The Pig Chase

In the early years of our residence here at Kanakary, my daughters, Yannah and Anna Maria had taken our dog Rudy for a walk.  In those days, we always walked the dogs off leash, as our road was usually pretty quiet.

They hadn`t been gone too long before we heard screaming and shouting coming from the girls.  In a panic we`d jumped onto the scooter and shot up to see what was going on.

In the distance we could see Yannah running down the road full pelt, screaming, with her little legs pumping as fast as they could, Anna Maria in hot pursuit, with Rudy well ahead of them both, a hairsbreadth from the tail of a young pig, who in turn was charging up the road, squealing dramatically.  Not a usual sight to see in our neighbourhood.

A pick-up truck drove past slowly, with the driver observing this odd band of mid-day sprinters.  Pulling ahead of the entourage, he hopped down nimbly from the cabin, did a flying jump at the flagging pig as it sprinted past, man-handled it to the ground, single handedly whipped his belt from his jeans, trussed the pigs legs, leaving it laying puffing and panting on it`s side.  He declared it was his pig and that everything was ok.  Whereupon, he heaved it up into the back of his truck and sped off up the road.

As this mad chase came to an end and the sprinting crew came to an abrupt halt, they stood awkwardly looking on, with Rudy wondering how his prey had been plucked from under his nose!

Rat in the Kitchen

Before moving to our countryside house, we lived in the centre of Agios Nikolaos, Crete, in a rather old, ground floor apartment.  It wasn`t in the best of condition, regularly prone to invasions of various pests, but it was well located, with amenities and the beach all close at hand.  We had our share of problems with the property, with one particular evening being particularly memorable.

We were woken by the noise of things falling over in the kitchen.  Getting up to investigate, we discovered a rat galloping up and down the shelves, dislodging odds and ends as it went along. Having being caught in the act of looting, it shot back out under the door, back into the utility room and bathroom area.

We decided it wasn`t possible to leave a rogue rat to wander the house and followed him into the utility room, closing off his exit routes.  We began pulling all the furniture from the walls, chasing the glimpse of this nimble pest`s tail behind yet another box or basket, we realized this could take some time.  Lifting all the furniture, boxes and baskets up onto one surface seemed to be the obvious solution to the problem.  So, it was 3 am and we began heaving the whole of the utility room up onto the old stone sink.  Leaving nowhere for the pesky rat to hide, it shot into the small bathroom.  Vagelis grabbed the broom and shot inside, pulling the small glass door closed, behind him, with copious cusses, knowing grunts and “gotcha now” and “where d`ya think you`re gonna hide”.

The fate of the poor rat was written.

However, the silhouette of Vags chasing his victim backwards and forwards behind the glass door with broom in hand, forged a rather too vivid image of Anthony Perkins in the old “Psyco” movie shower scene, stabbing his victim through the shower curtain in my mind, which left me chortling and chuckling, and as a result, unable to sleep for the remainder of the night.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sun Dried Toms (5) (Small)

There are only so many salads one can eat in a day, and with an abundance of these beauties, it`s always wise to store some away for the Winter.

Versatile and offering plenty of nutritional benefits, sun drying your tomatoes is a great way to preserve the Summer`s excess.

Choose only firm, ripe tomatoes.  With plenty of flesh, but the smaller “cherry” type toms which we find here in Crete are also suitable.  Plum toms can also be used.

Ingredients

Tomatoes

Rock Salt

Olive oil

Preparation

Wash the toms well and wipe dry.  If they have thick cores, carefully remove with a pointed knife.  Slice them through the middle, horizontally.  Spread greaseproof paper or kitchen roll over a wooden tray, and lay the halved tomatoes with the cut surface facing upwards.  Sprinkle over each surface just under a teaspoon of rock salt.  Cover with fine netting to keep off the bugs and lay in the sunniest position.  Leave for around 7 days.

Sun Dried Toms (2) (Small)

Check on them half way through the process to make sure they`re drying nicely.  If you live in an area which tends to draw moisture on an evening, bring the tray indoors and return to the sun the next day.

You`ll understand when they are ready, they will still be supple, but not lose moisture when gently squeezed.

Sun Dried Toms (8) (Small)

Pop them into sterilized jars, pushing down into the gaps, gently with a wooden spoon handle.  Cover with olive oil and cap.  You can add flavourings such as garlic or oregano if desired.

I`ll keep making batches this year as I love them, and as they`re ready, I`ll upload recipes for their use.

Nutritional Facts

Potassium, dietary fibre, protein, vitamins A, C and D, calcium and iron

 

 

Burns

If you`ve burnt yourself on the oven, and providing the skin isn`t broken, place a slice of tomato over the burn, wrap lightly with a linen bandage.  This will ease the pain and aid healing.

