Saturday 29 January 2022

Greek Potatoes

 My greek sister-in-law makes the best roast potatoes but don't tell my husband that.  Mine never turn out quite like theirs, even after 45 years.  Being a local-alien I  use less lemon juice and certainly less olive oil.  The greek family just love lemon juice and they can never have too much.  A fresh lemon, sorry, fresh lemon-s, are squeezed over everything from a green salad to fried potatoes.  On the other hand the kiwi side of the family want just a hint of lemon, and we put ketchup on our fries.

First peel and cut your potatoes lengthwise, long wedges.  I par boil mine for 10 minutes especially when I'm cooking them with chicken.  They roast quicker and brown easier.  However, my greek husband and his sister would never do that.  They are traditional people and do as their Mama did.

These are the other ingredients.  Measures are to your taste.  I just eyeball them.  (No, I do NOT mean that we cook eyeballs with them JC.  But we could)

Place the potatoes in your baking dish.  

Drizzle with a good olive oil.  You'll be adding more later. 

Sprinkle over them 3 or 4 cloves of chopped garlic

 a tsp or more of dried oregano

 a few twigs of fresh thyme

 a squeeze of mustard

 and salt. 

 Get your hands in there and mix it all up, massaging the potatoes and distributing the herbs.  Add a cup of hot water or some kind of stock.  I use a stock cube mixed with hot water because that's what is on hand.

Now for the lemon juice.  Squeeze a lemon over the potatoes.  I have preserved lemons and always forget to use them.  I will next time and see how it tastes.  Don't overdo the lemon unless you're Greek.  A little zest will give more flavour too without the acidity.

Grind some fresh pepper over the potatoes and pour more olive oil over the whole lot.  Say a small wine glass. 

Cook about an hour at 200oC till golden brown.    After the first half hour take the dish out and turn them gently just to get them brown on all sides.  

My sister-in-law does not worry about browning her potatoes.   She wants them soft with plenty of oil and they are wonderful!

Her potatoes look like this

This is more or less how mine come out of the oven.

Kali Orexi 

Monday 24 January 2022

Winter Storm

 This morning the sun was shining so I went for a walk. 

12 midday it started snowing. Well, a few snowflakes fell and melted 

Elsewhere in the country there is heavy snow, villages are snowed under, main roads are chains only.

Schools in our area are closed for three days. It's not so tragic on the island. But Poros is  classed as part of greater Athens so we go under the same rules.

It is snowing 'properly' in central Athens.

Pic from grandson in Athens
The parks have a few feet of snow

The motorways around the capital  have kilometres of cars unable to move  because of the thick snow. Many of the islands are covered as well. One of them is Naxos which I wrote about recently praising it's mild climate. Not so mild this winter.

I know you're laughing out loud Jenn.  Three snowflakes and life slides (skiis 🤣🤣) to a halt.

We lit our wood stove at 11, a pot of goat stew is simmering on the top. Yes, really, but I'm eating rice .  We sit and watch a marathon weather report from the rest of the country and await a fierce snow storm. Now I'm laughing out loud too.

Snow clouds are coming down

Yesterdays snow on the mountain

Since midday we have had snow flurries but it hasn't settled 

Greek tennis player Tsitsipas won his next round, progressing in the Australian Open. The match wasn't shown on Greek TV but I got live updates from brother in Perth

That's it for Monday

Sunday 23 January 2022


 There's another storm coming through. This one's an icy one. There will be snow in and around Athens and probably on Poros

Those in charge of weather things name our storms now. They are going through the Greek alphabet Α,Β,Γ,Δ and now E. This storm has been named Elpitha which means Hope. Honestly out of all the ancient names beginning with an E they came up with one meaning Hope. Who was the person with the twisted sense of humour that came up with that?

Our wood pile
We stocked up on a ton of olive wood last week

Today a few snowflakes fell and we were jumping with excitement. Hard to imagine for most of you.  

Saturday 22 January 2022

A Walk in the Wild

 We've had some sunny but cold days and I've enjoyed being out and about again. Over the holidays there were cars and bikes whizzing past. Three cars and a motorbike is heavy traffic here 🤣.  Now they've all gone home and most days it's only barking dogs that I see and keep my distance from 

Walking up the mountain road to the temple of Poseidon

I always pass a church or two on my walks. This a chapel dedicated to Saint Nektarios. In the grounds of Paradise Taverna

Looking down to our local Vayonia Bay

The neighbours orange and lemon trees are loaded this year. Unfortunately they are not worth picking. The price is just too low.  We can take as much as we want and Vaso brings us baskets of mandarines . Most of them fall and rot

The fertile area of Poros, up in the hills, called Fousa. This is one of the small vineyards, cleared and pruned and waiting for spring 

The first spring flowers. Maybe not spring. Winter flowers. Lovely to see the colour

Today the weather has changed . There's snow in the air

Wednesday 19 January 2022


 The sun came out today and inside the house it was nice and warm. I sat in my chair bathed in sun and decided to go for an early walk before the afternoon clouds started forming.

