local-kiwi-alien

Friday, 30 April 2021

Friday

 Good Friday is a day of mourning. Shops do not open till 10 or 11am, after the church service when Christ is taken down from the cross.

Church bells sound the death knoll all day long.

No cleaning or cooking. Most people will fast today. We will be eating boiled potatoes, tomatoes and olives. And no wine.

Hallejulah. A simple meal for once. 

Usually there's a candlelight parade along the harbour at 9 pm. The four big churches all join together followed by almost  all the local population, plus visitors, holding candles. There was no parade last year and there won't be one this year. However  we are allowed to gather this year  outside the churches and the service is broadcast over a loud speaker.


We used to go up to the Monastery where there was not such a crush. However the monks have all had covid recently so I don't know what's happening there this year.


K watches the services on TV, as he did last year, broadcast live from the Patriarchal church in Istanbul .


Good Friday is also a day to clean the family graves, make sure the candle is lit and waft around a little incense.


Films showing on our TV channels tonight 

The Bible 

The Passion of Christ 

Jesus of Nazareth 

Close to Jesus 

Noah 

The Ten Commandments 

Regular programmes like MasterChef and Survivor are all put on hold till Monday after Easter.


I staked my tomatoes, washed the front terraces, tidied up the front garden which is my domain. I stripped the bed but can't wash the sheets till tomorrow. Actually I could have done some washing. Even K wouldn't have said anything but I left it, remembering years gone by when I was admonished by my mother in law and her elderly sister for doing some sewing.  Times have changed. 


I don't mind having one day when I can potter and not have that guilty feeling that I should be doing something else.






Thursday, 29 April 2021

Thursday

 Holy Thursday is red egg day.  Done and dusted and all nice and shiny. 


I dyed 40 eggs. 20 of those will be given away tomorrow morning.  A few more will go to neighbours during the week.  Any left over will be cracked like chestnut conkers on Saturday night and Sunday.  I keep the strongest and write the year on it.  I've got one from 2011.  The inside yolk goes hard like amber



This was Poros waterfront last week.  Nary a person and only one car, ours.



This week the waterfront is buzzing with cars and people.  The island is filling up for easter even though movement between counties is still forbidden and everyone is discouraged from returning to their villages/islands for the easter holidays.


Arrival of the easter lamb.  Ours has come in a black plastic bag from a shepherd on the mainland


And one for Dave.  The front garden is greening up.  In that small space in pots and in the ground are a hydrangea, a geranium, coriander, thyme, 2 sorts of basil, mint, hot peppers, a rose bush and chives. And a rabbit

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Easter Prep

 Holy Week.  Every day there is work to do.  Good Friday is a day of rest and Easter Sunday is the mega fiesta.




Monday was whitewashing day.  The job didn't get finished but at least our front wall is a gleaming white.  Weeds were whacked a week ago so the entrance is tidy.


Holy Tuesday for us was koulouraki, easter cookie, day.
I would just go out and buy them but our traditional person insists on making them himself.  In years gone by the grandchildren helped roll the biscuits.  Now they're old enough to bake koulourakia in their own homes.  Thanks to Pappou they all carry on the tradition




Under construction
The back terrace is the 'cave' of the traditional greek man of the house.  He is busy sanding spits, checking motors,  repairing ancient chairs and preparing work benches for the big day

Holy Wednesday was our 42nd wedding anniversary.  I made a Lenten seafood 'kritharoto', risotto with orzo instead of rice.  Traditional people reviewed their lists of Greek island music and ordered extra coal for the bbq. 

The coal/coke is from olive wood.  Only the best.  Along with the bag of coal he also arranged to have delivered a blue hydrangea. 
Only the best for his 'greek-ish' mate of almost half a century.




Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Lagana with Tahini

 This turned out to be scrumptious.  One step up from the usual flatbread


Warning...Warning
NOT traditional

Flatbread with cheese on top and ouzo and tahini in the dough


The dough rose quite a lot even though I flattened it out.  It tasted like a cheese scone to me and I cut it into triangles, split it in the middle and slathered it in butter and honey.  A delicious cheese scone with honey


Ingredients -

300 grams flour 

100 grams fine semolina 

1 dessertspoon dried yeast 

1 tbsp tahini 

1 shot glass of ouzo or some other alcohol, whiskey perhaps?

