Sunday 31 December 2023

Saint Basil's On the Way

January 1st is Saint Basil's Day.  He was known for caring for the poor and bringing gifts to underprivileged children. He thus became the Greek Santa Claus. 

He'll be bringing presents to Greek boys and girls tomorrow, although most have already opened their presents. They rip them open the moment their godmother, aunt or fond Mama brings them through the door.

I doubt he will come by sleigh pulled by reindeer and slip down the chimney. Somehow I think that is a Western myth.

The New Years bread is made. The loaf has a euro coin hidden in it. It will be cut up for New Years lunch. Whoever finds the coin will have a lucky year. So tradition says.

We actually watched the countdown to New Year in NZ on the 1 o'clock news. That was the days excitement.

Now we are waiting for New Year to ring in here in Greece. Will I be awake at midnight? Depends on what television has to offer.  Last year I think I went to bed at 10.

- Some 'jokes' from the Christmas crackers. Only they weren't jokes and they weren't written in Greek. On one side of the slip of paper it was English and the other side looked like Chinese. Probably was.

The crackers did contain the expected paper hat and small plastic toy both of which were discarded immediately.  It was all about the big bang when we pulled them, holding them around the table.

- How many animals have stars on Hollywood Boulevard?

2  - Lassie and RinTinTin

-  What smell is most recognized by North American adults?



Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2024.

Peace Over All

Friday 29 December 2023


 - Today was 'pay the monthly bills day'. All online nowadays. It sure is easier than standing for an hour in the bank.  Usually it's  a smooth procedure but often there are hiccups. Mostly our fault but the computer and the internet connection are also problematic.

Our phone bill has suddenly increased by 30 euros for no apparent reason. K phoned to politely demand the reason why.  Seems we have been receiving messages from 5 digit numbers which we have to pay for, all unnoticed  by us. One of those messages was from overseas and cost us almost all of that 30 euros. WT hell. 

We haven't been warned of these at all. No messages from the phone company. No reports on tv.

We have now blocked all messages from 5 digit senders.

- I'm finished with Christmas. If I could I would hide it away in boxes till next year. I have been quietly removing little extras. Remaining are our boats with lights, the Christmas tree and strings of lights along the fence. Someone else is in charge of lights.

- All my downunder family are in NZ this Christmas. Thank goodness for Whatsap, photos and instant communication .

I got a phone call from them at Christmas and met all the younger generation via the video phone, exchanged greetings with nieces and nephews, talked of this  and that with my brother . Modern communication is amazing. When I first came to Greece I had to go to the telephone company to make an overseas call. I stood in line waiting for a free booth and many was the time I woke my parents at 4am because I had no idea of the time difference .

Now I have the current time for Auckland, Perth and London just by clicking onto the google clock. And phone calls are free no matter how long I talk. Once upon a time I would watch the seconds tick by and hear the drachma mounting up. 

Photos of families, eating, drinking and playing back in the colonies are giving me much joy.

- K has a new toy. A treadmill. We had one for many years. He bought it after his heart attack and for a few months walked enthusiastically every day, noting his kilometres and his heart rate. Then the novelty wore off. As it does. I walked on it on and off over the ensuing years till it finally expired a year or so ago.  A friend of his, another heart attack survivor, was getting rid of his treadmill. Or the wife was. Treadmills take up too much space in these small Greek houses.  Now it is taking up space in our house. He has used it twice.

I continue walking outside. Hey ho.

- I got some very nice presents this Christmas. My Secret Santa gave me a bottle of 0% alcohol gin. Many would say, why drink gin, or wine, or anything alcoholic if there's no alcohol involved ? Well, since I've lost a lot of weight I've had to virtually stop drinking. One glass of wine and I'm tottering even more than normal. 

The gin tastes exactly the same to me. All the taste without the totter. 

I received a bottle of Prosecco rosé too. That is not alcohol free. I shall wait to share it with a daughter or a friend. Or better still, with both. Good wine and good company we all know makes for memorable moments.

I also received packets of seeds. One of the packets is for all year round lettuce. I see in England it is recommended to plant from March to August, their summer. I shall start them in February I think and plant before the 'big heat' here.

