You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘The Cretan Life’ category.


Portrait of Lucrezia Borgia by Bartolomeo Veneto [Wikimedia]

Portrait of Lucrezia Borgia by Bartolomeo Veneto [Wikimedia]

At some point in the 1980s, life was going particularly badly — plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose — and my dear, late friend, actor, writer and director Bill Moody, decided that to be reaping so many challenges, I must have been Lucrezia Borgia in a past life. I now begin to think he was absolutely right!

Some of you may have noticed that I was visiting your blogs again yesterday. Has my sight been restored? Nope.

There’s good news and there’s bad news.

The bad news is that I learned from the British ophthalmologist that the cataract operation on my left eye that was done in Crete a year ago was so out-of-date that the Isle of Wight specialist had not performed that particular procedure for twenty years.

The good news is that he was able to remove the stitch at the front of the eyeball. This, sadly, has made only minimal difference to the vision but enough to be able to read a little better and see pictures in more detail. The difference was not immediately apparent but became clear (pun intended) about lunchtime yesterday.

The bad news is that all the other stitches from that operation are still in the eyeball and deeply embedded.

The good news is he doubts these are affecting my vision and would prefer to leave them untouched unless later events change his mind.

The bad news is that should the need arise, it’s major surgery for the eyeball.

The next piece of news is good and bad. There is scar tissue that’s developed over the months from, I think, that one stitch he took out but it can be removed by laser and within the month.

In the meantime, I am now on the waiting list for a cataract operation on the right eye. Hurrah!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Advertisements

The last time I visited Knossos, it was a school cruise in, I think, 1973. Since moving here, I’ve not been. This has to be rectified but in the meantime, here’s a lovely post from my blogger friend, M.L.Kappa, describing her visit accompanied by her grandchildren.

On the island of Crete, which lies nearer to the coast of Africa than to the Greek mainland, a brilliant civilization flourished from approximately 3650 to 1400 BCE. It was rediscovered at the begi…

Source: The Minoans | Letters from Athens


As we are spending Christmas with some friends here in Crete, I can do no better than give you this delicious post from Letter from Athens about a traditional Greek Christmas.

In the Greek Orthodox tradition, Christmas ranks second to Easter, but it is still a very important holiday. For the devout it is preceded by a period of fasting so food, unsurprisingly, plays a major role in the festivities. But more of that later.

In Greece, Santa Klaus or Father Christmas is Agios Vasilios (Saint Basil) – so gifts are opened on his name day, January first.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day children go from house to house singing the Kalanda (carols whose name comes from the Roman calendar, the first days of the month) and accompanying themselves on small metal triangles and sometimes harmonicas. They knock on doors asking ‘Na ta poume?’ – ‘Shall we say them?’ They are rewarded with money, sweets and sometimes dried figs and other fruit. Then the householders wish them ‘Kai tou xronou’ – ‘Again next year’. They will do the same on New Year’s Eve and…

Source: A Greek Christmas | Letters from Athens


Μελομακάρονα — Honey Biscuits or Macaroons

melomakarana

There are rather too many sweet treats in Greece of which I’m not a great fan. For instance, I don’t like Baklava (Μπακλαβάς), Halva (Χαλβάς) or Galaktoboureko (Γαλακτομπούρεκο), which is a custard-filled pastry with syrup); it’s something about the texture of the first two that puts me off, and the custard one has rarely been good when I’ve bought it from a bakery. I’ve tried, heaven knows, I’ve tried.

But Melomakarona (Μελομακάρονα) are different, especially when there is enough honey syrup to make them moist. They are a Christmas indulgence over here and often given as presents.

This is a traditional recipe by Maria Pantzelioudakis from her previously mentioned cookery book. One of the ingredients is ‘alisiva’ which is designed to make the biscuits ‘crunchy and crumbly’. It is made using clean ash from burnt wood — bet you didn’t expect that!

Ingredients

720 ml olive oil
240 ml orange juice
125 g walnuts, finely chopped
grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
125 g cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder/soda
120 ml alisiva (see below for how to make)
1 kg flour (approx)

Syrup

1 kg sugar
480 ml water
240 ml honey
juice of one lemon
2 sticks cinnamon

Method

First make the syrup. Boil together the sugar, honey and water for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and the cinnamon and leave to one side to cool

Next make the alisiva. Boil half a cup of clean ash with 2 cups of water. Once it has come to the boil, remove from the heat and let the ash settle. Finally, strain and the clear liquid is ‘alisiva’. This recipe requires 120 ml of this liquid.

Now make the biscuits. Place all the ingredients except the flour into a large bowl and mix. Gradually add the flour and knead the mixture lightly. Be careful not to knead too much as this will make the biscuits hard. If necessary, add more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape into ovals agout 3/4 cm thick and place on a greased baking tray. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes until the biscuits are golden. Remove from the oven and pour over enough cold syrup for the biscuits to soak up. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and arrange on a platter.

