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.
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
- 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.