June 26th-28th 2017 – Summertime, and the livin’ ain’t so easy…

Last week, June 22, marked the formal start of summer. We were rewarded with a few days of not-so-hot weather, but this week summer has hurled its scorching heatwaves straight at us.

The livin’ ain’t that easy for the withering potato plants that stood green and erect only a few weeks ago, as summer signals us to pull up the last of them, already. It urges the corn stalks to valiantly stand upright, flying, fighting to fertilize and produce oh-so-sweet cobs. Old Sol is rapidly ripening the cucumbers and fakus, causing the tomatoes to blush furiously. Meanwhile, at the same pace the viruses are quickly spreading to our zucchini, warping the shape of the elder portion of the crop. (Not to worry: these are plant viruses, not human!)

The loquat tree near our packinghouse yielded fruit a while ago, leaving those fruits remaining on the tree to dry and become carved into the branches. The grapes covering the shed by the office are already clustered, heavy and bountiful, winking at us from above as we wait for them to become plump and soft.

The Chubeza team gets very hot by the middle of the day. Our water containers empty quickly, and we remind each other to drink. We all work with long-sleeved shirts to protect us from the relentless sun, and for some time now we have the blower in the packinghouse working heroically to suck out the hot air and slightly cool off the facility. It’s still not oppressively hot, we know, and we’re appreciative of the mild, temperate summer we’ve had till now. And yet, the body that still recalls the pleasure of the cool winter and spring must now get used to the burden of summer. This is why it’s harder for us now than during the peak of the season when were already accustomed to the heat.

This season is full of beginnings, reflected in the changing composition of your boxes. After remaining fairly constant from week to week with only minor changes, it’s time to greet the array of happy newcomers who arrived over the past few weeks. Let’s hear your applause for: The corn! The acorn squash and other squash varieties! The eggplant! The melon! And the watermelon and even the soy bean, signaling our summer makeover! In close proximity, our tomatoes are ripening nicely, along with the okra. Coming very soon: more pumpkins, peppers, yard-long beans, lubia and other happy summer vegetables.

The melons are ripening rapidly, juicy and sweet with a heavenly scent, and they have already graced your boxes. On harvest days our packinghouse is filled with the fragrance of melons. This year we are growing the elliptical pineapple melon, with light orange-tinted flesh.

 

The first watermelons have ripened as well. How do we know? We watch the blackbirds. These intelligent birds are the first to identify good, sweet watermelons. They never touch one that’s not ripe, but they adore plunging their beaks into the sweet ones. For this reason we’ve rushed to cover the watermelon bed with netting to keep out the birds and call off the big watermelon bash they were planning. Stay tuned, coming soon to your boxes! (the watermelons, not the birds…)

The eggplants, too, are ripening slowly, as is their wont. This year we planted our first eggplant bed at the end of March, when winter was still there in full blast. These brave summery fellas are placed in the earth and try to grow and flourish despite the low temperature. Since then, the weather has become warm and summery, and the eggplants have shown their appreciation by turning plump and soft. What a pleasure to harvest summer eggplants again, which absorbed the sunny warmth into their soft skin and show their thanks with their shiny black-purple mane and an absolutely delectable summer savor in your plates. Welcome Mr. Eggplant!

Our tomatoes have begun ripening quickly, and more and more tomato crates are piling up in our packing house. Our first cherry tomatoes were harvested today. They’re still rather large compared to other varieties, but they’re super sweet and taste great! Summer helps them ripen easily. We pick our summer tomatoes red and ripe so they reach maximum sweetness, which is why they are sometimes softer than the winter tomatoes you are used to. Don’t let that bother you – just dig in!

This year we planted six varieties of winter squash and pumpkins, now ripening according to their sizes, with the small acorn squash coming in first. Next in line are the bright orange Amoro pumpkins and the creamy butternut squash. Some of the Provence pumpkins have already turned color and are ready to be harvested, along with a new type we’re trying out this year – round, cute orange pumpkins with edible green seeds (but most of them still need some more time in their royal beds). You’ll get the full pumpkin/squash story in the very near future.

This week we harvest a brand new interesting squash – the squash mashed potato (how cute and tempting is that name?). It’s very white, inside and out, and has a very delicate not-too-sweet taste that combines smoothly with salty fare, and a very unique texture – one that is truly reminiscent of mashed potatoes! This is what it looks like:

Our big Tripolitania pumpkins still aren’t ready, so we’re giving them all the time they need (till midnight, of course, when they turn into royal coaches…).

This year we are adding the green soy, aka edamame, to the beginning-of-summer vegetable collection. Usually we grow it in the throes of summer for a very short period. This year, we are experimenting by seeding it early, at the beginning of May. The first seeds enjoyed the spring weather, not the usual summery heat it is used to, and over time it yielded pods that filled up with chubby peas. Last week we began harvesting bunches of those yummy green pods. We seeded more rounds, testing its ability to deal with various stages of the season. At the end of the season we will be able to report on our results. As a summer tenant, soy beans will be with us all the way to autumn.

And the happiest, most joyful beginning: a brand new beautiful Chubeza baby girl born to Yochai, our loyal Jerusalem delivery person, and his wife Oryn. Some of you will remember Yochai and Oryn from the first welcoming phone call you received as new Chubeza members. We are now overjoyed to greet tiny Yaela with a warm embrace. Much love to Yochai, Oryn, Lavie and Yaela!

