Thursday, July 30, 2009

Note: I removed the "my Corfu" slideshow

The only comment I got on it was from T, who remarked that it slowed his computer down and he's seen all those pictures before anyway. (!yoo-hoo?! Did you think I had other ones you hadn't seen before??) If anyone wants to see it again let me know and I will overrule T.

the eaglet has landed

And is safe back in the arms of his loving family...

Grandson's father (my oldest son) actually remembered to send me an email to tell me he arrived safe and sound and a little bit 'wired' from the long journey. (23 hours of continuous travel is still 23 hours, no matter how old you are!)

The first thing T and I said this morning at about the time Son was writing the note was "I bet he's already showing them the card tricks!!"


Today I remain at home and putter around with "things" and "things I haven't finished."

These include:
- making up a batch of BBQ sauce
- cooking a pot roast in the pressure cooker
- finishing the laundry (which is clean and wet and in the basket, but needs to be hung up outside in the hot)
- cleaning the grandson guestroom
- putting all my clean clothes- that have been neatly folded since my last attack of laundry- away
- playing with the dog, who follows me soulfully from room to room
- and I suppose- finally- trying to write something intelligent for the blog.


Meanwhile, T (tour guide'par excellance') and the Belgian cousins have gone off again, back to Nissaki, today, so that Benoit- Jenny's husband- can go skin diving around an old wreck off the north east coast. (I told T to stay OUT of the water!)

I am amazed at T's stamina. Last evening, I picked him up at the airport at 7 pm, after his wild and boring 24 hours in Athens seeing grandson off- wild because of the taxi strike the evening they arrived, boring because after grandson left at noon yesterday, he just sat around in the airport for 6 hours til his plane left to come home.

From the airport we went to pick up the cousins who had spent the better part of the day shopping and excursion-ing.


So we decided to go out dinner!

From the foot of the old fortress (completed circa 1550's) where they waited, we went to the foot of the "new" fortress (completed circa 1645) , to have dinner at - I think- one of the best restaurants in Corfu: Retro Nuevo . The food is simply wonderful and the prices will reflect that - about 37.50 euros per person (including drinks and wine). Though for the rest of Europe that's a bargain!

True it was Wednesday and yes, the economy is hard hit--- but I couldn't believe we were the only customers!!

It's become my second favorite restaurant. As we'll probably visit my first favorite and my third favorite with the cousins, I'll write about them later. I will ALSO include pictures, but unfortunately they're on the camera that's with T for the day, so they'll go up and be posted later today.

We started with cocktails- and they have a wonderful selection: T of course had scotch, I had Campari and soda and Benoit has a Mai Tai!! All were served with panache.

We had wonderful starters shared by all of us - shrimp and mango rolled in Kadaifi pastry, little seafood pouches to dip in teryaki sauce, a lovely salad with spinach leaves, wild greens, strawberries and walnuts with paper thin slices of serrano ham.

For our main courses we all picked vastly different things to eat: T had a pasta with smoked salmon and a delightful vodka sauce, Jenny had pork fillets with a lovely Corfiot citrus-y kumquat sauce and Parmesan pureed potatoes in a croquette shell, Benoit had the Retro Nuevo salad with a variety of greens, speck and Parmesan with a brilliant balsamic, cream and poppy seed dressing, and I had "Greek specialty" of mixed grill souvlaki with lemon oil sauce and yogurt dip- it was the best I've ever tasted- juicy, seasoned just right, fire-browned from the grill, and the homemade chips, that were like golden coins on the plate.

We washed it all down with a really nice South African pinot grigio.

For dessert we left it to the able Panos (the owner/proprietor), to bring us a plate of the "tastes" of dessert, which included basically a little chocolate souffle which we all dug our little spoons into and jenny finished, a lemon cheesecake mousse which benoit finished, a white chocolate panacotta with strawberry syrup, and yogurt-cream in fruits of the forest sauce in a crunchy pastry nest both of which T and I made significant inroads into but couldn't quite finish.

Fortunately I had a button on my pants that I could open and my shirt flowed handily over it so no one knew!!

