Tuesday 29 March 2022

Greek and Serbian Bros

 


Our family includes various nationalities and now we have welcomed a NZ-Serbian branch.  Their history is similar to that of Greece.  Serbia was over-run by the Ottoman Turks and were ruled by them for over 300.   Greece too was under their rule for 400 years. 


 Greece celebrates their independence on 25th March with all the usual stuff. The main events took place in central Athens. There was a big parade with a military band,  soldiers in traditional uniform, a speech from the President of the Republic, a show of tanks and weapons and  4 rafale fighter jets from the french aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle joined in the flyover of Greek jets and helicopters.  Grand stuff.



On this day we  remember our Serbian bros who also fought for their freedom from Turkish rule 

Greece and Serbia have close ties both culturally and historically and both follow the Orthodox faith.  Judging from what we have seen of our Serbian relations their outlook on life is very similar.  Like the greeks they love to socialise and overdo the hospitality.  No-one is ever allowed to leave our houses hungry and in catering for six there is enough for twenty 'just in case someone else pops in'.



On Poros we were finally able to watch our children in the parade, listen to speeches, view the wreath laying and enjoy a meeting up of family and friends for some celebratory drinks




School children gather at the War Memorial 



The parade begins with the greek flag held high and many of the children in traditional costume


Grandaughter Poppi leads her class


The Municipal band.  One of the extended family plays the drum




Nikos, dressed in the baggy trews worn by Poros men.  His shoes aren't quite traditional.  I don't think they wore sneakers back then.  The ceremonial shoes are great clogs with pompoms on the front, called tsarouchi




The show ended with greek dancing.  One of the grandaughters was in the line up, performing local dances to island music.  

Peace for our friends and neighbours in Ukraine 🇺🇦

Monday 28 March 2022

Lettuce Salad

A classic Greek winter salad


This is the recipe for a greek lettuce salad as made in our house.  A traditional lettuce salad. A true blue greek recipe handed down from greek M
ama to son*.  This is a lettuce salad, no cabbage, tomatoes or strange things like pomegranate seeds

*Mama wouldn't mind her son making this salad.  My father-in-law always cut the lettuce for the salad in the family house.  He had a very sharp knife and cut it very, very finely.  K has been known to get it almost as finely cut but I don't bother.  Though lettuce is certainly not just torn into pieces the way they do it in the west.



This is my one rocket (roka) plant.  It grows up and up and I cut the leaves from the lower branches for the salad.  The rocket (arugula) is very tasty, spicy in fact.  Loads of flavour.  I'm not even sure where it came from.  It just appeared in a pot and grew

So the lettuce salad consists of :
- one cos lettuce (romaine) cut as finely as possible
- a big handful of rocket also cut finely
- as much of a spring onion (shallot?) as you need for taste, also cut finely
- a handfull of dill, finely chopped

- Toss together in a big bowl and sprinkle with salt,  olive oil and the juice of half a lemon

I prefer to use apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon juice.  It's a matter of taste.  K naturally prefers the lemon.  




The last of the cos lettuce in my garden



https://www.youtube.com/c/DimitrasDishes   The link probably doesn't work but if you want to look at any greek dishes this Greek American woman called Dimitra has a YouTube channel.  Her recipes are true greek and she speaks english (american). 

Thursday 24 March 2022

Today

 Today it's sunny and seems like the first day of spring.   Yesterday was one of the coldest days of the winter.  An overnight reversal.  



Today there is some blue sky and the wildflowers in our neighbours driveway are a mass of colour.  There was even a small red poppy, not shown.  Their car will have to plough through knee high greenery when they return


K put up the Greek flag which we always fly on National days.
Tomorrow, 25th March, is a church holiday of course and a day to celebrate the, successful , war of independence from the Ottoman Turks


Yesterday we ate soupies (cuttlefish) and spinach stewed with tomatoes

On the coldest days K slow cooked a meat soup on top of the wood fire


Yesterday, actually on Saturday night, it snowed.
Hopefully that's the last, till Christmas at least

We are gearing up for a three day weekend.  The island is filling up.  Masks don't have to be worn outside, the sun is out and everyone finally feels like enjoying themselves.  We will go down to the harbour, drink coffee with our friends and watch the younger grandchildren march along the waterfront and lay wreaths at the War Memorial.

Now if only that damn russian would retreat, or trip over and break his neck.





Monday 21 March 2022

NZ Food

 Two more of the dishes I took down to isolating family. Other daughter did their shopping. I might add that they were more or less symptom free and mainly cooked their own meals. 


NZ fish pie.  Photo from Edmunds cookery site
Edmunds wrote and still publish a cookery book with NZ's classic recipes.  I'm sure Edmunds won't mind me showing their wonderful fish pie photo


A NZ  treasure
Kiwi icon
First published in 1908
'Focuses on traditional NZ cuisine'
A 'must have' when you're a kiwi ex-pat


I made a NZ potato topped fish pie for the infected family.  A proper kiwi fish pie calls for smoked fish. The smokiness really gives it that extra flavour. There's no smoked fish around here,  although I did once bring back a smoker in my suitcase . It has been used with great success, on occasion.

