November 30th-December 2nd 2020 – Parsley Fields Forever

This week we continue our herb odyssey. And now, make way for… (fanfare!!!) Ms. Parsley!

Köhler’s Medizinal Pflanzen 1887

“Uncle Alber had always been somewhat of a wonder-character in our family… When he moved to the lone farmhouse, we thought he would break in a week or two, but he surprised us all. He lived alone, made his own living and even found time for hobbies – he grew poems by Francis Jammes. In the parsley beds he lovingly pruned beautiful letters, words and lines. When we visited, we always found a new poem in every bed, glimmering in modest green, and beside it, with sweat-flowing temples, Uncle Alber, glowing like a sleepy saint…”

(From: “Uncle Alber” In Beach Manors)

So parsley is a great poem-writing tool, maybe specifically poems by Francis Jammes. On one hand, for us parsley is natural, everyday and very familiar, and we nonchalantly sprinkle it over salads or garnish soups. Yet in Western culture, parsley is actually associated with such heavy-duty issues as life and death, wars and victories, and romance and heartbreak.

Parsley’s been here in the Mediterranean for many years, originating in southern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, and first mentioned in ancient Greek lore. The Greeks wore garlands of parsley to celebrate victory, and would scatter parsley leaves upon gravestones. They are also the ones who gave its name, attempting to differentiate between parsley and its cousin, the celery. The title petroselinum means “rock celery,” as opposed to heleioselinon, “marsh celery” (regular celery), which grows near water sources. Perhaps because it was a holy symbol of victory and death, Greeks never served parsley as food!

The first to actually use parsley in cooking are the Romans, but parsley owes its culinary victory to Italian princess Catherine de’Medici, who married a Frenchman but refused to leave home without her Italian spices. From there, it was a short and tasty path towards parsley’s obligatory presence in every kitchen in the area.

Leaf parsley, as opposed to that grown for its thick root, has two types of leaves: flat or curly. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. The flat leaf is the more common variety, used in cooking for its rich content of the essential oil apiol, which gives it a stronger taste.

In Greek mythology, parsley is connected to the story of baby Archemorus, son of the Nemean king Lycurgus, who was left alone by his nursemaid and bitten to death by a snake. When the nurse lifted the dead child, she found a parsley bush beneath, which legend said grew from the boy’s blood. In his memory, the Greeks established the Nemenean Games in which a eulogy was recited in memory of the dead child, and the winners were crowned with garlands of parsley. Thus parsley became a sacred plant associated with honoring the memory of the dead. In the same context, parsley was dedicated to Persephone, queen of the underworld, who spends autumn and winter in the underworld and surfaces in springtime, spurring blossoming and renewal. Another underworld creature linked to parsley is Charon, ferryman of Hades, who ferried souls of the newly-deceased across the River Acheron that divided between the worlds of the living and the dead. To encourage him to take the dead to the hereafter, it was customary to use parsley at funerals and bury it near the grave.

And in an altogether different function: Children on the Island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands who ask where babies come from are told that they’re dug out of the parsley patch by golden rakes. Parsley arrangements adorned festive tables in Greece and Rome. Wearing a parsley strand was considered helpful for freshening bad breath (even garlic breath), eliminating the scent of wine and for sobering up the intoxicated.

In one of his tales, Greek biographer Plutarch tells about the life of Timoleon, a Sicilian warrior from the town of Corinth, who set out to protect the city of Syracuse against the invading Carthaginians surrounding the city from the west. Timoleon was only able to muster 3,000 soldiers to face an army ten times their might. When they climbed the hill to observe the Carthaginians, they encountered a convoy of oxen laden with parsley. The frightened soldiers saw this as cause for alarm, but Timoleon delivered an impassioned speech in which he proclaimed that the gods had sent them their victory crowns. Immediately, he made himself a crown of parsley, and his officers followed suit. Sure enough, the Sicilians braved the invaders, thanks to their skill and the patronage of a sudden rainstorm that blocked the armored and cumbersome Carthaginians.

Since she has been in this region for a good while and seen empires rise and fall, seasons change, and stars be born and die, Ms. Parsley has all the time in the world. She sprouts very slowly. In cold temperatures, this can take forever. Sometimes we’re almost dismayed when a month goes by with no sign of parsley, but just then, as we’re ready to give up, soft green shoots suddenly emerge. And as soon as it sprouts, it’s here to stay. Parsley survives heat and cold, sun and partial shade, continuing to grow green leaves even after many harvests – alive and kicking long after the coriander and dill go to flower and seed. In contrast to annual plants, she is a biennial, sticking around for two years before blooming and seeding.