We walked to the entrance of the new fortress a ways "up" on old cobblestones, from the restaurant, which was a good thing as we all needed to move a bit and get some exercise after that huge feast!

Then back down to the car and all tucked in bed by 11 pm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Grandson's last full day in Corfu

Last night we went to Spiros and Vassilis Restaurant for the grand final evening.

Boo Hoo. All good things come to an end and grandson must return to bosom of his family. We've had a great time with him.

What a blessing it's been to get to spend this uninterrupted special time with him. It's been a real pleasure for us, and I think for him too.

He probably had the most doubts to begin with because when he arrived he really didn't know us very well, and had never been with us without his parents around. Then too, he was away from his friends, and as we knew no other 14 year olds, who spoke english well enough to be his buddy here, he had no one his own age to "hang around" with!

He handled it beautifully and basked in the enjoyment of being an "only" child. He worked and earned some money his first few weeks here, doing some real "heavy" jobs with T. More than anything else though, he "played" with us. His running battle with T over darts, badminton and horseshoes, will never die. He learned how to play Cribbage, Set Back and Euchre- and win at them. He even managed to teach himself TEN great card tricks (Magic!). He's a little miffed over me winning at scrabble, but overall, he's game to keep trying!


The day passed quickly, as I stopped to make everyone breakfast and then it was time to remember all the things we did and play another couple of games of set back and then darts and swimming in the pool and lunch of spaghetti carbonara and in between times I put together a nice dvd of all the pictures and little videos I've taken since he's arrived. (almost 2 gigs worth! i must have been besotted!)

All too soon it was time to drop grandson and T off at the airport. (T is flying to Athens and spending the night with grandson so he can catch his flight bright and early- at noon- tomorrow.

Don't Ask.

Of course there's a flight that leaves at 7:30 AM from Corfu, but from the days (long gone by) of wacky cancellations and delays the airline refuses now to book you the same day.

[Personally i think it's a bit of a scam, as spending a night in Athens seems to be the gimmick here...]

I can't tell you how many times I have had to take last flight of the day, arriving in Athens at midnight the night before only to sit up in the airport to catch my connecting flight that leaves at 8 AM. That makes sense in a bizarre way, as the earliest flight to leave Corfu leave at 7:30 AM.

But in grandson's case, if he took the early morning flight, he still would have had to sit in Athens airport from 8:30 AM until 10 AM earliest for checkin for a noon flight.

So they will be staying at a nice little three star hotel owned by a friend in Glyfada, a suburb of Athens.

I've had their phone call and they have arrived safe and sound. They'll have plenty of time for a nice breakfast tomorrow and a leisurely ride back to the airport. T must return on the next earliest flight back to Corfu. Unfortunately he'll be stuck in the airport until 6:30 PM. Bummer.

Though I'm sad grandson's gone and feeling a bit deflated, I am happy he'll be seeing his family and friends and telling them of all the wonderful things he did and how much he missed them all.

Travel -I think- is good for the soul.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Tripa Experience (and the rest of the weekend)

On Saturday night, T took the cousins and grandson to one of our island "treasures" in Kinopiastes- the taverna known as "Tripa" This is an opportunity to spend an evening outdoors, under the grape vines tasting every single specialty food make on Corfu, while listening to bouzouki music and watching Greek dancing.

It has been known to be a bit of a mystery spot as trying to figure out what time it opens, when the show starts and how much it costs, are oddly not something included anywhere on their advertisements.

It's seems that's the Greek way of doing things.

I can tell you that it WAS open on Saturday night (calling the Tripa phone number twice over the course of the day brought forth a woman who only spoke Greek and could give no information.)

SO... They arrived at 8 and were the first people there! The cost was 40 euros per person (up from last year). They stayed through the meal (general consensuses was that there were five different HUGE courses of food brought to the table and the bouzouki music was really good. (The dancers were also good but not as good or with as much variety as in the past and certainly without the guy who carried the table around in his teeth... this from T who liked the guy with the table and was disappointed he wasn't there.) Everyone got home around 11 pm. stuffed to the gills with food and feeling like they'd never have to eat ever again.


