October 19th-21st 2020 –  A Different Renewal

After the holidays, all will renew
Even those weekdays you thought that you knew
Air, dust, fire and rain
Even you will start over again

  • Naomi Shemer, Hitchadshut

 Together with you all, we anxiously await the arrival of Routine. Expecting life to go back to normal is a yearning for renewal and an awakening to life, sort of like waiting for rain at the end of summer. I feel like we’re all going through some kind of parched dryness, a personal and social drought… Even here at Chubeza, although there is always work, the general mood of heaviness cannot help but permeate. And now, as summer has made its way to autumn, how appropriate would it be to feel some drops of normality splatter across our lives, along with the actual rain that we’ve been waiting for from the minute we put away our Sukkah.

Easing the lockdown and going back to normal will be gradual and hesitating, just like the beginning of autumn: a roller coaster of weather, from hot and humid surprising days to moderate and even cool temperatures. But it’s definitely on its way, slowly but surely. Let us hope together that the season of dryness will be replaced by a wet, rainy season of life filled with friends, extended family, cultural events, movement, unintimidating breaths and growth.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens – they’re already so beautiful, with gentle clouds lining the clear translucent blue, where an occasional breeze propels them from side to side, whooshing leaves and tousling leafy green beds. We are hoping against hope that their wings bring changes as well.

For now, the last of the summer crops are celebrating their final weeks with us, handing over the stick in this relay race to vigorous winter veggies: carrots, beets, kohlrabi, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes and turnips that are already skipping happily to the packing house.

We tried valiantly to send you the cute little movie that our Chubeza vegetables made for you in honor of Sukkot, but somehow I couldn’t link it to email. Now I am trying a different method. Click this link to watch. I hope this time it works!

COLOR YOUR BOXES GREEN

I always know for a fact autumn is in full blast when my green-o-meter shows a dozen emails with the subject, “What ARE all the green leaves in my box this week!?”  Indeed, winter generates a broad variety of greens dotting Chubeza’s fields, filling up your boxes. Some of you are delighted with the plethora of greens over the winter, and even request we avoid removing the beet and turnip leaves so as to make use of them as well. Yet others of you are a bit overwhelmed, and wonder what can be done (again) with all those greens. This year we’ve actually expanded the shades of greens, making the realm even more confusing. So for those who are still miffed, I am proud to present:

Swiss Chard

   

A sibling of the beet, differing by growing huge leaves instead of a thick root. This year we are growing a colorful variety named “Bright Light” boasting stems in a wide variety of colors and leaves that are just a tad curlier than traditional chard.

Swiss chard is perfect in soup, quiches, and stuffing, as well as steamed or tossed, and even tossed fresh in a salad

Here is a wide variety of recipes.

Tatsoi

    טאטסוי

A native of the Far East, member of the choy or soy family, belonging to the Brassicaceae dynasty. This year we are growing two varieties of tatsoi in two different colors: the familiar and beloved green, and a yummy, stunning red.

Its flavor is just slightly bitter, not sharp, but very distinctive. Excellent when served with piquant flavors (mustard and black pepper), ginger, sesame and sweet fruit varieties.

Like mustard greens or Swiss chard, tatsoi can be used fresh in salads, tossed or cooked, in soup, quiches, omelets, and more.

Here are some reflections on tatsoi, and a recipe. Scroll down and you’ll find some links to other recipes.

 Bok Choy

An immigrant from China (rassica rapa var chinensis) belonging to the esteemed Brassicaceae family. Bok choy comes in green or reddish-purple, and its unique flavor is fresh with a tinge of sweetness. Somewhat similar in flavor to cabbage (like his brother, the totsoi) bok choy is less sharp than mustard greens, and simply delicious.

Sometimes we harvest it mature, as a great big head sliced close to the earth like celery stalks or lettuce. At this stage it is perfect for light steaming or stir fries and combines well with such flavors as soy sauce, mirin, or ginger. But these past weeks we have been harvesting it young, allowing it to grow once more for an additional harvest. Bok choy’s tiny little leaves are ideal for giving every salad a boost, and blend splendidly with such sweet and sour flavors as oranges, fennel, kohlrabi, apples, cranberries, etc. Perfect!