Parsley has always been popular in home gardens and in window boxes. Different reasons have been attributed to parsley’s growth pattern, perhaps because the seeds sprout so slowly. In cold England, the belief is that parsley seeds pay a few visits to Satan and back before they can sprout. This is why sprouting parsley seeds under glass is a good idea in cold weather, since it warms the ground and perhaps halts a visit to the underworld.

According to one ancient belief, parsley only grows in homes where the woman is dominant. Or there are others who claim that parsley only grows for witches and cruel women (dominant or not)… Plus, if your parsley has already sprouted and grown, don’t dare dig it out, as this will bring bad luck. Or – if you give someone your parsley, you give away your luck as well. So next time you move, try to find an apartment with a window box that holds parsley.

But aside from matters of luck, parsley is good for us. The first proof of this comes from my husband’s favorite childhood book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, with the story of hungry Peter Rabbit, a farmer’s nightmare: “First he ate some lettuce and some broad beans, then some radishes, and then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.”

As a veteran of the Western world, parsley is known as a rich source of a host of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C (three times more than citrus!), folic acid, beta-carotene, pro-vitamin A, potassium and magnesium. But lately it’s been glorified yet again, this time by the Asians: Japanese research has recently discovered a new vitamin, pyrroloquinoline quinine (or PQQ). The previous new vitamin was discovered in 1948! PQQ, which is most likely connected to the vitamin B group, is involved in encouraging fertility, and researchers believe it has other health advantages as well. Good sources of PQQ are parsley, green tea, green pepper, papaya, nato (fermented soybeans) and kiwi.

Herbs in the Umbelliferae family–including parsley–contain phytochemicals, many of which have cancer-preventing attributes. These phytochemicals block hormonal activity that is linked to the development of cancer. Throughout history, parsley has been used to treat a variety of medicinal problems. It seems to be the ultimate magic potent: drinking a parsley brew is good for treating indigestion, urinary tract infections and kidney diseases. For swollen eyes, it’s best to use a compress of brewed parsley liquid. Parsley helps lower both cholesterol and blood pressure; it prevents the formation of blood clots and protects against heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Parsley eases menstrual pain and can be used externally for skin problems. In addition, parsley bolsters the immune system, acts as an antiseptic, helps purify the body of toxins and is good for preventing water retention, including edema. Parsley is helpful in preventing dysentery and is beneficial for the lungs, stomach, liver and thyroid. However, pregnant women and nursing mothers are cautioned against consuming large quantities of parsley or using parsley liquid, for it can stimulate the uterus and dry up the milk. (We’re discussing large, medicinal quantities, not small pinches…)

Tips:

  • Store parsley wrapped in paper in a plastic bag, refrigerated. The paper will absorb the excess moisture, and the plastic bag will keep it from over-drying.
  • Parsley loses vitamins in the cooking process.
  • In order to coax the most taste and nutrients from parsley, add it only at the final stages of cooking or sprinkle fresh over prepared food.
  • Chewing parsley leaves after eating garlic eliminates the garlic smell from your breath (replacing it with parsley-breath…)

See our Recipe Corner for two great parsley dishes, where she’s not just a garnish, but is the true star! Parsley Latkes and Parsley Cake: עוגת פטרוזיליה לביבות פטרוזיליה

Wishing everyone a week filled with all the goodness of parsley: Life, good health, family, fortune and happiness!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror and the entire Chubeza team, living it up in the sunny days after the plentiful weekend rain

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi, lettuce, slice of pumpkin/broccoli, cauliflower/Jerusalem artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes, daikon/baby radishes, beets/fennel/turnips, coriander/parsley, carrots, sweet potatoes. Special gift: arugula/red mizuna.

Large box, in addition: Eggplant/cabbage/lubia Thai yard-long beans, scallions/celery, kale/winter spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, red apples, avocado, oranges/pomelit, clementinas.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi, lettuce, slice of pumpkin/eggplant/cabbage/lubia Thai yard-long beans, broccoli/Jerusalem artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes, daikon/baby radishes/fennel/turnips, beets, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes. Special gift: arugula/red mizuna.

Large box, in addition: Cabbage/cauliflower, scallions/celery, kale/winter spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, red apples/kiwi, avocado, oranges/pomelit, clementinas.

November 16th-18th 2020 – Spice up your week

One of the reasons we chose to work in cooperation with the “Iza Pziza” Dairy and to enthusiastically recommend their outstanding range of dairy products is because of how they raise their goat herds. At Iza Pziza, they respect the rights and needs of the animals, rather than viewing them as only a means to satisfy our needs as human beings.

