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Turn Over a New Leaf

One sure fire sign that you are getting old is when New Year’s Day seems to come roughly six weeks after last New Year’s Day. Time used to pass more slowly, a phenomenon that can only be explained in light of the fact that up hill takes longer than down.

Where did all the time go for all the glorious things that I had planned for 2008? My “to do” list didn’t seem that long. But, there is still a mountain of things that I haven’t gotten around to yet.

Not surprisingly, last year’s list of New Year’s Resolutions is still stuck to the refrigerator underneath reminders for doctor’s appointments, children’s art work and other important documentation of the past year. It’s right underneath the invitation to a birthday party that we also forgot about.

I could just scratch out the part where is says “Resolutions for 2008” and pencil in 2009. After all, recycling is a noble endeavor and it isn’t as if I haven’t been making the same New Year’s resolutions over and over again for the past decade or so.

Each and every year I swear that the dawning of a new age will occur on January 1st. I will hence forth and ever after generally be a better human being by eating healthy and exercising more. I will be kinder and gentler to animals and small children and forever give up the fine art of procrastination.

I just haven’t got to it yet, maybe I will tomorrow.

In the mean time, things go on pretty much as they always have regardless of resolutions. I enjoy putting heavy cream in just about everything I eat, especially the food I eat late at night. Walking to the end of the drive way to get the mail is my main source of physical exertion and the cat and the children have all learned to give me a wide berth until I’ve had my third cup of coffee.

Some how, even with living without such stern resolve, I manage, for the most part, to not spend the majority of my days being fat and grumpy. I do, however, spend an inordinate amount of time being way behind schedule. There’s the rub of procrastination.

Two things that go hand in hand with my putting things off are rationalization and denial. With out them I could never justify my perpetual state of last minute frenzy.

First the rationalization: I tell myself that the reason that the kitchen still has primer paint on it instead of the lovely apple green semi-gloss that is waiting in the wings is that I have to de-crayon (for the eleventy-billionth time) and re-prime before I can put on the final coat.

Furthermore, I aught to just wait until the children are out of the crayon stage before moving ahead. This would only make sense if primer paint were easier to de-crayon than the special stain resistant semi-gloss sitting in the garage.

This is where denial comes in handy. I just pretend the facts aren’t as they are and go on to pretend like primer paint is the new fashion when company comes to call. But eventually I know I’ll find myself pulling a last minute all nighter and whatever company it is that is important enough to light a fire under my rear end will wonder why the fumes are so strong in the kitchen.

Yet, here I go again…this year will be different. This year I will forever banish putting things off. This year I’m going to turn over a new leaf. In fact, I’m going to get right on it. I’m going straight to the kitchen to turn over not just one leaf, but a whole passel of them. Quick like a bunny I’m going to whip up a batch of dolmades, stuffed grape leaves. I’ll get to the painting tomorrow.

GOAT CHEESE

DOLMADES:

1/3 cup golden raisins

Madeira wine (to soak the raisins)

3 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces goat cheese

1 egg, slightly beaten

A cup toasted pine nuts, chopped

25 brined grape leaves

Olive oil for brushing

Cover the raisins in the wine and allow to soak until reconstituted.

Once the raisins are sufficiently plump, drain the remaining liquid. In a food processor, process the cheeses and the raisins until smooth. Add the egg and pulse until evenly blended. Stir in the pine nuts.

Rinse and stem the grape leaves. Pat each one dry and lay out flat. Pipe or spoon roughly one tablespoon of the filling into the center of the grape leaf.

To roll the dolmades: fold the “stem” end up over the filling. Next, fold the “sides” in, one over the other. Finally, roll the up toward the top.

Place the dolmades seam side down in a baking dish that is lightly brushed with the olive oil; brush the tops of the dolmades with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until warm throughout. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Elizabeth Ogden is syndicated columnist and instructor in the culinary arts and can be contacted at emagogden@yahooo.com .