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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

End-of-Summer Fun Feast

IMG_4285Summer is slowly ending and it’s not a minute too soon for me, lol. The days are becoming ever-so-slightly shorter, the temperature is inching downward at maybe one degree every other week. School is back in session but there’s still the feeling of relaxation (at least for some, if not me…).

So we decided to grill some chicken-and-veggie kebabs. That’s a guy thing. Benedetto and the boys held court.

Meanwhile, I organized the girls to help me make stuffedIMG_4265 grape leaves. Usually the grape leaves are most tender in the spring, but hey, I wasn’t picking any off the vine. I headed to the store to purchase a jarful.

Next to the jar of grape leaves in brine (salt water) sat a tin of already-stuffed leaves on the shop shelf. I bought that, too, just in case. But so far, haven’t had any need for those….

IMG_4262Back at the dacha, Petya and I struggled to pry the leaves from the jar. Three fat sausages of rolled leaves hid inside the jar whose mouth was narrower than its body. This would be an engineering feat. It we pulled too hard, the tips of the leaves would rip off. We tried pushing and pulling and easing and tugging. At last, they emerged.

Placing in a colander, I rinsed them, then laid them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, just blanching them for softness. IMG_4272They were removed and set aside.

The stuffing consisted of some savory rice and ground beef, olive oil and lemon juice plus spices. Making sure that the stems were out of the leaves, Mashenka and Sashenka agreed to roll them. IMG_4282They were not professional shapes, more square than round, but they did a good job.

About 45 minutes later, we had close to 100. Not bad for their first time.

Best of all we threw on some black scarves and told IMG_4270Benedetto he could decide whether they were Arab girls or Greek widows, lol, both of whom might be stuffing grape leaves.  Dolmades fit in in most anywhere in the Mediterranean or Middle East.

IMG_4281-1Even Misha the Scottie got involved as an official observer, photobombing our teens.

I placed the leaves in a large pan, broken leaves on the bottom, simmering the packets in olive oil and water for IMG_4296about 30-45 minutes. Draining them, I set them aside for later, to serve at room temperature with lemon squeezed over them… along with plates of shishkebab. Delish.

This is my kind of summer celebration-!

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