Aley Chubeza #283, March 7th-9th 2016

shoreshei zion  When it comes to innovating irresistibly delicious products, Eliezer of “Shorshei Tzion” just doesn’t stop! After he added sprouted nuts and almonds to his line, Eliezer has now cooked up two new additions to his delicious, raw crackers: zaa’atar-onion flavor, and pizza flavor!  These join the all-star lineup of chia and buckwheat, garden vegetables, and seaweed-green crackers. These crackers are now in a new package (where a slightly-reduced quantity means a reduced price). Go ahead—take a taste. You’ll soon be hooked!  Order now via the Chubeza order system.

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Aiming to Peas

Of late, the delectable fresh pea has been visiting us off and on, but won’t stick around for very long. Let’s get acquainted!

    

Hans Christian Anderson sure loved peas. So much so that he granted the pea extraterrestrial powers, both as a useful tool to distinguish a real princess from a fake (The Princess and the Pea) and even to make a sick little girl all better (Five Peas from a Pod).  You, too, will love the pea. She’s chubby and charming, sweet and joyful, and she doesn’t like being pierced with a fork. If she can, she’ll roll off your plate and all over the house…..

Though she pretends to be a young’un, she is in fact one of the most ancient vegetables that human beings have cultivated. The pea is said to have originated in three centers: Central Asia (Northwest India to Afghanistan), the Near East (yup, here too) and Ethiopia. After having been cultivated, this green wonder was spread via wayfarers, merchants, and conquerors till it arrived in the Mideast and the Far East. The remains of a primitive, almost 12,000-year-old pea were discovered in caves on the border of Burma and Thailand (a wild pea, not the cultivated type). Traces of its granddaughters, only 8000 years old, were discovered in Northwestern Iraq, and remains of the great-granddaughters (5000 years old) were found in a lake in a Swiss village. The Greeks and Romans raised peas in the 6th century BC, but the vegetable only arrived in China much later, in the 7th century AC, acquiring the nickname “Hu tou”- foreign legumes.

The first varieties contained peas which started out hard, and thus were used dry or ground for flour. These were also darker and smaller peas than the ones we know today. In Medieval times, peas became a major component of the European cuisine, due to the vegetable’s ability to be maintained throughout the long winter months and to fill a hungry belly. Only in Italy at the end of the 14th century were the first fresh peas developed, followed by the French variety, which was known for its diminutive dimensions. Yet it took several additional centuries for fresh peas to become quite fashionable.

The problem with fresh peas is that immediately upon being harvested, the sugar begins to turn to starch, and the pea quickly loses its sweetness. That characteristic is especially problematic in this day and age, where so much time can pass till the vegetables arrive at your local grocery. For this reason, even today, when peas are raised all over the world, only 2-5% of the produce is fresh on your shelves. The vast majority of peas are industrial crops which are canned, frozen or dried. Canned peas come in a khaki-like color, because the chlorophyll is destroyed in the heat. This also causes a major loss of much of the nutritional value. When vegetables began being frozen in the 1920’s, this became the preferred way to store peas. The vegetables were fresh-frozen almost immediately at harvest, thus keeping their color and nutritional advantages. Fresh peas can only be eaten in winter and springtime as the summer heat does not agree with pea, so prepare your fingers for peeling and sharpen those taste buds!

This week’s boxes will contain snow peas! Of course, they have nothing to do with actual snow. A few years ago, I received a phone call from a farmer in the Golan Heights:

“We grow strawberries during summertime, and we’re looking for a winter crop. Someone recommended snow peas as a crop that can withstand heavy snow. What do you suggest?”

“Snow peas in the extreme cold of the Heights?” I asked in surprise. “We know these peas to be very sensitive to cold. Here, we seed them early and expect a yield in November. True, peas grow in wintertime and manage the Israeli cold well… but they cannot tolerate frozen weather.”

“Wait, so it’s sensitive to extreme cold? Then why is it named snow pea???”

Good question. One suggestion has to do with the white glare reflecting off its pod, so thin and shiny. I guess someone very poetic found that the pea awakened his/her yearning for white, shiny snow, thus bestowing this confusing name on the hapless pea. You can also go with “Chinese pea” or “sweet pea.” I have even encountered recipes that coin it the “French pea.” As far as I know, the French actually call it mange-tout meaning: eat it all, because the whole thing is consumable, pod and all.

