December 3rd-5th 2018 – happy Chanukah!

We joyously open the month of December with the arrival of Kibbutz Samar’s delectable dates, fresh from the autumn date harvest. Great news for those of you who are already addicted and pining away for these incredible dates! And a great opportunity for those who have not yet discovered these mouthwatering treasures from Kibbutz Samar!

From their magic groves far down south in the Eilot region, Samar grows three amazing types of organic dates. Brahi, round, soft and very sweet, is popular in its fresh form as a yellow date. Samar attempted to dry it whilst on the tree, like they do with the other varieties, and discovered that as a dry fruit Brahi’s flavor and texture are incredibly distinctive. They nicknamed it “the date toffee,” and it is deliciously addictive. We also have Dekel Nur dates – elongated, darker and drier. They are not as sweet, and those of you who’ve adored Iraqi or Yemenite dates will be awash with nostalgia when you sit your teeth into them. Last but not least is the Zahidi – a small, round date, less sweet as the Brahi and very rich in dietary fiber. If you do not possess a sweet tooth, you will love the latter two. They are also excellent for baking and cooking.

The Samar dates can be purchased in 500 gr or 5 kg packages. Add them to your boxes via our order system now!

_____________________________________

And also – Asaf’s excellent fresh spice assortment now welcomes two new outstanding additions: grill spice for chicken and natural soup powder. Like all the other members of the team, they are made of quality fresh spices, millstone-ground with no additives. “Reach-Hasade” (the fragrance of the field) spices are hand-ground in a boutique factory in Netivot, packed in plastic containers. Kosher Mehadrin by Netivot Rabbanut. Order them via our order system.

__________________________________

 CHANUKAH – DARKNESS, LIGHT & A WORLD OF AGRICULTURAL MIRACLES

 

 O Chanukah, O Chanukah,

Come light the menorah.

Let’s have a party,

We’ll all dance the hora!

It’s three weeks till winter will make its grand entrance. The skies are already growing darker in late afternoon, evening falls earlier and earlier, and the hours of darkness keep extending. We walk into the house and flip on the lights. But in olden times, darkness had a much more dramatic effect. Candlelight or bonfire flickers were the only way to break the blackness, and danger prevailed during the long hours of darkness. As fear gripped the heart, the best way to confront the anxiety was through community gatherings lit up for the occasion. Which is why in many cultures festivals of light are prominent during winter – Chanukah, Christmas, the Indian Diwali, Loi Krathong in Thailand and other light festivals are specifically celebrated during this time of the year, when the light wanes (like the Klausjagen in Lucerne and the festival of lights in Lyon).

Chanukah, our very own festival of lights, celebrates the victory of the tiny light over the great darkness, in this case – the Greek occupation that inflicted its culture on the Jewish occupants of the country. To break their spirit, Jews were forced to give up their religious and cultural liberties, and the Temple – their symbol of spiritual expression and sacred practice – was desecrated, defiled and rendered impure. The Greek statue placed in the Temple and the religious persecution prohibiting Jews from practicing their sacred rituals were enacted to proclaim the supremacy of the Greek culture and the defeat of local beliefs.

Antiochus the Greek saw his Hellenistic culture as far loftier than the local Jewish culture which he perceived as barbaric, and sought to create unity among the nations he conquered. After all, what is better than one strong, beautiful and divinely prescribed culture to bring about loyalty, bonding and unity?

Turns out, this didn’t actually work… The affront to culture and religion spawned a volatile rebellion, the conquering of Jerusalem by the Maccabees, purification of the holy Temple, and the return of Jewish rituals, leading to some 80 years of Hasmonean rule in Judah. When I was young, I was told this story as one that highlighted the victory of nationalism and religion. And perhaps, historically, that makes sense. But today when I return to the story, I can see the strength of the aspiration for autonomy and unique self-expression. A unification of culture cannot survive for long. We all need our identity and communal expression, and when a there’s a broad spectrum of identity and cultures – that’s when the great light prevails.

In our food as well, without that wide variation our vegetable salads, or any meal for that matter, would be very uniform and meager. In diverse places round the globe, many types of food and crops were developed and cultivated. Today, the synergy between them, without cancelling out one another, has created the marvelous wealth of our vegetable boxes. So in honor of Chanukah, I will sing praises to the liberty of raising homegrown vegetables that are varied and interesting, and tell the tale of agricultural culture worldwide.

