February 1st-3rd 2021 – Getting to the bottom of things

A new New Year of the Trees has commenced, and we are delighted to present the new, new blossom from Ilana of Shana B’Gina: A Perpetual Shana B’Gina Calendar, with monthly information pertinent for every year, tips and reminders on what’s best to do each month in your garden, and loads of space to write your own personal perpetual dates, including birthdays, seeding and planting times, and more. Take a look:

ORDER THIS AMAZING CALENDAR VIA OUR ORDER SYSTEM TODAY! And best wishes for a Happy New Year of the Trees to all!

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Beneath every successful vegetable is a successful legume

In honor of the green fava bean and the festive bevy of peas over the past few months, I’ve decided to re-explore their roots by conducting an in-depth exploration into the privileged, wonderful clan that these pods claim – the Legume family. The expression “in-depth” is not accidental. For indeed, there is so much that happens deep underground in this family, close to the roots (which may be the case in every family, true).

But let us first get acquainted with the clan: The prestigious legume pedigree belongs to the green bean, pea, fava bean, lubia, soy, lentils, hummus and the mung bean. Lesser-known members of the family are the lupine, vetch, fenugreek (chilbeh), clovers and alfalfa. And, peanuts and even carobs, which hardly resemble their relatives at all. This family includes almost 20,000 varied species! In our field, we raise members from the family branch that are eaten in green pods: peas (two species to be elaborated upon), the fava bean, the green bean, lubia, yard-long bean and green soy (edamame).

The nice thing about this family, when discussing a weekly seasonal box such as ours, is how they interchange throughout the seasons. Sometimes I have a feeling that like on the old kibbutz, some family member is delegated charge for the “work roster,” making detailed charts to vouch that (almost) no week passes without a family representative. To begin the description, we can use the seasonal display of legumes in our Chubeza boxes, commencing at winter’s start with the first pea pods that grow chubby on the bushes. First (at the end of December) comes the sugar pea (aka snow pea or Chinese pea, the big thin one). She is followed by the garden pea that loathes the late-summer heat, but is fine with being seeded in November. It ripens in January. (This is the English pea whose pods hold those nice, round, green “Sunfrost-like” peas. The pods are not edible, but should not be cast away. See tips…)

Next in line are the fava beans that grew alongside the peas over wintertime, and usually ripen at the peak of winter, i.e., just about now. The peas and fava make return visits to our boxes for   additional rounds till March or April, after which they run for their lives to escape the heat that they cannot tolerate.

Then, several weeks later in the middle of April, it’s   the string bean’s big moment! Sowed three months earlier in February, this bean takes its time growing, due to the cool temperature. The next round of string beans, sowed a month later, will grow faster (a string bean can ripen some 50 days after being sowed). The string bean prefers moderate spring and autumn temperatures, which is why it arrives in our field over two periods. Simultaneous to the string bean’s entry on the scene, it’s time for the yard-long bean (a sub-specie of the lubia). This lanky legume appears in our boxes from the month of July, through the summer till the end of autumn.

During the lubia season, the edamame marches proudly into our boxes. This is the green soy pod, sowed together with the string bean but requiring 80-90 days to ripen. Thus, our edamame is expected to make its appearance around July-August, so we can enjoy our soy treats, a great green snack, during those warm summer nights.

And when the New Year is upon us in Tishrei, we are always happy to add lubia to the boxes, to take an important role in the holiday feast with its own special blessing. The lubia continues to bear fruit until the cold November temperatures spur their farewells – and on their way out, they briefly reunite with their spring rendezvous partner, the string beans, coming in for a return appearance. At this point, we have already sowed the peas and fava beans, and a new round of legumes begins.

This description is lacking something, because it only describes what you see in your boxes. In truth, way down under in the depths of earth, the legumes are working their real magic: they are busy “fixing nitrogen.”

!!!!#####^^^^^^****?????

