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The June List 2

Posted on June 21, 2011 by crankycheryl

We picked strawberries today at the Charlotte Berry Farm, a.k.a. “berry picking heaven.”  The boys love it because they have excellent toys and creemees, and I love that the farm is owned and staffed by lovely people who don’t spray their strawberries with all manner of toxic badness.

Though the little guys did primarily focus on Legos, I got E. in the field with me to pick berries for the first time ever.  He was racing up and down the rows with his flat, screeching when he found big berries and plucking and plucking away.  Who knew that all I had to do was casually tell him to come with me and he would?

And if we’re picking strawberries, it must be June, a realization that leaves me in the blessed and happy-anxious state of preparing for the Vermont harvest ahead.  It’s true that it’s off to a slow start because of our sodden fields (beautifully written about by Melissa Pasanen in our local paper).  But it’s still time to think about preparing for easy meals in the hot months ahead – not to mention the long winter that’s not too far behind.

So today’s Tuesday Tip is my Food To-Do List for June.  I’m about halfway through, and I will or won’t get there but at least we’ll have berries.

  • Try to use up any lingering 2010 food that’s still in the freezer.
  • Then defrost the freezer.  But do remember to put down something to catch the water.  Yep.
  • If buying ahead, choose items that will combine well with salad ingredients or grilled meals.
  • Pick strawberries for freezing or canning (this year I’m not making strawberry jam and am only freezing).
  • Pick first greens for braising/cooking and blanch and freeze them.
  • Put aside one or two cool nights for baking muffins, cookies and biscuits so I’ve got some baked goods in the freezer for when it’s too hot to crank the oven.
  • Pick rhubarb and freeze it.
  • Pick thyme before it’s in flower and dry it (oops – nearly before it’s in flower).

Or you could just go have a creemee.

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Make Marmalade in March 3

Posted on March 12, 2011 by crankycheryl

It’s March and the birds are singing like it’s spring.  I don’t know if it’s a lion or a lamb, but our colossal snow fall is now running down the streets in rivers of rain water.

 

Things just seem to becoming more and more, I don’t know, richer, deeper, entwined.  Now a dear friend’s daughter is coming to spend a night with us every week since her family’s having a hard time.  E. is in the school play, along with children with people I knew 20 years ago when I was young and crazy and looking at them across the school gym is just like looking across a dark club at them and I’m wondering if I still find them intimidating.   At church, Z.’s class is making soup to share with hungry neighbors so we’ve got beans on the stove to add to tomorrow’s soup pot.   My heart catches, twisting as I watch the kids coming into their own lives, laughing, earnest and wild.

 

And it’s March, it’s my father’s birthday month and it’s peak citrus season.  He loves marmalade and so I made him a big batch for his birthday.  Marmalade always feels like a special success when it works.  Whereas a berry jam has some body, marmalade is really just sugar with juice and peel so it really has to set up just on the basis of getting it to the right temperature.  I find this usually takes a bit longer than recipes indicate – if you go ahead and make it, just make sure you’ve got the hands-on time it needs.

Orange-Grapefruit Marmalade
6 1-cup jars
Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

1.  With a sharp paring knife, remove the zest from:

  • 3 lbs. mixed organic oranges and grapefruit.

Far be it from me to question the canning gods over at Ball, but I found their instructions to score the fruit into quarters, remove the peel a quarter at a time and then use a paring knife to scrape out the bitter pith unworkable.  So I pulled out this and used it instead:

You can also do this with any vegetable peeler as long as you’re careful to leave as much of the white pith behind as you can.

2.  Set the fruit aside and place peel in a stainless steel saucepan with enough water to cover generously.  Bring to a boil and boil gently for 10 minutes.  Drain off the water, cover again and repeat, until peel is softened.

3.  Over a saucepan or bowl to catch juice, use a sharp paring knife to remove the pith from the fruit, and then separate the segments from the tougher membrane.  Put the fruit into the saucepan and squeeze the membrane to make sure all the juice is in.  Toss out seeds and pith (but if you have a use for them please let me know).

4.  To the saucepan with segments add:

  • the cooked peel
  • 4 cups of water

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until peel is very soft, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and measure 6 cups, adding water if necessary to reach that amount.

