Aley Chubeza #126 – August 27th-29th 2012

At the end of this week, we will be billing your cards for the vegetables, fruits and other products you received during August.

Please note that there were five Wednesdays in the month of August.

The billing is carried out in three parts: one for the vegetables, fruits and dates (the receipt attached details all three. Of course, if you only ordered and received vegetables, you will only be billed for vegetables!) The second is for delivery (including VAT) and the third is for products from our associates.

At the beginning of September, you will receive a monthly bill clearly detailing the orders and their dates. If you do not receive it by email, please let us know.

Please make sure the bill is correct, and let us know of any necessary revisions. At the bottom of the bill, the words “ “סהכ לתשלום 0 (total for payment 0) should appear. If there is any number other than zero, it means we were not able to bill your card and would appreciate your contacting us.

Thank you!

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Manu, our incredible baker, will be resuming her bread baking next week (after escorting her Alon to first grade). Please order her breads and baked goods by this Friday. The list of her tempting fare appears in our Internet order system. For directions to use the order system, please use this link.

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Eldad, of the Bentovich farm in Nir Zvi–one of the most veteran organic farms–is selling organic chickens for a short period of time. They are fresh, healthy and yummy.

The organic chickens are raised within their natural habitat, feeding on seeds, vegetable and organic mixtures. They are fed no antibiotics or other toxins, in an environment that is both pleasant and organic.

Supply is limited. Hurry and place your orders! Eldad (who will also answer any question or inquiry) 052-6233088

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So much to learn…

The opening of the school year brought with it a lesson of another kind, and thoughts about how we continue to learn, especially from mistakes.

Last week we sent you popcorn. For those who didn’t read the newsletter and were wondering about the hard, shriveled corncobs in your box— this was popcorn corn, designed to transform into that yummy treat. Each year we test the corn for readiness through various means: we examine the firmness of the kernels, their color, whether or not the plants have dried up, and the amount of time that has passed since seeding. We also pick a few cobs, remove the kernels, place them in a pot and make some popcorn. This year, all signs indicated that it was high time to pick and distribute the yellow marvel.

 

And yet… it seems that somehow not all of the cobs were ready. Some of you received popcorn cobs which did not pop well, probably because they required additional drying. As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, the proper level of moisture is critical for successful, vigorous popping. Apparently, our cobs needed additional drying time after all. We will lay the remaining popcorn cobs in the sun to enable them to finish ripening. For those who haven’t yet popped the corn we sent last week, we recommend you place them in the sun for about a week to let them continue to dry.

We learn from mistakes.

 

And beyond learning from mistakes, we continue to learn new things every season. This year, it is the Jerusalem artichoke growing joyfully in our fields. We consulted with our farmer colleagues who are experienced in growing this lovely crop, to ask: When do we cut back on the watering? How do we know when it’s time to harvest? What is the best way to pick them without harming or breaking the tubers? It’s fun to learn new things, but also a bit scary. We hope to soon provide you with delicious, juicy Jerusalem artichokes. Stay tuned!

 

And as part of the lessons we’ve learned through the years, we have begun our autumn planting, even though summer seems to still be going full force. Planting cauliflower in the middle of August takes a lot of trust and courage. Trusting that summer is bound to end, that the longer nights will slowly cool down and aid the cauliflower, that cabbage and carrots will be well received within the earth. We have learned to trust the season changes and act accordingly. On the other hand, we have learned that we must keep a close eye on the new seedlings, tending to their regular irrigation (they received their first helping of water manually, by hose, under the close attention of Poom), to stretch nets over them for shade and pray for no more surprise heat waves. Wish our little ones luck!

 

And one thing we would like to teach, or remind, you: over the next few weeks we will sometimes send two types of hard squashes: slices of pumpkins, which you should use promptly (those of you who haven’t yet tried the recipe for pumpkin in coconut milk sent by Avital- it’s highly recommended! See Recipe Corner below.) But when we send the smaller squashes (butternut squash, acorn squash, Japanese kury squash, etc.) there is no need to use them at once. In our storage house, when they are in boxes or in a huge pile, it’s hard to keep them cool and ventilated. If we keep them in storage for later delivery, they will rot and ruin. On your kitchen counter, however, they stand the good chance of keeping a few more weeks, even months.

