The First Project on the Loom

 

I had perceived a problem on my lovely loom, so I had parked it up and left the beginnings of my very first project hanging sadly, on the warp.

Prompted once more and determined to get going again, I re-inspected the threads and realized the solution was simple.

Once rectified, the project whizzed along quickly.  My next dilemma was how to cut off the woven rug and tie off with tassels.  Obviously there is a technique to this, which I need advice on, but all the same, I managed to finish it.

Here is the result – my first ever rug, warts `n all – using multi coloured wool, all 55 x 34 cm of it!

Onion Pie (Κρεμμυδόπιτα)

 

I`ll try to make up for my inexcusable absence by providing this wonderful recipe, grovel, grovel…….

This one`s simple and as usual, very tasty.

Ingredients

Pastry

200 g plain yogurt (1 tub)

1/2 cup olive oil

300 g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Salt

Filling

700 g onions sliced into rings

1 tsp ground fennel seeds

Small bunch parsley

100 g feta cheese

S & P ground

Procedure

Mix the yogurt, oil, salt and baking powder into the flour until you have a nice dough, it should be slightly oily to the touch, but not sticky.  Leave to one side for half an hour to rest.

Fry the sliced onions in a little olive oil till translucent, add the ground fennel seeds and remove from the heat.  Add the chopped parsly and feta and set aside to cool a little.

Lightly flour a surface and roll out half the pastry for the base and lay in a 24 cm pie tin.  Spoon in the filling and roll out the remaining pastry for the lid.  Prick an air hole, brush with beaten egg and bake for approx 35 minutes at 190 c.

The dough is great to work with and can easily be moulded to fit your tin or patch up cracks and holes. 

You can use ground cumin seeds in place of the ground fennel seeds if preferred.

Aubergine Pie (Μελιτζανόπιτα)

 

Pleasantly, surprizingly nice!

Ingredients

4 or 5 aubergines

130 g cheese such as kefalotiri grated

100 g feta crumbled

1 medium onion grated

2 garlic cloves crushed

Small bunch parsley chopped

A few mint leaves chopped

S & P 

Filo pastry (the very thin type)

Olive oil

Procedure

Prepare the aubergines.  Roasting them on the edge of your hot plate gives the lovely smokey flavour we`re looking for with this vegetable, turning them to cook on all sides.  If you` re lucky enough to have a gas hob, this is ideal.  If you re looking for a simpler solution, prick them and bake whole in the oven till the flesh gives.  Leave to cool. Peel, seperate out and discard as many of the seeds as you`re able.  

In a bowl, mash the flesh with a fork.  Add the cheese, feta, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, S & P.  Mix well.

Brush baking tray, approx. 30 x 22 cm with olive oil and begin laying your filo pastry, sprinkling olive oil in between each sheet.  I used 5 in the base, placed in the filling, then 5 on top.  Brush olive oil over the surface, sprinkle with a few drops of water.  Using a sharp knife, cut into portions and bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes or till golden brown. 

Best Laid Plans…

 

 

I sat sullenly on my garden bench in my ridiculously skimpy shorts and t-shirt, wondering if it was Friday 13th.  Nope, pretty sure it`s Monday.  Bob` s “I don`t like Mondays” suddenly tried to push it`s way into my foggy brain……

With just a handful of days left before July arrives, Crete`s Weather God, suddenly remembering he should have turned up the thermometre to heatwave level, decided that today was the day. Droning cicades and sweaty bedsheets forced me to rise way before my normal “crawl out of bed” time.  Understanding we were in for a scorcher, I immediately closed all the windows and went outside to push the shutters closed, thus mimilizing the heat exposure to the interior of the house.  The sick realization stopped me dead in my tracks.  As I had exited, I had very carefully pulled the door closed to keep that nasty heat out, with no key in the door to get back in.   What!!!??  where???? why???? Where the hell are my keys???

Going immediately to our hidey spot for the spare house key, I was mortified to see the hook hanging empty!  Eeeeeeeek!    Now what? Rushing to our two previous hidey spots, no joy – I began to get worried.  I wondered how I would manage all day outside till Vags returned from work.  My silly shorts and t-shirt made it very obvious that I couldn`t go and ask for help from anybody, for fear of frightening any small children.  A ridiculous notion anyway, as we have no neighbours. 