5.  Prepare your canner, jars, and lids.

6.  Ladle 3 cups of the cooked mixture into a deep stainless steel saucepan.  Ladle remaining mixture into a second saucepan.  Bring both to a boil over medium-high heat.  Keeping it at a boil, slowly stir:

  • 3 cups sugar

into each pan.  Boil hard, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches the gel stage.  Remove from heat to test, and then keep cooking if necessary (My recipe said it would take 12 minutes, but it took 45.  Here’s how to test.)  Once you’ve gotten there, skim off the foam.

7.  Ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving 1/4″ head space.  Remove the air bubbles by poking down the side with a chopstick, and add more marmalade if necessary to get the proper amount of headspace.  Wipe rim, center lid on jar, and screw the band on without overtightening.

 

8.  Place jars in canner so that they’re completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil, cover and process for 10 minutes.  Remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars to cool and listen for that satisfying little pop that means the jar has successfully sealed.  (If it doesn’t, just keep it in your fridge and eat up in the next couple of weeks.)

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Smoky Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes 1

Posted on October 22, 2010 by crankycheryl

Insert something here about the beautiful fall day.

Something here about the alchemy of a blue sky, brilliant yellow leaves, the first snowflakes to fall on upturned faces.

Something here about the sadness of a bright sun in October.

Something about the funny/sad persistence of children acting like children, like fast-flying meteors, like light.

And still there are the green tomatoes plucked before the first frost threatened, still green and hard and needing to be cooked.

Something about how nothing can be wasted.

Oven-Fried Smoky Green Tomatoes
Serves: maybe 4 as a side dish?

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking oil.

2.  Slice thickly:

  • 6 green tomatoes

3.  Place in a wide, flat bowl:

  • 1/2 cup soy milk, rice milk, or cow milk

4.  Place in a second wide, flat bowl:

  • 1 cup cornmeal (organic, unless you like your food to be genetically modified)
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. ground thyme
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • few grinds fresh peppercorn

5.  Dip both sides of each tomato slice in the milk, then in the cornmeal mixture.  Place on the baking sheet, then bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the slices over, spray with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil and bake 15 minutes more or until golden brown.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

They can also be frozen by cooling completely on a rack, then placing on the largest plate or baking sheet you can fit in your freezer.  Place them in the freezer for 2-3 hours or overnight, then put in a freezer bag or other freezer-safe container.  They can then be heated up to eat as-is, or layered with cheese and tomato sauce for green tomato parmigiana.

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Peach, Maple & Clothbound Cheddar in Phyllo 2

Posted on September 08, 2010 by crankycheryl

Poor crankyGreg.  Last week he looked at me plaintively across the kitchen as I was preparing to blanch/can/freeze/pickle something or other and asked, “Can’t we just eat it?  Like just enjoy it now?”

Oh dear.  He’s right.  I’ve been far too focused on food preservation and too often forgetting to just enjoy the harvest, the end of the warm weather, the flood of funny things E. & Z. emit every day.  (E., on Monday:  “Mommy, I know what I want to be when I grow up.  Now I just need a herd of really fierce goats.” Z., on Tuesday:  “This is a picture of me with Josie from Josie and the Pussycats.  But I still don’t know whether to marry her or Daphne from Scooby Doo or (our 16-year old neighbor) Marlena!”)

Then yesterday E. came into the kitchen carrying one of those wiggly wooden toy snakes as I was working on dinner for a growing number of neighbors.  “Mommy, I want you to make Snake Cake,”  he told me, flopping the snake on the counter.  Chopping furiously, I asked him what should go in it.  “You know, cake dough, flour, milk.  And the snake.”  Sure.  I told him I’d fit it in if I could, and when dessert was served, that’s what he told his friend she was eating.

In reality, it was a lovely and sophisticated (i.e. “not too sweet)  little harvest confection:  sliced just-off-the-tree peaches, caramelized with butter, maple syrup and ground cherries, topped with just a bit of crumbled clothbound cheddar, all between layers of crispy phyllo.  Quick, as easy as phyllo gets, and I didn’t freeze or otherwise preserve one bit of it.

