mean it, they had two weeks to get home after the festival before they actually started praying for rain.

Back to the present, the rain began falling even before Friday morning, before that first sanctified prayer for rain. On Thursday night a long, saturating, thirst-quenching rain began, and our field broke into a frenzied dance. Thursday night is perfect timing for us at Chubeza as well, as we have just finished our weekly assignments. Of course, we welcome rainfall any and every day of the week, but then we have to work between raindrops. On the weekend, however, we can take our time to make a nice, hot “white savory” tea (to prevent flu), pile some yummy “Samar” dates on a plate, take cover and watch the silvery sheets of rain douse the field.

On Sunday, the sun was out and we woke up to a beautiful after-rain day: clean air, spongy saturated earth and lots of mud… The eight boxes of carrots we picked were reduced to a little less than seven… The tubs where we rinse off the vegetables looked like they were used to cook chocolate soup. Our pants were painted brown as we crouched to pull out the chubby, muddy sweet potatoes. We had to take special caution when picking the cauliflowers, so as not to dirty their clean blond heads. What a delight!

So your boxes are changing. We still have a few weeks of corn, our huge pile of pumpkins is now greatly diminished and hiding timidly in the corner of the storage house, the eggplants are still bearing fruit as are the resolute beans, but all of them are preparing for their winter slumber. The sweet potatoes are already feeling at home in the boxes, and the radish family has introduced itself more than once. The carrot is now a permanent visitor, with and without leaves, and this week the cauliflower will make its debut. And of course, bunches of fresh greens that are no longer suffering the summer heat now decorate the box with their cool décor. Our greens are varied, and perhaps you’re not acquainted with them all. I promise to introduce them properly over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding their identification or use, please contact me for an advance meeting with the green.

The cold season brings with it the need to protect yourself from colds and other ailments. Hilaf, our fruit man from Karmei Yossef, will come to your rescue with healthy, curing fruits. Our tea herbs are an excellent possibility to protect yourselves as well, enjoying a hot “cuppa” in the interim. Tea made of White savory herbs is an excellent way to clear up those airwaves, as well as easing stomach pains and cleaning wounds and eye inflammations. Lemon Verbena is excellent in treating obstructions within the digestive system, sore throats and urinary tract infections. The ancient Greeks made compresses out of oregano brews to treat wounds and aching muscles. Chinese medicine employs it to ease fever, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and the itch. In Europe, oregano tea is used to improve digestion and to ease a cough. Thyme tea will assist in fighting a mucus cough, general exhaustion and will help restore bowel activity.

Of course, there will still be sunny days—that’s what Israeli autumn is all about. But this first rain that was so timely and did such a good job of quenching the earth’s thirst, fills the heart with expectations of a blessed and rainy season filled with generosity, warmth and love. In its honor, we welcome back our recipe corner, overflowing with hearty soup recipes.

Wishing everyone a good week, and a happy Id El Adcha to Mohammed,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in our After-the-Rain Boxes?

Monday: Arugula, bell peppers or eggplant or cowpeas (lubia) or beans, red mustard greens, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers or sweet red peppers, dill or coriander, carrots, corn, daikon

In the large box, in addition: beets, cauliflower, red kale

Wednesday: sweet potatoes, spinach, red peppers, arugula, tomatoes, red betts, leeks, red mustard, corn, carrots, radishes

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower or pumpkin, eggplants or cowpea (Lubia) or yard long beans, cilantro

There is still a cucumber shortage. We were only able to obtain half our needed quantity, so only some of you received cucumbers. The others were compensated by sweet red peppers instead.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, sesame butter and dried fruits and leathers too! 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 soon.

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Soup Recipes to Welcome rain

Sweet corn soup

· A tip I learned from a veteran Chubeza member: even if you’ll never sacrifice your corn for a soup – add the leftover corncobs to any soup for a delicious “hint of corn.”

Minestrone soup with sprouted beans

Daikon radish miso soup

Aley Chubeza # 85, September 26th-27th 2011, almost a Hebrew new year

Changes in delivery dates:

* During this week of Rosh Hashanah:
Monday, September 26: Delivery as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved to Tuesday, September 27th
* On the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur:
Deliveries as usual for both Mondays and Wednesdays
* During the week of the first holiday of Sukkot:
Monday, October 10th: Delivery as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved to Tuesday, October 11th.
* During Chol HaMoed, there will be no deliveries, i.e. you will not be receiving boxes on Monday and Wednesday, the 17th and 19th of October.

