Tuesday 31 March 2020

Easy Pies

Mince pies, as in minced beef

I have been using this recipe with great success for years and years.  Can't remember where I first found it.  It's easy and always turns out scrumptiously.

Little minced beef tartlets.  I used to call them cornish pasties.  That's what I was trying to make.  They aren't cornish pasties of course but almost.


1/4 kilo minced meat (raw). You could use beef or pork or chicken 
I use beef because it is the only mince we can get here
1 big potato, grated
1 big onion chopped finely

Add salt and pepper.  Squish all that together really well.
Fill pastry squares.  Seal well and bake in a medium oven for about 30-40 minutes.  Till the pastry is nice and brown.  Eat.

No precooking the mince, no fuss and bother.

I usually make my own pastry.  Crazy pastry my friend Anna used to call it.  But these pies work really well with puff pastry, short pastry and I often use fyllo pastry because it is readily available here and cheap.  Try them all.

Crazy Pastry

- One packet, 250 grams, of margarine or butter, melted
or   I often use olive oil instead because it is what I always have on hand
- one tub, 200 grams, of yoghurt.  Sheep, cows, goats, thick or thin, low fat or full fat
- about 500 grams of self raising flour.  Keep adding flour till you have a nice elastic dough.
- salt
Mix that all together with a spoon, then get your hands in there and knead it a little till you get a smooth ball.
Leave 20 minutes and then roll out into small squares or circles.

Monday 30 March 2020


My poor traditional person had run out of tsipouro (raki/grappa) and was getting fidgety.  Fortunately after some phone calls to a trusted friend he has found a supply that is guaranteed to be  drinkable.  But when isn't it?  I am not sure of the answer to that but we do have a bottle on our shelves which apparently is not drinkable.  I am allowed to use it to make a sweet liqueur.  

In the photo he is taking possession of the liquid gold, both of them keeping their distance even though raki drinkers are not supposed to be at risk.  That also holds for garlic eaters and people who gargle with vinegar says the fake news going around at the moment.  Garlic producers in the north are very happy.  They have sold out of this years crop.

K only buys from distillers who have proved they know their product.  There are always phone calls and discussions before he makes his final choice.  Usually there is a bit of tasting as well but that is not possible at the moment.  The raki often comes from somewhere in the colder northern area of the country or an island with a reputation for good grapes and wine.  There is always a second cousin twice removed or the koumbaros (bestman) of a neighbour who gets a secret supply from the uncle of their extensive family.  It really is who you know if you want any quality service around here.

Saturday 28 March 2020

What to do

All my grandchildren are teenagers except the youngest and she's on the brink.  One family of four , 2 adults, 2 teenagers, live in our old house.  Two bedrooms, one kitchen , one balcony now roofed and turned into a sitting area.  One room leads into another, no hallways.  Try keeping four people cooped up in that with the 2 teens sharing a bedroom.  

My father-in-law built the house for K, his dowry, although it's the woman who is supposed to provide the house.  F-in-law and his 8 siblings were brought up in a 2 roomed house. One room a storehouse and kitchen with an open fire, the other a bedroom and room for the loom. The 8 children slept on blankets on the floor.  That's the way it was back then and he considered this house he built more than big enough for a family of 4.  Times have changed very fast and dramatically.  The good thing about this house is their roof terrace, up a narrow spiral open staircase, where they have a fantastic view of the island and the bay.  At least they will be able to go up there when the weather is better and let off some steam.

Meanwhile .....

Keeping the children amused in a small house
Cooking is one way to go, especially when both of them like meal making
Grandson is king of the tzatziki but here he is rolling out naan bread
He had already mixed the tzatziki and cooked the gyro for homemade souvlaki

Luli made the naan bread by hand
She is the one who kneaded all the dough for the large loaves of unleavened bread at the beginning of Lent.
Naan bread -
Equal parts of yoghurt and flour
I still haven't made mine but I'll be phoning her for the recipe and tips

Remember the game 'twister'.  
Bottoms up 
I won't tell you which is which

Other family lives next door to a deserted tennis court, away from the road and other human beings
Family exercise in the open 

And to end
here is a message from the NZ police

Friday 27 March 2020

Night on the Water

The Arion with its newly de-barnacled bottom was taken out on a fishing trip a few nights ago.  It was rather windy and not good for fishing but my grandaughter took some brilliant photos of  the sea at dusk.

