Monday, December 3, 2012

Vegetarian Grape Leaves. Mist.

I walked to the office this morning. There was this soft cold breeze and the road was misty, just before sunrise. It reminded me of my two favorite novels, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Somehow it was always misty and rainy in these two novels, and I loved that. The serenity of today's early hours was captivating, and I just strolled slowly.

In Lebanon, I used to wake up at dawn, wrap myself with a blanket, and go out to watch the sunrise behind our beautiful mountains. I sat there, before the world awakes, observing the mist crawling up the valley, and waiting for the warm rays of light. Every sunrise was different, yet each one was tranquil, magnificent and divine. 

 As I walked into the fog this morning, the quiet blurred town seemed angelically beautiful, and one thought crossed my mind. When our days become so crowded and overwhelming, and when our feelings become so confused and bewildered, sometimes, all we need is to slow down, and enjoy the peace and calm of a new cold misty morning.

 I've been meaning to make vegetarian grape leaves. My mother always cooks grape leaves, but until now, she still doesn't know how much filling she should prepare for how much grape leaves. Unfortunately, me neither! But I have a rough estimate. If you end up with extra grape leaves, just put them at the bottom of the pot, and if you end up with extra filling, just cook it on the side. It's good!

Recipe: Vegetarian Grape Leaves (Photos arrived!)
  • 1 jar (16 oz, 465 gr) brined grape leaves.
  • 1 cup rice.
  • 1/2 cup parsley.
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely sliced.
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely sliced.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 medium potatoes, sliced in thin disks.
  • 4 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil.
  • Juice from 1 lemon.

I cook the extra rice in the same pan as the grape leaves.

  1. The filling: Mix the rice, parsley, tomatoes, onion and olive oil.
  2. The grape leaves: Open the grape leave and place neatly on a flat plate, with the stem side closer to you. Line the bottom of the grape leave with some filling. (The filling line should approximately be 1/2 inch -see picture.) Wrap the grape leave, like any wrap: sides first, then 2 bottom parts of the leave, then wrap upward. Make sure you wrap the leave VERY tightly, otherwise, it will open while cooking. Keep 5 or 6 leaves unwrapped to line the bottom of the pot.
  3. Line the bottom of a pot with the unwrapped grape leaves.
  4. Place the wrapped grape leaves, one by one, in the pot, in layers. Add the sliced potatoes between the layers of grape leaves. 
  5. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in 4 cups of water. Slowly add the salt water on top of the grape leaves and potatoes, until the water is 1/2 inch above the top layer.
  6. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, and cook on very low heat. Boil for 2 hours (or until the grape leaves feel very soft), still on very low heat.
  7. Add the lemon juice. 

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