Sunday, 30 June 2019

NZ Day


T-shirts galore.  And more

Half the family turned up for coffee in their New Zealand t-shirts today.  They are always a popular choice.




Elli's has a Silver Fern down one side, a well known (in NZ) symbol of the country



K was wearing his old and beloved rugby style T-shirt
That's the silver fern again with New Zealand written underneath





Poppi has three mosaic kiwis
The kiwi is our national symbol, a flightless bird with a long beak who lays a gigantic egg, and only comes out at night


Luli has the ever popular I 'heart' NZ



Son-in-law is wearing a t-shirt with the map of NZs 2 islands, North and South



Cool kiwis crossing Abbey Road



There we were with our NZ t-shirts and in came a 
catamaran flying a faded NZ flag

I went over to talk to them as they were tying up and asked them if they had sailed all the way from New Zealand.  One of them had, starting out 5 months ago.  They were obviously busy so I didn't hold them too long, especially after one of them asked if I was an Australian.






Saturday, 29 June 2019

NZ Lolly Cake

This refrigerator cake  is popular in New Zealand and made with ingredients I recognise by sight and taste.  The cake itself is not one I remember my mother making but it is very similar to one I make with my grandchildren.  We call it 'mosaic' here.

I made a greek/NZ version for grandson Dimitris, commonly known as Jamie (amongst other names!)





The original NZ version is made with eskimo lollies (sweets), a NZ classic.  I ate eskimo lollies when I was a child and I always chew my way through a packet ( biting the head off first) when I'm visiting.  They are like a chewy marshmallow in the shape of a little eskimo (probably not racially-correct sweets today but they are eons old, way before 'correctness' came into fashion).





I used chopped up marshmallow smurfs, or stroumfakia, as they are known here.  

My foolproof mix is -
Melt 120 grams of margarine (or butter)
with a tin of condensed milk
Melt the margarine slowly and stir till the condensed milk is well combined to make a thick sweet gooey mixture

Break up a packet and a half of biscuits.  NZers use malt biscuits.  We normally make it with 'Petite Beurre', a greek classic, but this time I used chocolate biscuits.  Some of them I just break up, some I whizz into crumbs.

Combine the two mixes and add a packet of your children's favourite chopped up lollies.  Maltesers would be good 

Some add walnuts or raisins.  Not popular in this family.





To be NZ-ly correct you should shape this into a log and roll it in coconut.  I just put it into a loaf tin and stuck it in the fridge for a couple of hours.


In a more adult version you would add a good slurp of liqueur or brandy.  Once I made brownies with chopped up mars bars.  You can imagine how sweet and sickly that was.  I didn't actually eat any and I'm not sure my daughter let her kids eat much either.

Although I have been reading recently the theory that sugar makes kids suddenly become hyperactive kangaroos is an urban myth.


Friday, 28 June 2019

Row Row Row Your Boat

You've heard of the Henley Rowing Regatta?  That's taking place next weekend on the river Thames near London.

This weekend  our local rowers, two grandchildren included are on their way to the Mytilene 'Regatta', row, row, rowing their boats to victory 


                                                        Team Poros


Our Poros rowers, ages  11-15, and coaches, on their way to Mytilene on the island of Lesvos for the Greek National Champs. 




  Ferry  boat from Poros to Piraeus, 2 1/2 hours.  A few hours wait in Piraeus (port of Athens) and...




..... on to the next boat.  Overnight to Lesvos





After a day of trials and course orientation, there's time for a visit to Ricky Raccoon and friends.  Their hotel has a small collection of animals, including the raccoon, emus, deer, a llama, pigs, goats and ducks.

They've now rowed their first races and are on to the quarter finals.

Go Poros Go



Thursday, 27 June 2019

Poros Island








Poros got a plug on the news the other day
An island fisherman now takes tourists on his fishing boat.  They anchor off shore at one of the little bays, swim, fish and eat  seafood

The words under the photos say, loosely translated,
'The Captain who teaches tourists to enjoy the sea, fishing and greek hospitality'






Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Beans Piaz

Black eyed peas
Fassolia piaz


Any sort of dried peas, soaked overnight and boiled till soft or use a tin of beans

Mix well with a lot of olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, finely chopped parsley, chopped onion, salt and pepper.  