In keeping with this philosophy, the dairy halts milking nanny goats from the end of their pregnancy towards birthing, all the way till when the babies are weaned. Each year during this period, most of the Iza Pziza goats are to be found in various stages of pregnancy, and the dairy is now at the point where they are forced to cease milking the majority of the herd in preparation for birthing. For the past several weeks, they have been trying to gradually decrease the milk supply, yet the seasonality and the fact that breeding is natural have created a slightly different reality.

The bottom line is that the dairy must suspend supplying products for the coming weeks in order to allow the goats to rest up in preparation for the impending births. As mentioned, even afterwards the milk will not reappear immediately since the babies will be nursing.

We hope that during January, the milk yield will once again increase and the dairy will be able to gradually return to producing all its outstanding products. In the meantime, Alon Tzaban and the wonderful Iza Pziza staff cordially invite you to come to Moshav Tal Shachar to visit the goats and maybe the new little ones as well. In their shop, you can still enjoy delicious milk, natural yogurt, and a variety of hard cheeses.

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Eliezer and Sarah-Roze of Shorshei Tzion are delighted to boost your yummy chocolate supply with three new flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate, White Chocolate Cream with Cocoa Flakes, and White Chocolate Cream with Pistachios.

These three amazing bars join the rich, distinctive line of Shorshei Zion, which produces a marvelous range of raw and healthy vegan foods from the finest raw materials. Order these products today via Chubeza’s Order System!

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Along with the large and small winter greens, this is also the ripe hour for the herbs. Every week we try to supply you with at least one contingent of the holy-but-never-boring-trinity: parsley, coriander and dill. Though they grow all year long (the parsley is the most resilient of the three), there is no comparison between the faint coriander of summer to the vigorous winter version, or a small, stubborn hot-weather parsley to its nonchalant, quick-to-bloom winter sister. Over the coming newsletters, we will showcase this fearsome threesome, so familiar, so well known, so always-there-for-us. Still, we have one or two new facts to reveal…

So…it’s time for Herb #1:

Striking a Dill

Unless you make the effort, it’s easy to overlook one of the loveliest and most beneficial herbs to grace our gardens and cuisine. Don’t let the wispy, delicate appearance of fresh dill fool you—this hearty green herb is both a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits as well as a distinctively delicious seasoning.

The English name “dill” is derived from the ancient Nordic “dilla” or “dile,” meaning “calming and soothing.” This probably reflects the common use of dill tea in folk medicine to help babies fall asleep and to soothe their painful gums. Sometimes mothers would also bake dill biscuits to ease teething woes.  Dill tea relieves stomachaches and other digestive ills, as well as increasing nursing mothers’ milk.

Officially, the proper Hebrew name for dill is “shevet reichani” – aromatic “shevet,” but the name this herb somehow ended up with is “Shamir”, a word actually used to describe a thorny wild plant used metaphorically in the Bible when describing a farm overgrown with weeds. Amotz Cohen, teacher and nature explorer, believes that dill is really the “poterium” found primarily in abandoned fields over the country.

Dill originated in Southern Europe (the Mediterranean Basin) and Russia. It is an annual plant from the Umbelliferae family, sibling to (as we already know) such other seasoning herbs as parsley, coriander, and celery, and root vegetables like carrot, parsnip, and chunky fennel. The dill’s stem is branched and its leaves are feathery. It blossoms from the branches in a way that resembles a multi-tipped umbrella. After it blossoms, the seeds can be gathered and used for seasoning and for medicinal aids.

Dill is a plant that was probably domesticated many long years ago. Our forefathers used it to season stews and for pickling, taking full advantage of the entire plant. As the Talmud (Avodah Zara 7b) describes, “the dill is tithed, seed and vegetable and stalk,” i.e., all parts of the dill are in use and hence must be tithed. Such diversity continues to this day, with green dill sprigs being used to flavor pickling brine and to garnish soups, cheeses, salads and seafood. Its seeds are used to flavor baked goods, potatoes, vegetables, cakes, sauces and liquors. In India, powdered dill seed is a main curry ingredient.

Dill’s pungent scent may be the secret to its use as an amulet against ghosts and demons, and its integral presence in the beginner witch kit. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac, and Pythagoras recommended holding a bundle of dill in your left hand to prevent epileptic seizures (perhaps because seizures were perceived as being caused by the demon). The Greeks viewed dill as a symbol of prosperity, and flaunted their wealth by burning oil spiked with dill.

Herbs in the Umbelliferae family–including dill–contain phytochemicals, many of which have cancer-preventing attributes. These phytochemicals block hormonal activity that is linked to the development of cancer cells. Recent research has indicated that dill boasts a high level of antioxidant capabilities as well.

Other research analyses and reconfirms the virtues of dill in soothing the digestive system. It has been found to be chock full of bactericide compounds and to have a protective influence on the Gastric mucosa.