Poros bay as the sun goes down over choppy waters

Thursday 26 March 2020

Bringing in the Boat in Days of Old

I, as usual, got ahead of myself and had written a couple of posts before virus time which were never published so I will post these over the next few days.  Photos and stories of the glorious olden days.

February 2020

Winter is the time the fishermen haul in their boats to scrub the barnacles of their (boats) bottoms, wash the decks and give them a lick of paint

The Arion is brought onto land by son-in-law and all his friends

Job well done.  The boat is safe.
Time to party

And a few weeks later the boat goes back into the water
Same place, same scenario,  but with a brightly painted, barnacle free boat

It's party time again

A little rain didn't stop the fun

I'm not allowed to say 'good fishing', that brings bad luck to a fisherman, so, as they say elsewhere,  'break a leg'

Wednesday 25 March 2020

25th March ... in unusual times

This used to be a day of celebration in Greece, with us taking lots of photos of  grandchildren laying wreaths, watching them marching in the local parade and cafeterias full of ouzo drinkers after the big event.  

Obviously none of that is happening this year, not even the ouzo drinking.  If the sun shines we may have a glass of wine on the balcony.  My traditional person put out the flag a few days ago.  Got to keep the Greek spirit flying.

Google honoured the Greek National day as it usually does by having the greek flag on their search page.

Today is the celebration of Greece's revolution against the Ottoman Turks, a resistance which continues to this day, 199 years later.  It is also a church fiesta, the Annunciation.

2021 is the 200th anniversary and Greece is preparing huge celebrations next year which will make up for the lack of them this year.  25th March marks the beginning of the struggle against the Turks, eventually leading to independance

There will be parades and fly-overs and a show of military strength,  music and dancing in the square, sticky cakes, traditional salt cod and garlic sauce by the ton and I am sure more ouzo drinking than is good for the nation's health

Traditional meal
fried salt cod, garlic sauce, beetroot, bulbs and leaves
oh, and wine

We had the national anthem playing as loud as possible this morning for all the neighbours to 'enjoy' and there was a fly-over from a couple of jets. 

Our celebration of independence has not been forgotten.

Tuesday 24 March 2020


Baking bread has become a hobby or necessity for many people now.  My dear traditional person tells me his facebook page is full of photos of other's efforts and all sorts of recipes, traditional and otherwise.

He has taken over the bread baking in this house.  I thought I would be pleased to be rid of that chore but his bread making has to follow exactly the recipe he is using and woe betide if I, his reluctant assisstant, offers a different idea.  So now I have to stand and watch his every move and hand over ingredients as he barks them out.  Yesterday I was told off because the water was in the wrong mug and it was cool and not warm.  Lord save my soul!!

However, I cannot complain about the result.  One kilo of flour, the peasant flour that we always order by the 25 kilo bag, makes three loaves of bread which at the moment will last us 3 days.  We seem to eat more bread now.  Is his bread tastier (no way is it better than mine) or is it just that eat more because we are milling around the kitchen a lot more

I attempted to make gingernuts.  A dismal show.
The ones on the right are small and far too soft.  The ones on the left are harder but need double the ginger.

Because we have no golden syrup I have to use runny honey instead and this alters the taste too.  I shall keep on trying though sacrificing a cup of good local honey on gingernuts grates a bit.

Monday 23 March 2020

'Civilised' Reactions

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent virus threat and have therefore raised their threat level from "Miffed" to "Peeved."  Soon, though, level may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross."
The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.
The virus has been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance."  The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's Get the Bastard."  They don't have any other levels.  This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its alert level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate."  Two more escalation levels remain:  "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and  "The barbie is cancelled."  So far, no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

This post is thanks to my cousin Jenny in NZ who is now in lockdown but is knitting cheerfully and like all of us reading, gardening and listening to music.  She tells me all ANZAC Day (Australian and NZ forces day), 25 April celebrations have been cancelled as have Greece's big national day celebrations and parades on 25th March.  Inevitable.

 The Olympic Games were postponed indefinitely by the Japanese today.  Inevitable.  I wonder what they will do with the Olympic flame handed over to them in Athens last Thursday.  That should be kept lit till the next opening ceremony, whenever.

No Easter celebrations this year but I bet in this house we will dye red eggs and make easter cookies.  Mustn't   forget the traditions.