 Another present was a purple cauliflower which is being turned into cauliflower-cheese soup.

Elli was told, when buying the cauliflower that if you put lemon juice on it the purple would turn red.
I sacrificed a corner of my cauliflower.
She was right.
The corner turned pink. No doubt if I had squeezed more lemon it would have turned to a darker red.
Greeks love oil and lemon juice on their vegetables. I prefer plain salt and pepper. 

Wednesday 27 December 2023

St Stephens Day

26th of December is a public holiday in Greece but is a day of no importance.  I see that elsewhere it is St Stephens day.  Him of 'Good King Wenceslas once came out on the feast of Stephen'.

In the Orthodox church, the western Orthodox church, however, St Stephen is celebrated on the 27th December, not the 26th.  

On the 26th we put most leftover-leftovers in tupperware bowls (as all plastic bowls here are called) and stashed them in the freezer.  

The girls had taken most of the extra  food with them on Christmas night and we sent away a couple of guests with enough rations to last them till New Year.  No-one went hungry and K kept face.

We then went down to the waterfront to find a sunny spot for coffee.  The harbour was an unusual sight.  There were few cars, fewer people, parking spaces everywhere, even in the middle of town.  It almost hurt to drive past and and not use those  empty spaces.  So much choice and no need to park. A once a year phenomenon.

We found a table in an empty but sunny square and had a glass of wine instead of coffee.   The next table filled with K's acquaintances and he had a few hours of conversation while I surfed the net and fretted because there was nothing at all interesting to take photos of.

Nothing of interest to write about.

A few more words about Christmas Day.  It was an organised chaos.  Everything got cooked.  The yorkshire puds rose and browned as they should, the brussel sprouts were not overcooked and mushy.  

We finally found fresh brussel sprouts.  Tiny wee things, cleaned one by one by Elli. Another vegetable affected by this summer and autumn's strange growing season.

The stuffing was the best I've ever made.  I'll write another post on the stuffing.  We had a deboned chicken roll ready stuffed with ham and cheese, red peppers and tomatoes.  The sage and onion stuffing was cooked separately.  

The gravy, made from scratch by Elli from a Jamie Oliver recipe and the tear'n share garlic bread also from Jamie was finger licking good.

Kumara (sweet potato) and smashed potatoes. Thanks Danae .

There were 3 dishes of pork.  Pork roast with crackling, roast pork and potatoes without fat and skin and wild pig stewed with onions.

Son in law Kyriakos expertly carved all the meat.  He's our go-to-man for meat.  At easter he debones any leftover lamb so everyone can take home ready-to-eat sliced meat.

Other son in law, Yiannis,  washes dishes and scrubs baking dishes.  

Useful sons in law! Thanks boys.

There was a coleslaw disaster.  The glass salad bowl was put on the big table and  the table was set, by Luli, with Xmas crackers on each plate. As the wine glasses were artistically arranged by Poppi one hit the salad bowl and broke, leaving glass shards on the table cloth and .... maybe in the coleslaw bowl.  So it all went in the rubbish and grand-daughter Nels made another one.  Our expert carver carved up another bowl of cabbage.  We had all the ingredients, pomegranate seeds, red apple, grated carrot and balsamic vinegar for an excellent sauce.  I think the 2nd turned out better than the first.

Pudding was a chocolate log made for me by a friend and colleague of my daughter.  Totally unexpected and so welcome and so scrumptious.  

It was all a lot of work but well worth it.

There was time to sit and chat, have a cigarette in the sun, take the dogs for a walk. Glasses were filled and emptied. Children, young adults, had Christmas stockings to rummage in, maybe for the last time. 

Today was clean up the house day.  Cleaning the floors mainly and washing tablecloths and t-towels, re-arranging chairs and setting cushions straight.

Christmas is over.  New Year will be much quieter.  


Monday 25 December 2023

Christmas Day

 Happy name day anyone named Christos or Christina.

A very Merry Xmas was had by all in our house. 

We were all good little children and Santa visited with a sack full of goodies

 Secret Santas 
Screams of delight 

A table full of goodness
The Yorkshire puds, the stuffing, tear n share garlic bread, the gravy, brussel sprouts, smashed spuds, kumara and the stuffed deboned chicken, all the important stuff, were the best we had ever cooked.

