This week I would like to open the year on a happy note (and with a request) by telling you about a very special place, The Kaima Farm at Hukuk. This farm, situated just above the Sea of Galilee, is modeled after the Kaima project in Beit Zait to employ and empower Israeli youth who have already dropped out of school or are nearly there. Via agriculture, these youth opt instead to trust and hope, find meaning and a different way to learn and develop. They are paid to control and operate the field together, growing seasonal organic vegetables and marketing them to various distribution areas around the Galilee. Thus, these young workers gain the opportunity to experience the world of employment, assume responsibility and create an empowering, secure and respectful environment.
And we all reap the rewards: the young workers who acquire a place in which to grow, find meaning and belong; the farm staff who get to work at what they believe in and love; the residents of the area who enjoy healthy, fresh, homegrown vegetables, the ecological system in maintaining its existence; the local community gaining biological and human diversity, and the many visitors and volunteers who enjoy staying at the farm to take part in workshops and actual farming. Of course, we, the somewhat distant community, benefits as well by realizing that within the sometimes harsh reality of life, another beautiful project of goodness and growth is thriving.
The Kaima Farm has been around for a year and a half, and these days has embarked upon a fundraising campaign aimed to clear the debt they’ve shouldered since their establishment to cover expenses for the primary infrastructure. Dissolving this debt will allow their own continuation and growth, as well as that of the various circles with which they are affiliated. I implore you to visit this link, read about The Kaima Farm at Hukuk, get acquainted, donate generously, and spread the word: https://www.giveback.co.il/project.aspx?id=2241.
Along with the large and small winter greens, this is also the ripe hour for the herbs. Every week we try to supply you with at least one contingent of the holy-but-never-boring-trinity: parsley, coriander and dill. Though they grow all year long (the parsley is the most resilient of the three), there is no comparison between the faint coriander of summer to the vigorous winter version, or a small, stubborn hot-weather parsley to its nonchalant, quick-to-bloom winter sister. Over the coming newsletters, we will showcase this fearsome threesome, so familiar, so well known, so always-there-for-us. Still, we have one or two new facts to reveal…
So…it’s time for Herb #1:
Striking a Dill
Unless you make the effort, it’s easy to overlook one of the loveliest and most beneficial herbs to grace our gardens and cuisine. Don’t let the wispy, delicate appearance of fresh dill fool you—this hearty green herb is both a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits as well as a distinctively delicious seasoning.
The English name “dill” is derived from the ancient Nordic “dilla” or “dile,” meaning “calming and soothing.” This probably reflects the common use of dill tea in folk medicine to help babies fall asleep and to soothe their painful gums. Sometimes mothers would also bake dill biscuits to ease teething woes. Dill tea relieves stomachaches and other digestive ills, as well as increasing nursing mothers’ milk.
Officially, the proper Hebrew name for dill is “shevet reichani” – aromatic “shevet,” but the name this herb somehow ended up with is “Shamir”, a word actually used to describe a thorny wild plant used metaphorically in the Bible when describing a farm overgrown with weeds. Amotz Cohen, teacher and nature explorer, believes that dill is really the “poterium” found primarily in abandoned fields over the country.
Dill originated in Southern Europe (the Mediterranean Basin) and Russia. It is an annual plant from the Umbelliferae family, sibling to (as we already know) such other seasoning herbs as parsley, coriander, and celery, and root vegetables like carrot, parsnip, and chunky fennel. The dill’s stem is branched and its leaves are feathery. It blossoms from the branches in a way that resembles a multi-tipped umbrella. After it blossoms, the seeds can be gathered and used for seasoning and for medicinal aids.
Dill is a plant that was probably domesticated many long years ago. Our forefathers used it to season stews and for pickling, taking full advantage of the entire plant. As the Talmud (Avodah Zara 7b) describes, “the dill is tithed, seed and vegetable and stalk,” i.e., all parts of the dill are in use and hence must be tithed. Such diversity continues to this day, with green dill sprigs being used to flavor pickling brine and to garnish soups, cheeses, salads and seafood. Its seeds are used to flavor baked goods, potatoes, vegetables, cakes, sauces and liquors. In India, powdered dill seed is a main curry ingredient.
Dill’s pungent scent may be the secret to its use as an amulet against ghosts and demons, and its integral presence in the beginner witch kit. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac, and Pythagoras recommended holding a bundle of dill in your left hand to prevent epileptic seizures (perhaps because seizures were perceived as being caused by the demon). The Greeks viewed dill as a symbol of prosperity, and flaunted their wealth by burning oil spiked with dill.
Herbs in the Umbelliferae family–including dill–contain phytochemicals, many of which have cancer-preventing attributes. These phytochemicals block hormonal activity that is linked to the development of cancer cells. Recent research has indicated that dill boasts a high level of antioxidant capabilities as well.
Other research analyses and reconfirms the virtues of dill in soothing the digestive system. It has been found to be chock full of bactericide compounds and to have a protective influence on the Gastric mucosa.
Some folk remedies:
- To make dill tea: Pour boiling water over the dill greens and steep, or cook 5 teaspoons of seeds in 1 liter water for 15 minutes. Drain.
- To relieve gas, regulate digestion and encourage lactation for nursing mommies, to freshen your breath and ease a cough: sweeten with honey and drink 2-3 cups per day.
- Give colicky babies 5 teaspoons of dill tea per day.
- To get rid of bad breath: gargle dill tea several times per day.
- For eye infections: dip a cloth pad in the warm liquid and place on the eye.
Dill is a source of such vitamins and minerals as potassium, beta carotene (pro vitamin A), folic acid, and vitamin C.
Tips for dill use
- The dill that grows in India is a different species. Its seeds are bigger, but their taste is milder, which is why when you are cooking an Indian recipe, it is recommended to reduce the amount of dill seeds by 30-50%.
- To make dill-spiced vinegar, use a mild vinegar (apple vinegar, for instance), place a bundle of dill inside, add a clove of garlic and pepper, if desired. Store for a few weeks in a cool, dark spot.
You can find recipes for dill use in our ever-growing recipe section.
We delightedly welcome the blessed rains that are falling at last! Here’s hoping 2018 will bring a year of rain-blossom fragrance, spiced with a smile and no stomach, tooth or heartache. Happy New Year!
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Parsley/dill, celery/celeriac, sweet potatoes/carrots/eggplant, cucumbers, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, cauliflower, red/green bell peppers, lettuce, broccoli. Small boxes only: beets. Special gift for all: arugula/mizuna/totsoi.
Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/garden or snow peas/cherry tomatoes, spinach, kohlrabi, white turnips/baby radishes.
Wednesday: Parsley/dill/cilantro, celery/celeriac, sweet potatoes/red/green bell peppers, carrots/eggplant, cucumbers, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, white turnips/baby radishes/daikon. Small boxes only: kohlrabi/fennel. Special gift for all: arugula/mizuna/totsoi.
Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/garden or snow peas/cherry tomatoes, beets, spinach, scallions/onions.
And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, raw probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, sourdough breads, gluten free breads, granola, natural juices, cider and jams, apple vinegar, dates silan and healthy fruit snacks, ground coffee, tachini, honey candy, spices and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!