Sunday 22 March 2020

Summer Figs

Yes, summer is a coming 

A rather blurry photo of the figs on the tree just up the road
The tree is full of fruit and most of it is hanging over the road.  I'm looking forward to stealing as many as possible, though the fig thieves last year were too quick for me.

I would go and take another photo but now I need a special permit to put out the rubbish, walk the dog (if we had one) or go for a walk.

More measures were announced this evening.  150 euro fine if we are outside without permission.  We can get a temporary permit though to walk the dog, or even go for a walk by sending an sms with our name and address.  We get a message in reply to show if stopped.  Sounds good to me.

Saturday 21 March 2020

Taking Out the Rubbish

I went for a walk along the top road yesterday as far as the rubbish bins.  Surprisingly I saw 4 people.  One was feeding his chooks.  He comes up every day to see his little menagerie.  One neighbour passed  on a motorbike on a little outing along the back road.   I also greeted, from 5 metres away, our neighbours who have just arrived from Athens to spend the quarantine on the island.

They blithely told me they had been shopping and told me they were going again tomorrow if I wanted anything.  Two supposedly intelligent people who are completely ignoring the 14 day isolation for those coming in from elsewhere, putting all those on the island and their elderly mother at risk.  I told them to keep their distance and no thanks we did not need anything from them!

No-one is allowed to cross to the island now unless they have a permit.   Should have been done a week ago.

View of the sea over the hills and gulleys
From the rubbish bins

There are very few wild flowers.  Spring seems to be late this year but I did find this patch of irises which come up in one corner every year

A bright and cheerful thistle

Looking down our little road

Friday 20 March 2020

Hundreds Run to Freedom

When we are finally all allowed out again ..

Freedom guys.
Lets get OUTTA here!
Open up those coffee shops, get that gyro turning, break out the ouzo, put on the music...... and grab those chickens, we gonna have a BBQ

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Commandos on Duty

I wrote this post a few days ago about a visit from the armed forces but didn't post it because suddenly I found other things more topical to comment on.

On their visit the commandos sat in the coffee shops. Coffee shops now closed and if they re-patrol  they will not want to come into contact with anyone on the island and vice versa.

Cruise ships were still coming in daily up till a few days ago, off-loading tourists for a few hours. The Mayor had to make a complaint and threaten to cut mooring lines before they stopped. Actually what surprised me most of all was that there were still enough tourists to make the daily cruise worthwhile.

The ship made a daily cruise of three islands, Aegina, Hydra and Poros.  No more cruises, and no more unnecessary journeys of any kind

Last week though.........

 The island was visited by a couple of boats of special forces (commandos?)

Whether they were looking for illegal refugees, drug smugglers or our local plantations of cannabis we don't know.  They all went off for coffee at a waterfront cafe so it couldn't have been too serious

Now we can all sleep soundly knowing the boys are on patrol

Next time their boat appears in the strait it will probably be to stop the locals escaping the quarantine. Or more likely to stop Athenians trying to join our island quarantine 'paradise'

On the northern border with Turkey European countries have contributed troops and equipment to put a halt to the influx of illegal migrants.  The young, aggressive 'army' of young migrants are still there on the other side of the fence, urged on by Erdogan to rush the barbed wire, even aided by Turkish troops who with armoured vehicles attempted to push through the barriers and uniformed Turkish police were photoed firing tear gas and fire bombs over the border fence.

Bulgaria who also has a close-d border with Greece and Turkey flooded the river Evros, making it more difficult for migrants to cross by boat or swim across. 

Greece is sending  an obvious message that Europe has united to defend it's borders.  

Europe elsewhere has returned to a continent of individual countries each closing their own personal borders. 

United we stand, divided we survive

Tuesday 17 March 2020


Menoume Spiti
We Stay at Home

is the slogan of the hour, the day, the month and probably the year.
Who was glad to see the back of 2019?
Couldn't have been worse than 2020

We needed some medical supplies
They came up via the children
The bag was tied to the gate
We shouted out  'howdy-dos' and they were off into the horizon

Athletic grandchildren getting some exercise on the back road where they will only meet goats and tortoises

Monday 16 March 2020

This is SPARTA!

