September 12-14, 2022: COOK’S STRONGEST ALLY

NEW YEARS 5780 – CHANGES IN CHUBEZA DELIVERY SCHEDULES:

DURING THE WEEK OF ROSH HASHANAH:

  • There will be no Monday deliveries (except for those whom we will personally inform)
  • Wednesday deliveries will take place on Thursday, September 29

DURING THE WEEK OF YOM KIPPUR:

  • Monday deliveries as usual
  • Wednesday deliveries will take place on Thursday, October 6

DURING THE WEEK OF CHOL HAMOED SUKKOT, we will not be packing boxes or delivering. 

Over Chol Ha’Moed, we invite you to an Open Day in our Field – a celebration of joyful agriculture. Stay posted for further details. 

DURING THE WEEK OF SIMCHAT TORAH:

  • Monday deliveries move to Tuesday, October 18
  • Wednesday deliveries as usual

FROM THE WEEK FOLLOWING SUKKOT AND SIMCHAT TORAH, ROUTINE DELIVERY RETURNS! Those who wish to increase the size and/or contents of your pre-holiday box, please inform us as soon as possible.

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When I was alone, I lived on eggplant, the stove top cook’s strongest ally. I fried it and stewed it, and ate it crisp and sludgy, hot and cold. It was cheap and filling and was delicious in all manner of strange combinations. If any was left over, I ate it cold the next day on bread.

Laurie Colwin

Our eggplants are just now making their debut at Chubeza. They’ll be hanging around till autumn, as the sweltering outdoor temperatures remind them of their birthplace: Southern India and Sri Lanka. The eggplant first migrated from India to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, eggplants are mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the local cuisine. The Muslim Moors of North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians made their acquaintance with the exotic vegetable via commercial ties with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

The eggplant, so adored in Israeli cuisine, is one of the vegetables grown in hothouses during the cold season in order to maintain a constant supply to its Israeli aficionados. At Chubeza, we bid it farewell in winter and delightfully welcome it back with the great heat of summer. We plant eggplants in our field when winter is turning to spring, at the beginning of April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months. This is when the first eggplant seedlings acclimate in the ground, youthful and sleek with silky leaves.

The plants grow calmly, strong and healthy, and grace us with lovely purple flowers that start peeking out of the leaves around two months after being planted. (A personal thanks – again – to Chana from Jerusalem for the very beautiful photos in this newsletter.)

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply slight pressure to check its softness. An unripe fruit will be hard and unresponsive to fingertip pressure. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not soft. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax.

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

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

Eggplants arrived in Israel long before the Hebrew pioneers, for, as noted, this vegetable was – and still is – an important component in the Arabic cuisine. Archeological excavations in the Givati Parking Lot uncovered eggplant seeds over 1,000 years old!  A popular eggplant recipe from that era appears in the earliest Arabic cookbook Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Recipes) written in ninth-century Baghdad, is the buraniyyah, “the eggplant of Buran,” named after the wife of Calif Al-Ma’mun – apparently quite a talented chef in herself: “Choose small eggplants, pierce them with a knife, remove their tops and place in salted water. In a small pot, mix olive and sesame oils and fry the eggplants until cooked. Sprinkle some mori [a fermented wheat-based sauce, which probably tasted like soy sauce], black pepper and caraway seeds. Top with chopped figam leaves, and praise the Lord.”

But the love affair between eggplants and the Israeli cuisine was more complex. During the era of austerity after the State of Israel was established, eggplant recipes were invented and designed to take full advantage of this vegetable’s three most admirable characteristics: availability, low price and an amazing ability to absorb flavors. In Israel’s early days, the eggplant was used as a convenient replacement for the real thing. If liver is expensive, why don’t we just liver-flavor the eggplant (remember mocked chopped-liver?!). Are tomatoes scarce and expensive? One tomato, ten eggplants, and voila: a tomato-flavored eggplant! There is even a dessert dish: sugar-coated eggplant, baked like a strudel and occasionally served in Israeli restaurants. And alongside these wonder foods, the eggplant always starred in Mideast cuisine as a component in various salads, or sliced and fried to one day become, in Israeli culinary jargon… antipasti!

There will always be those who claim the eggplant as king of the local vegetables, but in any case, it is definitely a guest of honor in the emerging Israeli kitchen and one of the most deeply-rooted homegrown representatives of this area.

