They come in all colors!

As we got home yesterday, our Chubeza box was waiting for us in the parking lot. We couldn’t wait to get into the house and see what was in it. And, indeed, among many other surprises, there was fresh spinach, and there were summer squashes in three colors!

Summer squash, and its different varieties (like zuccini, crookneck and straitneck squash, and pattypan squash) originates from South America, and despite its presence in year-round supermarkets, is really a summer vegetable. The winter ones are really much inferior to the creamy, rich summer ones, which, while eaten, make you feel as if the sun is warming up your belly from inside. Summer squash is kind of like a “decathlon nutrition source”; it doesn’t excel in any nutrient category, but it provides many of them.

My grandmother used to make a dish called Givetch, which featured zuccini. Each family has its own version of givetch, which is a mixed vegetable dish; ours featured mostly zuccini and tomato. Yesterday, we had our own version, which contained the fresh spinach, as well as basil, and three colors of squash. Actually, it’s sort of a renegade version – because, while in regular givetch, you cook everything for very long until it becomes soft, here you cook everything just barely, so you still feel yourself biting into the vegetables. What you see in the above picture is the beginning of the cooking process – aren’t those colors fun?

Neo-Givetch with Summer Squash

3 large squashes, preferrably of different colors
2 large, ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
20 basil leaves
dash of frsh ground chili pepper

Cut each squash to half, then slice to semicircles. Cube the tomatoes and chop the garlic cloves. Heat up oil in a deep pan or wok, add the garlic. Then, we go by order of hardness: in go the squashes; then, the tomatoes; and finally, the spinach leaves and half the basil. Each vegetable gets added about two minutes after the previous one’s been added. We cook everything a little longer, until the spinach leaves wilt, the tomatoes become the sauce, and the squash is pleasant to eat. Eat happily on top of your favorite grain.

Fabulous Greens!

Over the weekend, we had an unexpected but very welcome guest for dinner: my dear old friend Ilan. Fortunately, he came on a day when Chad was energetic enough to cook a very special dish: kale, mushrooms and tofu in black bean sauce.

The little black beans were somewhat of a mystery: I had picked them up in the Asian market, and only days afterwards did I find out they were simply a black variety of azuki beans, which are extremely beneficial for the metabolism. We cooked two pounds of them in broth, freezing most of them to eat over the week, but left out something like three or four cups; the sauce is simply mashed black beans with soy, garlic and some chili pepper. Chad was the architect of this one, but I think I can reconstruct how he did it.

Kale, Mushrooms and Tofu in Black Bean Sauce

1 small package of extra-firm tofu
10 large forest mushrooms
10-15 leaves of kale (our variety had pretty, purple veins)
1/2 a head of a purple cabbage
5 sliced garlic cloves
4 cups of cooked black azuki beans
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground chili

Tear up kale leaves, slice mushrooms thickly, slice cabbage into ribbons, and cut tofu into cubes.

In a small saucer, heat up some oil (canola or olive). When hot, add about half of the garlic, then follow with soy sauce. Take about 1/2 cup of the black beans, add them to the saucer, and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon, while mixing them up with the other ingredients. They should puree quite easily, rendering an exquisite, black sauce.

Now, pick up your wok; heat up some oil and add the rest of the garlic. Place tofu cubes in bottom of wok and let brown for a while. Then, add mushrooms, and after a couple of minutes, add the kale, the cabbage ribbons, and a tablespoon of water or vegetable broth. When the kale wilts and is good to eat, pour black bean sauce over the vegetables and gently mix to coat them. When everything is thoroughly coated, serve over the remainder of the black beans, or over rice.


My vegan friends will have to excuse me for this one entry, in which we shall discuss a delicious and nutritious member of the animal protein: eggs. Eggs contain concentrated, high quality protein, and despite being maligned for cholesterol content, in fact, contain beneficial cholesterol which is essential for our bodies. Good eggs are also an excellent source of omega-3 acids. Naturally, there are various substitutes for eggs, and our recipe for today can be made with any of them, but this is a good opportunity to reflect on the egg industry.

Industrial production of eggs takes place in chicken coops, which are horrible, inhumane places. The chickens are placed in tiny cages, one against the other, with no room to move; many of them get sick standing there, and as a consequence are fed dreadful antibiotics. They are also force-fed things that are extremely harmful for them; given this situation, I’m not too excited about eating eggs that come from this industry.

