Tuesday, 30 June 2020
The Apostles Pavlos and Petros, feminine Pavlina and Petroula, have their fiesta today. That's Peter and Paul to you. Also a name day for those named Apostolos and Apostolia.
We had another away day, off to the city of Korinth again. All of Korinth was closed down because Petros and Pavlou is the patron saint.
Sunday, 28 June 2020
Good neighbours not only hand goodies over the garden gate but they haul your old 'goodies' from the back garden and take them away to the tip.
You'll remember that I've written about our elderly neighbour, Vaso. She's still a powerhouse at 84. This morning she was sitting on the flagstones with a very sharp knife trimming fresh bamboo canes which will be used on their garden.
Her son looks after most of the vines, olives, lemon and orange trees now and strims what Vaso hasn't done by hand.
His latest interest is a vegetable garden. But before starting on his own he came and cleared out our back garden, literally shaving the earth and hauling all the old iron and wood from the back to the front and then taking it away in his farm truck.
I don't know how many times I've posted photos of the 'treasures' removed from our back garden. Well, here's another pile. The lawn mower does work I think. That was given away. We had a miniscule lawn about 10 years ago. Hard to imagine now.
The 'before' photo
Down comes the grapefruit tree.
Now we have a view, of a clean back garden
That stump is all that's left of the grapefruit tree. It always had loads of fruit, the most bitter fruit I have tasted. Even a kilo of sugar couldn't make it into an enjoyable marmelade. The tree hid our view from the living room of the hill opposite, site of the ancient Temple to Poseidon. There's no temple left, just a few stones.
Now the pine forest and olive groves are in open view and I can sit in my armchair and watch for sasquatch, or the movement of tourists on the hill top, when they arrive again.
The wood from the grapefruit tree is stacked ready for next winter's fires. I'll let you know how grapefruit wood burns, in due time
An unbelievably clean back yard. And there's more rubbish to go out.
This other tree with orange fruit is a bitter orange tree which we're leaving for now. What the previous owner thought he would reap from these bitter trees I cannot imagine.
There are still 2 lemon trees standing, a sweet-orange tree and a mandarine. The green plant in the foreground is basil
Friday, 26 June 2020
Thanks to Cro and his informative blog I learnt of pickled walnuts. A traditional english pickle says Wikipedia. Well, you know how I love traditional things. Now I have the chance to pickle my own.
Towards the end of June is the ideal time to pick the walnuts before they become the hard dried brown nut that we all know. I happened to park under my daughter's walnut tree a few weeks ago. There are walnut trees all around here and I hadn't even noticed. They are all green and leafy and the walnuts on the tree are green too and well camouflaged.
I had a lightbulb moment. A walnut tree, mid June, might have walnuts on it.
I sent Red Riding Hood to gather a basket of goodies for her grandmother
I cut one open and it looked just like the google pages said it should. Still soft and white inside without any formation of the brown nut
I pricked them all over with a fork and I left them to soak in brine, 1 litre of water to 100 grams of salt, for 2 weeks.
Tomorrow I'll make up the vinegar and pickling spice solution and bottle them.
Do you put sugar in with the vinegar, Cro? Some said add a little brown sugar, some said 'never'. I will treat them like pickled onions, I add honey to those. I'll add a little brown sugar to these.
One thing the walnut pickling recipes all emphasised was 'wear gloves'. Walnuts stain your hands and clothes and the colour will be almost impossible to remove. Smart old me wore only one glove. I ended up with a black thumb but I look at it with pride as a scar of walnut wars.
After a few days in the brine the water and the walnuts go as black as the ace of spades. Not to worry. I stirred them daily, changed the brine after the first week.
At christmas we'll be eating them.
I wonder if I'll like them. I wonder if traditonal greek people will like them
Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Two milestones this week
Our first journey over the seas to the distant lands of the mythical Peloponese. In reality, a 5 minute car ferry ride to the mainland.
Also I finally had my hair cut.
The new hairstyle is nothing special. I had a very fast snip of three months of long, oddly curling hair, down in my sister-in-law's yard. The grey showing at the sides hasn't disappeared altogether but there is an overall camouflage of blonde, from a bottle. I am happy.