I add vinegar and parsley, tasting till it has the right tang even mixing in a little hot mustard.  
This is one of my favourite summer salads.  

I think these beans needed a bit more boiling, their effects on the body were dramatic!


If you're looking for something more substantial you could add chopped tomato, olives, avocado, tuna, sliced green pepper, chopped celery, or  a handful of red kidney beans. You could even used lentils instead of beans.  Beware. Traditional greek people do not  like it this way!



Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Thanking the Saints

We had a near miss the other day.  K's eye was saved by a miracle.


He was putting up the shade-netting on the front of the house, helped by a friend and neighbour.  This year he had a new improved method.  The netting was supported by a tight wire across the middle to keep it from sagging.

And the wire snapped.  One of those horror stories you only see on TV.  The wire whipped back, went under his glasses, hit him in the corner of his eye and slammed into his nose.

Shock, horror.  Blood poured out of his nose and no one was sure whether the wire had actually gone into his eye.

Enough.  Thank those powers on high, besides a nose bleed and a blackened eye he was ok, just shaken.

Our nearest little church is dedicated to Agia (Saint) Paraskevi who is the protector of the eyes.  So, the next day we took a litre of olive oil to leave for the lighting of the oil lamps and went down to the church




The chairs are all stacked up to one side.  It probably won't be used till 25 July, the eve of the day dedicated to Saint Paraskevi.  There are candles and an honesty box to leave a few coins, the oil lamp and a cigarette lighter to light the lamp and candles.

K lights the lamp which will shine till the wick burns out


We each lit a candle thanking Saint Paraskevi for her intervention.
You never know

Elderly Vaso, our neighbour was down there a few days ago too lighting a candle.  She got sun stroke and just as she thought she was gasping her last breath she had a vision of the Saint and started to recover, so she says.

Quite a few people pop into this little church to light a candle and kiss her icon.  The church is always open.  You take one of the small brown beeswax candles and leave a few cents or a few euros in the box.  The candles are lit and placed in the tray of sand.  We snuffed ours out before we left.  Lit candles are dangerous at this time of the year.


Monday, 24 June 2019

23rd June

22nd June

All Saints
This used to be my name day.  Anyone not named after a Saint can celebrate their name day today.  However, I have a grandaughter named Lydia, the closest greek name to Linda, and just to make life easier for all of us I decided to have my name day on May 21st along with her.

23rd June

The observance of the birth day of St John the Baptist.  As you can see this has been lined up with midsummer and the summer solstice.  Very clever of the Orthodox church.
Besides the ringing of the bells and the church service it is also the day, or night

- We burn the May Day wreaths and
-  Leap over the flames of the bonfire


Time to burn the May Day wreaths on a big bonfire.  Time for the children and oldies who dare to leap over the flames.  Those who do will be free from fleas for the rest of the summer, so I was told 30 years ago when I first saw these traditions being carried out on a beach in Crete.

We used to build a bonfire in our neighbourhood, burn the wreaths and whatever big lumps of timber we could find and while the kids were leaping through the fire the adults were grilling souvlaki and drinking beers.  Now with the fire hazard we would need a permit and a fire engine at the ready, so the celebration for the whole island takes place down in one of the squares on the waterfront.



The grandaughters do a few traditonal dances


A fire is lit and the kids do still jump the flames much to their great delight


Sunday, 23 June 2019

Sardines

Sunday lunch
Tiny sardines fresh from the morning fishing boat
Cooked with oil and lemon juice, garlic and oregano





Served with


Boiled greens and zucchini
Dressed with oil and lemon juice






Saturday, 22 June 2019

Boogie Down


Running, rowing, tennis, football, windsurf, biking, swimming, theatrical productions.  It's amazing what is available on this small greek island.  Another activity in which the grandaughters take part  all year long is dancing.  They learn the dozens of different greek dances plus tango, waltz, rock and roll and even bollywood.

This week we all went to see one of the girls in her end of year presentation.  


