local-kiwi-alien

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Out and About

Out and about.  Just a little bit.  




Selfie time

My nephew and I met up at the supermarket where he is
the manager.  We were wearing copycat masks.  Not surprising
since it is his mother, my sister-in-law, who makes them.




This is a new brand which has just appeared.  They make cheaper cream and butter but also this strange stuff.  Different tasting cream cheese. Brie, camembert, Emmenthal, cheddar.  I should have bought some to try but I didn't


As usual there was a queue outside the chemist. Sometimes the wait can be half an hour.
We have two chemists on the island but most people come here.  They are cheerful and efficient.  They give us our flu jabs too.


An exotic from the supermarket.  I took a photo but didn't buy.  Lahmajoun.  A middle eastern delicacy sort of like a pizza with minced meat on top.  It is one of those delicacies which turn up at Xmas and are never seen again, not around here anyway


Our very minimal Christmas 'tree' in the main square.  This square at xmas is usually full of chairs and tables and screaming kids.  Last year there was a minature train and a huge blow-up Santa.
Next year, perhaps



Sunday, 27 December 2020

Xmas

 We had one of the best Christmas days ever though it was a lot of hard work.  Mountains of food and even though we had started preparation the night before we were still cooking side dishes and consulting lists till the last minute.  The yorskshire puds were the last to come out of the oven.  They were gulped down by everyone even though the recipe had to be severely tweaked because my scale decided to give up the ghost and 150 grams of flour turned into, I'm not sure how much, but far too much.  Something has to go wrong.  We forgot the garlic bread too darn it.  It stayed in the oven.


Santa Claus was here



He handed out all the presents with the help of two little elves


Pulling Xmas crackers


It was a warm and sunny day.  We had just had a load of firewood delivered and the gang formed a chain and it was all stacked by the back door


We ate inside and then played a game of trivial pursuit, greek version.  My team won.  I played with two of my grandchildren.  I  know all the oldie questions.  About movies starring Charlton Heston and Audrey Hepburn. The grandkids had never heard of them.  Who was the husband of Sophia Loren.  Strange questions really for a greek game.  But there were also general knowledge.  Where did the Aztecs live, who invented the telephone.  The grandkids know greek history, myths. chemistry and maths.  Together we covered all the bases.
There was  loads of laughter and no cheating.  Really, I didn't cheat this time!

After the game we all sat outside until the sun went in.

All the dishes got done, thanks girls once again.  Our leftovers were in the manageable range.  I had warned them all to bring  bowls with them.

A lovely family Christmas




 


Thursday, 24 December 2020

Xmas Eve on the Island

 It's still Christmas Eve here in Greece as I write this but Christmas Day has already dawned for my family in New Zealand and Australia.  They are having scorching hot weather and I could almost say the same for us.  These last few days have been wonderfully sunny and warm for the end of December. 







Down at Neorio some of the family went swimming.  
Crazy girls

 


Gingerbread men made by M who works with my daughter
They are simply awesome and she made them for the first time
Yes, that's Santa in a bathing suit


We went downtown to send a Christmas lunch across to a friend of mine who always spends Christmas Day with us.  She can't come over here so we sent lunch, and dinner tonight, over the waters to her on one of these little taxi boats


K did a mighty job with the piece of pork we sent across
It smelled so fantastic sitting in the back of the car it's a wonder I 
didn't just dive in and break off a chunk there and then.
There are potatoes somewhere in there too


Down the end of town.  The only people about were lining up outside the sticky-cake shop

Now we are preparing for a Xmas Eve drinks and nibbles with some of the family.

So far we are all healthy and having a merry time.  I hope the same applies to you wherever you are in the world.

Thank you Judy and Steve in England. Yes, we received your card in time to hang it up for Xmas. Hope you are having a Xmas day with your wonderful family. Loads of love. One day we shall meet again.

And a Huge shout out to Angela. I received another Xmas card today , from Australia. Amazing. My 4th card is from downunder. Efharisto para Poli.