These days of beginning are also days of endings – Last week the high school students completed their schoolyear and this week marks the end of the schoolyear for the elementary and kindergarten set. Wishing all the hardworking students a well-earned break and a happy, relaxing summer vacation full of fun.

Shavua Tov from all of us – Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash/yellow beans, lettuce, fakus/cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, edamame, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon, corn.

Large box, in addition: Parsley root, butternut squash/Amoro pumpkin, beets.

Wednesday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash/white winter squash, lettuce, fakus/cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant/green beans, potatoes, melon/water melon, corn. Small box only: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes/edamame, parsley root, Amoro pumpkin, beets.

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

Aley Chubeza #305, September 4th-5th 2016

 

The weather is changing, and autumn is waiting in the wings. On Sunday, there were even some hopes for light showers in the coast area, but they never reached Chubeza. Nonetheless, we are able to feel some relief in the weather department, spurring the recuperation of our cucumbers and aiding the rest of the winter crops which are seeded and planted to find their way in the field and properly settle in.

As the seasons change, Chubeza’s additional products are also undergoing change and renewal:

zahidiThe Samar dates are disappearing!  We’re now out of Barhi, and the Dekel Nur supply is nearly depleted. Fortunately, a new date harvest is about to commence in Kibbutz Samar’s groves.

To mark the changing season, we are declaring a special sale on the delicious organic Zahidi date: 15 NIS per kg, 70 NIS per 5 kg box.

Hurry up and order before they finish as well.

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lev hatevaAsaf, one of the producers of Lev HaTeva‘s excellent crackers, came for a visit bearing a first batch of gluten-free crackers. Although they are not organic, they are suitable for those who are sensitive to gluten and even for people with celiac. And here’s the best part – they are delicious, like the entire line of Lev HaTeva crackers, and perfect in their texture and flavor. I would never guess they are gluten free! Obviously, Lev HaTeva’s team worked hard to arrive at the ideal recipe, and they did a great job!

You may order them via our order system.

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Ein HarodHillel of Ein Harod will soon be arriving with a renewed stock of organic almonds from the kibbutz orchards, freshly harvested and shelled for you. From our experience, the excellent organic almonds from Ein Harod get better every year and the inventory quickly disappears, so be sure not to miss out on the opportunity. Hurry up and order your almonds! The organic chickpeas from Ein Harod are due to arrive this week, and we are patiently awaiting  their amazing olive oil after the olive harvest ends. Coming soon!

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izapzizaThis week we are happy to introduce a new goat dairy product manufacturer with excellent, healthy products: the Izza Pziza Dairy – Meshek Tzaban,Tal Shachar. Our matchmaker was Puah, remember her? When we sadly bade Puah and Oded farewell several weeks ago, she was happy to recommend Alon Tzaban. Here is the Izza Pziza Dairy’s story:

 The pen was established in 2004, followed by the dairy. Our love for agriculture and raising goats led us to take part in the tourist agricultural niche. We have always made certain to maintain a very small herd, with 30-60 nursing nannie goats that provide us with quality, fresh milk from which to produce cheeses and other dairy products.

In the pen, we are scrupulous about natural, wholesome growth conditions: the mating is natural; we do not use hormones, and upon birthing, the kids remain with their mothers, nursing till they are weaned (usually around the age of two months).

The goats are nourished from hay and a high-quality fodder mixture, as well as a two-to-three-hour grazing stretch in the pasture fields adjacent to the pen.

Most of the goat care and cheese production is handled by Alon, who is assisted by a team of family members. In the dairy we produce a wide range of products, including milk, yogurt in many flavors, fresh cheeses, aged cheeses and even goat dulce de leche.

We use no preservatives or artificial flavoring. All products are made of one hundred percent goat milk from our farm.

We learned to prepare the cheese from professional courses with a food technologist in Israel, and two additional educational journeys we embarked upon in France. Of course, experience is the best teacher, and we improve each day.

In addition to selling dairy products, we also host groups in our Visitor’s Center and offer professional classes to learn how to produce cheeses at home. You are welcome to pay us a visit!

For more interesting and detailed info, visit the Izza Pziza website. Izza Pziza has a broad, impressive range of goat milk products. Take a look at our order system for a detailed list of the different products and their prices.

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 The Next of (Pump)Kin

Last week Alon declared: “That’s it! We’re out of butternut squash and Provence pumpkin!” As of now, we remain only with the great big Tripolitanian pumpkin, booked to stay till wintertime.

She’d been riding along in our boxes for some months now, loyal, sweet and nutritious. She does it every year, at the precise time when summer vegetables are slowly disappearing while winter veggies have only just begun to surface. Today, allow me to shed a new light upon the vivid orange slice of pumpkin in your box.

IMG_0055

I don’t know why humankind thinks the apple was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. I’m pretty sure that all clues lead instead to the pumpkin. First and foremost, a pumpkin patch can easily look like a piece of “heavenly” jungle: a thick stem sending its roots anywhere it touches the earth, huge leaves protecting the fruits and enormous glamorous yellow flowers. And apropos to the Garden of Eden, amidst these long tendrils, it is not at all rare to find… snakes! (nice ones, usually) Indeed, the pumpkin abounds with the highly beneficial yellow-orange pigment “lutein,” renowned as the main antioxidant protecting the eye, so it comes as no surprise that this fruit was an eye-opener for Adam and Eve. And finally, as it was a pumpkin, huge and overwhelming as pumpkins can be, it’s no wonder Eve couldn’t clean her plate and had to invite Adam to take a bite or two…

This Garden of Eden was most probably located in Mexico, the site from which our pumpkins originated. The farmers of Central America raised pumpkins for thousands of years. Except they did not use them for food. Pumpkins of old were used for their seeds, as a canister, as musical and ritual instruments, and in the production of weaving mats (from slices of dried pumpkin rind). The reason for this abstention from consumption was not due to a moral truth learned from the Fall from Eden, but rather the simple fact that it was not tasty or easy on the tongue, for the first pumpkins were quite fibrous and very bitter.