The flat pea was developed by Dutch farmers in the 16th century. From Holland it traveled to England, and then on to the Far East. Of course, the Chinese coined it “hoh laan dau,” meaning “the Dutch pea.” The flat pea’s charming consent to be stir-fried, the preferred Chinese method of cooking, made it a favorite for a billion Chinese– granting it the new name, “the Chinese pea.” It traveled to San Francisco in the luggage of Chinese immigrant workers on their way to build the greatest railways in the West. Those who ended up farmers named it Shii dau, snow pea, perhaps out of a longing for home and the Chinese winter. Hence the confusing name.

But between you and me, we are willing to forgive, because behind all the different nicknames lies a sweet, crunchy pea, with a flat-to-bulging figure, that is so yummy! It also denotes the start of pea season at Chubeza. In general, we grow two prominent pea varieties: the flat one (snow/French/Dutch/Chinese, what have you) and the chubby garden pea, out of which we extricate the lovely roly-poly peas.

Harvesting snow peas is a lesson in restraint. Not only because it is hard to control the ever-present temptation to nibble, but also because we need to constantly remind ourselves to harvest only the swollen pods, not the soft flat ones. A short taste-test in the field during harvest (duty calls…) proves that the swollen pods are the sweetest. They are the most mature, which is why they have a high level of sugar.

Our snow peas, like their sister the garden peas, are grown in Chubeza by trellising (on a vine). But as opposed to the tomato, eggplant and pepper, which we also support, we stretch a net between the poles of the pea plants. They send out their tendrils and climb by themselves. The delicate nature of the plant, with its thin, silk-like stems and leaves, causes it to be exceptionally light, which makes it easier to climb and hold onto. Climbing plants always seem to me to be more intelligent, the kind that can find the solution with their own “two feet.” Not enough light out here? Let’s climb up and get some more!” When the pea tendril, which develops from the leaf, meets a hard object (even a thin net like ours), it begins growing cells in a varying manner–-those close to the hard object get smaller, while the ones farther away grow longer. This generates a twist and then a bounding of the tendril upon the net, like a little spring. Such a dance can continue from one to ten minutes. Amazing, don’t you think? Here’s some more from this wonder

As for us, this climbing makes us so happy, as we know that soon we will be able to straighten our backs. Now we are harvesting the first rounds of snow pea pods from the lower part of the plant. But gradually, as it climbs higher, the peas will ripen at a higher level, and we too will be able to raise our backs like homo sapiens and harvest peas while upright. What joy!

Wishing you a nice sunny, healthy wintery week. At the end of this week, as we embark upon a second Adar, here’s to happiness!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Baby greens (mesclun mix)/lettuce/red mizuna, coriander/parsley/dill, tomatoes, spinach/kale, cucumbers/sweet red peppers, carrots, cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower, potatoes, snow peas, celeriac/parsley root. Small boxes only: scallions.

Large box, in addition: Green garlic/leeks, Swiss chard, fava beans, artichoke/beets

 Wednesday: scallions/leeks, baby greens (mesclun mix), coriander/parsley/dill, tomatoes, Swiss chard, cucumbers/sweet red peppers, carrots, snow peas/garden peas, celeriac/parsley root, broccoli/beets. Small boxes: cauliflower/potatoes

Large box, in addition: spinach/kale, cabbage/cauliflower, potatoes, fennel/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, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products 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!

Aley Chubeza #187, February 3rd-5th 2014

Peas, Pretty Peas……….

 A new month has begun, and the attractive starlet appearing on the February page of the new Chubeza Calendar is none other than the white pea flower, a reminder that it is high time to devote a Newsletter to this beauty. The delectable fresh pea, now visiting our boxes, will not remain for long, so let’s get acquainted!

    

Hans Christian Anderson sure loved the pea. He even gave it extraterrestrial powers: a useful tool to distinguish a real princess from a fake (The Princess and the Pea) and even to make a sick little girl all better (or land in the pigeon’s crop, Five Peas from a Pod).  You, too, will love the pea. She’s chubby and charming, sweet and joyful, and she doesn’t like being stabbed with a fork. If she can, she’ll roll off your plate and all over the house…..