Haroumeno Christouyena

Cheers to you all



Keep safe.  Have fun.  


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Greek Supermarket

 At this time of the year exotic goods appear and then disappear from our 'super'-market.  Here are some of the 'exotics' and some of the normal, for us, goods on the shelves


Our supermarket is one of a chain of greek markets.  Our island shop is much, much smaller than those found in the big city but much bigger than the grocery shops in our neighbourhoods where we often shop.

It is convenient to buy everything, meat included from one shop but traditional people, and that's most of the population here, will still go to one shop for the best cheese, to another where they have heard there is a fresh supply of greek potatoes and another  for their wine or raki which often comes out of a barrel, decantered into a plastic water bottle and sold by the kilo.





Frozen octopus and fish fillets.  K would never buy his octopus from  the supermarket but I may buy frozen fish now and again to make soup.  I just make sure it is greek and doesn't come from Argentina or India




Loukoumia.  Known to you , but never to us, as 'Turkish' delight.
That's a box of rose flavoured loukoumia.  These can be served to guests with a cup of greek coffee


And the exotic, not only peanut butter but also butter made from cashews and other nuts


Tis the season.  Tsoureki, sweet bread.  And underneath are boxes of those greek sweets that my husband made the other day, melomakarouna and kouraiethes


The norm.  All sorts of cheese pies and  spinach pies



This is a new one, frozen chicken gyros.  I don't think we will
be buying it any time soon but it's interesting to see someone has had the bright idea and it probably sells well in the city.   Our fast food souvlaki shops are still open and that's where we would go to buy a chicken souvlaki with pita bread and gyro




Monday, 21 December 2020

Cinnamon and Spice

 .Greek Christmas sweets, biscuits, cookies.  These are all being baked by my most traditional greek who now considers himself the expert.  I willingly handed the baking apron over to him years ago.  It makes him so happy to be able to give these handmade biscuits to friends and neighbours and anyone in mourning who cannot/should not do festive baking in the first year of bereavement.


Real men don't bake so he tells most people that I made them.  Pat on the back.  I work so hard!


He doesn't make them the same way as his mother did.  She used fragrant sheeps butter.  He studies the cooks and chefs on TV who are at this time all cooking pork and baking sweets on their shows.    We've spent so much money on packs of Lurpak it would have been cheaper, and easier, to buy them all from the bakery.



Kourabiethes
Almond biscuits/cookies made with lots of almonds and that butter
They are smothered in rose water and icing sugar.   You can't eat them in secret because you're sure to end up with your clothes covered in white icing sugar which sort of gives the game away



Melomakarouna
meaning honey makaroons
covered in honey syrup and crushed walnuts





Some of the family came up and made a batch of their own
Yummy bite sized cookies, covered in cinnamon and sugar.
That's Nels who made the cheesecake.  She doesn't need supervising so her Mum and me had a G&T


All hands on deck
Yiannis cracks the walnuts and almonds




The gang


And Poppi, who enjoys whatever she does, even setting the table.


All work and no play is just not on the cards for the Greek male


I still have only one Christmas card though I did hear from a friend that there's one for me at her house and she will give me one, so that's 3 cards at least, before Xmas



Sunday, 20 December 2020

Upkeep

 A house means a safe roof over your head, somewhere to shelter when there's rain or wind or snow or even too much sunshine.  Maintainence is an ongoing task and is often expensive.  Then there's the promise, when you need fast action, of 'tomorrow' which might mean  next week or next month.  Fortunately I am married to a handy man.  He can't do everything but always knows someone who is a 'mastora' of the trade and this person often owes him a favour so our problems get fixed fairly quickly.  The urgent ones anyway.


And naturally botherations come in threes.


This is a photo I have posted before of our kitchen window sill.  Look at the window behind it.  That's not a blurry photo.  It's double glazing gone wrong.  All the windows along one side have a problem.  Moisture has got in between the two panes of glass.  There is nothing we can do about it but change the whole line of windows.  And these are our windows with a view.  They have been like that for a few years because the expense is just too much.  We are getting used to our 'foggy' view.  At least our big balcony doors are not affected, yet.  