Today too, most of the pumpkins that grow in America are inedible, and aimed specifically for the special rituals of Halloween when the flesh of the pumpkin is emptied out and its shell carved in the shape of a face or anything else in order to place a candle inside and turn it into a one-night lantern. The origins of this rite of pumpkin go back to an Irish myth that featured a turnip, not even a pumpkin (in accordance with the cold Irish climate.) The story tells of the miserly Jack, an alcoholic no-gooder who deceived the devil, exacting from him a promise that he would not take his soul to hell upon Jack’s death. However, Jack did not take into consideration the devil’s shrewdness. When he died, he found there was no place for him in heaven either, thus poor Jack was doomed to a life of wandering, holding a piece of burning ember to light his way, which he placed inside a hollow turnip. The Irish used to prepare Jack’s lantern by carving a scary face into a turnip, potato or beet, aimed to scare away the restless Jack. When the Irish immigrants arrived in North America, they discovered pumpkins and turned them into Jack’s lantern, otherwise known as Jack o’lanterns!

תוצאת תמונה עבור דלעת

In a different American autumn tradition, the pumpkin stars as a main component for the grand Thanksgiving Day meal. Today’s pumpkin pie is made from pumpkin pulp, but the original pie was really a headless pumpkin, seeded and filled with milk, honey and spices and baked upon hot embers.

The most famous magical pumpkin is Cinderella’s, whose garden pumpkin was transformed to a magical coach, but there is also a Chinese tale about an old doctor who arrived to the city of Ranan carrying a remedy that could heal every type of disease. He opened a pharmacy, and hung a pumpkin shell outside his door. Every evening, after the sun set, the doctor would suddenly disappear from his pharmacy, leaving behind an empty store and a pumpkin shell. No-one knew his whereabouts. After some time, a clerk found out the old man’s secret: at the end of each day, after sunset, the elderly doctor would jump into the pumpkin shell. The clerk made friends with the old man and was invited into the pumpkin getaway, where he discovered an enchanted world.

But the pumpkin does not belong only to exotic traditions and nostalgic tales. Like the immortal creature it is, the pumpkin maintains its charm, roly-poly grace, and timeless intrigue. If Cinderella is my immediate association with pumpkin, my daughters dream of gobbling pumpkin cookies and drinking pumpkin juice in magical meals they attend alongside Harry Potter.

And there’s a good reason for that: the pumpkin is a very easy vegetable to digest, with a very low caloric content. Great for babies, kids and adults.

The Chinese believe the pumpkin eases depression and soothes digestion by working on the spleen and stomach.  In the West, it is claimed that pumpkin seeds help heal diseases and infections in the urinary tract and battle intestinal parasites. Alternative medicine sings the pumpkin’s praises for preventing constipation, cold-related ailments, and even in relieving allergic reactions. Oil extracted from pumpkin seeds is used to treat prostate cancer.

Every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the stems, leaves and soft roots, which are used in Italy in omelets or soup. The flowers are great for stuffing or to toss into a salad or risotto. And of course, the pulp goes with any dish you may be cooking up. Even the rind is edible. In southern Italy, specifically in Calabria, residents used to dry pumpkin rinds in summer. Throughout the winter, they would soak these peels, coat with flour, and then deep fry.

Remember how we started out discussing pumpkins grown for their seeds? Well, today, too, this is the case. Even bitter fibrous pumpkins make delectable seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also very healthy, rich in unsaturated fatty acids as well as zinc. Austria has been known for producing the best pumpkin seed oil for 300 years now, which they prepare by growing a special type of rind-less pumpkin with seeds, a pumpkin that appeared out of nowhere around the year 1870, probably the result of a mutation or of a unique genetic coincidence.

     

We grow various types of small pumpkins, but our great big tremendous one is seeded in wide spaces (2-3 meters) in order to allow plenty of growing room, as each pumpkin plant can reach the length of up to 9 meters! We seed it in March, sometimes even at the end of February, and wait patiently for 4-5 months till it ripens and changes color to light cream. The pumpkins, some of which are enormous, are gathered from the field to be stored in their very own storage shed with net shades, where they are placed alongside one another and allowed some post-harvest breathing space, prolonging their lifespan.

Some magic that can be created with pumpkins:

Cooking        in water, only if you’re making soup. The water will be rich in vitamins, minerals and yummy pumpkin flavor. Slice pumpkin into pieces and cook in boiling salted water. Having difficult cutting it? Cook the pumpkin in its shell, which will then slip off easily after cooking.

Steaming      if you wish to soften the pumpkin, steaming is better than cooking. Place equal-size slices in a steamer over boiling water.

Baking           in the oven, this way the pumpkin is softened without adding liquid. If towards the end of your baking you remove the cover, the excess water will totally evaporate.

Frying            a firm mealy-textured pumpkin is suitable for the preparation of chips (fries) or to coat with flour and fry.

Grill     cube or slice pumpkin, brush with olive oil and grill on all sides till brown and soft.