Peach, Maple & Clothbound Cheddar in Phyllo
20 small servings

Before you start, make sure your phyllo has been defrosted and brought to room temperature.  Have at hand a barely damp tea towel for keeping the wrapped sheets covered while you work.

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Melt in a large saucepan:

  • 2 T. unsalted butter

3.  When butter is melted and starting to bubble lightly add:

  • 3 chopped fresh peaches
  • (I had 1/2 cup of ground cherries around, which I added after husking and washing, but they’re optional)
  • 3 T. maple syrup

Let cook until fruit releases juices, but still holds its shape.  Remove from heat.

4.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Lay one sheet of phyllo in the bottom, then spray thoroughly.  Repeat four times.  Spread peach filling on top, then crumble over it:

  • 1/2 c. finely crumbled clothbound or other aged cheddar

Lay another sheet of phyllo on top, spray, and repeat four more times.  Spray top of the phyllo generously, then score into serving pieces.  The easiest way to do this is to take a very sharp knife and cut lengthwise into thirds, then diagonally across in six cuts.

5.  Place in oven and cook until top layers are browned, and filling is visibly bubbling.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove individual portions from pan.

To re-freeze any remaining phyllo, wrap in double layers of plastic wrap and return to box, then place in freezer.

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Czech Plum Dumplings 4

Posted on August 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

The Vermont plums are in, and they are damned good.   So good that I find myself leaving the farmer’s market each week of their short season with far more than I really need or have plans for.  Which was what was happening a couple of weeks ago when I ran into a friend who told me about her old neighbor who made dumplings with the plums that grew in her yard.

Of course the word, “dumplings” piqued my interest.  So with quarts of plums at the ready, I went home to find a recipe.  Here’s what I found, and have so far made two batches – one to freeze for winter, and one we ate fresh with grilled sausage and a great deal of delight.

Plum Dumplings
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
The original recipe’s yield says 25, but 20 seems to be closer to the truth

1.  Peel, quarter, boil until tender and then mash:

  • 2 large or 4 small potatoes

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the plums.  Slice in half:

  • 25 prune plums (Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get 25 out of the recipe and will actually need each one.  If not, you’ve got sugary sweet plums as a snack, so it’s a low-risk situation.)

Remove each pit, and sprinkle a bit of sugar into the spot where it was.  Place plums in a bowl while you prepare the dough.

3.  Make the dough by sifting together:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. powdered lemon peel
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup mashed potato

Mix together with a wooden spoon until too hard to stir, and then knead until very smooth.

4.  Flour a cutting board well, and roll out half of the dough to 1/4″ thick.  Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out 3″ or 4″ rounds.  (Work fairly quickly so the circles don’t dry out.)  Place one round on the palm of one hand, rub the circle’s outside with a sugared plum to moisten the dough.

Stretch and seal the dough around the plum, trying your best to avoid any holes in the dough.  (If you do end up with a hole, just grab a scrap from the board and patch it.)

Repeat until all dough is used up, gathering and re-rolling as many scraps as you can.  (To freeze at this point, place in a single layer on a well-floured cookie sheet and stick in the freezer until hard, and then put in a container or bag.)

5.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and gently place dumplings in the water and boil for about 10 minutes. (Add about 4 minutes if you cook from frozen.)

6.  In a large sauce pan, melt together over medium-low heat and stir until warm and thick:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1  c. brown sugar or your favorite jam or marmalade (we were lucky to have some peach butter bubbling away on the stove and so used that)
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs to thicken if you like.

I’d like to come up with some brilliant summation here, but I’m a bit distracted as I’m here with a 5-year old here who insists it’s my birthday (it’s not) and that I have to go off to a party with Batman, a plastic dinosaur and some wooden milk.  You, on the other hand, should get yourself some plums and eat them in any way you can think of.