Washed down with a few bottles of  NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

Down the other end of the table there was wild pig and some sort of local plonk.

And the best company ever
Me and my friend Jan

Christmas greetings to you all.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Christmas Eve


Christmas Eve preparation begins

Downtown all the kids are going from house to house banging triangles and singing the traditional Xmas Eve carol . These young singers are considered a blessing for the home and they are rewarded with a few euros.

K always hopes a child or 2 will appear at our door but we are too far away now. He has a few euro notes put aside just in case.

Down on the harbour Poppi's class did the rounds of the shops and cafeterias.

They are in their last year of high school and are raising money for their big 5 day trip at the end of the school year.

I missed all these traditional activities, as usual. It would have been nice this morning to sit in the sun, drinking cappuccino  watching the passing parade of children warbling away....instead of cleaning and cooking.

Baking the Christopsomo, Christ bread, is also one of the duties K has taken over. If he makes it himself he knows it has been made as his mother used to. No chance of any foreign ingredients tainting the loaf. 
It's your normal bread with some anise, decorated with a cross made out of dough and with walnuts and almonds arranged 'artistically'.

We were both very busy, hopefully making tomorrow an easier day.

Time for alcohol.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Sunny Day

 Not much to write about today. Last night I made 2 more fruit cakes to give away and 3 jars of onion chutney to give away. K was bored so I made him cut up the onions and leeks. The onions were strong. Both our eyes were streaming. No substitutes necessary this time for the fruit cake and I followed a recipe for the chutney. 

He wrapped the few Christmas presents we will  give this year. Then he humphed because there was nothing else to do. He doesn't read and rarely finds something he likes on TV. These long evenings can be difficult. Thank goodness he has discovered Facebook and loves social media. 

Tomorrow serious prep will begin.  Making the breadcrumbs for stuffing , slicing cabbage for festive coleslaw and all the other things on 'The List'. MY List. K will be busy prepping pork and lamb and checking the Greek food List, more than twice.  He will be plenty busy tomorrow and the next day. No time to get bored.

It was warm and sunny during the day. Good for drying washing. Every day now is a Saint's fiesta day and in olden days you wouldn't dare hang out your washing on a Saint's day. The older generation still goes by that. I'm often told by the elderly members of the extended family that they haven't done any washing, or ironing, or sewing or cleaning  because of the old tradition. They're still allowed to cook, serve and wash dishes though.

24th December is the feast day of Saints Eugenia, Protus and Hyacinth. Never heard of any of them.

Grandson and his girlfriend texted that they would be coming up to see us so that got K into action this evening. Fire was lit. Then we whizzed down to buy pork chops and the beer and wine grandson likes. 

Pork and potatoes now in the oven. They'll eat, drink and be merry. Or else.

They came and ate...... melomakarouna, fruit cake and cheese pies. 

Nice of K to cook pork chops for tomorrow's lunch for us 😂

Grandson told us stories of his days in the army, tramping up to the top of the Acropolis to lower the Greek flag at sundown.  Of standing guard in the pouring rain waiting for inspection by the President of the Republic. 

He's having a good time serving his 9 months in the army but can't wait to get out. 

K has just found a programme to watch. The history of one of the 20 Monasteries on Mount Athos. Called the Holy Mountain in Greek it is a peninsular in northern Greece, cut off from the rest of the country and no women allowed.

And so this day slowly ends. 

We need more Brussels sprouts and no-one has found any fresh ones. Someone will have to pick up another bag of frozen sprouts tomorrow. 

One daughter loves them, the other hates them, doesn't even want to smell them, let alone clean or cook them.  She posts green faced GIFs on our Viber group every time they're mentioned.

Shops will be open tomorrow here . I doubt we need anything, but sprouts. So much shopping done. So much food to be cooked. As usual.

Goodnight and goodmorning

Friday 22 December 2023

A Pre Xmas Coffee

 Time for a pre-Christmas catch-up, a long chat in English and a steamy hot cappuccino. 

I went across on the car ferry to Galatas, the village across the straits.

The sun was supposed to shine today but it was cold and cloudy. 

