Harvest Bounty & Winter Treats!

Harvest Bounty & Winter Treats!

I learned many things from my paternal grandmother, “Nona Renie” (see photo), who was a constant, calm and peaceful presence throughout my childhood. One of the most practical things she taught me was how to prepare various foods for the bounty of the summer harvest to last through the winter as well, and I still use her recipes just as she taught them to me, to this day. Sun-Dried Tomatoes These are a well-known delicacy throughout the Mediterranean, but I insist that there is something very special about the tomatoes that grow in my garden and dry in the Ionian sun. To prepare them, all you need to do is cut them in half length-wise, and lay them out in a tray or shallow basket. Τhen sprinkle them with coarse sea-salt and put them out in the sun,...

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Childhood games

Childhood games

Back in the 1940s and 1950s children were deprived of material goods, which today might be considered useless items. But back then, we discovered ways to fill our time and keep our minds occupied, we used our brains to invent new games, so the satisfaction and joy was even greater.   We invented or learned many team games, the first of which was our version of cricket. Both boys and girls played it, since there weren’t enough children of either gender in the neighbourhood to make up a team.The boys made sure we had all the necessary equipment for the game. In other words, a broomstick from an old broom instead of a bat (we called it a “mourouna”), and a makeshift ball we called a “tsiliki”. The “bat” was a metre- long piece of the...

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Part of the family

Part of the family

Some members of my extended family, with the older ladies in traditional Corfiot dress as worn in the village of Korakiana (c. 1925). The lady in the front row wearing the white headdress (second from right) is my grandmother Rinie (Irene) and the little boy she is holding is my eldest brother Spyros, who sadly died in childhood. The woman in a dark coat standing at the right of the picture is my mother Antigone.

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Who needs a washing machine?

Who needs a washing machine?

Long before the advent of washing machines and washing powder, when I was a child, the necessary ingredients for fresh white linen were green carbolic soap, two buckets of ash straight from the hearth, a clean basket (handwoven from local rushes), hot water, and a nice big rosemary bush! The linen would be left to soak overnight in a big barrel called a “mastelo”. The next morning, Nona would scrub the linen with a thick, flat piece of wood known as a tavlomastela. After both linen and barrel were thoroughly rinsed, she would place each item of clothing into the basket, spreading each one flat over the previous one. Then an old tablecloth or other piece of linen went on top, and finally a thick sheet of hessian covered the whole pile. Then she would empty a...

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The egg experiment

The egg experiment

I was the youngest member of the family, and Nona (my paternal grandmother, see photo) often looked after me while the rest of the family was occupied. I learned a lot from her self-sufficiency and simple methods, and still apply many of them, such as sun-drying fruit and a number of her recipes and methods for preparing food. One such was the traditional way of preparing olives, since they cannot be eaten as picked from the tree, being far too bitter and hard. To make them edible, Nona would first discard any damaged or stained olives, and after washing them well, she placed them in a container of water, which would be changed every few days for about a week, to draw out the bitterness. Then, after moving the olives to a ceramic vase, she would add the salt in...

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