Fine, I get it. You would like an explanation in plain English, not in “agriculturalish.”   So, here goes: among other things, plants need nitrogen in order to grow. Seventy-eight percent of the air is nitrogen, but animals and plants cannot make use of it because this nitrogen comes in a composition that is inaccessible to them (N2, while they need it in N3, i.e., the ammonia used to construct amino acids, protein and others).

This is where the legumes come in to save the day. The roots of these plants run very deep and utilize the nutrients in the lower strata, then proceed to grow small nodules of bacteria that work symbiotically with the legumes. These bacteria are able to receive and absorb nitrogen from the air. They take the nitrogen from the air caught between the clumps of earth and transform it into nitrogenic compounds accessible to the plant, which is transferred from the root to the rest of the legume plant.

In return, the bacteria take the nutrients that the plant produced via photosynthesis. Thus, we receive a plant chock-full of nitrogen. The legume plant will use some of this nitrogen in order to build the protein in the fruits and seeds it produces, but if we cut it down as it blooms, chop it up and mix it in the earth, it will leave most of the nitrogen in the earth – and a considerable amount of organic material that will greatly improve the earth’s composition and its fertility. Similarly, reburying the plants after they have grown edible pods improves available nitrogen levels within the earth. This is why legumes do not need any additional fertilization like the rest of our vegetables. They get by just fine on their own, thank you. (Well, almost on their own, with a little help from some bacterial friends.)

Nitrogen fixing nodules on roots:

We discussed the assistance provided by the legumes to their fellow plants, but we living creatures are also big winners. The nitrogen that became available is converted in the (dry) legume seeds to protein, minerals and other good things, and when we eat them, we too benefit from all this symbiosis. What do we get? Protein (in varied quantities, depending on the specific legume) – legumes are the best protein providers for vegetarians – and also: calcium, iron, and dietary fibers. They contain essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic) that are quite beneficial for diabetics (with their low glycolic index), assist in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease, and as a gluten-free complex carbohydrate, they are a good carb substitute for celiacs. Green legumes, like those we provide in Chubeza boxes, are similar in their nutritional values to green vegetables: they contain vitamins A, B, and C, iron, potassium, and additional minerals and less protein.

And most important – they can be used to prepare delicious food. Legumes have always been an important part of diets across the globe. The type of legume varies in different places: Middle-Easterners eat hummus and the fava bean (ful); Americans (starting with the natives) eat beans of all types (and there are many), the Japanese eat soy. But they all thoroughly enjoy it!

Some useful tips for cooking green legumes:

  • Green Cooking: Green cooking is blanching green vegetables in boiling salted water for a short period (half-a-minute to five minutes, depending on the vegetable) in order to prepare them for further cooking, while preserving their bright green color. Sometimes green cooking is sufficient in itself for the green vegetable — like in salads, such as the Nicoise, which calls for blanched green beans. The water must be at boiling! If not, the vegetable will leak its liquids into the water, and its color will quickly fade. The hotter the water, the shorter the cooking, and the less harm done to the vitamins.
  • When you add fresh green pea pods to vegetable soups, this acts as a sort of spice. You only need a few pods to make the soup taste totally different. Try it!
  • Despite the suggestion to peel the fava bean (double peel), you can certainly cook and eat fava beans within their pods! Check out our recipe section for some ideas.
  • Instead of discarding the empty pods of garden peas or fava bean, freeze them for the next time you make soup stock, then add to the pot and take advantage of their excellent nutritional components.

May we all have a wintery-sunny, green, yummy and filling week!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Oreen and the Chubeza team, nibbling away in the fields

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 WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/totsoi, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, celery/celeriac, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets/potatoes, green fava beans/snow peas or garden peas/Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, onions/leeks. Small boxes only: parsley/coriander/dill.

Large box, in addition:  Daikon/cabbage, fennel/turnips, parsley root, carrots.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, red apples, pomelit, oranges.

Wednesday: Kale/Swiss chard/mizuna/totsoi, lettuce, parsley/coriander/dill, cauliflower/cabbage/Jerusalem artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes, green fava beans/snow peas or garden peas/potatoes, broccoli, onions. Small boxes only: celery/celeriac, beets/daikon/fennel/turnips.