Racing Sunday

The weekend arrived, it was early Summer and the weather was fine, this combination always prompted a “volta” (βόλτα).  I`m obliged to introduce you to this word, as it carries importance in Greece, meaning “take a walk, trip, drive” etc. You would “voltaris” with your girlfriend, “voltaris” down to the Kafenion, or the local bar, and there seems to be no equivalent word in the English language which creates the same image.

So, the vaguest of plans were made for a Sunday morning departure.  With the family still fast asleep in bed at 9 am the next morning, the dogs barking alerted us to visitors. I allowed Vagelis to investigate.  I failed to decipher the muffled voices, but he came charging back into the house shouting for us to get up and out of bed NOW!  In fear of an earthquake, or some other unimaginable natural disaster, we all stumbled to our feet with bleary eyes, to be told that they were closing off our drive entrance to hold the yearly road racing event along the old National Road where our house is situated, and if we did not leave now, we would be trapped in the house for the full day. A calamity in all senses of the word, when the whole of Crete beckons to be explored!

In the next few minutes, outright havoc reigned at Kanakary.  Three frenzied females and Vagelis attempting to grab the necessities required to leave the house for the day, I suspect, was quite an alarming sight.  Half dressed and clinging on to shoes, t-shirts, beach clobber and hairbrushes, we all jumped in to our old Fiesta and made our way up the driveway, where the official in the fluorescent jacket was gesticulating and shouting to us that we should not leave as the race was due to begin.

Determined not to be trapped at home for the day, Vagelis stubbornly indicated that we would leave in the opposite direction.  We left Mr. Fluorescent with his stripy plastic tape, half tied across our driveway entrance and sped off in the opposite direction of the race start line.

Adrenalin pumping after this unusual “wake up”, we all started giggling as we tried to finish dressing.  Vagelis sped around the corners.  His chuntered, “it isn`t funny” and “this is serious” comments, made us laugh all the more.  On a left hand bend, a small group of spectators applauded our approach enthusiastically.  As we hurtled around the corner, their applause faltered as they glimpsed us pulling on clothing, combing hair and applying lipstick. Puzzled looks asked why this “race car driver” had three attending females, which appeared to be dressing as they went.

The sight of the applauding spectators accelerated our laughter and hysterics took over, till tears streamed down our cheeks.

Once we had safely exited the “race track”, Vagelis`s mood lightened and he allowed himself to laugh at the extraordinary way our Sunday volta had began.

Pork with Leeks

Just had an armful of leeks handed to me, brought down from Lassithi Plateau.  Best put them to good use!

Pork with Leeks (2) (Small)

 

Pork with Leeks (1) (Small)

 

This dish is made great by using only sweet, ripe tomatoes, so make sure you choose them carefully.

Ingredients

3/4 kilo pork with some fat on it, cubed

1 kilo chopped leeks

2 onions

2 large carrots

4 or 5 medium potatoes

2 cups grated tomatoes

Large bunch of herb celery

Olive oil

S & P

Preparation

Braise the pork with onions on a medium heat in olive oil in a covered pan for about 10/15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining chopped vegetables and celery and braise for a further 10 minutes or so.  Add the grated tomato, S & P.  Continue cooking on medium heat until the veggies are tender and it`s ready.  Pop a nice chunk of Cretan feta on the top to serve.

June Wore Purple!

Ahh, as the Summer takes a hold, it`s lovely to see the various blooms on the road side, leaving all the remaining foliage to fade away in the heat.

Spiney Globe Thistle (1)

Spiney Globe Thistle

Spiney Globe Thistle (2)

Spiney Globe Thistle

Thyme in Bloom

Thyme in bloom

Chaste

Chaste, in abundance around my area.  This interesting plant, with an enchantingly light perfume is sometimes called Monk`s Pepper, due to it`s supposed ability to quell sexual desires in men, and it is reputed that monks used to chew on the berries in order to remain celibate.  It is said however, that it has the opposite effect on women, offering it`s aphrodisiacal properties to all ladies partaking in it`s berries or tinctures.

Used quite extensively for it`s medicinal qualities, and referred to regularly in Greek Mythology.

Arties Istron (4)

Blooming Arties!

Morning glory

Morning Glory in all it`s glory!

June Flowers (16) (Small)

 

 

 

 

Matthiola Tricuspidata

June Flowers (6) (Small)

Bitumen or Tar Plant, as the leaves smell like tar in hot sunshine

Thanks to Julia Jones for kind assistance.  See websites here, here or here.