Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Greek Lemon Cookies


Every so often, Liberty and I like to bake up a batch of various cookies. In the winter, we prefer oatmeal or chocolate chip, but come spring, it's always our Greek lemon cookies that we bake on Holy Thursday, as they are a traditional, Easter treat. 

 

Having said that, they are to Greeks what biscotti are to Italians, and as such, can be enjoyed whenever one craves a substantial citrus cookie, as they are denser in texture, but very moist, with a full bodied lemon-y aroma and taste.


And this year, they were extra special, since they were infused with the fresh, citrus-y scent that came from lemons growing on the one and only lemon tree in our veggie garden. Here's the recipe that I found in 'Dolce', a Greek gourmet magazine. It's super easy! 


Greek Lemon Cookies

Ingredients:
500 grams all purpose flour
200 grams sugar
100 grams butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
zest from two lemons
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg + 2 Tbsp. water for egg wash

Directions:

1.  Cream the butter and sugar 
so that it becomes light and fluffy.

2.  Add the eggs, one by one, beating after each, 
then, the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest.

3.  Lower the speed on the mixer and add the 
flour in portions, folding it in after each addition.

4.  On a cold counter, start to knead the dough until 
it doesn't stick to your fingers. You might need
 to add more flour (I find that I always do, 
but be careful, as the more flour you add,
 the more it takes away from the lemon
the vanilla and the sugar).

5.  Shape the dough into strips, 15 cm long and the width of your finger.

6.  Roll them into a pinwheel or whatever shape you like. 

7.  Transfer to cookie sheet and  brush with egg wash. 

8.  Bake in a preheated oven for 18 - 20 minutes 
at 180 C/(350 F). Makes about 1 kilo.


These Greek lemon cookies are  perfect with that first cup of morning coffee, or tea in the afternoon. If you like your cookies crunchy, then store them in a cookie tin.  Otherwise, keep them in an air tight container, if you prefer a softer cookie. I hope you give them a try; they're fun to make and are scrumptious!


 Have you done any baking, lately?

Thanks for visiting!

xx


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Week

St. Irene, the little church that stands next to our home, high above the Cretan sea.

Hello dear readers, it's Holy Week here in Greece, a peaceful and quiet time, when the Greek Orthodox Church relives the last days of Jesus' life, beginning Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday.

Allium Subhirsutum dot the perimeter of an old Olive tree, softening its rugged, claw-like trunk.

Days are spent cleaning and preparing 
our home for the celebratory feast.

A close up of Allium Subhirsutum, commonly known as Hairy Garlic.

Church services in the evenings, bring people
together in prayer and unity, at this most 
solemn time, days before Christ is crucified.

The hilly meadow behind our home. A petaled path strikes one's curiosity to follow it.

We follow Him to His death on the cross, and mourn at His 
funeral, in the Service of Lamentations, on Good Friday.

Fresh beginnings are evident all around the village. Here, new vine leaves bask in the midday sun.

Then, alas, at the stroke of midnight, on Holy Saturday, 
we rejoice, 'Christos Anesti!' (Christ is Risen!), as our
 hearts are filled with the joy and hope of His rebirth.


For a more detailed account of Greek Orthodox Easter,
please visit my first post, here. To my friends who 
celebrate, wishing you a most blessed Easter.

xo
Poppy 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shelf Life


Hello, everyone, Happy April!


Can you guess what I've been doing?


Yup, taking more pics of wildflowers, but
this time, I thought I'd bring some home


 to create a cheery, spring vignette.

 

I needed to sweeten the kitchen,


with something other than the aroma of baked goodies
- my cozy, wintry pastime that packed on a few pounds!


 Voilà! A fresh buffet of eye candy, 
pretty and completely calorie free!


I simply cannot get enough of these daisies. They're my
 custom concoction of Vitamin C, (that's 'c' for Cuties),
but these lovelies are also a by-product of Vitamin D - 
sunny skies, that in turn, encourage aerobic exercise.


The effect on my physique is not yet evident; for that, I'll
 have to wait, unlike the instant results on my kitchen shelf,


 where rows and rows of springtime petals managed to
lighten my spirit and plant a warm smile on my face.


 Now that winter's technically over, 
what melts your heart about spring?

Thanks for visiting!
Have a wonderful week!


xoxo
Poppy 

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Aglow in Yellow


It's the last week of March and the Cretan countryside is aglow in yellow. Above, clouds covered the sun, seconds before I took this photo, but the round, cheery flowers, like millions of little light bulbs, brightened the scene for me, so that I could capture the tiny church in all its radiant illumination.


This blossoming pear tree is one
 of many in the immediate vicinity. 


Its silky, white flowers are a soft contrast to the yellow 
  saturation that dominates the petal population at present.



These adorable daisies arrived in patches about a week ago. They're the first bunch of beauties I encounter on my walk around the village. Don't they look like those animated suns in kids' drawings? I can almost see their sweet, smiley faces and hear their childlike voices bidding me 'Good morning' in unison. 


'Good morning, daisies'.