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Blackberry Chutney Recipe 2

Posted on August 09, 2010 by crankycheryl

My inner hoarder has come out to play and I’m in an absolute frenzy of food preservation.  So far:

  • 26 jars of blueberry jam
  • 8 jars of gooseberry jam
  • 6 jars of gingered zucchini marmalade
  • 6 jars of blackberry rhubarb chutney
  • 4 pints of canned peaches
  • 10 pounds of frozen blueberries
  • 6 quarts of frozen blackberries
  • 4 pints of frozen shredded zucchini and carrots
  • 4 pints of frozen roasted tomatoes and garlic
  • 3 freezer bags of various roasted vegetables
  • 3 pints of frozen rhubarb
  • 1 bag of Czech plum dumplings

My kitchen is now a living fruit fly museum, the house is a wreck and I’m busier than if I had an actual job.  Is this because having a basement filled with food helps assuage the upheaval of part-time contract work?  Because Z. is starting kindergarten and I’m trying to maintain an illusion of control?  Because it’s an especially delicious harvest year?  Who knows.  I keep claiming that I want to stop with all the fuss and crankyGreg keeps telling me that I won’t.  He’s probably right.

Maybe you need a recipe to help with your own neuroses, or for some more sane purpose like gift giving.  Here’s one I adapted to use up the blackberries that have been going crazy around here, as well as some late-season rhubarb and gone-to-seed cilantro.  It’s tart, sweet, and a little spicy in addition to being beautiful.

Blackberry-Rhubarb Chutney
Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Yield: 6 8-oz. jars

If this is your first foray into canning, read this and this.

1.  Prepare your canner, 7 8-oz. jars, and lids, and keep warm.

2.  In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine:

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb stalks
  • 1 cup shredded peeled green apple
  • 1 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1 can of chopped pineapple in juice (or else 2 large grated peeled green apples)
  • 2 T. finely chopped ginger
  • 3 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 t. orange or lemon zest
  • 1/4 c. orange or lemon juice
  • 1 c. red wine vinegar

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for about 15 minutes.

3.  Add to the mix in the saucepan:

  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar (make sure it’s cane sugar when you’re canning)
  • 1 c. golden raisins (I left these out, but would have thrown them in if I had had them around)
  • 1 c. water

4.  Make a spice bag with some cheesecloth or a stainless steel tea ball with:

  • 1 T. coriander/cilantro seeds (fresh if you’ve got them on your bolted plants in the garden, dried if not)
  • 2 hot peppers, as hot as you like.

Boil gently until thickened, about 15 minutes.

5.  Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles by poking a chopstick or similar implement around the sides of the jar, then adjust headspace by adding more chutney if necessary.  Use a clean damp cloth to wipe the rim, then center the lid on the jar.  Screw band down until fairly tight, but don’t over-force it.

6.  Place jars in the canner so that they’re completely underwater.  Bring to a boil and then process for 10 minutes.  Take off the lid.  Wait for 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store in a cool place once you’ve made sure the jars have a good seal.

There.  Don’t you feel better?

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Blessed Silence Sunday: Experiment 0

Posted on July 18, 2010 by crankycheryl

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Henry Homeyer Says Don’t Can Your Tomatoes! 10

Posted on July 14, 2010 by crankycheryl

When I saw the Facebook ad for “Save Our Squash” and learned that there was a free food preservation class right here at Fletcher Allen, I was pretty excited to sign up.  And then it turned out to be with organic gardening guru Henry Homeyer, and I was totally sold.

So last night, crankyGreg and the boys settled in for some quality bizarre comic book creation, and I trundled up the hill to the Davis Auditorium, where a small crowd was gathering.  At the front was the featured speaker wearing purple high-tops and standing behind a table with a chinois, a food dehydrator, and other cool kitchen toys.

This was the way he introduced himself:

“I love to eat and am inherently suspicious of buying food in the grocery store.  I’ve traveled across the country and have seen how food is grown.  I want to grow as much of my own food as possible – and keep it as fresh and tasty as I possibly can.”

Cool.  Hard not to get behind that.