The tinies opened the show
So cute.  One of them burst into tears and ran off to Mama for the first dance but was happy to come back in her ballet tutu for the second appearance




Maria is the dance teacher.  She was out there on the sidelines to help them remember the steps and stood in when one of the kids was missing a partner


The boys doing a very popular greek dance called the 'hasapiko', the butcher's dance





  • Here is our tall Poppi, second from the end on the right,  smile on her face, swinging it Bollywood style 


Friday, 21 June 2019

Bugs

21st June 2019
We heard our first cicada today.  
From now on there will be an increasingly deafening chorus from sun-up to sun-down.




This year was the Spring of the Daddy Longlegs.  They've all disappeared now but for a month or so they were all over the place.  To my huge amusement some people complained about our huge mosquitoes when they saw them.  Daddy Longlegs eat mosquitoes but are themselves harmless, just long legged




For a few weeks a couple of these would fly through the window as soon as I opened the shutters in the morning  and I'd have to rescue them from an upside position, balance them the right way up on the windowsill and disuade them from returning.  One crawled along the floor and disappeared under the couch before I could grab it.  I couldn't be bothered tipping up the heavy couch and left it to its fate.  2 days later it crawled out again, quite healthy but not too happy I'm sure.

Greeks call them 'golden beetles' and if you watched 'The Durrells' you would have seen the rose beetle man with a dozen of these tied on to his hat with a long piece of cotton.  Louisa paid him to set them free.

This year is also the year of the snail.   Dozens, nay hundreds of them in everyone's garden.  We'll be eating them on 26th July.

Last year we had an over abundance of grasshoppers and wasps but this summer, so far, touch wood, there are very few of either.  

We have seen a couple of huge spiders, inside the house.  One is somewhere behind the desk I'm sitting at now.  Sometimes I startle him and he scutles into hiding.  I don't mind as long he stays out of sight.  I've never seen such a huge spider, about the size of a walnut.  And there's another out on the verandah.  He spends his time weaving webs to catch flies and such so I don't mind him either.

In the cool of the evenings we watch the chameleons darting up and down the walls and watch the frogs jumping from one piece of  garden to the other.  They jump out of the way when I water in late afternoon, hiding behind pots and under denser foliage.

So far we are mosquito free as well.  K sprayed for mosquitoes a couple of times, some bio friendly spray he said.  It seems to have done the trick.  We can enjoy an evening drink without slapping ourselves or slapping on a layer of  'autun'.

Gerald Durrell would be in paradise here.



Thursday, 20 June 2019

Porosea

This one of Poros's annual sporting events, a multi sport get together comprising swimmimg, biking, running races, a triathlon and an *aquathlon.  

*To quote wikipedia
'The sport of aquathlon consists of a continuous two stage race involving swimming followed by running'.

All the family was involved naturally, the grandparents just as spectators and cheerers-on.  

Poros people are very athletic, you would think.  They certainly love their evening walks, old and young, usually in pairs or groups, walking for miles, chatting and scanning the verges for edible greens, herbs and wildflowers.

  During the  year *we host rowing events, canoe, kayak, water skiing champs, off road bike races, athletic get togethers, football matches, and this two day multi-sport contest.

* I re-discovered the italic button!





The swimming races and aquathlon took place at Russian Bay



Our 2 champs, one ran 10ks the other 5 ks.  They both got medals.  First in their age groups and another for being Poros champs.  A lot of athletes came from out-of-town





Lucky Duck.  He first turned up at a rowing event in someone's handbag, a forgotten Xmas present.   We got 2 firsts and a third then so now he appears at all our sporting events. 





After the medal ceremony the party began.  Free pasta for all those involved in the Porosea activities and some for us, just because we clapped so hard.  It was tasty with a light (sorry, lite) dill flavoured sauce


Those not running were volunteers, standing in the midday sun on *snake infested  roads handing out water and stopping all the traffic so runners and riders had a clear field

For a few hours all the roads on Poros were closed.  No cars or bikes could move till the all clear came.  People arriving on the island by boat had to wait a couple of hours for taxis and the car ferry closed down till the roads re-opened.  

