For the vegetables
4 aubergines sliced into 1cm thick lengthways slices
4 zucchini sliced into 1cm thick lengthways slices
3 tbsp olive oil + some extra for brushing baking pan
2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper
For the meat
750 g minced chicken breast/ fillet
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
4 tbsp olive oil + extra for brushing
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
100 ml white wine
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
For the béchamel
4 cups semi-skimmed milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs olive oil
1 egg (optional)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan + some extra
1. Heat oven to 200 C/fan and drizzle the vegetables with 2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle some oregano and add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Brush 2 large baking sheets with the remaining olive oil and lay the vegetables. Bake for 20-25 minutes until soft, then set aside.
3. In a large pan heat 6tbsp olive oil, add the onion and garlic and stir them round until soft and translucent but not browning.
4. Mix in the cinnamon and the nutmeg.
5. Add the ground chicken breast/fillet. Cook and stir over a high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Pour in the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes and then stir in the sugar and the tomato purée dissolved in a cup of hot water.
7. Cook with the lid on over a low heat until all the liquids have evaporated. Season to taste, stir in the parsley and set aside. Drain the mixture and allow to cool for a few minutes.
8. Brush an ovenproof dish with some olive oil.
9. Lay some of the aubergine and zucchini slices at the bottom of the dish and then spread a layer of the meat mixture.
10. Add the remaining slices of the vegetables and spoon the rest of the meat on top.The meat should cover the vegetables.
11. Prepare the béchamel: Place a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the olive oil is warm enough but not too hot, stir in the flour and whisk. Add the milk slowly and in batches so that no lumps form in the mixture. Whisk continuously during this process until you get a smooth, creamy mixture. Add an egg, if you wish, and whisk to combine. Stir in the ground pepper,the ground nutmeg and the grated parmesan. Remove from heat.
12. Spread the béchamel over the meat and use a spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle some grated parmesan. Lower the oven to 180C/fan and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.
13. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
14. Cut in squares, serve with a traditional Greek salad and enjoy.
Greek Village Salad
4 tomatoes, chopped or sliced
4 cucumbers, sliced
6 – 8 Greek olives (Kalamata olives)
1 medium-sized onion, sliced in rings
100 g feta cheese
2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
Mix all the vegetables, the olives and the feta cheese in a large bowl. Season to taste and stir in the olive oil and the vinegar. In Cyprus, we also add some lettuce and fresh coriander, coarsely chopped.
Now that I've retired, I've got plenty of free time which I decided to use constructively by combining pleasure with learning. While I'm brushing up my German, I'm also learning Russian! Why Russian? Well, it's a kind of challenge to me as this is a rather difficult language considering that Russians use the Cyrillic Alphabet. That was all I knew about the Russian language in addition to two words:да and нет - yes and no. There are 33 letters in the Cyrillic Alphabet. Some of them are pretty much the same as in the Latin Alphabet. To my surprise, a few are exactly the same as in the Greek Alphabet and pronounced almost the same. For example, в г п р ф х к . And there are the difficult letters which look like drawings to me. For example: Б Ж З И Й Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я . But my wonderful Russian teacher Daria uses a board so that I can follow her hand and write the difficult letters. She explains everything clearly and simply and she makes me feel I am in a real class. If I have questions, I put them in the comments and she always answers! And yes! I always do my homework!
In Cyprus, there are many Russian tourists, so many signposts are also written in Russian. Today, as I was driving home from the beach, I came across a Russian signpost at the red light. I was able to read it! This gave me such a wonderful sense of achievement! I'm in Lesson 4 right now and I have learnt about nouns and gender: masculine, feminine or neutral . In German and in French, this is a pain in the neck! You have to learn gender by heart. In Russian, it's a piece of cake! There are simple rules relating to the ending of a word. At the moment, I'm learning to read Russian. Daria says it's very important. I've also learnt some vocabulary such as greetings, family and food. Right now, I must do my homework!
This is not really a traditional Greek recipe. It's a delicious blend of Greek and Middle East cooking slightly adapted from Argiro Barbarigou's recipe. It's very easy to make, it's healthy and, most importantly, it's so tasty! We can find colour bell peppers all year round at the supermarket but summer is the season when these sweet peppers are the best.