Then he looked around at that room full of gardeners, warned us he was going to go quickly and launched in, starting with gardening advice:

  • Get out there and pinch back those tomato suckers (the non-flowering/fruiting vines that are shooting out of the plants this time of year).  This lets the plant put more energy into fruit production, and will keep indeterminate varieties from getting monstrously tall.
  • Pick beans from pole bean plants often.  July is not too late to plant beans (or any plant that will mature within 60 days) in Vermont.
  • Thin carrots to 1″ apart or else he’s coming to your house to yell at you.
  • Want to successfully grow eggplant in Vermont?  Try a loaf-of-bread-sized dark stone next to the plant to raise the temperature around it and keep it a few degrees warmer at night.
  • He discovered and recommends happy rich greens, which he grows instead of broccoli raab because of raab’s annoying habit of instantaneous bolting.  He prefers the other because it’s much slower to go to flower, and also has tender stems and delicious leaves.
  • He grows rutabaga instead of potatoes because it can be mashed in much the same way but is not as susceptible to bugs or disease.
  • When it comes to peppers:  don’t fertilize, and pick the fruit young (don’t let everything ripen completely or the plant will stop producing more).
  • Both artichokes and broccoli produce what they should if their first central blooms get removed early.  (I took note because mine had just produced a bud.)
  • Mark your calendar for Labor Day, at which point he wants us to cut the tops off of Brussels sprouts and winter squash plants so they’ll work on their yummy parts instead of growing taller.

I was running out of room for notes, but he was just getting started talking about preservation.  I was shocked that he really doesn’t do much canning, relying instead on freezing, dehydrating, and the use of a root cellar he’s created in his basement, and storage in a variety of unheated spaces around his house.

He brought out a cool big insert, a “blanching basket” that was his prop for his blanching technique.  (Have I tired you out?  I have to tell you I was completely on the edge of my seat.)  Here’s what he said about the process:

  • Blanching is necessary for almost any leafy green in order to kill the enzyme that ages and toughens the leaves.
  • Most recipes call for twice the blanching time that’s required – 10 seconds for leafy greens, 1 minute for other things – just until there’s a color change.
  • The vegetables that require blanching before being frozen:  beans, broccoli & other cole crops, kale, chard, peas, summer squash.  He says (and I agree!) to skip the spinach since it wilts away to practically nothing.
  • The way to blanch vegetables to get the best result:
  1. Boil enough water in a kettle to cover completely.
  2. Fill a large bowl or 1/2 of your sink with water and ice.
  3. Blanch your vegetables for 10 seconds (leaves) or 1 minute (beans, broc, summer squash).
  4. Plunge into the ice water, then strain, spin in a salad spinner, dry in a towel, and place in a container or ziploc bag to freeze.
  • Tomatoes, leeks, peppers, and peaches can be frozen without blanching.
  • Freeze tomatoes by placing them in a freezer bag.  (And he demonstrated removing air from a freezer bag with a plain old drinking straw.)

And then he explained that he either freezes or dehydrates tomatoes because canning’s high temperatures kill the vitamin C in them.  Whoa.  And he doesn’t really like canning because of the time it takes and how hot it is and how scary botulism is.   (As I had just come from a batch of delicious gooseberry jam, I couldn’t really get behind the no-canning plan.)  But he then did admit to making a few jars of sauce every year.

Phew.

He showed us his fancy dehydrator and talked about how he uses it for tomatoes and hot peppers (the latter of which he subsequently grinds to powder, incidentally).  And he talked about simple storage: how beets, carrots, and potatoes like to be somewhere cool and humid  like a root cellar, and other roots like to be somewhere cool and dry, and how winter squash and onions like it dry.

After more specifics and questions and answers, we all crowded forward to check out the cool stuff and talk.

And then, my head swimming, I went home to pluck that artichoke and plan this week’s preservation.

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Beet, Fennel & Goat Cheese Crostini 2

Posted on June 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

Well, not crostini exactly since the bread isn’t crisp.  Maybe canape, but they anyway were what I brought to a veggie potluck this week.  I skipped the crisping because I always kind of hate the inevitable crumble and collapse of bruschetta and crostini after you take one bite and before you know it you’re dripping tomato cubes and apologizing to the hostess about the carpet.

Not only was I taking such care of my future co-eaters, but then I felt myself simpering with smugness about being able to combine thawed roasted beets from the freezer, fresh snipped fennel fronds from the garden, a Brie-like goat cheese from our CSA share, and apricot preserves from last year.

