Aley Chubeza #11, March 8-10 2010

Pesach is around the corner, bringing changes in the Chubeza delivery schedule. Over the next two weeks we’ll include a printed schedule to hang on your fridge. For now, the E-version:

Changes in Schedule over Pesach: No deliveries will take place over Chol Hamoed (Wednesday, March 31 and Monday, April 5.) Therefore: Monday deliveries will take place on Sunday, March 28th, and then Monday, April 12th Wednesday deliveries will take place on Wednesday, March 24th, and on Wednesday, April 7th.

Bi-weekly recipients: note that in the absence of Pesach deliveries, you will actually skip three weeks of delivery. If you wish to bring up your delivery dates, please advise ASAP.

If you wish to enlarge your box for the holiday, please advise ASAP!

Open Day: In the Chubeza tradition, we cordially invite you to one of the two annual pilgrimages to our field. This year’s festivities will take place on Thursday, April 1, 17 of Nissan. Open Day at Chubeza gives us an opportunity to meet, tour the field, nosh on vegetables and cook delicacies. Children have tailor-made tours, suitable for small legs and curious minds, creative activities, and a great open space to run free.


And now, allow me a moment of pride: we’ve been working with Danny and Galit for over a year, offering homemade granola and cookies (after Pesach we hope to add another nice surprise from their kitchen). This week I encountered a rave review about them in the food section of nrg (in Hebrew. Scroll down to the end…) Reading it made me smack my lips with pleasure!


Carmit from Tel Aviv sent me a message that is important to circulate, regarding the recycling and collection of electronic waste. In Israel, some 100,000 tons of electronic waste are collected annually. Not treated separately from other waste, it pollutes the earth and water sources with metal and toxics, each lethal to the environment and our health.

On March 16th, officially declared “Good Deed Day,” the Adam, Teva V’Din foundation, in a joint effort with local counties, will set up electronic waste collection points throughout Israel. The equipment collected will be sorted, cleaned and fitted, and working equipment will be distributed to needy families. More details and addresses of the collection points can be found on their website.

A great opportunity to add an ecological element to Pesach cleaning. (Thanks, Carmit.) _______________________________

A brief reminder: those who wish to order sprouted spelt bread from Yiftach (last baking before Pesach) can do so until this Friday, March 12. The bread will be baked a week later and arrive in your boxes on Wednesday, March 17, and Monday, March 22. _____________________________________________

And for dessert: This week you’ll receive sweet samples of a special date from Kibbutz Samar. We are happy to join forces with the southern kibbutz that raises this variety of date, nicknamed “Tamar (date) Toffee.

Enjoy them! They’re quite special and tasty. More details on the Samar website.

Five kg packages of Samar dates can be ordered through Chubeza at 90 NIS per package. ______________________________________

Six Feet Under (Mud)

Last week on Monday we sank in quick-mud as we navigated the saturated field to pick vegetables for the boxes, trying to dodge the rainfall. It was one of the most difficult days, mood wise too, at Chubeza. A short tour of the field revealed a major erosion of the earth down the slope. Young plants had been badly damaged by heavy rain and hail; young leaves of Swiss chard, mustard, lettuce and tat soi that were almost ready to be picked had torn under the powerful rains; herbs were buried under the mud, damaged potato plants were trying valiantly to remain atop their mounds, but alas… In his infinite wisdom, Alon decided to postpone a critical review of the field for two weeks. He is a firm believer in nature’s ability to heal itself, suggesting we take a deep breath, pull our legs out of the deep mud, and head to the packing area. Over the next two weeks, the field will dry up and recoup, and we can assess the real state-of-the-farm.

Though we resolved not to look until next week, we couldn’t help but steal glances at our dear ones to check their state. To our great joy, some of the beds were actually recovering (I must say that walking towards them in non-elephant-steps was also beneficial). At this somewhat stooped, somewhat encouraged point, I want to tell you about our situation in the field, in a winter that started out well and then moved from heat wave to storm.

Let’s start with the heat wave. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the three weeks of heat in the midst of winter, but at that point we couldn’t yet see some things that later became clear. The broccoli I said had such difficulty adjusting to the heat, decided to prematurely mature (his way of reaching bloom and seeds as quickly as possible upon identifying danger). Garden beds we thought would only mature now jumped the gun by 1-2 weeks. A ripening broccoli means that the very tight buds start opening and softening. Leaving them on the plant, especially during warm days, meant quick blossoming, i.e., no more broccoli but rather a bouquet of pretty yellow flowers (tasty, but not broccoli). This is why over the past two weeks we had such great quantities of broccoli, and you received one each week. Sometimes the supply overtook the need, forcing us to wrap them up to store in the refrigerator. A pressured broccoli pick that races to the finish line means a less-resistant broccoli, one that is not as fresh and long-lasting as the Chubeza broccoli you know and love. This week Alon sounded the all-clear signal for the broccoli. We hope this new heat wave doesn’t set them into a renewed panic.