Some folk remedies:

  • To make dill tea: Pour boiling water over the dill greens and steep, or cook 5 teaspoons of seeds in 1 liter water for 15 minutes. Drain.
  • To relieve gas, regulate digestion and encourage lactation for nursing mommies, to freshen your breath and ease a cough: sweeten with honey and drink 2-3 cups per day.
  • Give colicky babies 5 teaspoons of dill tea per day.
  • To get rid of bad breath: gargle dill tea several times per day.
  • For eye infections: dip a cloth pad in the warm liquid and place on the eye.

Dill is a source of such vitamins and minerals as potassium, beta carotene (pro vitamin A), folic acid, and vitamin C.

Tips for dill use

  • The dill that grows in India is a different species. Its seeds are bigger, but their taste is milder, which is why when you are cooking an Indian recipe, it is recommended to reduce the amount of dill seeds by 30-50%.
  • To make dill-spiced vinegar, use a mild vinegar (apple vinegar, for instance), place a bundle of dill inside, add a clove of garlic and pepper, if desired. Store for a few weeks in a cool, dark spot.

You can find recipes for dill use in our ever-growing recipe section.

This week has been a wonderful interlude between rain and sunshine. Now we wish you all a bright rainy week to come, fragrant with blossoms, spiced with a smile, and free of stomachaches, toothaches and heartaches!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

This Monday we sent you herbs and certain vegetables without wrapping them in plastic bags. This is because packing rain-wet greens in plastic bags will cause them to rot. But—to help the veggies best maintain their freshness once they reach your home, place them in bags or airtight plastic containers lined with paper towels. 

Monday:  Winter spinach/kale, slice of pumpkin/zucchini, arugula/mizuna, beets/onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/kohlrabi/daikon/Jerusalem artichokes, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots/potatoes, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: cabbage/cauliflower.

Large box, in addition: Swiss chard/bok choy/totsoi, baby radishes/fennel, bell peppers/eggplant/lubia Thai yard-long beans, scallions/celery.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, apples/kiwi, clementinas, oranges/pomelit/pomela, avocados.

Wednesday:  Swiss chard/bok choy/totsoi/celery, slice of pumpkin/lubia Thai yard-long beans, beets/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/kohlrabi/daikon/baby radish, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: cabbage/cauliflower/Jerusalem artichokes, bell peppers/eggplant.  A gift: arugula/mizuna

Large box, in addition: Winter spinach/kale, fennel, scallions/onions.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, apples/kiwi, clementinas, oranges/pomelit/pomela, avocados.

January 1st-3rd 2018 – Spice up your year

This week I would like to open the year on a happy note (and with a request) by telling you about a very special place, The Kaima Farm at Hukuk.  This farm, situated just above the Sea of Galilee, is modeled after the Kaima project in Beit Zait to employ and empower Israeli youth who have already dropped out of school or are nearly there. Via agriculture, these youth opt instead to trust and hope, find meaning and a different way to learn and develop. They are paid to control and operate the field together, growing seasonal organic vegetables and marketing them to various distribution areas around the Galilee. Thus, these young workers gain the opportunity to experience the world of employment, assume responsibility and create an empowering, secure and respectful environment.

And we all reap the rewards: the young workers who acquire a place in which to grow, find meaning and belong; the farm staff who get to work at what they believe in and love; the residents of the area who enjoy healthy, fresh, homegrown vegetables, the ecological system in maintaining its existence; the local community gaining biological and human diversity, and the many visitors and volunteers who enjoy staying at the farm to take part in workshops and actual farming. Of course, we, the somewhat distant community, benefits as well by realizing that within the sometimes harsh reality of life, another beautiful project of goodness and growth is thriving.

The Kaima Farm has been around for a year and a half, and these days has embarked upon a fundraising campaign aimed to clear the debt they’ve shouldered since their establishment to cover expenses for the primary infrastructure. Dissolving this debt will allow their own continuation and growth, as well as that of the various circles with which they are affiliated. I implore you to visit this link, read about The Kaima Farm at Hukuk, get acquainted, donate generously, and spread the word: https://www.giveback.co.il/project.aspx?id=2241.

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Along with the large and small winter greens, this is also the ripe hour for the herbs. Every week we try to supply you with at least one contingent of the holy-but-never-boring-trinity: parsley, coriander and dill. Though they grow all year long (the parsley is the most resilient of the three), there is no comparison between the faint coriander of summer to the vigorous winter version, or a small, stubborn hot-weather parsley to its nonchalant, quick-to-bloom winter sister. Over the coming newsletters, we will showcase this fearsome threesome, so familiar, so well known, so always-there-for-us. Still, we have one or two new facts to reveal…

So…it’s time for Herb #1:

Striking a Dill

Unless you make the effort, it’s easy to overlook one of the loveliest and most beneficial herbs to grace our gardens and cuisine. Don’t let the wispy, delicate appearance of fresh dill fool you—this hearty green herb is both a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits as well as a distinctively delicious seasoning.