This cafe is right where the car ferry pulls in. It's very popular because there's no doubt about it, they have the best coffee in the county.

At this time of the year it is beautifully decorated. It's one of the few places where we can sit in the cosy warmth  of the café and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Perfect for a long coffee and a good gossip.

There's even a post box for letters to Santa . 

As well as coffee, cakes, muffins and hot flaky, or non-flaky cheese pies they sell freshly ground coffee, small pots of handmade chocolates and biscuits. 

It reminded me of a visit many, many years ago to a mall in Athens. It was just before Christmas and I walked in from a cold, wet city pavement to a magical, for me, warm atmosphere with Christmas carols echoing through the speakers, Xmas trees and Santas on every floor.

I suddenly thought, hey, it's Xmas, it really is.

The only other time I got close to that, also many years ago, was the Anglican Christmas bazaar in Athens. English voices, a roving band of carol singers, hot Irish coffee, mince pies, Xmas cards and Xmas crackers on sale and piles of lovely second hand books and clothes to rummage through. 

In days of yore..... 

Thursday 21 December 2023

The English Side

And now for the English side of Christmas.

Last night I made 2 dozen Christmas-mince pies with
fruit mince doused in Metaxa brandy.
All homemade from the fruit mince to the pastry.  I've forgotten what a real mince pie tastes like.  Originally, years ago, when I started making these I had a recipe but they're normally a combination of what I can buy and how I can improvise.  My english friend assures me they're wonderful.  That's all the necessary.  She and me and my daughter are the only ones who truly appreciate these.  Others eat and like them, even traditional greeks, but you also have to understand the tradition.  The English tradition.

I also made 2 more of my Christmas-sy cakes
These are an improvisation too.  The last 2 have only currants because I ran out of sultanas and can't find any more in the shops.  I used apricot jam to make up the bulk of fruit.  And I only had one egg so substituted a tbsp of apple cider vinegar for the second egg.
I'm the Queen of Substitutes.

I may try just a corner of one to see what it tastes like.
So far I haven't eaten any Christmas sweet, greek or English though I did lick a spoon or too just to check the spiciness and savour the taste of Christmas.

Ahem....In the name of science I just tried a piece of both of these English delights.  My oh my!  The Xmass-sy fruit cake is amazing.  Rich and fruity and nice and moist.  

I shall not eat anymore.  I shall not...

Actually I can't eat anymore.  After months of not eating anything with sugar or flour something like this upsets my stomach.  So, enough!

A very Merry English Christmas to you all

And for those wondering about the New Zealand side, that will come on Christmas Day.  Pavlova.

What I'd really love to have for Christmas is a traditional NZ ham.  The whole Greek family remembers fondly the NZ ham experience. In 2004 on our big downunder trip my kiwi sister in law found us a huge ham. R we are forever in debt to you for your generosity.
  2004, it was November, not quite Christmas.  A huge smoked ham on the bone .  My of my!
There's nothing like slices of that ham with salad and then endless ham sandwiches.  

I think it's time to stop this food waffle

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Greek Xmas Sweets

There they are. Traditional Greek Christmas biscuits made by a traditional Greek.

Kourabiethes -
The white ones are almond biscuits made with lots of fresh butter and almonds.  They are sprayed with rose water and covered in icing sugar. The whole house smells of these fragrant sweets. 

The others are melomakarouna, honey biscuits. They are made with fresh olive oil and flavoured with orange zest, cloves and cinnamon. After cooking they are soaked in a honey syrup and covered in crushed walnuts.  The honey is from local hives.

Most of these will be given away. A small plate  will go to friends, neighbours and family. 
They in return will give us a small plate with  sweets they have made.
That's a lot of sweet biscuits to eat .

K has one with his morning coffee. I still haven't tasted them. I'll see how long I can abstain.


Tuesday 19 December 2023



A brilliant sunset last night
The setting sun has set the mountains alight

Looking out over Poros harbour

Photo thanks to Granddaughter Luli 

Monday 18 December 2023

A Walk on the Wild Side

 Lucky I have my jolly-holly trekking sticks with me when I go out a-walking.