My hairdresser, a cousin of course, came with her scissors. My sister-in-law made some cups of greek coffee, we all caught up on the gossip, found out for whom the church bells had tolled that morning, and went on our way. We have a rendezvous in 6 weeks time, same place, same people, not so much hair to cut though. It was deja vu for my sis in law and I. We remembered years ago when half a dozen neighbourhood women got together in her yard for their haircuts. Now that was the place to hear gossip. But it wasn't only gossip. There was always lots of laughter because one of them was sure to give us an up-close and very personal story. Those housewives used to let it all out in more ways than one.
The next day we were on our way to the hospital at Korinth, for a rendezvous. Not an emergency but a necessity. Who wants to go to a hospital these days.
We had to take the car across on the ferry and weirdly everyone, even those closed in their cars, had to wear a mask.
This is me hiding away under my mask and dark glasses
I left K at the hospital for his appointment. No-one but those with appointments which show up on the digital list are allowed inside. Greeks are often accompanied by a few relatives for support so some weren't too happy about that.
I went off to do some shopping at a big shop nearby. It's a popular greek chain with toys, clothes and household goods. I was surprised there because no one was wearing a mask, not even the workers. There were regular announcements about keeping your distance but otherwise it could have been pre-corona virus. I just wandered up and down the aisles and tried to keep out of everyone else's way. Fortunately at that early hour and on a week day it wasn't crowded.
K was in and out and I picked him up sooner than expected and we took off for home.
It isn't safe out there in that big wide world
Since June 15th when the borders opened to overseas flights there have been 9,400 incoming passengers and 21 tested positive. Another 5 cases were detected at the crossing from Bulgaria. All have been quarantined.
I wonder if they are watching the other passengers on those flights.
Sunday, 21 June 2020
Apricots are the fruit of the month
I bought 2 kilos on Friday and I'll buy some more next Friday. There is only one apricot seller and all he has is apricots. If I can get there early I can get a few kilos for marmelade (jam or jelly) at half price.
These may look a bit bruised but they are all full of flavour and everyone is juicy and bursting with apricot-ness
First I made some apricot jam. It didn't set very well but that doesn't bother us. It will still sit on our toast and can be layered in a tart of topped on icecream.
Then I made, instead of chutney, hot chilli apricot sauce. I just altered a recipe for hot tomato chilli sauce.
I boiled the apricots and added them to a hot sauce. The sauce had a hot pepper, a little soy sauce, a little sugar and vinegar. I boiled those ingredients till they thickened a little, tasted and added a little more of that, a little of this, till it tasted perfect. A quick puree with the stick mixer and Bob's your uncle.
The first jar has already disappeared so I'll definitely make some more. I have also boiled a pot of apricots till they were mushy and put those in the fridge for eating with thick greek yoghurt. I haven't added any sugar so they are slightly tart. I wish I had some weetabix to eat with the mushy apricots. It reminds of my parents breakfasts back home long ago. Weetabix in the summer, porridge in the winter with whatever fruit was in season, just lightly cooked with no sugar. Well, I may be wrong there. I don't think they'd be eating rhubarb without some sweetening.
I found a recipe for apricot icecream.
This is an Israeli recipe, it says
You just boil 1/2 a kilo of apricots until mushy. That doesn't take long. Drain off the liquid and keep it on one side. Puree the apricots.
Make a syrup with 1/2 cup of sugar and one cup of juices and water combined. You just have to simmer those for a few moments and leave to cool.
Mix the apricot puree in with the syrup. Whip up one cup of whipping cream till stiff. Combine the apricots and the cream carefully and freeze.
When it is half frozen just give it a bit of a stir.
I haven't made this yet but I'm going to and I shall take photos of course. Sounds easy, not too sweet and darnnit, it's icecream, what can go wrong.
Then there is apricot cake, apricot tart
Yeh, for apricots. I shall put a few containers of pureed fruit in the freezer too, ready for those winter months when we are bored with oranges, mandarines, apples, bananas, pomgranites and want a change.
