Thursday, 7 July 2022

Pease Pudding Cold

 Split pea purée, fava in Greece, is indeed very similar to the English please pudding. It can be eaten hot but is preferred cold. Around here it's mixed with oodles of olive oil and eaten with raw sliced onion.


I have made a small batch. Ours will be accompanied by a Greek salad and a few fried fish which K picked up from the kaïki on the waterfront this morning.



The split peas are washed before boiling. In years gone by I had to go through them carefully and remove sticks and stones. Now they seem to have perfected their pre-packaging cleaning system 


I boiled them slowly for around 40 minutes with a chopped onion. Then I whizzed them with the stick blender. A little salt and they are ready.


Well, 'almost' ready. First I had to stir in about half a wine glass of olive oil, only the best and freshest, and chop some onion.

In other areas they cooked with or accompanied by capers, caramelised onions, garlic, thyme or lemon juice.  I came across a Morrocan recipe which added paprika and cumin.  Both would go perfectly.  But not in this household.


Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Fiestas...no church involved

Summer is the time for lots of celebrating.  But then so is winter, spring and autumn here.


The Nemean Games took place over 24-26 June this year.  If you want to take part in an ancient athletic competition then make a note  for 2024.  The runners are grouped by age and gender and run, or walk, a 90 metre course. Competitors come from all over the world and anyone from 8 years to 'whatever' can enter.  There are no medals, just a fun day knowing you have run, barefoot, 'on the same earth where ancient feet ran some 2,300 years ago'.

For more info look up   neameangames.org 


Meanwhile on the little island down in the Cyclades called Schinousa the split pea festival was taking place.  Split peas in greek are called 'fava'.  The island is famous in Greece for its yellow split peas.  My traditional person loves them and they are an important part of our summer menu.  His mother used to make fava puree on days when she was making the weeks bread.  Slices of her bread, hot from the communal oven, dipped in the families fresh olive oil and smothered in fava was the order of the baking day.  And you needed it after carrying great heavy pans of bread to and from from the local bakery.  The sourdough had been rising since the previous evening and she got up well before dawn to knead the loaves.  When they had been formed and then left to rise it was the job of all the women to and children to haul them off to be baked and make sure they went into the big oven before they had over proofed.


Visitors to the  festival on Schinousa can sample the split peas of course along with wine.  This year everyone was encouraged to bring their own glass so no plastic glasses would pollute the environment. As at any greek festival there was music and dancing for anyone to join in.


You didn't think you'd get away without any religion did you?  July and August are just one religious festival after another especially on the islands.


June 24 - St John of the Fires (mid summer elsewhere)

June 28 - Agioi (Saints) Anargyroi

June 29 - Petros and Pavlos (Peter and Paul)

July 1 - Kosmas and Damianos

July 1 - One of our local churches dedicated to the Holy Belt has a small celebration

July 7 - Saint Kyriaki.  There's a fiesta on the nearby island of Angistri

July 17 - Saint Marina

July 20 - Profit Elijah.  Another small church near us has its fiesta

July 23 - Saint Pelargia

July 25 - One of the fiesta days of Saint Anne

July 26 - Saint Paraskevi.  Another small church near us.


And there are more fiestas to be sure.  Every island, town, village has its own Saint and its special fiesta.



Thursday, 30 June 2022

Family

Just carrying on a little from yesterday.  I'm lucky to be part of a close family even if we all live thousands of miles apart.  I know they have my back and our greek family will always be welcomed by their Kiwi and Australian relatives, and vice-versa.


My greek daughters get on just as well with their downunder cousins as they do with their greek cousins.  Amazing really.


We haven't seen any of the downunder family for the last few years and at last this year we will be having visitors.  Poros will be invaded  in September.  Now we just have to survive this summer heat.


We will be slaughtering vowels all over the island, laughing loudly and drinking lots of icy g and ts.


Thanks to you all for your mercy parcels.  Arnotts crackers, pineapple lumps, marmite and vegemite.  Years ago we got boxes of good wine brought over from Athens at Xmas, a present from Australia, NZ calendars to last us all through the year.  There's one hanging above the computer right now with a picture of NZ waterfalls.  T-shirts, hats, hoodies.  Everyone loves to show off in kiwi clothing.  Grandson George wears a Maori pendant round his neck, has done for about the last ten years.  All welcome presents.


Thanks Susi for your generous  parcels.  Thanks to cousin Jenny for the crossword magazines. 


 And so much help in times of need.  Occh, but you're a fine bunch.  I'll spit on you individually when I see you.


NZ cookery books, books set in Australia and NZ.  NZ Womens Weekly magazines.  On and on.


Just wanted to write another thank you.


 




Wednesday, 29 June 2022

An Attitude of Gratitude

I made a list.  I love lists.  I have shopping lists for the supermarket, another for online purchases (when the Universe is willing), a list of jobs for my grandchildren.  When grandkids hear that Nana 'has a list' they groan and hide.  

