Friday, September 30, 2016

Santorini (and finishing Greece & The Greek Islands)

Santorini (Σαντορίνη) was classically known as Thira, and is an island about 120 miles from the Greek Mainland. It is the site of the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. Known as the Minoan Eruption 3,600 years ago it may have lead to the collapse of the Minoan Civilization on Crete. Volcanic ash over 200 feet deep surrounds the crater. The eruption also led to a giant tsunami.

The name Santorini comes from a contraction of the name Santa Irini.  (Saint Irene)

Saint Irene (whose name means PEACE), and a convert, herself  was martyred in the year 384 by beheading after she refused to stop preaching the word of Christ.

There is speculation that Santorini and the eruption later led to the myth of Atlantis with excavation in the 1960's of an under sea civilization which appeared buried. Plato had once spoke of a lost city.

With an average temperature of 79 degrees in September, picture perfect sea, and the sugar white cube buildings with their cobalt blue shutters, domes and doors Santorini is an aesthetic, and well recognized, tourist paradise.

Tourism is their main industry. Followed by fishing.

The island has hundreds of stone steps and tourists can rent donkeys to help climb to the upper parts.

Along with shells and stones sea sponges are sold in abundance (just like the one I purchased for use with my Mediterranean Sea painting). Still a work in progress. For textures it comes in quite handy!


Santorini has no rivers and water is scarce necessitating cisterns to collect rainfall and the utilization of the few small freshwater springs. There are a great number of windmills on the island.

In recent years (1990's) a desalinization plant was built and provides running but non-potable water to most households. 

A by-air tour of Santorini

And from the ground

A more comprehensive tour of Santorini

A Santorini Sailing Tour

Now it is time to say

Αντιο. (AHN-dee-oh)

To both Santorini, and The Greek Islands!

Taking the month of October off from my virtual travels, but will resume Mayes' Year in the World with Turkey (how appropriate, eh?) in November!

Ruins: Sparta, Thebes and Delphi

Okay...not so much these days.

Actually this is Sparta, today.

And here is a short tour

This is what remains of Camea at Thebes.

Short Tour of Thebes

Temple of Apollo at Delphi  (pronounced Del-fee...not Del-Fi)

A short tour of Delphi

The Ruins at Delphi.

(...and as much as I love antiquity, and rocks...I think I am finished with piles of limestone, standing columns, and marble rubble for a while...) 

So onward to our final destination before leaving Greece.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Greek Recipes

Spanakopita, Tiropita, Moussaka, Avegolemano, is all here at
Akis Kitchen.

Akis is not only educational, but oh so entertaining!!! See for yourself.

And to accompany your traditional Greek endeavors...

 Retsina (Ρετσίνα)

A Traditional Greek Wine

A white resinated wine which dates back over 2000 years. The one of a kind taste comes from the pine resin in the barrels in which it is aged. Initially, pine resin was used to seal the corks used in bottles to keep air from entering. Later the pine barrels were used because lovers of this particular wine enjoyed the taste the resin added it.

It is worth noting that although in recent years Australia has marketed its own resin infused wine...Greece has protected its wine with "Protected Designation of Origin" and the name Retsina can only be used in Greek Wine.

An old friend, Niko, (straight from the old country...and drove like it...terrifying...) once explained, to me, the process used in making this wine.

I will attempt to explain it here.

First you leave the grapes on the vine long past when they are usually picked. By the time you pick these grapes they have a white mould on them and have actually started to turn (ferment) on the vine. They are picked after a frost.

This may explain Retsina's potency. Perhaps the mould has some pharmacological effects it adds as well. One glass with food will be very enjoyable and leave you with a toasty glow.  Two glasses and you stand up to find the floor is moving.
True story.
Happened to me.

Anyway...the moulded half fermented grapes are brought into large stainless steel vessels to complete their fermentation...then heated...the condensation is then collected and sealed in pine casks for months to several years which impart the traditional pine resin flavour.

Cheaper versions are now made with the addition of pine resin directly to the wine "must"  during fermentation and removed during clarification.

Surprisingly, the strong turpentine fragrance and flavour works very well with the strong garlics and spices of Greek Food.

Possibly an acquired taste...but once you have had good Retsina with Traditional Greek cuisine, you won't want anything else. 

So attempt some of the recipes. 
Order a bottle of Retsina.

Remember...Try Everything!

Finishing up our holiday in The Greek Islands with Santorini...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Theatre of Dionysus

Located at the very foot of Acropolis. Dedicated to Dionysus (the Greek Counterpart to Bacchus...basically the Wine, Arts and Party God) the amphitheatre seats 14,000 people, is still used, and has excellent acoustics to this day.

The first stone theater ever built, and suppose to be the birthplace of Greek Tragedy.

It has been rebuilt several times and this version was done by the Romans in the First Century by commissioned by Nero.

