December 20-22, 2021 Good for the Heart, Good for the Eyes

Amidst these stormy days, we once again salute our loyal delivery people, who weave their way through roads and alleyways – often facing nightmare traffic – in stormy weather or scorching sun to bring you the abundant yield of Chubeza’s field.
When they deliver your boxes, please give them last week’s empty box for us to reuse (best folded flat). We thank those who have been diligently returning the boxes – we’ve been able to reuse over half! Some of the boxes can be used 3 or 4 times, allowing us to cut back significantly on new production of boxes. We thank you kindly for your part in this endeavor! To make it easier to store the box from week to week, we advise you to slice the tape and flatten the box. Here’s a short instructional video of how to flatten the box, made especially for you by our delivery staff.

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After many weeks that were too warm for comfort, we are finally experiencing rainy and stormy days. Here at Chubeza we prepared for the inclement weather by spreading Agril protective cloth over the greens, and by reenforcing the growth houses to stand strong in the wind. Most importantly, we completed this round of planting just in time for the rain. Between barrages of rain, we hope to be visited by a friendly wintery sun to dry the veggies and warm ‘em up.

Our greens, too, would love some sun, which they consider their best of friends. After lapping up the rain, their leaves thirstily drink up the sunrays, absorbing them within to generate energy for healthy growth. In honor of the rain and the greens of warm and cold, I’ve decided to tell you a bit about our spinaches – one, an actual spinach and member of the Amaranthaceae family, and the second, the New Zealand spinach from the family of coastal plants, who masquerades as spinach.

I chose to write about them because here in the Middle East, we are used to warmer seasons, which is why the New Zealand spinach adjusts better to the warmth of our country than the wintery spinach that needs cold weather. Every winter we receive a deluge of questions from you as to what these greens are. Our response “Why, it’s spinach!” is met with such confused replies as, “But we thought spinach is the little green leaves on the long stem….??” So, here goes:

Meet the Spinach:

spinach.jpg

The origins of spinach are in central Asia: Afghanistan, North India, Uzbekistan, Southwest Asia and perhaps Persia. For years it was grown in the Mideast, in the central Orient and in China. It migrated to Syria and Saudi Arabia, and from there to North Africa. In the eleventh century, the North African Moors brought spinach to Spain and introduced it to the Europeans. A popular plant in the Holy Land, spinach is mentioned in the Mishnah and Talmud as a vegetable used for cooking and in soup. Spinach provides a good opportunity to discuss the power of culture, of colorful stories and folk tradition vs. the power of exact (?) sciences. Like many vegetables, spinach began its culinary life as a medicinal herb, used to treat constipation and digestive problems.

In Tractate Brachot, Rav Chisda notes: “A dish of spinach is good for the heart and for the eyes, and even more so, for the intestines.” I am always amazed at how precise folk medicine is without having the scientific tools to actually examine the medicinal herbs it recommends. Years of experience, together with knowledge which is passed on from generation to generation, maybe even a tad of intuition or spiritual abilities, all come together to provide good health advice. For I am pretty sure Rav Chisda never entered the chemistry lab or studied biology or botany, and yet, he hit it right on the nose. Spinach is one of the richest antioxidant sources, especially high in lutein, which contributes to healthy eyes and can also reduce the danger of arteriosclerosis, heart disease and cancer. The high levels of oxalate are those responsible for its beneficial ability in regulating bowel movements (more about the health virtues of the spinach later).

The next thing I thought about while studying spinach is its best friend, Popeye the Sailor Man. When Popeye encounters trouble, he wolfs down spinach straight from the can, gaining immediate, incredible strength. The funny thing is, Popeye is the result of… a typo. In research conducted in 1870, a decimal point typo erroneously attributed its iron content to be ten times the actual value… But here comes the power of storytelling and the one-eyed sailorman. If you conduct a short survey among your friends and ask them which vegetables are richest in iron, they will probably name spinach among them. And to complicate matters, though spinach is in fact rich in iron (not ten times richer, but still…) and also calcium, our ability to absorb these elements from spinach is rather limited, as the oxalate binds them together, preventing their absorption in the body.

But spinach boasts other advantages. Beyond the lutein mentioned previously, spinach is rich in vitamins K, A, C, beta carotene and folic acid. It is rich in chlorophyll, which contributes to protection from cancer-inducing substances (lung cancer, for instance). It contains Quercetin which is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a specific enzyme that assists in lowering blood pressure. Spinach juice is the best vegetable juice to prevent cancerous cells, and it also lifts the mood because it is truly delicious!