There are other options, which, while not perfect, are substantially better. Free range eggs allow the hens to walk freely in the yard and eat organic, plant-based food. However, as in the regular egg industry, hens are often debeaked, and male chicken killed and discarded at birth.

Choosing to eat eggs is a very personal decision. For those who have eggs once in a while, choosing organic and free range diminishes the problems with the industry, though it doesn’t make them go away. Either way, you can have the following recipe with eggs or tofu, to suit your choices.

The recipe is for yet another Israeli staple, this time, originally, from Libya: Shakshuka. Shakshuka is an egg dish where the eggs are cooked in a hot skillet filled with spicy tomato-pepper sauce. It works really well as a breakfast; those of you who feel well combining starches and protein are welcome to wipe off the remaining sauce with some good bread.

Shakshouka (serves four)

3 red peppers
2 tomatoes
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1 can organic tomato paste
water or vegetable broth
fresh ground chili
8 organic, free-range eggs, or a block of firm, crumbled tofu
fresh parsley

You’ll need a large skillet with a flat bottom, which you’ll glaze with olive oil and heat up. Then, you chop the onion and garlic in and add chili. When the kitchen starts smelling like there’s something good happening, you chop and add the peppers and tomatoes; when they start getting soft, you add tomato paste, water or vegetable broth, and more chili. The liquids need to be added to the point when the mixture is quite diluted and watery. On a low fire, keep the sauce simmering until it reaches a viscuous quality – can take up to half an hour or more (why not do your laundry in the meantime? and while you’re at it, clean the kitchen!). When the sauce is nice and viscuous, you add the eggs or tofu. If you’re doing tofu, simply place the crumbs on top of the sauce. If you’re doing eggs, gently break them up and place them over the tomato mixture – DO NOT MIX (it’s prettier with the eggs whole). Then, cover the skillet and cook until the tofu absorbs the tomato sauce, or the eggs get hard to your heart’s desire. Serve in the skillet, or carefully slide onto plates.

Now that we’re out of tomatoes and peppers, we have only the sauerkraut, and a few cucumber survivors and some lettuce, to keep us until the good people of Chubeza bring us our new vegetables on Monday. But we shall be back with the new bounty!

Carrot Season

Apparently, it’s carrot season at Chubeza. We get lots and lots of wonderful, intense orange carrots every week. They come with the leaves (and we already know what to do with those). I think all this carrot consumption may have actually affected my eyesight; my optometrist reports that my prescription has gone down. Whether it’s due to the carrot or not, I have no idea; but the fact is that carrots pack an enormous amount of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, which is said to improve night vision. Carrots also contain a variety of anti-cancer agents, and are also useful for preventing and treating lung inflammation.

In Chinese medicine, carrots are associated with the earth element, and beneficial for the spleen – which means, in Western anatomy, that they assist digestion as well as muscular issues.

And what better way to cook lots of carrots than a day when one’s loved one falls sick? Chad’s immune system, alas, leaves much to be desired, and he really feels awful today. His throat hurts, his sinuses hurt, his nose is leaking – and he feels drowsy and says extremely funny things. I don’t think he means to say them. They come out funny because of the fever.

Warming food is good for situations such as this, and the carrot pairs well with ginger to create an old favorite – carrot ginger soup. This version doesn’t have any cream, which, in Chinese medicine, increases dampness in the body (and we have plenty of that here, thank you very much). It does, however, have browned onions and garlic, and some fun Middle Eastern spices. Naturally, it can be made with the addition of potatoes, yams, or squash, if you so desire; our decision to be carrot purists today stems from the dry fact that we already had potatoes today, and that yams were not in this week’s box. I hope you enjoy the soup, and post your own versions of this favorite, if you like.

Middle Eastern Carrot Ginger Soup

10 nice organic carrots
a 3” or 4” chunk of ginger
1 very large onion
half a garlic bulb
1 tsp of the following: curcum, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon (yes, trust me on this).
2 quarts of water or vegetable broth (you could make the broth out of the carrot leaves, thus using the entire vegetable and not letting nice leaves go to waste).

