Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm Making This Up As I Go

A couple of weeks ago I spotted grape vines growing within a half mile of my house. Some were spilling out from the local school's educational garden, so I felt guilty swiping more than a few. The others were closer to the freeway (yeah -- emissions pollution) and a tad too dark green to look tender -- but they were growing wildly over the fence of some guy's yard into public space, clearly untended (and thus presumably unsprayed).
So I parboiled the pale ones for a few minutes in a pot of salty water (this was a couple of weeks ago, remember, so I hadn't even given the "local salt" issue any thought) and cooked the darker ones a bit longer. Then I layered them into a dish of slightly saltier brine to "cure" in the refrigerator.
Yesterday we filled the leaves with Marin Sun Farms hamburger (it's sold frozen), Wild Blue Farm onions from Tomales, and parsley and oregano from the patio. I took a chance on that pseudo pepper we found yesterday, grinding a few "corns" with the mortar and pestle. Oh, as for rice in the filling? Mais non! Not local enough, at least for this first week of Deep Total Marin Commitment. Instead, the night before I had finely diced some Marin potatoes, tossed them with a smidge of McEvoy olive oil, and roasted them on a sheet at 225 for an hour. They barely cooked; didn't dry out at all; just became chewy and textury. So that worked out great, even though I feel like a mad scientist in the kitchen.
Here are the little grapeleaf bundles, ready for their bath on the stovetop (I used some of that brine mixed with the meat juice that leaked out during defrosting). Keep an eye on those pale green ones. They came out perfect: tender, tasty mouthfuls.
The darker ones, alas, were fibrous.
Next year I'll start harvesting them sooner than July.
As for local salt. I'm crushed, but I'm going to have to make a recess appointment. I'm sneaking Diamond kosher into the pantry, along with the occasional use of cheese-eating-surrender-monkey French fleur de sel.


Farmgirl Susan said...

This made a lot more sense once I realized you were talking about grape leaves and not grapes. . . Little slow out here in the country. : )

cookiecrumb said...

Yeah, but isn't it nice to lose your mind? I never know the date anymore. Today my husband left his cell phone home and asked me to turn mine on. But I'd forgotten how. :-)