Aley Chubeza #63, March 4th-6th 2011

Preparing-for-Pesach Messages:

 Pesach delivery changes:

  • During Chol HaMoed Pesach, there will be no delivery. Wednesday recipients will not receive boxes on April 20th, and Monday recipients will not be receiving on April 25th. Consequently:
  • Monday recipients will receive boxes on the following dates: Sunday, April 17th, Monday May 2.
  • Wednesday recipients will receive boxes on the following dates: April 13th, April 27th.

 Bi-weekly recipients: Because of Pesach week, you will have a three-week delivery gap. To rearrange your delivery dates to avoid this gap, please contact me ASAP.

 If you wish to increase the contents of your box for the Holiday, please contact me ASAP!

 In the best of Chubeza tradition, we invite you to set out for your “pilgrimage” and celebrate with us on our OpenDay at Chubeza. This year’s celebration will take place on Thursday, April 21, the 17th of Nisan (during Chol Ha’Moed). Stay tuned for a full schedule of activities.


 And, in the pre-Pesach spirit, we are pleased to report that this year marks the first time that the millers of “Minchat Ha’aretz” are offering handmade matzah shmurah, produced from organic whole-wheat Made-in-Israel flour. (Details on the attached information sheet. Note one mistake in the English text: 3 matzot for Seder cost 50 NIS, and not as listed.) Those interested in purchasing the matzot and/or the flour should inform me as soon as possible, until Friday, April 8. The matzot will be delivered to you on Wednesday 13.4 or Monday 17.4.

Have a tasty, happy, healthy holiday!


GLITCHES   Lately, some glitches have crept into our English Newsletter notice system, delaying your receipt of updates and even sending you old versions once again. There’s actually a good reason for the havoc, since we’re in the final stages of readying our English-language Chubeza website for its upcoming launch. At this point we’re uploading all previous English Newsletters, which will serve you well when searching for information on featured vegetables, recipes and other information. Hopefully we’re done with the glitches, but if last year’s Newsletter suddenly shows up once more in your Inbox, please smile and understand… Thank you for your patience! 



 Last week’s discourse on the onion reminded me of the onion’s comely sister, the leek, a vegetable that has graced our field since Chubeza’s first season. In Hebrew, the leek is called krisha, or many other monikers such as luf, prasah, piro, karti, or its formal name shum-hakarah. The leek is an easy vegetable to grow, unfettered by cold or heat. It does have to contend with the occasional pest, weed, and disease, but usually breezes through those encounters with valor. Yet to enjoy the luscious leek, one must exercise extreme patience. From the day the seedlings are placed in the soft earth till the day they are picked, at least five to six long months will pass. But the wait is well worth it.

 The leek is a tasty delicacy, far milder than its acrid cousins the onion, scallion and garlic. What’s more, the leek is less smelly and will not bring tears to your eyes. In contrast to its relatives, the leek usually cannot be eaten fresh, but must be cooked. But there are so many ways to cook it (steamed, boiled, roasted, baked, fried), and so many ways to prepare it (see Recipe Corner below) that some leek dishes should come with the warning, “Caution: may be addictive!”

 The leek is an honored guest at the Rosh Hashana table, symbolizing the blessing, “May our enemies be cut down,” by virtue of its paraphrasing the word karti, which sounds similar to: “Karat = cut down.” Six month later, leeks assume their place on the festive Pesach table. Leek fritters, keftes de prasa, (made with matza meal or matza farfel) are a popular, satisfying staple on the Balkan Pesach menu. Leeks can take starring roles at these two such varied holidays because they grow all year—despite the cold of winter (in Europe they grow beneath the snow), and the heat of summer (even as the mercury rises, they survive and flourish). Just give them some time. In Chubeza’s boxes, leeks are also very welcome guests. Yet to my great chagrin, I must admit that despite a thorough search of our archives, I found not one Newsletter dedicated to The Leek. This week we shall make up for this unintended slight.

 Growing leeks begins with inserting thin seedlings into the earth, following the “deeper the better” rule of planting. The edible part of the leek is the white section at the base of the stalk, hidden under the earth’s cover and thus unexposed to sunlight and lacking chlorophyll’s green. The deeper the leek is planted in the earth, the longer the white sections it produces. To expand this white section, there are those who hill the plants with soil two or three times, higher with each hoeing. This forces the leaves higher up the plant, resulting in extra long blanched stalks. But not at Chubeza, due to a lack of time and a profusion of leeks.  We’re satisfied with the natural length of the white, but if you’re growing leeks in your own yard, pamper them and cover the stalk in the ground, thus “blanching” a longer part of the stalk. 