The English name “dill” is derived from the ancient Nordic “dilla” or “dile,” meaning “calming and soothing.” This probably reflects the common use of dill tea in folk medicine to help babies fall asleep and to soothe their painful gums. Sometimes mothers would also bake dill biscuits to ease teething woes.  Dill tea relieves stomachaches and other digestive ills, as well as increasing nursing mothers’ milk.

Officially, the proper Hebrew name for dill is “shevet reichani” – aromatic “shevet,” but the name this herb somehow ended up with is “Shamir”, a word actually used to describe a thorny wild plant used metaphorically in the Bible when describing a farm overgrown with weeds. Amotz Cohen, teacher and nature explorer, believes that dill is really the “poterium” found primarily in abandoned fields over the country.

Dill originated in Southern Europe (the Mediterranean Basin) and Russia. It is an annual plant from the Umbelliferae family, sibling to (as we already know) such other seasoning herbs as parsley, coriander, and celery, and root vegetables like carrot, parsnip, and chunky fennel. The dill’s stem is branched and its leaves are feathery. It blossoms from the branches in a way that resembles a multi-tipped umbrella. After it blossoms, the seeds can be gathered and used for seasoning and for medicinal aids.

Dill is a plant that was probably domesticated many long years ago. Our forefathers used it to season stews and for pickling, taking full advantage of the entire plant. As the Talmud (Avodah Zara 7b) describes, “the dill is tithed, seed and vegetable and stalk,” i.e., all parts of the dill are in use and hence must be tithed. Such diversity continues to this day, with green dill sprigs being used to flavor pickling brine and to garnish soups, cheeses, salads and seafood. Its seeds are used to flavor baked goods, potatoes, vegetables, cakes, sauces and liquors. In India, powdered dill seed is a main curry ingredient.

Dill’s pungent scent may be the secret to its use as an amulet against ghosts and demons, and its integral presence in the beginner witch kit. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac, and Pythagoras recommended holding a bundle of dill in your left hand to prevent epileptic seizures (perhaps because seizures were perceived as being caused by the demon). The Greeks viewed dill as a symbol of prosperity, and flaunted their wealth by burning oil spiked with dill.

Herbs in the Umbelliferae family–including dill–contain phytochemicals, many of which have cancer-preventing attributes. These phytochemicals block hormonal activity that is linked to the development of cancer cells. Recent research has indicated that dill boasts a high level of antioxidant capabilities as well.

Other research analyses and reconfirms the virtues of dill in soothing the digestive system. It has been found to be chock full of bactericide compounds and to have a protective influence on the Gastric mucosa.

Some folk remedies:

  • To make dill tea: Pour boiling water over the dill greens and steep, or cook 5 teaspoons of seeds in 1 liter water for 15 minutes. Drain.
  • To relieve gas, regulate digestion and encourage lactation for nursing mommies, to freshen your breath and ease a cough: sweeten with honey and drink 2-3 cups per day.
  • Give colicky babies 5 teaspoons of dill tea per day.
  • To get rid of bad breath: gargle dill tea several times per day.
  • For eye infections: dip a cloth pad in the warm liquid and place on the eye.

Dill is a source of such vitamins and minerals as potassium, beta carotene (pro vitamin A), folic acid, and vitamin C.

Tips for dill use

  • The dill that grows in India is a different species. Its seeds are bigger, but their taste is milder, which is why when you are cooking an Indian recipe, it is recommended to reduce the amount of dill seeds by 30-50%.
  • To make dill-spiced vinegar, use a mild vinegar (apple vinegar, for instance), place a bundle of dill inside, add a clove of garlic and pepper, if desired. Store for a few weeks in a cool, dark spot.

You can find recipes for dill use in our ever-growing recipe section.

We delightedly welcome the blessed rains that are falling at last! Here’s hoping 2018 will bring a year of rain-blossom fragrance, spiced with a smile and no stomach, tooth or heartache. Happy New Year!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/dill, celery/celeriac, sweet potatoes/carrots/eggplant, cucumbers, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, cauliflower, red/green bell peppers, lettuce, broccoli.  Small boxes only: beets.   Special gift for all: arugula/mizuna/totsoi.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/garden or snow peas/cherry tomatoes, spinach, kohlrabi, white turnips/baby radishes.