 

Together with the vegetables in the field, we send our heartfelt wishes for success to the younger generation of Chubeza who are starting first grade this week: Be’eri, Alon, Maya, Neria and Ori. And our best wishes to their excited parents (and savta, Melanie),as well. We wish you a wonderful school year, with successes and trials-and-error, friendship and growth.

 

Wishing all students an interesting year, full of fun and happiness, from all of us at Chubeza

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Chinese chives, white-leaved savory or lemon verbena (Louisa), lettuce, eggplants, green soy (edamame) or okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, a slice of Tripolitanian pumpkin, red or green bell peppers, corn, spaghetti squash or butternut squash

In the large box, in addition: Thai yard long beans, cherry tomatoes, scallions

Wednesday: sweet red peppers, butternut squash, a slice of Tripolitanian pumpkin, tomatoes, scallions, eggplants, cucumbers, lettuce, basil, potatoes or corn, Thai yard long beans or green soy (edamame) or okra

In the large box, in addition: lemon verbena (Louisa), leek, carrots

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. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

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PUMPKIN RECIPES

Avital from Jerusalem sent me these wonderful pumpkin recipes, one super-easy, and one for the more seasoned cook:

OVEN-ROASTED PUMPKIN SLICES

Wash pumpkin; do not peel. Dry and cut into slices and place on baking (parchment) paper. Spread olive oil, salt, pepper and a slight amount of sugar. Bake at very high temperature for 30 minutes. Pumpkin slices will be glazed and slightly brown. Mix 2 t. raw tehina with 1 t. date honey (silan) and drizzle over pumpkin.

WHITE, ORANGE AND GREEN FISH IN CREAM SAUCE OR COCONUT MILK, WITH SLICED PUMPKIN & PEAS

Ingredients:

Fresh fillet of tilapia (amnon) or any other fresh fish suitable for short cookingMedium onion, sliced into thin ringsHot green pepper, seeded and sliced to rings (optional)Kury squash (or acorn or butternut squash), clean and sliced, with peeling, into triangles2 c. peas, defrostedScallionsCan of coconut milkCanola, peanut or olive oilSalt, freshly ground pepper1 t. date honey or honey or Demerara sugar (or any other natural sugar)

Preparation:

  • In a wide, flat pan, sauté onion without browning (together with the hot pepper rings, if desired).
  • Add pumpkin slices and coconut milk, season, and add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick.
  • Cover and bring to a moderate boil. Cook over low heat for around 10 minutes.
  • Remove lid and add the peas and scallions, and shake pan till everything is mixed. If you use a wooden spoon to mix, the pumpkin will separate.
  • The sauce thickens quickly, so a bit of water may be added as needed. Check seasonings.
  • Carefully place the fish portions between the vegetables, covering them with the sauce and vegetables. Shake pan slightly.
  • Cook over low heat and turn off the heat. Leave pan closed for several minutes.

Aley Chubeza 124, August 13th-15th 2012

STIFLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This week, when Alon and I checked the weather forecast for the upcoming week, we encountered that sizzling red sun symbol blazing over each day of the week, next to anticipated temperatures of 33-34 degrees and 25 degrees by night. Hot and humid. OK, we said, in a brave attempt to console ourselves: this must surely be the last week it will be so hot. The nights are growing longer, and soon things will cool down. It will still be hot, true. But maybe just a tad less hot….

It’s important to keep our spirits up, because soon, soon—in the middle of August—we intend to begin our autumn planting. The trays of seedlings are due to arrive this week, and weather permitting, we’ll plunge them into the waiting clumps of earth by the end of this week. Or, alternatively, at the beginning of next week.

Meanwhile, despite the heat—or maybe because of the heat—there are a host of things happening in the field. This week we’ll let you share a glimpse of the beauty, the grace and the various occurrences that have transpired in our field over the past weeks. Our great thanks to Chana, who comes to Chubeza with camera-in-hand every month to skillfully capture the unfolding drama in our fields. I also added a few snapshots I’ve taken of the Jerusalem artichoke in its glorious bloom, which I promised long ago to share with you.