That all changed on Sunday. T, grandson and Alexander went to play golf (grandson's last round before he returns to the bosom of his family in the US.) and cousins rested by the pool. At four the golfers returned and Roy and Sammy came over. I popped two chickens in the oven, simple-simple but really nice: cut up a whole lemon and tuck it inside chicken cavity with a sprig or two of fresh rosemary. Slather the outside of chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt cracked pepper and a little bit of garlic powder. Put in a preheated 175 C/350 F oven and (as I had two chickens and 8 foil wrapped potatoes sharing the oven) pop in for two hours or til done.

I fixed corn on the cob and watermelon to go with it and made a quick sponge cake with several healthy spoonfuls of my "ginger pear thingie" the whole package was verry tasty.

There was much swimming and horsing around and regretful partings. The evening was rounded out by cousin Benoit attempting to give grandson a haircut (which T fortunately smoothed out and finished- much experience with beard!)

All in all it was a good weekend.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thoughts on Medusa

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop
(1911 - 1979 / Massachusetts / United States)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; In 1976, She became both the first American and the first woman to win the Books Abroad/Neustadt Prize for Literature.

[The picture above is of the pediment of a temple found on Corfu. It's the only one of its kind and was dedicated to Medusa. I love this poem by Bishop and they just sort of came together in my thoughts this afternoon. It's found in the Archaeological Museum in Corfu town, Her myth: Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors," priestess in Athena's temple, but when she was raped by the "Lord of the Sea" Poseidon in Athena's temple, the enraged goddess transformed her beautiful hair to serpents and she made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn a man to stone.]

Friday, July 24, 2009

homemade ricotta cheese vs a lobster lunch

So, today the cousins, grandson and dedicated 'tour guide' went off to the south west coast of the island to visit Prassoudi. It's a lovely little beach with a perfect restaurant above it.

The water was clear and cool (the temps today were around 38C/100F in the shade!)... and the snorkeling was good. Then for lunch Jenny and T had the "special" -

(specially chosen by the proprietor Elias!)
which is a delightful simply grilled fresh lobster (usually caught just off the coast near the restaurant) with a side plate full of chili spiced spagetti. It's marvelous!! It's a vacation memory all by itself.

After their swim and feast they went sightseeing.

The old Venetian fortress at Gardiki with its ancient olive tree was a fine way to top off the afternoon before the long ride back home.


Meanwhile, I made lasagna for supper - BUT since I didn't have any ricotta cheese I wondered how hard it would be to make some. ("They do it all the time in Italy," she thought wryly... "how hard can it be?" the answer- Not Very!)

I put 5 cups of full fat milk (I used long life UHT 3.5), 2 cups of buttermilk, 1/2 c of cream and a BIG tablespoon full of plain Greek yogurt in a stainless steel pan and brought it all up to a boil. (pretty much stirring constantly so it wouldn't scorch.)

When it finally came up to the boil, I let it bubble away gently for about 2 minutes and it went from being thick and gravy-like to curdling with the curds falling to the bottom of the pan. (keep gently stirring!)

I lined a colander with a clean damp linen kitchen towel, and then poured half of the contents of the pan into the colander. The liquid ran out of the bottom and the curds solidified in the middle, then I added the rest of the pan to the colander and brought the edges of the towel together to carefully twist the liquid out from the curds.

That's it. I ended up with around 2 cups of lovely rich soft ricotta cheese. When it cools you have the most delicious (really!) fresh ricotta cheese. It was great in the lasagna.

I think if I made it for cheese cake (which I'm planning for next week) I'm going to add some lemon zest to the milk before I bring it to the boil.

So another "dinner party" here on Sunday, with friends and family... only 8 of us. Anyway, this is really like tomorrows post so I'll probably NOT write another til Sunday- or maybe Monday... depending on how things go.

Life is good.

Nissaki and a great day at the beach...

Everyone (but me) went to the North of the island and had a grand day out in Nissaki. (Lunch in Agni at Tsoula's!) I stayed home and baked a chocolate cake...

Today everyone has gone to the South of the island to Prassoudi to visit the lovely sandy beaches near the salt pan lake of Korission (Photos tomorrow.)