So here is another list.  A list to convince myself that all is well in my little world.  Here in my place, where the cicadas are thumping their tymbals in flights of deafening mating delight ( I thought they made the noise by rubbing their back legs together. Not so. Maybe that's crickets).  Where breezes are blowing and the sea is warming. 


 I can exchange books for free down in the town when I do my shopping and have the odd coffee.  So many books in Scandanvian but a dive into the back of the shelves always reveals some little gem in English.  

A good friend, the last of our little conclave of British expats which has dispersed over the years, provides me with household goods, furniture and lately bundles of excellent curtains which we really needed, from other departing expat residents.   I made our old curtains by hand and one curtain  never quite seemed to be the same level as its neighbour, they were faded and disintegrating.  A thousand thanks J.  And a thousand thanks for being a breath of english logic and humour in my life


Thanks for family on the island who care and help and gather around.  That's my daughters whom we are lucky to have so close, grandchildren, sons in law and the immediate and extended greek family.


A long suffering daughter who does all our taxes and paperwork and doesn't snap and grumble when I have to make sure for the umpteenth time that I really do understand

Thanks to myself for finally losing most of my extra weight and after two years being able to throw 2 huge bags of even huger clothes.  Thanks to my daughters who gave me the kick in the backside which got me walking and exercising. Still got more to lose. It's coming off, leaving bingo wings and wrinkles. Never mind. Don't care. Goes with the grey hair and liver spots.

Thanks to my ancestors, my parents, who handed me down good strong anglo-saxon and german genes.  We're a hardy lot.  


Thanks for free hospitals and subsidised medicine.  I've just been in one of those rural hospitals for a couple of days.  The nurses were so friendly, smiling, helpful.  I spit on them!!  I had a scrape and now I'm waiting for biopsy results but the gyno doc thinks I look peachy inside so I am not worrying.

One of my mottos is 'it's not worth worrying about things that are probably never going to happen'.  And I don't worry.  Though my blood pressure went through the roof when I did my first lot of tests, as it often does when I see those white coats, or in this case a green nurses uniform.  I do just panic a wee bit though I only admit that to myself.


We have a healthy diet full of beans and legumes and fresh fruit and vegetables.  I haven't had a glass of wine in weeks and not even the occasional cigarette.  I don't drink much in the summer.  In this heat alcohol just makes me hotter.


I have a phone for all my needs.  Thanks to the powers on high.  How did I forget to pack a book for the hospital.  How is that even possible.  Usually the book is the first thing that goes in the bag.  Must have been having one of those panic moments and a memory blank.  The kindle is on my phone though and so I'm grateful that I could read anyway though I seem to have spent most of the first day sleeping.  And I did remember my charger and earphones.  That's a sign of the times.  I have my whole life on my phone now.


Our cherry tomato plants, 2 of them, produced 6 excellent cherry tomatoes.  They were sweet and tasty.  One immediately curled up its toes and withered away.  5 tomatoes was just too much for the wee thing.  I'm nursing the other to strength and production.  Yesterday I cracked an egg into the soil and gave it a stir.  Cross fingers, though I may just see if I can buy another 2 or 3 plants.  The capsicums are producing peppers and the aubergine is strong and healthy and has flowers but no fruit yet.


And last, for now, but definitely not least was K's 50 year Navy reunion.  He helped organise it at the Navy school here on Poros where they graduated 50 years ago. K got a lot of praise for his 'brilliant' organisation . Happy man makes happy wife .  He met all his old mates and  they ate, drank, danced and no doubt talked non stop about the good old days in the Navy.  And guess what, I didn't have to attend with him.  Hooray .  I've heard all those stories over and over for 43 years.  So glad he enjoyed himself, so glad I did too, at home.


Thanks



Friday, 24 June 2022

Today and Yesterday

The heat wave is over till next time.  It wasn't too bad.  Two days of sweat.  This morning I was woken by a cool breeze and it's still blowing the curtains this evening.  Yesterday we had the fan going full blast in the bedroom for our siesta.  It was a slippery, steamy hour till we gave up and shuffled out to the terrace for an hour of a zombi like slump.  It took quite an effort to rise from my torpor long enough to make 2 glasses of very cold coffee.  


I make ice-cubes from strong filter coffee made in the cafetière.  And this year we have a frappé machine which instantly whips up the coffee, water and sugar into a few inches of coffee cream.  Almost as good as  our barista (local yokel) makes down at the cafe.

K was given the frappé  machine when one of the cafeterias revamped.  It sits on our bench, a big old thing but a quick buzz is all it needs.  

I really shouldn't write about this economic depression at all.  There are so many things we have to be thankful for.  


Lunch yesterday was a macaroni salad, mediterranean style.  I retrieved a block of tomato sauce from the freezer. It was made from last year's tomatoes with oregano, mint and basil and chopped capsicum. That defrosted almost instantly in the heat of the kitchen. I mixed that into the macaroni twists with chopped fresh tomato and cucumber. It would have been fine just like that but I mixed in a tin of tuna too. Overkill. Simple  is better. A piece of bread and a glass of water. We ate it outside where it was slightly cooler, though cool is not a word I would have used yesterday .


