Think of semolina… Yuck. I hated semolina when I was a kid. Bland white stuff you had to put jam into to make it tasty. On the other hand, how about this?
Stelios apologises for emptying half a jar (a glass full) of honey into the pan with water. As it heats up, he adds the zest of an orange (recently picked), some cinnamon and a few cloves. Meanwhile in another pan he heats up plenty of – guess what – olive oil, and eventually stirs into this the dry semolina as if it were risotto, keeping it moving until all the oil is absorbed and the whole thing cooking without burning. The two pans get mixed together with raisins and walnuts broken into small pieces, and there we have it: halva, a delicious and rather healthy dessert.
Now think of another thing you might have hated when you were a kid: beetroot. That vinegary stuff in jars was always on the buffet table when we had a family ‘do’, and turned the lettuce and salad cream red.
Of all the seeds we planted a couple of months ago, the beetroots came up in abundance, and when I checked the garden the other day a few of them were showing above the soil, clearly big enough to pick. I aimed to cook them the way we ate them in Athens: boiled until slightly soft when the skins peel off easily under the cold tap. The green tops I cooked quickly after and roughly cut into pieces. Drenched the lot in olive oil, lemon and garlic.
I haven’t had to water the garden lately. It rained for three days. In what seemed like a break in the rain, we drove to Plaka for a walk, but didn’t get much farther than the little church of St Nicholas. We sheltered in the abandoned house on the hillside, watching the rain on the trees where the peacocks were hiding, listening to the sea down below, and I wanted to live there…
Yesterday I wrapped up and took my umbrella and walked down to Eristos to take pictures of the waves sweeping in and the dark clouds.
The waves had left seaweed right up the beach and the shapes of that and the wet driftwood reminded me of Vancouver Island. The place we used to swim from in the autumn was covered in pebbles washed in.
As I walked back, the sun came out and was so hot I had to carry a jumper and jacket and scarf. Everything was incredibly clear.
Then within half an hour the dark clouds were gathering again.
I’m grateful to be online at all today. The amazing lightning during last night’s storm actually exploded our modem. It made a loud crack and a bright white spark as the chip actually exploded into pieces – Stelios couldn’t resist taking it apart to see inside after. We’d unplugged the electricity but didn’t think of the phone line. It turns out the same happened to others in and around Megalo Horio – even those with the UPS surge protector. Powerful stuff, lightning! Lesson? Unplug everything when not in use, and have an extra stash of spare modems. And meanwhile be grateful and I didn't entitle this blog post 'Greece lightning'.
I am very happy that Nikos, Stelios's dad, who had a minor stroke just after Christmas, got medical attention right away and made a full recovery. He and Vicky spent New Year's Eve in the hospital in Rhodes. It was a nasty scare and a good reminder to live well and count our blessings.
A happy and healthy 2012 to all.