Gerard Butler, the Scots actor who played Leonidas in the film '300' came to Greece last week to take part in yet other celebrations.  It is 2,500 years since the Battle of Thermopylae, in 480BC

  The film '300'  is the story of Leonidas, King of the greek state of Sparta, who with his 300 Spartans and about 2,000 soldiers from other parts of Greece,  faced the Persian army.  They  held the narrow pass at Thermopylae for 3 days.  Leonidas and his men were all killed. The rest were either killed or surrendered.  Spartans never surrendered or showed weaknes.   Spartan mothers expected their sons to either come home  victorious or be carried back dead on their  shields.

The Persian forces are thought to have been between 100,000 and 300,000.  When the Persian ambassador ordered the Spartans to lay down their weapons Leonidas yelled 'come and take them'.

All fesitivities have been cancelled but Butler did manage to take part in the first day of the Olympic torch relay, carrying the flame into the city of Sparta.  When he reached the statue of Leonidas he shouted out 'This is Sparta' much to the crowd's delight.

Sunday 15 March 2020

UK Government’s Coronavirus outbreak plan - Yes Minister

Sorry, we are closed

A very empty island

Yesterday cafeterias, tavernas and bars had till 5pm to close up and put away chairs and tables.  There is a fine of 5,000 euros for those that remain open.  

Our favourite waterfront cafe the 'green chairs' is deserted, though still selling take-away coffee.  Take away food and drink can still be sold but no-one is allowed to sit down

Our supermarkets still have toilet paper and yesterday did a roaring trade.  From today no more than 5 people can shop at one time, depending on the size of the shop of course and there must be 2 metres at least between each person at the check-out

We had to go to a family funeral yesterday.  There was not a huge crowd.  Half were inside and half outside.  The brother of the deceased came from Athens and wore a mask inside the church.  He took it off when he got outside and started shaking people's hands.  He obviously hadn't grasped the seriousness of the situation  especially as he is of a 'certain age' himself and his wife is in bad health.  I  hope they are both ok.  

Just a further note on the funeral.  We all went down to the graveyard and then waited half an hour while the grave was widened.  The coffin wouldn't fit in!

There was no social coffee and liqueur afterwards.

Now we are truly isolated.  Just K and I.  Till when?  Well after easter I imagine.

An empty waterfront

Many greeks still haven't quite  grasped the 'stay at home' part of it.  The government had to close organised beaches and ski centres.  With nothing else to do people were flocking to both.  Where else are the beaches and the ski slopes working at the same time? 

Today the public beaches had a few too many people and tv news was showing crowds of Athenians out for a walk in the parks.  

We have to have someone to tell us over and over again 'stay at home' does not mean meeting friends in someone's home for beers and pizza, gathering in the parks to watch the children play, sitting outside gossiping with neighbours.  It means 'stay at home' and away from other human beings.  It's going to be a while before it all sinks right in.

That means not going to church either.  And holy water will not protect you from the virus

Friday 13 March 2020

Olympic Flame

March 12 2020  Greece

The Olympic flame was lit today.  Because of the corona virus only 100 people  attended the ceremony.  

All preparations are going ahead for the games in Japan where the flame, lit today at Ancient Olympia, will light the flame in the stadium in Tokyo on July 24th,  signalling the beginning of the 32nd Olympiad.  This is the 2nd time Japan has hosted the summer games, the first being in 1964

The Olympic torch will now be relayed around Greece for one week.  Next Thursday at a ceremony in Athens at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, the flame will be handed over to Japanese 

Latest News
Today the Hellenic (Greek) Olympic committee has decided to suspend the Olympic torch relay in Greece (Hellas) to protect the health of the Greek (Hellenic) population from the corona virus.

Huge crowds were gathering as the flame entered each city on its route so far .  In agreement with the Ministry of Health the Olympic committee decided on the cancellation of the remaining relay.

The delivery of the flame to Japan next Thursday will take place as planned without the attendance of the public.

Thank you 
for that news

Thursday 12 March 2020

Warm and Spring-like

It's official.  We have the virus.  Schools are closed for 14 days.  No concerts, theatre and no spectators at athletic matches.  The owner of top Greek soccor team Olympiakos has tested positive for the virus.  So have Tom Hanks and his wife.  They appear to be self isolating down in Australia.

Coffee shops are still open and as busy as usual here but elsewhere  people are staying at home. 

Hey, what to do with schools closed and the sun shining.  Lets go swimming.  Only the crazy side of my greek family would and did do that.  A picnic on the beach.  Good idea.  A plunge into the freezing Saronic Gulf?  Nothing to them.  They have been plunging all winter.

A deserted cove.  