We start the way my grandmother started many of her culinary marvels: we peel and slice each garlic clove (this can help with the peeling, and believe me, it really works), we slice the onion into rings, we splash the bottom of a large pot with good olive oil, and we fry the onions and garlic. No “sauteeing” here. The stuff needs to be brown and fragrant. When it is, and there’s a lovely smell in the kitchen, we pour some broth or water into the pan and start deglazing. This may seem silly or unnecessary, but it improves the taste of the soup to no end. Scrape the brown stuff in the bottom of the pot, using a wooden spoon. It’ll be very good with the broth.

When you’re done scraping, add the rest of the liquid, and the carrots, and the ginger, and the spices, and let cook for about 30 minutes. Then, we do the following nifty thing: using a straining spoon, we go fishing. That’s right. We fish out all the carrots and ginger, and stick them in the blender, with a bit of the broth. We puree the carrots and ginger, and return them to the pot, mixing the puree with the broth. Now, we just sprinkle a bit of parsley on top, and we’re done. I hope Chad enjoys it and feels well!

Azuki Bean Soup

Beans. Now that’s a touchy subject. Beans have been a bit maligned in the last decades’ diet fads, particularly low-carb regimes; they defy the neat and tidy categorization of food that’s “good for you” because it either has “just carbs” or, for folks who have more purist tendencies, “just protein”. They don’t allow you to neatly separate starch from protein; they deceive us. Why, cries the low-carb dieter, have we been told since childhood that beans are a good source of protein? They have so many carbs. More than protein. In fact, their composition is not all that different from whole grains. We can’t have them. Let’s bite into some more red meat.

No offense to the low-carb folks – and I know these regimes work really well for some folks – but beans are wonderful food. Yes, like many other foods, they contain a mixture of carbs and proteins. And also various vitamins, and minerals, and antioxidants. And they come in so many varieties, and are so versatile, and tasty.

The other common complaint against beans is their contribution to, well, the air quality in the room. Many folks suffer from flatulence after eating beans, particularly the larger varieties. Several pieces of advice have been offered for this solution; eating only fermented beans, soaking the beans well before cooking them (always a good idea as it shortens the cooking time), taking enzymes with the beans. I find that what works for me is, usually, eating beans on their own, or, if absolutely necessary, with just one type of whole grain. Combining beans with grains works better with the smaller types of beans, like lentils, mung beans and azuki beans; the larger ones I try to eat by themselves.

The following soup – all complete with this week’s selection of chubeza vegetables – is a great showcase for a tiny red bean – the azuki bean. Used extensively in Asian cooking as sweet red bean paste, azuki is rich in protein, as well as in iron, calcium and potassium (good for foot cramps). This nontraditional way of serving it has a soothing, earthy flavor, and works on its own as a soup or a hearty stew.

Azuki Bean Soup

2 cups azuki beans, preferrably pre-soaked in water for about 2-3 hours
3 carrots
3 zuccinis
2 turnips
1 beet
2 quarts of water or vegetable broth
1 garlic bulb
2 bay leaves
optional: 2 tablespoons of miso soup

If beans have been soaked, discard the water. Slice all vegetables into large, rustic cubes. Place them in a big pot with the water or vegetable broth, garlic and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Then, cover the pot and let simmer for about an hour. If you wish, mix in two heaping tablespoons of miso at the end of cooking. If not sensitive to food combinations or wheat, eat with thick slices of whole wheat bread, or on top of mashed potatoes.

Yasai Soba

(pic on its way)

The noodle craving is still on, and I’m contemplating the possibility of reproducing a household favorite of us: Yasai Soba.

It appears that noodle soup is something everybody likes; every culture has some version of it. Soba, a noodle made out of buckwheat and wheat, is a particularly delightful and healthy way of consuming noodles. Slimmer and browner than its big sister, the Udon noodle, Soba pleasantly slips through your throat and makes you feel warm and happy.

In our favorite vegan Japanese restaurant in Berkeley, Cha Ya, you can get two types of fabulous Soba soup: sansai soba, comprised of wild mountain vegetables and seaweed, and yasai soba, based on cooked vegetables which seem to be a tad more mundane in the Western world. Both versions are comprised of hot vegetable broth with soy sauce; the nonvegan versions use fish broth. The noodles, and delicately sliced and steamed vegetables, are decoratively placed in the bowl, and the soup is eaten with both a spoon and chopsticks.