I frequently meet this bunch of rascals. They run free but usually don't stray from their patch of land. At the time I pass by they are usually being fed by their owner who comes up in the evening to check on them.

Lately they've been out on the road and follow me probably hoping to be fed. I turn and berate them and wave my sticks and they back off making loud gobbly noises.

Today they had gone exploring and were heading for trouble down a narrow lane. A car came along and they had to run like the wind on their spindly legs, wings down, chins a wobbling.

The guy in the car herded them most of the way back and I took over waving my sticks and telling them off for being a gang of half wits who couldn't find their way home.

Luckily they didn't decide to gather their forces and attack or it would have been me running down the road on spindly-ish legs with my chin wobbling wildly.

I've shown you this photo before. Some frustrated hunter couldn't find a poor sparrow or a bunny rabbit to shoot at and shot up the sign post instead.

Leaving a few cartridges behind. 
I have run into hunters on my walk, with guns and all that camouflage gear but they have been out giving their dogs a run. I think.  
Is hunting allowed on the island??  K has inquired but answers are vague. As long as you don't get caught seems to be the law. 

Remember those fierce dogs that used to bark at me when I walked passed. Well, it seems they weren't as fierce as they looked and sounded. The other day they didn't even bother to bark and wagged tails as I saluted them and said 'good evening'. I'm still glad they're behind a high fence though.

My walks are slowly getting longer and I'm now getting to the point where I can see the sea.
It's only about 3-4 ks. I must take my step and km watch and see just how far I am walking. I'm aiming for 5ks.
I'm not interested in breaking records or walking a marathon

Sunday 17 December 2023

Sunday Before Christmas


It's a cold and windy Sunday. About 10oC here, snowing further north.

Ferry boats are tied up in port because of gale force winds.

In big towns and cities all the shops are open for an extra day of Christmas shopping. Sunday trading is usually not allowed.

Here on the island there's no trading but I'm sure cafeterias are filled with locals wanting coffee and a chat.

Here in our house we have Christmas music on the radio. The fire was lit early morning and is cooking our lunch. A turkey leg with orzo (pasta shaped like rice) in an oily, tomato sauce with lots of garlic and oregano. Very traditional winter food.

K is cooking today.  He wants a traditional meal. None of those foreign chicken wings with 5 spice.  Greek salad and feta. No Coleslaw and Gouda. 

The wood fire cooks our lunch, boils the water for coffee and warms house and soul

Christmas biscuit time.
K is making them this year using a traditional recipe. From the internet.
These are honey biscuits. Made with olive oil, flavoured with orange zest and cloves and soaked in a honey syrup. 
They are called in Greek

Thursday 14 December 2023


 A traditional Greek fisherman.  My grandson and his giant octopus

On the way home from school he skirts along the shoreline peering into the shallows.  This isn't the first time he's spotted and caught an octopus.
This one's a biggy , about 4 kilos.

You need sharp eyes to spot an octopus in the water.  They're extremely good at camouflage.  Jamie's an expert.  It's not the first time he's speared an octopus.

A few nights ago he went spear fishing, from shore, with a friend and a high powered torch.  They caught cuttlefish, cousin of a kalamari (squid).

Following in the footsteps of his father and both his grandfathers. All avid amateur fishermen.

5 pointed 'trident'  used by fishermen here for spear fishing. These sharp spikes are attached to a 2 metre pole. He throws the spear, holding on to an attached rope and reels the beast in.

No, he doesn't go to school with a Trident hidden in his bag.  His father has one on his boat nearby.

Prepared octopus in Australia.  Photo sent by my brother in Perth.

Luckily he didn't (I hope) fork out 95 dollars for some of this octopus.  He doesn't have to because he will be here next year and K is already filling the freezer with octopus ready for his visit.  

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Greek Xmas Deco

 It is traditional in Greece  to decorate a small wooden boat at Christmas.  It dates back to ancient seafaring days, so they say .

Greeks are seafarers, traders and fishermen and men were often away for long periods of time.  When they returned the women celebrated by decorating small wooden boats. So the Greek Maritime site says. Don't forget feasting, says me.

