I’m obsessed with Mexican food. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas…they speak to my heart. If you find yourself in the Mission District of San Francisco, all you have to do it walk a few blocks and you’ll find a place. A place where english is secondary on the menu. A place where old mexican ladies are in the back arguing and stirring large pots that smell amazing. A place where Mecican Coke is a given.
While in Bali, we made a few tourist stops to see the amazing wonders of the island. One of the places we visited were the rice terraces in Tagalalang. There are seriously layers upon layers of rice growing as far as the eye can see.
We learned that while these terraces are more for show, balinese families do tend their own terraces and harvest their own rice, which is a dietary staple. Many families’ rice fields have passed down from generation to generation.
So I was browsing Netflix the other day (I know, this is how ALL great stories start), and I began to notice the “Because you watched” section. Now, sometimes this section makes absurd recommendations like “because you watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, you might like James and the Giant Peach! Or, because you watched Home Alone, you might like Paranormal Activity!”
I don’t know. Anyway, I noticed the “Because you watched movies with a strong female lead” heading and it got me thinking. It seems we’re beginning to see a shift in movies from the helpless Bellas in Twilight, to the fierce Katniss Everdeens and Beatrice Priors, and I think it’s an indicator of a culture shift. Why are we suddenly obsessed with these strong female types, who maintain their femininity while still getting the bad guys and saving their friends? I would argue it’s because that fierce femininity has been under attack for so long. And now we’re beginning to see it triumph.
If you know me at all, you’ve figured out I’m not a feminist. Yes I know you hate that, no I don’t approve of misogyny, yes I know what I’m saying, no I don’t think I’m setting the women’s movement back, and yes, I think women should vote. Cover all the bases? Cool. Here’s what I’m saying. I believe men and women were created equal but not equivalent. What does that mean? Men and women are fundamentally different. And pardon me but I don’t want to burn my bras and demand to open my own car door or pay for dates. I believe femininity is a treasure; something women have and men desire.
But what does that look like? Does that mean I think women should be wilting flowers and wait for a man to come save them? No. Although when I have to carry several loads of heavy groceries, I will from time to time remind my boyfriend I’m a small fragile bird and hard labor doesn’t suit me. Unrelated. Where were we? Yes, wilting flowers. Books like The Hunger Games and Divergent offer us strong female characters who don’t become manly to accomplish their tasks. On the contrary, they use their creative mind, gut intuition, and strong female strength to complete their missions in ways that only they could. And the men in their lives love them for it. Not because they’ve abandoned their girlish-tendencies, but because they exude a feminine strength and tenacity that’s so incredibly attractive. Little girls want to be them, older girls want to be like them, (or just be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence) and we see this shift back to appreciating feminine qualities instead of overcoming them. And that’s beautiful.
So thank you Netflix for facilitating my musings (and my obsessive re-watching of Mad Men). I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Sometimes the Mediterranean cooking bug gets me, and I’m powerless to resist. This time it demanded stuffed grape leaves, which are basically picked leaf pockets of happiness. No joke. These guys aren’t difficult to make, they just require a bit of time to put together. So grab a glass of wine, turn on the TV, and get to cookin!
Start with pickled grape leaves. These can be bought at pretty much any supermarket in the “ethnic foods” section. I know, not racist at all…
I like to stuff my grape leaves with a rice and ground beef mixture, but you could easily substitute lentils for the meat to make a vegetarian option. I find the meat and rice mixed with the mint and spices to be, well, delicious.
After scooping a spoon sized amount of filling onto the washed leaves, tuck in the sides and roll into a nick little package.
And there you have it! Mediterranean stuffed grape leaves. I like to pair this with a cool creamy side – greek yogurt and cucumber with salt and lemon does the trick.
Happy eating, lovelies!
Mediterranean Stuffed Grape Leaves
1 jar pickled grape leaves
1 lb ground beef
1/2 small white onion
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain white rice
1 lemon, squeezed
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (more or less, depending on taste)
2 Tbsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion in a pan, then dump into a bowl with the cooked rice. Add cumin, mint, lemon juice, and salt, and mix together. Wash the grape leaves off, and pat dry. Scoop a spoonful of the mixture into the middle of each leaf and tuck in the sides. Roll up and place in a pan. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Pull out and let cool for a few minutes. Serve with greek yogurt topping.
Greek Yogurt Topping
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1/2 cucumber, diced
salt to taste
Mix all together.