Wednesday: Parsley/dill/cilantro, celery/celeriac, sweet potatoes/red/green bell peppers, carrots/eggplant, cucumbers, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, white turnips/baby radishes/daikon.  Small boxes only: kohlrabi/fennel.   Special gift for all: arugula/mizuna/totsoi.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/garden or snow peas/cherry tomatoes, beets, spinach, scallions/onions.

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, raw probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, sourdough breads, gluten free breads, granola, natural juices, cider and jams, apple vinegar, dates silan and healthy fruit snacks, ground coffee, tachini, honey candy, spices 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!

Aley Chubeza #228, December 22nd-24th 2014

The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.

Exodus 16;31

Chanuka is a holiday of miracles – a small, grassroots army achieves victory against the large, professional army of the Greek super power, and then a small flask of oil is able to light the Menorah for eight days. There are those who give historical-scientific explanations for this and account for it all within the limits of logic. There are those who claim it was all a matter of luck, and those who allow the miracle and wonder fill the gaps of reason…

This is when I remembered that in our field we, too, have an herb entitled “fate” or “luck,” and the opinions about it are just as controversial. Please meet the “lucky charm of the field,” the coriander. Some would kill for it; others would rather be killed than eat it… This week we complete our seasoning herb trilogy by dedicating the Newsletter to the unique, contentious coriander.

Almost every discussion about coriander begins with a sentence like “the world is divided into those who are crazy about it and those who despise it.”

Coriander’s Hebrew nickname, “the lucky charm of the field” was bestowed upon it by someone from Group One, I guess.  The manna the Israelites ate in Sinai is described as “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey”. The Aramaic scholar Yonatan ben Uziel identifies the coriander seed as having given the manna its shape, making it one lucky herb thereafter. The name “coriander” originates from the Greek word for bedbug, Koriannonperhaps because of their similar scent. (In America, coriander leaves are called “cilantro,” from the Spanish name for the plant.)

Legends concerning the miraculous manna purport that when it was eaten, its taste corresponded with whatever the eater was craving at that given moment. The association with coriander may seem a little strange to some of you, but it is indeed a multi-talented seasoning herb. On the one hand, it adds a distinctive taste to salads and cooked items. On the other, it tones down the piquancy of spicy herbs, making it a mainstay of the Asian and South American cuisine. Coriander seeds are also a component in a magical delicacy, the sugarplum, which started out as sugar-coated coriander seeds.

Coriander belongs to the Umbelliferae family, sister to the dill, carrot, fennel and others. The family’s name was coined from the shape of its flowers, resembling small parasols or umbrellas. Little branches jut out of the main branch, and others emerge from them. It is an annual plant. Unlike the biennial parsley, which can be harvested many times before it blooms, coriander only allows a limited number of harvests (1-3, depending on the season) before growing a blossom pole. In wintertime this process is slower, and in summer we sometimes can’t harvest it fast enough before it blossoms.

Coriander originated in the Mediterranean Basin, but today it is an honored guest in almost every kitchen in the world. Coriander is generously sprinkled over dishes in Iran, Georgia, the Caucasians, in Morocco and Arab countries, plus certain places in Africa. And of course, coriander is having a ball in India, China and Thailand, and in Mexico you would be hard pressed to find a dish that does not contain coriander.

Coriander is one of those streamline-built plants where you can make use of all its parts: the leaves, seeds, branches and even its root. The root can replace garlic and it is popular in the Thai kitchen especially, though it was once used as “bitter herbs” on the Seder plate. The leaves are the part you’re familiar with–the source of the dominant taste and smell, which is the bone of contention between lovers and loathers. The seeds, however, are not as strong. They’re sweeter and more aromatic, and they constitute an excellent seasoning herb for preserving and for slow-cooking.

Here is a look at the seeds, root and leaves:

    

If you don’t like lots of coriander, use it to season your oil. It’s gentler that way:

Fill a jar with two cups of coriander leaves, lightly warm up a vegetable oil (canola, sunflower, safflower, olive), and add to the jar. Seal jar for two weeks, after which you can remove the coriander stems or leave them in the oil, depending on your preference. (If you plan to keep them in the oil, chop leaves very thin before you fill the jar.)

Julius Caesar’s soldiers used coriander seeds and leaves to preserve meat. Modern researches found out why it worked: coriander contains antioxidants that prevent the decomposition of animal fat. It also has components that prevent the development of worms, bacteria and fungi that spoil the meat.

Coriander arrived in Israel many years ago. It is mentioned often in Talmudic literature, making it clear that it was already very popular during the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras. For expectant fathers and mothers, there is one source from Tractate Ktuvot that promises “fat and healthy boys” to mothers who eat coriander. One Thousand and One Nights tells of a merchant who was childless for 40 years and then became cured by drinking a potion that includes coriander… (Who knows?)