For the marinade
For the Souvlaki
DAY 2 - July 7 - Serifos
Our arrival on the island of Serifos was.... adventurous! Upon arrival at Piraeus Port, we were told that our boat was delayed. Finally we sailed off on a different boat with a two-hour delay. We arrived in Serifos at 8:30 pm. The hotel's mini bus which would drive us to Coralli Bungalows as we had agreed wasn't there! We called the hotel several times but there was no answer. So, we tried to find a taxi and walked to the taxi station about 1 km carrying our luggage. No taxis!!! Our last resort was to hire a car. While I was keeping an eye on our luggage, Alkis went to the car rental office, but he was told that there were no cars available at that time and that we could have one in the morning! I was beginning to believe that we'd spend our first night on the street when a man at the car rental office asked us where we were going and we told him that we had booked a week at Coralli Bungalows. "Well," he replied, " I am the owner of Coralli Bungalows." He called the mini bus driver who was there for us in 5 minutes. The driver said that Seaways Company hadn't informed them about the delay. He was there for us at 6:30 pm and seeing that there was no boat, he left! By 10:00 pm, we were having a romantic dinner at Takis Restaurant - right on the beach! All's well that ends well.
DAY 3 - July 8 - Serifos
After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we couldn't wait to swim in those crystal-clear waters just a few steps away from our bungalow. It was sheer bliss! We spent the whole day at the beach, had a great lunch at the hotel's restaurant and, in the evening, we walked to Livadi where we enjoyed dinner at one of the many restaurants of the area.
DAY 4 - July 9 - Serifos
Serifos has an area of 75 m² , 70 km of coastline. and a population of about 1200 inhabitants. It is a small, peaceful island that hasn't experienced yet the dizzying tourist development of many of the other islands of the Cyclades such as Mykonos, Naxos or Santorini. Serifos makes time stand still and offers a unique feeling of harmony and relaxation. It was yet another great day at the beach.
The islands of the Cyclades lie leisurely in the middle of the Aegean Sea southeast of Athens. They consist of 2200 islands, islets, rocks but only 33 of them are inhabited. They belong to the prefecture of Syros with Ermoupolis as their capital city and look like music variations on the same theme offering the visitor a unique feeling of calm and relaxation. They are also known as the "white islands" because of their traditional cycladic architecture and their milk-white colour against the bare land and the deep, blue sea. My husband and I have already been to Mykonos, Syros and Naxos and were so impressed by the breathtaking views and the cycladic harmony and beauty that we decided to spend our vacation in the Cyclades, this summer as well. This time, we spent three days in Athens and a week on Serifos. We also visited the nearby island of Sifnos.
DAY 1 - Friday, July 6 - Athens
We took the early morning flight of Aegean Airlines to Athens, which left on time at 05:10. and landed at Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos at 07:45. By 07:30, we checked in at Titania Hotel in the city centre. As our room wasn't ready yet, we left our luggage at the reception and set off to enjoy sight seeing in Athens and shopping at Monastiraki. Having visited Acropolis and the Parthenon many times, we preferred to explore the city centre which sits amongst the ruins of Ancient Greece. Our walk through Athens took us to Stadiou Street - one of the city's large avenues and from there we headed to Syntagma Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which stands in front of the Old Royal Palace and is guarded by the Evzones of the Presidential Guard. We watched the change of guard for a while before visiting the ruins of Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus
As it was very hot that day, we continued our walk through Zapeion National Garden - an oasis of peace and quiet in the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Time flew by so fast! We didn't even realise it was already 1:00 pm. Only then did we realise that since breakfast at home at 03:30, we hadn't had anything to eat! It was such a bad idea to decline breakfast on Aegean Airlines! We dared the heat and walked back to Stadiou Street and from there to Aiolou Street where we had a glass of ouzo and appetizers called ouzomeze. Finally, we had lunch at Paradosiako - a traditional Greek restaurant. After lunch, we went back to the hotel and had a good siesta!