For all who receive bi-weekly boxes, Chol HaMoed will create a three-week gap. Even if you weren’t scheduled to receive a box during the week of Chol Hamoed, your delivery will be postponed a week.

If you wish to change delivery dates to prevent this gap, please contact me a.s.a.p.

If you wish to increase your vegetable boxes before the holidays, please let me know as soon as possible.

Open Day at Chubeza: In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.

The Sukkot Open Day will take place on Tuesday, October 18th, the 20th of Tishrei (fifth day of Chol HaMoed), between 11:00-16:00. The Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

Driving instructions are on our website under “About Us.” Please make sure you check it out before heading our way.

Wishing you a Shana Tova! We look forward to seeing you all!

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Singing in the Rain

I meant to write about something else, but then the weekend brought these wonderful, short bursts of rain (more or less, depending on what part of the country you were in) which took us elsewhere, to a place of heady aromas and elevated spirits. Then on Sunday as we were eating our lunch, yet another rain fell upon us, bringing back that special scent of earth after rain. So I dug up a newsletter I wrote two years ago devoted to this special scent. When I drove to work with Mohammed on Sunday, he was full of optimism and said hopefully, “Perhaps this will be a year of plentiful rains.” Of course, I heartily join in this hope. May we all have a wonderful, rainy, fertile year! And here it is, the scent after rain:

Even with the fast pace of life, and concrete stretching across vast expanses, we still maintain a basic yearning for rain and the lively wet-of-the-wild it brings along. When I tried to find answers to the question “what is that scent after rain?” I found scientific explanations (which will follow) alongside a palpable gush of yearning for that smell, the memories it evokes tied to childhood and home, to a time and place where we started to grow, to send out roots and reach a specific starting point. Perhaps this is why it stirs in one’s heart a feeling of renewal and of a fresh, new start.

The scent of rain is extracted and produced wisely (for us and other living creatures, as you will soon see) by nature’s main actors: the plants, microbes, rocks. In nature this scent has two main components: geosmin and petrichor.

Geosmin (literally “earth smell”) is an organic compound produced by various microorganisms: in the water these are seaweed, while in the earth they are microbes. These microbes die when the earth is dry and hot, sending out geosmin-loaded spores that can survive in a dormant state, even through many years of very dry, hot seasons. Once they meet rain and moisture, the geosmin smell is augmented, the spores disperse into the air through the raindrops, and emit the “rain-like” scent—basically, the smell of newly-wet soil. Our love for this scent is important to the microbes, who need us to come close and toy with their spores in order to disseminate them. And it is true: the human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin and is able to detect it at very low concentrations.

One of the most sensitive animals to Geosmin is the camel. This comes as no great surprise since this animal has a profoundly acute need to pick up even the slightest trace of the scent of water and wetness. Camels can detect water from a very great distance (up to 80 km!) due to their heightened sensitivity to the scent of geosmin. In camel terms, it is a matter of life and death. Also, many dust mites, like earthworms and other excavators, are attracted to the scent of geosmin and assist the microbes in their mission to disperse.

These microbes, actinobacterias, and more specifically streptomyces, are a group of vital soil-dwelling organisms which produce antibiotic substances that naturally fight infections and fungus. Perhaps our attraction to this smell is not only due to nostalgia for a time in our life where we had a wet plot of soil nearby, but also a key example of the pull to substances that are supposed to protect us–specifically throughout the cold, rainy winter.

But this smell is not always desirable. Water purification devices attempt to remove it from the groundwater which ends up in your faucets. Winemakers try to fight it to prevent a bouquet of mildew in their vino, and even pharmaceutical companies demur from marketing earthy-smelling medicines. A revolutionary study pertaining to the composition and formation of geosmin aspires to solve that problem. In our boxes, you will savor the geosmin in our beets, the secret ingredient in their earthy taste.

The second component in this scent is Petrichor (from Greek petra “stone” + ichor the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology). This impressive term, the modern meaning of which is “the nice fragrance accompanying rain after a dry spell,” was coined by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, in an article they published in the 1960’s. Various plants extract oils into the atmosphere, which accumulate upon clay-like soil, rocks and stones. During dry seasons, a larger amount accumulates on the soil and rocks, and once the air grows moister and the rain falls, they are freed into the air, wafting their scent about.

Bear and Thomas wanted the petrichor to explain the special phenomenon of rapid growth and blooming which occurs in desert areas after short rains. They tried to show that there is something in this oil compound which expedites growth. To their surprise, they discovered the opposite: the petrichor slows down and even prevents sprouting and growth. They believe this to be a means for the seeds to protect themselves from short rains followed by the return of the dry spells. Sprouting which is not followed by more watering brings about the demise of the sprout, while in its seeded, non-sprouted state, it still carries the potential to wait for a real rain. A strong, serious rain will wash the oil off the seeds and annul the stalling of sprouting.