Three recipes by Yael Gerti, Ynet (Hebrew)

 

New Zealand Spinach

As indicated by its name, its origins are in New Zealand and Australia. Discovered by Captain Cook on the beaches of New Zealand, this green was harvested, cooked and even taken along on voyages to fight Vitamin C deficiency-caused diseases (i.e., tetanus). New Zealand spinach is ideal for our local climate, thanks to its penchant for warm weather. Sporting small and meaty leaves, it enthusiastically sprawls and spreads.

New Zealand spinach can be used in any recipe calling for mustard greens, but is definitely suitable as a Swiss chard replacement. To prepare for cooking, one must remove the leaves from the stem which is hard and inedible. Unlike regular mustard greens or Swiss chard, eating New Zealand spinach raw is not recommended. First soak it in hot water for several minutes, then wash with cold water.

Recipes for New Zealand Spinach

    

Arugula

This yummy green goes by many names: arugula, rucola, roquette and rocket lettuce. Its flavor is piquant, typical of the Brassicaceae family. Like spinach, arugula can come in many forms, from huge and meaty to small and dainty.

The arugula greens are spicy, but they have their own distinctive type of piquant flavor which make them a distinctive addition to a salad, even combined with sweet fruit. Cheeses go quite well with arugula, and a very light cooking can temper its sharpness a bit.

You can find many recipes if you conduct an internet search for “arugula” or “rocket lettuce.”

Mizuna 

  

 

A green member of the Brassicaceae family, otherwise known as Japanese spinach or Brassica rapa. Mizuna sports long, thin leaves with serrated edges and a gentle, sweet-like flavor. The plant was cultivated in Japan back in ancient times, but probably originated in China.

Mizuna’s flavor is neutral, which is why it goes well as a decorative addition and basis for appetizers and main dishes, as well as a great salad herb. It tends to star in the “baby” mesculun mixes (ours as well), but also stands on its own and even is great stir-fried.

Mizuna and daikon salad (thank you to Julie from Tel Aviv)

Mizuna salads recepies from Mariquita Farm

and a stir-fry option

Vegetable greens like being connected to their roots and the earth. When you want to store them after harvesting, you must attempt to prevent two unwanted side effects: drying up and rotting. There are several methods for long-term storage. First, to prevent rotting, avoid moistening the greens and only wash them prior to use. To keep them moist, large leaves like lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, tatsoi, spinach and mustard greens should be wrapped (unwashed) in cloth or paper and placed in a plastic bag in order for the moisture to be absorbed without actually drying up.

By the way, lots more recommendations on how to store the various vegetables are found on our website under Storage Tips.

But for all this green abundance to actually grow, we desperately need winter showers! You are all encouraged to not only reflect but also to implore, plead, insist, beg, pray, hope or practice the steps to your rain dance till that rain comes to grace us with its presence.

That’s all for now! I hope the green picture is a bit clearer for you all. But never fear. Should an unrecognizable guest arrive in your boxes, we are just a phone call away for clarification. You are always welcome to pose questions by phone (054-653-5980, although often it’s hard to get ahold of us) or by email (csa@chubeza.com). Our loyal Facebook page of Chubeza members is always helpful as well for information or suggestions.

May we all enjoy a week of good fortune, health and growth!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S GREEN BOXES?

Monday:  Basil/Swiss chard, lettuce, arugula/mizuna/totsoi, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, coriander/parsley, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Daikon/beets, bell peppers/Jerusalem artichokes, New Zealand spinach, zucchini/carrots/onions.

FRUIT BOXES: Green or red apples, pears, oranges, pomegranates.

Wednesday: Basil/arugula/mizuna, lettuce, New Zealand spinach/totsoi, cucumbers, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, coriander/parsley, potatoes/carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers. Small boxes only: lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/leeks/Jerusalem artichokes.