There are two groups of spinach varieties: those with prickly seeds, considered to be more resistant to cold weather, and the smooth-seed varieties, which deal better with warm temperatures. The hybrid varieties we have today are suitable for different climates. Another way to differentiate spinach varieties is by the leaves: there are the crinkled curly leaves (savoy spinach) and flat, smooth ones, and there are some intermediate varieties (somewhere between smooth to crinkled). In Israel, spinach also grows in its wild form, from the center of the country to the north, in wintertime and spring. Its leaves are soft and milder, and they usually taste more refined. In northern markets, you can buy it fresh, and in Galilean restaurants this is a major ingredient in local dishes at this time of the year.

Wild spinach (AKA Sabnach)  looks like this:

Compared to those two, the New Zealand spinach – or as it goes by in science land, Tetragonia tetragonioides, is not a member of the Amaranthaceae family, but rather of the Aizoaceae’s, characterized by fleshy plants that thrive along the seashores, in sand and dunes, but do well in the desert too. It has been native to Australia and New Zealand for many years, where the aborigines and native Maoris would gather it for food. When the Europeans reached the continent, they were taught which plants were edible, enabling them to survive. They coined the local plants and animals used for sustenance (including the wonder-plant tetragonia) “bush tuckers.”

Upon his fleet’s arrival to the Eastern coast of Australia in 1770, Captain Cook was justifiably concerned lest his sailors contract scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. At sea, the crew was nourished solely from preserved food, so whenever they reached shore, the captain would set out in search of good fresh leafy greens to boost their diets. In Australia, his botanist chef found the tetragonia, and after enjoying its taste and nutritious value, they brought it home to England. It immigrated here over the last century and can be found growing wild on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, specifically in the Sharon region (Hadera-Tel Aviv). And this is how it looks:

New_Zealand_Spinach
The Brits, already very fond of greens, were delighted to receive this exotic plant, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century it was to be found growing in the best of English vegetable gardens. Afterwards, there came a period when the tetragonia was passed over for hybrids and other “advanced” plants, but over the past decades, in keeping with the worldwide trend for local, homegrown products, the venerable plant is experiencing a comeback. White-aproned Australian chefs now gather it in the fields or purchase it from gourmet farmers. In leafy-green-loving Asia, too, it was happily received, growing across Eastern Asia and used as a substitute for Asian greens in stir-fried vegetable dishes.

Though genetically unrelated to spinach, the New Zealand spinach received its name because it is used as a spinach substitute—but with one major edge over its namesake: Unlike spinach, which requires a cold climate and will not germinate in extreme heat or will bloom prematurely, New Zealand spinach is heat-resistant. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to cold, and frost will completely destroy it. This special relationship resulted in the New Zealand spinach becoming a good substitute for spinach during summer, while true spinach assumes the stage in winter, and does well in Israeli winters as well.

In Israel, the substitution game became even more complex, with a small link to our Chubeza as well. During the siege of Jerusalem in the 1948 War of Independence, in an attempt to find dietary solutions for the besieged residents, the idea arose to gather wild mallow (chubeza). Schoolchildren were organized to go out and gather mallow leaves, which were then passed on to Tnuva, which packaged and marketed them as “New Zealand Spinach.” Around the world in just a few words: a Jerusalem mallow, marketed as New Zealand spinach, serves as a substitute for true spinach (which has its origins in Iran).

And what’s it really like as a disguised spinach? The mildly salty taste of New Zealand spinach is similar to that of true spinach, but they do not look alike. The New Zealand mate’s diamond-shaped leaves are much smaller and fleshier. It can substitute for spinach in any recipe, and in some dishes can replace Swiss chard, with whom it shares a fleshy texture, definitely fleshier than that of the thinner spinach. This fleshiness allows it to retain more volume in cooking, thus when substituting for spinach or Swiss chard, use only half the amount of leaves called for in the recipe.
When you cook New Zealand spinach, separate the leaves from the coarser-textured stems that are harder to cook. It is not recommended to consume these greens raw: the leaves contain cartonoid antioxidants which are important nutrients, but in their raw form they are oxalates which complicate digestion (particularly for those with gallstones or kidney problems.) To remove most of the oxalates for easier digestion, blanch the New Zealand spinach for a few minutes, and then wash the leaves.

At this time of the year, both varieties of these greens are growing at Chubeza. Sometimes you receive the winter spinach (as we call it), while at other times you get the New Zealand spinach and a chance to enjoy the “original” and its dressed-up counterpart…. You can find recipes for both these guys in the recipe section on our site.