I am going to experiment and make some home made ricotta cheese, to go in some lovely lasagna. It should be interesting!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A house full of people

I love when the house is full of people. As we are located in what I often think is the most marvelous place on the globe, hospitality is sort of a given. How could I not want to share this place and all its glory with friends and family???

I really enjoy cooking for everyone and the clean up is so often shared I have no complaints. Serious cleaning is not necessary, and laundry can be done, hung on lines and dry in a morning.

What's not to like? Well, I suppose the only sticky point I can find is that everyone who comes here is on vacation. And it would seem that for some reason when they come here, they want to go on vacation--- WITH US! Only we're not on vacation. We LIVE here!

For instance, a shopping expedition in town to buy gifts for friends or shop for clothes, is an individual experience, I think. Not least because I HATE shopping and telling the shopkeepers that "yes, I DO live here on the island and have for 9 years and blah, blah-blahdy, blah, blah." During the tourist season, even I can't get a great bargain! So, honestly? They're your friends/etc and you know what they'd like far better than I would.

On the matter of a day at the beach? Wonderful! We'll drop you off and let you experience it -on your own. Trust me you will enjoy it ever so much better without me along. I can't lay in the sun for hours -or even longer than 20 minutes!- without getting bored to tears and too hot to be comfortable. (why you may ask did I move to this climate??? I often question my sanity in the summer heat, on that one too...)

As for a romantic evening on your own? I would recommend one. You'll love it! Renting a car can be expensive, but not too bad if you just rent it for a couple of days out of the length of your entire visit. That way you can go off and do a little adventure to remember for when you are home in whatever winter climate you may find yourself! [We'd lend you our car, but it's our only mode of transport. We gave up the lifestyle that included a second car long ago.]

T. is really amazing. Over the years he has evolved into the chief tour guide (sans accurate running commentary) of the island for all our guests. He loves to drive all the little back roads, down to the little lost beaches and through narrow villages. He's familiar with all the secret parking places in town. And mostly he love to take people around with him to show them "his " island.

I used to go along and give little snippets of history and background on this or that place, but after the first couple of years, T. really liked to do that part as well. Usually tho, he remembers a lot of things about some places but often he just makes things up as he goes. I think it's creative- not true of course, but certainly interesting.

This means that it's much better for me to stay home as when I hint at correcting the stories, there is much sighing and eye rolling, and yes, even sometimes the odd bark of frustration with my "nit-picky-ness".

Then too, I admit, we have a small car. When out touring with friends, I spend much of the time in the back seat which is not my favorite place to sit in the car. I don't mind on the way to dinner, or a destination we're all agreed on, but every day for sightseeing - nope. Been there, done that. I am better humored having spent the day at home alone.

Being retired doesn't mean you're on vacation all the time. Usually T wakes up at 5 to have some quiet time to himself and water the garden and take the dog for a hike in the hills before it gets too warm. He sort of paces himself for the day. He's not shy about telling people he needs a little quiet hour in the afternoon while he dozes in front of World Sport on CNN. And he's totally charming with all our guests.

I used to be Ms super-Hospitality, but I have passed the crown over. I love to have a house full of guests, but T actually loves "going on vacation" with them!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New addition to the blog posts

It may be too annoying.

Please let me know if the slideshow at the bottom of the links column is working well for you or drives you mad.

I'll leave it on for a few days.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Mice.

So, here in Corfu, it's "mouse season"!

Not exactly just here in Corfu, of course. But currently it seems we are plagued with the little beasties.

Of course you generally only see one, but obviously you know there must be many. So far I have seen three. One surprised me by dashing across the cream colored floor in my study while I was typing an email to a friend a few days ago. As it was very early in the morning I didn't scream at the top of my lungs - only letting out a gentle "Gaa-ah!"

The next time was in the living room whilst T and I were watching CSI. I logically screetched "MOUSE" while T, looking bemused, said, "Really? Where?"