Though she pretends to be a young’un, she is in fact one of the most ancient vegetables that human beings have cultivated. The pea is said to have originated in three centers: central Asia (northwest India to Afghanistan), the Near East (yup, here too) and Ethiopia. After having being cultivated, it was spread via passers, merchants, and conquerors, till it arrived in the Mideast and the Far East. The remains of a primitive, almost 12,000-year-old pea were discovered in caves on the border of Burma and Thailand (a wild pea, not the cultivated type.) Traces of its granddaughters, only 8000 years old, were discovered in Northwestern Iraq, and remains of the great-granddaughters (5000 years old) were found in a lake in a Swiss village. The Greeks and Romans raised peas in the 6th century BC, but the vegetable only arrived in China much later, in the 7th century AC, acquiring the nickname “Hu tou”- foreign legumes.

The first varieties contained peas which started out hard, and thus were used dry or ground for flour. These were also darker and smaller peas than the ones we know today. In medieval times, peas became a major component of the European cuisine, due to the vegetable’s ability to be maintained throughout the long winter months and to fill a hungry belly. Only in Italy at the end of the 14th century were the first fresh peas developed, followed by the French variety, which was known for its diminutive dimensions. Yet it took several additional centuries for fresh peas to become quite fashionable.

The problem with fresh peas is that upon being harvested, the sugar begins to turn to starch, and it quickly loses its sweetness. This characteristic is especially problematic in this day and age, where so much time can pass till the vegetables arrive at your local grocery. For this reason, even today, when peas are raised all over the world, only 2-5% of the produce is fresh on your shelves. The vast majority of peas are industrial crops which are canned, frozen or dried. Canned peas come in a khaki-like color, because the chlorophyll is destroyed in the heat. This also causes a major loss of much of its nutritional value. When vegetables began being frozen in the 1920’s, this became the preferred way to maintain peas. The vegetables were fresh frozen almost immediately at harvest, thus keeping their color and nutritional advantages. Fresh peas can only be eaten in winter and springtime, as the pea does not agree with summer heat, so prepare your fingers for peeling and sharpen those taste buds!

 

The flat pea was developed by Dutch farmers in the 16th century. From Holland it traveled to England, and then on to the Far East. Of course, the Chinese coined it “hoh laan dau,” meaning “the Dutch pea.” The flat pea’s charming consent to be stir-fried, the preferred Chinese method of cooking, made it a favorite for a billion Chinese– granting it the new name, “the Chinese pea.” It traveled to San Francisco in the luggage of Chinese immigrant workers on their way to build the greatest railways in the West. Those who ended up farmers named it Shii dau, snow pea, perhaps out of a longing for home and the Chinese winter. Hence the confusing name.

But between you and me, we are willing to forgive, because behind all the different nicknames lies a sweet, crunchy pea, with a flat-to-bulging figure, that is so yummy! It also denotes the start of pea season at Chubeza. This year we are growing two of our prominent pea varieties: the flat one (snow/French/Dutch/Chinese, what have you) and the chubby garden pea, out of which we extricate the lovely roly-poly peas.

Harvesting snow peas is a lesson in restraint. Not only because it is hard to control the ongoing temptation to nibble, but also because we need to constantly remind ourselves to harvest only the swollen pods, not the soft flat ones. A short taste-test in the field during harvest (duty calls…) proves that the swollen pods are the sweetest. They are the most mature, which is why they have a high level of sugar.

Our snow peas, like their sister the garden peas, are grown in Chubeza by trellising (on a vine). But as opposed to the tomato, eggplant and pepper, which we also support, we stretch a net between the poles of the pea plants. They send out their tendrils and climb by themselves. The delicate nature of the plant, with its thin, silk-like stems and leaves, causes it to be exceptionally light, which makes it easier to climb and hold on. Climbing plants always seem to me to be more intelligent, the kind that can find the solution with their own “two feet.” Not enough light out here? Let’s climb up and get some more!” When the pea tendril, which develops from the leaf, meets a hard object (even a thin net like ours), it begins growing cells in a varying manner–those close to the hard object get smaller, while the ones farther away grow longer. This generates a twist and then a bounding of the tendril upon the net, like a little spring. Such a dance can continue from one to ten minutes. Amazing, don’t you think? Here’s s0me more info about this wonder (Hebrew).

