Saturday 29 May 2021

Ruins, Ruins Everywhere

 Ancient ruins are literally everywhere in Greece. Every step you take you are treading on the ruins of an  older civilization,  roman or greek.

We live within sight of the ruins of the 520 BC  temple to Poseidon, greek god of the sea, on the hill high above the sheltered harbor of Vagonia.  This whole area was a large port town straggling up the hill from the sea to the temple and it's sanctuaries.  All this is now hidden beneath the earth and the  ministry of archeology has forbidden modern building of any kind. 

Looking down from the temple on Poros to the harbor below
all this hillside would have been covered in dwellings -
now under the earth

an ancient picnic nook

what remains of the Temple to Poseidon

It's the same story all over the country.  Those with land in this area can keep chickens and put a caravan on the ground, pick their olives but are not supposed to even dig a hole in the earth. 

  Stories of burying ancient remains while digging  foundations, of finding gold coins and relics while plowing are so common and they are so true.  If you want to farm your fields or build your house you keep quiet about any finds and hide the evidence quickly, preferably under tons of cement.

On Poros and in the immediate surrounding area  there are:

- the remains of Poseidon's temple, where we have had many a great picnic.  Small grandsons enjoyed playing with their trucks in the ancient earth.  There is a piano concert held here every August full moon.  A Swedish archeology group comes every summer and spends a few weeks digging here.  We have some of the soil that has been removed from the site in our garden.  Our neighbor has all sorts of marble columns and stones in her fields .

- the remnants of an ancient temple in the sea on the opposite coast.  
- at  the town of Troizina, mostly farm land now,  you can visit the ruins of a healing centre and temples, all that is left of a large city.  All the local schools have trips here and my daughters have visited some of the sites which are hidden in farmers' orchards.

- the stone and 'house' of Theseus who supposedly killed the minotaur in Crete.  Legend says Theseus lifted the huge stone at age 18 and retrieved the sandals and sword left by his father. 

- 2 beehive Mycenean tombs - in a farmers olive grove.

- acropolis and volcano of Methana.

- another temple on the crossroads to Methana, still being slowly excavated.

and they are all less than half an hour away.  A little further down the road there  are 4000 year old bridges and roads, Tyrins,  the birthplace of Hercules and a palace thought to have been built by giants.  The incredible and still used 2500 year old Epidavros theatre, castles, more theatres, stadiums, acropolises and the palace of Mycenae, home of Agamemnon who led the expedition to Troy to bring back Helen (of Troy).

the magnificent theatre of Epidavros
340 BC and still used for summer performances of
classical greek plays.  Holds up to 13,000 spectators.
The stone seats at night are still hot from a day in the blazing
sun.  They are also very hard.  Bring your own cushion.

Mycenean Bridge

Greece, the home of Democracy -
it all began very UNdemocratically.  Less than 20% of the population were eligible to vote.  Excluded were women, foreigners and slaves.  Modern Greek women did not get the vote until 1952.  The dowry was not abolished until 1983 and it was the same year that The New Family Law finally gave women an equal say in family matters.

Monday 24 May 2021

21 May

 This is a big name day in our extended family.  Husband, daughter, grandaughter, sis in law and more all celebrate their names on  21 May the fiesta of Saints Konstantine and his mother Helena.  This year it was another quiet celebration, each in their own house.  We did have a few of K's friends popping in but nothing like the food, drink and noise of years gone by.  

The fatty roast pork was done to perfection, a thick layer of crunchy crackling with  lemon potatoes.  I'm always happy when K cooks.  He can't complain about the food because he cooked it but anyway he does it well and, mostly, cleans up after himself, and I don't have to eat any of it.  His friends keep him company in the eating drinking department.

The day before, 20 May,  was the fiesta of Saint Lydia so my grandaughter and I celebrated our name day.  A day without fatty pork.  Just salad and a glass or two of red wine.  Grandaughter and I exchanged some homemade sweets.  She made fruit tarts to take to school and share with her friends.  I made a banana cake and swirled some nutella through the mix.  

On Saturday night the close family. 10 of us, went to a cafe by the sea and had a glass or two of wine and a big meze plate with a selection of greek snacks.  The kids had juices and waffles and disappeared and we sat till midnight and enjoyed the company.  

We are allowed 6 to a table now so the 6 adults sat at one table and the four children next to us.  Football was on the big screen tv across the road.  Curfew is now 12.30.  A good time was had by all

 we decided to spend these fiesta days by ourselves and took off into the hills of Korinth to stay in a stone 'chalet'.  

