Wednesday 29 May 2019

Kolokythakia - zucchini in the pot

Tomatoes aren't the only thing Greeks stuff.  Besides tomatoes, aubergines, green peppers, onions  these zucchini are great.  But these zucchini aren't stuffed like a tomato and baked in the oven.  These are boiled in a pot and thickened with an egg and lemon sauce. 

Something different when you've eaten baked stuffed tomatoes once a week for three months.

The zucchini/kolokythakia/courgettes are hollowed out with an apple corer or a small teaspoon

The stuffing is similar to the other 'yemista', with or without minced beef.  Rice, onions and lots of herbs, mint, basil, parsley and even a little dill.  Raisins and pine nuts are a tasty addition if you're omitting the meat.

Make a 'cork' with the top of zucchini, paring away the sides for a snug fit and lay them down in a big shallow pot.  Cover them with water, add a little olive oil

Cover them with a plate to hold them down to stop them jiggling and losing their innards.  Mind you even if the stuffing all falls out they would make a good soup.  

To finish off thicken the whole pot with an egg and lemon sauce.

An egg and the juice of a couple of lemons are beaten well together and hot juice (not boiling ) is slowly added, slowly so it doesn't all curdle.  Mix the egg lemons and liquid back into the pot, swirl the pot around a bit and you've got a real dinkum greek meal in a pot.

You don't even need a greek salad.     Just add some feta cheese, a glass of wine, bread and dig in.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Voting Day

  Big election day today.  Election days are always on a Sunday.  Most greeks go back to their village, their roots, to vote.  Everyone goes back to their families, the island fills with Poros people from ages past.

Schools close down for a four day weekend,  No school on the Friday preceding and the Monday following.  Schools are used as polling booths but also it lets the teachers go home to vote.  If there are follow up elections then they'll be closed for 4 days the next weekend as well.

This time there will be multiple polls for the Euro-parliament, the District Council and for  the Municipality (The Mayor and Councillors).

We always come down early to avoid the crowds.  Longer lines begin to form when everyone comes out of church and comes down to vote and when the first boat and hydrofoil bring in locals from Athens and Piraeus.

All the candidates form up outside the polling station and there are 'camps' on both sides of the road where the two Mayoral candidates and their followers sit.  We are accosted by 'handshakers' from both sides, all hoping they'll get our vote.  

I slip in and out with a couple of 'yiasous' to both sides but K always gets caught and promises all and sundry that he'll vote for them.

Then can be a lot of nastiness if you're considered to be on the 'opposite' side especially in local elections.  Jobs have been lost.  One taverna owner refused to serve 'perceived'  backers of the other party.  Small town back stabbing at its worst and believe me there's a lot of that on this island.  This is not paradise at all.

There were 38 parties contesting for Euro-parliament seats, 38 big pieces of paper to sort through in the voting booth.  A real hassle.  I always slip the extra voting papers into my bag so I've got note paper for the next few years.  I'll have enough paper this time to last till the next elections in four years time!

17 year olds are voting for the first time and that includes my oldest grandson.  17 years old!  Soon he'll have to do his compulsory military service too.

After voting we went out for coffee of course and got stuck in long discussions.  Once the sun was over the yard arm some of us thought about having something a little stronger.  Years ago there was no alcohol served on election days to stop inter-party fisticuffs.
At cafeterias any alcohol  (back then it was all the craze to drink whisky) was served in coffee cups to fool authorities.  K's ouzo was served to him in a coffee cup today as a joke by his good friend and cafe owner.

No-one was fooled.

Results aren't in yet but it looks as though the ruling party has lost a lot of support.  Maybe we'll be having general elections soon too

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Olive Oil Cake

A cake I baked during Lent.  No eggs, no butter.  Does that mean that it's vegan?

Choc-Orange Olive Oil Cake

3/4 cup olive oil (you could use any vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups orange juice
zest from one orange
3 soup spoons vinegar - I used home made wine vinegar.  Any sort will do
6 soup spoons cocoa
3 1/2 cups self raising flour  (400 grams)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Put everything into a bowl, flour last of all, and beat well.

Tip the mixture into a greased cake tin.  I used the one with the hole in the middle.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 175oC for 40-45 minutes

Greek cakes don't usually have icing on the top.  My family dislikes the stuff.  Now and again I might add a syrup when it comes out of the oven, like lemon drizzle cake, but this cake is quite heavy and I wouldn't try it myself.

Sieve some icing sugar over the top and add some orange zest or maybe some orange slices to make it pretty, if you're that way inclined.

