About Us

Janelle Leatherwood, Owner of The Stuffed Grape Leaf Blog

Thank you for visiting "The Stuffed Grape Leaf."

Our story should have been years in the making, with many clues leading up to it, but in all honesty, the idea of the blog crept up on me so suddenly, I was taken quite by surprise.

The first clue that should have helped me to see this blog was meant to be has to do with the fact that I have always been drawn to my Armenian roots. My mother's parents are both Armenian, and I was lucky enough to have a father that claims to have been "adopted" into the Armenian family.

All throughout my life, I have enjoyed connecting with cousins, aunts and uncles around the world (literally!) who are related to me.  Sharing stories of family and traditions with these relatives has been one of the most rewarding highlights of my life.

The second clue that should have guided me to starting this blog is that I LOVE ARMENIAN FOOD.

For me, one of the most memorable parts of family gatherings over the years has always been about the food! Growing up, for Christmas and Easter, whether we were eating at my grandma's house or my great-aunt's house, you could count on a large coffee table being filled to the brim with savory appetizers. 

I also love mediterranean dishes in general and will be sharing some of my favorite recipes in this broader category as well. We won't get into a discussion here whether Armenian food is classified as a type of mediterranean food or not

Suffice it to say that when it comes to food prepared with a hearty dose of vegetables, rich flavors and incredible aromas, I'm all in! The Armenians might call it Paklava and the Greeks might call it Baklava, but really, when it comes to layers of cinnamon and walnut lined sheets of dough oozing with butter, it's ALL GOOD.

The third clue that should have guided me to the creation of this site is that my background in marketing and public relations has always propelled me toward starting my own website and watching it grow.

So, I had actually begun another website in a completely different niche, when I just wasn't feeling it.  I didn't feel any real purpose in what I was doing, which made it incredibly difficult to stand behind the blog and market it. 

After weeks of contemplating whether a change was necessary, I received an email from a distant Armenian cousin asking for help on family genealogy. When I began diving into my family roots again, I realized that Armenian family and culture was what I was truly passionate about. 

I knew the one thing that I could do to bring this community all together was the same thing that always brought a room full of Armenians together...AMAZING FOOD. 

Having grown up with a mom who always was (and is) an incredible cook, I have done my best to replicate the same level of tastiness in my own cooking.  The one thing I have NOT done is taken the time to carefully follow recipes, let alone replicate complicated Armenian recipes.  

More or less, I have been the one looking for shortcuts. After all, I'm a busy mom myself with four kids, and slaving away in the kitchen for hours is not usually possible.  

So this new blog is the motivation I needed to recreate as closely as possible the authentic heirloom recipes I grew up with.  

With the help of my mom and family, I'm going to take the time to document with photos and videos how each recipe is done so that my posterity can carry on the same food traditions I loved. (This is where the chorus from Fiddler on the Roof's  "Tradition" song begins playing.)

And another great thing about cooking Armenian food is PREPARING IT with other people.  

Whether stuffing meatballs with butter or rolling up Sarma, preparing Armenian food with loved ones gives us a chance to have conversations with one another and develop our family relationships.

I will still be tackling some recipes alone, and I will still be sharing some of my favorite shortcut meals, like the "Deconstructed Dolma Recipe" I created.  You will also find some "healthified" options for those times when you just can't bring yourself to add two cubes of butter to your pot of pilaf.

So look for these "new takes" as I progress through all the old recipes that I grew up with. I will also be inviting family and friends to contribute recipes to this blog as well. 

As a side note, you'll notice that there is a "Shop" on The Stuffed Grape Leaf.  In this section we will try to offer helpful kitchen tools to make Armenian cooking easier.

We will also offer some fun gift items with funny sayings geared toward Armenians.  The store is one way that we can help pay for the cost of running this blog and we hope it is fun and useful to you as well. I am hoping to add Armenian pantry items to the shop at a very affordable price, so stay tuned!

All in all, I couldn't be more excited to begin this journey with you.  I am so grateful that I grew up with Armenian influences and for the Armenian blood that flows through me.

Thank you so much for joining me and becoming a part of my new food blogging family!

-Janelle Leatherwood