Cut the spinach! And enjoy this stormy week,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the Chubeza team

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• This week, some of you will be receiving fresh onions, just-picked from the field. We don’t dry out their green shoots, but send them to you in a fresh bunch so that you can use it all — the green shoots (like scallions) as well as the tuber onions (like “dry” onions).
• In these cold days, the bell pepper is already finding it difficult to redden, and the time has come for our final harvest of the year. This week’s boxes will contain a one-time visit of green peppers. They’re sweet and delicious—-enjoy!!

B’tayavon!

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Kohlrabi/beets, broccoli/Jerusalem artichoke/fresh peas, green peppers, cabbage/cauliflower, lettuce, daikon/turnips/fresh onions with shoots, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander. Small boxes only: celery or celeriac. Free gift for all:  New Zealand spinach/winter spinach

Large box, in addition: Fennel/eggplant, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes/slice of pumpkin, kale/arugula/tatsoi.

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

Wednesday: Kohlrabi/beets, broccoli/sweet potatoes, cabbage/cauliflower/Jerusalem artichoke/garden or snow peas, green peppers/eggplant, lettuce, daikon/turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots/slice of pumpkin, parsley/dill/coriander, New Zealand spinach/winter spinach/arugula/tatsoi.

Large box, in addition: Fennel/fresh onions with shoots, Swiss chard/kale, celery or celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, avocado, clementinas, red oranges/oranges, bananas.

May 10th-12th 2021 – Just in from New Zealand (carrying a green passport)

Changes in Delivery Schedule over Shavuot

Next Monday is Shavuot, thus Monday deliveries will take place the following day, Tuesday, May 18th.

Chag Sameach!

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Blueberry season is at its peak! And, great news….The prices have dropped!

19 NIS for 125 gr/ 71 NIS for 500 gr

Take full advantage of the very short but amazing two-month blueberry season. (And then it’s time for raspberries!)

Don’t miss a minute of the blueberry season! Add a package to your boxes via our order system

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The spring and summer spinach we eat in Israel is not actually spinach. It’s not even a relative or a local, and albeit an immigrant to boot, it is one of the few greens that actually survives the hot Israeli summer. Its  many names all indicate its origins: Sea Spinach, (Captain) Cook’s Cabbage, Warrigal Greens (named after an Australian wild dog, otherwise known as Dingo) and Botany Bay Spinach. In the native Māori language it’s termed Kokihi, and in South Africa it is known as Duneweed.

All of these names describe a bit of its nature: this is a leafy crawling plant that grows mainly on the coast. A native of Australia and New Zealand, it was used extensively by the natives, and Captain Cook himself brought it to the European world. But before we mix you up like a spinach salad, let’s start from the beginning:

The plant’s scientific name is Tetragonia tetragonioides, hinting at its jagged square fruit (Tetra=four, Gonia=angle). It belongs to the Aizoaceae family, characterized by fleshy plants that thrive along the seashores, in sands and dunes, and also in the desert. It has been native to Australia and New Zealand for centuries, where the aborigines and native Maoris would gather it for food. When the Europeans reached the continent, they were taught which plants were edible, inside information which enabled them to survive. They coined the local plants and animals used for sustenance (including the wonder-plant tetragonia) “bush tuckers” (or as we say, Baladi).

Upon his fleet’s arrival to the Eastern coast of Australia in 1770, Captain Cook was justifiably concerned lest his sailors contract scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. So whenever they reached shore, the captain would set out in search of good fresh leafy greens to boost their diets. In Australia, his botanist chef Sir Joseph Banks found the tetragonia, and after enjoying its taste and nutritious value, they brought it home to England.

The Brits, already very fond of greens, were delighted to receive this exotic plant, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century it was to be found growing in the finest of English vegetable gardens. Afterwards, there came a period when the tetragonia was passed over for hybrids and other “advanced” plants, but over the recent decades, in keeping with the worldwide trend for local, homegrown products, the venerable plant is experiencing a comeback. White-aproned Australian chefs now gather it in the fields or purchase it from gourmet farmers. In leafy-green-loving Asia, too, it was happily received, growing across Eastern Asia and used as a substitute for Asian greens in stir-fried vegetable dishes.

This is how it grows on the beach, spread out and sprawling:

Though genetically unrelated to spinach, tetragonia received its name because it is used as a spinach substitute—but with one major edge over its namesake: Unlike spinach, which requires a cold climate and will not germinate in extreme heat or will bloom prematurely, New Zealand spinach is heat-resistant. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to cold, and frost will completely destroy it. This special relationship resulted in the New Zealand spinach becoming a good substitute for spinach during summer, while true spinach assumes the stage in winter.