 

As for us, this climbing makes us so happy, as we know that soon we will be able to straighten our backs. Now we are harvesting the first rounds of snow pea pods from the lower part of the plant. But gradually, as it climbs higher, the peas will ripen at a higher level, and we too will be able to raise our backs like homo sapiens and harvest peas while upright. What joy!

Wishing you a nice wintery week, hoping that the rain, which keeps dodging us the closer we get to it, will finally decide to stay for awhile, and quench our fields’ thirst.

To health!

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

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In this week’s box:

Monday: cauliflower, fava beans/garden peas/snow peas, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, Swiss chard/kale, leeks, small boxes only: daikon/beets/turnips, small boxes only: celeriac

Large boxes, in addition: fennel, red/green cabbage, cilantro/dil, carrots/peppers, kohlrabi.

Wednesday: kale/Swiss chard, fennel/kohlrabi, cucumbers, cilantro/dill, broccoli, potatoes, lettuce, snow peas, tomatoes, small boxes: cabbage/cauliflower, small boxes only: celeriac.

Large box, in addition: cauliflower and cabbage, carrots, turnips/radishes, leeks

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, 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!

Aley Chubeza #151, March 11th-13th 2013

Season of Renewal

It’s the month of Nisan, and spring is here – crazy, restless, confusing. This week we are expecting some actual heat waves (35 degrees!) and an overcast rainy horizon. It’s the time of renewal and changes.

Eliko, a veteran Chubeza client and friend, sent me this video of an instructive finger exercise.  Take a few minutes to rejuvenate during your very active day.

Wishing you pleasant days, filled with surprises and freshness.

Some Pre-Pesach messages:

  • § There will be no delivery over Chol Hamoed, Wednesday, March 27, and Monday, April 1.
  • § Deliveries scheduled for the Monday before Pesach will be brought up to Sunday, March 24.

Those who wish to expand your box or make a special holiday order, please inform us ASAP.

Subscribing to our weekly newsletter

The best way to receive messages and updates is via our weekly newsletter, which is published on our website and arrives directly to your email inbox. Those who do not receive the newsletter and wish to do so, please advise.  If you prefer to receive a hard copy along with your box, please notify me.

Open Day at Chubeza:

In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.

The Pesach Open Day will take place on Thursday, March 28, the 17th of Nissan, between 1:00 PM-6:00 PM. For those who have not yet experienced it, the Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

On the Open Day, we also have a stand for vegetable sales, so you can replenish your vegetable supply.

Driving instructions are on our website under “Contact Us.” Please make sure to check this out before heading our way.

Chag Sameach from all of us at Chubeza! We look forward to seeing you!

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In preparation for Pesach, Asaf Nov of Minchat Ha’aretz will be selling soft Shmura Matza, handmade from organic Israeli wheat. The matzot are under the supervision of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg of Tzfat. Price: 110 NIS per kg.

Contact Asaf: 052-6493837

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And in the holiday spirit: Melissa announces the 500 Leather Campaign.  As we draw closer to the sale of fruit leather #500, it will be given free to the lucky person whose order hits the magic number. We won’t tell which flavor is the most popular one, but the privileged leather will be appropriately marked… Good luck!

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Over the next few weeks, there will be a temporary shortage of barhi dates. But not to worry, they will soon return. We expect a delivery from Samar by the end of next weekend. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience.

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And lastly, for those who are not familiar with our web-based order system, now is the time to check it out. Here we regularly update the prices and supplies on hand, and present an array of distinctive products you can order through us from small, high-quality Israeli cottage industry manufacturers.

Through the system you can track your order and bill, so that if you have any questions regarding your last invoice or credit card bill, you can see a full detailed breakdown in our order system.

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This week I received an amusing email containing a satirical compilation of Passover laws.