The Dionysus Theatre

The History of Greek/Roman Theater

Soon:   Traditional Greek Recipes

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Cage-Match that was The First Presidential Debate the HELL did we end up with THESE TWO BOZOS...and doesn't it scare the HELL out of you when you realize that one of them very well may end up POTUS?

And face it...the only way Hillary could ever stand a chance at POTUS is to be running against someone like Trump.

And visa-versa.

Watched it only briefly...then finished it out using the complete transcripts this morning because...damn.

First of all...I will NOT be voting for either of them, and frankly I think it is absolutely abhorrent that out of this entire nation these are the two "left standing"

Seriously, America.

I will be doing some Defensive Congressional Voting and, of course, will be participatory in our state and local elections.

DNC. I think you really "screwed the pooch" by disenchanting an entire generation of new voters and stacking the primary outcome...and it may end up biting you (all of us) in the ass in a big way.

But enough "I told you so" and unlike the MSM's approach, or last night's debates...let's stick with the facts.

The Complete Transcripts of last night's Presidential Debates.

What these don't show you is the rudeness shown by both Candidates to each other (and in some instances, the moderator).

It will not show you the smirks, eyerolls, and the unseemly actions of two adults acting a lot like badly undisciplined overgrown kindergarten children.

It will not show you the deliberate condescension or him referring to her as Secretary or her referring to him only by his first name, Donald I am not trying to stand on ceremony here...but you are BOTH basically on a job interview for the highest position in the nation and everything was handled in a manner best reserved for a cage-match.

Even Madame Secretary and Mr. Trump would have been an improvement.

Something I did manage to notice from the brief time I sat through the televised debate before deciding to just read this morning's transcripts was this...

At the beginning Donald Trump started into the debate with a much quieter...modulated voice. This lasted all of about 15 minutes...then he was back to his thunderous, "braggidocious" (sic)  lying  self. 

For a while Hillary tried to stick to issues, then she morphed into the shrill, sarcastic, "out-of-control" lying self. 

Face it. If ether of them get it-

We're The United States of Screwed. 

More anon...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Acropolis (Virtual Greece)

Towering over Athens...The Acropolis.

In 490 BC, following the Battle of Marathon, the Acropolis, was built of pure marble.

This is the best and most comprehensive video I could find on the subject. Very interesting...and informative.

It is 45 minutes well spent.

Interestingly enough, yesterday, was the day (September 24)  in the 17th Century when hours of Venetian bombardment would destroy the Parthenon reducing most of it to rubble. They stored much of their black powder in its center at the time.  

In retrospect, a resoundingly bad idea.

Since 1975 there has been much active restoration work to bring back at least part of its former glory.

The Persian Slaves  were carved as pillars following the Battle of Marathon.
In later centuries, when the buildings were captured and converted to a mosque, the faces of the statues throughout Acropolis were removed/destroyed. Thus, explaining many of the faceless Greek Sculptures we see today. 

Other short tours of the Acropolis.

Soon, we will check out the Amphitheatre!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy...A Day Full of Kittens...And (soon) my New Baby

 This. This is HAPPY!

Spent the afternoon with James, Nicole and Aiden (who is now 99.5 percent housebroken and talking up a storm) 

James brought us Mexican.  Nicole had baked an amazing Browned Butter Zucchini Coffee-Cake...and shared the recipe with me! Must try making it, myself, soon.

It was so wonderful to arrive and have Aiden run from the porch to the drive yelling "Me-Maw" with his chubby arms outstretched in a hug. I'm not sure there is a better greeting!

Also got to see the a few weeks old

Nicki's very own Crazy Cat Lady Kit.

They are keeping the odd-colored silver and black one...and already have homes for several others. Mom is now fixed.

And you could just hear the wheels turn inside Aiden's head as he watched them with the dish of milk...

 right before joining them!

 Silly kid!

And caught off guard in a room full of squirmy pumpkin-colored kittens, yes. I will (now) soon have a new baby of my own



Although she will probably be called "Katie" until she grows into her name.  She is extremely sweet, quiet and shy...and will be a good addition to our household (and Tucker), I think.  I was going to wait until next Spring for a kitten...but fell in love with her! It must be the First Day of Fall...and an Orange Kitten thing. Usually I only look seriously at black and white kitties.

She has Tuxedo markings and white socks...a butterscotch back and a slightly darker tail. The kids are going to help me take her in to get fixed when she is old enough! new Katie-Cat. 

Fairly busy week and catching my breath. I have also been experimenting with a new Cheese Danish Recipe for when company comes in October.

with Walnuts

Sliced Peaches

And my personal favorite- Cherries.

Going to try a Praline type topping with pecans soon, and one with Slivered Toasted Almonds.

Nicole and I, already beginning the Halloween Crafts for the house.  Small balloons covered with long strips of white tulle and a glue/starch mixture to stiffen them before popping the balloon inside. When I left today we had a row hanging drying for A Hurst Halloween (complete with a huge vat of her chili, trick'o'treating and maybe a scary film).

