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

Saturday 28 November 2020

Xmas Deco

We always hang big red shiny balls from our rafters.  There is a shiny 'Happy Birthday Banner' up there too.  It has been up there for years.  It always seems to be someone's birthday, especially at this time of the year so it remains as a permanent deco.

Five Christmas stockings waiting for Santa to fill them with choccies and nuts and small goodies.  All of them hand knitted by  Nana.
Alas I think for the first time there will only be 4 grandchildren to dig into the stockings.  Tall grandson is stuck in Athens doing lessons over the internet and waiting to get back to the practical side of his studies.

Father Christmas' suit is clean and hung up waiting for him to come through the door, or window, though our old fireplace is still there if he wants  to try coming down the chimney.  I paid special attention to his beard this year.  It has been washed and soaked in softener

The boat on the wall is lit up at night.
This is a greek island tradition, rather than the Christmas tree


4 Huhu bugs

And the Xmas book 'Pukeko in a Ponga Tree'.  A kiwi 12 days of Xmas is open on the table for me to flick through when I feel the need to wallow in the flavour of 'home'


Wednesday 25 November 2020


Christmas arrived early this year.  I used to complain that we started too early when we decorated around December 10th.  This year we didn't even wait till December.  

We asked the grandaughters to come and climb up into the store cupboard above the bathroom and put all the summer gear away so naturally they brought down all the Christmas decorations and once they were down it was natural to put them up, but not in the store cupboard.

This is standard in most greek houses.  The bathroom has a low ceiling and above it is a store cupboard.  Very difficult  for persons of a certain age to access

We did a change around of the furniture earlier in the year and there was no place to put the xmas tree.  I found the perfect place up on the treadmill.  What a pity we won't be able to do any exercise on it for a few months

The three xmas elves do the decorating

Up, up, up to the rafters

This year it's Luli's turn to put the red poinsettia flower on the top of the tree

A joint effort


And here is the tree lit up at night

Merry Christmas to one and all

Monday 23 November 2020

Sign of the Times

 All our Poros families have decorated for Xmas.  Trees are dangling with balls and baubles. Lights flash and brighten the house and the neighborhood. And this year we have something extra to adorn with cheerful Christmas glitter

This is our minimal masterpiece

In the house by the sea

Down above the harbour

Thursday 19 November 2020

Around the House

 Around the house.  Where else would I be?

I'm baking sourdough bread again.  This dough was over proofed and didn't rise in the oven.  It was also very tangy.  The sourdough has been going for months and I don't feed it often enough.  The taste gets stronger the more you let it ferment.  Traditional people like tangy dense sourdough so I'm calling this a success.

I've still got about 10 kilos of that darn flour that was infested with weevils.  The weevils have been exterminated but I don't like the flour.  It is too coarse.  I use it for cakes and biscuits too and they all turn out ok but not as good as they should.

I just wish I could use up all that flour and get some more, of a different kind.  My bread came out much lighter and the rise was higher with my last bag of bread flour.  Even the kids don't want this.

Last Sunday we had a family visit and the grandaughters got out all the Christmas decorations, put up the tree and hung the big red balls from the rafters.  Yes, it's early, too early for me but we may not see them again till late in December, or even January.

I love my 'Pukeko in a Ponga Tree' book of course.  Its the 12 days of xmas kiwi style.  And there at the back are NZ christmas recipes.  Good old kiwi christmas cakes and mince pie recipes.

We didn't miss out on the quinces this year as I was hoping.  Our neighbours were able to come from Athens to pick their olives and they delivered us a big bag of quinces and pomegranites.

  I got to work and cleaned the outsides of the quinces with a very sharp knife and boiled all the fruit.  I then added sugar and pureed it.  Now what to do with it.  Some went into a fruit chutney I made, some went into the freezer and now I'm contemplating making a quince sauce cake or tart.  The kids didn't want the quinces either.


And the pommegranites.  

The pommegranites are disappearing one by one.  They are lovely in salads.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Greek Dramatics

 Ancient Greek drama on sacred Greek soil

My grandaughter Poppi phoned me the other day, before we locked-down, to say her class would be attending a performance of the greek drama Antigoni the next day and would I like to come and see and take some photos for my blog.  Of course I would! 

The play was being performed amongst the ruins of the Temple to Poseidon, mighty  God of the Sea, and the complex of buildings, meeting places and market in the surrounding area.

  I arrived exactly on time, expecting to wait, as is usual, another half hour before it began but they had started dead on time.  That was the first surprise.

The second surprise was that it was all in modern greek so even I could understand it.  I was captivated.