Oil about one shot glass

Tsp salt 

About a mug of water for mixing  


Make a nice soft dough, leave to rise for about an hour.  Flatten out into an oval shape. Brush with oil and top with grated cheese.

Bake about 20 minutes in a hot oven till golden brown


Other Possible Toppings -

Sliced onion 

Chopped olives 

Rosemary 

Oregano 

Chopped sun dried tomatoes








Saturday, 24 April 2021

Little Lazarus-es

 Lazarakia.  Little Lazaruses

They are small sweet, raisin bread made in Greece on Lazarus Saturday, the Saturday before Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week.  They are baked to celebrate the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  


The small loaves are shaped like a man wrapped in a shroud with cloves for eyes.  The recipe has loads of spices, mastiha, mahklepi, cinnamon, cloves and I put in a little cardamon and ginger as well.  The bread follows the fasting rules, no eggs, butter or milk.


This is the first time I have made them.  A few years ago the grandaughters made small paper dolls representing   Lazarus but I've only recently heard of these sweet man-shaped buns.   On some islands they are stuffed with nuts and raisins.  I simply added raisins to the mix.  A big spoon of marmalade would also give a special taste.  And a glaze of honey and oil, olive oil.


In many places they can be found in the local bakery.  I doubt if ours will have fresh hot Lazarakia and I'm not going down to the harbour to find out.


It is finally raining.  Good steady rain which the olive trees and grape vines will be slurping up.  My young tomato plants and pumpkin seedlings will be loving it too.


Wikipedia says that 'one of the Lazarakia should be kept in the home for the entire years and either eaten the following year (?) or thrown to the fish'.


Before 



And after. 





In days gone by. The paper Lazarakia
These girls are now towering teenagers


If you pull the legs the arms go up and down



Friday, 23 April 2021

Lettuces and All

 How many lettuces can you grow in one small pot?


There were 4 lettuces in here and they all grew to a good size.  The snails loved them.    

I'm picking, harvesting, most of the lettuces, cleaning, blanching and freezing them for the midnight soup on Saturday night (May 1) which will be a 9pm this year.  Another pot had 5 lettuces, all growing too fast.  They'd be overblown by our Orthodox easter.

The midnight soup, mageritsa, is made from the offal of the easter lamb, lettuce, fresh onions and dill.





I think this is an iceland poppy.  It belongs to our neighbour and makes a colourful wall hanging.  I keep on saying I'll take a cutting.  Maybe on my walk today


Me, getting shaggier and shaggier.
Hairdressers are open but one of them has the virus, not my hairdresser, but I think I should wait a while anyway, till that fringe drives me totally insane.  Better safe than sorry


I've posted this view before.  It's from my daily walk.  The horizon is finally revealed after days of Saharan sand and zero visibility.  That land mass so far away is the coast of Athens and Piraeus.  



Wednesday, 21 April 2021

What's New

 The whole country was covered in fine orange dust, from the Sahara, for days.  My eyes were red and sore, the atmosphere heavy and dull, the horizon obscured and our car covered in orange streaks after a feeble few drops of rain.  Thank goodness the skies have finally cleared and days are warm and sunny. The car is still a streaky mess. 

 The air was so damp that we lit a fire for a few nights.  That should be the last of our fires.  I've cleaned the wood stove and I don't want to see any more ashes.  They've been strewn all over the garden all winter.  We don't need any more fertiliser.


The whole extended family has been vaccinated from 18 year olds up. Grandchildren to grandparents, cousins and in-laws.  There is light at the end of the tunnel. 


Cafes and tavernas are opening with outside seating on May 3 which is the day after our Easter Sunday.  No doubt all the island will be out if its a nice sunny day to celebrate this step back to normality.


Meantime Easter is coming up fast but it will be an easter similar to our last.  No-one is allowed to travel back to their villages for this, the biggest holiday of the year.  Many will try of course.   There are sure to be loop holes.


The candle lit parade which takes place on Good Friday will take place this year but it won't be a gathering of the entire island.  Each church will transport its flower decorated bier around their immediate neighbourhood .  The midnight service on Saturday night will take place at 9pm, instead of midnight, with a curfew of 10pm.  A huge difference from last year when the priest and chanter were the only ones at the midnight service.  This year there will be worshippers outside.  Its an important event because we receive the holy light on this eve which lights candles and shrines around the home. 

