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‘Never a Dolma Moment:’ BriarPatch offers virtual cooking class

Submitted to The Union
For Hether Frayer and her mom Judy, making dolmas is a family affair where multiple generations get involved. Here, Hether is joined by her daughters. Frayer will teach the class, "Never a Dolma Moment" for BriarPatch on July 28. To learn more and register, visit https://bit.ly/3yyrcgH
Submitted photo

BriarPatch Food Co-op welcomes back Hether Frayer for a virtual cooking class all about the art of dolma making on Thursday, July 28.

This time she will be joined by her mom, Judy Jonna, and together they will guide participants through the process of making Hether’s favorite Chaldean dish: dolmas.

Dolmas are a versatile dish with many variations found throughout Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in Turkey and Greece, and the Middle East. In this class, we’ll be making your choice of vegetarian or meat dolmas, as well as a classic stuffed Chaldean vegetable dish.

Hether is a first-generation Iraqi Chaldean-American. Her family originates from a small farming village about eight miles northeast of Mosul called Tel Keppe. Her dad was born in Baghdad, and like many other Chaldean families, their family immigrated to Detroit in the 1950s. Family and food are at the center of Chaldean culture.

“My grandma lived on a lake and every Sunday we’d all go over there. She’d make enough dolmas for everyone,” Hether recalled. And as grandma got older, Hether’s mom took over making the dolmas. “That’s when I started learning how to make it.”

The recipes have been adjusted and perfected over the years to fit the family’s tastes: a little more lemon, a little spicier, leaner meat.

“To me it’s a special occasion food,” Hether said. Not a weekday meal. “If someone asks me what I want for my birthday dinner, for me it’s going to be dolmas.”

In the class, students will learn to make delicious stuffed grape leaf dolmas as well as a traditional Chaldean stuffed vegetable dish, with meat and vegetarian variants. The recipes have been perfected by Frayer and her family over generations, resulting in a meal as fun to share as it is to make.
Submitted photo

What makes them so special?

“I guess it’s the way they taste,” laughed Judy. “I love the flavor and texture and all the variety. It’s like a meal in and of itself. It has rice, vegetables and protein.”

“If you forage your own grape leaves and make a vegetarian version it can be very cost effective,” said Hether.

Hether’s grandma would get up at 5 a.m. to take her wagon and forage for grape leaves. They remember the large stack she would end up with, which she would then clean, cook and put into jars. “I didn’t harvest my own grape leaves until 40,” admits Judy. But she has never used store-bought leaves.

“We always have fun when we’re cooking together,” Judy beamed. The mother-daughter duo confessed they had to stop while recording a video version of their lesson because they were laughing too hard. “It’s a perfect thing to do with family and friends.”

Making dolmas is a multi-step process for prepping, filling, and forming the food. And best of all, none of the steps are particularly difficult. It is also a versatile dish, Hether and Judy pointed out. Many ethnic groups eat them in diverse ways, and everyone has their own style.

“I’m making recipes that I learned from my mom, and she learned from her mom, and she learned from her mom,” Hether said.

“It’s like holding onto our heritage,” Judy added. “The food keeps it all together. I think it’s a good thing to carry on the food of our ancestors.”

Hether agreed. “It helps me stay connected with my Chaldean heritage. It feels important to pass these traditions to my kids.” Judy has four children, including Hether: two girls, youngest and oldest, with two boys in between. Hether has two children herself, ages 18 and 20.

Come sign up for Hether and Judy’s dynamic class and get ready to learn how to prepare vegetables for stuffing, make a filling and roll out dolmas to cook and serve.

The BriarPatch class is part of an ongoing series of cooking and beverage classes designed to build a stronger, more connected co-op community through the sharing and teaching of seasonal foods and international dishes. Class will be conducted via Zoom. Vegetarian options are also available. Participants will receive the ingredient list and recipes by email one week prior to the class date. As a Co-op Owner benefit, BriarPatch Owners will receive a $5 discount for their ingredients.

Source: BriarPatch


WHAT: Never a Dolma Moment

WHEN: 5 – 7 p.m., Thursday, July 28

WHERE: Online via Zoom

COST: $25 (Owners will receive a $5 store credit for ingredients)

TICKETS: https://bit.ly/3yyrcgH


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