local-kiwi-alien

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Pillow Talk

I have mentioned a few times before that my M-in-law stored items of food in pillow cases under her bed.  Well, we/I still use a clean cotton pillow case for storing but I don't hide it away under my bed.

She lived in a tiny house, under ours in fact, with one window onto the street below, one onto the courtyard and an almost below ground level window which looked out to her daughter's house next door.  From this window she would hand plates, glasses, cutlery and food when we were having family gatherings and eating in the vine covered yard, and observe the goings-on of the extended family.



My sister-in-law now lives, by herself, in this house, have given her own next door to the youngest son when he married.

It is three rooms, no corridors, no passages, just three rooms, kitchen, living room, bedroom, all about the size of a sardine can.  My m-in-law used the loo out in the yard but there is a bathroom inside the house, up a few steps, no window, no air or light.



For my m-in-law it was more than enough, luxury, a house of her own and a far cry from the house where she grew up, the same size but housing a family of seven, with ceilings made of branches, and a toilet but no shower or bath, in the corner of the goat pen.

She had few possessions and the small carved wardrobe in the bedroom held the shirts and a suit of my father-in-law and her two black best dresses.  The rest of her clothes hung on pegs behind the kitchen door.  The heavy wooden dresser in the bedroom held their underwear, a few woollens , an assortment of crocheted doilies, a few pillow cases, sheets and a couple of towels.  The middle shelves of the dresser were behind a glass door and there she kept a few china cups and plates.  On top of the dresser was a china dog sitting on a crocheted doily and a vase which often had a 'bouquet' of green branches from the sweet smelling bush which grew in the yard.

Her dowry of mats made on the loom, bed coverings, heavy white cotton sheets and towels were kept outside in a trunk stored in the 'little room', a shed called in greek the 'kamaraki'.

The middle room held a table and chairs an oil burning heater and a divano-kassela which was a couch-come-single-bed with space underneath  to store blankets.

There was no other storage space besides a few kitchen cupboards where she kept plates and glasses.  So the space under-the-bed was used to store any extras.


Hilopites, made in the summer with eggs and goats milk


A cotton pillow case kept the dust away from them but let them have air and her homemade hilopites (macaroni stlye noodles), trahana (a homemade sort of grain) and dried bunches of oregano lasted all the year without bugs or mould.  She also always had a good of supply of the twice baked bread which the Greeks love so much.  'Hard tack' we would call it.  The brick like pieces of bread are quickly run under the water tap before being eaten or dunked in a glass of milk.


Trahanas, made with milk and flour, dried and crumbled and usually made into a thick soup






A clean cotton pillowcase is excellent for storing herbs.  I don't store my pillowcases under the bed.  I  hang them from a set of shelves in the corner where  they get lots of air.  These are snails, closed up and hibernating, waiting to be cooked in the summer with tomatoes and onions. 



Sage and oregano.  When the oregano dries it falls from the stalks and after a month or so it accumulates at the bottom of the pillow case, can be scooped up and stored in an air-tight jar



A bunch of fresh dried oregano



12 comments:

  1. When visiting Greece a few years ago. I saw my aunt who now lives in the family home. It was tiny! I couldn't imagine living there with my family let alone a family with six children
    I guess we are very spoilt here in Australia
    And we really do have way too much stuff!

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    1. Yes their possessions were very few. Not much to throw out when yiayia passed away, except a trunk of very heavy cotton sheets and a blanket made of goat hair.

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  2. Recently I found photos of my granny's house in Belfast which I'd last seen in person in1959 (real estate for sale) and looked in wonder at what had been done by knocking down interior walls. The tiny house was now 'huge'. ~ Cathy

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    1. They slept huge families n tiny spaces back then. Very close families in all ways and seemed to be happy ones

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  3. In the days when I still made my own (Parma style) Hams, I would hang them from the beams in a cotton pillow case. It kept the flies off.

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    1. Wish we had a Parma ham to hang in a pillow case!

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  4. That is such an intersting post, i saw that small apartments many years ago in Greece and it reminded me of our parents houses that were also small at that times.

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    1. Apartments in Athens are still very small, Houses here are being built much larger now

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  5. I wondered what the shell like things were. Snails asleep. Absolutely amazing. Very interesting information Linda. My mother made muslin bags for this sort of thing in her pantry (no fridge) in the 1950s (but no snails though!).

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    1. Mmm now you've got me thinking. Muslim bags, of course. I think my grandmother used them for storage.

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  6. Fascinating. We really have no idea how spoiled we are, with tremendous amounts of space, time saving devices, and food whenever we want it. Interesting how you wrote of her not having many possessions. I think we have (at least here, in North America) turned into a generation of people who define themselves by the amount of things they have. We could all do with less. -Jenn

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    1. Rural Greeks are hoarders of rubbish in their yards. Anything that just might come in handy. Drives me mad.
      M-in-law really did not see what she could with more than one vase or a new pot when she still had three (very) old ones. If we gave her something she didn't see a use for then she gave it away

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