Large box, in addition: Swiss chard, eggplant, Daikon/beets/turnips, zucchini/onions.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples/banana, pears/avocado, oranges, pomegranates.

October 29th-31st 2018 – Beeting to Its Very Own Drum

beet-it

On the night between Thursday and Friday, we had a downpour of perfect rain. It was strong, satiating, permeating and deep-reaching. This week the East Winds returned, drying things up, and the rest of the week is looking rather hot and dry. But hey, we are not ones to lose hope, and we keep remembering that it is indeed autumn – night comes early, the vegetable boxes abound with juicy roots, and the rain will eventually come. (Amen!)

One of the autumn hallmark vegetables is the red beet. We seeded him at the end of summer, and now ask him real nicely to trust us and peek out and grow, because autumn is in the horizon. Sure enough, he is one of the first to indicate that the vegetable ensemble in our boxes is transitioning from summer to winter. This season, the beet arrives at your home with its beautiful green leaves which soaked up sunrays for him, boosting his growth. So in honor of this great vegetable, we’ll step up the beat to the song of praise for Chubeza’s beets.

beauty-and-the-beets

The first half of the annals of Beet History is actually the history of Swiss chard, its immediate relative and possibly even its older brother. Their common ancestor is probably the wild beet which grows along the Mediterranean area, whose leaves and stems were gathered as an early source of food. Naturally, the first farmers to deal with the beet attempted to cultivate a plant that yields large leaves and wide chubby stems, i.e., the Swiss chard. These farmers were probably Greeks and Romans living along the Mediterranean shore, and one hypothesis holds that the family received its name “beta” because its seed pod resembles the Greek letter Beta. The Hebrew word for beet, Selek, derives from the Arabic Salak.

The beet root became edible around the second or third century. The first beet root recipes for the Roman kitchen appeared around that time, some touting such praise as “better than cabbage!” In the beginning, only young wild beet roots were gathered and cooked, and only in the 16th century do documents appear attesting to the existence of a genetic mutation in the seeds that arrived from Italy to Germany and created: the beet root. To this day, one of the beet’s nicknames is “Roman beet.” Still, even during this time, it was a scarce vegetable in Europe. At the start, it was only used medically. The red beet was known to be beneficial in treating amebic or bacterial dysentery, internal wounds, nasal congestion and hepatitis. Only in the 19th century did its culinary virtues gain recognition.

chard

The Chenopodiaceae family seeds deserve a few words as well: the beet or Swiss chard seed is in reality a collection of seeds tucked close to one another inside the dry fruit. Thus when seeded, it will grow a number of sprouts at once, meaning they must be thinned upon sprouting (some seed companies separate the collection of seeds and offer single seeds in order to allow accurate seeding and reduce the need to thin. But we go with nature…). Where there is no opportunity to thin the sprouts, the immediate results will be 10 cm-high plants whose leaves are ready to be cooked or placed in a salad. Usually the seeds sprout slowly, each at its own rhythm, over a long period of time, creating beets of various age and size. Thus, when we harvest them, we basically scan the entire bed and pull out the biggest roots, allowing more space for the remainder of the crop to grow.

In popular medicine called “like cures like” (similia similibus curentur), the belief is that plants represent their medicinal use by their shape, color or resemblance to body parts. The red beet is considered a remedy for treating blood circulation. Contrary to the purple color of other vegetables (cabbage, onion, eggplant, lettuce, pepper, basil, etc.), the purple in the beet is quite unique. Its origin is in the purple pigment category “betalain,” which contains strong antioxidant qualities and excellent capacities to battle cancer and heart disease. The beet also contains salicylic acid, an aspirinlike compound which is anti-inflammatory and contributes to the vitality of blood vessels and the heart. The beet is considered one of the “cleansing” vegetables which is highly beneficial for the liver, kidneys, and even swollen legs and constipation.

heartbeet

Unlike the internal cleansing qualities of the beet, the external experience is quite the contrary. The beet cells are unstable and they “leak” when you slice or peel the root. Cooking stabilizes the cells, which is why cooking the beet within its peel will reduce the staining. These pigments stabilize under acidic conditions, thus making pickling your beets a good (mess-preventing) idea. But beets color things other than your hands. We all know the red beet-dyed horseradish. Natural coloring extracted from beets is used as a popular food dye for pizza “tomato” sauce, pink lemonade or edible ink (the kind you might use to print on slices of meat).