In the beginning, wo/mankind were nomadic hunters and gatherers. They did not fence themselves in, did not build houses or work the field for agricultural cultivation. They moved from place to place, scavenging whatever they found along the way: weeds, grains, caryopsis, leaves, roots and fruit. Each season introduced additional crops, and people moved according to the weather, just like the migrating birds which spend their winters in warmer climates and escape the heat by drifting to cooler placer in summer. Seeds of grains, fruit and hard roots which can be stored for longer periods of time were sometimes preserved in preparation of harsh winters.

As people began settling down, they domesticated plants and animals by gathering the plants they enjoyed (not too bitter or toxic) closer to them to grow and cultivate. The earth surrounding their houses became rich in nitrogen, generated by animal and human wastes, which enriched the earth to make it extra-perfect for agriculture. Over time, human beings discovered the secret of plant reproduction: if you keep the seeds yielded by the crop, you can replant them in the soil and grow a new plant. The seeds from the more successful crops were kept from season to season, also according to their use – those with extra-large leaves, a big root or fruit; those tastier than others , sweeter or stronger flavored, and those which demonstrated strength and durability in face of pests and weather hazards. Thus humankind naturally, albeit with some intervention, developed species better adapted for his/her needs and uses.

In the ancient Land of Israel region, two types of vegetable agriculture were developed: Dry Farming – using no irrigation, only rainwater, and Irrigated Farming – assisted by irrigation channels in small square vegetable plots, sometimes within orchards among the lines of trees (very beneficial for some vegetables, lettuce for instance, who just love the coolness and shade of trees). Among the plots, a system of narrow channels was dug, and water from the closest springs was channeled for irrigation. A cloth rag or pile of dust served as the faucet opening and closing for the water supply. This system is very suitable to a hilly topography where gravity can be used to cause water to flow.

These ancient, wise farmers used their callous, veiny hands and small plots to grow a large variety of crops which enriched the soil and enriched its fertility. In addition, they used goat and sheep manure from the herds shepherded in the area to enable the rigorous growth and reuse of the soil from one season to the next and one year to the next.

In the Sataf Nature Reserve, situated in the Jerusalem hills (turn left at the roundabout at the top of the hill on the Ein Kerem-Mevasseret Road), there is a vivid example of irrigation plots in the ancient agriculture system.

In various places in the world, different types of vegetables were developed, resulting in the vast variety of vegetables we have today:

In the Mediterranean, a wide range of vegetables developed including root vegetables such as radishes, turnips, garlic, celery and onion; and such leafy vegetables as cabbage, beets, fava, asparagus, artichoke and fennel. Agriculture in this entire area contributed  a great deal of its knowledge and species to Roman agriculture, which traversed next to all of Europe where the species that manage well in winter were acclimated better in Northern Europe (beets, carrots and other roots, various leaves and the good ol’ brassicas).

In the river valleys of China, amazing agriculture developed. To this day, the area maintains a very high level of soil fertility allowing the growth of fast and high-yielding crops, while maximizing the recycling of organic waste. The Chinese contributed other leaf species such as Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, bokchoi, totsoi, mizuna (and many other greens), the giant radish, and of course – soy and rice. They were the ones who also developed the culture of sprouting, a crop which yields within a few days and offers a wealth of vitamins and enzymes.

An important third region is that of the Native American culture – specifically within the warm and rainy areas of Central and South America. They developed the warm weather veggies, specifically the Solanaceae (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers), and the gourds: various squashes and pumpkins, as well as sweet potatoes, corn and various beans.

From Africa we received melons, okra, watermelon and an abundance of fruits. From the regions of India, we gained cucumbers, black-eyed peas, as well as many types of spices, including black pepper, basil, vanilla and others.

Last but not least is the strawberry, which only arrived in the agricultural crops of the 16th century from the European forests. Thank goodness!

Today, we most definitely enjoy this ingathering of the exiles as it supplies us with a wide variety of dozens of different vegetables, subdivided into thousands of species and sub-species. A true song of praise to the autonomous liberty to create, cultivate, grow and taste. May we enjoy a holiday of colorful and illuminating lights, and Bon Appetit!