Large box, in addition:  Leeks, parsley root, carrots, beets and fennel.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, red apples, pomelit/red grapefruit, oranges/clemantinot.

February 12th-14th 2018 – A tale in a pod

We’re delighted to invite you to take part in a creative writing session with Liran, a Chubeza client who leads writing workshops and group dynamics. At this workshop, Liran will walk us through a very different kind of visit in our field, with observation, meditation, feeling and creativity.

The writing workshop will take place Friday, March 9, between 9am-3pm. For more information, check out this link.

Sign up with Liran: 054-2400408   Lirankeren1@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Fava Fad

The prevailing spring-like weather is just what the fava beans ordered to produce bountiful yields, fill our harvest buckets and your boxes. This member of the venerable legume family whose chubby green pods are covered with a soft, cottony lining, will be gracing you with his presence over the next few weeks. And because he is not a very frequent visitor, we proudly dedicate this Newsletter to the delectable, distinguished fava bean.

Dry and fresh fava beans have been consumed in the Middle East and in North and South Africa for thousands of years. Fava fossils have even been found in archeological sites in the Middle East from as early as 6500 BC (in our very own Nazareth)! It served as an important, essential food for all classes. Fava is rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fibers. It contains a good amount of iron, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

And yet, “Stay away from fava!” cautioned Pythagoras.

What did the renowned sixth century BC Greek philosopher have against one of the most popular vegetables of the time? Pythagoras aficionados and interpreters have offered many suggestions for this sharp warning. One is that fava is hard to digest, said to be “full of spirit, and takes a part of your soul, and if you stay away from it your belly will be less loud and your dreams calmer.” And yet, one should not forget that fava contains less sugar and other hard-to-digest fibers than its fellow legumes, such as the green bean.

Another possible reason for Pythagoras to disqualify the fava could have been the ancient belief that the spirits of the dead wander into the fava’s buds, making it a popular dish for funeral meals. Possibly the connection between the fava and the afterworld has to do with the fava allergy, also known as Favism (from the Latin Vicia faba). This allergy is extremely serious, deriving from a genetic deficiency in the G6PD enzyme, and commonly affects populations from the Middle East and Mediterranean (in Israel, it is most prevalent among Iraqi Jews). Fava consumption among some 20% of humans lacking this enzyme can result in acute anemia and even death.

On the other hand, the fava appears to possess chemical components similar to those in quinine medicines used to treat malaria, a once-common disease in Greece and southern Italy. It seems that fava fights malaria by reducing the amount of oxygen within red blood cells, thus halting its spread. Perfect timing too – the season for picking fresh fava, springtime, is also the breeding season of the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito.

Another reason why fava should be part of our natural medicine chest is to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Fava naturally contains the L-Dopa amino acid, which becomes the Dopamine neurotransmitter upon reaching the brain. This acts to improve the condition of Parkinson sufferers, a disease resulting from Dopamine deficiency. Even 250 grams of cooked fava has proven to significantly boost the level of Dopamine in the blood, improving the patient’s condition. The largest concentration of L-Dopa is in fresh fava and its pods. Dry fava contains much less. Research is still in the early stages, and those considering fava for treating Parkinson’s should consult with their doctor.

In our part of the world, there are two varieties of fava – the larger Cypriot and the smaller Egyptian fava, which is almost the size of a pea pod. During Chubeza’s first years, we grew both varieties, but several years ago we met an “in-between” type with medium-sized pods, which we now happily grow. In Egypt, fava is called “Ful Hamam” for a fascinating reason: in medieval times, preparation of the fava was carried out exclusively by those who lived in the area surrounding “the Princess Baths,” the public baths at the site of the Fountain of Mohammed Ali Pasha in Cairo. By day, the water in the great basins was heated for bathing. By night, when the burning coals were still ablaze, the great basins were filled with fava beans which cooked overnight on the coals to provide breakfast for the residents of Cairo.