Beets are usually round and red, but not exclusively. They come in many colors and shapes, ranging from striped to yellow, white, and purple. And you’re already acquainted with the elongated Chubeza beet alongside its roly-poly brother.

Despite the fact that it is a vegetable with high sugar value, and perhaps because of that fact (even higher than carrots and sweet corn), the beet is a good friend of weight watchers, containing only 30-40 calories. In addition, it is rich in folic acid, vitamin C and potassium.

Another relative is a white-root beet – the sugar beet. From the time that the Crusaders returned from their journeys, they craved the sweet flavor of the sugar they knew and loved. But sugar was an expensive commodity, imported to Europe via sea dwellers or roaming merchants. In 1747, German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf succeeded in extracting a small quantity of sugar from a beet root, then used as animal fodder. However, the process was highly labor-intensive, and the sugar content in beets was low. One of his students, Franz Achard, was more practical. He realized that if you want to extract more sugar from your beet, you just have to create sweeter beets. He then crossbred white beets and created the father of the modern sugar beet:

Tips:

  • To store beets: trim any greens (the greens pump the root dry of its liquids, like the carrot or radish), allow three centimeters of the stem, and do not cut the root. Store the beet in the vegetable drawer of a sealed container and wrap the greens in a towel and plastic.
  • In order to prevent “bleeding,” don’t cut or peel the beet prior to preparation. After cooking, steaming or baking, it will peel very easily.
  • Adding some vinegar to the cooking water reduces the smell of cooking beets and allows them to keep their color. The cooking creates a clear beet stock which can be used for food coloring (like for rice, p’titim or couscous). Beets are naturally high in sodium, thus no salt need be added when cooking.
  • When baking beets: to prevent staining, wrap in aluminum foil. It is best to add some kind of preferred seasoning, i.e., garlic, lemon slices, cumin or coriander seeds. The flavor penetrates and enriches the beet as it bakes.
  • Beets can also be microwaved: pierce an unpeeled beet with a fork (to allow the steam to escape), place in a microwavable bowl, add a bit of water and heat uncovered for 4 minutes per beet, till soft.
  • After the beets are prepared: to clean your hands of beet stains, rub with wet salt and lemon juice, then wash with soap and water.
  • When our beets come with greens, don’t trash them! Use the greens like spinach or Swiss chard for a great semi-sweet flavor.

This week we send congratulations to Yochai, my dearest little brother who has been with Chubeza from the first day. He was our first delivery person and has since assumed every possible role: field worker, deliveries, office worker… what not, helping out wherever he could lend a hand. This week he is celebrating his fortieth birthday. Who would have believed! Mazal Tov, Jocha!

To Amit, our beloved delivery person still facing health issues, we send a bounty of wishes for good health and recovery.

Thank you for your patience with all the changes and delays in deliveries as we adjust our schedules.

Shavua Tov,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, beets/daikon, cucumbers, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin/Thai yard-long beans/okra, bell peppers, New Zealand spinach, parsley/coriander/dill, arugula/mizuna.

Large box, in addition:  Carrots, kale/Swiss chard/totsoi, eggplant/zucchini

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, apples, avocadoes.    Small boxes: Oranges. Large boxes: Kiwi.

Wednesday: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, beets/daikon/radish/eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, New Zealand spinach/totsoi, parsley/coriander/dill, arugula/mizuna, carrots/zucchini.

Large box, in addition:  Slice of pumpkin, Thai yard-long beans/okra/fennel, kale/Swiss chard,

FRUIT BOXES: Oranges, plumsSmall boxes: Bananas, avocadoes.. Large boxes: Kiwi, apples.