Stalking around the house and checking all possible weak entry points, momentarily, I considered my second ridiculous notion of the day – could my ample backend get through that tiny, teeny bathroom window?  No!  Way too many horribly humiliating consequences flashed before my eyes.

I returned to the offending hook to check it once more, questioning my very faculties.  Sweeping the accumulation of leaves on the floor to one side, my world took on meaning once more, there was the spare.    

Whilst Vags is remarkably good at forgetting to take his teeth with him any time we go out – picking up other people`s keys – he`s got off to a tee.

 

Braised Pork with Peppers (Τηγανιά)

 

For my friend Suzie

Ingredients

500 g pork with fat

2 large green peppers, chopped into large chunks

2 large red peppers chopped into large chunks

1 glass of fresh orange juice

1 glass of wine

2 garlic cloves halved

Salt and ground black pepper

Olive oil and a soup spoon of cooking butter

Procedure

Heat the oil and cooking butter in a deep frying pan, add the garlic pieces and fry for just a minute, remove the garlic pieces so they don`t burn and save to one side, add the pork and fry till browned on all sides.  Add the S & P, then the wine and the orange juice, allow to boil for 6 or 7 minutes, add the peppers and the garlic.  Stir gently.   The sauce will thicken as it reduces, when the peppers are lightly cooked, pour off the sauce and save, allow to braise further for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan not stirring.

Add the sauce to serve.

Fried Vegetables with Yogurt

 

The Summer glut of courgettes and aubergines begins, so here I go again……

Ingredients

2 large aubergines

4 medium courgettes

Batter

1 glass beer

1 glass flour

1 soupspoon olive oil

S & P

Olive oil for frying

Greek yogurt or tsatziki

Procedure

Wash and prepare your vegetables.  Cut aubergines into rounds approx. 1 cm thick.  Sprinkle salt over and leave to stand for half an hour.  Cut the courgettes into slightly thinner rounds.  Salt and leave to stand.

Pour the beer into the flour, add the olive oil, S & P, mix well till you have a thick batter.  

Heat your oil in a frying pan.  Drain off any liquid from the sliced vegetables and begin dipping them into the batter a few at a time.  Fry on high till browned on all sides, place on absorbent paper to soak excess oil.  

Serve with Greek yogurt or tsatziki.

Note

I also fried courgette flowers.  You can opt to remove the stamen with a slender knife, or leave if you like, tuck the petals into the heart of the flower, dip in the batter and fry. 

A Fragment of a Story

 

Uncle Sterios pulled his chair up close to the kafenion table, lit his next cigarette of the day and began his tale.  

My father fought in WW2 against the Germans when they invaded Crete.  He ferociously protected everything Cretan, fearing no one and nothing,   One amongst many co-villagers, he swiftly dispatched the invaders at every opportunity, by whatever means he could. Often times left without ammunition, just the bayonette on his rifle, which proved a bloody weapon in his farmers hands.             

Fearlessly seizing an opportunity to dispatch more intruder Germans, he`d followed on their tail into an ally, dodging and weaving between doorways and obstacles to gain ground.  Nerve endings brittled with the intensity of adrenoline rushing madly through his body, the air crackled with the firey heat of the day. He tried to bring his heaving breath under control as he lifted his rifle to take aim.

The explosion swept his feet from beneath him and hurled him against the remains of what was once Barba Kostas`s courtyard wall. The pressure from the blast wave assaulted him in a blindingly excrutiating instant. Instinctively his teeth clamped.  As his senses spun, his ears twanged a jarring roar, his chest roared in pain, he clamped his hands over his skull in an attempt to escape the tortuous racket invading his head.  When the blast wave freed him from it`s deadly grip, he drew his first sharp intake of breath.  Immediately he erupted into explosive barking coughs – his lungs` attempts to expel the dust and grime he had inhaled.  Dust caked his nose and choked his every breath, cloying his tongue and throat.

Slowly, his vision began to return, revealing the dramatic, crushed scene around him.  His chest however, continued to erupt in violent hacks. Each guffaw rattled his stunned senses like earthquake aftershocks.  His brain tried to process what had just occured.  His left ankle twisted off to one side in a grotesque, dog-leg.  Instinctively, but rashly, he tried to lift his leg and immediately regretted it.  Searing pain shot up the limb, piercing the very core of his being, forcing him to retch and gulp frantically.  He tried to surpress the overwhelming nausea which swept over his still dulled senses.  The need to vomit swamped and with no time to turn his head, the contents of his guts, spewed forth over his chest.  Blood.  Despite his fuzzy brain, he knew this was not good.  Then he blacked out.