Fun in the still-winter sun

Watched only by a herd of goats.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Make Your Own

Preparing a bbq 

The master with his masterpiece

This is an old hot water cylinder
Cut in half, put on legs
and your bbq is, almost, ready

Wheels make it moveable.
And eventually the other half of the cylinder will be welded on as a top, with hinges for opening and closing

Meanwhile inside I prepared cauliflower for lunch
I boil the leaves as well as the florets
Served with olive oil and lemon juice

Mandarines ready to be turned into marmelade
I boiled them whole for half and hour then when cool put them in the blender and pureed them.  One cup of sugar for every cup of pulp.  Into the pot for half an hour and I had jam.  It was the easiest I've made in a long while

As an experiment I added some vanilla and a shot of whisky to the jam at the end of the boiling.  I don't like the vanilla flavour.  I much prefer that tart marmelade taste.  On the other hand whisky goes well with everything.

Two jars of marmelade which will last a long while.
We don't have toast and marmelade for breakfast
I have black coffee, K has a piece of hard dry twice baked bread which he dips in his, black, coffee

Monday 9 March 2020

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson for Greece 2021

Tom Hanks has just acquired Greek citizenship and his wife Rita Wilson is Greek/American.  They have been coming to Greece for years for summer holidays and own at least one island house.

Right now they are inviting the world to attend the 200 year celebration of Greece's Independence from the Ottoman Turks in 2021.

The Bicentennial will celebrate 200 years of the modern state of Greece.  Hanks and his wife have released the video above, inviting everyone  to join in.

They are great ambassadors, cheerfully sending a positive image. Just what we need right now.

Sunday 8 March 2020

How to Walk a Dog

More fun on an electric scooter.
Molly the old english sheep dog is just scooting along.

Friday 6 March 2020

How to Fly a Kite

Here's how to have fun!
The kite is attached to that little electric scooter.  

Much more fun than simple leg power

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Wishing You a Good 40 Days

Clean Monday - March 2  2020

Kali Sarakosti is the greeting today. 
May you have a good Forty-Days of Lent.

We had a big family celebration

The situation on the Turkish greek border is very tense and the Turkish leader is bombarding his people with fake news saying the Greeks are shooting refugees and letting mothers and children die. Meanwhile he sends thousands more, where there is no hope, to the closed greek border and threatens us that Greeks too will end up like the Syrians and have to run like dogs.

The Corona virus is spreading very slowly. There are nine cases now. No one here is in a panic. There is worse to face.

Here is our celebration of the beginning of Lent, Clean Monday

The wood oven was fired up. We cooked flat bread, octopus and dried beans

The king in his castle, as my s-in-law says

Fish roe dip - taramasalata
Made from bread, salted fish eggs, lemon juice and lots of olive oil

Grilled octopus
Being cut up for a snack with ouzo

The youngest learns to knead bread
She did a magnificent job. It rose and rose and rose

Two laganas
Flat bread that we eat today

Sea eggs
Kina in NZ 
We scoop out the orange 'stuff' with the bread and lots of lemon juice
Can't stand them myself
A lot of them were empty. The moon is not in the right phase for sea urchins full of food

Argentinian shrimp
Grilled on the BBQ 
Peeled and eaten as-is

The highlight of the Lenten table, 'risotto' with mussels, shrimps and kalamari.
The 'rice' is that fat rice-like macaroni, called orzo I think. It is boiled in the water that the shrimps were steamed in. 
Simple and delicious.

We didn't eat too much. It's not that sort of meal. But as usual some drank too much ouzo. There was dancing and we had a fall but fortunately there were no broken bones, just broken glasses.

The men partied on as usual. 
Mothers  and children went up onto the road and flew a kite. That's another tradition on this day.  

Mothers, Nana and tall grandchild then had a friendly gossip on the front balcony. Time to relax, have a smoke, a beer and catch up on family life.

Younger grandchildren had a 'picnic' in the old water reservoir under the balcony. Dirty, smelly, probably full of spiders and apparently lots of fun. They then 'migrated' to the bedrooms, closed all the shutters, turned out the lights, hid in the dark under dusty beds and desks, flashing torches at each other. I imagine that's what they do anyway. 'Dark room' is a favourite game. 

As usual it all ended with women in the kitchen washing dishes, clearing tables, clearing balconies, re-arranging chairs  and tables and finally sweeping and mopping and removing many bags of rubbish.

A good time was had in parts by some.