It begins: “and I have heard that many Ashkenazim are changing their congregational affiliation as the fear of kitniyot falls unto them. They’re seeking a distant aunt from “south France” in order to be rewarded by a platter of rice on Passover… and I have heard there are those who demand that the Ashkenazi rabbis convene to cancel the laws of kitniyot. However, these rabbis are busy determining the kashrut of bleach on Pesach, as it may contain the remains of canola (as an allergen), thus leaving the rabbis no time to tend to trivialities. In any case, blessed are the stringent among us: “He

who abstains from eating gebrochts (matza shruyah), kitniyot, canola and stamped eggs shall be rewarded by dying of hunger on the seventh day of Pesach…”

In honor of the upcoming holiday of springtime, and in tribute to some of our yummy spring legumes that are now in bloom, the various peas and the fava bean, let’s dedicate some words to the general major confusion in the grains and legume world of chametz:

The Grain Family is a fundamental botanical family, the Poaceae family, or the Gramineae. It is one of the most important plant families to economics and human culture, essential for daily food consumption by humans (grains constitute almost every slice of bread) and animals (as fodder and pasture), as a main source of sugar (sugarcane and corn), as building material (bamboo in Asia) and of course, as natural ornaments (lawns and more). It is a relatively young family (55-65 million years old), characterized by grass with hollow stems (canes) usually in a node formation, which provides them with stability and the ability to bend without breaking. As they are fertilized by the wind, grains have no need for any colorful prissy flower to attract pollinators; their flowers are characteristically green-brown-yellow, as the color of the plant itself. The grains are usually organized in spikes.

The seeds of the Graminaes are usually monocotyledon (meaning they have one-kernel sperm. This is demonstrated by the fact that their seed does not split in half. Think about the corn or rice kernel, as compared to fava or pea seed.) Almost all of them are edible, but many varieties are so small that they’re not widely grown commercially. Another characteristic of grains, which is problematic in farming, is that most spread their seeds by bursting the spike and whirling their kernels to the wind, which becomes a problem for those who wish to reap or gather them. Over the years, man has selected and cultivated the non-explosive grains, attempting to develop larger seeds. This has resulted in today’s wheat, barley, corn and rice (compare them to the less-cultivated amaranth, for example, or even smaller species).

Within this important family, there is a “Jewish” sub-family, the one termed “the five species of grain.” These are the grains belonging to the “wheat tribe” (the Poaidae sub-family), characterized by their ability to leaven and swell. This is generated by gluten, a general term for some of the proteins typical in the various species of grain. Gluten is distinctive in its   insolubility. The origin of the word “gluten” is from gluttire, meaning ‘to swallow,’ because gluten changes its spatial structure when water is added and the dough is kneaded, so the dough receives mechanical strength and can hoard gas (created by yeast and enzymes). In the process of kneading, the gluten is developed, creating a three-dimensional structure of a net of thin elastic filaments that act to “trap” and “withhold” the gases and water vapors formed within the dough-hollow during the rising and subsequent baking.  (Further details on gluten can be found here)

This group has special laws in Judaism, which include, aside from Pesach issues, the blessing of Hamotsi before eating, reciting the Birkat HaMazon afterwards, and the mitzvah of “taking Challah.”

wheat barley rye Spelt

The four species of grain we use for daily consumption belonging to the gluten wheat tribe are (right to left): wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Four? But what is the fifth? What about the oats? Well, here is the big surprise: Oats do not contain gluten, nor do they leaven or swell. Professor Yehuda Felix has identified the oats of “the five species of grain” with a species of barley. He argues that it is impossible that oat is in oatmeal, since oatmeal does not contain gluten and was not known to our sages during the Talmud and Mishna. However, here we encounter a different obstacle, not botanical but much more complicated, called the “modification of Jewish custom,” which I will relate to soon.

Our second family, the legumes (Fabaceae), is a very dear one to farmers. I will not extol its virtues here, but that will surely come in a future newsletter. For now, let me simply note that there is no botanical similarity between legumes and the Graminaes. When we discuss legumes on Pesach, we don’t really mean the legume family, but rather the Pesach Ashkenazi “small legumes,” a varied and strange group composed of rice, millet and corn (Gramineae family) as well as beans, hummus, fenugreek, soy, lentils, fava beans, white beans, Tamarindus Indica (Fabaceae family), sunflower seeds, mustard, buckwheat, kummel and sesame (Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Polygonaceae, Apiaceae, Pedaliaceae families). In short, the prohibition of kitniyot on Pesach includes an assortment of all kinds of botanical grains and seeds.

