FYI Series: Hugh Hefner, a Puritan?

Englishman, William Bradford was born in the late 1500's. He was highly religious and left the Church of England (an institution that was not religious enough for him) to join the Separatists; a Puritan branch. 

In 1620, he set sail the Mayflower for the Americas, to Plymouth, and was one of the first Pilgrims to settle in the Americas. After the quick death of the first governor of Plymouth Colony, he was elected governor. 

The colony was considered to be one of the most efficient and well run colonies in the Americas. Bradford was a firm yet gentle governor. He ran a highly religious and puritan colony and was known to be kind to the Native Americans - who in turn helped the Pilgrims survive. His legacy continues today in form of a national holiday: Thanksgiving.

Bradford ensured his people lived a God fearing life, taking example from him. Adultery, drunkenness, games, and ungodly passion was not allowed in his colony. 

The colony continued to run smoothly and religiously even after Bradford's death. The colony's independence did not last long, but even so, the community of Plymouth and its families continued to live Puritan lives for centuries.

Perhaps the most well known descendant of Bradford was his grandson, many generations removed - the infamous yet not so Puritan, Hugh Hefner.

I guess what stuck there was the ability and know-how to run an efficient colony.

See a resemblance? 

**The FYI Series is meant to introduce historical context of pop-culture. Some of the stories have been proven by historians and some are still debated. I suggest taking these as a light read, as it is not meant to be a historical paper.**


Stuffed Grape Leaves

Variations of stuffed grape leaves can be found throughout the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas, and of course, Armenia. This recipe comes to my family from centuries of grandmothers and mothers teaching their daughters and daughter in-laws. You would commonly see this dish on the dining table, especially at formal dinners. 

It's inexpensive, healthy and vegan. The only portion that takes up your time is when you're wrapping the leaves - why not call on your friends and family to help out?


The Recipe 

Serves 8

  • 1.5 cups olive oil
  • 2 finely diced yellow onions
  • 1.5 cups of Calrose rice (not long grained rice)
  • 4 table spoons tomato paste
  • 4 table spoons of red pepper paste (can be found in Armenian or Middle Eastern markets)
  • 4 table spoons of pomegranate molasses (I recommend Sadaf brand from Lebanon)
  • 1 table spoon salt
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (product of Aleppo)
  • ¼ tsp of sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Bunch of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Jar of grape leaves (product of Fresno or Armenia)

The Directions

  • In large pot, sauté diced onions in olive oil
  • Add rice and stir together
  • Add tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, salt, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine
  • Check for taste
  • Add lemon juice
  • Over medium-low heat, cook for 15 mins, stirring every few mins
  • Turn off the heat and add chopped parsley and stir to combine
  • Let it cool


  • Rinse grape leaves under cold water
  • Gently open the leaf  placing shiny portion face down
  • Remove small stem
  • Add tea spoon of filling
  • Fold the tail in first, then the sides and gently roll secure
  • Line unrolled grape leaves at the bottom of a pot until fully covered
  • Gently place the wrapped grape leaves into the pot tightly next to each other
  • Add thinly slices of lemon on top and add another layer of unwrapped grape leaves
  • Add a plate on top, and atop the plate, add a weight to weigh down the plate
  • Slowly pour in room temperature water to the pot until it barely reaches the surface
  • Cook for 10 mins on medium-low heat
  • Taste and if  you prefer more tang, squeeze juice of one more lemon
  • Cook for another 10 mins

This dish is normally served as an appetizer, and is great at room temperate or cold.