Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's All Greek To Me...

This is kind of a long story, because it happened over a period of about a month, but it has one common theme throughout: Greek food.

My friend Monica knows that I am a gardener and asked me one day if I had any Dill and Parsley growing in my garden. I told her that I did indeed have both of those herbs ready for harvest and told her that I would bring her some; which I did.

She responded by sharing her creation with me: a delicious Dolmas salad fashioned after the Greek Dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with a rice mix).

I took it home to share with Katrina and I started wondering, "What kind of grape leaves go into Greek food and where do they come from? Are they only native to Greece? Are they hard to get?"

So being the curious creature that I am, I jumped on my trusty information steed (aka: the Internet) and found out that, lo and behold, the grapevines that I have in my own yard are the self same grape vines from whence edible grape leaves are grown. As long as they have not been sprayed with any chemicals (You know me: Organic Annie), they are fit for consumption.

So I conducted further research and found scads of blogs about 'brining' your own grape leaves.

To the store I flew with a conveniently located coupon for Ball brand mason jars and came home with two dozen large quart jars, kosher salt, etc.

I then spend the greater part of that evening hacking away at my grapevines until it was too dark to see. Then, I dragged my papasan chair to the middle of my driveway and stripped 2000 grape leaves in the dark with a spot lighter in my mouth.

I won't bore you with the details, but the operation was a success and yielded nine quarts of tightly packed leaves in their salty brine.

I donated one quart to Monica in the hopes that it would return another delicious helping of her salad, and I was not disappointed. Happily, though, the return was in the form of dinner at her house with the girls. We all had a blast and ate our share of delicious Greek fare: the aforementioned salad, chicken souvlaki, Tzatziki sauce, feta pico, olives and pita.
Plus, Monica's adorable daughter, Brooke, made lemon bars herself and added fresh mint from the cutting we gave her from our garden last year. She insisted on playing waitress to us all, which was so cute since she wants to open her own restaurant when she grows up.

So there's my long, involved, kind of meandering story of a salad, some grape leaves and my first attempt at canning... My Mormon friends keep making fun of me because they think I'm such a 'Mo... (Momo, not Homo). They say I'd make a wonderful relief society president, since I'm such a Mormon groupie...

If it wasn't for the lesbianism, swearing and drinking, they'd have my 10%...

In the interest of my future as a Mormon housewife, I am taking a home canning course from the Wasatch Community Gardens next week. I'll be putting up wheat berries and peaches in no time. I just have to get a wheat grinder the next time I hit the DI...

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