In the 19th century  Europeans began decorating Christmas trees and slowly the tradition of decorating boats returned here in Greece.  Saint Nikolas is the patron saint of sailors, and so they say, it became the custom to decorate small boats on 6th December on his Fiesta and leave the decorations up till 6 January.

This boat lights up our big window.
It has been there for a couple of weeks.  Traditional decorations go up first

And our second boat lighting up the back wall

Saturday 9 December 2023



Kohlrabi... Downloaded from the internet

Mystery vegetable in my pot.
I've got to admit, it's exactly the same. So  'Bravo' to all those that named it correctly.
Kohlrabi it is.
I wonder if the plant shop knows what they sold me.

And how do you use it?

I googled to translate it into Greek.
Results were -
A sort of cabbage

Not much help really.

Expect more posts on goggulocramvi-lahanogouli.

I shall ask around and scout out the green grocers.
But I may not buy any.
Besides Cro's comment that it's a flavourless vegetable it doesn't seem to have any exciting recipes either.
Cook it like a potato. Or eat the green leaves and throw away the bulb.

Traditional people are sure to turn up their noses and ask for their familiar 'greens of the fields' and a hunk of pork or more likely some fried moray eel. 

Fish and greens go together.
That's a tradition.

Friday 8 December 2023

Whats Up

           Greek household glimpses.

What is this??
It's one of the vegetables whose leaves were shredded by darned caterpillars.
Broccoli? I would say No.
Or cabbage which I didn't plant?
A pox on all leaf eating caterpillars.

It doesn't matter, because whatever plant it is/was, it hasn't grown at all in 2 weeks. Do these plants need leaves to thrive and survive?

In high winds last week some of our roof tiles broke. Our roof tiler, a cousin of course,  climbed up there and replaced the tiles in 5 minutes. I'm told they just slot in, one under/over the other. I await the next gale to see what happens.
The tiles themselves have been piled up in the field next door for the last 10 years.
You see, these hoarded 'treasures' do come in handy. Once in a blue moon.

This years  wine and oil has been collected from the family land near Corinth.
Son in law's  mother was born in a tiny mountain village and her olive trees and vines have been handed on down to the children.
A cousin looks after the fields, picks the grapes and olives, makes the wine and gets the olives pressed. He gets a percentage for his hard work and the remainder goes to son in law and his sisters.
In years past we have taken our station wagon up the steep, narrow, winding roads and collected the wine.  We have finished drinking last year's vintage.  Bring on Vintage 2023.
Someone else with a truck picked up this year's harvest. Thank goodness. No way I was going up to that village again. Steep inclines, sharp bends, farm workers picking olives with nets over the road made the last kilometres into an obstacle course. Too much for my nerves. Great views of course, all the way down to the Gulf of Corinth. 

This year, and last, the wine was poured into 20 litre bags with a tap and placed in a cardboard box for easy transport . I'm sure you've all seen boxed wine.
As long as the air in the bags is pressed out before closing the wine lasts for years.  So they say.
It never lasts that long in our house.

The wine has fermented, but it's still young. I'll let you know in a month what it tastes like.  We have both white and rosé, and 5 litres of a red wine . The red wine is the cousins own. It's kept in a wooden barrel and it's about 5 years old. 
I give a litre or 2 to my English friend and she compares it to sherry. To be drunk in small glasses.

It's finally cold enough for a fire. The pot is full of bones. I have been boiling them over three nights and this morning strained off a litre of bone broth. It's really good to use in all sorts of meat dishes or you can drink it to give you strength and health. So they say . 
I collect bones from all our boiled and roasted chicken, pork and beef and store them in the freezer till I have enough to fill a pot.

Winter is knitting time.
I was knitting Xmas stockings but got bored. I frogged those.
Now I'm knitting a sleeveless jersey for myself. So far so good.
Last year I knitted a jersey. I ripped it out (frogged) 3 times. Worth the final result!

Sounds like.....

Do your frogs 'say' ribit??
They do here. But I always thought frogs went 'croak croak'.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Xmas and More

Erdogan, Turkish President is visiting Greece tomorrow. He will be staying 4 hours. Enough to get in a few meetings, have a Greek lunch and hopefully leave without any incidents.  He will be travelling with 3 planes and 3 limos, all reinforced with 14cms of steel, protection against chemical attacks and heaven knows what else. 
 Greece and Turkey are talking. 