The fava’s tale began last autumn. There is something beautiful about it, something that returns us, with our world of endless possibilities, to the restraints of seasons and time and to slower and softer rhythms of life. We seed the fava at the end of autumn from September to December in four rounds, every month or so. We try to bury it deep in the earth before the first showers fall, when the skies above begin clouding over, informing us of a nearing drizzle. On one hand, we want to avoid watering, but if we seed too early, we’ll lose our crop to the field animals stocking up at that very moment on food for the winter. The raindrops cover the fava with earth, greeting with fanfare the big, familiar seeds that they knew and loved last year.

This encounter results in quick germination of the fava, which courageously bursts forth and continues growing even as the winter grows colder and rainier and the rest of the world withdraws into itself.  The growth is slow and calculated. Fava takes its time, growing over an entire winter, patiently and steadily, inching a little taller every week. Favas cover the earth and protect the soil from erosion and the ravages of strong rains. It grows densely, preventing weed growth.  Favas do not require fertilizer, for like the rest of the legume family, fava beans can fix nitrogen for a do-it-yourself fertilizer, enriching the earth within which they grow.

After months of rain, wind and cold, the fava feels something moving inside. Its faultless plant instinct senses the seasons changing, the days growing longer, the changing light, the sun’s locale, and then it knows – it’s show time! The fava debuts with beautiful fabacaea butterfly-like flowers. They are gentle and strong at once, like the fava itself. In strident pastel festivity, they overtake the garden beds as if to say, we’re all clean and dressed up and something wonderful is about to happen.  Even when the fava blooms, it takes its time. Why hurry when you can look around, smell the fava, and enjoy life?

The fava bed still looks like it stopped at the flowering stage, while on the surface nothing else has changed. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, a small green boat appears in the flower. This boat will thicken and fatten up until it becomes a seed-carrying pod. We pick them before they fully ripen and dry, when they’re still green, fresh, sweet and juicy. And that’s when we know spring is nearly here. Right here, in our field, in your plate.

   

There are many ways to prepare fresh favas, and despite the suggestion to peel the fava bean (double peel), you can certainly cook and eat fava beans within their pods! 

Some simple uses:

– Cook in unsalted water (similar to blanching peas–the salt hardens the skin).

– Steam in water and olive oil, or sauté onion and garlic, then add fava, boiling water, and lemon juice. Cook for 15 minutes till liquid is absorbed.

– Fava may also be baked slowly in the oven on low heat, together with garlic and such fresh herbs as rosemary, thyme or za’atar on a lightly olive-oiled baking sheet. When the fava is very soft, crush together with the garlic and herbs and spread on bread. 

But I must admit, though the recipes sound great, I usually don’t get around to preparing them. In our house, the fava is eaten fresh, like peas, popped out of the pods and joyfully gobbled up, fresh and raw.

Wishing us all a great week,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/dill/coriander, broccoli, leeks/onions, cucumbers, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce/mizuna. Small boxes only:  Jerusalem artichoke/peas/fava beans, beets.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/daikon/baby radish, potatoes, fennel, celeriac, Swiss chard/spinach/ kale.

Wednesday: Parsley/dill/coriander, broccoli, onions, cucumbers, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, celeriac/leeks/scallions, fennel/beets, daikon/baby radish/radish. Small boxes only: potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichoke/peas, spinach/kale/lettuce/mizuna, white turnip/cabbage.

February 5th-7th 2018 – Getting to the bottom of things

This week your boxes will contain samples of a very unique tahini which has been available through our Order System for some months now, the excellent Tahi-na (na is Hebrew for “raw”). Tahi-na is prepared in a small factory located in Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Heh in the Judean plains. The enterprise was established by Michal Melamed, a kibbutz member and former clinical psychologist who decided to make a change in her life. She spent five years researching sesame and its unique characteristics, learning about traditional tahini production and creating machines tailored for production demands. Thus, a year and a half ago, Tahi-na made its debut.

Tahi-na champions simplicity, health and flavor.

They enjoy preparing their products at the right time and pace. And in general, they prefer minimal interference with what nature has bestowed for us. Back to the basics, like the old days.