Our Thai workers are celebrating Kings Day on December 5th. Happy holidays to all!

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

_______________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Cabbage/fennel/turnips, radishes/baby radishes/daikon, sweet potatoes/green bell peppers, kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach/totsoi/kale, dill/parsley, Swiss chard. Special gift: mizuna/arugula

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/beets, celery/celeriac, lettuce

FRUIT BOXES:  Bananas, apples, oranges, avocados, pomelit

Wednesday: Cabbage/broccoli, radishes/baby radishes/daikon, potatoes/orange or purple sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, , spinach/kale, dill/parsley, totsoi/Swiss chard, mizuna/arugula/lettuce

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/Thai long beans, fennel/turnips, beets/celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES:  Bananas, apples, oranges, avocados, pomelit.

Aley Chubeza #271, December 7th-9th 2015

Puah and Oded from Meshek 42 at Tal Shachar invite you to celebrate Chanukah with them (click photo for larger image)

meshek 42 chanuka

_________________________________
mipri_yadea_logoNews from Melissa, Mipri Yadeha

Thanks to a Sabbatical windfall of guava fruit, Mipri Yadeha is delighted to extend this offer: all fruit leather orders will come with a complimentary taste of guava crunchies (one per customer while supplies last). Also, the raisins are back! Sun dried, preservative-free, from Chavat Tal, 12 NIS for 200 gram, 1 kg for 48 NIS. Make your order through Mipri Yadeha via Chubeza .
With blessings for abundance and health,
Melissa

__________________

Ein HarodIn perfect timing for Chanuka, the Ein Harod organic barnea olive oil has arrived, fresh from this year’s olive harvest. Along with the olive oil, we’re now offering the organic almonds and excellent organic chickpeas from Ein Harod’s fields. Look for them in our order system.
_________________________________________
And also –

samar

They’re here at last!!!! The Samar dates!!! Landed Monday afternoon: Brahi, Dekel Nur and Zahidi. Don’t miss another day without these heavenly dates! Add them to your orders via our order system now.

_____________________________

Light One Candle

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe;
Light one candle for those who are suff’ring
A pain they learned so long ago;
Light one candle for all we believe in,
That anger not tear us apart;
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our heart…

Peter Yarrow

Hanukah, the Jewish holiday of fire and light, is parallel to similar holidays in other cultures. Somehow as winter set in and darkness prevailed, people throughout the ages have felt the need to light a candle to sustain their faith that despite the engulfing blackness, the days of light will come. Simply, quietly, gradually, one-by-one, steadily growing in number, the calm and modest light of the Hanukah candles intensifies.
In the Hebrew calendar, this holiday also fell around the same time as an ancient oil festival (most probably pushed aside after the Hasmonean victory) marking the end of olive harvest season, celebrating the new olive oil which ignites the candles and assures man that there is fuel on hand to light the long winter nights ahead.

To me, Hanukah is a paean to how little one needs to abolish hardship and cruelty, to dismantle them, to find a soft corner within them. Like a thin, slight candle which conquers the darkness the moment it is lit, this holiday celebrates the victory of moderation. It tells us that sometimes so very little is needed to create so much light– only one small flask of oil, a few good intentions and the willingness to believe and to give, a little goodwill and love to drive away loneliness or to break into laughter (and it’s already been said that the difference between one friend and none is infinite).

I’m aware that Hanukah, like other holidays and any other day, has morphed into a festival of shopping and gifts. During my years in the U.S., I saw Jewish parents trying to keep up with their Christmas-spirited friends by buying many gifts, some for each day. In Israel, too, this holiday has become a parade of fireworks and giant-size flames, parties and gifts.
I see this as being so contrary to the original intent of these days, as we mark the end of the harvest season for olives, the fruit of one of the most modest and self-denying trees in existence. This is the tree that hardly demands a thing and stands sturdy and graceful for years on end. Dry or rainy, hot or cold, the olive tree can endure it all and still emerge strong. Silently, this survivor produces olives that provide us oil for our light, food for our health, balms for our wounds, softeners for our skin, and more.

olivetree

And what’s really so beautiful is that the olive harvest is the last in the chain of harvest seasons: by now we’ve reaped, gathered, picked, pruned, and collected all the bounty of our fields into the storehouses and the wine press, taken pride over our successes or worried over our failures. And at the finale of this drama, voila, the olive harvest season debuts. There wasn’t much labor involved here, except mainly to hope for an appropriate measure of cold weather and rain, and a nice hard “first and second rain” to wash off the olives.

