Monday, July 5, 2010
Playing With My Food
I'm not a professional chef. In fact, I've never even taken a cooking class - not even Home Ec in school (my Home Ec class was sewing, and we've seen how painfully little I learned from that class ;).
But what I've been blessed with is a husband who likes to eat (which is a common assertion as he twirls his fork and then stabs with a flourish whatever happens to be sitting on his plate - it's very cute ;), an incredible sense of curiosity, and an undying willingness to learn new things.
... not to mention a healthy and growing quarter acre of land on which is growing lots and lots of things that we can eat ... if we just learn how.
My latest project is stuffed grape leaves, and for those of Meditteranean descent, for whom, stuffed grape leaves are a staple, I salute you, but my kin folk hail from the back hollows of southeastern Kentucky coal mining country and the mid-West (Ohio farmland) where seasonings are salt and pepper ... in that order.
Potatoes, yes. Grape leaves ... uh, aren't those what hide all the purty grapes?
When we first bought our property, Deus Ex Machina and I had only a vague idea of what we wanted to do, and often our plant purchases were impulse, which meant that we had to come home and find a place to put them, which meant that some things probably aren't in the best place. The grape vine is definitely one of those, as evidenced by the out of control vine (growing up in the trees, even) and the marked lack of grapes. We know it's the location and not the vine, though, because we moved a piece of it to a very sunny location, and it's, not only thriving, but it's also set grapes. The one in the back, not so much for grapes.
So, it doesn't get enough sun to give us grapes, but we are always gifted with an abundance of beautiful leaves.
I'm of the mind that nature provides ... in abundance ..., and it's up to us to figure out how to best use her gifts. Some gifts are like that. Like the housedress my neighbor gifted us. I don't, personally, have much use for a housedress, but I found a way that made it very useful to me (and I'm thinking that I may start wearing the pants, just because I can).
Recently, I visited Garden Girl's online home, and I found a video in which she made stuffed grape leaves.
What made it even better for me was that I have all of the ingredients - either as "bulk" purchases (rice), as a local purchase (ground beef), or something we grow right here at home (grape leaves, mint, and onion).
I modified it a bit. I have lemon juice in a bottle, not fresh lemons, and I didn't have any onions, because mine are still growing, but I pulled a couple of green ones and used those instead.
Little Fire Faery turned her nose up to the stuffed grape leaves, but she really liked the stuffing. Precious was very excited and insists that stuffed grape leaves are those things they eat in Mexico (um, yeah ... thanks Sesame Street!). I guess we'll be making tamales when the corn in the three sister's bucket garden matures.