Aley Chubeza #100! January 23rd-25th 2012, Welcome month of Shvat!

Over the next weekend, we will be charging your credit cards for the January vegetables. The bill will include all of the January deliveries, including Monday, January 30th. Last minute changes will go into next month’s bill. This month you will receive two bills, one for your deliveries and another for your vegetables (except for those who pick up their boxes from the field, who will be billed only for the vegetables.) We realize that this is somewhat cumbersome, and working on finding a better solution soon. While the vegetables and fruits will be charged at the end of this month, the additional products from our associates will be charged at the beginning of next month. Due to the recent exposures of Israeli credit card numbers, we request that anyone who wishes to update us with any credit card information or changes do so only by phone. Please do not send this information by email. Wishing you a good end-of-January and a happy month of Shvat, blessed with growth. __________________________________________________________ In honor of the upcoming Tu B’Shvat celebration, Melissa of Mipri Yadeha offers two festive products: Tu B’Shvat baskets containing 100% fruit of the country, including, of course, Mipri Yadeha dried fruits, carobs, Samar Brahi dates – 30 NIS per basket   Fruit bracelets (Nature’s candies) – -An original, delightful way to celebrate the birthday of the trees of our land. Wear them in good health! – 10 NIS per bracelet. Please book soon. Orders will be delivered from January 30th to February 2 (Tu B’Shvat). ____________________________ Forecast for the Coming Days: Unseasonably Cold Although the sun has peeked out for a few hours, these past few weeks we are finally experiencing an actual Israeli winter. And even though there’s no snow (yet) and the mercury has remained above zero, we definitely have rain, clouds, strong winds and downpours. In our field, this means lots and lots of mud, slower work, and hot tea whenever possible. The cold made us change our schedule on harvest days. In the morning, when it’s really cold, even the leaves are sometimes covered with a layer of ice from nightly frost in our valley. Thus we start the day in the packaging area, weighing the vegetables picked the day before and the tomatoes and cucumbers which arrived from organic hothouses. And only after eight or nine do we dare venture out to the fields to begin our harvest–only to finish packing the boxes after lunch. In such a nice winter, it’s a delight to grow winter vegetables. This might sound obvious to you, but in many places in Israel and worldwide they actually grow summer vegetables in the winter, which requires a great deal of physical and mental energy. Imagine two different types of people: those that cover up in the winter under a heavy quilt and lots of layers, thermal underwear, scarves, coats and hats– and still the tips of their noses freeze, compared with those who wear sandals even when it rains, and when it snows they go for a dip in the Mediterranean. The winter vegetables belong to the second category. They are built to withstand cold, rain and winds, which is why they require less maintenance and cause the farmers less anxiety. And yet, the cold has its effect, demanding a strategy to achieve multiple harvests and thriving vegetables during this season. In honor of winter and our vegetables, we want to share with you a glimpse of how Chubeza vegetables cope with the cold and rain. The wealth and assortment of winter vegetables will not fit into one newsletter. This week, we’ll begin with those that get their start underground. The cold’s greatest influence is that it slows everything down. Just as we slow our pace in wintertime, trying to channel our  energy inward, so do the vegetables. They slow down the pace of their growth, preferring to channel their resources to store in their taproots. And just as small babies and young children find it harder to keep their body warmth and deal with the inclement weather, such are the younger vegetables. This is why we try to get our vegetables to reach the days of frost and rain after they are already well-rooted and big enough not to let their slowed-down pace interfere with facing the winter challenges. Over September, October and November, the field was undergoing planting fever: we planted and seeded in large quantities so that today, two to three months later, the plants are mature enough to cope with the cold. Both types of our potatoes, the light and red ones, have already sported a fancy foliage. They are now growing plump underground, covered by a protective layer of earth, and enjoying the nourishment coming from the ripe leaves overhead. Although a great frost could harm the leaves as the ice can break their food pipes, they have been nicely withstanding the moderate frosts to date, succeeding to yield nice, joyful crops. This year we fertilized the autumn potatoes (seeded in autumn) slightly different than usual: instead of fertilizing them twice, once