*very few snakes here and its mainly a squashed one in the road that you see but rustling in dry grass along the sides of the road was a little unsettling for some





After the pasta party came the mass dancing along the main harbour road, a long line of local greek dancers.  ( Yesterday's video was the  music known as 'Zorba's Dance' )  Now that I've 'got' this video thing I'll make them a little longer.  I had an elderly (older than me) lady on one side pushing me and another with a hand in the middle of my back.  If I hadn't moved I would have ended head over bottom in the middle of the dancers.  The older they are the harder they push.  Useless trying to keep in front in a greek queue. 

 Then came a very loud live concert on the quay till the wee hours.
We stayed till midnight.  That was extreme sport as far as I'm concerned.  Can't stand loud music or crowds.  At midnight the streets were still full of families with small children, couples, groups, greeks and tourists strolling along the harbour road which was closed all night because of the dancing.  Impromptu dancing continued till the band stopped playing.  You cannot keep a greek in their seat once the rhythm starts beating.














Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Poros Dancing

Testing whether my own videos actually play when posted.

This one is taken after a Poros athletic event.

Blog post coming soon




Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Agiou Pnevmatos

Agiou Pnevmatos, The Holy Spirit

40 days after the Easter rising of Christ.  For forty days the greeting should have been, and once was, Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen) and the answer Alithos Anesti (Truly he is Risen) instead of Kalimera (Good Morning).  Now we can go back to Kalimera.  Only the priests and truly religious follow this practice now.

Orthodox Whit Monday, Agiou Pnevmatos, was yesterday, a public holiday.  Beautiful weather, long weekend, schools have just closed, I was surprised the island wasn't awash with visitors from the big city.  

There are plenty of people around, Greeks and tourists, walking up and down, but not enough to fray my nerves and send me heading for my quiet home in the hills.




Saturday was All Spirits Saturday when bowls of funeral wheat are taken to church to be blessed and then handed out, in paper bags with a plastic spoon, in remembrance of your dear beloved, gone but not forgotten,  The priest will go down to the cemetary and bless their graves for a few euros, or even none at all.





Monday, 17 June 2019

Dialysis


I had only heard the word 'kidney dialysis', didn't know what it all entailed, how life changing it is for those concerned until a few years ago when a friend of ours, out of the blue was diagnosed.  'Out of the blue' seems to be the norm.  After which there is a complete lifestyle change, a disruption of normal life routines, your name on a waiting list for a new kidney, if you're a suitable candidate, if one can be found which your body won't reject..........when your turn comes.

Now dialysis is a word that pops up regularly because a member of our extended family has been diagnosed with kidney problems.  The dialysis machine does the work of the kidneys when they are no longer able to clean all those wastes from your blood.

Three times a week this 85 year old woman, Eleni, the sister of my daughter's mother-in-law, must travel one and a half hours to the Clinic, spend 3 hours being hooked up to a dialysis machine and then one and a  half hours home again.  She's lucky to be part of a large close-knit family.  There is always someone to drive her there and back.  Otherwise she would have to take a seat in a small bus which takes all the local patients 3 times a week.  The bus will only take her and not her escort and the whole journey would be much longer and far more tiring.

Last Wednesday no-one else was available so I took Eleni and 80 year old Tasia, her sister, as escort.  It is summer, it was hot.  Winter will mean snow and rain and wind but they must go whatever the skies hurl at them. 

Eleni and Tasia are the maiden aunts who  brought up their siblings 9 children while the parents were working long hours in the tourist industry.  

Eleni made huge loaves of sourdough bread decorated with red eggs at easter, walnuts and almonds at Christmas.  She made the most amazing fried feta cheese flat bread, piles of it and gave it away to all the cousins and nephews and neices, and us too once we were part of the family.  She taught me how to roll and cook homemade pasta.  Every season had some home made speciality which all the family loved, loves still.  Tasia has goats and the easter sacrificial lamb was always one of hers.  Eggs?  I've never known hens to lay so many eggs.   Another 20 were 'forced' on me when I brought them home the other day.  Fresh eggs for our growing grandchildren.

The goats have now gone.  Tasia no longer has time to look after them.  Her main concern is her sister.  Eleni walks but unsteadily now.  Tasia is always at her elbow.  These are two strong and caring women.