 

Storage:

A whole pumpkin can be stored for months in a cool place (but not too cool, under 8 degrees). A sliced pumpkin can be refrigerated for 3 days, wrapped well. A cooked pumpkin (regardless of the cooking method) can be frozen for up to 3 months, but it is not fond of a long stay in the refrigerator.

Flavors that go well with pumpkin:

Almost everything – spicy, salty, sweet: black pepper, nutmeg, a combination of ginger, garlic and soy. Curry, fresh herbs: rosemary, sage and bay leaves. Cinnamon, cloves, anise, coconut milk, date honey.

Those of you who still have some closed pumpkins (butternut and others) at home, Dora sent me a recipe for buckwheat filled pumpkin, definitely worth perusing for both Dora’s gentle and kind way of writing and because of her beautiful photos. Bon Appetite!

Wishing you peaceful days of autumn and the transforming season.

Shavua Tov,                                                                      

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Cucumbers are still in short supply, but we can now see the light at the end of this dark era in Cucumber Life. Once again: one of our cucumber rounds has reached its end. The others, however, are bravely fighting the heavy heat of summer’s end. They are beginning to yield, but it should take several weeks till the quantities increase. In the meantime, we are attempting to buy cucumbers from other organic farmers to add to your boxes, but the situation is similar throughout the entire organic market. Which is why some of you will be getting cukes while others will receive red peppers. We hope the plants will soon yield more and the shortage will end. Thank you for your understanding!

 

Monday: Leeks/scallions, coriander, tomatoes, Thai lubia/lubia/corn, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/basil, cucumbers/bell peppers, lettuce, sweet potatoes/potatoes/carrots. Special gift: nana mint

Large box, in addition: Onions, okra, parsley

Wednesday: Leeks/scallions, parsley/basil, tomatoes, Thai lubia/lubia/okra/cherry tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers/bell peppers/carrots, lettuce, sweet potatoes, potatoes. Special gift: nana mint

Large box, in addition: Onions, coriander, corn.

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, apple juice, cider and jams 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 #264, October 19th-21st 2015

Last week we told you about the probiotic food workshops hosted by Eliezer of Shorshei Zion, which gives us a great opportunity to tell you more about Eliezer’s unique endeavor in preparing “living foods.” In his workshops, Eliezer teaches how to prepare food that contains probiotic bacteria which contribute to the healthy, efficient activity of the digestive system. In a small factory in Beit Shemesh, he produces crackers, assortments of nuts, almonds and sunflower seeds, special gRAWnola made of buckwheat seeds, vegetable chips in an assortment of flavors, and even chocolates and desserts.

Eliezer makes all of the above as living food, i.e., by drying it or baking at a very low temperature so as not to harm the vitamins contained in the fruit, vegetables and nuts. In addition, he uses components that boast many nutritious values, including special berries such as Goji, Açaí, Spirulina algae, bee pollen, raw cocoa and more. You can find a detailed description of Eliezer’s excellent, unique (and delicious) products in our order form.

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mano

Manu, our baker par excellence whom many of you were lucky to meet at the Sukkot Open Day, is now introducing a new bread product. Since organic flour breads are quite pricey due to the high cost of flour, Manu now offers a less expensive, high-quality bread, homemade with her special ingredients of love and skill. This is non-organic whole wheat bread, 10% rye flour, at 18 NIS. Manu’s entire line of delectable loaves may be ordered via our order system.

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Expanding Chubeza’s Delivery Line to the Ono Valley

Following a great deal of preparation, we proudly introduced a new delivery line last week to the Ono Valley area: Ramat Efal, Kiryat Ono, Yehud-Monesson, Ganei Tikvah and Savyon. For now, these deliveries are once per fortnight. May we enjoy success!

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The Next of (Pump)kin

She’s been riding along in our boxes for some months now, loyal, sweet and nutritious. She does it every year, at the precise time when summer vegetables are slowly disappearing while winter veggies have only just begun to surface. And yet, we have hardly written about her nor sung her praises. So today, allow me to shed a new light upon the vivid orange slice of pumpkin in your box.

IMG_0055

I don’t know why humankind thinks the apple was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. I’m pretty sure that all clues lead instead to the pumpkin. First and foremost, a pumpkin patch can easily look like a piece of jungle: a thick stem sending its roots anywhere it touches the earth, huge leaves protecting the fruits and enormous glamorous yellow flowers. Secondly, the pumpkin abounds with the highly beneficial yellow-orange pigment “lutein,” renowned as the main antioxidant protecting the eye, so it comes as no surprise that this fruit was an eye-opener for Adam and Eve. And finally, as it was a pumpkin, huge and overwhelming like pumpkins can be, it’s no wonder Eve couldn’t clean her plate and had to invite Adam to take a bite or two…

This Garden of Eden is most probably located in Mexico, the site from which our pumpkins originated. The farmers of Central America raised pumpkins for thousands of years. Except they did not use them for food. Pumpkins of old were used for their seeds, as a canister, as instruments of music and ritual and in the production of weaving mats (from slices of dried-up pumpkin peels). The reason for this abstention from consumption was not due to a moral learned from the Fall from Eden, but rather the simple fact that it was not tasty or easy on the tongue, for the first pumpkins were quite fibrous and very bitter.