Love being included in this annual tradition.

Hard to believe in November they will be married 3 years!

So back to Greece, soon...right now just relaxing and soon to sleep with visions of tumbling kittens dancing in my head!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

(Virtual) Athens Greece

True to form...

This is the first thing that came to mind when thinking of Athens.

And this is, of course, The Reality.

The Capital, largest city and most densely packed in all of Greece. An individual city which contains a population of over 4 million people in its 1,131 square miles. Roughly 3500 people per square mile. And that doesn't include the tourists.

Suddenly Virtual Travel seems like an outstanding idea.

With highs usually in the 90's and lows rarely below the mid-40's. I am content to explore the ruins of The Old City and the Amphitheatre "in the box" with, perhaps, ripe black grapes, or olives and a bit of cheese and wine! Five words. 

Air-Conditioning and No Crowds.

So, soon, we with check out Acropolis

 and the Amphitheatre...and, later in the week, some more Greek Recipes

before leaving for our final Greek Island on this virtual trek.


More anon!

Monday, September 19, 2016


Arrrrrr...that be right. It's Talk Like A Pirate Day. One of me favorite celebrations, I might add!

Soon to sink into a deep bubble bath then fix the T-Bone I picked up at the market with shrimp for a bit of Surf and Turf, fresh asparagus, mushrooms, a bit of something sweet  (and maybe a re-watch of Pirates of the Caribbean tonight).

The house is truly festooned for Fall now. From the pumpkin pie and gingerbread scented candles to the sunflower bouquets, warm plaid throw and the return of my gold-leave glass candy dish (filled with treats) A mainstay on the coffee table until December when it morphs into something more Christmassy.


more days until our DS Mini-Gathering (here) with Jane and Betsy, Marti and maybe the elusive Lee, Dave (from across the pond), and I.

Have been experimenting with accompaniments for coffee (from Pinterest) including Peach Cinnamon Rolls, and several types of Cream Cheese and Fruit Danishes.

So...Happy Pirate's Day where ever you be!

For more information on Pirate's Day check out the Official Website:

and for a free treat check out your local

Krispie Kreme or Long John Silver's, today!

Back to Greece tomorrow...

                                               Absolutely Brilliant!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Traditional Greek Moussaka (Recipe)

I thought we would start Greek Cooking with Moussaka.

The first thing I learned while researching this recipe is that every nook and cranny in the Mediterranean had their own version of it. Some included potatoes and sliced onions. Some had zucchini. The meats ranged from goat meat to ground beef. One even included shellfish. Some had aubergine (eggplant) and some did not. The spices were all over the place as well. Found the one I settled on from a grandmotherly type woman who said this was the way her grandmother made it in Greece. If it was good enough for a Greek Grandmother...right?

(Let's hope Grandma was a good cook)

Rustic Greek Moussaka

Begin with 2 large eggplants (washed and cut into 1/4 inch disks) Salt and place in a colander to sweat. The salt will draw out the bitter juices of the eggplant.

Leave for 30 minutes. Then rinse off the juice that has accumulated on the surfaces and pat dry.

Brush eggplant disks with olive oil, and single layer on a baking pan. Grate a little parmesan cheese or crumble feta over them.

Place under broiler until browned.
Edges may char. It is okay.

Begin your meat

 (I used chopped lamb) but you can substitute almost anything here.
You could probably even use firm tofu.
 (for a vegetarian version)

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, chopped onion, chopped lamb, paprika, minced garlic, cinnamon, paprika, oregano, a little sugar, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, chopped ripe tomato, a splash of white wine, and fresh parsley.   Sauté until meat is done and/or vegetables are soft.. Set aside.

Arrange layer of eggplant and layer of meat mixture layering lasagne-like in a deep pan ending with a final layer of eggplant.  Set aside.

Begin Bechamel sauce.

In a deep skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.

In a separate bowl beat one egg - reserve

When butter is melted make a roux with 4 tablespoons of flour...then add in 2 cups of milk.  Stir constantly to prevent lumping until mixture starts to thicken.

Take off the heat.

Pour off into mixing bowl...let cool slightly.

Quickly beat into mixture the egg, salt, pepper, grated parm, crumbled feta, and a little nutmeg. Mix well.

Pour over layered ingredients in pan. Add a few sprigs of parsley to top and you can crumble a little more feta or grate more parm over it if you like.

Bake until golden brown.

Let Moussaka sit and rest for 10 minutes before trying to cut and serve in order for it to cut in nice blocks and not fall apart.

Leftovers re-heat nicely. 
Well, that is what the grandma lady said,!
We will see.

Mine is still baking!
And, man, does it make the house smell wonderful!


And Plated!

Post Script:  

Very nice. First time ever trying Eggplant.
Even Tucker gave it two paws up and polished off a small dish!  
Definitely going to add this to the recipe file.