local-kiwi-alien

Saturday, 24 July 2021

About the Place

 


Squash-slash-pumpkin plants marching across the otherwise dry brown turf.  I have 5 plants and they, unlike the tomatoes, are all thriving and producing flowers.  I don't see any squash-slash-pumpkins being produced but you never know.  They've done well every other year.


I finally got the bougainvillia-without-thorns into a pot.  It is not supposed to grow very high so this pot should be a cosy home for it


The oregano bunch has dried out and is ready to be scrunched up and stored in a jar


The limoncello finally got finished too after 6 weeks of limon peels marinating in raki.

I made the sugar syrup and added it to the alcohol.  It sort of took my breath away.  I think the syrup needs adjusting.  My recipe did say to start with a syrup of one cup of sugar to one cup of water and to adjust according to taste.  More water will make it smoother and more sugar will obviously make it sweeter.  It needs a bit of both.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Summer Photos

 


We've had a few heatwaves this summer.  Temps are back to normal now, around 32o on the island and breezes are from the north, summer winds called Meltemi or Maïstros.

This photo was taken during the last heatwave when my daughter and grandkids had to go to the city for a french exam and hospital tests for their further education .    The cities of Argos and Nafplio always bake in the summer even though they are beside the sea.

43oC is about the norm for them in a heatwave.  


The maiden aunts across the water are famous for their homemade, down-on-the-farm cooking but also for their roses.  This one was in full bloom a few weeks ago.  They are getting on in years and are teaching their grandnephew, one of many, to prune the roses.  He came and pruned mine this year.



One son-in-law is a taxi boat captain, the other a whizz with yachts.  
He's one of very few who will climb up the mast to do repairs.


It's a long way down.  He managed to hang on, do the repairs and take a few photos from up there.



Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Sleepover

Sleepover

Our grandchildren are all teenagers, or older now.  Gone are the days when they enjoyed camping out with Nana and Papous, running wild in the fields and roads around us, chasing the local wild cats, honing their skills in the kitchen and sleeping out on the vernadah with those wild cats roaming around them.

But now and again nostalgia takes over and they appear for a night and a day.  Papous spends the time working out their menu, frying their favourite meatballs and arranging for evening pizza making sessions.  Nana rubs her hands and adds to the list of jobs for them to do.


An early morning face.  Poppi flips the pancakes


And it lands perfectly in the pan.  She is number three in the line of pancake makers.  Her two older siblings turned into experts and her cousins are fighting for number one spot







Ducks lined up in a row



It was really too hot for pizza making so we bought some ready frozen and added a little extra.  Darn nice they were too.
Young Jamie has to avoid salt at all costs so we made him mini pizzas with greek pitta bread as the base, ketch-up and grated gouda.  They were even darn nice the next day, cold, as an accompaniment to bifteki (handmade hamburger) and greek potatoes


Top of Nana's list was clean the last of the carpets.  Lots of fun.  Cold water on a hot summer's morning and a high pressure hose.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Growing Potatoes

 

Don't potatoes need a cold climate?


At the end of last winter I had a large potato which had sprouted so I cut it into pieces, an eye a piece, and planted them around the garden, mainly in pots.  Then I forgot about them.  They have all sprouted and are growing, above ground at least.

I'm just leaving them alone till September at least.  This one is growing in the hydrangea pot.    I have no idea when they can be harvested.  Somewhere I think I read it is when the plants flower.

It's an experiment and who knows we may have a fresh potato or two some time.






Monday, 12 July 2021

Tourlou

 Tourlou or a summer vegetable medley.  

Ratatouille, the dish not the rat.  I am sure every country, at least here in the mediterranean has a version of this dish.  Summer vegetables, all lightly cooked in a pan on the stove top.  Quick, fresh, light (depending on the amount of olive oil you add) and delicious.


We are going to eat ours with feta cheese and just a little bit of bread, fresh for me and stale for the traditional man about the house.  Stale bread is better for mopping up the juices and doesn't go soggy.


This is what I'm cooking at the moment.

Chunks of

zucchini/courgette

 potato/patata

 eggplant/aubergine

 green pepper/capsicum

onion and garlic and a leftover leek

go**amit I forgot the garlic

Sweat all the vegetables in olive oil, as much as you like.  I only used a big spoonful in the beginning along with a little water but I added an extra swig of oil at the end when I turned off the stove.

Then I peeled and diced

3 fresh tomatoes blanched briefly in boiling water for a quick peel

and chopped

parsley and mint from the garden.

Salt and pepper and a sprinkle of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

Don't stir it too much or you'll get mushy Vege.