Outside in the road a water pipe had burst. Burst over a week ago. The entrance to next doors property was a sea of mud, the road had turned a slimy green. K had phoned and raised his voice to our local councillor, a friend who works for the municipality, a plumber who does work for the council and half a dozen others. So had all our neighbours. Well they finally came yesterday, dug up the road and I presume changed a pipe. The water was bubbling out of the tarseal like a fountain. Naturally they plugged their extension cord into our power plug. Could hardly say 'no'. 

The water boys are over worked rushing from one broken pipe to another.  That was a lot of water lost though through the long wait for repairs.


K also sorted out our phone bill. He doesn't raise his voice to the phone people because they record the conversation.

We have been receiving a double bill since February because when we replaced our router they said they'd never received back the old router and billed us for it . Finally two days ago they cut off our phone. 

We could only make emergency calls. That's the home phone, which we hardly use.

K thought it had been sorted by a previous call two months ago. Well, it's sorted now. They turned the phone back on an hour later and now I'm waiting to see when they take the extra 60 euros off our bill 

All our bills are online now and we have an app for most of them so we can see immediately what's happening.


K today changed over our washing machine. We inherited one from a cousin that died two years ago. The house has been very slowly emptied. The nephews who inherited it are selling it finally.  The washing machine is virtually new. Nothing like the 30 year old one the K had fixed and was  going to last  forever. This one is digital woohoo. And it has a 15 minute programme. How's that for economy. The shortest programme on the old washer was one and a half hours.

Today we picked up our monthly medicine. I take one capsule for atrial fibrillation. It's subsidised thank goodness but has increased in price. Used to cost 9 euros but is now 19. But the full cost is 69euros. Can't complain there. There's a huge difference between 19 and 69.

A couple of months ago we got a petrol subsidy of 50 euros. Not much but every little helps. Now we are waiting to see if we can get an electricity handout.  


Nope. Can't complain. Actually I can complain and do complain. I'm human. But I shouldn't.







Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Saving Money

 We got through the ten years of economic crisis when pensions were suddenly cut in half, austerity measures and emergency taxes cut wages even more  and captial controls stopped us from having free use of any money in the bank.  Now we've had a couple of years of a strengthening economic climate in Greece.  And BAM.  Here we go again.  Petrol costs have risen, as they have all over the world and the electricty  bill has doubled.  So, like everyone else, we are trying to reduce our use of electricty and of petrol.  


We already have solar heating for hot water so that cuts costs and during the winter we heat the house with a wood fire and do as much cooking on that as possible.  In the last month or so we had been slacking.  With no wood fire I had been using the oven for cooking and our bill seemed to be shooting out of control.  So, we are using a slow cooker for baking and wherever possible our little gas cooker for anything needing a longer boiling.  I dislike the gas cooker.  It's outside next to the bbq and in the middle of K's tools and treasures.  It also cooks, fries, at a much faster rate and I need to be careful and not wander away or it's burnt offerings for tea.


These are stuffed tomatoes in the slow cooker.  Same recipe but they taste so different.  There isn't that nice burnt taste of the tomato tops and everything is soft but without that colour of baked goods.  I've read lots of recipes.  Yes, I can bake bread in it, but I don't .  It's far cheaper to pick up a half kilo loaf for a euro.  Instead of cakes or biscuits I now make a cheap icecream with condensed milk and that keeps forever in the freezer.


Our slow cooker is very old but works fine.  We got it through a friend when some expats returned to England.

We were also given a microwave. Haven't used one in years but now it's used to bake/ cook potatoes and heat up leftovers, instead of a pot on the stove 

Today is the beginning of our first heatwave.  We won't be using the aircon unless absolutely necessary.  There are fans in every room.  When we leave the room we turn off the light and turn off the fan.  Reminds me of my father yelling, turn off the light, close the fridge door.

We have put up awnings front and back to keep the worst heat out of the rooms and sit outside naturally to catch any breeze.  It's still early in the summer so this heat wave is not as viscious as it will be later on.  Mornings are still relatively cool.  Till 10am.  Any serious work has to be done early or late.

We rarely go out to eat.  But the last two years of isolation meant that we had already got used to fewer outings and coffee on the waterfront is a special treat.  Used to be that we could eat very well for 15 euros a head, it's now more like 20-30 euros.  If we do go out it's for a jug of wine, a can of soda water to eke it out and a small meze, snack.  That's fine.  We can sit back and people watch of an evening and chat with friends and neighbours in the same situation. 

Any big celebrations are strictly family affairs and K does the cooking.  Thank goodness for a husband that likes to cook and loves to provide.

Petrol prices mean that we no longer use the car unless we have to get off the island to reach a hospital.  K rides his motor scooter and I my quad bike.  It's amazing what we can carry on these mechanical donkeys.

Life continues. As long as we are healthy, we are happy. Well that's the way I see it. 

Thursday, 16 June 2022

For Cat Lovers

 


Cute. Thanks Niki who posted it on our family group page. She noted that my father would have enjoyed it. Yes, he would. He was a cat lover. A cat toying with Australia...grin