Character flaws aside, what’s really nice about these is that they can be an inspiration for all sorts of summer eating.  A piece of good bread, crisped or not, a slice or schmear of cheese, a tart and fruity something on top, and a sprig of some fresh herb or other – lots of possibilities.   I made this version thinking about how the different kinds of sweetness of beets, apricots, and fennel would play with the creamy cheese on baguette.  But you of course will adapt it to use what you’ve got around.

Beet, Fennel & Goat Cheese Canapes
About 25 pieces

Arrange on a platter:

  • 25 (or whatever) thin slices of baguette, lightly brushed with
  • extra virgin olive oil (you’ll need about 2 T.)

Place on bread:

  • 1 slice Caprella, Camembert, Brie, or any soft cheese you like

Set bread aside.

Combine and puree in a blender, or a bowl that will accommodate an immersion blender:

  • 1/4 c. apricot (or other fruit) preserves
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. sherry (or other mild) vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • pinch sugar

Pour dressing into a medium bowl.

Cut into small dice:

  • 2 c. worth roasted beets (or plum, peach, apricot, melon, tomato, etc.)

Combine dressing and beets or fruit with:

  • 2 T. finely chopped fennel fronds (or basil, lemon balm, nasturtium leaves)

Place a heaping teaspoon of the beet mixture on top of the bread and cheese and top with:

  • 1 small sprig of your chosen herb.
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Stuffed Grape Leaves: Further Encounters with Weed-Eating 2

Posted on June 10, 2010 by crankycheryl

So at last I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and the truth is that I’m liking it so much that I’m a little bit embarrassed.

I was sure that I was going to find it a total snoozer, and roll my eyes at all the stuff I already know.  Like I need to be taught how to eat locally and why it’s a good idea?  But reading it is like talking to another localvore friend, one who’s clever and funny and self-deprecating and good-hearted, and not as “preachy” as I’ve heard the book described.

Maybe that’s why I took it a little personally when I read the passage about how my new BFF’s year of eating locally was going to mean growing food and buying from local farmers.  And ABSOLUTELY NOT going to include gleaning weeds by the roadside because she didn’t want to fit some low-class stereotype.

Ahem.

I like collecting weeds, and I’m okay with knowing that my sons will grow up to be mortified by the habit.  It’s okay because one day they’ll appreciate my boundless creativity and thriftiness.  Of course by then I’ll be dead and my ghost will be hovering over the heads of their wives or husbands saying things like, “Really?  You’re too good for that?  You’re just going to throw out the peel and those greens and not even make soup out of it?  And what the hell is that thing you’re wearing?  You call that a shirt?”

But here and now my target is grape leaves (well, grape leaves plus eight uninterrupted hours of sleep and maybe paying my bills on time for once).  The vines are absolutely everywhere, and I’m gearing up for a big harvest and preservation.

And in the meantime, I’m preparing lots of dolmades with the fresh ones.  They’re a quick snack or meal, taste great, are gluten- and dairy-free, and easily made vegan.  Come on by and join me among the weeds.

Stuffed Grape Leaves
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
About 40 rolls

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over:

  • About 40 large grape leaves (or 2 small jars if you haven’t gotten the fresh wild ones around).

Let sit for 1 hour.

In the meantime mix well together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb or beef (locally, humanely raised)
  • (if you want a vegetarian version substitute 2 cups dried lentils plus 1/3 cup of water for the meat)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (your choice – I used oregano and thyme)
  • 1/3 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 T. salt (don’t skimp)
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Line a large saucepan with several leaves.  Then roll the remaining leaves by placing a leaf on a small plate or cutting board, vein-side up and with the stem facing you.  Put a heaping teaspoon of filling about an inch above the leaf’s bottom.  Fold over the left and right sides, then roll from bottom to top and place in the pan with the flap-side down.  Roll the rest of them and place in concentric circles in the pan, building to a second level as necessary.  Save a few smaller grape leaves aside.

Drizzle over the top:

  • 3-4 T. olive oil

Pour in:

  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 cups stock/broth or water,

Place remaining grape leaves on top, and cover with a small plate (this will ensure that all the stuffed leaves are sufficiently submerged).  Cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the rice and meat/lentils are cooked.  Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature – which is how much Mediterranean food tends to be eaten.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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