Of course he gallantly got up and searched all over the living room and couldn't find the mouse. I said with what I thought was appropriate sangfroid, "Well, we have cats, so that should take care of the problem. We'll keep them inside for a couple of days." (T agreed but set out traps)

The third time was Friday afternoon in the kitchen when I opened the under-sink cabinet to toss in some peelings (I have a nifty little garbage can with a lid that opens when I open the cabinet door.) Well imagine my surprise when a small mouse JUMPED out of the little garbage can and dived behind the dishwasher soap!!

That deserved an appropriate yell "EEEEK!!" which caused grandson to dash into the room shouting "What! What!" with T following more slowly and saying "ah, more traps..."

I still had faith in the cats, until this morning anyway. Both cats found a mouse--- whom, as noted on camera, they "communed" with this morning.

Rather than jumping on it and doing cat like things, they watched and played with it and treated it like a favored kitten. Including carrying it to another place closer to the bushes so it could ESCAPE!! It will no doubt return with hoards of its little friends, secure in the knowledge that our cats are wussies!

Patient Ballou watches and wonders why she has such dumb step-sisters. That or perhaps they're Buddhist cats... just my luck.
This does not bode well for vermin season.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

12 pounds of pears and a speeding car

So, - 12 pounds of pears, about 5 or 6 cups of sugar, a goodly piece of fresh ginger grated, lemon zest from 2 or 3 lemons- or oranges- (plus their juice and the fruit chopped up), all simmered in a large pot, should give me a nice batch of the ginger pear thingummy, that goes over so well with friends, family and visitors... (I only managed to keep it til Christmas this past year and I had twice the amount of pears last season)

Sometimes I add a cup of raisins and a 1/2 cup slivered almonds. I freeze it in small cup sized portions, and thaw them as I need them. (I have used this stuff as a substitute for applesauce in an Applesauce Cake recipe and it was Fantastic!)

It's good to eat with meat (like a chutney-type flavor) and it's great over ice cream or a plain sponge cake. It's not quite jam but not pearsauce either. It's just really tasty.

One year I added brown sugar because I didn't have enough white sugar and I accidentally cooked it a little too long and it turned into this lovely caramel-y pear stuff.

Anyway, I am lucky that way- my accidents sometimes make the best recipes!


Today, we took grandson to "Kart Cross" in the Ropa Valley- a really fun way to throw away 12 euros in only ten minutes! Grandson had enormous amount of fun. (I did too! It was exciting to watch him - well ok, the first three minutes. Ten minutes is a LONG time!) I did manage to get a little video as well which I have no doubt will go up somewhere on grandson's facebook page.

My darling T also decided to try it out and managed to zip around the track a few times. Fortunately for grandson, T gave him the rest of his ten minutes so grandson had about 15 minutes of bliss in total.

All in all, though, it was nice to come home to a cool house and watch the Open (golf!) on TV for a little while.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

A T.S. Eliot Morning...

"... And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.

There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting."


(from No. 1 of 'Four Quartets')
by T.S. Eliot

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Round-ish fruit season begins

The bees are humming...
It looks like the pears are due any day!

The thing about pears is, they're hard as a rock day after day after day and suddenly one morning the whole tree is RIPE - right now!! and all the pears are all falling on the ground and turning to mush.

So I've bought the fresh ginger and the sugar and I'm getting ready to make the ginger pear jam and compote that all my friends love (IF I manage to part with any of it...) We'll see how much I have patience to do this year!

The figs,

and apples

and plums are all doing well

and we have a GREAT potential harvest of grapes. (You never know with grapes though til the last minute!) We're going to try to make our own wine, this year. If that fails we'll make our own vinegar! (You just have to be an optimist about these things...)

So the day begins on this humid sunny morning. Today is going to be a hot one...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One Perfect Rose or how we got here...

Well it's not so much to look at, but oh my, does it smell wonderful! It's a huge old rose plant by the front door and I'm sure there is something I should do to it (clipping, trimming, feeding), but I don't want to mess with what nature has accomplished on its own.

So often since we've moved here almost ten years ago, we're asked "How did you ever end up here??" I wrote this one night last month and it sort of summed up the process:

... My eyes are closed and I smell jasmine. Cascades of small white flowers entwined with themselves, wrapped around tall pillars, smell like this. I open my eyes, and I see those white pillars and beyond the steps, the bright green grass that rolls down the hill of of the garden.