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

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

To please the eye and paint the summer green (purple and black), take a look at this array of eggplant shapes and colors:

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

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

Throwback Wednesday: if you were around in the eighties, you’ll enjoy this Zehu Ze about eggplants and other worldly issues. Enjoy!

Wishing you a great week,

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror and the Chubeza team

________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

This week we picked and pruned the chard and basil beds, whose green leaves are by now a bit weak and dishevelled. Since we prefer to let these crops regenerate and regain their vitality, we’re sending you a free gift (in addition to the veggies in the box) of a bunch of this less-than-perfect-condition chard or basil. Instead of disposing of them, we salute their dogged efforts to grow, despite it all. Give these brave guys a smile. And the upcoming round looks very promising indeed…

Monday: Red bell peppers/zucchini/cherry tomatoes, onions, parsley/coriander, popcorn, eggplant, garlic/chili peppers, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce/”baby” greens assortment. FREE GIFT: Basil/chard.

Large box, in addition: Green soy (edamame)/okra, butternut squash/ corn, long Thai lubia beans.

FRUIT BOXES:  Apples, mangos, peaches/nectarines, pears.

Wednesday: Red bell peppers, onions, parsley/coriander, popcorn, eggplant, garlic/chili peppers, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce/”baby” greens assortment. FREE GIFT: Basil/chard.

Large box, in addition: Green soy (edamame)/okra/zucchini, butternut squash, long Thai lubia beans.

FRUIT BOXES:  Apples, mangos, peaches/nectarines/plums, pomegranates.

August 2nd-4th 2021: Ode to Eggplant and Summer

The Izza Pziza dairy is taking a short summer vacation. Over the next two weeks (between August 8-20), their refreshing dairy products will not be available for purchase from Chubeza’s Order System, but they’ll be back from the week of August 22, brimming with renewed energy.

Rest up and enjoy your vacation!

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It’s been such a hot week. While we complain and sweat and try to cool ourselves down, there are actually those who are elated by the heat and humidity. One of them is the star of this week’s Newsletter!

Our eggplants are just now making their debut at Chubeza – at the peak of summer and will be remaining with us till autumn, as the sweltering outdoor temperatures remind them of their birthplace: Southern India and Sri Lanka. The eggplant first migrated from India to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, eggplants are mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the local cuisine. The Muslim Moors of North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians made their acquaintance with the exotic vegetable via commercial ties with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

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

We plant eggplants in our field when winter is turning to spring, around April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months. This is when the first eggplant seedlings acclimate in the ground, youthful and sleek with silky leaves. Two months later we plant the second round, and six weeks later in the middle of June, we plant the third and last round.

The plants grow calmly, strong and healthy, and grace us with lovely purple flowers that start peeking out of the leaves around two months after being planted. (A personal thanks – again – to Chana for the very beautiful photos in this newsletter.)

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply slight pressure to check its softness. An unripe fruit will be hard and unresponsive to fingertip pressure. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not soft.

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

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

Eggplants arrived in Israel long before the Hebrew pioneers, for, as noted, this vegetable was an important component in the Arab cuisine. The idea to match the eggplant with the charcoal grill must have arrived in the area just about the time the wheel was invented. But the love affair between eggplants and the Israeli cuisine was more complex. During the era of austerity after the State of Israel was established, eggplant recipes were invented and designed to take full advantage of this vegetable’s three most admirable characteristics: availability, low price and an amazing ability to absorb flavors. In Israel’s early days, the eggplant was used as a convenient replacement for the real thing. Liver was expensive, so let’s liver-flavor the eggplant (remember mocked chopped-liver?!). Tomatoes scarce and expensive? One tomato, ten eggplants, and voila: a tomato-flavored eggplant! There is even a dessert dish: sugar-coated eggplant, baked like a strudel and served in Israeli restaurants during interesting times. And alongside these wonder foods, the eggplant always starred in Mideast cuisine as a component in various salads, or sliced and fried to one day become, in Israeli culinary jargon… antipasti! There will always be those who claim the eggplant as king of the local vegetables, but in any case, it is definitely a guest of honor in the emerging Israeli kitchen and one of the most deeply-rooted homegrown representatives of this area.

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

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

To please the eye and paint the summer green (purple and black), take a look at this array of eggplant shapes and colors:

The first eggplants, members of the Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae is home to the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and certain non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for example) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore pose no danger to most people. (The hazardous components exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems.) It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

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

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

May this hot days be gentle on us all, drink a lot, stay cool and spend much time is the pool or at the beach…

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

________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers/melon, parsley/coriander, onions/Amoro pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, leeks/scallions, lettuce, butternut squash/slice of Tripolitan pumpkin, eggplant/carrots, corn. Small boxes: Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/okra/green soybeans (adamame).