What does this entail? They do not peel the seed or roast the sesame, and they do not add anything to it. What *do* they do? They clean the sesame and soak it in water to pre-sprout. Afterwards, it is dried at a low temperature (up to 40 degrees Celsius) for a good while. Finally, it arrives at the grindstones where it is ground intact (shell included).

The result of this unique, no-interference process is something altogether new. A new flavor, vital, intense, even wild. The nutritional value of Tahi-na is the highest possible — lots of calcium, iron, vitamin A and very little nitrogen. Thanks to the unique preparation process, its nutritional attributes remain almost intact and are easier to be absorbed in the body.

This week, join the growing audience of those captivated by the magic of this special product.

Tahi-Na comes in two sizes, and may be ordered via our order system.

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Beneath every successful vegetable is a successful legume

In honor of the green fava bean and the festive bevy of peas over the past few months, I’ve decided to re-explore their roots by conducting an in-depth exploration into the privileged, wonderful clan that these pods claim – the Legume family. The expression “in-depth” is not accidental. For indeed, there is so much that happens deep underground in this family, close to the roots (which may be the case in every family, true).

But let us first get acquainted with the clan: The prestigious legume pedigree belongs to the green bean, pea, fava bean, lubia, soy, lentils, hummus and the mung bean. Lesser-known members of the family are the lupine, vetch, fenugreek (chilbeh), clovers and alfalfa. And, peanuts and even carobs, which hardly resemble their relatives at all. This family includes almost 20,000 varied species! In our field, we raise members from the family branch that are eaten in green pods: peas (two species to be elaborated upon), the fava bean, the green bean, lubia, yard-long bean and green soy (edamame).

The nice thing about this family, when discussing a weekly seasonal box such as ours, is how they interchange throughout the seasons. Sometimes I have a feeling that like on the old kibbutz, some family member is delegated charge for the “work roster,” making detailed charts to vouch that (almost) no week passes without a family representative. To begin the description, we can use the seasonal display of legumes in our Chubeza boxes, commencing at winter’s start with the first pea pods that grow chubby on the bushes. First (at the end of December) comes the sugar pea (aka snow pea or Chinese pea, the big thin one). She is followed by the garden pea that loathes the late-summer heat, but is fine with being seeded in November. It ripens in January. (This is the English pea whose pods hold those nice, round, green “Sunfrost-like” peas. The pods are not edible, but should not be cast away. See tips…)

Chinese pea/snow pea:

Garden/English pea:

Next in line are the fava beans that grew alongside the peas over wintertime, and usually ripen at the peak of winter, i.e., just about now.

The peas and fava make return visits to our boxes for   additional rounds till March or April, after which they run for their lives to escape the heat that they cannot tolerate.

Then, several weeks later in the middle of April, it’s   the string bean’s big moment! Sowed three months earlier in February, this bean takes its time growing, due to the cool temperature. The next round of string beans, sowed a month later, will grow faster (a string bean can ripen some 50 days after being sowed). The string bean prefers moderate spring and autumn temperatures, which is why it arrives in our field over two periods. Simultaneous to the string bean’s entry on the scene, it’s time for the yard-long bean (a sub-specie of the lubia). This lanky legume appears in our boxes from the month of July, through the summer till the end of autumn.

During the lubia season, the edamame marches proudly into our boxes. This is the green soy pod, sowed together with the string bean but requiring 80-90 days to ripen. Thus, our edamame is expected to make its appearance around July-August, so we can enjoy our soy treats, a great green snack, during those warm summer nights.

And when the New Year is upon us in Tishrei, we are always happy to add lubia to the boxes, to take an important role in the holiday feast with its own special blessing. The lubia continues to bear fruit until the cold November temperatures spur their farewells – and on their way out, they briefly reunite with their spring rendezvous partner, the string beans, coming in for a return appearance. At this point, we have already sowed the peas and fava beans, and a new round of legumes begins.

This description is lacking something, because it only describes what you see in your boxes. In truth, way down under in the depths of earth, the legumes are working their real magic: they are busy “fixing nitrogen.”