Solar heating.  For the second time in ten years we have had to replace our solar heating tank.  It has been leaking for months.  We half solved the problem by turning down the water pressure but the leak of course got worse and it was right over a broken roof tile where water mostly only came in when the rain and wind was gale force.  In fact the broken tile probably happened when they replaced the last tank.  As the leak got worse more water leaked into the house, down the wall, causing a nasty crack.  

The tank has now been replaced.  It cost what it cost plus a bottle of whiskey.  All our fixer-uppers get a drink and meze when they're finished.  Maybe that's another reason they all turn up so fast.  Their work may only take 5 minutes but they will spend 2 more hours drinking, eating with 'mine host'. discussing, debating and gossiping.

Our third problem was the roof tile/s.  We have had a cousin of his up on the roof several times.  He fixes one problem only to find another.  This time we are crossing our fingers.  The next storm will show us the result.  Drips or no drips?

Now we just need to repair the crack in the wall but that won't be till spring when  we will see whether it is surface damage or goes much deeper.



Nasty.












Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Birthday

 I celebrated my 68th birthday in the first week of December, the same day as my tallest grandson celebrated his 19th birthday.  Only I was on the island and grandson was in Athens.   



A cheesecake.  My favourite.  Made by my grandaughter.
And the cards, 2 birthday, one christmas.
The pottery turtle is a present.  It's for a plant but I can't imagine  putting dirt and grubs in it yet so it is still sitting on my chest of drawers.
I got all sorts of nice things, a visit from the family and lots of gin and tonic

I do so love that my grandchildren have grown up now and instead of me making up Treasure Hunts for them they make my birthday cake.


Turtle ready to blow out the sparklers




Not 'Silent Night' but 'Happy Birthday'


Doing much needed updates for grandparents not in-the-know when it comes to the techno stuff

Tall grandson turned up the next day on the one 'Flying Dolphin' (hydrofoil) still bringing people to the island and gave us the best of surprises.  He has decided its better to sit out the lockdown and enjoy Christmas on the island with family and friends.  




Monday, 14 December 2020

Xmas 2020

Christmas preparations are under way.  Presents and decorations are gathering dust, having been put up 3 weeks ago



This is the flower of Christmas.  A poinsettia with its gorgeous red leaves.  Known as an Alexandrino in greek.  This year I was given one for my birthday, a couple of weeks ago.

I kept it inside but it definitely didn't like the warm nights near the wood fire.  A lot of its leaves dried up and fell off.  Now I've put it outside but we are having a particulary cold wet spell and I'm a bit worried about it .  I may have to put it next to me on my desk where the warmth of the fire hardly reaches, shiver,  and it's near the window.

Every year my daughter and I try to keep them growing after the Christmas holdidays.  My daughter is more successful than I am.

They can grow well in this climate because there is one down the road from our old house which is the size of a tree and a friends mother has one for five years now and it's leaves turn red at Christmas just as they should.  That was another problem.  The leaves slowly turn green.  How do you get the red back again?



Home knitted gnomes meet coca-cola elves under the xmas tree.  The elves were part of a coca-cola campaign many, many years ago.  We got bundles of them because a nephew worked for the company.  



I always hang my birthday cards up with the Xmas cards.  This year there is 1 xmas card and two birthday cards.  Maybe the rest will arrive in February as has happened before, without a pandemic to slow the mail.

However, I did only send out 10 cards so I can't expect many can I!
The cards get fewer and fewer every year.  In fact I'm not sure what I'll do next year.  I haven't seen cards on sale here so I may have to remember to order some online in October.  Fat chance of me remembering that!

I have ready-strung cards from years gone-by so I'll just hang those, next year.






Mince pies cake pudding wine sauce
Mulled wine
Yule log
Brussel sprouts
Pate
Pointsettia
pohutakawa


Saturday, 12 December 2020

More From Home

 Just everyday stuff around here, until further notice. 

