Aley Chubeza #61 – March 21st-23rd – Purim!

Fine Arts and Fine Vegetables

For Purim, I thought I’d bring a different nahafoch hu angle to the world of vegetables, and feature special artists and musicians who look at vegetables in a totally different way. I’ve written about some of them in the past, others are making their début today. They are all talented and creative, and this Purim edition is specially dedicated to their creations. Chag Sameach! Have a smiley week!

Using vegetables as musical instruments is nothing new: dried pumpkins and coconuts, for instance, have been “played” in South America and South Africa for countless years. But this week’s music has the distinction of being made from fresh vegetables, with melodies and tunes very different from what you would imagine (or at least, what I imagined):

The Vienna Vegetable orchestra is a unique ensemble that plays music on instruments made exclusively from fresh vegetables. Using carrot flutes, pumpkin tubas, leek violins, celery guitars and pepper trumpets, they make very interesting, vegetable-like music.

The orchestra was established in Vienna, Austria, in 1998. It works as a collective with 12 musicians who play modern music, beat, house, electronic, jazz and all sorts of other types. They constantly invent and develop new instruments, and then create the music to match.

Their concerts are a sensual celebration: as the music fills the room, so do fragrances of celery and onion. Musicians sport visible vegetable stains as the music reaches a crescendo. At the close of the concert, the audience is rewarded with an encore of… fresh vegetable soup! “This is the reason we chose the vegetable orchestra” they testify “for their living testimony to these qualities: they can be smelled and tasted, they have a wide variety of shapes and color, and they can be found anywhere.” Before each concert, the merry musicians go shopping in the market, searching for the vegetables to be used in their performance. It is very important to make the instruments out of fresh vegetables, they say, since the freshness of the vegetable influences the sound it produces, and its stamina. Not-so-fresh vegetables tend to crack or break when they hit the high notes. Nor do the supermarket varieties packed in plastic bags produce high-quality instruments either.

Today, the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra is the only vegetable orchestra in the world (though they plan to expand). They do claim that there are millions of vegetable orchestras worldwide, and to experience local vegetable music, they suggest you visit the closest market and listen carefully. After a few seconds, they promise, you will be able to hear the gentle sounds produced by the vegetables, fruits, bread and cans.

The orchestra members will not be happy to hear that they are the honored guests of our Purim Newsletter. They don’t like being treated as a funny or strange phenomenon, and disdain invitations to an event as comic relief. Above all, they are indeed serious musicians. To date, they have produced three CDs to rave reviews, and they give 20-30 performances every year in Europe and Asia. Truth be told, in order to perform the way they do, they need to deal with non-conventional problems, like when a local market does not carry carrots of the right thickness, or big enough pumpkins or any leek at all, outside leek season! The instruments are sensitive to the heat of the bright stage lights, and sometimes the sound changes throughout the performance due to the vegetable drying up…Yet the show does go on.  To hear their music and see for yourself, visit their website here.

The second Purim artist we are featuring begins his work at the market as well. Saxton Freymann is a New York-based artist who creates characters out of vegetables and fruits. He was a conventional artist until1997, when he met Joost Elferst, who encouraged him to carve out characters from vegetables and fruits. Freymann now uses only fruits and vegetables to create his pictures, even for eyes, teeth or hair. He claims that every fruit or vegetable has its own character, and all he does is discover it and present it to the outside world. Here are some examples of his charming creations that make you smile at first glance:

Of course, there are many more pictures on his website. You are welcome to read about it and smile for yourself. Here’s some more about Saxton Freymann.

The last artist on exhibition in this year’s Purim Newsletter actually makes vegetables dress up as haute couture art. Chinese artist Ju Duoqi claims she is merely a housewife: she comes back from the market with a basket full of vegetables, chops them up, peels them into long peelings, or folds and crumples them up to create a mosaic-like and edible (not to mention bio-degradable) replica of famous, immortal works of art. In her initial round in the market, she tries to visualize how the vegetables will look when rearranged. She sees herself as a vegetable director. Here are some tasty famous art examples:

The kiss of the radishes

Napoleon on Potatoes

Van Gogh made of Leek:

More pictures and words from Ju can be found here.