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach/basil, Thai yard-long beans (lubia), and green soybeans (adamame).

ALL FRUIT BOXES: Pears, mango/plums, grapes. Large boxes, in addition: Apples/bananas

Wednesday: Thai yard-long beans (lubia), parsley/coriander, onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, butternut squash/slice of Tripolitan pumpkin, eggplant/sweet potatoes, corn, okra, cherry tomatoes, green soybeans (adamame).

Large box, in addition: .Bell peppers/Amoro pumpkin, scallions, New Zealand spinach/basil.

ALL FRUIT BOXES: Pears, mango/plums, grapes. Large boxes, in addition: Apples/bananas.

 

September 2nd-4th 2019 – BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO THE EGGPLANT…

The month of Elul began this week, the holidays are right around the corner, and it’s time to remind you of this extraordinary calendar to enrich your New Year.

The Shana Bagina is both a calendar and monthly guide to home gardening and local harvests. Each page brings you a delightfully illustrated bounty of information, including professional tips for the home garden, seeding and planting schedules, yummy seasonal recipes for food preservation, and much, much more.

    

This year there’s even more! Newly-available products include a tabletop calendar, calendar diary, and magnets with seeding and planting schedules, all beautifully illustrated.
Order via our order system

_______________________________

Cleaning House in My Brain / Kalli Dakos

I’m cleaning house
In my brain,
It’s BACK TO SCHOOL
Time again.
Shine windows,
Paint doors,
Vacuum rugs,
Polish floors.
Brush away
TV shows,
Picnics, beaches,
Free time goes.
Bring my memory
Back in gear,
Sweep the channels,
Crystal clear.
My brain is
An amazing tool,
And it’s all ready for
BACK TO SCHOOL!

It’s back to school and kindergartens and nurseries. Over the next month, your school-aged children will be dealing with lots and lots of words. To soften your transition from “TV shows, picnics and beaches” to “cleaning houses in your brains” – this week we will discuss the eggplant with some words, but they are accompanied by lots and lots of photos. Enjoy!

Our eggplants made their debut at Chubeza in mid-summer and will be remaining with us till autumn, as the outdoor temperatures remind them of their birthplace: Southern India and Sri Lanka. The eggplant first migrated from India to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, eggplants are mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the local cuisine. The Muslim Moors of North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians made their acquaintance with the exotic vegetable via commercial ties with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

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

We plant eggplants in our field when winter is turning to spring, around April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months. This is when the first eggplant seedlings acclimate in the ground, youthful and sleek with silky leaves. Two months later we plant the second round, and six weeks later in the middle of June, we plant the third and last round.

The plants grow calmly, strong and healthy, and grace us with lovely purple flowers that start peeking out of the leaves around two months after being planted. (A personal thanks – again – to Chana for the very beautiful photos in this newsletter.)

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply slight pressure to check its softness. An unripe fruit will be hard and unresponsive to fingertip pressure. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not soft.

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

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

Eggplants arrived in Israel long before the Hebrew pioneers, for, as noted, this vegetable was an important component in the Arab cuisine. The idea to match the eggplant with the charcoal grill must have arrived in the area just about the time the wheel was invented. But the love affair between eggplants and the Israeli cuisine was more complex. During the era of austerity after the State of Israel was established, eggplant recipes were invented and designed to take full advantage of this vegetable’s three most admirable characteristics: availability, low price and an amazing ability to absorb flavors. In Israel’s early days, the eggplant was used as a convenient replacement for the real thing. Liver was expensive, so let’s liver-flavor the eggplant (remember mocked chopped-liver?!). Tomatoes scarce and expensive? One tomato, ten eggplants, and voila: a tomato-flavored eggplant! There is even a dessert dish: sugar-coated eggplant, baked like a strudel and served in Israeli restaurants during interesting times. And alongside these wonder foods, the eggplant always starred in Mideast cuisine as a component in various salads, or sliced and fried to one day become, in Israeli culinary jargon… antipasti! There will always be those who claim the eggplant as king of the local vegetables, but in any case, it is definitely a guest of honor in the emerging Israeli kitchen and one of the most deeply-rooted homegrown representatives of this area.