In Israel, the substitution game became even more complex, with a small link to our chubeza as well. During the siege of Jerusalem, the city’s residents were encouraged to plant rooftop vegetable gardens, using their sewage water for irrigation. This is when the idea arose to gather wild mallow (chubeza). Schoolchildren were organized to go out and gather mallow leaves, which were then passed on to Tnuva, which packaged and marketed them as “New Zealand Spinach.” Around the world in just a few words: a Jerusalem mallow, marketed as New Zealand spinach, serves as a substitute for true spinach (which has its origins in Iran).

If you wish to grow this wonder plant yourself, following suit of so many gardeners worldwide who have transplanted it into their plots of earth, there are several things you should know: First, it grows easily and enthusiastically, demanding no special pampering. So much so that in various parts of New Zealand and the United States it has become a weed which farmers try to get rid of, but usually it is very friendly. Like many other local “homegrown” plants, it is strong and does not attract too many pests or diseases, another reason for it to replace the sensitive spinach. Its seeds sprout slowly, due to an impenetrable seed shell (remember, it is accustomed to growing in moist areas in the southern hemisphere where the seeds’ problem was how not to go bad before sprouting…).  The best way to help it sprout is to soak the seeds in cold water for 24 hours prior to seeding, or in hot water for three hours.

Look at it blossom:

The mildly salty taste of New Zealand spinach is similar to that of true spinach, making it a proper substitute. But they do not resemble each other one bit! Indeed, New Zealand spinach is green and edible, but this is as far as the resemblance stretches. The New Zealand mate’s diamond-shaped leaves are much smaller, fleshier and usually sport jagged edges. It can substitute for spinach in any recipe, and in some dishes can replace Swiss chard, with whom it shares a fleshy texture. This fleshiness of the New Zealand spinach leaves allows them to retain more volume in cooking, thus when substituting for spinach or Swiss chard, use only half the amount of leaves called for in the recipe. (Note that the recipes in our recipe section are original Australian recipes meant for New Zealand spinach, thus the quantities are correct).

When you cook New Zealand spinach, separate the leaves from the coarser-textured stems which can create uneven cooking. It is not recommended to consume these greens raw: the leaves contain cartonoid antioxidants which are important nutrients, but in their raw form they are oxalates which complicate digestion, particularly for those who are sensitive in that realm (e.g., gallstone or other kidney problem sufferers.) To remove most of the oxalates for easier digestion, blanch the New Zealand spinach for a few minutes, and then wash the leaves. Bon Appetite!

Wishing all of you and the entire country the blessing of peace.

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza crew

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Zucchini, green lettuce, parsley/coriander, scallions/garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, Swiss chard/kale, cabbage/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Celery, slice of pumpkin/fakus/bell peppers, onions.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, red or green apples, pears/ nectarines, avocado/loquat (shesek).

Wednesday: Zucchini, green lettuce, parsley/coriander, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, Swiss chard/kale, cabbage//bell peppers.

Large box, in addition: Celery/scallions/garlic, slice of pumpkin/fakus, New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, red or green apples, nectarines, loquat (shesek).

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New Zealand Spinach Recipes:

Pasta with Tetragon

New Zealand Spinach and Parsley Pesto

New Zealand Spinach Recipe From the Cauldrons of Captain Cook’s Chef

A Dip and a Pie (Rice Base)

October 19th-21st 2020 –  A Different Renewal

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

  • Naomi Shemer, Hitchadshut

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

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

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

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

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

COLOR YOUR BOXES GREEN

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

Swiss Chard

   

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

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

Here is a wide variety of recipes.

Tatsoi

    טאטסוי

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

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

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

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

 Bok Choy

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

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

Three recipes by Yael Gerti, Ynet (Hebrew)

 

New Zealand Spinach

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

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

Recipes for New Zealand Spinach

    

Arugula

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

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

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

Mizuna 

  

 

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

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

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

Mizuna salads recepies from Mariquita Farm

and a stir-fry option

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

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

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

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

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

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S GREEN BOXES?

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 4th-6th 2020 – Welcome, New Zealand Visitors!

We’re picking up your empty boxes again!

As corona restrictions slacken, we are delighted to reassume the task of collecting your empty Chubeza cartons for us to recycle. Kindly leave them outside your door, and feel free to slit the tape and flatten them to save space. Our delivery people will pick them up when they deliver your boxes.

Thanks!

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Blueberries! Yummy!!!