Eleni's rose bushes are legend. She grows the biggest, most luscious blooms in every colour, looks after her garden as she looked after the nephews and nieces, and now the 'greats'.



The clinic is relatively new by the looks of it and naturally very clean.  There is a waiting room with soft chairs and coffee is offered for those waiting, without charge.  I didn't waste any time ordering an iced coffee (frapp√©).  The aircon was at a comfortable temperature and I could have spent 3 hours there reading and drinking coffee with ease




Clock watching

After an hour the previous lot of patients all trooped, shuffled downstairs.  Most of them in their 80's, as they told us later while discussing benefits and costs, all of them having dialysis for years, all cheerful, all ready for a chat.  All with a permanent tube in their arm or shoulder.

The treatment for those 85 and older is free and they get an amount to pay for their transport.  

They sat and waited for their bus, eating their toasted sandwich and drinking the orange juice provided by the staff.  One of them in a wheelchair, some just able to walk and some from towns even further away than ours.  


I brought a book with me but didn't even open it.  Greeks don't read and it seemed rude to sit and engross myself in this story* instead of talking to Tasia and trying to make those 3 hours less of a burden for her.   

 Next time I'll drop them off and go shopping.   

* Sol, the book is  Harry Mount's Odyssey
Ancient Greece in the footsteps of Odysseus.
By Harry Mount



Sunday, 16 June 2019

Outdoor viewing

The TV has been set up under the grapefruit tree. Now all we need is a nice tablecloth and a thick piece of canvas to protect it from the searing sun during the day.

This is our evening sitting area and it's open to the night sky, stars and tonight's full moon.


That's my iced coffee on the table. 

More time is spent talking than watching television in the summer but it does come in handy to see tennis and a bit of football.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Imam

This popular greek (mediterranean) dish comes with a turkish name.  Called simply 'Imam' by most, its full title is 'Imam Bayialdi', the Imam fainted, apparently when he saw how much olive oil his wife had used in the cooking.  Or maybe it was just so delicious he fell down in an ecstasy.

I have cut down on the olive oil at least by half by baking the aubergine instead of frying them.  Eggplant soak up olive oil like a sponge.






I  cut the aubergine (eggplant) in half, score it quite deeply with a knife and bake it in the oven for about half an hour till it is soft.  I just put them in a baking dish, no oil, no water or other liquid.

Then I scoop out the insides, keeping it to put in the filling.  When the aubergines are soft and have cooled a little it is easy to remove the inside flesh



Then into a pot go sliced onions, not diced, 2 or 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 or 3 big tomatoes diced, a few tablespoons of olive oil, chopped parsley, mint and basil, salt and pepper.  Add the chopped aubergine that you removed from each half.

Cook till the onions are soft but not browned, add extra tomato juice or water if it is a little dry


Here is where you can add feta cheese to make it just a little tastier.  Drizzle olive oil over each half aubergine, put crumbled feta in first and then fill up each little 'boat' with the onion and tomato mixture till they overflow and fill the dish with tomatoes and onions..

To keep it moist cover with slices of tomato.

Pour some more olive oil over the top of all this and then bake at 180oC for about half an hour.  I over cooked mine and they were a bit black on top just like my stuffed tomatoes.  This blackened crust just gives it more flavour.  That's my excuse anyway.


Imam - eggplants baked with tomatoes, onions and garlic

i've seen several greek cooking programmes lately where they have made these.

Each cook has a slight variation.

One drizzled balsamic vinegar over the shells before adding the feta.  Another added honey to the tomato sauce.  Adding a little sweetener of some kind cuts through the acid of the tomato.

One cook added raisins which I thought was a great idea but my traditional greek person who loves this dish would never eat it with raisins.  This same cook also served them with greek yoghurt.

They are always eaten with a big slice of feta cheese, bread and don't forget that glass of wine, after all red wine is very much part of the mediterranean diet.

If you don't like eggplant then try this recipe with zuchhini.  Same method.  Cut them in half, score them, bake till soft, hollow out and fill with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs etc

Housewives used to salt the eggplant and soak them in water for an hour to remove the bitterness.  Waste of time.  I've never done that and they have never been bitter.

Bon appetit
Kali Orexi
Enjoy your food!


