Tells a story


Halibut Wrapped in Fresh Grape Leaves- Tehachapi

Posted on August 26, 2011 at 10:05 AM

When people hear that we bought a ranch in Tehachapi, the frequently asked question is "Do you have any cows or horses?" A typical ranch or a farm would have some farm animals, and maybe a pond with ducks, but what we have is a weedy field, an empty corral, a mobil home with a feral cat and her kitten, and an orchard that needs some serious pruning.  Where do you begin? That is the question.

View of the ranch from the orchard

I wanted to ask the Tehachapi  to bring their sheep for grazing our land.  But we missed the shepards by three days this year.  They move hundreds of sheep from one valley to another so you have to catch them while they are in your area. I have to call the shepard and book by January next year, and the idea of having farm animals will be something to think about after we finish building the studio and barn.  For the time being, if I want to see farm animals, there are plenty in Tehachapi, including Alpacas and Lamas, which are quite adorable.

The weeds will die when the cold weather sets in and beautiful wild flowers will bloom again in the spring. Patience is a good virtue.

The orchard


We have a double unit mobile home, so it's quite spacious. We just finished fixing the roof of the mobile home.  We had to evict a colony of bats but I plan to put a  nearby.  My neighbor Mike told me that it's good to have around because they eat mosquitoes, and some species pollinate fruit and seeds. I also learned that they are endangered because humans are taking away their habitat.

Sunset at the ranch

Besides the roof, we made a lot of repairs in August: the water system, the oven, and some of the broken windows. We ripped out the ugly purple carpet.  We still have the pink walls to deal with but that's nothing. Our son, Sakae, came to visit the ranch and helped us out for a few days.

Muscat  grapes 

In the morning, Sakae and I went for a walk down the country road. Sakae spotted a family of deer.  We went to the local Latin fusion restaurant,  so Sakae could get his Mexican fix before he goes back to Seattle.  In the evening, we barbecued the halibut, which I brought from LA.  I seasoned the fish with salt, pepper and olive oil and wrapped it in grape leaves from our land. It's a Greek tradition. I didn't have any capers so It's a wannabe Greek dish. I think this dish would look more impressive with whole fish wrapped in grape leaves but this one wasn't bad for a first try.  The grape leaves keep the meat moist and adds a hint of flavor. I served the fish with baked potato and a simple green salad.  I also barbecued some spareribs because I knew this wouldn't be enough for the boys.  

Blanched grape leaves.

Recipe for Grilled Halibut wrapped in Grape Leaves
Serves 2-3

1 pounds Halibut fillets, skinned, cut to make 4 pieces


Fresh-ground black pepper

8 large fresh grape leaves, blanched and dried, or brined grape leaves, drained and dried.

1 tablespoons cooking oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 cloves garlic, minced

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon capers, drained (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or other herbs of your choice

Light the grill or heat the broiler. Season the fish with salt and pepper and baste it with olive oil. Overlap two or three of the grape leaves and put a piece of the fish in the middle.  Fold the leaves to envelope the entire fish, so all the meat is covered. Brush some of the olive oil over the packet to seal the leaves and keep them from sticking to the grill. Repeat with the remaining fish, grape leaves, and oil, making eight packets in all.

Grill or broil the fish packets, turning once, until just done, about 8 minutes in all for 3/4-inch-thick fillets.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the garlic, lemon zest, capers, lemon juice, parsley, and  salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the sauce over the grape-leaf packets.

Categories: Tehachapi Ranch Life, Seafood

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