In the evening, we met our good old friends, Titos and his wife Mary who we hadn't seen in a long time. We had a drink at Olive Garden - the roof garden bar & restaurant at our hotel and then a great dinner at Kouvelos Tavern in Koukaki.
DAY 2 - Saturday, July 7 - Athens
Our second day in Athens was entirely devoted to shopping. We shopped at Attica - one of Athens' most renown department stores. I got a boho style black dress for the beach, a total white outfit, sandals, a couple of T-shirts, a handbag and cosmetics. Alkis got linen trousers and shirts and a pair of beige sneakers. Soon after lunch, we took a taxi to Piraeus Port. Our boat to Serifos sailed off with a two-hour delay! That was the beginning of a quite eventful arrival on the island of Serifos!
My mother and I don't always get along very well. More often than not, it seems that one of us is saying the wrong thing, presses the wrong buttons and, as a result, our conversations tend to be quite explosive! Yet, in our heart of hearts, we know that we love each other dearly.
I've often had a rather strained relationship with my mother. She'd criticise almost everything - my hair, my clothes, my friends, my behaviour or attitude, my opinion on various issues, the way I decorate my flat, my flat in general - the list is endless! I strongly felt being under scrutiny and, as a result, I avoided sharing my secrets or troubles with her. On the other hand, I admit to my flaws. I'm blunt and always speak my mind because I'd rather say something to somebody's face than behind their back. In other words, I'm not diplomatic! Our relationship improved a lot when I decided to see things from her point of view.
I felt I could understand her better and eventually realised how much she cared and how wrong I was to pick on her. By appreciating the positive side of her character, I was able to connect with her and communicate much better. For example, she never meddled in my life, never made any comments whatsoever. On the contrary, she was a pattern of discretion. My mum is the sweetest and kindest person I've ever known. Despite her occasional criticisms, she's always been there for me offering her support in times of hardship and sharing my happiness in times of joy. Now I know that she's done an excellent job and I'll be forever thankful for all the sacrifices she's made for me and my brother.
At 83 , my mum is an independent person, who lives on her own and has many hobbies and interests in her life such as cooking, reading, writing, charity, decorating, to mention only a few. She's also the kindest person I've ever known. She always has a good word for everyone and when she can she helps others very willingly. I feel I owe her a lot - most importantly I owe her my life.
Hi there! I hope you are still alive and kicking!
- Is that all you say to greet me?
- I said HI
- Please don't type in CAPS. It's like shouting at me!
- But I am shouting at you! Besides, haven't you already told me that TypePad has me in CAPS in your Categories?
- No! Not in Caps! In Bold.
- I am bold and beautiful, aren't I? This is why you can't live without me.
- You are impertinent!
- Is that a compliment?
- I'm going to delete you!
- Look who's talking! A barking dog never bites!
- See what I mean ? You are impertinent! I've upgraded you and made you electronic. What's more, I've been posting you on TypePad for soon 18 years now! You are no longer ...a miserable paper notebook! Count your blessings!
- I don't have any blessings to count! The last time you opened my electronic pages was back in 2009! When my pages were made of paper, you used to open them every day!
- True, but there was no Internet then, no blogging, no TypePad, no Facebook.
The village of Pedoulas lies leisurely in Marathasa Valley at about 1200 metres above sea level, on the northern flanks of Troodos Mountain Range. The village counts 130 inhabitants as most young people fled to the city. Alkis and I went for an Easter holiday in Pedoulas and had such a great time there! The village is about 119km from Larnaca and it takes 1h 43 minutes to get there. It took us almost 2 h 30m as we stopped at the beautiful village of Kakopetria for a cup of coffee.