Modestly, silently, we harvest these hard fruits, which will burst with juice if we press hard on them, but not the kind of juice you want to lick off your fingers like from grapes, figs, pomegranates or dates. This is a strange and bitter juice which will strengthen our bodies in the long run, much more than that the sugar of sweet fruits. It will light our long winter nights. The olive harvest does not need lively festivals; this is a time of winter and introspection, to the quiet softness of a flickering candle flame.

It really is amazing to see golden oil burst out of such hard, un-tempting fruits. But in all honesty, it doesn’t start out golden. A rather disgusting sediment produces a rather foul, dirty liquid. Only after it sits in the dark does the oil separate from the dirty water and float above it, pure and light. This process is really magnificent and symbolic. It says a lot about what can seem futile or vain and what you can produce when you actually try, sometimes with effort and obstinacy; give it a chance, and let time run its course without our interference. And then there’s all that health, goodness and light to be found at the end of the process….

Wishing us all the ability to light a small candle
For us
For those who love us
And to illuminate those who seem hated and hateful, threatening, strange. Perhaps we will also see a beacon shining our way from the other side, trying to illuminate us and find within us a smile and much-needed healing.

This past weekend was a festive time for the Chubeza family. Hearty congratulations to Mohammed, our work manager, who celebrated his 50th birthday, and to Aliza, our faithful translator, on the occasion of her birthday as well. The king of Thailand joined them and celebrated his birthday this weekend (December 5th), a national holiday for our Thai workers Ding, Yanai, Campoon and Rathfung. Mazal tov to all the celebrants!

Wishing you all a modest, familial, heartwarming and joyful Hanukah holiday,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

____________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S HANUKAH BOXES?
Monday: Lettuce, coriander/parsley/dill, tomatoes, mustard greens/ arugula/totsoi, Jerusalem artichokes, Swiss chard/kale/spinach, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes, turnips/beets/ fennel
Large box, in addition: Celery stalk/celeriac, scallions/onions, broccoli/cabbage

Wednesday: sweet potatoes, cucumbers, cilantro/parsley, Swiss chard/kale, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, arugula/Chinese cabage/tatsoi, lettuce. Small boxes only: radishes, celery.

Large box, in addition: green peppers/cabbage, fennel/beets, scallions/leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, spinach.

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 #227, December 15th-17th 2014 – Happy Chanukah!

Our week began with half of a very wet and very muddy Sunday. From nighttime till late morning, the heavens showered us with wonderful rain that covered the fields, paths and vegetables with mud. Then up came the sun and dried up all the rain, but we kept our woolen caps on while our shoes and boots spent the rest of the day battling the sticky, chocolaty mud. So we begin our message with a heartfelt thanks to the graces of the Good Heavens. May our winter continue as it has begun!

This week, we continue our seasoning herb trilogy, and today—

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. This week’s Newsletter is Chubeza’s salute to our wonderful green friend, the dill.

The English name “dill” derives 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 it 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.

The dill is a plant that was probably cultivated 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 chockfull 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 green dill leaves 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 spoonfuls of this mixture (excluding the honey) per day.
  • To get rid of bad breath: gargle the 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.

The weather forecast predicts more rain this week, and even more towards the end of Chanukah. Here’s hoping! And till then, may we all enjoy a sunny-after-the-rain Chanukah, fragrant, spiced with a smile and no stomach, tooth or heartache.

