Aley Chubeza #104 – February 13th-15th 2012

This week we will be charging the credit cards of those who added extras to their January box. If something about this is unclear, please contact us. We know the multiple debits are confusing, and are working on a solution. For now, thank you for your patience.

One other word regarding deliveries: in situations where two customers join for a joint delivery, the cost of this delivery is divided between the two of you (unless otherwise instructed), so if one is on vacation or drops out, his/her partner is left to pay the full cost of delivery. If this happens, please update one another. Many thanks!


Rooting for Celery

Wintertime is the kingdom of the root vegetables. One of its most wonderful, though weird-looking members (some say ugly, but why judge?) is the celeriac that has been frequenting your boxes for some weeks now. I would wager a guess that it automatically goes into your soup. But it actually has many varied uses and even a cool story. In its honor, this newsletter brings back some old, but slightly spruced up, news about the celeriac:

There are many who think he’s evil, for some reason. In a futuristic comic strip titled Star Fruit Wars, there is a description of the battle the fruits and vegetables wage against mean old Celeriac, the evil celery tuber possessing super powers, who is trying to take over the world. But he only looks tough…

Though on the outside, the celery tuber looks somewhat monster-like; rough, gnarled and usually dirty, it is one of those creatures that harbors inner beauty which should not be missed, especially during its season — a rainy, cold winter. Those who like the celery root will grant it its due respect, and though it grows underground will affectionately call it a “celery head”. It tastes a bit like a cross between celery and parsley, similar to leaf celery, but sweeter and refined.

The celeriac, like its siblings the leafy celery, is a cultivated species. It was grown over the years by farmers vying for its thick root, thus seasonally selecting the celery variety producing the thickest, largest root. In its case, the stems remained short and thin, with a much more dominant taste than leaf celery. In certain cases, the stems are also hollow like a straw. When you look at a stalk celery bed next to a celeriac bed, it’s easy to tell the difference by the way the leaves grow. The former are erect and long, the latter chubby and spread out.

The celery grows slowly. It starts with tiny seeds that take their sweet time, three to five weeks, till they sprout. After this initial sprout, they need at least two months of devoted treatment in the warm temperature and protected environment of the nursery. Only after minimum three months are they ready for planting. In our first year, we sowed celery ourselves in our plant hothouse, but the long process of tending to our “preemies” made it clear that we’d do better to buy the plants. Since then, we receive our toddlers at the age of three months, ready to leave their cube for the fruitful earth. Celery loves fertile dirt and lots of water. Originally it was a swamp plant, hence it adores humidity while in dirt and also during storage — which is why in Israel it grows during wintertime. The Israeli summer is difficult and dry for the celery.

After three months in the nursery, it needs three additional months to ripen if picked for its leaves-stems. The variety that develops a thicker root is more patient, cuddling under the warm blanket of earth another month, as if unwilling to leave a warm bed to face the cold winter. A careful calculation will lead you to the conclusion that the silly little ball in your box these weeks started its journey from seed to tuber seven months ago!

And although its time has come, the celeriac holds on to earth for dear life, and it’s not easy to convince him to come out and hop into your boxes. When we harvest the celeriac, we use knives to gently release it by cutting the thin roots that surround it. After it comes out, we try to shake the tuber well and cut off more of the earth lumps that still are caught in it. After this preliminary cleansing, it is soaked in our special vegetable-washing bathtubs. Even so, it will probably still arrive in your kitchen carrying some remnants of dirt. Soak it in water for half an hour to make the final cleaning much easier.

Its history is similar to that of its swifter brother, the leaf celery. It too was cultivated from the wild breed that grew in European swamps, and east of the Himalayas. It was most probably domesticated somewhere in the Middle East, and was of medicinal value in ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. Apparently, only in medieval times was it used as a vegetable, first described in Italian and Swiss botanical books from the 16th century, and gaining popularity in the 19th century. The celeriac is a very popular, widespread vegetable in Middle-Eastern countries and in Europe.

The celeriac is known mostly as a soup vegetable. In Europe, however, it is scalded, cooked or stuffed, or even served raw with some lemon juice to keep it from turning brown. In a classic French recipe, Céleri-Rave Rémoulade, it is served raw, cut into match-like sticks, dressed in lemon juice, mayonnaise and mustard. In Spanish Jewry tradition, it is a major component in the cooked salad (Apiu Ilado). Celeriac goes well with potatoes, apples, lemon juice and cheeses. So try using it creatively: puree, make a quiche, grill it along with other root vegetables, slice thinly and bake like French fries, add it raw to salads- use your imagination. And check out the many more ideas in this week’s Recipe Corner!

Wishing our Alon a speedy recovery, and a hearty Mazal Tov to our loyal translators, Melanie and Aliza, on the birth of their granddaughter/niece. May we all have a wonderful week!

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team



Monday: potatoes, radishes, red/green cabbage / purple kohlrabi / cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, Dutch cucumber, red peppers, red Russian kale, cilantro, celeriac, leeks – small boxes only

In the large box in addition: green garlic, lettuce, green peas or snow peas, carrots

Wednesday: Green garlic or leek, celery, cilantro or parsley, fennel, red peppers, cucumbers, lemons, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, broccoli – small box only

In the large box in addition: lettuce, cauliflower / red Russian kale / Swiss chard, fava beans, red beets

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.



Smashed celeriac – Jamie Oliver

Celery root salad

Celery root soup – David Labovitz

Celery root gratin

Roasted Celery Root with Maple Apple Butter – Emeril Lagasse, Planet Green

Turkish celery root (Kereviz Kökü) – inspired by the book “Anatolian Feast”

Braised celery root (Apio Ilado) – 2 version, one from The Separadic Kitchen by Rabbi Sternberg, another from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

Celerie-rave remoulade