Enjoy, enjoy:

Our corn crop now spans the gamut, from tiny sprouts beginning their way in the world to garden-beds that have been picked clean. Hues here range from green to yellow to brown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cherry tomato vines are laden with blushing red beauties: multitudes of dainty tomatoes in an array of shades from whitish-green to ruby-red. No one can pass by without polishing off a quick nosh or more….

 

 

 

In the neighboring bed are the peppers, the last of their family to ripen in summer, who are earnestly turning from green to red. In the coming weeks, you’ll meet them in your boxes, juicy and sweet.

 

 

 

The zucchini have been with us from the start of the season. Tenacious critters, they courageously beat the summer heat and the slew of seasonal viruses who endear themselves to the vegetable. Tough survivors that they are, these plants have succeeded in producing lovely, fair-skinned fruit– and at the end, a delicate flower that has yet to fall.

 

The Jerusalem artichoke, a cousin of the sunflower, goes really wild in a lush, verdant green jungle, adorned by hip yellow flowers.

 

 

 

 

Did we say “jungle?” Check out this man-size Jerusalem artichoke wall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if the subject is flowers, summer is a splendid celebration of blooms growing throughout the field—without which, of course, there would be no fruit.

From top to bottom: okra flower with a friend (look closely), zucchini flower and friends, and a Thai yard long bean blossom posing alongside a ripe pod

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, it’s not only flowers who host the summer insects, present en masse in our field…

 

 

 

 

To ease the growth of the sensitive plants among us, we cover them in shade netting. Those who usually rate this special treatment are the many varieties of greens. We salute them all for surviving the oppressive summer heat of the field.

 

And this is our rather permanent state throughout these days of stifling summer heat– sans the planting and seeding, but  hard at work with the tasks that come with ripening: picking, picking and more picking.

(in photo: our glamorous green okra)

 

May we all make it through this week with plenty to drink, splashing and paddling away, in the shade, with friends and family we love to get-together-and-sweat-together with….

Alon, Bat Ami, and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: basil, scallions, melon, eggplant, okra or long Thai yard long beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, a slice of pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, corn, red bell peppers

In the large box, in addition: potatoes, spaghetti squash, parsley/coriander

Wednesday: green or red bell peppers, corn, a slice of pumpkin, tomatoes, scallions, eggplants, cucumbers, potatoes, parsley, cherry tomatoes, Thai yard long beans

In the large box, in addition: okra, melons, nana

Aley Chubeza #118 – July 2nd-4th 2012

Messages

Last week we charged your cards for June vegetables. To clarify, the billing is a  three-part process:

  • Fruits, vegetables and dates (your invoice/receipt includes any or all of these items  received)
  • A second invoice for delivery (separately, as this includes VAT)
  • A third charge for “extra” products from our associates (excluding fruit and dates)

To lessen the confusion, we began sending you a monthly invoice detailing the orders on the dates they were made. This monthly invoice should have appeared in your inbox on Monday. If it still hasn’t arrived, kindly inform us.

Please look over the invoice, ascertain that it’s correct, and let us know if there are any revisions in order. The bottom line should be a sum total due of “0.” If not, we were probably not able to charge your cards and would appreciate your letting us know. Thanks!

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Melissa, mother of Mipri Yadeha, informed me of a slight price rise. From this month, a package of dried fruits will cost 12 shekels, while a package of fruit leather will cost 20 shekels. A full, updated list of products in stock appears on our order form.

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Helaf, our fruit grower, has also refreshed our supply. Farewell to oranges and strawberries, hello to grapes, plums and the visiting avocado. Prices in our order form.

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Manu, our sourdough bread baker, informed us that she will be on vacation between 16-30 of July. If you wish to expand your bread order next week, you can do so by the end of this week. A full list of breads available can be found in our order form.

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And while we’re on the topic of summer vacations… Once again, we urge you to advise us of any vacations, absences and/or changes as early as possible, especially during the summer and all its changes in routine. We simply cannot accept late changes. Requests for changes in deliveries and products must be received by the morning one day before your delivery. Thank you in advance for your cooperation, and have a great summer!

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A Short Summer Update

There’s no time to write a real newsletter this week, just a few words about the abundance in our field these days. Summertime is a very busy harvest and picking season. Every week, another vegetable or two are added, to our great joy and happiness.