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the Chubeza team

_______________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Sweet potatoes/slice of pumpkin, carrots, kale/ Swiss chard/spinach, tomatoes, fennel/ kohlrabi, cauliflower, parsley/dill/coriander, cucumbers, celery/celeriac, lettuce/arugula/”baby” greens mix, scallions/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Beets, cabbage, daikon/radishes, Jerusalem artichoke/broccoli

Wednesday: Cilantro/dill/parsley, kale/Swiss chard/spinach, cucumbers, fennel/kohlrabi, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, carrots, celery/celeriac, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, scallions/leeks, lettuce/arugula

Large box, in addition: Daikon radish/small radish, beets/eggplants, broccoli/Jerusalem artichoke

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, pomegranate juice 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!

_________________________________

Chanukah recipes:

Turnip latkes and also zucchini and radish latkes

Sweet potato latkes

Cauliflower latkes

Spinach latkes

Beet Latkes Stuffed with Goat Cheese (thanks, Melissa)

Aley Chubeza #138, November 10th-12th 2012 – Happy Chanukah

Eggs

We’re taking a little break from the Bendatovich Egg Farm. Their young brood is taking its first steps and laying tiny eggs. While we let them learn the art of egg-laying, we’ll take a short hiatus from deliveries.

Sourdough Bread

Manu, our bread baker, is on Hanukah vacation, so no bread-baking this week. Your orders for next week are welcome.

 ______________________________________

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Hanukah, the Hebrew holiday of light and fire, is parallel to similar holidays in other cultures. Somehow every year come winter, when the darkness prevailed, people felt the need to light a candle and remind themselves that despite the gnawing glum, the days of light will come. Simply, quietly, gradually, one-by-one, in a “progressively increasing” manner, the calm and modest light of the Hanukah candles grows.

To me, this holiday is a reminder of how little one needs to lighten the hardship and cruelty, to dismantle it, to find a soft corner within it. Like a small, thin candle which   conquers the darkness the moment it is lit, this is a holiday which celebrates the victory of moderation. It tells us that sometimes so very little is needed to make so much light– only one small flask of oil, a few good intentions and the willingness to believe and give, a little goodwill and love to drive away loneliness or to break into laughter (and it’s already been said that the difference between one friend and no one is infinite).

I’m aware that Hanukah, like other holidays and any other day, has turned into a festival of shopping and gifts. During my years in the U.S., I saw Jewish parents trying to keep up with their friends celebrating Christmas by buying many gifts, some for each day. Here, too, this holiday has become a parade of fireworks and giant-size flames, parties and gifts.

I feel that this is so contrary to the original intent of these days, as we celebrate the end of olive-harvest season, where the fruit of what is probably the most modest and self-denying tree is gathered to the olive press. This is the tree that hardly requests anything and stands sturdy and graceful for years on end. Dry or rainy, hot or cold, the olive tree can endure it all and still come out strong. Silently, this survivor produces olives that bring us oil for our light, food for our health, balms for our wounds, softeners for our skin, and more.

And it really is so beautiful, because the season of the olive harvest is the last in the chain of harvest seasons: we’ve reaped, gathered, picked, pruned, and collected all the bounty of our fields into the storehouses and the wine press, shone with pride over our successes or worried over our failures. And at the finale of this drama, voila, the season of the olive harvest debuts. There wasn’t much to do here, except mainly to hope for an appropriate measure of cold weather and rain, and a nice, hard “first and second rain” to wash off the olives.

Modestly, silently, we harvest these hard fruits, which will burst with juice if we press hard on them, but not the kind of juice you want to lick off your fingers, like from grapes, figs, pomegranates or dates. This is a strange and bitter juice which will strengthen our bodies in the long run, much more that the sugar of sweet fruits. It will light our long winter nights. The olive harvest does not need sweet festivals; this is a time of winter and introspection, to the quiet softness of a flickering candle flame.

It really is amazing to see golden oil burst out of such hard, un-tempting fruits. But in all honesty, it doesn’t start out golden. A rather disgusting sediment produces a rather foul, dirty liquid. Only after it sits in the dark does the oil separate from the dirty water and float above it, pure and light. This process is really magnificent and symbolic. It teaches us a lot about what can seem futile or vain and what you can produce when you actually try, sometimes with effort and obstinacy; give it a chance, and let time run its course without our interference. And then there’s all that health, goodness and light to be found at the end of the process….