Watery vision obstructed the mercilessly bright light assaulting his newly opened eyes.  He strained to gain focus. He was in some sort of make shift emergency clinic.  

Blackness.”

Sterios lit his hundredth cigarette and sighed a deep sigh as he brushed away a tear at the demise of his father, which sadly fell on his 97th birthday.

He continued.

“My father lived with the fragment of the mortar embedded in his gut for 35 years.  Physicians refused to attempt to remove the shrapnel for fear of not being able to control the bleed.  He learnt to dress the wound in his belly, which never closed, effectively, so infections were kept at bay.  Yearly visits to the hospital only confirmed that he would take the shrapnel with him to his grave.

Despite this, he still went on to marry, have two sons and live life to the full in the village of Agies Paraskies, close to Archanes.

At 60 years old on his annual check up, his physician scratched his head with a perplexed look on his face, searching for the familiar outline of the shrapnel on the x-ray.  It just wasn`t there.

After exhaustive discussions on the possible whereabouts of the missing shrapnel, the only feasible explanation which satisfied them, was that it had probably been expelled whilst he had relieved himself on one of his notorious drinking bouts – slipping from his traditional Cretan bloomer style trouser, unnoticed.  

Throughout his life, he expressed annoyance at being deprived of actually being able to see the little piece of Germany which hindered and distressed him for so many years.”

                                            ************************ 

Note

The Battle of Crete began on the morning of 20th May 1941 and was the first occasion where German paratroops were used en masse, the first mainly airborne invasion in military history, the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from decrypted German messages from the Enigma machine and the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Crete

 

Get off the Roundabout

 

The evidence is there, if you know where to look for it.  We`ve all seen it, most likely, without paying too much attention.  

Odd sightings of carelessly abandoned campsites, more oft haphazard constructions from reeds, palm branches, stone, or ripped and destroyed canvas tents.  Sallies to offshore isles, commonplace rambling hikes along boundless coastlines that flounder on fiery horizons, has invariably revealed assorted abandoned quarters, which once offered a short lived abode to modern day fugitives.   The mind`s fancy, easily creates an image of long haired, sun-bronzed hippies, attired in loin cloth alone, wielding make-shift fishing spears and unruly beards. Not improbable for sure, however, sheer location should dictate how these fugitives conduct their off-the-grid lifestyle.

A couple of decades ago, the headland off the Elounda salt pans offered residence to a long haired hippy of a kind, only this particular hippy was a bare-skinned, middle aged lady.  

Our initial encounter found us on an early morning quest to view that day`s sun rise.   Settled on the rocky end of the beach, with sights aimed keenly East, awaiting the marvel of the day, our focus was suddenly disturbed by a female voice, in broken English, demanding a cigarette.  No pleasantries, no greetings, just “give me a cigarette” We could only assume she had forfeited her spear on a previous haggle for a smoke, but the predominating image was otherwise, complete.  

Bright, intelligent eyes from beneath a mop of wild, unkempt, blond hair, watched our hands intently, as we proferred her, her next coffin nail.   Leathery, sunburned skin concealed her scrawny physique, which seemed to border on emaciated.  Immaculate, chalk-white teeth, flashed from within her dusty face. We felt it would be useless to refuse her demand and extended her our packet. 

We spent the best part of an hour together, vouching the safe arrival of that day`s sun.  Clad in nothing more than a t-shirt, where rips and holes amounted to more than the actual material did, the conversation was laconic.  We learnt that her family was from Athens, but she lived here on the beach full time, her reason for shunning society and beach bumming, was vague.  It seemed she chose this, because she could.  

Modesty seemed to be an unknown concept to her, as she displayed her all, carelessly.  From a woman` s point of view, my curiosity grappled with courtesy regarding not only where to look as we chatted, but also to the obvious bind of how she coped with her monthlies.  

She as good as plucked cigarette packets from our hands, turned on her heel and disappeared back through the bush, leaving us wondering if the encounter had been real.

Without doubt, Crete is the perfect place to disappear, get off the roundabout and go native.  At least for a while.  