It's best cooked in a wide shallow pot.  I was across the waters at the small village of Galatas a few weeks ago to get my second jab and visited the maiden aunts.  They had just cooked this, in their wide pot called a tablas, and absolutely insisted I sit down and eat with them.  You don't get away with not eating in that house but every thing is so well cooked, done from scratch that it's a treat to share their meal.



After about half an hour of a slow simmer our own lunch was ready so I could go and get a hair cut.

And it's vegan too, but not plant-based-whole-food-oil-free.  The latter is my latest fad.  No meat, eggs, dairy, no processed foods and no olive oil.  Laughing Out Loud.  No olive oil?  From every window of my house the view is an olive tree or a lemon tree.  But it's healthy.  Lots of vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes.  It's basically what we eat anyway in the summer, forgetting about the pork and fish.


Friday, 9 July 2021

Fish Meals

 Doesn't matter how hot it is, we've got to eat.  Salad apparently does not come under the heading of 'meal' and neither do sandwiches.


We eat fish at least once, probably twice a week.  We still haven't worked out the portions for 2 people, greek people, even though the kids moved out over 15 years ago so one day we eat fresh fish, the next day leftovers and the cats get the tail-end.

Gavros, which I see translated as 'anochoy'  and sardines are right in season now and K loves both.  Sardines are grilled and served as-is.  Anchovies are usually fried and sprinkled with vinegar.  They are also very nice marinated in vinegar and olive oil with some garlic and parsley.


The fish at the top of the photo are for soup, kakavia.    Even in mid-summer fish soup is on the menu


I was surprised to see Black Angus on the board outside the butchers shop.  
Meanwhile the chook is hanging there in the window head and all.  Ughh 




Sometimes we are given fish.  These fish are called tsipoura, sea bream, and were caught around the fish farm.  They've either escaped or grown fat feeding on remnants of the fish food.  Either way they are considered wild and are some of the best fish to eat grilled or baked




Thursday, 8 July 2021

Pastitsio Recipe

Reposted from July 2017



WEDNESDAY, 26 JULY 2017

Pastitcio -     For It's a Crazy World.  Hope I'm not too late with the recipe.    I had to scroll through my blog to find the recipe.  I didn't realise how many recipes I have posted on this blog.  More than enough to fill up a cookery book, Dave.

Pastitcio - macaroni casserole with minced meat and bechamel sauce





It is made from large tubular spaghetti, called macaroni here.  We buy our spaghetti according to the number. 

 No 6 is what we would normally use for spaghetti bolognaise,  or spaghetti served with a tomato sauce or burnt oil.  

No. 10 is very fine


No 2 is the fat hollow kind we use for pastitcio, a sort of pasta drinking straw.  I see this has 'ziti' written on the packet.  Is that the type of spaghetti?

Recipe

There are three parts to this recipe, plus the putting together and the baking.  It is easy but you end up with a lot of pot washing.

- First
Boil some thick macaroni.  A little goes a long way.  Don't use a half kilo packet unless you have an army of hungry teenagers to feed and a huge baking dish.  Grate a pile of cheese

- Second
Make a bolognaise sauce with -
minced beef (half a kilo)
one chopped onion
garlic
a tin of crushed tomatoes
olive oil
oregano
a stick of cinnamon
salt and pepper
half a teaspoon of grated nutmeg

- saute onions, garlic and meat.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 40 minutes. It needs to have a little sauce so don't let it dry out too much

- Third
make a bechamel sauce, lots of it but not too thick.
That is a white sauce with a little cheese.
Melt 1/2 a cup of butter (I use half butter and half olive oil)
Take off the heat and stir in 2/3 cup of flour.
With a whisk add about 4 cups of milk, stirring all the time so you don't get lumps.  Put it back on the heat and keep stirring.  When it starts to thicken it is ready.  Stir in salt and I add a good dollop of mustard


Put it all together
Lay the spaghetti/macaroni at the bottom of a deep baking dish.  Don't overdo the pasta.  Leave plenty of room for the meat sauce and the white sauce on top.  Mix in lots of grated cheese. Leave a little to put on top

Cover the fat spaghetti with the bolognaise sauce

Top with the white/cheese/bechamel sauce (whatever you call it)

Sprinkle fine bread crumbs over the top and more grated cheese

Bake about half an hour till the top is brown and bubbly.  Wait for it to cool before cutting it into pieces or it will slop all over the plate.  Quite frankly I think 'sloppy'  is the best way to eat it but if you want it to 'look nice' on the plate then Wait.