I put on my jacket and shoes and walked out the door. Brrr, baby it was cold outside. By the time I got to the top of the road my nose was red and dripping.

So I dragged my mask out of my pocket and wore it for the rest of my walk in the wild. My nose turned nice and toasty. 

We are supposed to wear masks outdoors but no one does.  Up here in the hills  the only living beings I saw were the stray cats around the rubbish bins, a few chickens in the olive groves and a goat standing on an old oven dumped in a field . I keep a mask in my pocket, just in case. Came in handy!

I could have done with gloves too.

These are the gloves I wear. They used to be fingerless . Then I discovered that I don't like fingerless gloves. Your fingers stick out the top and freeze. So I turned them into mittens.

The only fingerless mitts I like. But these are worn as a fashion statement

Monday 17 January 2022

16 January Feasts

Today Mr Google invited me to go and look at the photos I took on this day three years ago.

It's the feast of St Anthony today and in our neighbourhood we have a small church dedicated to him.  Three years ago when life was just
the normal routine we went to the early morning service.  K naturally was one of the first there.  I crept in towards the end.

The wives of a couple of local Antonis had brought boxes of cakes which were passed around after the service and nibbled whilst chatting and wishing everyone Kronia Polla and even kissing a few cheeks.  Most of the congregation then slowly drifted away.  But not us, oh no.  K knew what was going to happen next.  The neighbours who look after the little church brought in a big oven tray of baked goat and lemon potatoes and a few litres of their own wine.

The 'in' crowd enjoyed fork fulls of roast goat and a glass or two of wine

The little church of St Anthony is literally in someone's backyard.

Today there may have been a service to celebrate this Holy Day but we didn't attend. I doubt there were any celebratory meats afterwards if it did take place.  Maybe next year.

Any celebrating will be done in the private homes of Antoni and Antonia and there will only be very close friends and family in attendance. But I'm sure they'll be celebrating as normal with their own fatted calf, flowing wine, music and merriment

Kronia Polla Anthony Rolf 💕

Wednesday 12 January 2022


 Yes, it snows in Greece and sometimes on Poros.  We are in the middle of storm Diomedes (a hero of the Trojan war) and temperatures are sliding.   

There is a lot of snow further north, the ski centres are all open and they were filled with happy ski-ers over Christmas and New Year, some of our family included.  

Greek mountain ski resort of Kalavrita
 Just 3 hours away from Poros

The happy family just about to invade the slopes

They were all snow boarding this time round

After ski drinks shack.  Heated raki and honey, rakomelo..
for the adults

Then they all dug into 'amazing sandwiches with burgers or pork chops'
Can't forget the food!

She wanted a warm hat.  I knitted one.
Note the ears please!

Happy family after-photo
They had three terrific days in the snow
On the very last day grandaughter broke her wrist.  Naturally on a ski field the orthopedic care was first class.  The wrist was soon bound up and it was time to come home anyway

We looked after the family dogs.  This is Molly with her new BF

Tuesday 11 January 2022

Kiwi Carving

A friend of ours has been carving, from wood, bone, anything he can get his hands on for years.  He is also the owner of a K-approved cafe.  We went there one evening, during the summer,  and he was wearing his own handmade maori pendant.

He says that he watched a few youtube videos, especially on how to treat the bone and then started carving.  I've seen his work before and wanted to buy something but he does it for himself and the satisfaction of creating these wonderful pieces.  I have no maori blood, I am not an artist but I can tell his work is excellent.

V  has no maori connection either, has never been to NZ
This is the piece he was wearing that night

Carving on a cuttlefish bone
He's an old friend and is happy to show his masterpieces to me. This one he gave to me and I have it on show inside a clear glass so it won't get damaged

Thursday 6 January 2022

Another Feast

6th January  Epiphany 

A most important feast day marking the end of the festive period.  It celebrates the baptism of Christ in the Jordan river and  his revelation to the world as the Son of God.

So what does that actually mean?  Here it's usually preceded by a day of fasting and the third carol sung by children going from house to house as at Xmas and New Year.