 After planting the leeks, one must ascertain that they are given ample water, sun and weeding. But the leek will do all the rest…….Just very slowly. For here is the real test (of nerves): just giving the plant all the time it needs, lots of time, to grow extremely slowly at its own rate. After five or six months, it will indeed reach the desired height and width for harvest. In our first years at Chubeza, we lacked both experience and patience, and “somehow” our leeks always remained stunted in growth. A consultation with Iris Ben Zvi, a veteran organic leek grower, exposed the error of our ways. “Before five months have passed,” she explained, “I don’t even check up on the leeks. Only after five months do I first venture into the field to see if it’s time to harvest.” A lesson in patience.

 As mentioned, the leek can grow all year, but spring is its magic moment. Winter’s cold temperatures and rains have cloaked it in luxury, but maybe it’s spring fever that finally jolts even the dawdling, slow and easygoing leek. The leek sails through a growing season unbothered by such ills as extreme temperatures, thus growing juicier all the time. You’ll meet its springtime vitality in this week’s boxes. And despite the fact that the white is its most coveted part, its green leaves rate mention in Mishnah Brachot, in Rabbi Eliezer’s response to the question of when it is permitted to recite the Shma prayer in the morning. According to the rabbi, the answer is at the very moment when there is sufficient light to distinguish between azure and “karti,” with “karti” indicating “leek green.” And indeed, the hallmark of fresh spring leeks is the verdant green of its leaves and the lustrous white of its stem.

 Leeks have been growing in our region for over than 2000 years, and even then they were quite popular. Excavations in Egypt have revealed dried specimens of ancient leeks, as well as their depictions in wall drawings. Even the Children of Israel recalled them wistfully when they complained of what they missed from Egypt, “We remembered the chetzir (leeks) and the onions and the garlic.” The Greeks and the Romans were convinced that leeks were beneficial to the vocal chords. Emperor Nero, an aficionado of singing and music, was passionate about consuming a bowl of leek soup a day to improve the timbre of his voice, gaining him the nickname “leek eater.”

 The Romans brought the leek with them to each locale they conquered, including England, where the leek attained a place of honor among the Welsh population. It is associated with the patron saint of Wales, Saint Dewi, a devout vegetarian who subsisted on bread, water, herbs and leeks. In a battle between the Welsh and the Saxons that took place in a leek field on March 1, 1620, the Welsh faced a major peril when they discovered that both armies were wearing identical uniforms. According to legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to wear the leeks on their helmets to identify themselves. Naturally, they were victorious in battle. To this day, March 1st, Saint Dewi’s Day, Welsh soldiers adorn their helmets with a leek stalk, and Welsh citizens don a sprig of leek in their lapels. Since that time, much water has flowed under the Themes, but the national colors of the Kingdom of Wales have remained the green and white of the valiant leek.  British one-pound coins bear the design of a leek, in testimony to its special standing amongst the Welsh people.   

 And what’s good for Emperor Nero, Saint Dewy, and the Children of Israel is good for us as well! Leeks can be made into delicious soup, patties, salads, or stuffed, or added to pasta, or used as a substitute for onion in any dish. Here are several tips for storing and using Lady Leek:

  • Just as it’s hardy in the field, so it is in storage. Leeks can easily keep for two weeks in the fridge. (You could wrap them in a plastic bag or store in the vegetable drawer.)
  • To preserve leeks for even longer, they can be blanched for three minutes in boiling water, drained and sealed in a container in the freezer.
  • Remember that one part of the leek—the white section—grew underground. Before using, it’s important to wash the area well to remove any remaining dirt particles.
  • Young leeks (not like those that we send you) can be used in fresh salads.
  • Conventionally, it’s recommended to discard the green part of the leek, which is a pity. The green leaves make an excellent seasoning and outstanding “raw material” for soups and sauces.

 May we all enjoy calm Spring days, peaceful Spring cleaning, and joyful Spring moments!

Alon, Melissa, Bat-Ami and the Chubeza team



Monday:  lettuce, parsley roots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, dill, leeks, fava beans (small box only), broccoli (small box only)

In the large box, in addition: fennel or radishes, cilantro, peas, cabbage, Swiss chard

 Wednesday: cilantro, kohlrabi, cucumbers, green garlic, tomatoes, carrots, parsley root, leek, lettuce, peas or fava beans, cabbage.

 In the large box, in addition: broccoli or cauliflower or squash, Swiss chard, parsley

 And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. 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 to begin your delivery soon.



 First, an easy one for the “no-time-to-cook-I-need-to-clean-for-Pesach” kind of dinner: Broiled leeks

 Leek and potatoes French soup

 Cauliflower-leek puree

 Leek and goat cheese tartlets

 And 2 examples for keftes de prasa:

 Leek fritters

 And another Leek fritters recipe – without potatoes