Distantly, I hear John's voice telling me that he always meant to put up a covered terrace, "just never got around to it." I hear him say wryly, with with his British accent. He and Grace built this house and put everything they had into completing the bare bones of this lovely villa with few frills. Then they left it alone, this low rambling house, with large rooms and marble floors, and for the next 20 years expected it to take care of itself. It did, but only just.

They imagined the deep tiled pool, the herb garden with the strawberry patch and the huge vegetable garden with asparagus and artichokes and fava beans and peas.. They saw the vines growing heavy on the long archway'd trellis, and tasted the wine they made in their imagination. They picked a green fig from the wild tree and dreamed of picking the cherries, plums, peaches and apples. They tasted the sour wild orange in the tree near the house but imagined the lemons and limes and tiny sweet mandarins of their own citrus orchard.

When they decided to leave and move back to England, they sold me their dreams. I saw this house then as it stands now. I've never done that before with any other place. Fifteen years ago, I convinced my busy type-A husband that "THIS" was the place. He looked at me skeptically, and held "discussions", but eventually we made the leap together.

After they left, after we owned the keys, illusion shimmered and fought with reality and the ridiculous costs of windows, water heaters and well pumps. Now and then I felt confused at what I saw, until I closed my eyes and pictured the way it was supposed to be.

We moved here to live year round, nine years ago. Every day was a surprise, and not always a charming one. But we chipped away at things, bringing home flats of flowers, sheaves of shrubs and young trees from the nursery, planting vines and seeds, pruning old and planting new olive trees, putting in a small orchard of fruit trees.

So many projects were written on paper, then eventually completed became gardens and terraces and bathrooms and kitchens. Our angst with the local workmen caused my husband to expand his portfolio of abilities. He learned to build walls and render them with cement, roof with red clay tiles, lay ceramic tile walls and floors, plaster and do electric and plumbing. He invested himself in the doing.
His sweat made my ideas, the things I imagined, real.

I never forget this is the place I chose. It looked nothing like it looks now when I moved here, I know, but it's exactly how I saw it all those years ago-
how John saw it too, I think, in his mind.

John and Grace are both gone now. They'll never see the house "completed", except of course that they always did.

The now fading red walls of the house against the blue Mediterranean sky, so intense. I feel intense here, and at the same time I feel rested.

I'm standing in the shade, the cool stone tiles are a relief from the hot sun. I am here in Greece, even when I am not here. I have made memories in this place. I have loved my husband and my children, and my children's children in this place, though not the same way I loved them before I came here. I love everything differently since I've come home.

This place will never leave me. Someday, I'm sure, we'll have to make a decision and give it up.

Certainly, it's only a house. It's only a garden

Sometimes a place just finds you, I guess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day! (or Fête Nationale)

I liked the color of the flowers with the light dappled through the shade on the patio.

Must do a bit of closet re-organization today. I opened an overhead cupboard- to get out a blanket for T.'s drinks cooler- over the weekend and a cascade of sheets towels and blankets showered down on me, like a bad Marx Brothers film.

As we were short of time - what with guests coming and all- I stuffed everything back in as best I could and firmly slammed the door on it all.

However the reckoning has arrived as I now have to put the genii back in the bottle, so I am guessing it will be me, the short ladder, and the refolded linens at play, for this morning, anyway.

My young cousins Jenny and Benoit from Brussels are coming for a 2 week visit in less than 10 days and grandson's visit will be overlapping by about 5 days, so I must get things organized for the changing of the bedrooms. Or rather the moving of grandson from guest apartment downstairs, to guest double bedroom upstairs.

Great news in email from Jenny yesterday, she's pregnant! (note to self: really REALLY hope she didn't inherit the "I can't stand the smell of food" type of pregnancy more well known in our family...)

It will be good that grandson and cousins of alternate generations meet and enjoy each other. Jenny spent more time with my traveling middle son, who came back to visit after he graduated from university. Oldest son (grandson's father) met Jenny in the late 70's, when Jenny was 2 so she probably doesn't remember him too well.