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

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

To please the eye and paint the summer green (purple and black), take a look at this array of eggplant shapes and colors:

The first eggplants, members of the Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae is home to the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and certain non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for example) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore pose no danger to most people. (The hazardous components exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems.) It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

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

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

May back-to-school time be gentle on us all, and still leave some moments for picnics, beaches and leisure fun.

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

________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

The sweet potatoes are now beginning to roll into our boxes. The first bed we harvested was pretty badly damaged by mole cricket pests, with sad evidence of their bites in the form of hollows or holes on the potato’s sides. We carefully sorted this yield to select only the small, edible tubers, making certain the bites had healed and no rot would develop. When you get these sweet potatoes, know that they survived and won a painful encounter with a daunting adversary!

Monday: Potatoes, butternut squash, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, lubia Thai yard-long beans, slice of pumpkin, parsley/coriander, New Zealand spinach, red bell bell peppers. Small boxes only: Okra/Iraqi lubia.

Large box, in addition: Onions/scallions/leeks, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, corn.

ALL FRUIT BOXES: Mango, red and yellow plums, grapes. Small boxes, in addition: Bananas. Large boxes, in addition: Apples

Wednesday: Potatoes, butternut squash, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, lubia Thai yard-long beans, slice of pumpkin, parsley/coriander, New Zealand spinach/sweet potatoes, red bell bell peppers, corn.

Large box, in addition: Onions/scallions/leeks, Okra/Iraqi lubia, cherry tomatoes.

ALL FRUIT BOXES: Mango, yellow plums, apples. Small boxes, in addition: Bananas. Large boxes, in addition: Grapes.

July 2nd-4th – A ballad for summer eggplants

This week we begin with an important message from Michal and Avigail of Tahina, a cottage industry in Netiv Halamed Heh specializing in pure and unique whole grain tahini, with no additives:

A few weeks ago,  the media carried disturbing news about tahini: several Israeli tahini manufacturers are being sued on the claim that they do not disclose adding salt to their product. For us at Tahina, this is an opportunity to reassure you and proudly reiterate:

Our Tahina includes one ingredient, and one ingredient alone: pure sesame. It’s all as clear as our jar, and the very distinct information on its label: 100% sesame – 100% transparency – Nothing added, nothing removed.

And – we discovered an incredible, easy recipe to make with our tahi-na. it’s called: “Tahi-na malabi”: a layer of raw tahini, covered by a thin spread of raspberry jam (or any sweet-and-sour fruit preserve), topped with almond flakes. A delectable desert or a perfect energy boost:

Add Tahi-na to your boxes today via our order system.

___________________________________________________

Growing up here in the eighties, there were community service announcements instead of commercials. One glorified the eggplant, praising its availability year-round. Indeed, eggplants haven’t been seasonal for some time. The eggplant, so adored in Israeli cuisine, is one of the vegetables grown in hothouses during the cold season in order to maintain a constant supply to its Israeli aficionados. At Chubeza, we bid the eggplant farewell in winter and are happy to welcome it back with the great heat of summer, when the outdoor temperatures remind them of their birthplace: Southern India and Sri Lanka. (Last winter, when the cold weather refused to show up, the eggplants remained till December…)

From India and Sri Lanka, the eggplant migrated to Burma and then China. In ancient Chinese writings, eggplants are mentioned as early as the fifth century. From there, they migrated to the Middle East, where they became prominent ingredients in the local cuisine. The Muslim Moors from North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century brought eggplants with them, and the Italians made their acquaintance with the exotic vegetable via commercial ties with Arab merchants in the 13th century.

Eggplants are considered a long annual or biennial crop. We once visited Iris Ben-Zvi, a veteran organic farmer from Emek Yizrael, who showed us how to keep eggplants in the field during wintertime: at the end of their yielding, prune the plants and leave them in place for their winter sleep. In springtime they bloom again. We did try this method, but it was hard to determine whether or not the results justified the effort. So we continue to replant our eggplant crop annually.

We plant eggplants in our field when winter is turning to spring, at the beginning of April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months. This is when the first eggplant seedlings acclimate in the ground, young and youthful with silky leaves. A month later we plant the second round, and six weeks later in the middle of June, we plant the third and last round.

The plants grow calmly, strong and healthy, and grace us with lovely purple flowers that start peeking out of the leaves around two months after being planted. (A personal thanks – again – to Chana for the very beautiful photos in this newsletter.)

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply slight pressure to check its softness. An unripe fruit will be hard and unresponsive to fingertip pressure. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not soft.