Over the past few decades, we have learned about the destructive aspect of rain, and I don’t necessarily mean disasters like tsunamis or floods. Rain, after all, meets everything that exists around it, and the moisture intensifies these scents, causing its own reactions. If the pervading air carries unpleasant smells, they will be intensified by the moistness of the rain. Gasoline smells, garbage, dust, sewage— all return with a vengeance in the rain. Pollution, as well, is collected in the tiny raindrops, turning into dangerous acids which provide disastrous watering that pollutes plants, lakes and animals. By adding more trees, specifically in noxious-smelling cities that are covered in concrete, and decreasing the contaminates that we release into the atmosphere, the scales will be tipped in favor of the petrichor fragrance that stirs within us a craving for the hearth and home. It’s worth it, don’t you think?

So the rain has left us again for a few days of sun and even summery weather. But that’s OK, we’re only at the end of September.

Wishing you all a Shana Tova, one of change and continuance, one of toil and of rest, one of happiness and family and health, and Halevai– a year of peace.

Alon, Bat Ami, Phum, Naim, Paisan, Mohammed, Melissa, Oren, Gadi, Shmulik, Yochai, Dror, Alon, Avraham, Amit, Assaf, Eli, Lobsang and all of us on the  Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN OUR FESTIVE HOLIDAY BOXES?

Monday: mint or basil, yard long beans or cowpea (lubia), lettuce, red & green peppers or eggplants, pomegranates, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, pumpkin, potatoes, corn

In the large box, in addition: Swiss chard, butternut squash, okra

Wednesday: pumpkin, cowpea (lubia) or yard long beans or okra, cucumbers, lettuce or arugula, tomatoes, oregano or lemon verbena, scallions or onions, red beets, potatoes, pomegranates, corn

In the large box, in addition: butternut squash, cilantro or parsley, Swiss chard or

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, sesame butter and dried fruits and leathers too! 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 soon.

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This week, once again, I fully intended to select and publish some superior recipes. But the day is short and the labor is very, very vast.

Next year…..

Aley Chubeza #48 – December 20th-22nd 2010

Reminder: We’re now taking orders for Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking. Please send your orders by Friday. The loaves will be delivered in the boxes of December 29th and January 3. You can read about Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted bread products here.

Last week, after I had sent out the newsletter longing for rain– and then lived to see it, I went out to the field to enjoy the glory. I took some pictures I’d love to share with you. We’ll start with some puddles:

Our field is on a bit of a slant, which causes the water to drain out of the beds and accumulate at their edges.

But also along the paths…

Our footprints made many dents in the earth, which the falling rain quickly filled.

The cherry tomatoes and yard-long beans seemed a little surprised with being flooded by rain:

And in the drainage canal at the edge of the field, which must run through one of the side channels of the Ayalon River, there was a fine current of water.

The poultry manure bed, with which we fertilize the fields, was quickly covered (there are certain advantages to the fact that the rain lagged to such an extent–We had time to get organized.)

On the way, I met some very happy plants, the drops decorating their leaves like tiny beads of pearls. Many winter crops are characterized by leaves that do not allow the bountiful water to saturate. There are smooth leaves, like those of cabbage and peas, whose thin wax-like covering makes the water slide off without becoming absorbed or causing them to rot.

Or the fennel, whose thin, feathery leaves (like the dill) easily shake off the raindrops.

Even our young citrus trees seemed happy:

On rainy days such as these, we do not enter the field with our car for fear of sinking in the mud. Harvest is slow and the vegetable boxes are carried by hand to the closest place outside the field where the car can reach. Of course, we dress accordingly (making bold fashion statements with our garish clothing):

Then we wash off the heavy mud coating the vegetables (which paints the bathtubs brown).

At the end, some of the mud (some would say –most of it) is packed along with the vegetables and sent to you.

We’ll end with a group picture:

 

Hoping for a wintery winter,

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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And What’s in this Week’s Muddy Boxes?

Monday: white or purple cabbage, mustard greens or red mustard, lettuce, turnips or daikon, scallions or leeks, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsley.

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower, celery leaves, dill, yard-long beans or beets.

Wednesday: Dill or coriander, parsley or coriander, cucumbers, turnip, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, peas, celery leaves, leek, red or green mustard, roquette.

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower or broccoli, beets, scallion, daikon.

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.