Ah, it's time to get on with the day, and stop playing on the laptop!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, Monday...

Tea on the terrace, and a slow morning for me. T and grandson are off exploring the island today and I am simply vegging out after my mad spurt of energy over the weekend.

Very nice gathering yesterday. About 30 people came and went. Some ate, all drank something. T's brilliant idea of a kiddie plastic inflatable pool the same diameter as our round table, filled with ice and covered with a blanket proved an excellent solution as a self-serve drinks cooler large enough for all the beer, wine and soft drinks for a large gathering.

My Mahogany Chicken Wings (in spite of being a tad too "mahogany" due to spending a bit too much time alone in the oven!), and BBQ'd Beef was a grand success and now I will have to remember how I did it all well enough to write it down as five people asked for the recipes. Also requested: Boston Baked Beans (a la Corfu) and My very special Mocha Chocolate-Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting...

There are plenty of leftover sausages and hot dogs (and lots of melon) to keep grandson and T. happy. I may not have to cook for the rest of the week!! (they were vastly disappointed that nothing remained of the chicken, beef, beans or cake tho)

Still I do have to figure out what to do with the 3 lbs of hamburger I got as back-up, Plan B, though. Maybe I'll make Chili, as it's supposed to go very very warm by the end of the week ("feeling" over 114 F! 45.5 C!!) Mexican food is hot food for a hot climate.

NOT looking forward to the weather past Wednesday- and those hot temps are supposed to last at least a week. Obviously, it IS summer. Still it makes me think longingly of when we lived in Denmark. Summers were lovely and cool! (sadly also rainy more frequently)

Currently it's gorgeous. It was lovely and cool all day yesterday (25C/78F hottest) and it's supposed to be the same today. Last night I slept with a blanket! (it got down to 61F/16C.) It was soooo nice.

Well, enough babbling about the weather for now. Must try and get something done so I can be smug when T and grandson return this afternoon.

They've returned from Hydropolis.

Grandson had a marvelous time and made a couple of friends. (His only comment about his new friends: "Their accent is really hard to understand!" They were British.)

T. found things bearable. The tequila was in the "sunrise". He also remembered my rant over the lack of photographs from the other day, so he dutifully took some.

Best additional discovery: A GREAT Fish 'n Chips place called Flannigans, in Sidari, open year round- AND they have Guinness! (true, in cans...) Bad news, of course is that it's a 45 minute drive from here. Still, we will be making that trip come the winter time!

Can't pass up a night of Guinness, fish and chips and darts!

[NOTE: Recipes are posted in the comment section.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday- the quiet before the open house...

Yes. So this post "may" continue throughout the day, or not depending on how successful I am at putting together all the food for this BBQ-Do (not "DOH!"), which T and I have thrown together haphazardly over the past couple of days. It is meant to be a sort of "hello, back" to all the new neighbors, and a thanks for all their charming hospitality...

But of course parties entail planning and cooking. I must start this AM. on the early to do stuff. (Sometimes I DO wish things were as easy to throw together here as they are in some other places like almost any other country in Western Europe or any state in the US. sigh.)

For instance, to get the 'fixin's' for the Barbeque,
I have to go to four stores. Well I probably don't have to, but I do have to go to the places that have the best meat: Sconto on the Paleo road (on the way to Sgombou), best veggies/fruit: Deillas in Kontokoli, best sausages and brats: Lidl (Paleo Rd.), most other stuff: Alpha Beta in Gouvia.

All the stores are on the east coast of the island (whilst I am in the center.) The distance isnt' great - the drive there is insane in the summer.
[It has become the de facto "truck and bus" shortcut even tho it's barely two lane and one lane mostly- with a charming one lane bridge that I keep thinking will one day fall in with a bus passing...]

Shopping is always a bit of a challenge when living in a different country. Besides the obvious things of packaging in a different language, there's also the fact that people eat other things than what you are used to --- and they put them in cans!