Meanwhile, white mustard (Sinapsis alba L, belonging to the Brassicaceae family) is at its peak right now. I read here, that, 'while the table condiment mustard does indeed come from the mustard seed, the leaves, flowers, seed pods and roots are also edible.'. The young leaves, in particular, are used to flavour mixed salads.



I have been wandering through meadows of these lemony toned lovelies for years; who knew that they are packed with a peppery spice and provide a host of therapeutic qualities from treating ailments like bronchitis and pneumonia to alleviating arthritis?!


Indoors, a favourite flower of mine, my beloved freesia, take centre stage on a doily that resembles yet another sun, this one lacy and delicate. This fragrant posy is part of a bigger bouquet given to me by my sweet friend, Fotini, for my birthday, last week. She has several pots blooming on her balcony. Interestingly, her name, 'Fotini' is derived from the Greek, φως (phos), meaning 'light'. This bunch so beautifies the house with its glowing, yellow bulb-like petals and that scent!

 

And thank you, my sweet readers for visiting
   and for all of your thoughtful birthday wishes!
Have a wonderful week!

xoxo
Poppy 

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I'm No Spring Chicken


Hello all,
 Happy Spring!


On Sunday, we celebrated my birthday, dining
 al fresco in this gorgeous landscape, just a
 10 minute drive from our village. 


While daisies and buttercups garnished the fields below, 

source
we had a scrumptious lunch on the patio 


of this beautifully rustic establishment,
 high, in the hilly Cretan countryside.

 

Before leaving, a prayer at the inn's tiny chapel, 
completed our visit to this pretty, pastoral place.



Once home, Liberty and I immediately changed into
 more sporty clothing, then departed on our daily walk, 
hoping to undo some of the damage done at the tavern.


Now, my daughter is twenty something and in great shape. 
And, although she can easily finish our route in half the time,
 she is happy to stroll at my pace, simply to keep me company.


 After all, I'm no spring chicken, 


just a loving, mother hen!

Thanks for visiting!
xoxo
Poppy

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Women's Day Tea in the Village


Hello everyone, as you all know, last Wednesday was International Women's Day, and as a member of the Ladies' Philanthropic Society of our village, I suggested that we host a tea party to celebrate women all over the world. Firstly, I wanted the ladies of the village to feel special, so I proposed that invitations be created and hand delivered. Two of our artistic members, Kristy, and her mother, Sonia, created the pretty design, above. Isn't it adorable? 

source

Next, we needed a venue. The obvious choice was the village schoolhouse. It has not been in operation as an educational facility for a while, but instead, is used for the various cultural activities that take place throughout the year, as well as being available to the children to play table tennis, a variety of board games or visit its little library.

source

Expecting about 60 guests, we closed off  part of the space to make for a cozier atmosphere. The floor is grey pebble mosaic, the walls are white stucco, the ceiling a brown wood panel and there is no heating. Obviously, it is not your  typical, ornate tearoom,


but I  knew the heavy, folding doors, covered in a beautiful, olive green patina would make the room feel warm and inviting. I asked our members to bring as many of their teacups and saucers from home to add personal charm to compensate for the paper tablecloths and plastic garden chairs. A gorgeous bouquet of anemones was purchased and then divided into  posies that were placed on the tables. 

 

Magnets in flower and heart motifs - a gift for each guest, decorated each place setting. Handmade, clay candles dotted by cute ladybugs gave the room a fresh, spring-like feel and a soft, shimmery glow. A very heartfelt thank you to our talented and generous member, Eleni, who provided the magnets and crafted the candles!



When I asked our members to each make something sweet or savoury for the occasion, I had no idea that our guests would do the same! But, Cretans are known for their hospitality and I should have realized that our guests would also have wanted to contribute to our assortment of scrumptious treats! Don't they look delicious?



From a wide variety of traditional, sweet and savoury Cretan pites (pies) and koulourakia (biscotti), to loukoumades (pastries made of deep fried dough soaked in a syrup of honey and cinnamon and sprinkled with sesame seeds), and rich, decadent cakes (my chocolate/orange gateau, for example), there was something for everyone, including much Lenten fare for those who were fasting.


While the ladies sipped their tea and nibbled their goodies, it was time for our president to give a short speech about the goals and efforts of the Ladies' Philanthropic Society, and its dedication to helping the sick, the poor, and those less fortunate. She pointed out that we meet at a different member's home once a month, which gives us a chance to socialize over coffee and discuss our agenda, ultimately deciding on where our donations will go to for that month. In closing, she thanked each lady for attending and reminded us that, as women, we share the spirit of sisterhood and hoped that we could work together to make the world a better place.


I, for one, have so enjoyed working closely and cooperatively with my fellow members, who have since become wonderful friends, upon my return to the island. After a little convincing, (re: shopping, baking, crafting, setting up and cleaning!), I am very grateful that my suggestion to have this Women's Day Tea in our beautiful village was accepted with such enthusiasm by everyone in our group, who all worked very hard to make it such a sweet gathering of female fun; I will savour the memory forever!


 How did you celebrate Women's Day? 

Thanks for visiting!
xoxo
Poppy

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