Even tastier the next day

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Every Day Things

 


My sunflower has died.  
Alas poor thing
I shall replace it with another
Not a sunflower


This is what's going into the sunflower pot
A bougainvillia
With no thorns
A pink bougainvillia
Which doesn't grow up to the heavens waving its thorny throngs
But stays low and doesn't slash and sting
It's an unexpected present from my son in law . He's a great cook, the captain of a water taxi and loves flowers and plants. 




Pasta flora
A greek jam tart
Made with my apricot jam


What jumping gnawing thing has dared to eat my large leaf basil?
All the leaves have great holes in them.  A grasshopper maybe, a praying mantis.  I hope the cat catches it


The second time a small pipe leading from the petrol tank has perished and all the petrol has leaked out leaving me stranded.  Fortunately both times it was on the hill outside our house so I could roll it down home for the man-about-the-house to fix.  Wasn't that convenient

It's July.  It's hot.  I am not inspired

Monday, 5 July 2021

Chutney

I found this post half written in the draft box.  I know why I didn't post it.  Chutney doesn't need a recipe.  You can make it with whatever fruit or vegetables are on hand, add a few onions, sugar to taste, vinegar to cover, a few spices and let it simmer away till soft and thick.

I am making apricot chutney now and am researching an a spicy asian apricot sauce.  Thanks for the idea Tigger https://tiggerswee-blog.blogspot.com/  .  Below is the chutney recipe I had originally written.  I think it was superior as I note, though cannot remember.   The recipe uses wine, red or white, which I often use now.  I halve the vinegar and top up with wine.  It's makes a lighter sauce.

Chutney is something I make at anytime of the year but we are out of chutney and I thought I would follow an actual recipe and make something superior.  This a recipe from a greek magazine. An exotic  recipe for them.  It uses leeks and onions and also wine as well as vinegar. 

 Chutney is not a greek thing.  I describe mine as a sweet and sour sauce.  They rarely have a taste to see what its all about.  City dwellers are of course more adventurous.  Rustics prefer classic, traditional, downhome, what they know and love.  They prefer lashings of strong garlicky tzatziki  with their roast goat.

.............................................................................

Onion Chutney

1 kilo onions – chopped small

½ kilo leeks – chopped small

Put these in a big saucepan


Add

1 cup small black raisins

½ kilo brown sugar

½ litre white wine

½ litre vinegar

Freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsps fresh grated ginger

½ tsp chilli powder

Juice and zest of one orange

Simmer for one hour.  Stir till the sugar has dissolved.

When it has thickened a little put into sterilized jars.

.......................................................................


Word of the Day -

Flaneur -    idler, dawdler

borrowed directly from the french.  Meaning to stroll, to saunter

lâneur “idler; dawdler; loafer” is borrowed directly from French flâneur, an agent noun of the verb flâner “to stroll, saunter aimlessly; lounge.” The ultimate origin of French flâner is obscure. In 19th-century France, the flâneur was a figure for a type of wealthy, foppish man-about-town who leisurely wandered the boulevards of Paris and lounged at its cafés. In the early 1900s, German literary critic Walter Benjamin, inspired in great part by the writing of Charles Baudelaire, helped develop the flâneur into a symbol of the modern artist and writer, at once immersed in and alienated by the hustle and bustle of urban life. English borrowed another noun from French to describe the disposition of the flâneur: flânerie “idleness, dawdling.” Flâneur entered English in the mid-1800s.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Downtown

 The council got itself into tourist gear.  There are big signs in greek and english all the way along the waterfront pointing to shops, tavernas and places of interest in the area.


This sign tells visitors what's available in the main back street around the meat and fish market.  I didn't realise we  had so many clothes shops and when it's all written down in front of me it is obvious we have a great choice.  2 laundries, the sweet shop and taverna (I knew about those) and an optician I had forgotten about.

For a while we did most of our shopping online or off the island in the bigger towns nearby.  It's time to go back to supporting local businesses.


The little back alley which is our main shopping street.  It used to be souvenir shops cheek to cheek but not even one is left now.
On the right is the traditional taverna serving seasonal and classic greek dishes.  Very popular with the natives who mostly buy a container to take home.  Winter time they huddle inside and drink a glass or two of warming wine.


Along with the souvenir shops there were also at least half a dozen places selling gold and silver.  This is the last of them.  We buy from them now and again, a blue bead to ward off the evil eye or a silver bracelet with greek markings to give as a gift .

He's a friend of K so we always get good prices, or so we imagine.



Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Flying Cat

 The catamaran, called the Flying Cat, leaves the harbour


It's the event of our morning if we have gone down to the harbour for shopping and coffee.  From our favourite cafe, the T-Cafe, we watch while the cat comes in and observe who embarks and disembarks.