Friday, 19 June 2020
Another sunny but not sweltering summers day. We heard our first cicadas yesterday and at night the crickets play their gentle melody. Hard to believe that it is almost midsummer and the days will start getting shorter. We haven't even reached those days of relentless heat yet. Those lazy, hazy days of summer are still to come, 2 months of heatwaves, sweaty nights. I wonder if there will also be the hustle and bustle of tourists.
Our neighbour has started de-leafing his small vineyard. The more leaves that are removed the more the vine will give strength to the grapes, or something like that.
Soon these plants will be a mass of sunflowers
Our favourite honey
We bought thyme with a hint of wild flowers
She also sells honey comb, their own honey lip balm, a healing balm for cuts and burns and royal jelly
These may look like a large zucchini but they are a variety of cucumber. Called xyloagouro in greek . Literally woody-cucumber
They are a pale green and much bigger than the usual cucumber
They are crunchy and full of flavour. All you need for an ideal snack. Keep them in the fridge so they are nice and cold. Simply cut them into long slices, scrape out the seeds and sprinkle them with salt
The green leaves in the middle are called vlita and are the favourite summer green of most greeks. They grow in our garden, wherever we water, from seeds left in the soil. We are given bags of them by neighbours. K loves them. I prefer other greens. He eats them boiled and served with vinegar (not his usual lemon juice), fresh olive oil and a garlic clove which he will slice raw over the plate.
Thursday, 18 June 2020
On my walk up the road to throw out the rubbish in the big central bins I was puzzled to find a plastic coffee container thrown on the side of the road
Here it is on our lonely little cul de sac out in the wop-wops.
Who came all the way up the hill from town with a coffee in hand, turned the corner and threw his rubbish on our pristine little lane?
Our next door neighbour has just strimmed the top of the road and no, he doesn't buy takeaway coffee and he certainly wouldn't throw the container on his doorstep.
On the top road there are often croissant papers, empty water bottles and cheese pie papers thrown in the road. I presume the workers at the fish farm further down eat their breakfast on the move and just throw their rubbish when they finish. But not on our little lane.
I picked it up, with a plastic bag and threw it in the rubbish bin only 50 metres away. In these days of corona virus I made sure not to touch it with bare hands.
Darn this person, whoever it was!!
Shame on them
Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Just look at these gorgeous artichokes. They might not be for eating but boy are they beautiful
My granddaughter just sent me today's photos of yesterday's artichokes
Monday, 15 June 2020
The 'flower' up close. When the sun was out this artichoke was open showing the pink fuzz around the heart inside but as the clouds came across it closed up
Their walnut tree. Full of walnuts which I still haven't gathered for pickling. It may be too late
This is a very good shade tree in the summer, so green and leafy
The hammock under the citrus trees
This used to be the chook pen
Now its the perfect place for a hammock. A breeze comes down from the hills behind in the summer afternoon. Cool and quiet for a summer siesta
Sunday, 14 June 2020
BBQs and beyond.
The last family birthday party was not held at our place, for once. I arrived at my daughter's house all dressed up in my best going-out-to-a-family-bbq clothes, greeted everyone, air kissed, took photos and sat down. The birthday son-in-law poured me a glass of wine and I simply soicalised and observed. Those words in italics should actually be in capitals! Woohoo.
Son-in-law's family home
The BBQ with its clean white marble finish which inspired K to remodel ours
A week we held another birthday party, this time at our house, but a little more relaxed than usual And that's the birthdays over till the end of August.
This is a funnel to help the coals light up
It apparently goes over the lit coals and channels air somehow
I suggest that if you want to learn about it then you should google as K has been doing ever since lockdown began. He has been quoting undeniable facts and 'cutting edge' ideas at me for the last 3 months. Oh isn't it amazing what a load of irrefutable information you can fill your head with from the internet.
The octopus hanging out on the fence
I googled 'drying out octopus' but didn't come up with much. It's a common sight on greek islands in the summer. The perfect photo opportunity.
K says they only dry it out before it goes on a bbq so it has a crisp (tough) outer coating and is nice and chewy. Lots of italics today.