The kitchen window.


Trying to grow 2 avocado pips.  No sign of any roots yet.
Our celery, called selino, comes with leaves and stalks and roots.  I have now planted this one in a pot and I have put another bunch of celery roots in a container with water.  They grow fast and nearly always 'take'.  

Our selino is green and leafy and looks like parsley.  Sometimes the only way to tell the difference is to bite one of the leaves.

Celery, or selery here, are the big tall stalks which we know elsewhere


3 jars of pickled onions.  Slowly pickling in brine and honey




















Friday, 11 December 2020

The End

Christmas 2020

What else can go wrong this year?


Translation

It's a girl!!!












Monday, 7 December 2020

Housebound

 And here I am at home again


The first mince pies are baked and have mostly disappeared.  The first batch went across the waters to an english friend who is the only person near and dear to me who really appreciates these english traditions.


We have been given a big bag of avocados.  They were hard but I put them in a paper bag with an apple.  It works, they ripen fast. 
Yesterday I made guacamole for the first time.  I've eaten it before but never made it.   

It's very easy.  I chopped half a tomato, finely chopped an onion, squashed the avo a bit, added a bit of apple cider vinegar and chilli flakes called boukovo here.  No lime and no coriander (cilantro) because it is not available.  It was fresh and tangy with rice crackers.  


This open tiled space has not been clear of bits of wood and tile and brick and rusty iron for at least 5 years.  Our last load of wood was dumped on this space too.  The sons-in-law and daughter carried the wood up to our back door and stacked it and then one of them set to and cleared out the cache of  rubbish  treasures.  I got quite emotional when I saw those clear tiles.  There is still a lot more to be done but the it's a start







Saturday, 5 December 2020

Let Us Out

 


Translation..

Dear Santa,
This year all I want for Christmas is a cup of coffee,
At a cafeteria!

Thank you very much

Shops selling Xmas stuff can reopen on Monday but lockdown generally is extended till December 15th. 

I bet everything opens up after that. The shops are ready for a shot of cash and the shoppers are raring to fill their bags with Xmas cra...cheer





Thursday, 3 December 2020

The Blood Bank

 Our family donors..


All the older family members are regular donors even during the pandemic.  The mobile blood bank comes through here about every 3 months.


Here are 'our' three


My rays of sunshine
They can always find a reason to look on the bright side and have a bit of fun

Monday, 30 November 2020

At Home

At home, once again.  Once again I ask, where else would I be?



These are a couple of my pickled walnuts before I chucked them.  One of the problems of making unfamiliar recipes is that you don't know how they are supposed to taste.  These tasted terrible, to me.  Not very pickle-y and not salty nor tasty and definitely not delectable.  The contents of the jar went onto the compost.



Tahini.  We have always had a good selection of tahini in our supermarkets. Now we can buy tahini mixed with honey and  another with kakao, cocoa.

 Tahini is something that the greeks always ate and continue to do so, especially during orthodox fasting days of which there are many.  Anyone who might fast is fasting now, for 40 days before Christ-mas.  Our sometime neighbour, an elderly woman and very pious would fast on every day designated by the church.  During the fast she ate no eggs, meat, dairy products and fish only on days allowed.  Wednesdays and Fridays are strict fasting days, no oil permitted either and she would often tell us that she was preparing tahini soup, tahinosoupa,  to eat.  I never asked her, god bless her soul, how she prepared it though often wondered.  So I just did a google.

It looks as though the base of the soup is rice or pasta which is boiled.   The rice is boiled in lots of water so the mixture is sloppy like soup.  Tahini is mixed with lemon juice and added to the rice at the end of its cooking.  You can also add tomato paste but I bet she didn't. 

'Enjoy' with a handful of olives but no olive oil.



 



Not everyone is fasting. We make use of our wood stove which has an oven over the fire.  K cooks 'traditional' pork chops with lemon potatoes.

There's enough there for a couple of days. He always cooks quantities. 

'You never know who might drop by'

Even now