Today too, most of the pumpkins that grow in America are inedible, and aimed specifically for the special rituals of Halloween. The origins of this rite of pumpkin go back to an Irish myth that featured a turnip, not even a pumpkin (in accordance with the cold Ireland climate.) The story tells of the miserly Jack, an alcoholic no-gooder who deceived the devil, exacting from him a promise that he would not take his soul to hell upon Jack’s death. However, when Jack died there was no place for him in heaven either, thus poor Jack was doomed to a life of wandering, holding a piece of burning ember to light his way, which he placed inside a hollow turnip. The Irish used to prepare Jack’s lantern by carving a scary face into a turnip, potato or beet, aimed to scare away the restless Jack. When the Irish immigrants arrived in North America, they discovered pumpkins and turned them into Jack’s lantern, otherwise known as Jack o’lanterns!

תוצאת תמונה עבור דלעת

In a different American autumn tradition, the pumpkin stars as a main component for the grand Thanksgiving Day meal. Today’s pumpkin pie is made from pumpkin pulp, but the original pie was really a headless pumpkin, seeded and filled with milk, honey and spices and baked upon hot embers.

The most famous magical pumpkin is Cinderella’s, whose garden pumpkin was transformed to a magical coach, but there is also a Chinese tale about an old doctor who arrived to a city carrying a remedy that could heal every type of disease. He opened a pharmacy, and hung a pumpkin peeling outside his door. Every evening, after the sun set, the doctor would disappear suddenly from his pharmacy, leaving behind an empty store and a pumpkin peel. No-one knew his whereabouts. After some time, a clerk found out the old man’s secret: at the end of each day, after sunset, the old man would jump into the pumpkin peel. The clerk made friends with the old man and was invited in to the pumpkin getaway, where he discovered an enchanted world.

But the pumpkin does not belong only to exotic traditions and nostalgic tales. Like the immortal creature it is, the pumpkin maintains its charm, roly-poly grace, and timeless intrigue. If Cinderella is my immediate association with pumpkin, my 10-year-old Neta dreams of gobbling pumpkin cookies and drinking pumpkin juice in magical meals she attends alongside Harry Potter.

And there’s a good reason for that: the pumpkin is a very easy vegetable to digest, with a very low caloric content. Great for babies, kids and adults.

The Chinese believe the pumpkin eases depression and soothes digestion by working on the spleen and stomach.  In the West, it is claimed that pumpkin seeds help heal diseases and urinary tract infections. Alternative medicine sings the pumpkin’s praises for preventing constipation, cold-related ailments, and even in relieving allergic reactions. Oil extracted from pumpkin seeds is used to treat prostate cancer.

Every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the stems, leaves and soft roots, which are used in Italy in omelets or soup. The flowers are great for stuffing or to toss into a salad or risotto. And of course, the pulp goes with any dish you may be cooking up. Even the rind is edible. In southern Italy, specifically in Calabria, residents used to dry pumpkin rinds in summer. Throughout the winter, they would soak these peels, coat with flour, and then deep fry.

Remember how we started out discussing pumpkins grown for their seeds? Well, today, too, this is the case. Even bitter fibrous pumpkins make delectable seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also very healthy, rich in unsaturated fatty acids as well as zinc. Austria has been known for producing the best pumpkin seed oil for 300 years now, which they prepare by growing a special type of rind-less pumpkin with seeds, a pumpkin that appeared from nowhere around the year 1870, probably the result of a mutation of a unique genetic coincidence.

.    

We grow various types of small pumpkins, but our great big tremendous one is seeded in wide spaces (2-3 meters) in order to allow plenty of growing room, as each pumpkin plant can reach the length of up to 9 meters! We seed it in March, sometimes even at the end of February, and wait patiently for 4-5 months till it ripens and changes color to light cream. The pumpkins, some of which are enormous, are gathered from the field to be stored in our shed. This year we actually built them their own storage shed with net shades, so we can place them alongside one another and allow them some post-harvest breathing space, prolonging their lifespan.

Some magic that can be created with pumpkins:

Cooking        in water, only if you’re making soup. The water will be rich in vitamins, minerals and yummy pumpkin flavor. Slice pumpkin into pieces and cook in boiling salted water. Having difficult cutting it? Cook the pumpkin in its shell, which will then slip off easily after cooking.

Steaming      if you wish to soften the pumpkin, steaming is better than cooking. Place equal-size slices in a steamer over boiling water.

Baking           in the oven, this way the pumpkin is softened without adding liquid. If towards the end of your baking you remove the cover, the excess water will totally evaporate.

Frying            a firm mealy-textured pumpkin is suitable for the preparation of chips (fries) or to coat with flour and fry.

Grill     cube or slice pumpkin, brush with olive oil and grill on all sides till brown and soft.

Storage:

A whole pumpkin can be stored for months in a cool place (but not too cool, under 8 degrees). A sliced pumpkin can be refrigerated for 3 days, wrapped well. A cooked pumpkin (regardless of the cooking method) can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Flavors that go well with pumpkin:

Almost everything – spicy, salty, sweet: black pepper, nutmeg, a combination of ginger, garlic and soy. Curry, fresh herbs: rosemary, sage and bay leaves. Cinnamon, cloves, anise, coconut milk, date honey.

I spoke with Noga about the pumpkins and she sent me this great recipe with a recommendation to add walnuts – enjoy!

Pumpkin, Sage, and Browned-Butter Quick Breads

Wishing you peaceful days of autumn and changing-season, with hope that the quiet returns, along with calm and reconciliation.

Shavua Tov,

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

_______________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

The tomato plants have started to yield once more! Although the quantities are still too limited to cover the full Chubeza roster, at least some of you will receive these ruby-red gems in this week’s boxes. All going well, we look forward to soon restoring red tomato glory to each and every salad! 