In honor of the holiday of olive oil, I am including a beautiful PowerPoint presentation of olive oil cultivation in olden times and now, made by Yoav Balshai, a good friend from a neighboring moshav who grows olives and cultivates olive oil. I learned a lot from the presentation and enjoyed it, and hope you will as well. (Click on the picture to take you to the presentation (in Hebrew). Thank you, Talya, the website wizard, for your technical counsel!)

shemen

Wishing us all the ability to light a small candle

For us

For those who love us

And to illuminate those who seem hated and hateful, threatening, strange. Perhaps we will also see a light shining our way from the other side, trying to illuminate us and find within us a smile and great healing.

Wishing a modest, familial, heartwarming and joyful holiday,

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN OUR HANUKAH BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, leeks, celery, tomatoes, coriander, cucumbers, spinach, kohlrabi, carrots, sweet potatoes, daikon (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: cabbage, broccoli, tatsoi, beets

Wednesday: cabbage, lettuce, green onions, fennel, parsley or cilantro, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard or New Zealand spinach, tomatoes, kohlrabi, celery- small boxes only

In the large box, in addition: carrots, beets, broccoli, daikon

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, olive oil, eggs and bakery products 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!

______________________________

Chanukah Latkes—Not Just Potatoes, and Not Just Fried:

Personally, I bake my latkes – 15 minutes at 180C degrees, turn them over, bake 15 min. more and then taste to see if 5-10 more minutes are needed.

Beet latkes

Turnip latkes and also zucchini and radish latkes

Sweet potato latkes

Cauliflower latkes

Spinach latkes

Aley Chubeza #95, Happy Hanukkah – December 19th-21st 2011

Thanks to all of you who wrote or called to discuss the change in box prices. Most of you were encouraging and understanding, and once again it was heartwarming to realize what a supportive and loyal community we have.

Please note that price rise only goes into effect from next month, January 2012. Payment for December boxes is at the usual rate.

Beginning January, a small box will cost 85 NIS, a large box 110 NIS. The price of deliveries will remain unchanged (20 NIS for home delivery, 5/10 NIS to pick-up point).

This conclusion was reached after much thought, and with the fervent wish to serve you better without hurting you or your pockets. It is important to us to continue working according to what we have always believed in: hiring veteran, reliable workers to whom we can promise a stable job, paying them fair salaries (regardless of their nationality) and promising them full benefits. We strive to fill your boxes with products grown in our fields, picked fresh for you, without having to buy a large amount of supplemental vegetables from outside. And we strive to bring together more and more small, local, communal producers into a Chubeza-based community.

Last, and of utmost importance, it is crucial for us to maintain an open, honest dialogue with you.

We wanted to inform you of this decision in advance of the price rise, but this doesn’t mean the end of discussion between us. If you would like to voice your opinion, you are very welcome to do so. We are listening…

_________________________

In perfect Chanukah timing, we are pleased to introduce you to the latest addition of cottage-industrialists joining Chubeza’s circle of associates, Didi and Shira Amosi, producers of organic olive oil from Rotem. We will be sending you their flyers soon, but in the meantime, here are Shira’s words to you:

Simply Olive Oil

“We are delighted to meet you via our olive oil that bears the taste of daily, family labor, simply and with love and happiness.

So what do we do when we wake up in the morning? We walk over to our orchard. We know every tree like a friend, enjoy meeting animals that come to visit, differentiate between our benefactors and our pests, giving the right amount of fertilizer and water each season. We grow with the orchard, fixing the occasional pipes, mending split fences and showing the way out to deer and porcupines which “invite themselves over for a meal.” We watch our trees bloom, and the flowers turn to fruit.

In the beginning of the winter the party begins, a celebration of family harvest accompanied by lots of prayers, excitement and thankfulness.

And you’re invited too! On the day the fruit is harvested, it arrives fresh, ripe and vigorous to the olive press. We painstakingly carry out the careful process of cold pressing as we prepare the olive oil.

The finished product is extra virgin olive oil, prepared under strict supervision, respecting the environment, free of pesticides and sprays, with a maximum of 0.5% acidity. Sakal is the organic supervisor, and it is certified kosher and kosher for Passover. The oil is produced from a variety of species, including barnea, picual, leccino, kurtina and kortini. And it tastes absolutely delicious….”

