6 June 2008

Dolmas Salad and the 100- Mile Diet Challenge!!!!!!

Dolmas Salad
Once a jar of brined grape vine leaves has been opened it is time to think of some creative ways to use them. I have already made Marinated Goat Cheese in Vine Leaves and Barbecued Chicken with Vine Leaves but still have plenty left. The obvious thing to do would be to make some Dolmades but when the weather turns hot I am nosing around the barbecue with tools in hand. I am tired of seeing things go to waste in the deep recesses of my fridge so in the spirit of the old adage "waste not want not" I created this recipe a few years ago.

This is the perfect way to get all the flavours of my all time favourite snack food dolmades without all the fuss of rolling and boiling. In these hot summer months it is nice to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible so thank goodness for a side burner on my gas barbecue!!!!!

Have you heard of the 100-Mile Diet? Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon had a revelation one day when they were stranded in a cabin in the wilderness and forced to live off the land. Once they arrived back in the city, they began to research the origins of everything that stocked the shelves of their local grocery store. A lot of the foods travelled over 1,500 km to reach their local grocers not to mention what is imported across the border and from overseas. Alisa and James were trying to live a more sustainable life and support local farmers and producers. What they discovered was that transporting all these goods to their area grocery stores was producing greenhouse gases and smog at a phenomenal rate. So they decided on an experiment. For one year they would eat only food produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver, British Columbia home. In Canada this should be the 160-Kilometer Diet but they felt the word "miles" just rolls off the tongue better. You can read about their journey in their book The 100-Mile Diet . It is not an easy feat!!!

June 1, 2008 Alisa and James challenged the community of Mission, B.C., to try eating only local food from producers and what is grown within 100 miles from their homes for a total of 100 days. Mission is a town of 35,000 people in the greater Vancouver area that is surrounded by amazing farmland. Dozens of people signed up on the spot.The challenge will be featured and filmed for the Food Network. It will test the idea of eating locally and bring awareness and accountability.

As an example I prepared this salad today. It would NOT...I repeat NOT be part of what I would be able to eat if I were on the 100-Mile Diet. I made it specifically to show you what would be a possibility and what would not.

1) Rice would not be allowed because ir does not grow within 100-miles or 160 km from my home here in the interior of British Columbia. As far as I know rice is not even grown in Canada. Wild rice is but not within 100-Miles of my home.

2) We do have pine nuts (from the white pine, but they would be hard to accumulate or find) Maybe I would have to substitute hazelnuts or pecans from Gellatly Bay Nut Farm.

3) Grape leaves from an abundance of vineyards...yes (would have to find an organic producer)

4) Raisins (we live in wine country but we would have to allow the grapes to dry on the vines and pick our own)

5) The herbs are grown in our local neighbourhoods....yes

6) Feta cheese is local too from Carmelli's Goat Cheese farm.

7) We have local organic chickens so we could make our own chicken stock.

8) No lemons or peppercorns for pepper. Can I live without lemons? What about salt?

9) No olive oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil produced in this area to cook the onions; maybe I could use butter

9) If all else fails once again we do live in wine country. Red or white?

As you can see it is not all that easy to eat only local foods. The purpose of the experiment is to make consumers more aware and attempt to eat locally to support your own economy as well as lobbying for global change.

You can join the challenge too!!!!It’s not too late!! Maybe it's not feasible to take on the challenge for the full 100 days. Perhaps you could custom fit the challenge to your suit your own lifestyle. It is certainly easier to adhere to this lifestyle during the growing season. Start by eating 50 percent local food and bump it up to 75 percent after a while. Start small and try it for a month or a week. Perhaps have just one dinner or have a potluck with friends, and make sure to let Alisa and James know what you plan to do.

You can rise to the challenge no matter what country or region you live in. I challenge you!!!! I will attempt to eat only local foods produced within a hundred mile radius of my home and will let you know of my own successes and failures. I can tell you that this pledge is broken already...do we have cocoa or coffee beans or tea leaves growing any where near here!!!!!!!!!!!! What about wheat for flour? We grow corn, but is there a mill where the flour could be ground? If we brought all of these things into our area then what about the import and export of goods and the economy of other regions worldwide? It certainly is something to think about!!! Plus I need to do a lot more research on local avenues.

In the meantime here is the (50%) 100-Mile Diet recipe for Dolmades Salad. To adhere strictly to the 100-Mile diet is not an easy feat that's for sure. Alisa and James have to be admired for their challenging year. What they did do is raise awareness for some key issues that are important to sustain our planet and start people thinking about consumerism, sustainable diets and global challenges. The challenge would be to perhaps even try one meal with using only local ingredients. I'd be interested to see what people think.

But on to the recipe.... if you love dolmades as much as I do you will love this salad!!!! All the flavours are there!!!

**Dolmas Salad**

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (white and pale parts only)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups long grain rice
2-1/2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 cup sliced preserved grape leaves (reserve 1/4 cup brine)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup grated feta cheese
1 lemon, rinsed and quartered

In a 4 - 6 quart pan over medium heat, stir pine nuts and 1/4 cup green onions in oil until nuts brown and onions are limp, about 5 minutes.

Stir in rice, chicken broth, grape leaves and reserved 1/4 cup brine, lemon juice, raisins (if using), and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender to bite, 30 - 35 minutes.