Monday: Lettuce, parsley/coriander/dill, slice of pumpkin, red/green bell peppers, leeks/scallions, Swiss chard, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, baby greens (mesclun mix). Small boxes: radishes, potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Arugula/tot soi, Thai beans/ okra/Jerusalem artichokes, eggplant, corn, potatoes/tomatoes.

Wednesday: Lettuce, parsley/coriander/dill, slice of pumpkin,leeks/scallions/garlic chive, Swiss chard, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, baby greens (mesclun mix). radishes, Jerusalem artichokes,  Small boxes: potatoes.

Large box, in addition: red and green bell peppers/potatoes, arugula/mizuna/mustard greens, Thai beans/ okra, eggplants/tomatoes.

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 products too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. Our order system also features a detailed listing of the products and their cost.  Make an order online now!

Aley Chubeza #77, July 25th-27th 2011

Don’t miss this week’s flyers in your boxes from Amit, featuring his hand-ground tehina “Kasumsum” You can order this delicious, nutritious treat via our order form or by phone/email.

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This week we continue our parade of extraordinary squash and pumpkins emerging from the Chubeza patch. After last week’s close-up on the acorn and kuri squash (this year’s crop has ended for now—see you next year!), the Musquee de Provence pumpkin, and the familiar butternut, it is time to focus on the final two members of the ensemble:

The spaghetti squash is one of the more unique squashes in the Chubeza collection. This squash comes with a touch of magic: after cooking, scrape out its skin with a fork and voila! The cooked flesh separates into strips, similar to thin noodles or spaghetti. It tastes somewhere between a squash and a pumpkin– not as sweet as a pumpkin or butternut, but sweeter than a squash. The neutral taste of this squash allows the “spaghetti” to be prepared as a true pasta dish, with a variety of options for sauces–preferably not a heavy Bolognese—as described below.

The spaghetti squash was not born of genetic engineering, nor even a hybrid or some modern development, but rather an actual heirloom that originated like the rest of the squash and pumpkins, from Central or North America. On the outside, the original ripe fruit is yellowish and elliptical. This is the variety we grow, which was popular in Israel 15-20 years ago. Several years ago an orange spaghetti squash was developed, termed “oranghetti,” fortified with beta carotene and with a sweeter taste. This variety, too, can be found in Israel.

Spaghetti squash recipes all begin the same way: first cook or bake till it softens (till easily pierced with a fork), then wait 15 minutes till it cools. Note that it is very hot when it comes out of the oven or pot, particularly if baked or cooked whole, where it’s practically burning inside. Here are tips for easy preparation, to be used with the recipes that follow:

Baking whole: Puncture the peeling with a fork, pre-heat oven to moderate temperature and bake the vegetable for an hour.

Baking in halves: Slice the squash lengthwise (to create two ellipses), remove seeds, heat oven to moderate temperature, and place the squash in a baking dish face down. Bake for one hour.

Steaming: Puncture the peeling with a fork, place small amount of water in pot, and insert a steamer. Place squash on steamer, seal lid tightly, and steam for 30 minutes.

Cooking: Bring enough water to cover squash to a boil, then place whole squash inside and cook for around half an hour.

Microwaving: Slice the squash lengthwise (forming two ellipses). Remove seeds and place face down in a microwave-safe baking dish. Cover dish and bake for 7-12 minutes.

Once the squash is soft, let cool. If prepared whole, slice lengthwise and remove seeds. With a fork, gently separate the flesh of the vegetable to thin noodles and place them in a bowl. Usually, the squash produces a surprisingly large amount of “spaghetti.” Sometimes the parts are greater than the whole… Make sauce for your “spaghetti,” such as tomato, pesto, aglio e olio or olive oil and fresh herbs. You can even sprinkle parmesan on it, or simply season it and gobble up! The small squash will keep whole for over a month in a cool place. If cut, cover with plastic food wrap and keep in the fridge for two to three days. Cooked “spaghetti” should be kept in a sealed container for the same amount of time. You can also freeze cooked “spaghetti” by placing it in freezer bags or sealed containers. When you want to use it, partially defrost and steam for five minutes till it’s warm, but not soggy.

The second vegetable of honor this week is the queen mother, the large and luscious Tripolitanian pumpkin. As it slowly, leisurely ripens, its color changes from green to cream. On the inside, it’s a bright orange. This is *the* pumpkin. One look and you understand why Cinderella’s fairy godmother chose it to turn into a magical coach. Of course, Chubeza workers who dragged the pumpkins from their patch (sometimes in pairs!) would definitely not rush to volunteer for a job as Godmother’s helpers. This pumpkin can be huge and very heavy!

We stack the pumpkins in our warehouse, forming a beautiful pile. Every week we slice pieces of this pumpkin, as the pile gradually grows smaller and disappears. For now, enjoy this lively orange! What’s nice about the pumpkin, which ripens in summertime but keeps till winter, is that it is duo-seasonal: in summer you can lightly stir fry or eat it cold, in a spread, or even raw. In winter you can add it to your stews and soups. Bon appetite!