Everywhere we went those few days there were chem trails making crosses above us.  It seemed like a good sign.  We did the right thing.  Used the money on enjoying ouselves instead of buying pork and booze.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Lemons, Lemons Everywhere

  Lemons, lemons everywhere

Madness on the brink

Lemons, lemons everywhere

Too many drops too drink

Lemons on the bench

Lemons on the floor

Lemons in a basket

Lemons in a barrow

When our trees are full of lemons then so are everyone else's
We can't even give them away.  They have started dropping now, a dozen or so a day and have to be dealt with.  The house is full of them so now I'm filling up the wheelbarrow as they fall.

-  Lemon honey and Lemonade
Lemon Honey recipe (known also as lemon curd) is on 
'The English Kitchen' site
Look for the post 'Lemon Curd and a darned good Lemon Drizzle Cake'. 
I only made two jars and have to get them out of my home.  I can hear them calling.  Lemon honey, as it is known in NZ, is beyond delectable.  Sweet and tart at the same time and gloriously lemony.
These are for my two girls and the grandchildren.

-  Homemade lemonade?   Simmer one big mug of water and one big mug of sugar till the sugar has dissolved.  Add one big mug and a little more of fresh lemon juice. Bottle.  Keeps a few weeks in the fridge.  

When making lemonade take a water glass and put in a quarter to a third of lemon sugar syrup.  Top with cold water and ice. 

I finally made Cro's preserved lemons.
Two jars, one using the recipe he recommends

You can watch her doing this recipe on Youtube too

And the other I made using lemon slices instead of the whole lemon

-Limoncello is next on the list.

Saturday 15 May 2021

Sweet Squash Pies

 Glykia kolokythopita or sweet squash pie is an autumn and winter sweet which is not too sweet and is healthy too.  I reckon you could leave out the oil and halve the sugar without making much of a difference.  

Grating a kilo of squash is a tiresome affair but it gets done if you've got your mind on the finished 'pie'.

You can use a short pastry or even a puff pastry.  I used filo (phyllo) and my layers were too thin.  It needs a thicker pastry which is why I am making a second tray a few days later using handmade pastry.  I shall not mention that the first dish of these pies has already disappeared.

Grate yer squash

Plonk it nicely on the pastry

Roll em up and bake em

Filling -

-1 kilo of grated yellow squash or pumpkin
-1 small teacup of oil
(I used olive oil and the teacup was a greek coffee cup, probably about half the english teacup)
-3 tbsps of semolina (you could also use fine breadcrumbs or rice.  This is to absorb any moisture from the squash)
-1 small cup of sugar
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-1tsp cloves
-1tsp nutmeg 
- sm cup of raisins
-sm cup of chopped walnuts

Grate the squash and mix in all the other ingrdients. dont let it stand around too long or the squash will let out its juices and it may be too sloppy. So they say. Mine sat on the bench for a couple of hours and was fine

Roll out squares of pastry, fill as in the photo above, roll and place in a baking dish.  Brush the rolls with oil and bake for around 30 minutes till golden brown.  

Make sure your rolls are closed tightly at each end.  If the filling oozes out you'll have a sticky syrup to deal with which makes the baking dish hard to clean

Pastry used for my second try -

-1 water glass of...water
-1 small cup of oil
-3 tbsps of vinegar
-1 tsp salt
-400 - 450 grams of flour
-1 tsp baking powder

Mix together till you have a nice elastic dough.  Add the flour slowly till you have enough.    Leave it to rest for 20 minutes and then roll out into oblongs which fit your baking dish

Rolling up so the stuffing doesn't ooze out

All rolled

After an aesthetically pleasing dust of icing sugar it's all 'go' for eating

Monday 10 May 2021

Out in Nature


My blue hydrangea is thriving in it's new clay pot.  The colour is getting darker and darker.  Almost purple

I think these are called medlars in english.  In greek they are mousmoula.  This tree is away down the road and I often pass it on my walks.  The house is empty and will be till July or August when the people come from Athens for their summer holidays.  I would go and pick the fruit but I'd have to scramble over a fence and down some uneven steps.  I'm not doing that.  Pity.  I saw some in the shops today.  3 euro a punnet

My last year's birthday present, thanks kids.  It is finally in the garden.  That's a small basil plant, in the planter

And here's another one for you gardeners.  What is the name of this tree?  I should know it.  I'm sure my father had one in our garden many, many years ago.  The flowers smell delightful

Summer Change


Freedom.  Cafes and tavernas are open.  We went out for morning coffee and a sesame roll, koulouri.  There weren't many people about which surprised me.  All the cafes had a few tables of people.  No overcrowding.