There they were, just Poppi's class, teachers, me and a few of the crew.  They sat on plastic modern day chairs amidst the olive trees, the ancient stones and excavations of this historical site .

I sat on this base of an ancient column and watched the actors making their entrances from the midst of the ruins, exclaiming the words of Sophocles

Antigoni is a tragedy with a lot of wailing, beating of drums.  It was written around 441BC.  All the main characters kill themselves for love of family  .  There is of course a lot more to it but I'm not going to tell you the plot here.

I enjoyed the play, the whole theatrical atmosphere.  It was extremely well done, from costumes to acting.  Congrats to this travelling troupe.  

The students weren't so enthused.  Ancient greek is a basic lesson in greek schools, just another subject which they must  pass but won't help them much in their future lives.  Just the way I thought about Latin 50 (odd) years ago.  What remained with me over the years was 'amo amas amat amamus amant' and I even had to google the verb to make sure my memory was correct.

 Any other Latin phrases like 'caveat emptor, ad nauseum or bona fide' I picked up mainly through the wide variety of books I read.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Conger Eel for Tea

 Fish soup for supper  but not your  gourmet bouillabaisse.  We are quite often given gifts of odd foodstuffs.  A pig's head, stingray, a moray eel or this time a conger eel.  Mougri in greek.  The google translation is conger eel.  It was certainly a sort of large sea eel with  some ferocious teeth.  K loves these opportunities to eat as his traditional ancestors once did.

Being mid-summer, very hot and with me in zombi mode it went straight into the deep freeze.

The eel finally came out a few days ago, deep and very solidly frozen.  It was far too much for us to consume even over a few days so K took to it with the saw.

This fish can be sliced and fried, baked on the BBQ or turned into a traditional greek soup.  It's easy to clean, has no scales and it's bones are big and therefore can be easily removed before they go down your throat.
As you can see in the photo, there are lots of juicy, fishy steaks.

After about one third of it had been chopped up and defrosted I made the soup.

A greek fish soup is made by boiling the fish and then cooking carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and zucchini in the broth.  At the end I fished out the vegetables and added a handful of rice, lots of lemon juice and olive oil.

It was a good feed

Saturday 7 November 2020

Winter Prep

 We can feel that nip of winter in the air.  Our first carpet will go down tomorrow to cover the freezing tiles in the living room.  No rain but gale force winds and temperatures down to around 18o.  Shiver

A few days ago we received our first supply of wood,
a ton, or thereabouts of good dry olive wood

And our last visitors till the end of November moved a pile and stacked it outside the door for us.  

We just  received a  Civil Protection sms preceded by a rather strident siren.  My sms  is also spoken by a nice lady in rather robot-like English.

    Movement restrictions apply.  Only go out with sms permission (and ID card) to support essential needs..  Stay home, stay safe.

The whole country is on complete lockdown till the end of November.  300 euros fine if you're found outside your house without permission, ID and mask and the mask must be worn properly, covering nose and mouth.

Primary schools are still up and running but all other classes will be conducted online.

Cafes and tavernas only open for takeaway,  No loitering.

Athenians deserted the city in their thousands (72,000 went through the toll gates) yesterday, dashing for their holiday homes and villages where they can infect the rural population and elderly relatives.  

We saw the writing on the wall last week and stocked up with enough loo paper to last us till easter, along with a few gallons of raki.

 Back in April there were 100 cases a day.  Now there are close to 3,000 and far more deaths and hospital cases.  

Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more

Sunday 1 November 2020

Island Life

Is it a bird, no it's one of those motorised kite things.  This guy has been flying over Poros for years taking photos.  Rumours are he is a man to be reckoned with.  You can see a lot from up there.   Big plant-ations for instance.


Off to pick his olives, ladder in hand

The daily backgammon wars continue

The lottery seller in his shield.  Those plastic shields are not enough protection.  If you don't want a fine you must wear a mask underneath, as he does

The ambulance taking a corona-case off one of the yachts.

Poros has not been corona-free.   A few warnings would have been desirable.  We were all getting a bit too lax in our precautions.  The Mayor of the town across the strait has announced a virus case at the High School.  Meanwhile over all the country there are more than 2,000 cases daily, and rising.  We have just has more restrictions announced and the country has been divided into two zones, the red zones and the rest of the country.

The greater Athens area is in the 'war' zone but this time they have excluded the Saronic islands, that's us.    As from Tuesday all over Greece masks must be worn inside and out.  All business stops from midnight to 5am.  In the 'war' zones all cafes, bars, tavernas will be closed.  This will continue till 1st Deceember.  

Looks like our Christmas will be similar to our easter.  Each family on its own.