And why is this? Traditionally, the prohibition dates back to a European Jewish custom over 700 years old, but its reasons are not crystal clear. The gist of a Google search shows three main reasons, none of which derives from a direct Divine prohibition, but rather from doubts and misgivings:

* In Ashkenazi communities, kitniyot were used in cooking, and the rabbis did not trust the cooks’ ability to differentiate between rice and groats.

* As there are various kitniyot that can produce flour, the rabbis worried that some Jews would allow themselves the use of chametz flour as well. Although in ancient periods the Rabbis were not concerned because the custom was very clear, the exile of the Jews caused sages to fear that lack of knowledge could lead to mistakes.

* The physical resemblance between grains and kitniyot: In both cases, these are grains stored in silos for relatively long periods of time, causing some concern that the kosher kitniyot would mix with wheat and barley seeds, and inevitably lead to cooking chametz on Pesach. The wagons leading the kitniyot to market were also used to transport grains, which might result in blending.

* And if I may add, growth in the fields could to be related as well. Over the early Middle Ages, farmers in Europe transferred to a tri-annual crop rotation: one year they planted grains, the next legumes, and the third year the field was left fallow. This method must have created “voluntary” growth of some grains in the legume field, which might have entered the kitniyot sacks.

In light of these fears, the rabbis decided that Ashkenazim should be ‘better safe than sorry’ (I’m sure this sounds better in Yiddish), and prohibited legumes and other grains, seeds, kernels, granules and whatnot from the Pesach fare.

Hoping you are managing to find some moments of interlude, rejuvenation, spring gaiety and joy in these pre-holiday days we’re experiencing.

Shavua Tov!

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SPRING BOXES, BESIDES PEAS AND FAVA BEANS?

Monday: Lettuce, leeks/fresh garlic, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, fennel/daikon/garden peas, cucumbers, broccoli, coriander/parsley, cauliflower/ green cabbage/ purple cabbage

In the large box, in addition: Celery, fava beans, purple kale

Wednesday: beets, broccoli or cabbage, cucumbers, parsley, snow peas, lettuce, fava beans, celery, green garlic, carrots, tomatoes.

In the large box, in addition: daikon, kale, potatoes/cauliflower

Aley Chubeza #149 – February 25th-27th 2013

At the end of this week, we will be billing you for your February vegetables.

Remember, you are now able to view your billing history in our Internet-based order system. Simply click the new tab “דוח הזמנות ותשלומים” where the history of your payments and purchases is clearly displayed.

Please make sure the bill is correct, or let us know of any necessary revisions. At the bottom of the bill, the words סהכ לתשלום: 0 (total due: 0) should appear. If there is any number other than zero, this means we were unable to bill your card and would appreciate your contacting us. Our thanks!!

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Purim Snow (peas)

When I left the house with my daughters on Sunday morning, a light rain was falling. “Ah! Finally! A real Purim,” I told them, “where the rain ruins the costumes and they get all muddy. Where it snows and everyone is wearing a heavy coat over their fancy costumes!” They looked at me somewhat puzzled… Why would this memory make me so happy? I couldn’t even begin to explain the nostalgic “v’nahafochu” which paints unpleasant memories pink and fuzzy.

 And of course, an hour later the skies cleared and we celebrated Purim bereft of heavy coats and mud, and of course, no white snow. But, in honor of the white Purim’s of our childhood (both Alon and I were fortunate to have experienced heavy Jerusalem snowfalls as kids), and on the occasion of its upcoming appearance in your boxes, this week’s newsletter is dedicated to the snow pea!

 At the outset, it is important we determine that this vegetable has absolutely nothing to do with snow! It does grow in wintertime, and gets along well with the cold weather, specifically the Israeli cold. (It is not a huge fan of temperatures under zero.) But still… why snow?

