Archive for the ‘farming’ Category

Dolmas

February 4, 2010

Several night ago, we ate first century snacks for dinner: olives, pita bread, some of my home made cheese, and dolmas. And, no, I did not make the dolmas. One of the wonders of the twenty-first century is that even grocery stores in Pagosa Springs, Colorado sell decent dolmas. I have made them in the past and recently bought several jars of brined grape leaves so I can begin to develop new recipes.

Who in the world first decided to to eat grape leaves? A famine must have been quite serious for people to begin eating leaves from vines and trees. Cultivation for wine and table grapes started around six thousand years ago. Wild grapes were used long before that. The use of grape leaves is also quite ancient. It was common to grill fish by wrapping fillets (or whole fish) with damp grape or fig leaves and then place them on the coals. Grape leaves were also used as a wrap for meat or some grain. These are called “dolmas” or “dolmades.”

Most modern dolmas use rice as a stuffing, which raises an issue for the first century cook. Even though a few food historians write that rice was present in the Holy Land by the first century, the majority of scholars believe that rice arrived several hundred years later. Rice was first cultivated in India and worked its way east to China and Japan before it started its journey west toward the Middle East. I will try making dolmas with bulgar or barley as the stuffing and see what happens.

Before food preparation, the grape leaves should be softened. Gently boil fresh grape leaves for five minutes or use brined leaves which are available in many markets, maybe even in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I imagine that both methods were used in the first century. Brining was a common way to preserve food, even grape leaves. If using brined leaves, drain them, remove and separate leaves very carefully. They tear easily.

Please join me in my quest for the perfect first century style dolma.

Enjoy.

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More Cheese, And Organic Farming

October 10, 2009

Yesterday was another cheesemaking day. Once again, I made a batch of fromage blanc, a spreadable creamy cheese that is simple to make. I made over two pounds of this cheese for around $3.50 which is significantly cheaper than the market. My next project will be a farmer’s cheese. For more information on home cheese making, you can google “cheese queen” or use this link: http://www.cheesemaking.com.

I do have some sad news. Our steady stream of fresh organically grown vegetables has closed for the winter. We are members of a community supported agriculture (CSA) program and the farm we support is called Chimney Rock Farm. We received a large box of vegetables and fruit every week during the summer. This is the type of program that all my readers should consider. Support of a CSA farm guarantees that small farms stay in business and that fresh, local organic fruits and vegetables are readily available to consumers that value them. I will especiall miss the fresh plums and apricots. Both were incredible. Like almost all businesses, Chimney Rock Farm has a web site: http://co.laplata.co.us/Employeeweb/wellness/csa/CSA.List.2008.pdf. Please search for the community supported farms in your area.

Speaking of incredible tasting fruit, I have been eating fruit and yogurt for breakfast almost every day. Try this:
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 teaspoons of honey
sliced fresh fruit (I suggest apricots, plums or whole grapes)
Garnish with roasted, sliced almonds or pomagranate seeds.
Instead of cheese, maybe I’ll make yogurt next time.

Happy feasting!