All the little water taxis have to move out into the bay to make room for the catamaran to dock.

Once upon a time we would be expecting summer visitors and be on the quay ourselves waiting for the appearance of  family heads at the top of the gangplank.  Not last summer and not this summer either.


Sunday, 27 June 2021

Mousakas

 Another greek classic.  Most visitors know all about mousaka and my nieces  make it when they return home downunder.  It's a very heavy, rich dish.  Made with summer vegetables, aubergines and zucchini and I add potatoes as well.


Containers ready for home delivery.  Nicely packaged so they can pop the bowls in the freezer, if any is left over.


I couldn't resist.  I had to do a taste control before taking the photo.

This mousaka was one of the most calorific I have ever made.  Traditionally the vegetables are fried but for many years now I have baked them in the oven, oil free, before constructing the layers.
K insisted on helping and doing it the way his mother did.  Fry everything in plenty of her own healthy olive oil.

Mousaka consists of a layer of sliced aubergine,  thinly sliced  potato, zucchini then topped with minced beef stewed in fresh tomatoes with a big stick of cinnamon and covered finally in a thick layer of white sauce with a hint of nutmeg.

My new ideal is layers of baked aubergines and zucchini, boiled potatoes, a fresh tomato sauce without the cinnamon but with plenty of summer herbs and a topping of white sauce made with plant milk.  No oil and no meat.  It's a much lighter version, far better suited to this searing summer heat.  But not traditional alas.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Greek Pie

Pastitsio.  Another greek classic.


 A sort of Greek lasagne, macaroni pie.  The family love this, well most of them.  

I made a great big dish of it at my youngest grandaughter's request. 


Home delivery

I left one piece for K. It's traditional with lots of nutmeg. Reminds him of his mother's cooking. The rest was delivered to children and grandchildren.

Luscious layers of big thick tube spaghetti, cheese sauce with loads of nutmeg and minced beef stewed in tomatoes with a hint of cinnamon.

For some reason it's considered a summer recipe. You'd think the opposite, heavy spaghetti and thick sauce.

It's also a good first course to fill up guests before the main roast at a baptismal or wedding feast.




Friday, 25 June 2021

Jam

 Last Friday I bought a few kilos of cheap apricots from the farmers market.  1euro a kilo for 'jam' apricots, 2 euros for the good eating ones.  

Apricots ripen quickly and we ate a lot of the jam apricots but I did manage to turn some into jam and fill up 2 and a half jars.  Apricots and strawberries make jam full of flavour.


I was going to buy a few more kilos again today and make jam and chutney.  I was very surprised to see the price of the apricots had gone up.  3 euros for the eating fruit and 1.50 euros for the jam variety, ie not such good quality.  Darn.  These are in season now and the price should be going down.  I didn't buy any more of them.  

Most of this jam will go into a big jam tart called pasta flora which I'll give to my girls.  Hopefully I'll be able to buy a few kilos cheaply next week and make more jam and that chutney.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Island Colour

I'm buying a seagull at the end of the month as a wee gift for me and my garden menagerie.



Non annoying and non pooping seagull






This is a sunflower given to me by my daughters.  It's not of the 'grow to huge heights' type but stays low and has many flowers.  I think I was overwatering it in the beginning and it didn't look happy.
I stopped the over watering and broke and dug an egg into its roots.  Hopefully it will perk up and give me some 'sunshine'.     



Some of the different coloured bougainvillias at the flower shop.
I love the peach coloured one.  Near us there is a deep purple bougainvillia, most unusual but most common are the dark red variety.  They're all in full bloom now except for our white one which doesn't flower until September

The cicadas have started their daily summer vocals but their chorus is not the deafening noise they make at this time of the year.  I wonder if it's  because there are not so many around or maybe they'll get louder as the summer progresses.  It's certainly hot enough for them.  We are 'enjoying' temperatures in the upper 30s and the humidity is exhausting.  In the evenings we have had very slight breezes which bring a little relief . 

Sunday will see the end of this little heat wave we hope.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Shot

  I've recently been given  my second Astra Zeneca shot. The vaccine is a bit controversial .  It's only being given to under 40s now.  It started off being administered only to the under 60's, then  it was safe for the over 60's too and now that's changed again..  Those waiting for a second jab can have the pfizer vaccine if they so desire though the consequences of mixing the two are not known yet.  But, hey ho, we're all guinea pigs anyway, whichever we get.


No side effects, no flu, no sore arm, no headache.  Will I be dead in 10 years.  Possibly but probably not from the covid vaccine.  Did it change my DNA ?  Who cares.  I could be dead in 10 years anyway.