!!!!#####^^^^^^****?????

Fine, I get it. You would like an explanation in plain English, not in “agriculturalish.”   So, here goes: among other things, plants need nitrogen in order to grow. Seventy-eight percent of the air is nitrogen, but animals and plants cannot make use of it because this nitrogen comes in a composition that is inaccessible to them (N2, while they need it in N3, i.e., the ammonia used to construct amino acids, protein and others).

This is where the legumes come in to save the day. The roots of these plants run very deep and utilize the nutrients in the lower strata, then proceed to grow small nodules of bacteria that work symbiotically with the legumes. These bacteria are able to receive and absorb nitrogen from the air. They take the nitrogen from the air caught between the clumps of earth and transform it into nitrogenic compounds accessible to the plant, which is transferred from the root to the rest of the legume plant.

In return, the bacteria take the nutrients that the plant produced via photosynthesis. Thus, we receive a plant chock-full of nitrogen. The legume plant will use some of this nitrogen in order to build the protein in the fruits and seeds it produces, but if we cut it down as it blooms, chop it up and mix it in the earth, it will leave most of the nitrogen in the earth – and a considerable amount of organic material that will greatly improve the earth’s composition and its fertility. Similarly, reburying the plants after they have grown edible pods improves available nitrogen levels within the earth. This is why legumes do not need any additional fertilization like the rest of our vegetables. They get by just fine on their own, thank you. (Well, almost on their own, with a little help from some bacterial friends.)

Nitrogen fixing nodules on roots:

We discussed the assistance provided by the legumes to their fellow plants, but we living creatures are also big winners. The nitrogen that became available is converted in the (dry) legume seeds to protein, minerals and other good things, and when we eat them, we too benefit from all this symbiosis. What do we get? Protein (in varied quantities, depending on the specific legume) – legumes are the best protein providers for vegetarians – and also: calcium, iron, and dietary fibers. They contain essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic) that are quite beneficial for diabetics (with their low glycolic index), assist in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease, and as a gluten-free complex carbohydrate, they are a good carb substitute for celiacs. Green legumes, like those we provide in Chubeza boxes, are similar in their nutritional values to green vegetables: they contain vitamins A, B, and C, iron, potassium, and additional minerals and less protein.

And most important – they can be used to prepare delicious food. Legumes have always been an important part of diets across the globe. The type of legume varies in different places: Middle-Easterners eat hummus and the fava bean (ful); Americans (starting with the natives) eat beans of all types (and there are many), the Japanese eat soy. But they all thoroughly enjoy it!

Some useful tips for cooking green legumes:

  • Green Cooking: Green cooking is blanching green vegetables in boiling salted water for a short period (half-a-minute to five minutes, depending on the vegetable) in order to prepare them for further cooking, while preserving their bright green color. Sometimes green cooking is sufficient in itself for the green vegetable — like in salads, such as the Nicoise, which calls for blanched green beans. The water must be at boiling! If not, the vegetable will leak its liquids into the water, and its color will quickly fade. The hotter the water, the shorter the cooking, and the less harm done to the vitamins.
  • When you add fresh green pea pods to vegetable soups, this acts as a sort of spice. You only need a few pods to make the soup taste totally different. Try it!
  • Despite the suggestion to peel the fava bean (double peel), you can certainly cook and eat fava beans within their pods! Check out our recipe section for some ideas.
  • Instead of discarding the empty pods of garden peas or fava bean, freeze them for the next time you make soup stock, then add to the pot and take advantage of their excellent nutritional components.

May we all have a wintery-sunny, green, yummy and filling week!
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the Chubeza team, nibbling away in the fields

__________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES

Monday: Parsley, broccoli/cauliflower, leeks/onions, cucumbers, Swiss chard/spinach/ kale, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, daikon/baby radish/kohlrabi, celeriac. Small boxes only:  peas/fava beans.

Large box, in addition: Beets, cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke/eggplant, dill/coriander.

