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Wow!  Welcome Spring with a Big Bad Bang!  Take away the cold weather and welcome the cheerful sunshine beams shining down on us.  What better way to celebrate the entrance of spring than to go for a nice 5k run and 5k walk with the husband, looking at all the spring flowers blooming in front of us.  We found ourselves pointing at all the newly sprouted flowers and leaves from just one day ago.  It’s wonderful to run every day and watch the changes within just a 24 hours time.  Even if you’re at the point of walking to your mailbox and back, it’s worth getting out there daily to see the changes right in front of your eyes.  Who knows, it might even encourage you to go a few extra steps a day – reach beyond what you think you can do and it will become easier and easier.

Through all of the pointing and awing, it took us 33mins to do 5k again.  We seem to be stuck in the 33 minute rut, but it could be worse so I’m not complaining.  Thanks to the increase in temperature, we were sweating it out like we were roughing it with Bob Harper on Biggest Loser in a last-chance workout.  Lol But if I think about it, every workout is a “last-chance workout” because working out is all about making your life longer, happier and more fulfilled.  But then again I love working it out and taking off sweat-filled exercise clothes at the end of the run – so maybe it’s just me that thinks everything is the same as Biggest Loser workouts.  Once you start you can’t stop…  (Or was that Pringles?)

For dinner I had prepared a nice Arab dinner of vegan dolmas.  Yum!  We love dolmas but this was my very first time making them at my house or anywhere else.  Our neighbors make them for special occasions (but then again she was brought up in Jordan and then in a Jordanian family in the US) and it takes her all day long to make enough for an army or three.  Thankfully the recipe I chose only made enough for about 4 people.  I took a few over to them before we had dinner and lets just say they were gone within minutes.  I was a little worried since I didn’t use the more traditional brown rice but rather millet.  Additionally I changed up some of the traditional fresh herbs used and changed the cooking process to match me.  Thankfully it worked out okay – even though I changed up so many things.

Thanks to the wonderful One Arab Vegan, I was able to make this wonderful dinner for my husband.  Arabic food is very different than the German-American food I was brought up with so it is a great personal achievement just to try this food.  I can’t wait to make it again for others to try and learn about this traditional entrée that is served all over the Middle East.  I did change this recipe to match what I had in the kitchen and I also changed the cooking process because I wanted to see if it would work.  The end result was freshly made dolmas, the leaves moist and the filling spiced to my German heritage with dill – nom nom nom.  It couldn’t have worked out better!  Thankfully it did and here’s how I did it.

Makes 20-30 or so individual leaves
1/2 a cup of dry millet (dry, not cooked)
1/3 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp dry dill
½ cup tomato, finely diced
½ c onion, finely diced
1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
20-30 vine leaves
3/4 c of vegetable stock (or more as needed to cover vines)
1.  Mix all the ingredients besides the vines and vegetable stock in a large bowl. 
2.  Take the vine leaves and rinse with water.  Place the leaves in a glass casserole dish and pour hot water over the leaves.  This takes the sodium out of the leaves.
3.  Fill each individual grape vine leaves at a time with about 1 tsp of mixture on each leaf.
4.  Tightly place the filled rolls in the rice cooker as you roll them up.  Hint:  I put a few broken leaves on the bottom of the rice cooker so that the dolmas wouldn’t stick. Nothing stuck, so I guess it worked out okay.
5.  Pour the vegetable broth over the rolled leaves just until it about covers every one.  This gives moisture to the dolmas and gives a bit more flavor to them all.
6.  Place the rice cooker on cook and let it go without paying too much attention.  Once the rice cooker starts to steam (since the stock will start to boil), turn off the rice cooker and do not lift the lid.  Let the dolmas steam in the cooker while you do other things.  We went for a run while we were waiting for them to complete steaming.  It worked beautifully.
7.  Take them out and enjoy warm or cold.  We were so hungry after getting home, we were eating them out of the rice cooker.  They are small so great mouth poppers after a long day out in the sunshine.  lol
Note:  If you want to know how to wrap these little gems, go ahead to the amazing One Arab Vegan Website for more details.