Aley Chubeza #34, August 30th-September 1st 2010


During the week of Rosh Hashana: Deliveries will take place Monday, September 6th as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved up to Tuesday September 7th.

The following week (between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), deliveries will take place as usual.

The week of Sukkot: Monday, September 20th deliveries as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved up to Tuesday, September 21st .

Chol HaMoed: No delivery.  You will not receive boxes on 27.9  and 29.9.

Those who receive deliveries every two weeks will have a longer gap between boxes over Chol HaMoed. If you wish to change your delivery dates to prevent the lapse, please let me know as soon as possible.

Those who wish to expand their boxes for the holidays, please advise ASAP _________________________________________________________


If you pass through our field during these end-of-summer months, you will see that every empty space is covered with a greenish-gray carpet of a particularly hearty, stubborn    plant. If I were asked to speculate on the fate of a summer plot that has already been picked clean, whose earth has been turned by a tractor and now stands hot and dry, I would assume that not much could grow there and it would lie fallow and brown, waiting for rain. However, under the soil, deep, deep beneath the earth, other things take place over the summer, and amazing powers of growth are generated into action.

The end of the summer is a beautiful hour for the Syrian mesquite (aka the dwarf mesquite), a member of the Mimosoidae family of legumes. To the naked eye it looks like a shrub, but this mesquite is actually an underground tree, whose top is what we see on the surface. Below the earth, it can reach tremendous depths. In archaeological excavations in Tel Hatzor, thick branches of Syrian mesquite (nearly a 10-centimeter circumference) were discovered eight meters under the earth. The thinner taproots can reach down to 25 meters, which is also the reason it stays green even during this hot, dry season. The roots soak up moisture and nutritional vitamins from the groundwater table, even when they’re very deep. And what do we see on the face of the earth? Something like this:

A short, stubby (30 centimeter-tall), tangled bush, with long, characteristic zigzag twigs and feather-like leaves, and among them many with tiny needle-sharp spiny thorns. The Syrian mesquite blooms between May and Aug in tiny yellow flowers, similar to the blooms of the acacia, its distant cousin. These flowers constitute an important source of nectar for the bees during summer, when there are few flowers in bloom. Here’s a picture of the Syrian mesquite flower and friend:

During this season, most of the Syrian mesquite bushes have finished blooming, and now produce their strange bloated-looking fruit, similar to peanuts that have grown chubby in an asymmetrical way. It is actually a spongy brown pod, containing seeds. This is what the fruits look like:

The many Syrian mesquite bushes we meet upon our land are actually the edges of the same single plant, and they are usually tied to one very tangled, deep root system, like braches of a huge underground tree, sometimes dominating several dunams (acres) at once.

Because of its ability to reach such depth and breadth, at times the Syrian mesquite can indicate the presence of rich, bountiful soil. It can also make do with much less: it thrives in nearly any soil type, and is unfazed by saline soil conditions. In Israel it is almost everywhere, on the plains and in the valleys, on the coast and the Jezreel Valley, Jordan Valley and the Hula Valley, and even in the Arava desert.

It is clear that fighting the Syrian mesquite is a losing battle, and perhaps an unnecessary one at that. Specifically because of its prime ability to take advantage of the season where everything around is dying, and only it can bloom in green and gray. In winter, the Syrian mesquite will disappear from the fields, only to return next summer. Battling the Syrian mesquite would entail great plowing and intense cultivation, combined with heavy pesticide use. In our organic system where we try not to disturb the layers of the earth, we try to do minimal cultivation–deep cultivation is done with a chisel plow (a large fork that penetrates the earth but does not mix it and turn it). And of course, we avoid chemical herbicides, so this war is irrelevant. Instead we come to terms with the Syrian mesquite and accept it, even as we groan in the pain of our battle scars inflicted by its thorns.

If we’re already discussing acceptance, here’s some of the positive attributes of the stubborn thorn: Aside from its strong survival skills, the Syrian mesquite is used as a medicinal plant. Its leaves, roots and fruit are beneficial in treating hemorrhoids, toothaches, diabetes, bladder infections, kidneys stones, skin diseases, and cold sores.