Over the past three years, on a small plot of land in Tekoa, Gadi and Tamar have been growing blueberry shrubs that paint their surroundings in glorious hues of blue and purple. Gadi Afik, an agronomist specializing in growing blueberries, is responsible for mushroom growing on the Tekoa farm. He works together with Tamir Deutsch, an organic farmer and owner of Helkat HaSadeh, an organic vegetable garden CSA. The two joined forces to confront the tough challenge of growing blueberries in Israel.

Blueberries need special conditions to grow. They grow best in acidic soil, which is why they are grown on a separate surface inside very large containers. Cold weather makes them happy, so frost warms Gadi and Tamir’s hearts.

Their blueberries, pesticide-free, boast a very high nutritional value rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and K and various minerals. Blueberries are said to prevent inflammation of blood vessels, reduce cholesterol, and are recommended as a fruit portion for diabetics thanks to their ability to reduce sugar levels in the blood.

And we haven’t said anything the taste…Words just can’t describe the goodness.

Blueberries – 20 NIS for 125 gr

You deserve a blueberry treat! Order this minute via our order system

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How do we know that spring is here?

Well… one sure clue is the New Zealand spinach in your vegetable boxes.

The spring and summer spinach we eat in Israel is not actually spinach. It’s not even a relative or a local, and albeit an immigrant to boot, it is one of the few greens that actually survives the hot Israeli summer. Its  many names all indicate its origins: Sea Spinach, (Captain) Cook’s Cabbage, Warrigal Greens (named after an Australian wild dog, otherwise known as Dingo) and Botany Bay Spinach. In the native Māori language it’s termed Kokihi, and in South Africa it is known as Duneweed.

All of these names describe a bit of its nature: this is a leafy crawling plant that grows mainly on the coast. A native of Australia and New Zealand, it was used extensively by the natives, and Captain Cook himself brought it to the European world. But before we mix you up like a spinach salad, let’s start from the beginning:

The plant’s scientific name is Tetragonia tetragonioides, and it belongs to the Aizoaceae family, characterized by fleshy plants that thrive along the seashores, in sands and dunes, and also in the desert. It has been native to Australia and New Zealand for centuries, where the aborigines and native Maoris would gather it for food. When the Europeans reached the continent, they were taught which plants were edible, inside information which enabled them to survive. They coined the local plants and animals used for sustenance (including the wonder-plant tetragonia) “bush tuckers” (or as we say, Baladi).

Upon his fleet’s arrival to the Eastern coast of Australia in 1770, Captain Cook was justifiably concerned lest his sailors contract scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. So whenever they reached shore, the captain would set out in search of good fresh leafy greens to boost their diets. In Australia, his botanist chef found the tetragonia, and after enjoying its taste and nutritious value, they brought it home to England.

The Brits, already very fond of greens, were delighted to receive this exotic plant, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century it was to be found growing in the finest of English vegetable gardens. Afterwards, there came a period when the tetragonia was passed over for hybrids and other “advanced” plants, but over the recent decades, in keeping with the worldwide trend for local, homegrown products, the venerable plant is experiencing a comeback. White-aproned Australian chefs now gather it in the fields or purchase it from gourmet farmers. In leafy-green-loving Asia, too, it was happily received, growing across Eastern Asia and used as a substitute for Asian greens in stir-fried vegetable dishes.

This is how it grows, spread out and sprawling:

Though genetically unrelated to spinach, tetragonia received its name because it is used as a spinach substitute—but with one major edge over its namesake: Unlike spinach, which requires a cold climate and will not germinate in extreme heat or will bloom prematurely, New Zealand spinach is heat-resistant. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to cold, and frost will completely destroy it. This special relationship resulted in the New Zealand spinach becoming a good substitute for spinach during summer, while true spinach assumes the stage in winter.

In Israel, the substitution game became even more complex, with a small link to our chubeza as well. During the siege of Jerusalem, the city’s residents were encouraged to plant rooftop vegetable gardens, using their sewage water for irrigation. This is when the idea arose to gather wild mallow (chubeza). Schoolchildren were organized to go out and gather mallow leaves, which were then passed on to Tnuva, which packaged and marketed them as “New Zealand Spinach.” Around the world in just a few words: a Jerusalem mallow, marketed as New Zealand spinach, serves as a substitute for true spinach (which has its origins in Iran).