The heat, accompanied by moisture remaining in the air and earth, brought disease and fungus in the field. Most badly damaged were the garlic and scallion, with rotting roots and dried-up leaves. One of our ways to deal with such a fungus is to spray with a substance made of Australian tea tree oil, known for its cleansing and anti-fungus attributes for human beings and plants. Another solution is selective early picking of the green garlic, as I detailed two weeks ago.

The abundance of rain over the Purim weekend drenched the Ayalon Valley with huge quantities of water. This is a definite blessing. A wonderful blessing. Huge, heavy drops pounded the field for hours; puddles and little lakes formed in the surrounding fields. When this much water arrives at this stage of winter, when the earth is open and saturated, the water can gather, permeate and increase the underground reservoirs.

Except that in our field, in our little microcosm, this much water created so much havoc. Everything I write from now on is temporary. As previously noted, we hope that time and the life force will improve the condition.

The garlic, that faced a moisture-loving blight, was badly stricken and doesn’t look too good. A few weeks ago, we picked a small amount to make green garlic. Now we wonder how much will continue to grow, mature and be dried before the fungus takes its course. Meanwhile, we continue to pick green garlic and attempt to dry some at this early stage.

The hail and heavy rain damaged the leafy vegetables as well. Last week we planned to send you kohlrabi with leaves like the previous week, but there weren’t any leaves left to send. The lettuce, that had been ready to be picked, was picked after an internal conflict last Wednesday. We peeled away damaged outer leaves (sometimes many layers) and packed them in pairs. The new cycle of leafy vegetables (lettuce, tat soi, Swiss chard, spinach, mustard), almost ready for picking, was damaged and must recover, setting us back a few weeks. Next round’s cilantro and dill that had almost reached the right height for harvest were felled by the rain and covered with dirt by the erosion. By the time we found them, they were yellow from dampness and very miserable. We cut them down and await renewal.

Some of the young plants we planted last month were traumatized: many of them broke, above and beneath the earth. Last week we weeded and cleaned the garden-beds, and this week we’ll attempt to substitute new plants to complete the missing rows.

In the meantime, we are attempting to buy some of the vegetables in your boxes to replace the ones missing or delayed. This week’s lettuce, potatoes and carrots will probably come from other farms less damaged by the rain. It’s good to have small-farm farmers, colleagues who can help us out at this time. Most importantly, we are trying to keep our faith, and move ahead with hope (the potatoes are already looking better). These storms fill us with awe of natural forces. We bow our head in wonder at this amazing quantity of rain, and look thankfully and proudly at our Little Field That Could.

Next… a heat wave, and who knows what else the roller coaster of spring holds in store. We’re holding on tight, fastening our seat belts and hoping for the best.

May we all have a good week, Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team ___________________________________

This week’s basket includes: Monday: potatoes, cucumbers, cilantro or dill, fava beans, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, celeriac, dailon, cauliflower, green garlic In the large box, in addition: parsley root, cabbage, green onions or kohlrabi

Wednesday: Broccoli, cilantro or dill, tomatoes, celeriac, leek, carrots, green garlic, fava beans, potatoes, cucumbers, small boxes: cauliflower or cabbage In the large box, in addition:cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, green onions _______________________________

Daikon- a Radish a Day

Over the past few weeks, the daikon is back in the boxes for its spring round. Since this is one of the vegetables that always sparks phone calls and e-mails (“what IS that white vegetable in my box???”), we’ll dedicate this part of the newsletter to this first-rate vegetable—and its radish relatives– with recipes contributed by Lobsang and friends.


First, let’s talk genealogy: Contrary to popular belief, the radish is a varied, colorful vegetable. Its range spans from tiny cherry-size to giant-size basketball radishes. Elongated radishes range from the tiny, finger-size to those measuring 60 centimeters long and 15 centimeters wide. These are species grown in the Far East, usually planted as spring plants and picked towards winter before the ground freezes. The colors also vary from red and purple radishes, through all shades of pink, yellow and green, to white. There are even black (Spanish) radishes, with a black peel and white inside.