before seeding and the second after a month, we gave them a double quantity of compost and chicken manure when preparing the earth before seeding, and we left it at that. This gave them more energy to grow. They are now paying us back with beautiful, tasty potatoes. And more from the Underground department: our carrots and beets are hastening to send their sugars downwards to their roots, creating sweet, healthy roots for your soups, dishes and other wintery kitchen bounty. At the beginning of October, we planted a large batch, which was big enough when the cold arrived. Now we are gradually pulling them out. In a week or two, we will finish harvesting the crops from these seedings, and perhaps leave a gap in time till the next batch ripens. The batch that met the cold just as it was growing has indeed slowed down. Our next carrot bed was planted in the earth where we made a solar disinfection last summer. In hindsight, we may have been too hasty by seeding there too quickly after we removed the plastic sheeting. It’s possible that the carrots’ slow pace of growth may be related to the earth’s need for additional time to recover from the process. Thanks to a lesson we learned from prior years, the celery and parsley roots were planted and seeded early. We took pains to thin out the parsnips meticulously and early, in order to allow them to grow slowly and steadily during the nice days of autumn and beginning of winter. The results are wonderful roots, big and juicy for our winter stews. Those who have been with us for a few winters can surely appreciate the progress our parsnip has made from the thin tails of three years ago that tried so hard to grow, to the fancy, nonchalant cones of the past few weeks. Good for you, Chubeza parsley roots! The radishes are yet another family that breeze through winter. Then there’s the beautiful, sweet turnips (they, too, channel their sugar downwards, to our delicious enjoyment), the radishes, and of course, the daikon (from your feedback I have begun to think that it is the new coriander: either you love it, or you simply cannot stand it). This year we have some kind of problem in the current radish and daikon bed, which was supposed to appear in your boxes this time of the year. We’re not sure where the problem originated, but the plants just aren’t developing. A mysterious weakness of the earth (for now) makes the plants more vulnerable, the insects eat their leaves hungrily, and the plants freeze in their tracks, so to speak. So at this time we’re having a little crisis in the radish bed, but we’ve seen many a plant recover and advance with renewed energy even after difficult trauma, so here’s hoping we’ll see a rapid radish recovery. With the blessing of health, a nice long breath of clear wintery crispness-after-the-rain, and lots and lots of yummy soup. Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team _____________________________________________________________ What’s in This Week’s Winter Boxes? I would like to repeat and to stress that during the winter, we supplement our cucumbers and tomatoes (and other vegetables when needed) from other organic farms with hothouses. In answer to requests, I will begin to note which vegetables come from outside Chubeza. If you would prefer not to receive these non-homegrown Chubeza products, please write and let us know. Monday: Red potatoes, kohlrabi or turnips, parsley roots, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes (supplemented from hothouse), Dutch cucumbers (supplemented from hothouse), sweet red/yellow/long peppers (supplemented from hothouse), lettuce, red kale, carrots In the large box, in addition: beets, leeks or scallions, cauliflower Wednesday: lettuce, radishes, celeriac, parsley or dill, cabbage, tomatoes (supplemented from hothouse), Dutch cucumbers (supplemented from hothouse), sweet red/yellow/long peppers (supplemented from hothouse)’ broccoli, carrots, potatoes In the large box, in addition: cauliflower, Swiss chard or kale, peas or fava beans or And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers and organic olive oil 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. __________________________________ ROOT RECIPES From Avital: a recipe that honors winter root vegetables, inspired by the cookbook The Sephardi Kitchen by Susie David Leek Patties with Lots of Tasty Root Vegetables Ingredients: 1 kg. juicy chopped meat (meat with turkey shwarma or with chicken thighs) ¼ kg leeks (white portion) 1 onion, celeriac (cut into slices), 1 plump potato 2-3 eggs Salt and freshly ground black pepper Preparation: -Cook leeks and onions together. When onions are halfway soft, add potatoes and celeriac. -When all vegetables are soft, drain well and gently squeeze out the onion and leeks (keep the cooking water and freeze it for real vegetable stock.) -Grind the vegetables, wait till they cool, and mix with the meat, spices and 2-3 eggs. -Form into patties. Either fry or bake in the oven. Gingered puree of winter roots Spiced root soup with crisp onions Wonderful winter root soup