Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day!

Happy Bastille Day to all who feel oppressed... although the storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance- apparently there were only 7 prisoners of lesser importance IN the Bastille, on the day.

my granddad is the handsome standing gent

I mention this because of two connections- the first is the Belgian one:  During the first World War, Liège, in Belgium, surprised the German invading army by  putting up a fight.  Enough of a fight to give France (and their British allies) enough time to regroup and realign its defenses on the Marne River.

It may be that it didn't really delay the Germans at all, but it was all about morale at the time, and the two day delay gave the defenders a shot in the arm.

The French president at the end of the first World War, bestowed the légion d'honneur on the city, for their bravery.

Therefore Belgians celebrate Bastille Day too.

My grandfather fought in the first world war as a soldier.  In the second world war, he fought as a resistance fighter.

The second reason to celebrate Bastille Day is our good friend from Athens is arriving in Corfu for a two week holiday with his family.  We will be spending time with them and hopefully showing off our beautiful island. (They're the ones staying at the beautiful Eva Palace Hotel!)

So "Cheers" to all and I'll raise a glass of wine to you on this holiday of some special meaning- to me anyway.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

I think I must be the luckiest person alive.

I get to live in the most beautiful place AND I live with the best husband of 41 years anyone could find.

This is what I woke up to, this morning:

And he sang!  (we didn't tape that though... for everyone's sake.)

click to see it bigger
We had decided that we'd take a mini-vacation, leave the house around 10:30 or 11 AM, and drive to one of our favorite beach/restaurant to have one of our most favorite -but infrequent- little luxuries, lobster with spicy spaghetti.  The Avra Fish Taverna is about an hour away from us, in the south part of the island, near Lake Korission, in the village of Prasoudi.  It's run by Ilias and the food is wonderful. (I wrote about it last July too!)

rolled up plastic awning not sky

We arrived around noon and got our favorite table and ordered something thirst quenching. Then we relaxed and drank in the view as well.

As we'd planned on first going for a swim and a bit of lying around on the beach, they were kind enough to hold our table for us.

yes, I AM having a good day.
T went back to the car and brought our gear and we went down for a splash.

Avra Restaurant from the water
I got in first and the water was lovely.

[Lots of tiny fish in the shallows (no frogs though...)]

We rinsed off the salt water with the fresh water shower, and laid on our sunbeds long enough to get a little color. (or in T's case a nice eerie glow-in-the-dark pink) 

Though I popped up the umbrella, it was a bit barn door/horse, if you know what I mean.

The breeze was lovely and almost cool, though it was hot inland (32C/90F) it was delightful at the water's edge (27C/80F).
two lobsters (sofrito sauce) split
spicy spaghetti (sofrito)

 We both felt a few pangs of hunger and we wandered back up the stairs to our table.  Our charming waitress brought  us each another beer and our bread and the Greek Salad we'd ordered, and 30 minutes later, our lunch arrived.

It was SO good.  We left nothing but shells.  The sofrito sauce on both the pasta and lobster was perfect and spicy.

We had complementary watermelon pieces for dessert and a small piece of some absolutely delicious (and sadly irresistible) apple cake.  We left vowing to never eat again. 

and a lot of dirty napkins! it's messy eating all the lobster bits!
We drove back through the center of the island arrived home at 4PM, and took a nap.  Lovely little mini vacation day...

I'm hoping for more of them!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A delightful Saturday night

Last night we were in the mood for a long overdue Chinese dinner.  Fortunately for us, The Peking House in Ipsos was open!

We arrived around 8:30 and got a table with a fantastic view.

Szechuan Chicken

Cashew Shrimp
As usual we had a fine meal, prepared by a terrific, honest-to-goodness Chinese chef!

I had delicious crispy spicy chicken in honey sauce with sesame seeds.  I had a fantastic side order of real Lo Mein, a simple dish of noodles (I would have quite happily eaten for my main course- if I'd known!).

T. had cashew shrimp - though he was torn between that an his favorite familiar, Mu Shu Pork.  From memories of last summer he was sorely tempted, but managed to settle on the shrimp and cashews and was glad- as he now has TWO favorites...

We had a really lovely evening helped along by the impeccable service

and the quiet charm of the marvelous view.

Our meal was finished with a perfect Irish coffee- made with authentic care by the bartender who learned exactly how to do it, in Ireland!