Good question. My inquiries pointed to the assumption that it received this name from the white glare reflecting off its pods, because it is so thin and shiny. Perhaps this conjured up a yearning for a wintery white snow in someone exceptionally poetic, who gave the pea this confusing name. You may also call them “Chinese peas” or “sweet peas.” I have encountered recipes that name them “French peas.”  The French title I know for the snow pea is “mange-tout,” meaning “eat it all,” because you can actually eat the entire vegetable, pod, peas and all.

My journey along the Trail of Confusing Names led to the discovery of some of the vegetable’s previous incarnations: Peas (not necessarily snow peas) are an ancient crop, one of the first plants with which human beings formed a friendly relationship, first gathering it, then cultivating and farming. Ancient remains of 6th and 7th millennia BC peas were found In Israel, Turkey and Iraq. That’s 9,000 years ago!!

The flat pea which you are enjoying in your boxes these days was developed by Dutch farmers in the 16th century. From Holland they traveled to England, and then on to the Far East. Of course, the Chinese coined it “hoh laan dau,” meaning, “the Dutch pea.” Its charming consent to be stir-fried, the preferred Chinese method of cooking, made it a favorite for a billion Chinese, and it received a new name, “the Chinese pea.” It traveled to San Francisco in the luggage of Chinese immigrant workers coming to build the greatest railways in the west. Those who ended up farmers named it Shii dau, snow pea, perhaps out of a longing for home and the Chinese winter. Hence the confusing name.

But between you and me, we are willing to forgive, because behind all the different nicknames lies a sweet, crunchy pea, with a flat-to-swollen figure, that is so yummy! It also denotes the start of pea season at Chubeza.

This year we are growing two of our prominent pea species: the flat one (snow/French/Dutch/Chinese, what have you) and the chubby garden pea, out of which we extricate the lovely roly-poly peas.

Harvesting snow peas is a lesson in restraint. Not only because it is hard to control the ongoing temptation to nibble, but also because we need to constantly remind ourselves to harvest only the swollen pods, not the soft flat ones. A short taste-test in the field during harvest (duty calls…) proves that the swollen pods are the sweetest. They are the most mature, which is why they have a high level of sugar. So although we are so enthused by the pea harvest, determined to pick more and more, even the flatter ones, we continue to remind ourselves to reap only the bigger and more swollen ones. Their relative maturity will not bother you as you chew on their pods. They open easily in your mouth and spread joyful sweetness.

Our snow peas, like their sister the garden peas, are grown in Chubeza by trellising (on a vine). But as opposed to the tomato, eggplant and pepper, which we also support, we stretch a net between the poles by the pea plants and it sends out its tendrils and does the climbing by itself. The gentleness of the plant, with its thin, silk-like stems and leaves, causes it to be exceptionally light, which makes it easier to climb and hold on. Climbing plants always seem to me to be more intelligent, the kind that can find the solution with their own “two feet.” Not enough light out here? Let’s climb up and get some more!” When the pea tendril, which develops from the leaf, meets a hard object (even a thin net like ours), it begins growing cells in a varying manner–those close to the hard object get smaller, while the ones farther away grow longer. This generates a twist and then a bounding of the tendril upon the net, like a little spring. Such a dance can continue from one to ten minutes. Amazing, don’t you think?

 

This climbing makes us so happy, as we know that slowly we will be able to straighten our backs. Now we are harvesting the first rounds of snow pea pods from the lower part of the plant. But gradually, as it climbs higher, the peas will ripen at a higher level, and we too will be able to raise our backs like homo sapiens and harvest peas while upright. What joy!

Wishing us all straight backs, crunchy peas in the pod and a happy post-Purim (and thank you, Chana from Jerusalem, for the photos of the peas in our field.)

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

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, parsley/dill, tomatoes, beets/daikon, carrots, kohlrabi, cucumbers, broccoli/ cauliflower, potatoes, snow peas/fresh fava beans (small boxes only), scallions, (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: Parsley root, celery, purple or green cabbage, leeks, sweet red peppers

Wednesday: celery, cucumbers, parsley root, lettuce, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, leeks-small boxes only, red/green cabbage – small boxes only, snow peas/red peppers/kohlrabi-small boxes only.

In the large box, in addition: fennel, kohlrabi, beets, green garlic, cauliflower/onions, snpw peas/red peppers

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 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!