 23rd April is St George's day.  Kronia Polla England.  Because it lands in the middle of Lent this year the fiesta will take place on Monday after Easter Sunday, when my oldest grandson will surely be celebrating with his friends.  Cafes and tavernas will be open with a curfew of 11pm.

This weekend is Palm Sunday when we can eat fish. On Saturday I shall make the sweet breads called Lazarakia to mark the rising of Lazarus.


Then Holy week begins with so many traditions and for some lots of church going. 










Monday, 19 April 2021

Greek Flatbread

 Lagana is the name of the greek flatbread which is eaten mostly on the first day of Lent.  It used to be unleaven but most bakers put yeast in it nowadays.  The cost of this loaf is more than twice that of our daily loaf of bread.  Everyone buys it anyway.  It's tradition


I bought two laganas early that morning, one for a friend and one for us.  They were still warm and the smell of the fresh baked lagana was so enticing I went back home and opened up the bowl of taramasalata I made the day before and half of it disappeared in a hastily chewed instant.  Then I started making my own laganas



These are two rustic loaves I made.  They were far better than the fat flatbread covered in sesame sold by the bakers.  I put sesame seed on some and others I leave plain for those that don't like sesame seeds.


The recipe I use is the same as that for pizza or a loaf of ordinary bread

- 500 grams of white flour 
or
300 grams of white and 200 grams of wholemeal
- a mug of warm water
- 1 dessertspoon of dried instant yeast
- a little salt
a small wine glass of olive oil

Mix, leave to rise.

Then make the flatbread, flattening out the dough onto a large tray, forming into an oval shape.  Push your fingers in to make lots of little bumpy holes.  Brush with more oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake about 20 minutes.

The dough should not rise very much.  We do not cut the bread but break off pieces and share it around while it is still warm.  K will still eat it the next day but its too hard and dry for me.

When I first came to Greece almost 50 years ago no-one ate olive oil on Clean Monday and there was no yeast in the lagana.  I prefer today's cuisine.  It has changed a lot over the last 20 years.

On Clean Moday, the first day of Lent and a huge holiday, my father inlaw made taramasalata, fish roe dip, with salty fish roe, soaked bread and lemon juice.    Nowadays it is much smoother with lots of olive oil added.  On the table back then would be lettuce leaves and spring onions no dressing or new fangled sauces, bbqued octopus, the fish roe dip, spiny sea urchins which he would have collected early that morning and maybe some shellfish, cockles or limpets, given to him by fishermen friends and neighbours. They were eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon juice.  He always reminded us that Lent meant a simple diet and moderation.  Not something we continue these days with a  table laden with various bean salads, fried kalamari, mussels in wine, grilled vegetables in exotic balsamic vinegar and sweets dripping in oil and honey.  Dessert back then was an apple which he would peel and hand around.

I have found a really nice recipe for lagana which uses tahini and ouzo or wine.  I'll make it in a day or two and post that recipe too.  




Thursday, 15 April 2021

End of the Walk

 The little church which I walk to most days


Dedicated to Saint John, Agio Yianni.  Has a special service every year around 24 September but otherwise is only used for a baptism or a special service of thanks or a request for someone's good health


The Priest emerges from behind the curtain to conduct the service. Women are not allowed back there.


The church is always open and sometimes we go in and light the little olive oil lamp, a glass of oil with a floating wick, leave a few coins in the money box, take and light a candle


Anyone may, and does, walk in and light a candle.
See the glass on the right which has a layer of oil on the top. This is the simple lamp.  The oil can be topped up from a bottle on the window ledge behind.  Sometimes we take a small bottle of oil and leave it there.  Also you'll find a box of wicks there in case it needs replacing, incense and charcoal. 
The charcoal pieces are placed in a small burner, the incense on top.  The charcoal is set alight and if you're so inclined you can wave it around and say a prayer


The walls are covered in icons of various saints donated by the faithful




Church of Saint John
One of two or three on the island dedicated to the Saint


Monday, 12 April 2021

Greek Eating

Food photos.  These last few weeks I have taken a few photos of food that has been on our table.  


A large dish of baked tomatoes and green peppers stuffed with rice.  Made for us and some of the extended family.  Stuffed tomatoes and peppers, yemista, are a summer dish when these vegetables are in abundance and at their best.  These are made without meat so are also ideal for serving during Lent.