Fluff rice mixture with a fork, stir in parsley, dill, and remaining 1/4 cup green onions. Allow to cool a little, Mix in feta cheese.

Mound salad on a platter and garnish with lemon quarters if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 - 6 servings

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I admire people that are so commited in what they believe in. I would most probably be able to stick to that diet as I am living in the middle of a very diverse farming area. If that does not work...I also live in the middle of the Cape Winelands..

    Your salad looks wonderful, Val!I could se a picture in my mind with you and the barbecue tongs.

  2. 100-mile challenge - that would be too easy for someone who has their own garden!!! i must admit, it's always been important to me to eat locally, but it is not hard to do this here in Hania!

  3. I try! Lord knows I try. I'm closer to 200 or 300 miles. :\

    At least I'm close to the ocean and farmlands (and my garden), but most of the meat I eat comes from a couple counties over.

  4. If I really wanted too, I probably could but love too much my lemons. I don't want to cook without lemons. Live would be boring in my kitchen. I could survive but the food would not be what my tastebuds are used too. Great post.

  5. AnonymousJune 06, 2008

    It's a beautiful salad and that's quite the challenge...luckily I live in a ag area that grows everything.

  6. A very creative dish Val...good use of leftover ingredients lying about. That challenge sounds interesting. At least it raises awareness about local producers and ingredients.

  7. Hey Val, this proves how creative you are. I would never have thought to use brined vine leaves in a salad but you have made a lovely combination of ingredients. I have heard about the 100-Mile Diet and if I attempted to follow it the only thing we get in this range would be only some vegetables and grapes. I tried the link you have given but it does not work.

  8. Thanks for all your comments guys. I think it would be very difficult to adhere to an entirely local diet. No pepper,no salt, no flour for making bread( who grows wheat within 100 miles of here)..maybe pea flour:D Sugar from beets perhaps, but we do have honey instead. We also have lots of ginseng and echinacea.

  9. This is something I've been looking at, too, lately. It's an interesting quandary, though, because if we were truly committed to the 100 mile thing, wouldn't our agriculture begin to change? I mean, you could have rape fields (for canola oil) or maybe even some types of olives, if you have vineyards. Or corn oil?

    There's also now questions about whether it's better to stay local or to avoid all cow products or both. And as a friend of mine from the slow food movement said recently, (well Voltaire said it): "Best is the enemy of good."

    You're doing a great job of posting awareness of this issue, though. Thank you!

  10. First off, the dish is very creative, vine leaves streaked through the salad sounds neat.

    As for the challenge...good luck in Ontario. One look at Foodland Ontario's site and I'd be eating rhubarb day in & day out...ick!

  11. Sometimes I feel really lucky to be in California, we have everything so close!

  12. I love the idea of the 100 mile diet and have looked into all of it before. I have such young children that I would hate to eliminate certain things from their diet! During the winter months it is definitely better for us but now is really hard.

    Love this recipe too and the pictures look delicious!

  13. I am enjoying all of these vine leaf dishes. This one has a lot of my favorite flavours in it. The 100 mile diet challenge sounds interesting. I think the hardest past might actually finding out where all of the food comes from...

  14. Wow, this is one inspired dish! I just love it. I will have to pass on the challenge I am afraid. I simply can't give up foods like these.

  15. Hey Valli!!! I read about your wild rice dilemma... it's acually native to Canada!! Check it out:

    Wild rice was a staple food for Native Americans, and it is now grown widely as a field crop in North America. Wild rice is the only cereal crop that is native to Canada.

    As far as I can tell, it's grown in Ontario and Manitoba... not too sure about BC!

  16. And apparently I don't read well... you obviously knew about the wild rice!! Sorry bout that!

  17. That's a very creative and tasty-looking dish, Val. Wouldn't it be great if we all could get everything we need locally. I'm afraid if I tried the 100 Mile Diet, I'd starve! ;)

  18. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    It's hard to eat completely local. I find that it isn't the exotic items (grape leaves in a jar or mangoes) that I'd miss, but the pantry staples I'm so used to working with like brown rice, prepared pasta, sugar, olive oil, and flour [though I think we could find local four if we looked hard enough]. And I'm not sure I could be a nice person without coffee!

  19. Hola Val :D. For me, I guess it would be quite easy to join this 100 miles diet because nearly all products we eat at home are local grown: veggies, fruits, rice, meat... But then bananas, coffee, avocados... maybe another time
    ;-). I'm getting ready to pick up my own garlics!!!!!

  20. A VERY cool dish, Val! Loving the deconstructed dolmades :)

  21. What an inspiring dish Val and that is some challenge too!!

    Rosie x

  22. It's hard to get food within a 100 miles. Most of our produce at the moment is coming from the Rio Grande (over 800 miles away). But I have basil coming out the kazoo!
    This is one very beautiful dolma Salad and I do find local cheeses at two of the grocery stores in town.

  23. Great dish Val!

    I read about this challenge a wee while ago - I'd love to be able to do it, but some things would be so hard to give up (rice!!!) And so many of my spices... On the plus side, when I was looking into it I did find a flour producer - so at least I'd still be able to eat bread and pasta :D

  24. Wow… sounds great!! Your diet recipe must be very yummy.


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