The Chinese, Egyptians, Greek and Romans have been familiar with radishes for thousands of years. In the Mediterranean area, there is evidence that radishes have been grown from 2000 BC, with the oldest illustration of a radish on the pyramid walls over   4000 years ago! In ancient Greece the radish was revered, and golden icons of radishes were made for sacramental use to worship Apollo. Just to give you a sense of proportion, the beet was a runner-up and only got a silver icon, while the turnip icon was made out of lead. The Romans, too, wrote about radishes- round, elongated, small and large. Most of the radishes at this time were probably rather large, bearing a closer resemblance to the Far East radishes. Small radishes have only become known from the mid-16th century.

In Israel, the radish has been known from the time of the Mishna. Its seeds were used to produce oil for light, and it was raised as an edible vegetable. It was considered a delicacy that was served to kings and rulers all year long: “these are Antoninus and Rabbi, whose table never lacked radish, lettuce or cucumbers, neither in summer nor winter!” (Berachot, 41) This is in keeping with the simplicity of radish growing and its perennial growing season. It grows in hot Israeli summers, though it prefers the chill of winter, spring and autumn.

The radish is also one of the first crops Columbus introduced to the American natives. By the 1500s, it was already known in Mexico and Haiti. To this day, south Mexicans hold a radish festival in Oxaca. The event is called Noche de los Rabanos (“night of the radishes”) and is held on December 23, at the peak of radish season, in the center of town. This festival, probably initiated in the 19th century after Spanish conquerors had introduced the vegetable, celebrates local pride in the giant radishes growing from their earth. Homegrown radishes on display are unusually large, misshapen and crooked as a result of the rocky earth. These characteristics are well exploited for art: with talent and imagination, radishes are transformed to a host of characters, all made out of radishes.

While Europe was going for the pink-red round and small model, the East opted for big, and the species developed there are the pale and long. The daikon is a Japanese white radish. The meaning of its name is “large root” (kon- root, dai- large.) It looks a bit like a large white carrot (they also come in yellow, green and black.) There are huge daikons too, and smaller ones. Because of its size, the daikon takes longer to grow than regular radishes, but otherwise they’re grown in an identical manner.

In the Far East, radishes are known and valued, specifically as a digestive aid, and also to purify and relieve the air tracts. The daikon makes up almost 1/3 of the vegetables grown in Japan (by weight). They are usually preserved in great barrels and added to food as pickles. Daikon is also the grated vegetable served with sushi, near the pickled ginger.

We mainly use the root of the radish, or, more precisely, the neck of its root, but its green leaves and other parts can also be used. In China, a specific species of radishes does not develop a big root, but is grown for the oil extracted from its seeds. India boasts a species with an especially attractive name: rat-tailed radish, producing great pods with edible beans (20-30 centimeters in size!). In specific species, the seedpods can be picked while still green, preserved, and used as a substitute for pickled capers. In Egypt and the Far East, special species are grown for their leaves, not the root.

Since ancient times the radish was known as digestion aid, as the Mishna says: “Radish helps the food dissolve, lettuce helps the food digest, cucumber makes the intestines expand.” (Avodah Zara, 11) It is also named as a fever reducer that relieves the common cold. “The radish is good for the feverish.” (Rashi, Avodah Zara 28). Their long-renowned healing virtues are supported today by nutritional data showing the daikon and radish to be rich in vitamin C and digestion-aiding enzymes.

In an article in praise of the daikon, Rebecca Wood, a guru of whole natural food, writes that the daikon purifies the blood, improves energy flow, accelerates metabolism, purifies the kidneys and cleanses the lungs. She suggests regular consumption of daikon to prevent the common cold, flu and respiratory infections. Wood touts daikon as a remedy for hangover, sore throat, and edema, and even testifies it to be a cancer-preventer. Click here for her personal brew for treating asthma and respiratory ailments, tasty and useful. And to top it all – the daikon is simply tasty. Its taste and texture are somewhere between the radish and turnip- its pungency is more delicate than the radish and its sweetness intensifies in cooking.

As comic relief, here’s a true story from a few years ago about the daikon as a local hero: In 2005, a huge daikon captured the heart of residents in the western Japanese village of Aioi after it broke through asphalt to bloom, despite difficult conditions.

daikon radish

After a few months, the residents were shocked to discover that an anonymous hand had amputated the stubborn root coined “the gusty radish.” The attempted radish murder opened the news broadcasts, with the gory details that the upper half of the vegetable had been found nearby. Local authorities announced that the amputated half of the radish was now immersed in water in City Hall, in the hope to keep it alive, perhaps make it bloom.

daikon radish beheaded

As to why so many people fell in love with the amiable root usually found on their table, a spokesman noted, “people disappointed from the difficult times drew solace from its earnest, strong will to live.”