As you’ll see from this recipe, the wheat-free, vegan adjustments are not difficult. As to the noodles, I’ve had good experience with soba from Eden Foods, but apparently other brands, like Clearspring carry it as well. Buckwheat, it turns out, is not a grain; it’s a fruit seed and a distant relative of sorrel and rhubarb. It offers a wealth of benefits, including anticancerous nutrients and fiber.

As to the broth, as you’ll see, this version of the soup uses shiitake mushrooms (which are anti-inflammatory and very good for your immune system), and the soaking water makes wonderful broth, particularly when mixed with Tamari soy sauce.

The vegetables, naturally, can change, depending on what’s out there in the market. This version sports carrots, turnips, potatoes, wild beet leaves, shiitake mushrooms, and extra-firm tofu.

A package of soba noodles
10-15 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 carrots
3 turnips
4 large manguld (wild beet) leaves (chards also ok).
A few pieces of wakame seaweed
2 small potatoes
1 package of extra-firm tofu
1 cup Tamari soy sauce
4 cups water

We start by boiling the water and soaking the shiitake mushrooms in it. This needs to stand for, say 15 minutes at least, and the more it stands, the fluffier and softer your mushrooms and the richer your broth.
While this is going on, two things need to happen: the tofu needs to spend some time in the soy sauce, and the vegetables need to be steamed. Slice the tofu and place it in the tamari sauce for a while (you can dilute it in water, or in some tablespoons of the mushroom liquid). Also, slice the carrots, turnips and potatoes, and tear large pieces out of the manguld leaves. Place all these folks (except the wakame) in a steaming basket, and steam for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, but still have personality.
When the mushrooms have softened to your liking, strain, keep the liquid, and carefully slice them in pretty, thick slices. Save the mushrooms and steamed vegetables.
Pour the shiitake liquid into a large pot, and add the tamari sauce (without the tofu). Add soba noodles and cook for ten minutes or so, or until the soba is soft and slurpable. Then, using a straining spoon, place some noodles at the bottom of large, fun bowls. Arrange the vegetables and tofu prettily on top of the vegetables, then pour the hot soup to cover everything. Serve with chopsticks and a spoon. Enjoy!

Brown Rice Pasta with Greens and Mushrooms

Sometime in the early nineties, Israel went through a culinary revolution; gone were the awful salty, processed restaurant dishes always covered by a blanket of cheap, fat cheese. All of a sudden, we all became gourmets. And then came a succession of trendy foods, headed by pasta. One day, everyone knew that we had been cooking our pasta, which we had wrongly called “macaroni”, for too long, and it had to be al dente; fresh ingredients were added and eradicated the canned tomato paste regime.

But before we started counting our blessings and saying good riddance to the awful food we’d been eating, we took things to the other extreme; we became finicky, snobbish gourmets, establishing proper rules and regulations for even the simplest comfort foods. Now we’re all experts; we know which ingredients are used in which area of Italy, and what wine to serve with our pasta. But – y’know – sometimes you just want to eat a fun bowl of fine noodles, and not obsess about it.

Which is how the following recipe came about. We’re both exhausted from numerous work issues and social engagements which, while fun, took a toll on our sleeping and relaxing time. Today we felt like putting our house in order and cleaning it, and having a nice bowl of pasta. Fortunately, I had anticipated this craving and bought fabulous and healthful brown rice pasta.

Attention, all ye celiac folk, gluten-avoiding gents, wheat-intolerant ladies: there is excellent-tasting brown rice pasta out there. And the good people of Tinkyada make it for us. And it’s not devastatingly expensive. Naturally, it’s always best to actually have brown rice rather than pasta; but this stuff is big fun, and it allows me to enjoy an old favorite without suffering the repercussions (one of these days I’ll post some more info about the strange world of sensitivity to wheat). You can make the following recipe with their product, or with any whole grain or white (insert health-freak-shudder here) pasta of your choice. It involves lots and lots of greens, organic crushed tomatoes, sliced champignon mushrooms, lots of herbs, and much garlic. Serves two tired, grumpy folks, and restores their good spirits.