It was a bit different at night apparently. Young kids out for a good time

Tall Poppi came and scrubbed our small rugs.  It looks like she's enjoying herself.  She also re-arranged some breeze blocks to make a small garden, brought down our summer fans and garden cushions from the small space over the bathroom and took down the curtains in the living room so I can wash out the smoke from winter's fires.

Saturday 8 May 2021

At Home

The grape vine is greening up.  The young leaves will have to be gathered for dolmathes before they get too big and tough.

Our grandaughter came and scrubbed small rugs a few days ago and here they are hanging out on the fence.  Thank goodness they are dry and can be brought in to be stored away.  That great tractor/digger thing spent all day digging up next door's driveway so they can bury their electric cable, from gate to house.  That's something new around here.  There was quite a bit of dust, to add to the Saharan dust already in the air.

A few stuffed tomatoes for a couple of lunches

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Easter Sunday Fiesta

 So much fuss and bother for one day.  And another three days for me to recover

We had an easter egg, chocolate egg, hunt.  52 small, foil wrapped, eggs were strewn around the garden.  Fortunately they found them all.  The weather has turned hot.  It would have been 52 traps of melting chocolate.  

The photos are in the wrong order.  So here's the lamb just off the spit.  A perfection of fattiness

The table is set but the men are still tasting and appraising

Cracking the easter eggs.  The broken ones are peeled and eaten

Once the eating and drinking has begun (early morning for some) then the dancing begins.  As my traditional person says, a starving bear won't dance.

Tall grandson turned up for the dawn chorus this year.  Here he's looking after the three spits.  The easter lamb, the kondosouvli  (a roll of pork, tomatoes, onions and peppers), and the kokoretsi ( the roll of offal tied up with intestines).

 the easter loaf fresh out of the oven.

As usual a good time was had by all, especially the men.  My ears are still ringing from the endless loud (raucous) greek music. Everyone else (women and children)  retreated inside after the meal for icecream and brownies.  I snuck in for a quick lick of a bowl.  Then they all took off to the beach below to swim and enjoy a peaceful coffee and cigarette.  As I was the hostess, I stayed behind to referee.  

So its done and dusted for yet another year.  Half the lamb was left.  How much can we eat?  Not as much as a greek man imagines.  There are bags of roast lamb in the freezer for many more (male) get-togethers.  I tried to press all the leftovers on the children but even they were overwhelmed.

Baking dishes, greasy plates and a load of dangerously sharp knives were all washed on the day.   Sons-in-law were tremendously helpful.  One scrubbed the baking trays, the other cut all the meat off the bone and they both hauled away the overflowing rubbish bags.

Till next Year (at someone else's house)

Saturday 1 May 2021


 Lots of work to do today. Easter bread to bake, red eggs and koulourakia to be passed around, all yesterday's washing to be hung out, a house to be arranged for tomorrow's company, chairs and tables set out and most importantly, offal to be chopped and cooked for the evening breaking of the Lenten fast.

Today is also May Day
Uusally I would be out gathering wild flowers to make a wreath.  This year was just too chaotic so I collected what I could from the garden and put together an artistic bouquet to hang on the gate.
There is a lemon, some oregano, rosemary, a chive flower, nasturtiums, rose geranium and red geranium.
We should let this dry out and keep it to be burnt on the fire of St John at the end of June.  Midsummer elsewhere.

The Easter soup is under way.  Offal and fresh onions.  Later I will add lettuce, dill, rice, lemon juice and egg to thicken

The Holy Light has arrived from Jerusalem and will be at our local churches by now.  Usually the Saturday service is at midnight and the light is brought out so everyone can light their fancy easter candles and take it home to make the mark of the cross over the doorway and light their family candle to keep the flame going in the home.  

Smokey crosses from years gone by

Because of the virus the service this year will be held at 9pm so everyone can be home by the 10pm curfew.  So at 9pm we will be saying ' Christ Is Risen', kissing each other, cracking red eggs and then eating mageritsa, the soup made with the offal of the lamb, liver, kidney, heart, spleen and intestine. 

Fancy candles for the Holy Light.
Handmade by grandaughters