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

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

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

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

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

To please the eye and paint the summer green (purple and black), take a look at this array of eggplant shapes and colors:

This year we are growing three different types of eggplants – two of the “classic” variety, and one Baladi (local) variety that connotes a cross between an eggplant and a fancy prom dress: wider (but not chubbier), with flowing curves along its length. Here’s one:

The first eggplants, members of the Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae family includes tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and certain non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for example) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore pose no danger to most people. (The hazardous components exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems.) It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

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

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

And for a chuckle – the vegetable community service announcements we told you about (eggplant is at 2:05 minutes). Enjoy!

Wishing everyone a gentle, summery week,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Melon/watermelon, Amoro pumpkin/slice of pumpkin, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers, onions/leeks,  tomatoes, potatoes, corn,  Thai yard-long beans/squash, eggplant, parsley/coriander.

Large box, in addition: Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, acorn squash/butternut squash.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, mango, banana, grapes.

Wednesday: Melon/watermelon, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, corn,  Thai yard-long beans/garlic/green beans, squash/cherry tomatoes, eggplant/butternut squash. Small boxes: Amoro pumpkin

Large box, in addition: Onions/leeks, parsley , acorn squash, slice of pumpkin,

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, mango, grapes. small boxes: banana. Large boxes: plum.

August 28th-30th 2017

Beautiful shiny eggplants

The Gonenim-Mekor-Haim Bookstop in Jerusalem is delighted to invite you to our upcoming five jam sessions celebrating creativity, community and the love of music. For details check out these ads (Hebrew and Arabic) or contact Aliza at bookstop.mh@gmail.com

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September is right around the corner, marking your very last chance to purchase the beautifully detailed and illustrated “Shana Bagina” calendar – a monthly guide to home gardening and local harvests. This year in two new editions and two languages: “Friends in the Garden” (Hebrew) and “The Porcupine Edition” (English)

For further details and a preview glimpse at the calendar, check out their website. You are welcome to order via our order system under “Chubeza vegetables”

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

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

We plant eggplants in our field when winter is turning to spring, around April, when the zucchinis and pumpkins have already been in the field for a couple of months. This is when the first eggplant seedlings acclimate in the ground, young and youthful with silky leaves. Two months later we plant the second round, and six weeks later in the middle of June, we plant the third and last round.

The plants grow calmly, strong and healthy, and grace us with lovely purple flowers that start peeking out of the leaves around two months after being planted. (A personal thanks – again – to Chana for the very beautiful photos in this newsletter.)

Within a few weeks, the flowers are fertilized and they grow round dark fruits. That is when we harvest. We prefer to pick them at a medium size and not wait for huge fruits that have passed their climax. To determine if the eggplant is ready, we measure it, but also apply slight pressure to check its softness. An unripe fruit will be hard and unresponsive to fingertip pressure. A ripe fruit is more flexible, but not soft.

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

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

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

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

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

To please the eye and paint the summer green (purple and black), take a look at this array of eggplant shapes and colors:

This year we will be growing three different types of eggplants – two of the “classic” variety, and one Baladi (local) variety that connotes a cross between an eggplant and a fancy prom dress: wider (but not chubbier), with flowing curves along its length. Here’s one:

The first eggplants, members of the Solanaceae family, were received cautiously and suspiciously by the Europeans. The solanaceae is home to the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and certain non-edible plants, some of which are lethal. Because of the eggplant’s genetics, they were suspected to be toxic as well. Even today there are those (macrobiotic enthusiasts, for example) who do not eat vegetables from the solanacea family. The harmful components are not as prominent in eggplants, and therefore pose no danger to most people. (The hazardous components exist to a higher degree in the leaves and stems.) It took some time until the Europeans could fully trust the eggplant, so in its early days it was used only as an ornamental plant, sporting its spacious leaves, impressive shape and lovely purple flowers.

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

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

And apropos eggplants – some very local, very Israeli, 80’s nostalgia.  Enjoy!

Wishing everyone a gentle, summery week,

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

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley, corn/cherry tomatoes/potatoes, yard-long beans, bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, edamame (green soy), leeks/garlic, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, scallions/onions.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/coriander, okra, butternut squash.

Wednesday: Coriander, cherry tomatoes/bell peppers, potatoes/eggplant, corn, yard-long beans,  tomatoes, edamame (green soy), leeks/garlic, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, scallions/onions.

Large box, in addition: Parsley/New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, okra, butternut squash.

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