If you wish to grow this wonder plant yourself, following suit of so many gardeners worldwide who have transplanted it into their plots of earth, there are several things you should know: First, it grows easily and enthusiastically, demanding no special pampering. So much so that in various parts of New Zealand and the United States it has become a weed which farmers try to get rid of, but usually it is very friendly. Like many other local “homegrown” plants, it is strong and does not attract too many pests or diseases, another reason for it to replace the sensitive spinach. Its seeds sprout slowly, due to an impenetrable seed shell (remember, it is accustomed to growing in moist areas in the southern hemisphere where the seeds’ problem was how not to go bad before sprouting…).  The best way to help it sprout is to soak the seeds in cold water for 24 hours prior to seeding, or in hot water for three hours.

The mildly salty taste of New Zealand spinach is similar to that of true spinach, making it a proper substitute. But they do not resemble each other one bit! Indeed, New Zealand spinach is green and edible, but this is as far as the resemblance stretches. The New Zealand mate’s diamond-shaped leaves are much smaller, fleshier and usually sport jagged edges. It can substitute for spinach in any recipe, and in some dishes can replace Swiss chard, with whom it shares a fleshy texture. This fleshiness of the New Zealand spinach leaves allows them to retain more volume in cooking, thus when substituting for spinach or Swiss chard, use only half the amount of leaves called for in the recipe. (Note that the recipes in our recipe section are original Australian recipes meant for New Zealand spinach, thus the quantities are correct).

When you cook New Zealand spinach, separate the leaves from the coarser-textured stems which can create uneven cooking. It is not recommended to consume these greens raw: the leaves contain cartonoid antioxidants which are important nutrients, but in their raw form they are oxalates which complicate digestion, particularly for those who are sensitive in that realm (e.g., gallstone or other kidney problem sufferers.) To remove most of the oxalates for easier digestion, blanch the New Zealand spinach for a few minutes, and then wash the leaves. Bon Appetite!

Wishing all a relaxed, pleasant and healthy week,

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza crew

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

 ______________________________

Monday: Zucchini/bell peppers, potatoes, slice of pumpkin, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, leeks/onions, New Zealand spinach, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, celery/parsley root.

Large box, in addition: Swiss chard/kale, carrots, cabbage/garlic.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, nectarines, oranges/red grapefruit, apples.

Wednesday: Zucchini/bell peppers/turnip/Facus, potatoes, slice of pumpkin/cabbage/garlic, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh onions, New Zealand spinach/kale, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, celery.

Large box, in addition: Swiss chard, carrots, parsley root.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, nectarines/avocado, oranges/red grapefruit, apples.

________________

New Zealand Spinach Recipes:

Pasta with Tetragon

New Zealand Spinach and Parsley Pesto

New Zealand Spinach Recipe From the Cauldrons of Captain Cook’s Chef

A Dip and a Pie (Rice Base)

Aley Chubeza #280, February 15th-17th 2016

Upgrading!

We are pleased to inform you that Chubeza’s Customer Relations efforts are making progress: this time in the area of bills and invoices. I know that some of you have been baffled in opening our invoices or understanding the two-invoice system. Moreover, our system was not secure enough to be able to trust it with your credit card details. Today, however, we embark upon a new era…

Our billing system has been upgraded and is now connected to the Ishurit Zahav system of CardCom, a secure system which encodes the details of payment with full safety. Soon we will graduate to an invoice program that will produce one comprehensive invoice which includes all your monthly purchases (taking into consideration the various VAT levels). The invoices should now be opened easily, with no further difficulties.

So, now that Chubeza has taken these giant steps, we need your help! Please visit your bill in our order system (instructions for using the order system can be found here), and click the “personal details” tab. On the bottom of the page, there should be a line saying (in Hebrew):הכנסת פרטי אשראי לחיוב חוזר: קישור לטופס מאובטח Click the link, then enter your credit card info. Now your card is encoded and saved in the secure system.

Only two weeks till the end of the month! We will be very grateful if you enter your payment details as soon as possible so we can bill your cards on time at the end of next week.

If you have any questions or could use some technical assistance, please call or email.

Thank you!

_________________________

A Wintry Sun

After many a cool and rainy week, we are now experiencing warm, sunny days with joyful rays of sun, although the sun disappears after a few hours in deference to cool temperatures. The earth in our field is already saturated and well-watered – six feet under – and the veggies are thankful to bathe in the good sun, giving hearty winter vegetables the exact quantity of warmth they need.

For us, this is perfect timing. After not planting for a month and a half, from beginning to mid-February is exactly the time we go back to plant the last winter rounds of celery, fennel, kohlrabi and more. And, too, we begin our spring planting. The first to go into the good earth is the zucchini, covered by clear plastic to warm and protect against cold times. This is the perfect week for them to get well acquainted in their beds.

