Sunday, September 26, 2010

Stuffed Grape Leaves: My Nemesis

For some reason, I'm not sure why, it seems that the market is saturated with Thai food (which I already hated, before I lived here) in our area of Maine, with not many other interesting ethnic options. Why not Indian? Or Ethiopian? How about Greek?

Well, I was absolutely hankering for something vaguely mediterranean or possibly middle eastern, with maybe a side order of Indian naan bread. Last week I made falafel with a yummy cucumber-tahini-scallion sauce, served in a sort of Indian naan bread (fried in my skillet). Oh and stuffed grape leaves sounded great. (It was all because of a really pretty colorful spread in the Moosewood Cookbook.)
Let me tell you about grape leaves. They come in a jar, all rolled up in a sort of cigar-like bundle, in a little briny water. The thing that seemed impossible is that the jar offered absolutely no guidance in the form of directions on how to unroll the bundle with grace. Because the bundle was sort of tucked under on one end, and the leaves were very thin, I found it nearly impossible to unroll the individuals without shredding them.
shreddy grape leaves
I'm a patient person. I can unravel a knotty skein of wool. I can do tedious, repetitive tasks with good cheer. But this was a new and altogether maddening form of tedium. So in the end, I had a few unmolested and unshreddy leaves of grape, ready for stuffing, and a really delicious lemony-minty pot of brown rice. So I stuffed the few leaves that I had and then served the rice as a side dish, with shreddy grape leaves to be mixed in as the eater desired. Despite the ugly appearance of the shredders, the meal was embraced as a success by all eaters. My boys like falafel, a lot!!!! (In my day, when my mom made it, we called it "Feel Awful.")
Sylvan was bored one day, so I suggested he go outside and build a bike jump. First he had to bring his CD player outside, find an extension cord, and get his music cued up (Bruce Springsteen). Then he built the bike jump and used it while rocking out to classic rock.

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