I didn't taste-test this pie. I should have, damn it. I usually remove (like the taxman 😅) a corner, or two .  Now it's still squirrelling away inside my brain. I'll have to make another one very soon to satisfy my cravings.





Apple crumble.
My photo
Recipe from 'Stuff', NZ news site

We were given lots of kilos of apples so I've started stewing them and using them in cakes and pies.

Elli loves crumble so I made one for her yesterday. I don't cook crumbles often enough to be sure of the recipe so I googled 'NZ crumble' recipes.

The one I started to make was from Donna Hay, an Australian  food stylist and TV chef. That's the way Wikipedia describes her. I was not impressed. Half way through I'd made a bloody mess, there was far too much butter and I reduced  the sugar by one third. After scraping all the greasy crumble off my hands I googled again and discovered the recipe from 'Stuff'.  Not much I could do by then except do the best I could with what I had.

The end result was fine but next time I'll use the other recipe. 

I did taste-test this one.  The taxman took just enough to satisfy the taste buds.



Saturday 19 March 2022

March

 


These bracelets made from twisted red and white thread are supposed to protect you from the treachorous March sun.  Haven't seen any of that so far.  I wouldn't mind a bit of sunshine on my winter skin.

My grandkids used to make these at school on the first of March but they've grown too old for that .  This fancy bracelet however was given to me by a granddaughter and I shall wear it faithfully just in case the sun does come out.  Wouldn't want to get sunburnt..... oh how I'm laughing.

It was so cold this morning we lit the fire as soon as we got up.  There's another snow storm on the horizon.  It's mid March for goodness sake,  Mrs Suzi (surname) our weather lady tells us that it once snowed on the 25th March, down where we are.  Humphh




Giant beans stewed in tomatoes with  some carrot, leeks and lots of garlic and olive oil.  I wanted to put some sausage in it but we are sending some down to the family and they may be not eating meat for Lent.  



Another dish I sent down to the family recovering from the virus.  Stuffed tomatoes.  If I was a good Greek Mama I would be running down every day with pots and pans of home-cooked food.  But I'm not a greek Mama.  





Laugh for March.
Potato vodka?
All those Russian brands have been taken off the shelves, they say. I bet our local grocer has plenty, but not the potato kind




Thursday 17 March 2022

Fish Soup

 On a cold wet day a bowl of fish soup and boiled vegetables is just perfect.  A kilo of mixed fish for more flavour.  But none of those nasty spiky Lion fish that are now infiltrating the mediterranean


These are some of the fish we put in the pot.  The red fish are spiny scorpion fish. The spikes can give you a nasty jab but they won't cause any major damage. Luckily these days the fishmonger scales and guts them for us



It's a thin lemony soup. The soup itself is eaten separately from the fish and vegetables


Fish, waiting in a dish

Recipe
Ingredients

A kilo or so of a variety of fish and shellfish. Heads, tails and all to get the full flavour

These are simmered first in a pot of water.  After about 15 minutes take them out with a slotted spoon and keep them warm in the oven.

To the water in the pot add 2 or 3 potatoes chopped into large pieces
a couple of carrots chopped small
a chopped onion
a handful or two of chopped celery
a few zucchinis chopped into large pieces 

Add salt and pepper to the water 

Cook till tender.  Remove these with a slotted spoon.  Keep warm in a dish separate from the fish.

Add more water if necessary and a small handful of short grain rice.  Boil till the rice is soft.  Add the juice of a lemon and a small wine glass of olive oil.  

The soup is ready.  It's quite a thin soup.  You can thicken it by pureeing some of the potatoes.

The fish and vegetables you have kept warm are served separately.  Pour a little olive oil and lemon juice over them.  Serve the soup and the vegetables on the side.  Have a big jar or mayo ready to eat with the fish and veges.



Monday 14 March 2022

Lion Fish

Now the scourge of the Mediterranean

Pterois - a genus of venomous marine fish.  Native to the Indo-Pacific.  Also called firefish, turkey fish, zebra fish.  They have 18  spines along their backs and sides which carry a deadly poison.  However, they are an excellent eating fish .  One way of getting rid of them, eat the damn things.  They taste like chicken apparently.    Quite a few other fish can eat them too, sharks, large snapper, grouper.


The lionfish has been found all around the med now and has been caught in quite a few places aroound Greece too.  Warmer sea temperatures have made our waters favourable unfortunately to this new species.  



This is the one caught on Poros by local fishermen



Wanted, Dead or Fried

The EU is promoting lionfish as a tasty snack. Public presentations have been given by chefs (somewhere, not around here, yet) offering tips on how to gut them, cook them on the BBQ and deep fry them. Gloves and scissors are essential when cleaning and filleting the  fish.  They are hoping that humans will be the lionfish's greatest enemy.