I found no scientific evidence to support supernatural attributes in the realm of childbearing, but in folk medicine, coriander is known to ease insomnia and anxiety. In addition, where digestion is concerned, coriander is a well-known remedy:  add coriander to legume dishes to reduce gas that can be created by the beans. In conventional medicine, its seeds are used as a component in laxatives and to remedy intestinal diseases (indigestion, gas and the prevention of spasms in the gastrointestinal tract). For a medicinal tea, pour 1 liter boiling water over 5 tablespoons of coriander seeds, sweeten with honey, and let steep for 5 minutes. Drink 1-3 cups a day.

The prime medicinal use of the coriander is from ethereal oil extracted from the fruits of the plant. The main oil, coriandrol, is used to make vitamin A capsules and as a medicine for constipation and to cleanse the stomach (for instance, before x-rays and surgery). The same quality that explained the Roman soldiers’ success in preserving meat is probably what helps kill intestinal worms, bacteria and parasitic fungus (like the infamous E coli). Recent research has found that while it is treating intestinal activity, coriander also binds itself to toxins and removes them from the body, making it efficient in cleansing the body of such toxic metals as mercury, lead and aluminum.

Another attribute of coriander has been known in folk medicine for years – it helps treat diabetes. Now there is scientific support. Research has found insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity in coriander. It has been proven to be Hypolipidemic, i.e., reducing the amount of fat in the blood, thus preventing bad cholesterol and assisting in the prevention of diseases of the blood vessels.

Tips and suggestions for cooking and storing coriander:

  • To keep a bundle of coriander fresh, do not wet the leaves. Place it in a sealed plastic box and store in the refrigerator for a week and more. Wash only before use.
  • Spices made of dried, chopped coriander leaves are scentless. But also tasteless. Use fresh leaves.
  • Coriander leaves and seeds cannot substitute for one another in recipes. They taste different!
  • Add coriander to a dish only at the very end of cooking. Extended cooking dulls the taste (unless that’s your intention…)

Having read the important and interesting qualities of the “lucky charm of the field,” coriander lovers can simply rub a leaf, inhale the aromatic scent and add it to any salad or dish. But perhaps some of the loathers will take the plunge (maybe while holding their breath) and add some of this wonderful manna to his/her plate.

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And a personal word from me: on Wednesday I gave birth to our fourth daughter, sweet little Noga. Over the upcoming period of time, I will be acting behind the scene while Dror and Maya take over my chores in their loyal, professional manner. Once again, I take the opportunity to thank my “immediate” family for allowing me the space and efforts to “raise” Chubeza, and to my “secondary” family at Chubeza for all its love and everlasting support.

 Bat Ami

  May we share an abundance of happiness, health and rain,

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

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Carrots, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, fennel/kohlrabi, cauliflower, parsley/dill/coriander, cucumbers, Jerusalem artichoke/broccoli, lettuce/arugula. Small boxes only: Beets, daikon/turnips/radishes

Large box, in addition: Spinach/totsoi, scallions/leeks, eggplant/cabbage, celery/ celeriac, pumpkin/sweet potatoes

Wednesday: Cilantro/dill/parsley, kale/Swiss chard, cucumbers, fennel/kohlrabi, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrot, broccoli/Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce/arugula/baby green mix, small boxes only: beets, daikon/small radishes

Large box, in addition: Leek/scallions, cabbage/eggplants, slice of pumpkin/sweet potatoes, celery/celeriac, spinach/tatsoi

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice 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!

Aley Chubeza #227, December 15th-17th 2014 – Happy Chanukah!

Our week began with half of a very wet and very muddy Sunday. From nighttime till late morning, the heavens showered us with wonderful rain that covered the fields, paths and vegetables with mud. Then up came the sun and dried up all the rain, but we kept our woolen caps on while our shoes and boots spent the rest of the day battling the sticky, chocolaty mud. So we begin our message with a heartfelt thanks to the graces of the Good Heavens. May our winter continue as it has begun!

This week, we continue our seasoning herb trilogy, and today—

Striking a Dill

Unless you make the effort, it’s easy to overlook one of the loveliest and most beneficial herbs to grace our gardens and cuisine. Don’t let the wispy, delicate appearance of fresh dill fool you—this hearty green herb is both a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits as well as a distinctively delicious seasoning. This week’s Newsletter is Chubeza’s salute to our wonderful green friend, the dill.

The English name “dill” derives from the ancient Nordic “dilla” or “dile,” meaning “calming and soothing.” This probably reflects the common use of dill tea in folk medicine to help babies fall asleep and to soothe their painful gums. Sometimes mothers would also bake dill biscuits to ease teething woes.  Dill tea relieves stomachaches and other digestive ills, as well as increasing nursing mothers’ milk.