I had to go and give some blood early this morning for a thyroid test. I've already had the results. All normal. 
The lab was beautifully decorated for Xmas. It was a delight to enter. There were garlands, wreaths, lights, Santa's and baubles all through the rooms. It was bright and cheery

The cafes, offices and shops all have Xmas decor 
Poros is starting to look very merry

I made a few jars of pickled onions
And the first Xmas cakes which I have given away. 
I call them Xmas cakes but they're really only boiled fruit cake with a few extra spices and a couple of shots of whisky poured over them

Our Xmas crackers arrived, from Athens. 
The Chinese giants Shein and Temu had 6 crackers for 22 euros. They didn't look anything special. 
So I looked at the Greek giant, the chain called Jumbo. They've really got on the Xmas wagon. 
1 packet of 4 crackers for 4 euros. Perfect. I bought 3 packets and a packet of festive paper napkins with gnomes on them. All for much less than 22 euros. 

Last weekend we celebrated 5 Sagitarrean birthdays, including mine. 
71 and counting. 
An absent Grandson turned 22.
2x17 year olds and a 50-something.
It was a good day. 
The girls polished off some Prosecco and a bottle of excellent Marlborough (NZ) sauvignon blanc. 
The boys drank the wine recently received from the family vineyards near Corinth. 
Stuffed chicken roll and potatoes, with gravy, down our end of the table. Boiled lamb, tzatziki and fried innards down the other end. 

Today, 6th December, is St Niks day. Name day for Niks and Nikoletas. He's Patron Saint of the Greek Navy so there was a church service and parade of his icon round the Navy Base. We should have gone too but went to the blood lab instead and then had early morning coffee on the waterfront. 


Friday 1 December 2023

Olive Oil

The olive season around here is more of less over. Most of our neighbours  gathered their olives but it was a short picking season. Weeks instead of months.
Some trees had olives, others right next to them had none.
Some neighbours thought it wasn't  worth the effort this year.

5-6 kilos of olives  produced a litre of oil.  That's about average 

Picking in the paddock next door, playground of wild goats. Even though the trees have been left to the elements and had their lower branches stripped by the goats they still produce olives most years.

  The land is owned by a family in Athens who have been trying to sell it for a long time.  The olives are picked by relatives on the island and the family takes a small percentage of the oil.

Years ago they were asking 100,000 euros for the land.  It's a rough piece, long and narrow and in need of a bulldozer to clean it up. 
A fire hazard in summer.
I'm not sure how easy it will be to build on either. Archeological and forestry laws tie up everything here in red tape.

We had a couple of bad storms and if the nets aren't down then they fall to the ground and are the devil to collect.
Years ago the villagers wouldn't leave an olive unpicked from the tree or from the rocky ground underneath. Elderly women would be stooped double hunting out every last olive. Nowadays if it's not in the nets then forget it.

Choosing the best olives for preserving.  
These are my girls, all family. 
They harvested the tree in the garden, not for oil but for the olives.

Little Red Riding Hoods 
Collecting goodies for Grandpa 😄

K asked them to pick out a bag of black olives for him to salt. Every black olive is bashed with a hammer and then left in salt for a few days. You need to be a traditional Greek to enjoy these strong tasting wrinkly olives. 
The green ones are soaked in water for a week to get rid of the bitterness, then preserved in oil and vinegar. They're more to my taste.

Then it's pruning time.
Vaso and her family are out everyday cutting the olive trees down to size

Here is Vaso with her trusty shears (secateurs), bent over, snipping and cleaning the twigs from fallen branches. She is happy still, at 85, to be able to help. 
Her son with his chainsaw trims the trees . Vaso gets the bigger branches ready for firewood and her daughter drags any other branches into a pile for burning.

Soon the neighbourhood will be smokey from bonfires of these prunings. They have to be burnt as soon as possible. If they're left they attract insects which are detrimental to the tree and next year's harvest .

A few months ago we secured 2 x 17 litre tins of last year's oil before the price went up.
I don't how much it is going for now but it has more than doubled in price.