Hoping this Purim offered a chance to change your cloak, your outlook and your mood to happiness, smiles and laughter (with or without vegetable stains….).

Chag Sameach!

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

Monday: red leaf lettuce, fava beans, parsley roots, green garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, dill, cauliflower (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: peas, celeriac, fennel, purple cabbage

Wednesday: cilantro, parsley root, cucumbers, green garlic, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower or fennel, cabbage – green or red, fava beans, red leaf lettuce, potatoes.

In the large box, in addition: garden peas, celeriac, dill

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, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. 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 to begin your delivery soon.

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RECIPES OF ALL KINDS:

A good while ago, at the height of winter, Clara sent recipes for Hungarian-style cauliflower soup and cabbage soup, which are ideal to serve on cold days. Since frigid air is forecast to return in the coming days, here’s a perfect opportunity to pull these vegetables out of this week’s boxes to cook up some great soup. Before we bid our final farewells to winter….

Cauliflower Soup

  • Prepare a roux, using oil and whole-wheat flour.
  • Let the roux cook until it begins to have a good smell.
  • Add salt and paprika to the roux, then slowly add water.
  • Add cauliflower cut into small florets. Then add just enough water to barely cover the cauliflower.
  • Cook til a bit of crunch still remains to cauliflower.

Optional: add some peas at the end of the cooking.

Cabbage Soup

  • Prepare a roux, using oil and whole-wheat flour.
  • Let the roux cook until it begins to have a good smell.
  • Add salt and caraway seeds to the roux, then slowly add water.
  • Add sliced cabbage, and enough water to barely cover the vegetables.
  • Cook till cabbage is soft.

Simple and delicious! And possibly a good cure for the common cold.

And, following last Newsletter’s feature on green garlic, Avital from Jerusalem sent her own always-distinctive ideas for its use:

Please take full advantage of this year’s entire green garlic harvest, with its distinctive, very special fresh taste. Here’re several ideas:

-During this season, you can add green garlic to just about every dish you cook: For flavoring, substitute for onion by gently steaming or sautéing green garlic slices.

-With fava beans: Sautee green garlic and fava beans gently in olive oil, add a very small amount of water, and lightly cook till beans are ready.

-With chicken or meatballs: In a wide ceramic baking dish, place slices of lemon, green garlic heads, hot pepper (if the children have left the roost), fava beans shelled or whole, celery slices (root or stalks), chicken legs and/or meatballs. Spread over the mixture a combination of olive oil, salt, crushed pepper and thyme. Add a bit more water, if desired. Bake in hot oven at 200° C. Meatballs can be added at the very end of cooking, covering them with as much sauce as possible. Or, celebrate with a vegetarian version by adding zucchini, fennel and cauliflower.

And:

Potato salad with fava beans and fennel

Aley Chubeza #10 – Purim

Purim Costumes for Flower Flirts

In a classic Nafoch Hu, Purim transformed our summer-in-the-winter into a rainy, stormy Purim, just like it should be. And like a Purim costume that makes us feel a little different for just one day, the winter-disguised-as-a-heat-wave wasn’t really summer, and the earth didn’t really dry up. Instead, one passionate bout of rain filled the farm with giant gay puddles, revealing that under that deceiving summer cloak, wintry drenches and mud would emerge to create one sticky, swampy place. We’re now gearing up for some very muddy harvest days ahead.

In honor of Purim, I collected some Purim spiel from previous newsletters, about costumes and tricks played by Mother Nature.