We once took a sun dried octopus with us to NZ. I declared it of course going into NZ. If you don't declare any food or animal products you'll get caught and have to pay huge fines. I was surprised, amazed, that they let us take it into the country. I wasn't surprised or amazed when we came to bbq it and it was tougher than shoe leather.
The three wine barrels
Only one actually contains wine
One of them is full of really good homemade wine vinegar and the other is empty.
In days of yore they would have two barrels of white and one of red. We used to have three barrels of wine in our shed too. Now we have none. It's actually hard work making wine in the initial stages. Barrels and the room where they are kept have to be scrubbed clean and without chemicals or anything which might leave a hint of some unwanted smell which might taint the wine. The room has to be dry and cool and preferably in the line of the north wind. The juice has to be tested and stirred and you have to know the right moment to seal it once the bubbling has stopped.. During this process the juice is poured out into other containers. The dregs at the bottom of the barrel have to be removed and the barrel cleaned before the juice goes back in again. And then the waiting till it matures can be downright tormenting.
But then you are a pro and can discuss your wine and your neighbours' for hours on end and have endless refills for your parties. What bliss for traditional people.
Wednesday, 10 June 2020
A family birthday
Another celebration in the summer of corona-virus
We are free to come and go but with social distancing, lots of handwashing and commonsense. However, already we have new clusters around the country of fresh corona cases as family members fly back from the USof A, Germany, greet other family members in the usual mediterranean cheek-kissing-hugging fashion and then circulate in cafeterias and tavernas greeting long lost friends the same way. Never mind the beach parties down on the island of Mykonos where the dancers and revellers are jam packed like sunburnt sardines.
And in a weeks time the country opens up for foreign tourists. The english, the Italians, the Germans and the Spanish will be welcomed but hopefully only at five paces and with bottles of handwash
In the meantime our family life is back, more or less to normal.
Birthdays and name days are together times
This time it was a birthday.
Setting the long table
The boys doing what boys do best.........
Filling bottles with wine from the family barrels
A 3 1/2 kilo octopus hanging out to dry before it goes on the coals
Of course there was dancing
And birthday cake
Cheesecake, homemade by the girls
The boys turn to fill the bottles
BBQing is thirsty work
And in the middle of all these noisy celebrations there was a zing as my phone received a whatsap message from downunder.
We had another family birthday to celebrate, a beautiful baby boy had just been delivered to bring even greater joy and lots of 'sniff-sniffs' on my part.
We have lots of clusters of birthdays in our family. June has a small cluster, October has another and November-December is a huge cluster of birthdays .
And 26 is a number which pops up throughout the year.
Tuesday, 9 June 2020
A rather large boulder in the middle of our back road.
There was a rather large tree root as well
This road is rarely used at this time of the year but it was dusk and someone coming down that dark road at night would have got a nasty surprise. K rang all the people he knows in the Municipality and made sure they moved it quickly. He is excellent at giving orders, even over the telephone. He has the voice that says 'jump and run, or else'
It might look as though the one handed grandson was the hero but it was actually his younger sister posing behind him.
Poppi got rid of the tree and the debris.
Saturday, 6 June 2020
Our farmers' market opened again a few weeks ago when cafes and tavernas re-opened. Stalls are supposed to be further apart. Our market has distanced the stallls but it's a tiny operation, ten at the most in mid-summer when they are piled high with watermelon (karpuzi), zucchini, vlita (greens) and of course tomatoes, tomatoes which last year appeared for the first time in a variety of colours and sizes.
This is an inbetween season now. There are still oranges for sale but not much other fruit
This is an inbetween season now. There are still oranges for sale but not much other fruit
One of the producers is an Indian who along with his wife has the best set out, the cheapest and the most enticing fruit and vegetables.
He had some very early melon. We bought two, a bit of a gamble at this time of the year. One of them was full of flavour, the other almost tasteless but still refreshing when chilled
'Tis the oregano season. Everyone had huge bunches of dried oregano. These ones came from near the village of Methana just down the road on the mainland.