After we welcomed the corn, our okra began yielding nice quantities, and after it came the long Thai beans. Sweet watermelons were added to this week’s boxes. Meanwhile, sweet bell peppers are growing round on the bushes, waiting for us to pick them so the plants can concentrate on making the rest of the peppers red.

And of course, a colorful assortment of winter squashes is filling up the crates in our storage room. Last week, we picked the squash from the drying-up bushes, and they await gradual distribution to your boxes: green acorn squash, orange Japanese Kury pumpkins, green Kabocha squash, coarse and round, spaghetti squash in orange and yellow, a Turkish turban green-and-white squash (thank you, Klara, for the seeds) and mini-Pam round orange  pumpkins.

The corn has been growing nicely, and there is a lovely succession from one bed to another, seeded a week apart. We hope they frequent many of your boxes.

Why dine alone….At Chubeza, the wildlife is feasting away on our field. We covered the watermelon plot with netting to keep away the birds that just love noshing. Then the bushes themselves became entangled in the net, and it’s become difficult to lift it to gather the ripe watermelons. We will have to eventually untie the thicket and recover them.

The corn, too, has been hosting a variety of wildlife who heard about its delectable qualities, and for the past few weeks they have been consuming many (hundreds!) of cobs. The field is not fenced, so it is especially hard to prevent wildlife’s entry. In this case, we must deal with the issue via the Israel Nature and Parks Authority supervisors whose job it is to mediate between the wild and cultivated in the area. The local supervisor came on Monday to advise us.

Till then, the body is getting used to the heat, we’re not suffering as much anymore (but still sweating buckets), trying to get through the days, slowly, day by day, and happily greet new and familiar vegetables we’ve anxiously awaited since last year.

Congratulations to Lobsang who celebrated his birthday yesterday. Wishing you much good and happiness from all of us!

May you have a wonderful week! Drink a lot, and keep out of the sun,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN OUR SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: melon or watermelon, lettuce, cilantro, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, scallions or chives, eggplant, potatoes, pumpkin or mini-Pam pumpkin.

In the large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach, bell peppers, lemon verbana or white savory.

Wednesday: eggplants, lettuce, white savory or oregano, tomatoes, corn, zucchini or Remiro sweet red peppers, cucumbers, or fakus, potatoes, dill or cilantro, mini-Pam pumpkin, melon or watermelon.

In the large box, in addition: bell peppers, leeks or scallions or chives, 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 #115, June 11th-13th 2012

This week Melissa informed me that the time has come for her classic, sweet and sour, delicious dried apricot “leather.” It is Melissa’s custom to ponder about life and current affairs as she waits for the leather to dry in the drying machine. Here are her current thoughts:

In the spirit of the changing seasons, dreams coming true and the belief that the impossible can happen in a surprising moment, Mipri Yadeha announces the arrival of the apricot – as a dry fruit or in “leather” form. There is an expression in Arabic “Bukra f’il Mishmish” – in the morning, an apricot. According to Mahmoud, our local translator, the expression conveys the idea that the unexpected can come true in a moment: here you are, waking up in the morning, and all of a sudden- there is apricot!

Lately, an Israeli-Palestinian group, Heartbeat wrote a new song by that name.

In a like manner, a new thing happened in Israel almost a week ago, when the high court acknowledged the right of non-orthodox rabbis to be eligible for public funding. After almost seven years of battling, Rabbi Miri Gold of Gezer (neighbors to Chubeza) was granted an official status as spiritual leader of the reform community in the kibbutz

 So good morning new world, tomorrow is a new day, let us feast on apricots together, we could even bless a Shehecheyanu!

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I happily received Naomi and Yiftach’s message about a sourdough bread workshop by “Yiftach Bread.” Yiftach is an artist of a baker and a great teacher.

The workshop can be held at your home, anywhere in the country, for a small group. All you need is a standard home oven and a table to work on.

Yiftach’s workshops are deep, contemplative ones, giving tools for the wide world of baking. Meeting Yiftach is a gift to anyone interested in natural food, specifically in baking.

Further details can be found in the attached document, or contact Naomi at 02-5333610.