1 package (340 grams, I think) of Tinkyada brown rice pasta – I like the vegetable fusilli
4 cups of coarsely chopped kale, beet greens or Swiss chards
1 cup of organic crushed tomatoes
10 champignon mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves
3 hearty handfuls of chopped basil, parsley, or oregano

Boil about a liter of water in a large pot. While you wait for it to boil, heat up a large wok. When it almost smokes, add chopped garlic. After a minute or two, before the garlic becomes brown, add in the mushrooms. Cook a bit, then add the greens and stir around. Wait for them to slightly wilt, then put in the crushed tomatoes and about 1/2 a glass of water. Then add the herbs. Cook until sauce thickens and the greens’ stalks are chewable but not hard.

By now, the water is probably boiling. Add a tablespoon of herb salt and the pasta, stirring often to avoid stickiness. Cook to desired consistency, then drain.

Now, since this is a homey recipe, with no pretensions of authenticity, add the drained pasta to the wok and stir with sauce until it coats the noodles. Put in deep bowls and eat to your heart’s content.

Those Root Vegetable Leaves!

(photo from here)

Getting organic vegetables from a small farm is truly an educational experience. We get to see quite a few things we never see in the supermarket.

The best example is the stalks and leaves of root vegetables. In theory, of course, one knows that root vegetables grow underground, and that they have some sort of leaves overground. After all, like many other Israeli kids, I grew on the wonderful story Grandpa Eliezer and the Carrot, which involves a whole family pulling out a carrot by its leaves in an attempt to get it out. But, of course, then one goes, as a kid, with one’s parents to the supermarket, where carrots are bald and leaves fear to tread.

Actually, the whole supermarket experience, if you’ll allow me a short rant, divorces kids from the source of their food. When I lived in Jerusalem and visited Frida, my neighbor, I used to listen to her conversations with the kids she worked with. Once, a kid saw her cut potatoes for fries. Completely horrified, he said: “Why are you cutting those potatoes?” Frida replied: “For fries”. The kid’s eyes widened. “You make fries out of potatoes?” “Sure, out of what else?” asked Frida. The kid shrugged his shoulders. “Out of a bag”. Similar exchanges demonstrated that kids were amazed that lemons grew on trees. All this stuff makes me thing that Barbara’s previously mentioned rant about folks’ ignorance regarding the source of their meat extends to other types of food, as well.

In any case, folks, root vegetables do have leaves. And when we get our weekly Chubeza box, we get to meet them. Beets and turnips (lefet) have large, spinach-like leaves. Carrots have thin leaves on long stalks, a bit reminscent of algae. This, of course, raises the question, what shall we do with them?

Here are a few ideas.

Beet leaves make wonderful leafy greens and can be used in any way chard, kale, or manguld are used. My next post, hopefully, will include a fun recipe for pasta with greens which uses beet leaves; pasta works extremely well with greens, and when cooked with beet leaves, it takes a fun and entertaining pink color.

Another usage for beet leaves is in omelettes, for the egg eaters. You start by sauteeing roughly chopped leaves in a bit of olive oil with garlic and your favorite fresh or dried herbs, then you spread your egg, or egg-and-yogurt, mix on top.

Many stir-fry dishes benefit from greens. As you can read in Barbara Fisher’s Stir-Fry Technique guide, one adds the vegetables in the order that they get soft, which means the leafy greens go in last. They are ready as soon as they begin to wilt. One of our favorite dishes in California, which we ate often in Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and at Long Life Vegi House, was tofu, mushrooms and greens; these three work really well together.

Leafy greens, including beet leaves, make good fillings for crusts and play well with cheese, garlic, sauteed onions and (yum) pine nuts.

As to carrot greens, or any leafy greens you’re not using, please, take them as soon as you get them, rinse them well, stick them (with or without their roots) in a giant pot with lots of fresh, clean water, and cook them for forty minutes. You get a wonderful pot of vegetable stock, which you can later use for the rest of the week. You can cook your grains and beans in it; you can add them to your sauces instead of water; they can be fabulous bases for any kind of soup; and, of course, you can drink them in the evening, instead of tea, as a nice, warm and healthy liquid treat.

Sauerkraut Mystery Partially Solved

Our Chubeza delivery this week included more cabbage. We do like cabbage, honestly we do; my dad’s family has Polish roots, and Chad comes from a Mennonite family. And cabbage rolls are a staple of Mennonite cooking. And we like cabbage with tomato sauce, and we like slaw. But there was just too much of it for one week. So, we decided on sauerkraut. But we had no clue how to do it. We turned to two dependable sources of information: my grandparents and the internet.