Japan was not the only place that an anonymous radish influenced so many lives and brought about philosophical musing. A story by Shalom Aleichem, For One Radish tells of Yentl who became Natalia when she married Sashek (formerly Yakov) and lived the life of an assimilated madam in the big city, with occasional pangs of consciousness and longing for the little shtetl of her youth. One night she wakes up full of longing… for a radish: “I dreamt I saw a small dish full of precious, white, crystal pure radishes, salted with onion and fat. In my dream, my soul was craving, the radish was so good, so beautiful to the eye and soul…” Immediately, the servant is sent to the market to purchase a “precious, gentle and refreshing radish” and the voluptuous dish is prepared for the lady. Her husband, who returns from work early, is furious that a radish was allowed in his house, for it is a Jewish food. As it turns out, this radish was not at all innocent, evoking memories and strong feelings in them both until the inevitable ending. A fitting denouement for a radish in the starring role….

Tips for Storing and Using Radishes and Daikon:

To prevent radishes (and daikon) from becoming “dry as a radish,” they must be refrigerated. First, remove the leaves so that they will not draw moisture from the root. Afterwards, place the root in a plastic bag or in a sealed container in the refrigerator. If, despite it all, the radish becomes shriveled and pathetic, place it in a bowl of ice water to revive the radish and restore its firm texture. Daikon (and also radishes!) can be cooked–Some say that’s the best way of all. A Japanese secret for cooking daikon: use rinse water from rice, or a bit of rice vinegar, to retain the daikon’s whiteness and moderate the bitter, sharp taste. In cooking, peel the daikon to reduce the bitterness found primarily in the peeling and to prevent stringiness. The root itself is sweet and crunchy. _____________________________

Winter Recipes for a Heat Wave: Potatoes and Lots of Daikon

With our first batch of potatoes this winter, Gal from Motza sent me this recipe. I’ve  saved it for you till more potatoes appeared:

Homemade Potato Salad Ingredients: 4-8 potatoes, depending on size 2 hardboiled eggs 2-3 scallions Cilantro Sharp-tasting olive oil Salt (best with gray Atlantic salt) Pepper, freshly ground

Preparation: Cook unpeeled potatoes in salt water till soft but not crumbly. Peel and cut into cubes. Add hardboiled eggs cut into cubes, scallion rings, and chopped cilantro. Add generous amount of olive oil. Add salt and pepper, and mix. May be served hot, cold or at room temperature. (Best when refrigerated overnight.) Delicious addition: lightly cooked green fava beans

Hot Daikon and Carrot Salad (What to do with all that daikon and those green onions) Howard from Jerusalem writes: I got this recipe from Elisheva Blum of Jerusalem.  We used to leave the daikon until last, not knowing how to use it, other than to throw it in soup.  We also usually have too many green onions.  This is a great and delicious solution:

Ingredients: Daikon Carrots Green onions 1 T soy sauce Olive oil (or sesame seed oil) Honey Ginger (optional)

Preparation: Shred equal amounts of daikon and carrots.  Add chopped green onions.  Sauté in olive oil (or sesame seed oil, says Elisheva.)  Add 1 T soy sauce and a touch of honey.  We think fresh ginger would go well with it, but haven’t tried it.  Serve over brown rice.  We finished it all in one sitting.  Problem solved.

One link: Braised Daikon

And now Lobsong’s daikon recipes—two variations of a similar base:

Daikon and Cheese (I tried it and it was excellent!)

Ingredients: Oil for frying 1 chopped onion 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 2 chopped tomatoes 2-4 daikons (depending on size) peeled and sliced into match sticks (2-4 cm. wide) Garam masala (or other spice of your choice) Hard yellow cheese, grated Chopped cilantro

Preparation: Saute onion and garlic. Add chopped tomatoes and continue to lightly fry for 3-4 minutes. Add daikon sticks and spices and continue to cook for around 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add grated cheese and cover for 5-10 minutes to melt cheese. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Daikon and Meat

Ingredients: Oil for frying 1 chopped onion 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 2 chopped tomatoes ½ kilo chopped meat 2 daikons, peeled and sliced into rings (or any shape desired) Black pepper Water to cover ½ kilo dough (we mixed flour and water till dough was not sticky) Chopped cilantro

Preparation: Sauté onion and garlic, add chopped tomato and continue to lightly fry for 3-4 minutes. Add meat, sauté/cook until meat browns. Add daikon slices, season with black pepper and mix lightly. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare the dough, taking care that it is not sticky, but not over-floured. Roll dough into a long pipe, then stretch it (in the air) into a very thin triangle. Using your fingers, clip the dough into small pieces and drop into mixture boiling in pan. Add water as desired—For a thick stew, do not add any water. For a thinner dish, add water and adjust spices. Add cilantro last.