The 6th of January is a national holiday and normally everyone dresses up in their best and goes down to the harbour to see the three head priests gather to throw a cross into the sea and 'baptise' the waters.  As the cross (attached to a long ribbon so it's not lost on the sea bottom) goes in for the third time a group of hardy kids dive in to retrieve it, the first to grab the cross being especially blessed.

Most then continue drinking ouzo and eating mezedakia (snacks of pork and other meaty tidbits) with big groups of their friends.

Last year there was only a church service, no blessing of the waters.  This year each church can do as they think proper for these times.

We didn't get dressed up and we didn't go down to the harbour for coffee or ouzo or cross throwing.  There are far too many virus cases on the island just now and it's safer to stay at home.

K watched the service on TV that was conducted by the Orthodox Patriarch  in Constantinople (Istanbul to you).  Then two, vaccinated, friends came round and he feasted here instead.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  Hopefully no ponokefalo (headache) or worrying sniffles.

Day after ponokefaloes are the norm, sniffles are not

Tuesday 4 January 2022

How Greek Are You?

This my revised version of the quiz posted on where I find much of the Greek news in English.  

The article has been written by a greek, Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi.  Takes a greek to know a greek though I think some of these traits are found in the Italians and other countries round the med too.

1. Is eating a way of life for you.  God bless him, my traditional person is a true full blooded Greek.  You live to eat not that namby pamby way the west lives, eating to live.  You miss out on all that intense  joy that accompanies any food or drink.  Savouring, discussing and arguing over the dish while relishing every bite.  You eat with your company whether you've just partaken of lunch or not.  You eat with your family because you must.  Look at me.  I wouldn't be overweight if I ate what I wanted and when I wanted it.  You eat with others because it's polite and it's part of the days entertainment.

2. Do you believe paying cash ensures a discount.  Clever girl Kerry.  You're a true greek.  'Cash is king in Greece', she says.  Most people do not like cards either to pay with or be paid by.  You pay cash you get a bargain.  Often still I'm asked when producing a card 'Don't you have cash'?  Or I apologise and say 'sorry I only have a card, no cash just now'.  Of course a bank card means that the transaction is recorded and someone has to pay tax on it eventually.

But a Greek likes to barter and a discount for cash is a bargain not to be missed.  My traditional greek will barter on anything, even a handful of screws.

3. What was in your lunch box when you were a kid?  A sandwich, piece of fruit or a salad is not a meal, does not fill a tummy and any Greek Mama knows that .    As Kerry says ' if you've been sent to school with dolmathes (stuffed vine leaves) or a huge honking piece of moussaka then you're greek'.

4. Do you think spitting is good?  You can be spit on here for good luck, or spit on yourself even, though its mostly just a symbolic ftoo ftoo ftoo. Three times to get rid of the evil eye or to protect yourself from a blue eyed devil.

5.  Are you wary of the evil eye?  Most everyone still believes in the evil eye which is usually cast on you through envy or jealously.  Our girls will now and again phone their father when they are not feeling well so he can do his heeby-jeeby thing and remove the curse.  If you're feeling dizzy, have a headache or yawn a lot then you may be under the spell.  You can remove it yourself by crossing your arms with your hands under your armpits and saying the Lords Prayer 3 times.  Then spit on yourself and shake yourself about.

6.  How many people do you know named Eleni, Maria, Kostas, Yiannis, or Dimitris.  These are family names and have been passed on down from Grandfather or Grandmother for generations.  My K has three cousins with exactly the same name.  They are differentiated by the name of their father and mother.  No middle name here.  He is KT son of George and Eleni.

7. Do you celebrate your name day?  Most greeks are named for Saints and celebrate their name day on the Fiesta of that Saint. Name Days are far more important than birthdays.  Very few besides you and your mother know when your birthday is and if you have a party then you invite only those you want to come.  On a name day you can't hide away.  Everyone knows your name and will stop you on the street and phone you to say Kronia Polla, Many returns.  You're expected to have open house and anyone that wants will arrive with a small gift and expect a sweet and a glass of whisky or a full blown feast.

We used to have half of Poros traipsing through our house on K's name day and he got enough bottles of whisky to set him up till his name day the following year.  Times have changed however, we no longer have a goat and a pig on the spit and the party does not go on till the small hours.  Things started to change with the economic crisis in 2012 and then this virus hit these huge celebrations on the head.  Now on his name day only close family and friends will actually come to the house and though they will always be fed in our house there will only be an oven tray of pork and potatoes, a greek salad and tzatziki with plenty of local wine and tsipouro (raki, grappa)

There's more of course to being a true Greek. I'll post more one day