Almost 8 years ago I met my future mother-in-law and she left a mark on me that I’ll carry forever. She was a mother of 6, including a set of twins who didn’t stop her from having her next 4 kids, worked full-time and had a set dinner menu every week. She was a force to be reckoned with and fiercely loved her family.
Working from home has given me many benefits, including being able to attend functions for my stepchildren and spending quality time with my mother-in-law. We used to go grocery shopping together which is when I got to enjoy what I referred to as “Virginiaisms”. She would refer to Nob Hill grocery store as “Hob Nob” and those “New York Potatoes”…yeah the Yukon Golds. Those memories and the quality time we spent together are etched on my heart and in my mind forever.
When we found out that Virginia had cancer, we came together as a family and spent every weekend together. My husband wanted us to spend a day with Virginia learning how to make her Lebanese grape leaves, so the four of us were lucky enough to perfect this dish and learn from the master.
We started making this an Easter tradition but have since make it throughout the year. It’s time intensive but very worth it. One more trick from Grandma Virginia is to put a toothpick in your mouth when you cut the onion to prevent tears…it works!
- 1 jar of grape leaves (rinsed and de-stemmed)
- 3lbs ground lamb
- 3 cups white rice (1 cup per lb of lamb)
- ½ onion (large, chopped)
- 2 large garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 8 oz water (rinse tomato can and use water from rinse)
- 2 tsp all spice (ground)
- salt and pepper for taste
- Lemon (do not include in mixture)
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Lay out grape leaves flat and place a small handful of the lamb mixture in the center. Roll the leave by folding in the sides, tightly. In a large stock pot, place the rolled grape leaves starting at the edge of the pot in a ring and layer. Cover the rolled leaves with water, one inch above the last layer of grape leaves. Squeeze lemon juice into water. Place a plate on top of the leaves to keep them down and place the lemon half on top of the plate. Cover with the lid pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until done.
- Serve with plain Greek Yogurt.