Our greens, too, are loving the sun. The leaves are thirstily drinking up the sunrays, absorbing them in their bodies to generate energy for healthy growth. In their honor, and in honor of the month of Adar Alef, this week’s Newsletter is dedicated to our spinach contingent, one an actual spinach and member of the Amaranthaceae family, and the second, the New Zealand spinach from the family of coastal plants, who masquerades as spinach.

I decided to write about them again in response to the deluge of questions from you as to what these leaves are. Our response “Why, it’s spinach!” is met with such confused replies as, “but we thought spinach is the little green leaves on the long stem….??” So, here goes:

Meet Mr. Spinach:

spinach.jpg

The origins of spinach, a member of the Amaranthaceae family, are in central Asia: Afghanistan, North India, Uzbekistan, Southwest Asia and perhaps Persia. For years it was grown in the Mideast, in the central Orient and in China. A Chinese seventh-century source coins spinach “the Persian herb.” It migrated to Syria and Saudi Arabia and from there to North Africa. In the eleventh century, the North Africans Moors brought spinach to Spain and introduced it to the Europeans. A popular plant in the Holy Land, spinach is mentioned in the Mishnah and Talmud as a vegetable used for cooking and in soup.

Spinach provides a good opportunity to discuss the power of culture, of colorful stories and folk tradition vs. the power of exact sciences. Like many vegetables, spinach began its culinary life as a medicinal herb, used to treat constipation and digestive problems.

In Tractate Brachot, Rav Chisda notes: “A dish of spinach is good for the heart and for the eyes, and even more so, for the intestines.” I am always amazed at how precise folk medicine is without having the scientific tools to actually examine the medicinal herbs it recommends. Years of experience, perhaps, together with knowledge which is passed on from generation to generation, maybe even a tad of intuition or spiritual abilities, all come together to provide good health advice. For I am pretty sure Rav Chisda never entered the chemistry lab or studied biology or botany, and yet, he hit it right on the spot. Spinach is one of the richest antioxidant sources, especially high in lutein, which contributes to healthy eyes and can also reduce the danger of arteriosclerosis, heart disease and cancer. The high levels of oxalate are those responsible for its beneficial ability in regulating bowel movements (more about the health virtues of the spinach later).

The next thing I thought about while studying spinach is its best friend, Popeye the Sailor Man. When Popeye encounters trouble, he wolfs down spinach straight from the can, gaining immediate, incredible strength. The funny thing is, Popeye is the result of… a typo. In research conducted in 1870, a decimal point typo erroneously attributed its iron content to be ten times the actual value… But here comes the power of storytelling and the one-eyed sailorman. If you conduct a short survey among your friends and ask them which vegetables are richest in iron, they will probably name spinach among them.

And to complicate matters, though spinach is in fact rich in iron (not ten times richer, but still…) and also calcium, our ability to absorb these elements from spinach is rather limited, as the oxalate binds them together, preventing their absorption in the body.

But spinach boasts other advantages. Beyond the lutein mentioned previously, spinach is rich in vitamins K, A, C, beta carotene and folic acid. It is rich in chlorophyll, which contributes to protection from cancer-inducing substances (lung cancer, for instance). It contains Quercetin which is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a specific enzyme that assists in lowering blood pressure. Spinach juice is the best vegetable juice to prevent cancerous cells.

There are two groups of spinach varieties: those with prickly seeds, considered to be more resistant to cold weather, and the smooth-seed varieties, which deal better with warm temperatures. The hybrid varieties we have today are suitable for different climates.

Another way to differentiate spinach types is by the leaves: there are the crinkled curly leaves (savoy spinach) and the flat, smooth ones, and there are some intermediate varieties (somewhere between smooth to crinkled). In Israel, spinach also grows in its wild form, from the center of the country to the north, in wintertime and spring. Its leaves are soft and milder, and they usually taste more refined. In northern markets, you can buy it fresh, and in Galilean restaurants this is a major ingredient in local dishes at this time of the year.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the New Zealand spinach:

New_Zealand_Spinach

The plant’s scientific name is Tetragonia tetragonioides, and it belongs to the Aizoaceae family, characterized by fleshy plants that thrive along the seashores, in sands and dunes, and in the desert as well. It has been native to Australia and New Zealand for many years, where the aborigines and native Maoris would gather it for food. When the Europeans reached the continent, they were taught which plants were edible, enabling them to survive. They coined the local plants and animals used for sustenance (including the wonder-plant tetragonia) “bush tuckers.”