I forgot to take a photo.  You'll have to imagine a round chocolate  cake because I won't be making this again till Lent next year.

I'm only just starting to think about  making cakes again since Easter.  We had so many trays of sticky cakes, galaktobouriko (semalina and milk covered in filo pastry and dripping honey syrup!), baclava, easter cookies, tarts and hot cross buns, not to mention packets of pineapple lumps, cream filled eggs, real ginger nuts, cadbury eggs, greek chocolate eggs, you get the idea.

Saturday 18 May 2019


We are pretending it really is spring and doing some of the seasonal changeover chores that need to be done.  Last weekend we scrubbed half a dozen small rugs and hung them over the railings to drip.  We had two days of sunshine, just enough to get them all dry.  

Every autumn we put down carpets over the cold tiled floors and every spring they are taken up, cleaned and stored in plastic bags in the shed or under the bed.  We still have 2 big carpets to come up but I think it will be June before the weather settles enough to complete that job.

Just like the gypsies hanging their clothes over the bramble bushes

One little poppy in the back garden
I remembered that I had sprinkled seed heads from poppies in the front garden a few years ago.  None of those have sprouted so I was very happy to see this lone poppy.

Another poppy has opened. I have a clump!

They are growing everywhere now, beautifying many a rubbish heap

All our roses have masses of blooms and even more buds

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Back to Normal Transmission

Easter has come and gone, till next year.

We can relax at the 'green chairs' cafe, right beside the water and watch the line-up of  yachts come in for a few days of Poros experience

Still very early in the tourist season but there are a few yachts to watch and we admire the new electricity boxes for the boats.  Last year most of them were broken, fallen over or generally useless for connecting the yachts.  All the electricty and water supply boxes have been put upright, repaired and enclosed in heavy bars so they can't be damaged.  

We rarely see beggars on the island.  We get 'offerers' instead.
Always interesting to see what these people are touting.  They leave, in this case a key chain with blue eye and beads to keep off the evil eye, on the table along with a card to say how much they want you to 'offer' and explain why they are asking for money,

They go off and leave a card and key ring on each table.  If you want the key ring you pocket it and leave the money on the card which is collected a few minutes later.  Most of the cards say the 'offerer' is deaf and preferably dumb as well.  No questions asked, no hassle.

We often pick up little items like this key ring, a small torch, fan, cigarette lighter, all sorts of interesting little trinkets.  Cheap pleasure for us, a lucrative day out for them.

This card says he wants 2 euros but if we are nice people we'll leave more.  

I've just seen the last episode of the Durrells.  A real tear jerker, with loads of laughter, from me.  Totally inaccurate and absolutely entertaining.  I shall miss them

Alexis Georgoulis
 who plays Spiros is a very popular greek actor and
is a candidate for the radical left ruling party SYRIZA
in the European elections.  I'm sure he'll be voted in.  His is a  name known to all, all of those greeks who have no idea who to vote into the European Parliament.  

European elections are a puzzle.  
If it wasn't for the local elections on the same day the voting percentage would be well under 50%.  

Saturday 11 May 2019

Balcony Garden

These are photos of my daughters small balcony down in the maze of Poros town.  

One day there will be a  curtain of bougainvillia falling from the balcony, growing up to the roof terrace above

The balcony is long and narrow
There is just enough room for two chairs either side of the fold down table, enough room to sit and enjoy the sunset
Downstairs their aunt will be pottering about, watering a pot of basil or chasing a young grandson
On the road outside there will be the sounds of roaming children, and neighbours chatting on their own balconies or talking to friends passing underneath

Elli has the family 'green thumb' - which I missed

Brussel Sprouts!
Just a few

Pots of basil at the top of the steps outside her front door

The spiral staircase leads up to the roof terrace

And this is the view from the terrace above

Sunset over Poros harbour

Why don't they sit up here.  They do, as we did when we lived in the house, but it is so much easier after a long day to collapse on the balcony with a glass of wine and a bowl of olives.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

After Easter

May 1st is a holiday for most.  Trains, buses and shipping comes to a halt as workers go on strike and gather in central Athens to demonstrate for more wages, better working conditions and a little affluence after so much  austerity.

Families go on picnics, make May Day wreaths from the abundance of wild flowers, fly kites and have fun.  Day trippers came to Poros in hordes to enjoy the sunshiny day.