Nissim Krispel in his book, A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants of Israel, describes the Syrian mesquite’s various uses: its ripe fruits, ground to powder and mixed with olive oil and grape vinegar, can produce a cream to treat hemorrhoids. For toothaches and bleeding gums, cook the fruit of the Syrian mesquite for an hour, then strain and gargle the mixture. Drinking the yellowish-brown boiled liquid produced from cooking young green Syrian mesquite branches, together with the fruit and the roots, has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, bladder infections, and kidney stones. If you dip a cloth in this mixture, you can soothe sore lips and skin. This recipe is good for herpes as well.

We will try to keep all the benefits of the Syrian mesquite in mind as we are scratched and pricked by its thorns, for example in two or three weeks time when we are pulling out your sweet potatoes. When we weed a bed in the summertime, we try to cut the Syrian mesquite toward the face of the earth, to prevent it from hurting us in the next harvest. But the sweet potato has been there for three months already, a carpet of branches shooting off in all directions, not something that we can even think of weeding. And the Syrian mesquite does not mind being a guest in beds that are watered and cultivated, like the sweet potatoes, so he gladly overstays his welcome.

This season is a season of planting. The plots in our field that stood empty over the past months are now filling with autumn growth: cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, turnips, dikon, arugula, peas and green beans, plus additional rounds of herbs, lettuce, scallions and leeks. Slowly the Syrian mesquite will be pushed away by the autumn growth and will return to its place underground until next year. And yet, when you come visit us over Chol HaMoed Sukkot, it will still be around. Remind us to show you. It may not look so impressive at first glance—but it deserves our gratitude and admiration.

Wishing you a calm, relaxed back-to-school week, and close of the year 5770,

Alon, Bat Ami, Melissa, and the Chubeza team ___________________________________________________

This week’s basket includes—still no cucumbers. But encouraging tidings from Moshav Ein HaBesor have given us a ray of hope that by next week we may be able to include cucumbers in your boxes. We do hope to begin the New Year with these green vegetables back in the box. Please be patient!

Monday: popcorn, cherry tomatoes, yard long bean / cowpea / okra, cilantro or prasley, butternut squash, tomatoes, mint, eggplants, red peppers, green onions, corn In the large box, in addition: basil, potatoes, lettuce

Wednesday: pumpkin, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, corn, yard long bean or cowpea or okra, red peppers, cherry romatoes, potatoes, parsley or dill, popcorn In the large box, in addition: onions, eggplants or butternut, basil or mint _______________________________________________

Sun Recipes

Now that the sun has returned to its task of functioning as a more reasonable solar source and a bit less as an enemy of the people, the time has come for several recipes in praise of the fruits of the sun, the Solanaceae. Melissa set me in search of the Solanacaea when she told me how she’d finally prepared caponata, a Sicilian dish, which she knew and remembered fondly from her (definitely not Italian) mother’s kitchen. She even promised to give us a taste, if there was any left. This inspired me to search for other Solanaceae recipes, and here are several representative samples:

Caponata Salad (Eggplant Dish from Southern Italy) Recipe by Ruth Oliver on

Makes 6 servings:

4 medium eggplants sliced into cubes 4 small onions, quartered Oil for deep-frying 3 celery stalks, thinly chopped 3 peppers peeled and seeded, cut into cubes 1 T. raisins soaked in boiling water 3 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, cut into cubes 2 T sugar 3 T vinegar ½ cup seeded black olives 1 T capers Salt and freshly-ground black pepper 1 T chopped basil

-Heat oil for deep-fry in a pan. -Fry eggplants and onions till golden. Remove with slotted spoon. -Transfer eggplant and onion to a pan and add remaining ingredients, except basil. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from flame. Taste and correct seasonings; add basil. -Serve with toast and Bulgarian cheese

Daniel from Motza found this recipe on the excellent website . Thank you!

Cooked Tomato Chutney

4 c. tomatoes, peeled and chopped 3 T. onion, chopped thin 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 t. fresh ginger, grated 2 t. black mustard seeds ¼ c. wine vinegar ½ c. light brown sugar ¼ t. salt ¼ t. pepper

-Combine all ingredients in an enamel or rustproof steel pan and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and cook for 40 minutes, or until thick. Cool before serving. Keeps for up to two weeks in refrigerator.

and something to put in the sandwiches for school: roasted bell peppers spread