Has the vaccine made me magnetic?  I 'm not yet attracting knives and forks or sticking to the car door.

Have I been injected with a microchip along with the vaccine.  It would have to have been tinier than microscopic!  If someone is tracking me they're going to have a lot of fun trotting after me from the kitchen to the garden and back again.

There's more but its tiring to even think about it.  Temperatures have risen.  We are in the middle of a heat wave.  Viruses don't like heat and neither do I.   I'm wilting and suffering in many other ways.


It was all a bit of a hassle.  Now if we leave the island we have to have proof that we are fully vaccinated to get back again or produce a very recent negative test.  K went and arranged with those in charge so I could get back home after my second shot without papers and tests.  Now I've downloaded an official looking paper saying I'm fully covered,with dates and social security numbers, and my age.  K and I had these papers turned into plastic covered ID cards.  So now we have more official documents to carry about.


In my bag I have my vaccine paper, my official ID with photo and fingerprints, a Navy ID and an E1 which is a paper from the tax office to say I'm a permanent resident of Poros.


They've got us all hog tied and we are expected to be happy about the whole situation.  We are free we say.  Yeh.


We're still wearing masks outside the home but the cases of covid in Greece are so low that it looks like we'll be free of them, at least outside in open spaces, by the end of the week.

Friday, 18 June 2021

More Greek Eating



Fish soup.  Boiled fish, carrots, celery and potatoes are the base


The last of the vine leaves.  They are getting to be a bit too big and tough now.  I blanched these and they are in the freezer.  One day soon I'll make dolmathes, stuffed vine leaves, for my daughter.


Fried 'herthes'.  Lambs balls.  Not the meat-ball kind.
A delicacy.  K cleaned and fried two for him and his friend to enjoy as a meze (special snack) with a glass or two of wine



This is the wine.  5 litres of the best rose





The base for limoncello has finally been put together.  Lemon peel and raki.  Raki (tsipouro) is always on hand whereas any vodka tends to disappear especially when I've just made some fresh lemonade.
So this is the greek version of limoncello.  Raki has quite a strong taste so I hope the lemon peel is enough to smother the taste of raki and give it the taste of the limon.  I'll leave the peel soaking about 3 weeks before I discard it and  make the syrup.


These are meiltzanes, eggplant, baked in the oven with lots of garlic, onion, tomatoes and parsley.  I added some crumbled feta on the top




Monday, 14 June 2021

Poros By Night

 A summer Saturday evening.  Time for a perantzada, a promenade along the waterfront ending up at a cafe or taverna beside the waves.  People watching.  Us watching the passing parade and them watching us.


Poros seems full again . Most I would say were greeks, from the cities and countryside nearby.  Not so many foreigners yet and those that are here seem to be from the yachts.  The flotillas are returning.  A group of small yachts that travel together for 5 days, a week, going from island to island under the eagle eye of an experienced captain.  They go in groups to the tavernas recommended by the company and then on to the cafes or bars or a party on one of the yachts.


The harbourside road is closed from one end of the waterfront to the other on  Saturday night, from 8pm to 1am.  Curfew has been extended to 1.30am so everyone is supposed to scuttle home or at least be off the streets by then.


The Flying Cat (hydrofoil catamaran) on its last trip of the day from Piraeus down to Poros and  other islands in the Saronic Gulf,  Hydra, Ermioni and Spetses

We parked at the far end of town and walked along to K's new favourite cafe in the museum square.  It's right beside the sea so we could watch the comings and goings of the occupants of 2 or 3 big catamarans.  




Museum Square.
This cafe is a favourite of K and his old men friends.  It's central and others can be called in for a drink and a chat as they pass by on their evening perantzada.  In recent years it has been neglected but suddenly this whole area has come to life.  There are now 3 cafeterias in the square itself, a bar next door and a row of tavernas nearby


The new Sushi Cocktail Bar.  Do sushi and cocktails go together?


Stools and tall tables for those drinking at the Malibu.
There was once a line of bars along this stretch of road, with blaring music and drinkers exploding all over the waterfront.  Now all that's left is the Malibu and the Joy a little further down.  This is the first night they're all allowed, again, to play music.  It's loud 


Taverna row starts here
Most have professional cooks now and offer gourmet food.  Marinated octopus with seafood foam and the likes




The road is closed to cars and motorbikes and extra tables have been placed in the road to keep a distance of 2 metres between diners.
Only taxis, the bus, electric scooters and bicycles can drive along here.   Otherwise there are family groups, couples and clusters of teenagers filling in time with their friends before a last souvlaki and home.