DAY 1 - Friday, 6 April 2018
Kakopetria is located in Solea Valley and stands at an altitude of 667 metres above sea level. The village is built on the banks of two rivers - the Kargotis and Garillis, which join within the village and form the Klarios river. Kakopetria is also a popular summer resort due to its cool climate during our hot summer months. Soon after coffee, we took the winding road to Pedoulas. I was so excited as we drove past a magical natural setting consisting of pine trees, poplars and wild vegetation. We checked in at Cristy's Palace Hotel - an old mansion built in 1945. It's got nothing to do with a standard 5-star hotel. It's not a palace in this sense, but it's a beautiful family-run mansion. Mr Andreas, the owner, gave us a warm welcome and both my husband and I felt as if we were guests at his home. Our room was small but functional and nicely decorated. Mr Andreas recommended "Two Flowers Restaurant" for lunch, just opposite the hotel. We loved the food there. As we were both fasting, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant offered a good choice of lenten dishes. In the evening, we attended the church service of the Epitaph at the church of the Holy Cross - a church which dominates the village. We went back to "Two Flowers" for dinner.
DAY 2 - Saturday, 7 April 2018
Breakfast at Cristy's Hotel was excellent! We really enjoyed it! Soon after breakfast, we set off to explore only a few of the 14 villages which belong to Marathasa Valley.
DAY 3 - Sunday, 8 April 2018
On Easter Sunday, we visited Kykkos Monastery for the second time in 30 years. I had tears in my eyes as I knelt down and worshiped Her Grace - the Grace of Virgin Mary. Photos aren't allowed in the Monastery.
And then we had a festive lunch in Pedoulas.
This was one of the best Easter holidays I've ever had. Apart from its natural beauties, what I loved most about Pedoulas is the warmth and hospitality of the people who made me feel part of their small community.
DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7
Legend has it that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love, was born on the island of Cyprus and rose from the foam of the waves at Petra tou Romiou – the Greek's Rock also known as Aphrodite's Rock. This is where Alkis and I stopped for coffee on our way to Droushia, situated at 158 km from Larnaca. Right at the outskirts of Akamas Peninsula, the village of Droushia stands 600 metres above sea level, in a unique location, with stunning seaside and mountain views. We loved the cool breeze once there. It seems that the village derives its name from the Greek word "drossia", which means cool and fresh ....and a bit cold at this time of year!
We checked in at Droushia Heights Hotel and literally fell in love at first sight with this beautiful hotel! We loved everything! Our room overlooking the splendid Polis Chrysochous Bay and the surrounding green meadows and fields. We had lunch at the Farm Yard Restaurant in Kathicas – a nearby village. The food was great and the service impeccable! . In the evening, we tried the hotel's buffet which tasted more like Mum's cooking than a standard hotel buffet. Congratulations to the Chef!
DAY 2 – THURSDAY, MARCH 8
It was an adventurous day! Soon after breakfast, we set off to explore Akamas peninsula. Akamas is located on the western tip of Cyprus and covers 230 km². It is an area of great natural beauty, completely unspoilt by development. You can have access to this area either by boat or by Jeep or a 4-wheel drive. We had the right car but we made three serious mistakes before setting off :
And so, we got lost, in the middle of nowhere! I was literally on the verge of a panic attack! I was trembling and shaking, my heart was pounding and I was screaming with fear. Never before have I felt so scared. Actually, I was terrified. Alkis ignored me and concentrated on driving, but we kept driving to nowhere!!
I begged Alkis to call for help!
"No, we're not going to call for help.", Alkis said "We're going to find our way back to Droushia, but, please, stop screaming and try to think whether or not we drove along this track!"
I was unable to think!
Three hours later, Alkis found the right track and we drove to Neo Chorio and from there to Latchi . Feeling relieved, We went for a walk along the beach and later had lunch at Porto Latchi. I had lavraki (sea bass) right out of the fisherman's basket!
Later in the afternoon, we had a good rest at the hotel and then had dinner at To Petradaki – a nearby local tavern.
DAY 3 – FRIDAY, MARCH 9
According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love used to bathe here. This is the spot where she met her lover, Adonis, who had stopped for a drink. Aphrodite offered the water and it seems that he fell head over heels in love with her as soon as he drank it. However, regardless of mythology, the water is not potable!
DAY 4 – MARCH 10
It was a long and adventurous journey, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After breakfast, we went for a walk in the village of Droushia, had lunch at Polis Chrysochous and drove back home in the afternoon.
I am still filled with the amazing beauties of Aphrodite's Land!