We discussed the popular characteristics of the squash, a vegetable whose sweet flesh is a delight to eat. But deep inside this vegetable, at its heart, are yummy little treasures, the seeds. Our squash exert great efforts to produce the seeds, protecting them with a cover of soft fiber. Perhaps you usually scoop out fiber and seeds and toss them into the compost. But wait! Squash and pumpkin seeds are delectable, healthy and bountiful! Pumpkin seeds have been used as food for thousands of years, known as a remedy for worms as well as enlarged prostate. They are also delicious. They are usually roasted with salt, but also used to produce oil for salad dressings. The seeds and oil are rich in essential acids, vitamins B and C, minerals, protein, zinc and magnesium. Below are instructions for easy, tasty roasting.

But even if you love eating the pumpkin seeds, try to save some to seed in your garden next year (or sprout at home and watch how beautifully they germinate). Since pumpkins are picked at such a mature time in their lives, the seeds within them have already reached maturity and are ready for drying and storing. You can keep seeds from Chubeza pumpkins. Just wash, dry and store the dry seeds in a cool, closed place till the end of next winter.

And till then… it’s going to be a very hot week. We remind you all to drink up, and eat lots of cucumbers, squash and melons, which cool the body and supply it with important liquids. Take care of yourselves!

Have a good week, Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in This Week’s Boxes?

Monday: okra or yard-long beans, butternut squash,  basil, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, onions, lettuce . Small boxes: corn or melon

In the large box, in addition: eggplant or zucchini, scallions, melon, corn, pumpkin

Wednesday: lettuce or pumpkin, okra or yard long beans or cowpeas (lubia), cucumbers, parsley, tomatoes, basil, scallions, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, corn or melon, potatoes.

In the large box, in addition: eggplants or zucchini, onions, lemon verbana (louiza)

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods and sesame butter too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us soon.

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Spaghetti squash recipes plus pumpkin seeds:

Vegan Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash Frittata Fritters

Spaghetti Squash with Feta, Dried Cranberries & Almonds

spaghetti squash kugel

Spaghetti Squash Medley

Basic recipe for toasted pumpkin seeds

Aley Chubeza #76 – July 18th-20th 2011

Although last week we told you about the excellent techina (sesame butter) made by “Kasumsum,”   their flyers weren’t ready till this week. So once again, let us welcome this latest enterprise to the roster of products available from Chubeza associates to be added to your boxes. This techina is ground by hand, just like in the old days. Like our other products, it is 100% natural. No oil, no heating, no additives, no bells or whistles.  The techina is made only from the beneficial organic sesame seeds themselves.

In Amit Cohen’s words, “From age 15, I have been grinding tehina at home with a hand blender. I was always curious as to how tehina was once ground, and started researching the topic in 2005. In 2008, I began making tehina using a millstone in cold press. The process of preparing tehina dates back to our forefathers. I do it today as they once did, simply.”

For more information see the Kasumsum flyer in your boxes this week and next. Prices: 25 shekels for half a kilo, 40 shekels per kilo. You can order via the order form, email or phone.
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Big Doings in the Pumpkin Patch

Chubeza’s pumpkin patch is bursting with a full array of orange, sweet, delectable produce. Our warehouse abounds with colors, shapes and joy. When we talk about pumpkins, we mean that slice of pumpkin you receive in your boxes, but also the smaller gourds: the yellow spaghetti squash which resembles a zeppelin, the small green acorn squash, the  Japanese kuri squash (replacing the kabocha from previous years) and of course, the familiar butternut squash. Following are photos of each variety and some excellent recipes, but first I would like to explain several things:

Pumpkins, hard squash (also known as winter squash) and summer squash, among them the zucchini, belong to the same botanical category, even the same species. There’s actually an artificial differentiation between squash and pumpkins, having to do with the stage they are picked and how they are used. All varieties are seeded (in an open field, in their natural season) from the end of winter / the beginning of springtime, and they all grow from spring to summer. However, we pick the “summer squash” early, before they ripen, when their shell is thin and their seeds are not developed, sometimes as early as 40 days from seeding. Since we pick the fruits off the plant before it had time to produce fertilized seeds, the plant makes additional attempts, yielding more and more seed-bearing fruit in order to fulfill its aim in plant-life (and animal-life): to spread it’s genes. And when the gourd fly takes his time, like this year, we are granted a long harvest season from a plant that just keeps on yielding. These squash do not keep for long, which is why in the past they were only eaten during their natural season, summertime, hence their name. These days, squash are also grown in wintertime in hothouses, so they aren’t really seasonal. Pumpkins and winter squashes, however, are picked as they ripen and mature, when their shell is thick and hard and their seeds are quite large. Since we wait till they complete ripening, they are harvested 3-5 months from seeding day. Our Tripolitanian pumpkin is large, and often requires a wait of six months. The pumpkins and hard squashes that were seeded in the middle of springtime are only harvested at the end of summer. Their hard shell allows them to keep nicely, sometimes up to six months, depending on the specie. This is why they are also eaten in wintertime, an advantage particularly significant for their ancestral home of North America in areas where it is too cold to grow food during wintertime. Within this group, the pumpkin received its own special category, maybe on account of Cinderella.

In the early days of Chubeza, we used to seed our pumpkins at the end of wintertime towards springtime, and the squash in June (which I’d learned from my pumpkin-raising experience in California). This timing is right for the Americans who need their ripe pumpkins in time for October autumn pumpkin fairs. But year after year, Israeli reality would produce a variety of viruses that attacked the gourds and celebrated wildly through the summer. As our crops dwindled and our dismay deepened, we grew fewer and fewer types of squash every year. From seven in the first year, we grew four in the second year, and fewer as time went on. Only after several of these failed attempts, we figured it out: our timing was altogether wrong. Instead of waiting and seeding these squash late, subjecting them to a life of suffering and battling viruses, we decided to seed them earlier, like their sibling the great pumpkin. The decision turned out to be the right one, and finally we are blessed with a fine yield.

