Tuesday 30 November 2010

time of sagittarius

It was Kyriako's birthday yesterday...........and Lydia's was on Friday (with a party on Saturday) That bright little butterfly was the life and soul of the party. She loved every minute, opening her presents, playing with her friends, blowing out the candles three times to her great amusement.  We sang 'Happy Birthday' in greek, english and chinese.  And her kindergarten teacher was there as well with her little Italian diva.  The teacher is married to an italian and has one daughter, Maria - a Doted Daughter.  I gave Kyriakos a smiling buddha with a sack of coins over his shoulder.  It is supposed to bring good luck and money.  I also made him an evil eye preventer - a head of garlic with a piece of fishing net decorated with pins, blue beads and a lucky fish.  We have one hanging over our front gate.  It is supposed to make visitors with evil in mind to shudder and retreat.  Kyrikos has his hanging in his boat - though just to keep away the bad luck presumably, bad People still have to pay their fare and he needs the fares!  Kyriakos also got a loaf of my homemade cheesy sourdough bread. Obviously a favoured son-in-law - but Yiannis too, of course.

Elli and Kyriakos had some bottles of 'chenin blanc' which is one of the wines we tasted in Margaret River and I liked it better than sauv blanc even.  This is just a cheap S African one but I told him to buy me a couple of bottles which hopefully he will remember to do so.  They come from the cheap german supermarket in Galatas.

This Friday it is Georgies birthday - and mine.  Ten days later it is Jamie's birthday and then his other Yia-yia -Nota.  I will be having a luncheon for the kids and my one friend that is left here, Jan.  Kostas will probably be roasting pork - fatty pig.  A party is not a party without a pig!

And it is the time for numerous name days - St Nick (Patron saint of sailors - and not Santa Claus) , St Barbara (whose icon is paraded through the streets of Poros), Spiros (patron saint of Kerkyra - Corfu to you). St Lucia - not a greek saint I think - but important in some countries culture.  Then there are other less well known like St Eletherios, St Stefanos (Good King  Wencelous once looked out on the feast of Steven....) Stelios, Katerina (Kathryn, 25 November), another St Anne, St Andrew, today 30 November and on and on until St Anthony on January 19. 

AND towards the end of December there is a Lunar elcipse and the Solstice.

Pomegranites.  Excellent for cleansing the blood so the greeks say.  The trees are laden with pomegranites around here and we have been given bags of them.  Last year I made pomegranite liqueur.  This year I am juicing them.  Along with mandarine and orange juice.  A bit of a chore getting the seeds out of the pomegranites but I do it.  ,We at least have clean blood.

We have had days and days of heavy rain the the garden is full of tall green......weeds.  At least it is green.  The front garden is full of wild sorrell and is beautiful.  Love the sorrell, it lasts all winter long and covers everything in a thick green blanket.  The back is a wild waste land - but that is Kosta's territory and I don't care.   Wild sorrel by the way is like a three leaf clover.  Spreads all over the place but has very shallow roots and you can pull it out by the handful very easily.

The grapefruit tree is full of huge grapefruit again, falling at the rate of a bout a dozen a day.  I have given a few away but no-one wants them.  And they don't last long.  The compost is full of rotting grapefruit, the table outside is covered with grapefruit and I have a pile on the bench and more in the fridge.  I will make a few jars of marmelade but not many people want that either. I tried juicing them but it makes a very sour juice even if mixed with other fruit.

I have just been talking to my friend Jan.  She and Tracy took a three legged dog called Jack to the airport last night.  He was supposed to go by boat but dock workers have closed the ports for over a week now and are joined by everyone else today on a general strike.  No news on the TV today...yeh!!!  Nothing depressing to hear,  The channel I'm watching seems to have marathon cooking programmes instead.

Anyway, the PAWs people (Poros animal Welfare) often send stray dogs to England or Germany.  They are animal lovers over there.  Apparently in England there is a greek stray dog association and they get together and have outings and such - so the dogs can get together and speak greek, says Jan.

And last night we were given 2, 17 kilo tins of our OWN olive oil.  The people who own the land next to ours up by Poseidons temple picked their olives and then said they would pick ours too!  We went up and had a look at the trees.  Some had a lot of olives some had very few - about 28 olive trees I think.  I haven't been up there for years and it was very overgrown - but still would be a great place for a house if there was a decent road and we had a bit more money.  Always back to that.  So we have 2 tins of 'organic' oil. Nothing has been put on the trees for years except droppings from passing goats. Pity we can't send you some.  We'll be trying the Margaret River oil and the Dukkah on my birthday.  But that oil does have a very light colour.  It will be interesting to taste it.  This local oil is thick and almost greenish.

They got four tins of oil from our olive trees - the deal is that if someone else picks your olives you get half the oil.  Not a bad plan I think. With the tin of oil we got from Kostas sister, Dina, we should have enough till next season. I picked a big jar of fat olives from the olive tree I have in a pot by the door.  These I have pickled in vinegar.  It is a very fruitful little tree.

Now, have to get back to cooking.  Bean soup today.  K is away getting his hair cut, thank goodness so I have some time to 'muck around'.  But I have been told that the food had better be tasty today.  He ate  toasties for tea last night and hated it.  He won't eat bean soup (fassolatha) in the evening (says it is too hard on his stomach - roast pig would be lighter!) so I have to make him spaghetti with macaroni sauce as well.  Fortunately I don't particularly like either  and I had my pomegranite juice for breakfast so maybe I won't be putting on any kilos today.  Yesterday by the way he had fish soup for lunch so he wasn't exactly starving.  But he had been drinking all the day before and was still recovering so probably thought he needed special attention.  He had another of those 'viruses' he suffers from now and again. Just put another half glass of oil in the soup and  thought it was great.  whew.  Eaten with feta cheese, salted olives and salted sardines, of course.  The spaghetti tonight will be topped with a grated white sheeps cheese called mizithra.  It is hard and sharp and salty and the greeks love it on their macaroni - which has been tossed in smoking olive oil.  Now you know where our weight comes from.  Salads are NOT food and neither are sandwiches.  The spaghetti by the way is the long fat version with a hole down the middle - usually used for pastitcio - macaroni pie. 

Kostas has brought back with him a 5 litre plastic bottle of tsikoudia - also known as raki, tsipoura or grappa in Italy.  I'm sure they have differing versions all over the med.  It is made by distilling the leftovers from the grape pressing.  The albanians love it.  It is cheap and very strong.  All the men drink it here in the winter - not only the albies.  It has come into fashion and can be bought by the litre in plastic water bottles from the grocer.  They eat hard roasted chickpeas with it or walnuts and raisins.

I bought a few litres of cheap brandy from the grocer to top up last years liqueurs.

Next Sunday is the annual St Pauls Anglican Christmas bazzar in the Zappeion gardens in central Athens.  Hopefully he won't have 'contracted' another 'virus' and we will go in and be British for a day.  We went last year and I loved it.  Homemade chutneys, the Vicar in a kilt, glasses of wine or sherry for one euro, egg sandwiches and lots of white elephant stalls....and Irish coffee too.  Think I'll try one of those this year while I'm perusing the second hand book stall.  xx from me

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