Flowers and animals dress up in nature all year long. They long ago discovered the power of imitation and make-believe. Contrary to the notion that a costume is only skin-deep, there are cultures, especially ancient ones, that consider dressing up and sporting masks to be powerful tools for gaining the preferred traits of the character they impersonate. Flowers prove the worth of this theory, big time. They dress up in a variety of beguiling ways and play a host of tricks to hit their very clear aim: the pollen, or rather, the fertilization. I mean, of course, seeds and continuity. Here are some of their schemes:

Some flowers choose costumes from the queen/princess/bride genre, so adored by girls of a certain age (and their proud mamas). They adorn themselves in pink angelic muslin and lace fluttering in the breeze, as if to say, “Hey, look me over, oh handsome butterflies (or flies/bees and other gnats… whatever is flying). Catch how pretty I am, how sensitive, how ladylike. Definitely worth a visit— perhaps a kiss?

pink flower3pink flower2pink flower1

Other flowers opt for the “super-hero” genre (Superman, Spiderman, etc.). They’re bereft of nectar themselves, but they dress up as their nectar-laden cousins in order to attract insects to drink from them–and if the insects just happen to pass some pollen on the way, would they mind terribly fertilizing them by pollination? There are some beautiful orchids, which are actually impersonators. The Iris group Oncocyclus (royal iris) employ the same tricky technique.

royal iris

Sometimes flowers don’t imitate their brothers, but rather the insects. The underlying psychological motive is that the insect, too, is searching for love. If a flower tricks the insect into thinking she’s his beschert, surely he will swoop down on the flower and ride off into the sunset. Take a look at the photos, and see if even you are confused:

The Fabaceae flower look like a butterfly (they are also known as Papilionaceae, from the French word for “butterfly”)

pea flower

The Ophrys (“Bee orchid”) looks just like a bee:

dvoranit

And the Daucus carota flower appears to be proudly flaunting a good-looking fly in the centerfold, just waiting for Prince Charming Fly to pay a visit:

carrot flower

May we all have a happy and cheerful week, carefree and filled with fun.

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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This week’s basket includes:

Monday: cucumbers, cilantro, potatoes, parsley root, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, celery, daikon, kohlrabi, green garlic or green onions

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower, fava beans, parsley

Wednesday: broccoli, tomatoes, parsley, parsley root, daikon, kohlrabi, peppers, green garlic, carrots, cucumbers, celery.

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower, cilantro, fava beans

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Recipes for the Return of the Winter:

Lobsong’s Thantuk Soup

(As requested by Michal)

Ingredients:

  • Oil for frying
  • One bunch scallions (the bulbs)
  • Parsley root and celery root (most essential—these are the main seasonings)
  • Daikon
  • Tomato
  • Your choice of additional hard winter vegetables: kohlrabi, carrot, potato, etc.
  • Add leaves, if desired: turnip, daikon and radish leaves best enhance Lobsong’s soup.
  • If these varieties aren’t available, others can be substituted, but relatively coarse leaves such as kale or Swiss chard are best.
  • Lamb bones (optional)
  • Approx. ½ kilo flour
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce/vinegar
  • Chopped scallions (the green part)

Preparation:

  • Chop all the vegetables into relatively small pieces
  • Heat oil on high flame, add chopped vegetables, cover with chopped leaves, and stir-fry for around 10 minutes until vegetables just become soft.
  • If using lamb bones, add them at this point.
  • Add water and bring to a boil.
  • Prepare dough: Mix flour and water to form a firm, but workable dough. Yield should be around 400 grams of dough. Roll into 4 or 5 hotdog-diameter strands. Using oiled hands, stretch and squeeze each strand repeatedly till achieving a long, 4-cm. wide noodle.
  • When vegetables are soft and the soup is almost ready, clip the noodles to 3-cm. lengths, using your fingers. Add to boiling soup, and continue cooking soup and noodles for an additional 2-3 minutes before removing from flame.
  • To serve: Drizzle several drops of soy sauce or vinegar, according to taste, and sprinkle soup with chopped green onions.

 

Ruti from Jerusalem requested suggestions for using the celery that’s been accumulating. In such a case, I usually prepare celery marinades such as these two recipes:

Marinated celery, hellenic style

Marinated Celery Salad

And two more hearty options from your box this week:

Kohlrabi Soup

Winter Vegetable Casserole