This week I’ll tell you a little about the nice variety of squash in our field, to be continued next week:

You’ve already met the small acorn squash, originating in Mexico and the U.S. where the Native Americans cultivated earlier species. The dark green type which we grow, that the Americans insist is heart shaped (I think it’s more pinecone- shaped) was introduced in 1913 by the Iowa Seed Company, where it arrived from Denmark or North Dakota (there is a controversy about this). It was received enthusiastically, thanks to its excellent taste and also because of its small size and thin shell, a source of relief for those battling the huge, hard pumpkins. In the U.S., especially for those dining alone, it was a good serving-for-one as well as a great stuffed vegetable.

The Israeli acorn squash varieties are smaller and rounder than their American cousins. The type we grew this year is nice, but innocuous. We’ve grown other acorn squash whose flesh was sweeter and a brighter orange. Next year we’ll attempt to find a better variety. The acorn contains more vitamin C and calcium than other squash, and less vitamin A. If you treat it kindly, it will keep for a few months, but its flavor will ebb.

The other squash you’ve already met in your boxes is the orange squash, resembling a plump raindrop. This is the Japanese squash called “kuri,” Japanese for chestnuts. In France it’s called Potimarron, and the Brits call it onion squash. It is the sister of the kabocha that we grew over the past years, belonging to the buttercup group developed in North Dakota at the end of the 1920’s  for the northern housewife to substitute for sweet potatoes (in pre-global village life). After a few years of cultivation of this specie, Home Ec departments ran a battery of cooking tests, and a prominent panel of judges graded the texture, taste, color, sweetness, etc. Chemistry departments calculated its content of dry material, compared to popular species. Our friend the kuri won with flying colors. Kuri squash and the entire buttercup family are well loved in Japan. Two decades ago, a California seed company seeded the kabocha in order to supply Japan with constant supply. With their limited amount of agricultural land and a refined palate, the Japanese purchased the entire harvest. In the past years we grew round, flattened types of the kabocha in green and orange. This year we took our time ordering the seeds, and in the process we discovered the kuri squash which we decided to try. We’re delighted with our discovery of this great squash. Its flesh is drier, sweeter and very rich, reminiscent of a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato. It contains more protein than other winter squash and is rich in vitamins A and C. It can patiently wait in the pantry for two to three months.

Another participant in this colorful parade is the more familiar butternut. Possibly it originates from Columbia (where there is a huge assortment of butternuts) and is fond of hot, humid tropical weather. More than her sisters, the butternut really can’t take cold weather, which is why it is the most popular of Israeli squash varieties. The first species of this type were chubby-looking (with seed-filled bellies) with a long, sometimes curved neck. Over the years other types were developed, some with chubby and shorter necks to provide a uniform vegetable that the market demanded. They can also be picked at an earlier stage and they’re very tasty when young (some say even more than regular squash). They’re fun to grow in a home garden, where you can pick some to be used as summer squash and allowing others to ripen till they become the genuine butternut. This year our butternuts are especially abundant, and we hope to enjoy them with you for a good while.

The smooth peeling of the butternut makes it easy to peel even with a regular vegetable peeler. It is sweet and its flesh becomes soft after cooking, although there are those who claim that baking makes it better. It is very rich in vitamin A and under good conditions can be kept for six months (but how could you resist?).

Within the group of squash to which the butternut belongs (cucurbit moschata) there is an interesting group of “cheese squashes,” coined for their cream color and their round, flattened wheel-of-cheese-like shape. We’ve been growing a special pumpkin for some years from this group, called Musquee de Provence, “the scent of Provence.” Although it originated in France, it thrives in Israel as well. It is medium-sized, meaning that your boxes will usually contain a piece of this pumpkin, like the “regular” Tripolitanian pumpkin. It tastes more like a butternut than a pumpkin.

Next week’s continuing segment will be devoted to two additional stars, the spaghetti squash and the Tripolitanian pumpkin. In the meantime, I am sharing recipes for our nice squash parade. As a special seasoning treat, we’ve included some fresh, aromatic and delicious sprigs of thyme, which, like za’atar or oregano, go sublimely well with squash and pumpkin dishes.

Have a great orange, summery and happy week,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in our Festive Summer Boxes?

Monday: okra or Thai beans, corn, pumpkin, thyme or lemon verbena, potatoes, kuri squash, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, melon, scallions, lettuce

In the large box, in addition: zucchini, parsley, beets

Note: young beet leaves are green and delicious, and in summer’s scant supply of greens, they’re a particular asset. Use them like Swiss chard

Wednesday: lettuce, okra or Yard long beans,  parsley, corn, potatoes, kuri squash, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, scallions, eggplant or zucchini, dry onions – our first harvest!

In the large box, in addition: Provence pumpkin, lemon verbena, melon

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods and sesame butter too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us soon.

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SUMMER SQUASH RECIPE DELIGHTS

Red Kuri Squash Gratin

Baked Kuri Squash and Apple Maple Pudding (vegan!)

Red Kuri Squash

Three delicious  chestnut squash recipes by Limor Laniado Tiroche:

Roasted chestnut squash with Parmesan and purslane leaves

Spelt grain and chestnut squash salad

Chestnut squash spread with techina

Acorn squash flowers and Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chestnuts and Mushrooms (scroll down)

Eight things to do with a butternut squash