OK- the car was moving...
We left happy and well fed. 

After the loss of the only other decent Chinese restaurant last year, we were so happy to know that the Peking House hadn't pulled up stakes as well!  (Here's hoping that a great show of visits will convince them to maybe try out staying open for the winter!  To all the locals reading this and longing for some tasty Chinese, please check them out, it's well worth it.)

So we got home and seriously thought about a dip in the pool...

Except we had an unexpected guest, who sort of put me off!

(T fished him out - and as he wasn't back this morning, we're hoping he's found another pool to bask in... and call all night long in his husky Leopard frog- voice [can we say "bullfrog"?], for his lady love!)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A random day out

So, today, when the idea came up of going for a little drive to Perama and a look in at the British Corner Shop, I thought, "what a great idea!".

This is one of the views on the way... (depending on the direction you take of course...)

As usual, I can always think of something I 'need' from the store, as there are many things they carry there, you can't find here in Greece normally. The best thing though is you can find packaging all written in English!  This is usually important for things that require the reading of the directions- I read directions.   And so we were off on our little expedition.

We thought that on the way back, since we'd pass a couple of nurseries, we'd see what sorry looking leftovers would be on offer (at hopefully reduced prices!)for our garden.  We had a few pots on the terraces that needed something, and as my birthday is coming up, I thought a nice new tree or some-such would be a good gift idea.  (Oh and we could stop at the little Sconto market on the way back and pick up some cream and sea salt.)

We were lucky and managed to find several things we needed at the British Store.  The nursery had several things we couldn't do without; and the little Sconto store stocked what we needed as well.  AND we stopped at a second nursery... the big one, and another little side of the road nursery just on the last bend of the road on the way home.

We found we'd had just enough room as the clever one of the two of us (not me!) "tetris packed" the car...

 Over the years we've discovered that the little Skoda we purchased 10 years ago, has hidden Tardis-like qualities.


but it was such a great PINK trumpet vine at such a great price!
My beloved toiled in the hot afternoon sun so all the new plant babies would be happy in their new home.  (meanwhile, I dead-headed about 1000 petunias!)

All in all it went very nicely.

my pink trumpets
Here's my new pink trumpet vine just outside my library door ...

two red petunia plants

And here are a few other lovelies that will fill out beautifully once they get some pot room (they were all root bound, poor things) and some water.

Some hot pink miniature petunias,


some day lilies

      and some tiny leafed basil....

Tonight we're going to Ipsos to see if the Chinese Restaurant is open!!!

I'll try and remember to take some good pictures of the food and of the restaurant and write a post tomorrow!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strange weather and a quiche recipe

Today started out all misty morning again but then it cleared and we had a lovely and productive day.

This evening  we decided to visit Petros Bar in Pelekas to have a nice quiet drink and look at the sea.  As we were talking the mist crept in on little cats feet.

Suddenly the sun was dimmer.

We kept talking and I looked up and saw that the little cats feet had turned into huge elephant feet as the fog really rolled in!

It's not the best photo, but seconds later the clouds completely covered the mountain like a giant blanket of cotton!

So we finished our drinks and went home to eat the quiche I'd prepared earlier.  (on the other side of the hill-- no fog.)

Meanwhile I'm throwing in the recipe I made up for a courgette (zucchini) quiche that turned out REALLY good.  (fortunately I made two, so we have one to munch on over the weekend!)

I had some (5 smallish medium) lovely fresh courgettes (zucchinis) left over from a stir fry I did the other night, so I washed them and took off the ends and grated them.  Then I left them in a sieve to drain over a bowl.

I made my favorite short crust pastry (based on Mollie Katzen's recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook.) As I was very low on flour, I mixed in some whole wheat, some hard wheat and some all purpose flour, along with the cold butter.   I added some buttermilk to make it come together in the food processor.

Courgette Quiche

2 pie crusts
1 1/2 lb grated and drained courgettes (zucchinis)

1T butter
3 shallots/medium-small onions finely chopped (I had both, so I used both)
3/4 lb shredded/grated mixed cheese (I had a marvelous selection of cheddar, gouda, and swiss)
4 T Parmesan Cheese (for topping)

1 c ricotta
1 c whole cream
6 eggs

salt and pepper to your taste
cayenne (I used about 1/2 t)
nutmeg (I added about 3/4 t)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Gently saute the onions in the butter, when transparent turn off heat and let cool.  (this is when I rolled out the pie crusts poked them with a fork and blind baked them for 10 minutes)

After squeezing as much liquid as you possibly can out of the courgettes, (there is ALWAYS more) add the grated cheese (NOT the Parmesan) and the cooled onions and toss the mixture together- in a larger bowl.