Officially, the proper Hebrew name for dill is “shevet reichani” – aromatic “shevet,” but the name it somehow ended up with is “Shamir”, a word actually used to describe a thorny wild plant used metaphorically in the Bible when describing a farm overgrown with weeds. Amotz Cohen, teacher and nature explorer, believes that dill is really the “poterium” found primarily in abandoned fields over the country.

Dill originated in Southern Europe (the Mediterranean Basin) and Russia. It is an annual plant from the Umbelliferae family, sibling to (as we already know) such other seasoning herbs as parsley, coriander, and celery, and root vegetables like carrot, parsnip, and chunky fennel. The dill’s stem is branched and its leaves are feathery. It blossoms from the branches in a way that resembles a multi-tipped umbrella. After it blossoms, the seeds can be gathered and used for seasoning and for medicinal aids.

The dill is a plant that was probably cultivated many long years ago. Our forefathers used it to season stews and for pickling, taking full advantage of the entire plant. As the Talmud (Avodah Zara 7b) describes, “the dill is tithed, seed and vegetable and stalk,” i.e., all parts of the dill are in use and hence must be tithed. Such diversity continues to this day, with green dill sprigs being used to flavor pickling brine and to garnish soups, cheeses, salads and seafood. Its seeds are used to flavor baked goods, potatoes, vegetables, cakes, sauces and liquors. In India, powdered dill seed is a main curry ingredient.

Dill’s pungent scent may be the secret to its use as an amulet against ghosts and demons, and its integral presence in the beginner witch kit. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac, and Pythagoras recommended holding a bundle of dill in your left hand to prevent epileptic seizures (perhaps because seizures were perceived as being caused by the demon). The Greeks viewed dill as a symbol of prosperity, and flaunted their wealth by burning oil spiked with dill.

Herbs in the Umbelliferae family–including dill–contain phytochemicals, many of which have cancer- preventing attributes. These phytochemicals block hormonal activity that is linked to the development of cancer cells. Recent research has indicated that dill boasts a high level of antioxidant capabilities as well.

Other research analyses and reconfirms the virtues of dill in soothing the digestive system. It has been found to be chockfull of bactericide compounds and to have a protective influence on the Gastric mucosa.

Some folk remedies:

  • To make dill tea: Pour boiling water over the green dill leaves and steep, or cook 5 teaspoons of seeds in 1 liter water for 15 minutes. Drain.
  • To relieve gas, regulate digestion and encourage lactation for nursing mommies, to freshen your breath and ease a cough: sweeten with honey and drink 2-3 cups per day.
  • Give colicky babies 5 spoonfuls of this mixture (excluding the honey) per day.
  • To get rid of bad breath: gargle the dill tea several times per day.
  • For eye infections: dip a cloth pad in the warm liquid and place on the eye.

Dill is a source of such vitamins and minerals as potassium, beta carotene (pro vitamin A), folic acid, and vitamin C.

Tips for dill use

  • The dill that grows in India is a different species. Its seeds are bigger, but their taste is milder, which is why when you are cooking an Indian recipe, it is recommended to reduce the amount of dill seeds by 30-50%.
  • To make dill-spiced vinegar, use a mild vinegar (apple vinegar, for instance), place a bundle of dill inside, add a clove of garlic and pepper, if desired. Store for a few weeks in a cool, dark spot.

You can find recipes for dill use in our ever-growing recipe section.

The weather forecast predicts more rain this week, and even more towards the end of Chanukah. Here’s hoping! And till then, may we all enjoy a sunny-after-the-rain Chanukah, fragrant, spiced with a smile and no stomach, tooth or heartache.

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Sweet potatoes/slice of pumpkin, carrots, kale/ Swiss chard/spinach, tomatoes, fennel/ kohlrabi, cauliflower, parsley/dill/coriander, cucumbers, celery/celeriac, lettuce/arugula/”baby” greens mix, scallions/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Beets, cabbage, daikon/radishes, Jerusalem artichoke/broccoli

Wednesday: Cilantro/dill/parsley, kale/Swiss chard/spinach, cucumbers, fennel/kohlrabi, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, carrots, celery/celeriac, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, scallions/leeks, lettuce/arugula

Large box, in addition: Daikon radish/small radish, beets/eggplants, broccoli/Jerusalem artichoke

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice 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!

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Chanukah recipes:

Turnip latkes and also zucchini and radish latkes

Sweet potato latkes

Cauliflower latkes

Spinach latkes

Beet Latkes Stuffed with Goat Cheese (thanks, Melissa)