When we first moved overseas in 1992 we lived in Izmir, Turkey. Same challenges there. Frequently you enter a store that on the surface "looks" very much like a good supermarket in the US. But then you realise that though the shelves are full there's really only a selection of three or four things there. (aside: Things are much better now with improved trade with Europe, really.)

Once, early days in Turkey, I went to a brand new Migros, (Swiss chain grocery), and in the canned section the shelves were stocked high, down the aisle, both sides: all with the same brand of tomato paste and canned peas.

Shopping here in Corfu is mostly OK, though of course selection in the summer time is much better than in the winter, because the tourists shop, particularly from the large marina in Gouvia - so in the summertime there are strange and wonderful things on shelves like nori, and white balsamic vinegar, and tofu. In the winter we're pretty much back to the simpler life of "tomato paste and canned peas" shopping.

The other bright spot all year round is the British Corner Store in Perema, which tho uneven at keeping the shelves stocked, will bring interesting things over from England... at a price of course. (Periodically I can satisfy my inexplicable craving for McVitties Ginger Nuts...)

Another thing that baffles me is how difficult it is to find a whole frozen turkey or duck! You really only find them in the stores at Christmas, (and then really only about two or three weeks) which means if you like Turkey or duck, you better have a freezer! (sometimes I get lucky at the British Store) The other option is to negotiate with a local to buy one and do the deed yourself.

When I get together with my friends who live on the island year round, we always compare grocery store finds.

So. Today I must make a chocolate cake for dessert (cream cheese frosting); fix up a batch of my famous BBQ sauce for the pulled beef that I made last night for sandwiches; trim 2 kilos of chicken wings, parboil them and make a marinade for them to soak in for baking tomorrow, (they are sooo good); and start the process for the baked beans which I will probably slow bake this evening through tomorrow morning. [we'll also be having hot dogs and brats on the grill for anyone who isn't happy with wings and bbq sandwiches]

Any and all leftovers will be used to keep visiting grandson from starving over the next week. He really DOES enjoy my cooking. (still I think he'd eat cardboard if it had hot sauce on it...), grandson is off to Aqualand! T is dropping him off and hopefully some friends will be joining him around noon (and maybe he'll be bored and want to come home with them when they leave around 3!) Grandson promised to take many photos of landmark "Aqualand" so there WILL be a post on that local miracle...

Let the games begin!! (oh yes. and the laundry... )


Grandson had returned from a successful day at gigantic water park! WITH NO PICTURES! Well ok. He bought this one "special" for me... I tried to explain before he left that I would probably never ever go there, so I really needed lots of pictures. Hmmm. I don't know if it's because he's 14 or because he's a guy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I did 7 loads of laundry. (I do miss those marvelous HUGE washing machines from the States...) Anyway while this or that was simmering or baking I hung things up on the line so the sheets smell marvelous.

I've prepared a couple of pans of BBQ Beef, the special Boston baked beans are simmering (in the crockpot- I'm not a stickler for tradition), the chocolate cake is made and frosted, the chicken wings are parboiled and marinating... and tomorrow I make a giant green salad, pop the chicken in the oven around 4 and "ta-da!"

All that will be needed is a bit of warming up of the beef and we're ready to roll.

I may still fiddle with a recipe for chili to go on top of hot dogs. (I really miss chili dogs...)

So ... just discovered the sum total of my day is not quite finished as T has informed grandson and me that we'll be going out to dinner tonite at the marina! A nice treat for the cook and laundress (with the added bonus that we can buy a huge bag of ice to cool the drinks for tomorrow...) the man has a mind like a steel trap.

signing out (and looking forward to perhaps finding a good Chinese restaurant!).

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Friday!

What a lovely party we went to last evening with the neighbors! It was the celebration party of Roger and Deb's marriage last week. Anyway it was totally in the spirit of Mamma Mia as the lovely taverna was right on the beach in Agios Gordias.
Deb and Roger looked appropriately happy, as did all their guests. The food was lovely, the music good and the dancing great fun. A good time was had by all!

Roger and Deb made everyone feel welcome.

Last but not least, the cake was lovely AND it tasted incredible!

Sadly the wine was excellent and plentiful,
and the camera didn't function as well later in the evening...


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