In another bowl break the six eggs and mix them together nicely. Add the ricotta and mix in well. Add the liquid cream and mix a little more. (add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne and mix in well.)

Take the pie crusts out of the oven (removing the baking beans!) and divide the courgette mixture between the two pie crusts.  Divide the custard evenly between the two pies as well.  Sprinkle with some Parmesan and put in the oven til golden brown (and the middle doesn't jiggle.) Let cool.  Mine took about 40 minutes with both quiches in the oven.

I hope you enjoy it very much!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Day of the "water thing"...

foggy morning breakdown?
As with all things here in Greece, things usually work out, just not exactly like you'd plan them to work out still the day dawned auspiciously though a bit foggy.

Originally the digger was going to be coming on Wednesday, but that didn't work out, as the digger called yesterday morning (about 15 minutes before he was supposed to be arriving here) to tell T that his other job was running longer than he expected and so he'd be here on Thursday, if that was alright.

Not a problem.  We rearranged our day and went grocery shopping.

Fortunately, T had not hired an extra pair of hands, nor had he arranged for the plumber to come.

(Ah, the instincts, they develop after a time... sort of like Hercule Poirot's "little gray cells" n'est pas?)



The digger arrived this morning and our Greek neighbor arrived as well. (he who generously let us tie into his water when the well went dry four days before T had to leave for the US)

He decided that he too will connect to the trench and the pressure station as the water pressure is much better, and he may need it when he builds his house.  (also as T has paid to have the trench dug, all our neighbor needed to purchase was some hose to run into the trench!  He didn't think it necessary to purchase the galvanized tubing as he will be running his water hose next to ours...)

Still he needed run to the store to purchase the hose (he borrowed T's receipt for the size hose needed, and the location of the store to purchase it.) 

A problem, you say to the start of work?  Not at all.  The digger had a flat tire. (Alekkos the driver had a dream about it last night)  Thankfully, our other Greek neighbor in the back, has a large compressor and could pump up the tire.

ένταξη - (entaxi) a word that means 'incorporation or accession' in the dictionary... but seems to mean "great. it's finally coming together" in the usage today.


The digger started working and dug the trench across the road to the pumping station, then started down the road towards the houses (T had strung the water pipes Tuesday, so all that was left was to drop them into the trench and wait for the digger to cover the holes and continue digging the trench.

My favorite part was how T fit in so well - standing around and watching!

Deep discussions ensued. 

the first 100 meters
Did I mention T doesn't speak much (any) Greek?  The neighbor with the compressor speaks a little English.  The neighbor who is connecting to the trench speaks almost no English.  The digger driver speaks no English.

And they all were chattering away, happy as "guy" clams.  (The younger man standing apart, is, we believe, the Albanian helper of the one of our neighbors, who actually DOES speak some English!)

With a total of 200 meters to trench out, Alekkos, the digger driver is very good at what he does.

our neighbor's land (with new hose)
It's very difficult to do as for this project, there are unpaved and paved roads to negotiate as well as some truly bad road (along our back fence- we figure it's mostly rock.)


Apropos to not much, I do wonder at the fact that in the forty one years we've been married it's only been in the last 8 months or so that diggers and large trucks have figured so prominently in our lives!  Still, we are always open to new experiences.


So it took Alekkos all of a day - about 7 hours- to dig-

-and then to fill in the 200 meter trench.

The last 100 meters took a bit longer than the first 100 meters, as the road was narrow and more difficult.


So now T will finish the connections and ta-da!  All will be right with the world!

He will disconnect the temporary connection to our back neighbors' water supply, and connect to ours.  And with noticeable effect on the water flowing into the house, all will be right with the municipal water connected to our house. 

Now we only have to think on the next project...

Our well that may not really be dry at all- just muddy- maybe.  (but that will be for another post.)

postscript:  I didn't post any pictures but Alekko  filled in the trench so well after T laid the water pipes that he made the road actually better than it was before the trench!


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