Wednesday: Parsley/dill/coriander, broccoli/cauliflower, leeks/onions, cucumbers, Swiss chard/spinach/ kale, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce/mizuna, daikon/baby radish/kohlrabi, red or green cabbage. Small boxes only:  peas/fava beans.

Large box, in addition: Beets, Jerusalem artichoke/eggplant, celeriac, potatoes.

Aley Chubeza #327, February 20th-22nd 2017

chocolatesrawdesertsThe Shorshei Zion dessert and chocolate packages have returned to our shelves with a new look and a new, lower price tag! You are welcome to see for yourselves and order via our order system.

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megila close 2016-reduced“Is it not for this very moment that you became queen?!” Or, in other words, “I want to see you be brave!”

In honor of Purim, Mipri Yadeha is delighted to present Megillat Esther: all-natural fruit leather scrolls in select flavors, perfect for holiday food exchanges and a sweet reminder of what one brave woman can do! (Only 10 NIS apiece!)

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Fava Fad

As winter reaches its end, the approaching spring season warms up the fava pods to yield bountifully and fill our harvest buckets and your boxes. It’s time to celebrate! Not all of you will be receiving fava this week, but this member of the venerable legume family whose chubby green pods are covered with a soft, cottony lining, will surely be gracing you all with his presence over the next few weeks. We proudly dedicate this Newsletter to the delectable, distinguished fava bean.

Dry and fresh fava beans have been consumed in the Middle East and in North and South Africa for thousands of years. Fava fossils have even been found in archeological sites in the Middle East from as early as 6500 BC (in our very own Nazareth)! It served as an important, essential food for all classes. Fava is rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fibers. It contains a good amount of iron, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

And yet, “Stay away from fava!” cautioned Pythagoras.

What did the renowned sixth century BC Greek philosopher have against one of the most popular vegetables of the time? Pythagoras aficionados and interpreters have offered many suggestions for this sharp warning. One is that fava is hard to digest, said to be “full of spirit, and takes a part of your soul, and if you stay away from it your belly will be less loud and your dreams calmer.” And yet, one should not forget that fava contains less sugar and other hard-to-digest fibers than its fellow legumes, such as the green bean.

Another possible reason for Pythagoras to disqualify the fava could have been the ancient belief that the spirits of the dead wander into the fava’s buds, making it a popular dish for funeral meals. Possibly the connection between the fava and the afterworld has to do with the fava allergy, also known as Favism (from the Latin Vicia faba). This allergy is extremely serious, deriving from a genetic deficiency in the G6PD enzyme, and commonly affects populations from the Middle East and Mediterranean (in Israel, it is most prevalent among Iraqi Jews). Fava consumption among some 20% of humans lacking this enzyme can result in acute anemia and even death. On the other hand, the fava appears to possess chemical components similar to those in quinine medicines used to treat malaria, a once-common disease in Greece and southern Italy. It seems that fava fights malaria by reducing the amount of oxygen within red blood cells, thus halting its spread. Perfect timing too – the season for picking fresh fava, springtime, is also the breeding season of the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito.

Another reason why fava should be part of our natural medicine chest is to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Fava naturally contains the L-Dopa amino acid, which becomes the Dopamine neurotransmitter upon reaching the brain. This acts to improve the condition of Parkinson sufferers, a disease resulting from Dopamine deficiency. Even 250 grams of cooked fava has proven to significantly boost the level of Dopamine in the blood, improving the patient’s condition. The largest concentration of L-Dopa is in fresh fava and its pods. Dry fava contains much less. Research is still in the early stages, and those considering fava for treating Parkinson’s should consult with their doctor.

In this area, there are two varieties of fava, the larger Cypriot and the smaller Egyptian fava, which is almost the size of a pea pod. During Chubeza’s first years, we grew both varieties, but several years ago we met an “in-between” type with medium-sized pods, which we now happily grow. In Egypt, fava is called “Ful Hamam” for a fascinating reason: in medieval times, preparation of the fava was carried out exclusively by those who lived in the area surrounding “the Princess Baths,” the public baths at the site of the Fountain of Mohammed Ali Pasha in Cairo. By day, the water in the great basins was heated for bathing. By night, when the burning coals were still ablaze, the great basins were filled with fava beans which cooked overnight on the coals to provide breakfast for the residents of Cairo.