An added note, nothing to do with eggplant.  Thunder has been rumbling around for over an hour and the sky is lit up with really bright lightening flashes.  The storm rumbled round and round us and finally the rain has started.  Not enough to really water the garden though.  It is beautiful and cool now and I have been standing on the terrace enjoying the show.  Methinks it will only be a short one before it rumbles on over towards Athens.






Sunday, 9 June 2019

Fresh Tomatoes

Summer in the northern hemisphere.  Fresh tomatoes are ripenng on the vine.  Soon there'll be a glut, we all hope.  Stuffed tomatoes and greek salad are the most popular dishes for our big tomatoes but this recipe comes in a close third.  

This is called Kayianas around here but elsewhere it is also known as Strapatsatha.  It's a very quick, simple meal to make and is fine eaten hot or cold, or luke warm as we prefer in this now mounting heat.

It is basically, only, eggs, feta and grated tomatoes with a little olive oil in the pan and lots of pepper.




I grate the tomatoes on a coarse grater.  It only takes a few minutes and they come out with juice and a few bits as well.  


Throw the skin in the compost.,  

You could also just chop a couple of tomatoes, skin and all

Put some oil in a frying pan.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes.

Add a large piece of feta, crumbling it into the tomatoes.  Let the feta heat up with the tomatoes.  It should melt a little and at least become soft.  Depends on your fets.


Beat the eggs with a fork, as though you are making scrambled eggs

Add the eggs to the tomato and feta and move it all around, on a low heat, till the eggs are cooked through.  Don't mix it too much or it will be watery.  Let it set on the bottom a little and then turn it all over

Serve.


Spoon it over a few pieces of toasted bread or have the bread separately.  I toast the bread and sprinkle with a little olive oil and dried oregano



Add lots of pepper

You could add bacon or ham or leftover yellow cheese from your area.  Whatever you have on hand

 - Ingredients for 2 hungry people

4 eggs
100-200 grams feta (we use more because we like the feta taste and it makes it creamier)
2 or 3 large tomatoes - depends on the tomatoes as to how many you need.  You want a nice thick bed of tomato before you add the rest of the ingredients
olive oil
salt and pepper

Kali Orexi






Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Instagram


I recently discovered Instagram and there's no holding me back.  I'm always reluctant to start something new but once I've begun, hold on to your horses!

My grandson downloaded the app and told me the basics and I was up and off.  I can go jogging with my neice in New Zealand, follow Christine's garden in the US, marvel at photos of NZ scenery, admire the work of fellow knitters and crocheters world wide.  It's fun.

Instagram is just that, instant.  You post a photo, add a few words and it's 'out there' for all your friends and family.   

I often post photos on Instagram when I am sitting at a cafeteria drinking coffee and am bored stiff listening to Greek men debating.

Sunday was a cafeteria day.  We went down early to vote, once again.  

After voting we crossed the road and sat at the 'Green chairs' right on the quay side.

You can see how bored I was by the number of photos I posted.  


Voted again this morning but only a repeat of the 
District elections.  In and out in 2 minutes and no gauntlet of last minute vote gatherers outside this time



Left my keys in the ignition while I went to vote.  No danger here of losing  my machine to a joy rider or bike robber.  Who would want it anyway?


Watching the antics as this 'Dream boat' charter came in to land.  Wouldn't like to have the boat next to them.  They came in sideways, the boys frantically putting out bolsters, the girls laughing and obviously enjoying yet another drink.  I obviously had nothing better to do than watch them.


I told him right from the start I wasn't going to feed him yet he decided to stay with us.  Sorry, pussy cat, all we've got are potato crisps




The yacht harbour is full.  A sure sign summer is here




Lots of activity in the harbour.  Another catamaran comes in, the car ferry has just passed and the big ferry from Athens is doing an extremely wide turn before backing in to the wharf


Pascal, our tireless waitress, ran back and forwards across the road with loaded trays before returning to tables of locals waving hands and calling 'Pascal, Pascal'.  She has endless patience.



Later on we watched greek tennis player Stephanos Tsitsipas get beaten by  Wawrinka.


You can find me on Instagram under the name

nana_linda_nz