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The Green Leaves of Summer

Together with the apricot, another sign of summertime’s advent is our field. The cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have officially ended their term, after kindly providing one final small yield. This distinguished family was quickly replaced in the field– and our boxes– by the summer residents, the cucurbits. This huge, proliferated clan includes the cucumbers and fakus already in your boxes, our varieties of zucchini/summer squash (four different types this year), the melon that popped in for a visit, the watermelon which is on its way, and of course, a wealth of small, medium-sized and giant pumpkins, growing in a big thicket, soon to appear in your boxes.

Alongside the pumpkins, there’s a new guy on the block: the Jerusalem artichoke, aka “sunroot,” “sunchoke,” “earth apple” or “topinambour.” It is really a sort of sunflower (the kind whose bulbs are eaten) and its pretty plant, which really does resemble a small sunflower plant, grew quickly. We anxiously await its bloom, which I will promptly share with you.

The second family is of course the Solanaceaes, who received their name from the sun–sol in Latin– the great sovereign (some say tyrant) of summertime. Its first representative is actually a wintery fella, the only member of the family that appreciates cold weather and grows mostly in the cool days of autumn, winter and the beginning of springtime. This is, of course, the potato, now ready to be harvested in our field. The potatoes you received lately, ever since our autumn crops ended (harvested in the midst of wintertime) came from other fields. Last week, we began digging out our very own Chubeza-grown potatoes. As in autumn, we seeded two different varieties, the white and red, and they are both gradually climbing out of the earth.

The rest of the family members love heat, and after a difficult encounter with the slow, moderate spring we had this year, they slowed down their growth pace. Currently they are enjoying a quick, carefree sprint towards summer ripening. The eggplant and tomato (from this week, at least some of them are Chubeza’s very own) are already ripening, and our pepper is at their heels. In the meantime, we’re purchasing them from hothouses.

The field is turning various shades of green, but beyond the irrigation system it’s definitely summertime: everything around us is yellow and thorny; the seeds are mostly scattered, awaiting rain, and we are sweating away in the heat. Our bodies are slowly getting used to the burden of summer, remembering the heat, the feeling of sweaty skin, and a constant thirst, despite the water we cannot stop drinking. We are attempting to enjoy the relatively cool mornings and then the relief around 3:00 PM.

This brings to mind a legend I read in the book I received from Maya (Alon’s wife), legends for the book of Genesis, by Rabbi Shmuel Avidor HaCohen Every Blade of Grass Has its Angel

The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds… (Genesis 1, 12)

For every vegetation created in this world, an angel is created.

This angel watches over the vegetation, protecting it from pests, always reminding the small grass that it must grow. When it gets tired and stops growing, the angel drops a drop of water upon it to awaken it from its slumber. When it is hungry, the angel feeds it with dew, and when it bends over, the angel blows on it softly, till it straightens. Like a good mother taking care of her baby, the angel cultivates its grass, whispering to it incessantly: “Grow! Grow! Grow!” And each grass knows its angel, loves it and looks forward to its blessing. Only when the heat of the summer is too heavy, do the angels escape the heat and ascend to the heavens. The grass then dries up, bow down to the earth and its color turns yellow. When they are bereft on an angel, they are like orphans whose mothers have left them.

So we’re not angels, and we’re not ascending to any heavens. Every beginning of summer, I think about the beautiful lyrics of Meir Ariel’s song “Summer Seeds,” identifying with the wonder and hope and apprehension towards the type of summer we are about to meet, hoping that whatever will be, we do ultimately get a wave of love:

Summer seeds are carried in the wind, Stirring up memories, Awakening yearnings

Summer seeds brush your nose with A hint to the type of summer in the wings.

What is this approaching summer all about, with its finer-than-fine fragrance

A wave of love coming our way, breaking the yearning from afar.

(Meir Ariel)

 

Wishing us all health, friendship, and happiness! And don’t forget to drink!

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team, getting used to the heat…
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 WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday:  Cilantro or parsley, lettuce, eggplant or sweet red peppers, scallions or chives, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, onions, beets, potatoes, melon

In the large box, in addition: basil, New Zealand spinach or Swiss chard, carrots

Wednesday: eggplants, lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, beets, zucchuni, cucumbers or fakus, parsley or dill or cilantro, corn, melons, potatoes – only small boxes

 In the large box, in addition: leek, Swiss chard or New Zealand spinach, basil, carrots