My traditional May Day wreath.  It's a long time since I've made one of these and forgot how hard they are to actually get them into the wreath shape.  You need a piece of wire to make a circle or an olive branch secured with a piece of wire.  I tried the branch from a lemon tree.  I almost got the shape but anyway the lemon leaves made a nice green background and I tied flowers onto it with bits of string.  Sort of thing Pooh and Piglet would have been proud of.

My celebration of Spring

Somewhere further down the waterfront they were giving away roses.  

Across from our harbourfront cafe an enterprising local taverna had spits of pork and lamb out on the roadside.  The smell was delectable but 'more meat?'.  No way

29th April, the celebration of our local Monastery.
Crowds gathered
Priests chanted
Sticky cakes and coffee were consumed

Sunday 5 May 2019

Easter Sunday

Meat , meat and more meat

But we don't want anyone  to leave our house hungry, says our Greek

A big lamb, around 17 kilos, a spit of kondosouvli (pieces of pork and chicken with green pepper, onion and tomato), a spit of pork (loin, leg, shoulder?  I don't know), and the long thin spit is offal wound with miles of intestine

Men watching meat

And testing

Women enjoying wine


The lamb is down
We've already filled up on pork, chicken and offal but we always find a wee space for lamb.  It was cooked to perfection, juicy and tasty.  There was just a lot of it!

The next generation is slowly taking over.  Yeh 

the last of the brain
Somehow the tail was uneaten, discovered during the clean-up when Sam took all the remaining meat off the bone.  Katy was a bit disappointed but probably had it cold for breakfast, with the offal soup. This NZer eats everything and she wasn't even brought up on a farm, where offal is often dish of the day.

Bones were shared out to neighbourhood dogs, the last bag of 'dog' meat went out the following Thursday.  Our freezer has a container marked 'easter lamb' and and we are finally allowed to eat peas and fish and greens and  lentils.  As someome suggested the fast should come after easter not before.  Everyone would be happy to avoid eggs and meat and cheese after the Easter Sunday feast

What the hell is this nasty piece of meat?  And how come it ended up on my plate?  I passed it on and he ate it.

A little dancing

And lots of dishwashing
Looks like they are actually enjoying themselves!

It was a wonderful day, lots of english speaking people, good NZ wine. The inlaws came across from the village of Galatas.  Neighbours popped in and out.  
 My nephew and neice came over from England.  They made my easter.  

We had three days packed with family affairs.  

Thursday 2 May 2019

More on Saturday

Our kiwi nephew and neice from London  arrived  late Saturday, just in time for a welcome drink on the waterfront.  The family gathered for the welcoming  Heineken, till they ran out so we tried to finish off the Fix (greek lager) as well.

Later it was still warm enough to sit outside on our own balcony and enjoy more drinks, ouzo and homemade Baileys.  The timer rang out at regular intervals reminding us to go inside and stir the easter soup, add the rice and whisk in the egg and lemon juice.

Baileys, a trial run, which was a huge success. Next time though I'll double the amount of whisky.  And hotcross buns, real hotcross buns, spicy, squishy.  The first I've tasted in over 40 years.  They were just as I remembered them!

In their suticases were cream filled easter eggs, pineapple lumps (only NZers can appreciate their taste), ginger nuts and alcohol naturally enough.

Simply marvellous.  The Easter Bunny blessed us this Pascal Season

At 11.30pm the family gathered along with a few hundred others for the receiving of the Holy Light brought via  Presidential jet from Jerusalem.

Just before midnight the first candle lit with the Holy flame (brought to Poros and surrounding islands by speed boat from the airport) appeared from inside the church and we all lit candles, the flames slowly lighting up the waterfront.

This year we attended the midnight mass at the church at the Navy Base.  We didn't actually go into the church, the flame came out with the priests and at exactly midnight the head priest called out 'Christ is Risen'.  Along the seafront the crowds  waved their candles, kissed each other and stood in awe as the Navy let off a shower of fireworks.

It was only half an hour later that we were pushing back through the  crowds of greek families all making for home and the easter soup, all carrying very carefully their candles with the Holy light.

Our first job on arriving home is to make a cross over the doorway with our candles .  Above our front door are ten black crosses from ten years of easter candles.

Then it was time to kick off shoes, open the  
 chilled NZ sauv blanc, serve the soup and enjoy the first of the Easter feast.

We lit tea lights and placed them in a metal lantern so the light burned for most of the night.  Un-fortunately, I forgot to blow out the  big candle on the table.  Fortunately, that also was in a metal container or we might have burnt more than the candle.  In the morning there was a big lump of candle wax on the table but the candle had extinguished itself without harm.

We didn't linger too long before going to bed.  Sunday is the big day