These days the harvest is still in progress, but despite the pressure, Shira came by yesterday and left us some olive oil for you.

Costs: A 0.750 ml bottle of Picual 45 NIS; a 2 liter can of selected mix varieties: 95 NIS; a 4 liter can of selected mix varieties: 180 NIS.

Chag Sameach!

_______________________________

Winter in the Field and in Your Boxes

Our field is craving rain. It was so excited by those first good showers several weeks ago, but since then only brief scattered showers have dripped through. We’ve been promised rain a few times since then, but it’s thought better of it. Someone from Ben Nun told me this week, “When they say it’ll rain in the north, all of a sudden we’re south, and when they say the south will be stormy, we move up north…” And still we wait. Now there’s talk of a possibly rainy weekend, so here’s hoping.

In the meantime, our vegetables receive water through the irrigation system, and the winter vegetables continue to ripen and renew. Without us noticing, our “flowers,” the cauliflower and broccoli, have become permanent visitors in our boxes. The stems– kohlrabi and fennel– have thickened, and they, too, are making a striking appearance.

In the winter roots department, there is a parade of tastes: radishes of all types in a splendid array – radishes, small radishes; daikon and baby daikons (this is a special type that you meet in your box in bunches); their sweet and spicy (and ever so aromatic) relative, the turnip, who straddles the center of flavor, proving that it is possible to enjoy both worlds and to balance the flavors; the beet and carrot, there to add sweetness to your taste buds. And of course, the cute sweet potatoes that grew at the end of summer (they’re planted in July) but ripen now, add sweetness and health to our winter boxes.

For two weeks, our sweet carrot was MIA, due to a bed that was almost totally consumed by pests (maybe even a mole?) who nibbled at the sweet roots. But now it’s back! When you receive nice big carrots, you can tell that the bed was thinned out well, leaving all of them lots of room to grow and fatten up. When the carrots are small and medium-sized (although sweet and wonderful!), this is a sign we were late in thinning out the bed and the carrots were squashed up against each other, sort of like Israelis standing on line, and thus remained relatively small. Sometimes we bunch them up in a bundle, but there’re weeks when the box is so full of greens, it is hard for us to shove in carrots-with- leaves, which is why they stay with us to share with the animal growers on the moshav.

Speaking of greens… you must have noticed the boxes are chock full of leaves of all sorts, colors, textures and flavors. Those who thought the winter is gray, think again. Our winter is totally green. Sometimes the exact variety can be confusing, so if you’re having problems identifying them, here is a link to the Greens Newsletter, containing photos. If you’re not sure, you can always ask me.

This week we begin the Festival of Lights. I wish you all the ability to keep your inner light intact, spread it outwards, and notice other lights shining their radiance at you!

A happy and delightful holiday to us all,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza Team

__________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Sweet potatoes, arugula, green or red mustard greens, kohlrabi or beets, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet red peppers, parsley, scallions, lettuce, dill, radishes

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower or red cabbage, carrots, turnips

Wednesday: lettuce, mustard greens, arugula, green or red cabbage, turnips or radishes, cucumbers, dill or cilantro, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green onions, broccoli or cauliflower

In the large box, in addition: beets, fennel or kohlrabi, carrots

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.

______________________

LATKES FROM CHUBEZA VEGETABLES

In tribute to the virtuous Chana Zelda (and the weary Rabbi Kalman), we’ve decided this week to send you some suggestions for levivot (latkes) made from the contents of our latest boxes to save you a trip to the shuk.

Have a yummy Chanukah!

Green Latkes

Ingredients:

400-500 grams of greens (for mustard greens, boil and drain before cooking)
1 egg
3 egg whites
3 T. regular flour
3 T. bread crumbs
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Trace of ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Oil for frying
1 container 3% yogurt
Handful of chopped chives or green onions

Preparation:
-Steam greens for around 10 minutes in a skillet. Drain, squeeze, and chop into strips.
-Transfer to bowl.
-Add additional ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and mix well.
-Lightly oil a skillet, heat over medium flame.
-Form 8 latke patties, frying on both sides.
-Mix yogurt with chives, and serve with latkes.

 

Beets and cauliflower latkes

Turnip latkes

Sweet potato latkes and a second option