I had been hearing for years, from my mother-in-law and all the old aunts that the best rigani (oregano) came from Methana. And it still does. I asked K's cousin where it was from and he immediately asserted 'Methana'.
Down one end the honey sellers.
They sell beeswax (edible, not the furniture wax), and small jars of a healing balm made from olive oil and honey
I had forgotten our jar of honey was getting very low. We will have to buy some next week. K prefers the thyme honey, 14euros a kilo, I prefer the orange blossom honey, 8 euros a kilo
And the rest of the market
Friday, 5 June 2020
Another fish dish
We are still eating the fish, fresh frozen, that were handed over the gate a few weeks ago
These were caught in a net down in a bay round the back of the island. They were wild but possibly escapees from the fish farm nearby. They were delicious.
K cooks the fish. I do make fish soup now and again and I am the fryer of salt cod but K is the fish specialist. He catches them , he cleans them and he cooks them
These are scaled and gutted but still have their heads and tails.
the fish is called tsipoura in greek
the english translation seems to bream
It is a great fish for the bbq or grill, fried and baked
K baked this as you can see with strips of carrot, zucchini and onion, white wine and olive oil. Sometimes he adds thin slices of potato too
Thursday, 4 June 2020
Or cafe culture in another language. Every country has this love of coffee (or whatever drink you drink). France and Italy are the countries which jump out for me. Here in Greece when my girls go out for coffee it is coffee in inverted commas. Coffee in the morning, 'coffee' till the late hours. A coffee here means hours of talking, watching humanity passing by and possibly 'sitting on' a small demi tasse of greek coffee costing as little as 1 euro.. What it is Not part of the culture is a plastic cup of coffee in hand while walking down the street.
Where you drink your coffee is very important. The coffee has to be good but so does the compoany that gathers round you and the friendliness and interaction of the owner and the waiter. If you're a regular your coffee will be brought out to you without having to wait and order it. They know who you are and remember what you like.
Here on Poros we frequent two (sometimes 3) cafeterias which are K-approved. We warn visitors and show them the correct hangouts. If you sit elsewhere he won't be joining you ....and you'll miss out on that quintessential (k) greek experience.
I just had a look at the top coffee drinking countries. The Scandanavian countries are up all up there in the top 5, Italy is number 13, Greece 17 and France 18. I presume that Scandanavians make/get their coffee, drink it and have another 2 or three or more during the day, unlike the slower paced mediterranean countries where coffee is only one part of the package and is often followed by your favourite tipple.
This is a smaller and older-fashioned version of the cafeteria where men gather to play cards and backgammon, drink coffee and ouzo, and pass their day away from the wife. There is no loud music and the meze for ouzo will be be a simple plate of olives and cucumber all on a toothpick. Poros hasn't too got a traditional cafenion anymore, not that I can think of anyway. The elderly men, sometimes with their wives nowadays, gather at certain cafeterias, most of them on the K list.
This is our view from the down-town cafeteria where we usually drink our coffee
I've posted a similar photo many, many times
With a yacht or maybe a fishing boat in the background, with a foreground of the lines of motorbikes
This was taken on our first day back after lockdown
The same company in the back of the cafe, sitting in their same seats
Everyday at 10am, they appear, an older couple first and they are joined by a changing group of 4 or 5, always talking loudly
The tables are slightly further apart, the waitress wears a mask, sometimes on her face, sometimes around the neck. Otherwise the scene is unchanged
After coffee came red wine and ouzo
That reliable normality again
People stopped for a chat, moved on
Here is our local priest on his way back from a house visit and a blessing
Our bikes parked opposite
As usual someone parks on the road right behind me so I can't get out even though there is a space 2 metres down
Double parking for cars of course
Even a couple of luxury yachts
Greek owned I suppose and with greek passengers
Social distancing is not the norm
Behind us was the bouzouki player with a wee crowd around his table, drinking and sighing and singing to the passionate love songs
This weekend is a three-dayer
Suzi (her surname), the weather lady, has promised the sun will shine so the island will be full again. Full of the richer Athenians who weren't affected by three months without income.