Wednesday 9 March 2022

Seafood and Gripes

I really don't feel like writing much these days. My knee has turned every shade of yellow and purple, half the family have the dreaded virus. K is in constant pain from his shoulder but can't make up his mind to have an op.  It's cold, wet, miserable again today. Petrol prices are soaring and our electricity bill will be going up by one third. That is a helluva lot of euros.

And then there's Ukraine 




I should be counting my blessings. My knee is slowly healing, covid patients have mild symptoms, K has a diagnosis, spring is almost here.
Our dear daughter has arranged for us to pay, as she also does, our power bill in installments which don't break the bank.

But there's still Ukraine 


Life here continues as usual.  Last Monday was Clean Monday, a national holiday marking the beginning of Orthodox  Lent.  The sun shone for most of the day and we sat outside to eat. A light breeze was perfect for traditional kite flying.


I got grandaughter Poppi to prune our grapevine
A job well done


Even though we only had 2 of the 5 grandchildren with us they followed the tradition and flew a kite

This kite is in the colours of the Athenian football team AEK


I made 4 laganas, traditional flatbread
We are still ploughing through them



On the menu today was seafood
Shrimps, cuttlefish and octopus
And lots of homemade taramasalata, salted fishroe dip
We are still ploughing through that as well


The octopus hanging out to dry
It has to be sun dried before it goes on the BBQ 


And a sweet
Homemade halvas
Made from semolina, sugar and olive oil


But only half the family were with us
The other half tested positive for you-know-what and are Home Alone
This is Luli's stool. Being the youngest she usually perches on this at one corner of the big table.

Not this time. Instead of 12 we had 7 at the table.  It was a quiet day. We sat outside but by 2pm the clouds had moved in and we relocated inside and lit the fire.

And so life continues and I count my blessings.  



 

Friday 4 March 2022

City Visits

 

The second important reason to leave the island is the car.  The car must pass it's pollution certificate yearly and it's warrant of fitness every two years. This means a trip to AutoVision in the city of Nafplio.  AutoVision, from what others have told me on this blog, is a European company.  They are all over Greece too.   The check is done in under half an hour during which time we can watch the car going through its tricks or have a cup of coffee and sit outside in the sun.


Then there's time for supermarket shopping, maybe a wander through the farmer's market, food of course at the Old Men's  Cafenion, more coffee and home.  It's a well worn routine, whether for the car or for our health visits.


Nafplio and Argos are our two, almost twin, cities just 15 minutes apart.  The rest of the family goes for coffee, a ride on the tourist trainaki, souvlaki in the sun, a run up the 999 steps to the ancient castle, a joy ride on a small boat to an island with another ancient castle or just an amble through the old town and its tourist shops.  


We are only allowed to go for serious problems.


And serious food
A Greek salad with tomatoes so tasty he asks the owner where they buy them and arranges to pick up 5 kilos


'Our' new favourite haunt
The Old Men's Cafenion
where they all sit for gossip and a drink with friends to while away the morning hours and keep out of the hair-of-the-wife


These huge pottery containers are at the car place, AutoVision
They've been here upside down in the garden for a few years




Another photo from the café.
Fried kalamari and a half litre jug ready for refilling. Never mind the drive home




Fresh fish at the market


A local traffic jam in the back road to AutoVision



Wednesday 2 March 2022

Head over Heels

 Head over heels, literally, and not loving it.


This concrete umbrella base is put under the table so I don't trip over it. 

You guessed. We took the table off last week and actually had to put up the umbrella because the sun 🌞 was shining. 

Next day
I walked backwards into that damn base.

My head slammed into the wall behind and my leg smashed onto the flagstones.

I have a guardian angel up there who's protecting me Big Time.

I heard my head slam into the wall. It smacked loudly. But not a scratch, not a bump, not a bruise, not even a headache, no stars in the 'sky'. 

I sat stunned, wondering what the hell damage I had done to myself.  Poor K froze. It all unrolled right before his eyes.

No broken leg, ankle, hip whatever. After I realised I was still alive and could move my limbs I staggered up and inside .
And I laughed and I laughed. Yup, I laughed. Shock probably .  I was so relieved to have got out of that misadventure unscathed . Almost. I have a swollen knee but can walk ok.

So yesterday it was back to one of those local hospitals and an appointment with another orthopedics doc .

An x-ray for me. Nothing broken. I just need more icepacks. 

I'm laughing again. Thanks guardian angel, universe, whoever is up there protecting me.

It's freezing again today. 8oC, wind and rain. This year March is 'in like a lion'. Hope it's 'out like a lamb'.

What are petrol prices like in your part of the world. With all these trips to doctors and hospitals we have spent 200 euros on petrol in 3 weeks.  We got a shock the first time we filled the tank. A fill-up used to cost 70 euros. This time it cost us 105.   Petrol is 2euros a litre. WTF!!!