 

PS

In the event that a month should pass with no new posts, don`t be alarmed, it could be that I`m trying it for myself!

 

Gracious thanks to Jan Drury 

Artichoke and Broccoli Quiche

 

Using veggies which are plentiful from my garden created this lovely quiche.  You can pretty much use whatever you have available though.

Ingredients

Pastry

225 g plain flour

120 g butter

1/2 tsp dried thyme 

50 g melting cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

1 tbs milk

Salt

Filling

1 medium onion diced

1 medium courgette sliced

2/3 broccoli heads broken into small florets

3/4 prepared artichoke hearts sliced

12 mushrooms sliced

8/10 sun dried tomatoes halved

20/25 chopped basil leaves, chopped

Large pinch of fresh marjaram

4 medium eggs beaten

120 ml cream

100 ml milk

Any type of sweet tomato to decorate the top, sliced thickly

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 190 c.  Rub the butter into the flour, add the dried thyme, stir in the cheese, add the beaten egg and milk.  Stir in with your fingers until it comes together as a pliable dough.  Roll out and line your flan case.  Prick the base with a fork and leave to rest in a cool place for half an hour.  

In the meantime prepare the filling.  Fry the onion, courgette, mushrooms, artichokes and broccoli in olive oil till just tender, adding ground black pepper and salt.  Remove from the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes, basil and marjaram.

Blind bake the case for 10 minutes. *see below.  Remove beans and greaseproof paper and bake for a futher 5 minutes.

Add the cream and milk to the beaten eggs, add S & P.  When flan case is ready, spoon in the vegetable mixture and spread evenly.  Pour over the cream, milk and egg mixture.  Place the sliced tomato on the surface and press gently into the filling.

Bake @ 180 c for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool a little before serving.

* Bake Blind     Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit in the base of the flan case, covering the pastry.  Lay any type of dried beans or rice on top of the paper and bake as instructed

Jauntes in May

 

Nothing like a visit from your nieces & co to rock your typically peaceful world. Their thirst for exploration and adventure touched and re-ignited my jaded Cretan wanderlust.  

A breathe-taking trek up Sarakinas Canyon (Φαράγγι Σαρακίνας), where young men whom reverted to boys once more, revelled in the pleasures of skimming stones and assaulting the deep pools with “rock-bombs”.  Stamina and strength were checked by all on this demanding trek.

Our next adventure checked a box on my aged bucket list.  One which, despite my frequent appeals to spark hubbie`s adventurous nature, always fell on deaf ears.  Something, I`m told, to do with a slight phobia of sailing.   Oft`times called Donkey Island (Γαϊδουρονήσι), but more commonly named Chryssi Island, or Golden Island.  

The one hour`s boat journey from Ierapetra was pleasant.  Our arrival on the South side of this little paradise was greeted by, amongst others, an “off the grid” sun-bronzed, island inhabitant, whom awaited his survival package, which he promptly loaded onto his canoe and paddled away gently before I had chance to investigate his story further.  

We crossed to the touristy “Golden Beach”, where toxic disco music belted out for the duration of our 5 hour stay on the island.  Luckily, we were able to distance ourselves from the throng and racket, making camp under a perfect cedar as a base to explore this fascinating place from.  The beach is indeed almost tropical, with soft, white sand.  The sea, a magical aqua blue was cool, but inviting.  In an amazing paradox, we could see across to the snow covered mountain caps on mainland Crete, whilst the luxurious sand caressed our toes. 

The rare, low slung Lebanon Cedar trees hold steadfastedly to the sand dunes, radiating their roots across the surface of the sand, twisted and interlaced into captivatingly intricate tangles.

Our picnic in the shade, brought a friend, whom relished the moisture from the tomato and cucumber pieces we provided. 

Remnants of abandoned campsites, with destroyed tents and discarded equipment, typically, marred this mini paradise. Surprisingly, we witnessed forest guards patrolling through the dunes.  Due to the invisible blinkers which they were obviously wearing, they failed completely to notice the eyesore rubbish.

However, this did not detract from the wonder of the island.  It truly is a little jewel of Crete, which I would recommend to anybody looking for a good day out.  Five hours, certainly wasn`t enough to explore this island fully.  If I should be lucky enough to return, I`ll pledge a mini “rubbish collection safari”, simply, because I should.

Credit and thanks to Jenny, Chris, Kate, Vicky and Graham