Upon his fleet’s arrival to the Eastern coast of Australia in 1770, Captain Cook was justifiably concerned lest his sailors contract scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. At sea, the crew was nourished solely from preserved food, so whenever they reached shore, the captain would set out in search of good fresh leafy greens to boost their diets. In Australia, his botanist chef found the tetragonia, and after enjoying its taste and nutritious value, they brought it home to England.

The Brits, already very fond of greens, were delighted to receive this exotic plant, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century it was to be found growing in the best of English vegetable gardens. Afterwards, there came a period when the tetragonia was passed over for hybrids and other “advanced” plants, but over the past decades, in keeping with the worldwide trend for local, homegrown products, the venerable plant is experiencing a comeback. White-aproned Australian chefs now gather it in the fields or purchase it from gourmet farmers. In leafy-green-loving Asia, too, it was happily received, growing across Eastern Asia and used as a substitute for Asian greens in stir-fried vegetable dishes.

Though genetically unrelated to spinach, the New Zealand spinach received its name because it is used as a spinach substitute—but with one major edge over its namesake: Unlike spinach, which requires a cold climate and will not germinate in extreme heat or will bloom prematurely, New Zealand spinach is heat-resistant. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to cold, and frost will completely destroy it. This special relationship resulted in the New Zealand spinach becoming a good substitute for spinach during summer, while true spinach assumes the stage in winter, and does well in Israeli winters as well.

In Israel, the substitution game became even more complex, with a small link to our Chubeza as well. During the siege of Jerusalem in the 1948 War of Independence, in an attempt to find dietary solutions for the besieged residents, the idea arose to gather wild mallow (chubeza). Schoolchildren were organized to go out and gather mallow leaves, which were then passed on to Tnuva, which packaged and marketed them as “New Zealand Spinach.” Around the world in just a few words: a Jerusalem mallow, marketed as New Zealand spinach, serves as a substitute for true spinach (which has its origins in Iran).

And what’s it really like? Does it work as a true spinach substitute? The mildly salty taste of New Zealand spinach is similar to that of true spinach, but they do not look alike. The New Zealand mate’s diamond-shaped leaves are much smaller and fleshier. It can substitute for spinach in any recipe, and in some dishes can replace Swiss chard, with whom it shares a fleshy texture, definitely fleshier than that of the thinner spinach. This fleshiness allows it to retain more volume in cooking, thus when substituting for spinach or Swiss chard, use only half the amount of leaves called for in the recipe.

When you cook New Zealand spinach, separate the leaves from the coarser-textured stems that are harder to cook. It is not recommended to consume these greens raw: the leaves contain cartonoid antioxidants which are important nutrients, but in their raw form they are oxalates which complicate digestion, particularly for those with gallstones or kidney problems. To remove most of the oxalates for easier digestion, blanch the New Zealand spinach for a few minutes, and then wash the leaves.

At this time of the year, both varieties of these greens are growing at Chubeza. Sometimes you receive the winter spinach (as we call it), while at other times you get the New Zealand spinach and a chance to enjoy the “original” and its dressed-up counterpart…. You can find recipes for both these guys in the recipe section on our site.

Cut the spinach! And enjoy the sunny week,

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

_____________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Some of the tomatoes this week look different from those you have become accustomed to. They’re good and tasty, but nonetheless they’re a little pale. Although the tomato bushes were hurt by the frost and their foliage was damaged, they are still strong and yielding fruit. Lots of fruit. In order to help the bushes survive, we lopped them from above and anxiously await their renewal from the sides of the stems. In addition, with the tomato plants bereft of foliage which protects the fruit from the damages of solar radiation, we stretched a shade-net over the tunnel in which the tomatoes grow. Though this net does protect from damage, it also creates an uneven ripening among the vegetables. Please accept these tomatoes with understanding and joy. Take a bite! They’re delicious and thirst-quenching. (Our thanks.)

Monday: Broccoli, coriander/dill/mint, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach/kale/Swiss chard, cucumbers/long Dutch cucumbers, carrots, onions, potatoes, baby radishes/purple radishes/daikon (long white radish), beets. Small boxes only: leeks.

Large box, in addition: Baby greens (mesclun mix), celeriac, cauliflower, cabbage.

Wednesday: Broccoli, coriander/dill/mint/parsley, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach/kale/Swiss chard, cucumbers/long Dutch cucumbers, carrots/bell peppers, onions, baby greens (mesclun mix), potatoes. Small boxes only: beets/celeriac

potatoes, baby radishes/purple radishes/white turnip, leeks, cabbage, fava beans/peas.

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 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!