The fava’s tale began last autumn. There is something beautiful about it, something that returns us, with our world of endless possibilities, to the restraints of seasons and time, and to slower and softer rhythms of life. We seed the fava at the end of autumn from September to December in four rounds, every month or so. We try to bury it deep in the earth before the first showers fall, when the skies above begin clouding over, informing us of the nearing drizzle. On one hand, we want to avoid watering, but if we seed too early, we’ll lose our crop to the field animals stocking up at that very moment on food for the winter. The raindrops cover the fava with earth, greeting with fanfare the big, familiar seeds that they knew and loved last year.

This encounter results in quick germination of the fava, which courageously bursts forth and continues growing even as the winter grows colder and rainier and the rest of the world withdraws into itself.  The growth is slow and calculated. Fava takes its time, growing over an entire winter, patiently and steadily, inching a little taller every week. Favas cover the earth and protect the soil from erosion and the ravages of strong rains. It grows densely, preventing weed growth.  Favas do not require fertilizer, for like the rest of the legume family, fava beans can fix nitrogen for a do-it-yourself fertilizer, enriching the earth within which they grow.

After months of rain, wind and cold, the fava feels something moving inside. Its faultless plant instinct senses the seasons changing, the days growing longer, the changing light, the sun’s locale, and then it knows – it’s show time! The fava debuts with beautiful fabacaea butterfly-like flowers. They are gentle and strong at once, like the fava itself. In strident pastel festivity, they overtake the garden beds as if to say, we’re all clean and dressed up and something wonderful is about to happen.  Even when the fava blooms, it takes its time. Why hurry when you can look around, smell the fava, and enjoy life?

The fava bed still looks like it stopped at the flowering stage, while on the surface nothing else has changed. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, a small green boat appears in the flower. This boat will thicken and fatten up until it becomes a seed-carrying pod. We pick them before they fully ripen and dry, when they’re still green, fresh, sweet and juicy. And that’s when we know spring is nearly here. Right here, in our field, in your plate.

  

There are many ways to prepare fresh favas, and despite the suggestion to peel the fava bean (double peel), you can certainly cook and eat fava beans within their pods! 

Some simple uses:

– Cook in unsalted water (similar to blanching peas–the salt hardens the skin).

– Steam in water and olive oil, or sauté onion and garlic, then add fava, boiling water, and lemon juice. Cook for 15 minutes till liquid is absorbed.

– Fava may also be cooked slowly in the oven on low heat, together with garlic and such fresh herbs as rosemary, thyme or za’atar on a lightly olive-oiled baking sheet. When the fava is very soft, crush together with the garlic and herbs and spread on bread. 

In our field, “fava in the pod” is Majdi’s specialty: he chops up some garlic, stir-fries it in olive oil, adds favas in the pod (cut each one to 2-3 pieces), seasons with salt, pepper, cumin, adds raw tahini, water and lemon, and the dish is devoured!

But I must admit, though the recipes sound great, I usually don’t get around to preparing them. In our house, the fava is eaten fresh, like peas, popped out of the pods and joyfully gobbled up, fresh and raw.

יומולדת ארבעים

And finally – we send happy greetings to Alon for his 40th birthday. Mazal Tov!

May we all enjoy a wonderful week!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/dill/coriander, lettuce, celeriac/ leeks/fresh onions, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, peas/fava beans, cauliflower/potatoes, fennel/kohlrabi, carrots/beets.

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes, spinach/kale/Swiss chard/ broccoli leaves, Jerusalem artichoke

Wednesday: cauliflower/potatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets/carrots, fresh onions/leek/celeriac, parsley/cilantro/dill, broccoli, cabbage, peas, spinach/broccoli greens/kale/Swiss chard.

Large box, in addition: mizuna/arugula, kohlrabi/fennel, Jerusalem artichoke/fava beans.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks 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!