Now, apparently, this is not very easy, and Faith Petric‘s song describes the process in a deceivingly easy way. In her song, while cleaning the fridge, she comes across a strange substance:

Look at this, it’s sauerkraut, now when did we have sauerkraut?
Whatever this stuff was, it sure is sauerkraut by now!

My grandparents, after a lengthy interrogation, confessed, that they don’t do any fermentation at all. They just stick the cabbage in a pot of vinegar. Now that won’t do. The internet resources, on the other hand, were less candid, and more vague and mysterious. “Large ceramic pots” in the garage were described, a process of removing some foam, daily, under a gauze, was mentioned, and the whole process was described very unappetizingly. Naaaah, we said, we won’t go there.

Then, Shari Ansky‘s book came to the rescue, and we modified the recipe there to include more stuff we liked. And after five days of just standing in our porch, it came out delicious. And here is how we did it.

The one essential tool for this enterprise is a large glass jar that closes hermetically, with rubber, like the one you see above in the picture.

You’ll need:
3 celery stalks
A nice head of green cabbage, cut into quarters or smaller pieces
4 red spicy chiles
4 bay leaves
black pepper, unground, to taste

Chop the celery stalks into pieces that fit on the bottom of the jar, and put them there. Then, pack the jar, very tightly, with cabbage pieces, chiles, bay leaves and pepper. Finally, pour into the jar salt water (1 tsp salt to 1 cup water) until the liquid covers the veg. Leave in a lit, sunny spot for five days. Voila.

Double Fennel!

When I started studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (fourteen years ago!), I moved into a very large, railway-like building. My apartment had a spacious kitchen right out of the seventies. It had bright orange cupboards, a leaky and moist fridge, and an oven which sometimes worked and sometimes went on strike. In this land of wonders, I first taught myself how to cook.

Before leaving home, food would miraculously appear in the fridge and then on my plate; my mom, who was extremely busy working, didn’t enjoy cooking, except when she had to, and I was never playing around the kitchen. But my newfound independence as a student had made shopping for food, and cooking it, a necessity. Fortunately, my new neighbor, Frida, was there to help me!

Frida was, at the time, in her early thirties, already married with three kids and one on the way. In addition, she ran a daycare center from her home, and excelled at it. At any given point you could walk into Frida’s immaculately clean house and find her holding a child (hers or someone else’s) in one arm, stirring something delicious on the stove with the other hand, and providing some excellent explanations to the kids’ questions. She had huge amounts of patience. I admired her, and thought she should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for housekeeping (why don’t they award those, actually?). Her household dwarfed my modest cleaning and cooking skills in comparison, and I felt like the rebellious, dysfunctional neighbor. Naturally, we immediately took to each other.

Frida was a fabulous cook, and I got to eat her concoctions every Wednesday at our “tea at 10am” meeting, and often on Friday nights, at their beautiful Shabbat meal, over which her husband, Moshe, presided with a fresh and shiny kippa on his head. Being of Bulgarian descent, Frida knew a lot about Balkan and Middle Eastern cooking, to which I was never exposed in my Ashkenazi family. One vegetable I had never seen before was fennel.

It looked strange, like some sort of a deformed hand with chubby, stick-like fingers, which smelled a bit like dill, only more fragrant. “What do you do with it?” I asked. amazed. Frida, not fearing the monstrous green hand, picked up her big kitchen knife and nonchalantly chopped it to pieces, reserving the feathery leaves. She then made two simple recipes which have become my favorites, and which I made again this week: Fennel salad and fennel yogurt soup. Here they are:

Frida’s Fennel Salad

2 fennels

1/2 cup olive oil

juice from one lemon

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

fresh parsley and cilantro

Chop the fennels up – fear them not! They can be chopped any direction, though preferrably against the grain. Put in a large bowl. Mix all other ingredients and pour over fennel. Mix well. Now, keep in the fridge for at least four hours, so the flavors mix.

Bulgarian Fennel Yogurt Soup

1 quart good quality goat yogurt (unflavored)

3 nice cucumbers, very finely chopped (this is important, folks. It just doesn’t taste right if the bits are too large).

about a cup of chopped fennel feathery leaves

5 garlic cloves (or more, or less, to taste)

a bit of black pepper

olive oil, lemon juice

optional: a few finely-chopped radishes

Mix well and refrigerate. That’s all, folks. Super wonderful on a warm day.