What we ate on 25th March, one of Greece's National Day
Fried salt cod, garlic sauce, beetroot and a glass of wine


Greens from the fields with olive oil (local) and lemon juice, from our own lemon tree


Greek chicken soup
Thickened with an egg and lemon juice sauce



Fish baked with lemon juice, olive oil, parsley  and vegetables. I parboil the carrots and potatoes because the dish only goes into the oven for 30 minutes. The result is juicy and delicious. The fish was the previous day's catch, bought from the a local caïque



Pasta Flora or Greek Jam Tart
Made with apricot jam I made recently from half a kilo of dried apricots


Thursday, 8 April 2021

Island Photos


Looking up from the waterfront to the tiers of houses above


I visited my daughter in our old neighbourhood.
This is the winter scene.  No brightly coloured bougainvillia covering that arch over the street and no parked cars or bikes which usually take up space outside the houses


Looking down into someone's garden
The house is right above the sea.....
and next door to the graveyard


One of the more picturesque houses
Looking inviting even in winter with that terrace and sea view


Buying fish from the caïque


This bush is next to the wisteria. The flowers are no longer at their best. Their.
 scent is delightful .
What is it?

 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Photos from Across the Sea..

 Photos taken on the day we went across to the Health Centre so I could have my first dose of the vaccine.


The sky may look dark and boding but the day was warm and sunny
This was taken on the edge of the village, walking out of town


The church dedicated to Agio Spyridon, Saint Spiros to you
It is in a park beside the sea where once oldies from the city came to spend a week in tents and huts to enjoy some fresh air and sea bathing.  We could hear them from our old house in town on long summer nights listening and dancing to greek music.  The two go together.  Music means dancing.


Looking back towards the island

Poros actually consists of two islands joined by a bridge over a very narrow sea canal.  It is separated by a 200 metre channel from the mainland village of Galatas.  This part of the greek mainland is a long peninsular known as the Peloponese.  We are on the eastern side of the peninsular in the Argosaronic Gulf.  

The bigger island, Kalavria, is where we live.  It is covered in pines and this is where you'll find the tourist beaches, ancient temple and monastery.  On the smaller island, Spheria, are the harbour and main town.

We are one hour from Athens by hydrofoil, 2 hours by car.  There are small water taxis and car ferries taking people and vehicles across the narrow strait about every half hour.  Many people live on one side and work on the other.

The population is around 4,000.  
 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

News but not a Flash

 Vaccination on the island has gone so well for the over 60s that now anyone over 18 can register and get the vaccine.  I got my jab last week and K got his a few weeks ago.   We got the astrazeneca, others got the pfizer.  Depends which list you were on. 


The villagers across on the mainland are getting vaccinated at the same rate.  Small communities and islands like ours will be fully vaccinated, and covid free we hope despite the rumours that the vaccine changes your DNA or  implants you with a microchip.  As most are aware, the govt can get far more info about you by following your facebook or instagram account. 


A lot of islands are now covid free and preparing for a busy summer season.  On the smaller islands, fewer than 1,000 residents, everyone is involved in the tourist season and you're guaranteed the warmest of welcomes and enjoyment of laid back greek island life.  Good weather, blue seas and long hours eating healthy mediterranean food with local wines and beer, greek music and dancing.


Sounds like a darn advertisement!  


Archaeological sites have all re-opened.  Small groups are allowed in, wearing masks.  As far as I know that only applies for open-air sites, not museums.   You can come to Poros and vist our ancient temple site any time.  It is never closed and it's free.  You can come and dance naked at dawn if you want to, as long as you wear a mask.  After ouzo and octopus anything can happen.  



Photo of the day, this beautiful 'hedge' of divine smelling purple flowers. I don't know what it is . Lilac perhaps? I pass it on many of my walks. The flowers are always full of buzzing bumblebees.


 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

My Throne

 


My ancient 'throne' amongst the remains of the Temple once dedicated to the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon.
Here I sit and contemplate the silence, listen to the wind in the pines, enjoy the purples and lilacs of the sacred wild flowers before continuing on my daily walk

K told me recently that there has been discussion about the site on social media.  It is not by chance they say that the temple was built on this site.  If you walk barefoot between the ruins you can feel the energy from the earth and become charged with strength and wellbeing.

Well, well, well (3 holes in the ground), say I.  
I haven't felt any charge of sacred electricity but I haven't walked there barefoot.

I'll try when the weather gets warmer and more indusive to walking without socks and shoes.

There is a blog post coming up about the temple.  I have the photos but not the blah,blah.