Prepare to be be enamoured!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Garlic is for Heroes Postcard
Garlic is for Heroes Postcard

There’s a taverna down the road from us in Chorafakia called Sunset. Not a name to conjure with, I grant you, but you can glory in a burnt orange sky while eating delicious home-made food.

The owner-chef, Maria, was born in 1950 in the mountain village of Semprona and arrived in Chorafakia at the oh-so-young age of 16 to marry Jacob Pantzelioudakis. She likes nothing more than providing traditional Cretan recipes using fresh food. She grows her own fruit and vegetables and rears  her own chickens, lambs, goats, rabbits and more. When so many tavernas this side of Crete (north-west), cheat their customers with mass-produced moussakas heated in a microwave, it’s a relief knowing you will be served freshly cooked food every time.

In our early years here, we were naïve enough to eat in a taverna at one end of the Venetian Harbour in Chania. I had moussaka and Mr FND had a steak—what was he thinking of! The first had been microwaved to within an inch of its life and had evidently first seen the light of day a week before. The second had seen service at Chernobyl. We sent both meals back. We already knew that the Greeks like their meat well done but this well done? They tried again with exactly the same result. Even Mr FND’s Retsina was grotesque. We gave up and went to complain, and saying we refused to pay. There was a huge furore with the restaurant owner, the chef and us. We were accused of scamming them. I won’t continue but you get the picture. Needless to say, we have never returned.

MussakasMeMelitsanesKePatates01The best moussaka I have eaten here in seven years was cooked by our friend Stela when she invited us to supper. I no longer order moussaka anywhere. I lie. There is another taverna in one of the nearby villages that does a mean moussaka. But it’s still not as tasty as Stela’s.

The following recipe is adapted from Maria’s self-published cookery book, Maria’s Recipes. Sadly, we had an accident a few months ago which meant that part of the book has been blighted by water damage. What is even sadder is that Maria has not been able to afford to do print run for the last couple of years or I’d buy a further copy.

There’s Taramasalata and Tzatziki but have you heard of Skordalia? It’s a garlic dip and fans of garlic will want to double up the following quantities. In fact, to serve four, I’d suggest you quadruple the ingredients!

skordalia-maria

Photo of Skordalia Dip from Maria’s Recipes with evidence of the water damage and torn pages!!

Skordalia (Σκορδαλιά) Garlic Dip

Ingredients

3 medium potatoes
3 slices of brown bread
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste

Method

Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. Soak the bread in water then squeeze hard to remove excess water and place together with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil.

Yes, it’s that simple! It can be served as a dip but is most often served as a side dish with salted cod. However, it goes well as an accompaniment to most fish, meat or vegetable dishes.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


In the mid-1990s, after a delightful holiday in Crete with a dear friend, she and I decided we wanted to buy a bolt-hole on the island. I planned to spend half the year in Crete to give my health (or lack of it) the warmth it desperately needed.

At the Going Down of the Sun 
At the Going Down of the Sun (coastline, Chania, Crete)

But life, as John Lennon and others before him said, has a way of happening when you’re making other plans and we never did buy that bolt-hole.

Lighthouse in the Mist Post Cards
(Chania) Lighthouse in the Mist

Cut to September 2008 and Mr FND and I went on our first proper holiday after thirteen years together, prompted by my having four TIAs (mini strokes) in the May. We knew we had to change our lives and a holiday was a priority.
We settled on Chania and the rest is history. I think that even before we got on the plane at Gatwick, we knew we would move to this glorious island permanently. It may, at this time in history, be part of Greece, but there is something different about the island and an atmosphere that is quite unlike the mainland.

Lighthouse in Chania iPad Mini Cover
Lighthouse in Chania iPad Mini Cover

DAKOS

Dakos

© Sarah Vernon

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Crete has the healthiest diet in the Mediterranean. The island has the agriculture, the chefs and the recipes to make your stomach and your doctor very happy! The tavernas and cafés in the tourist areas of Chania, the nearest city to the village of Chorafakia — primarily round the Venetian Harbour — are, alas, not the place to find great Greek or Cretan food but venture into the cobbled streets of the Old Town or up into the mountains and you will often find places to eat that can fulfill your every Cretan dream.

We’ve probably all heard of Moussaka and Tzatziki but unless you are partly or wholly Greek or have spent many years having Greek holidays, you may not have heard of many of the staple mezes or snacks. One such are Dakos, which originated in Chania.  These are barley rusks (twice-baked bread) topped with fresh tomatoes, feta or mizithra cheese, olive oil and oregano. Simple but delicious … and healthy!

Details of how to create Dakos at home can be found at Maria Verivaki’s blog, Organically Greek. She writes:

‘This is the healthiest salad snack you can imagine. It has been immortalised all over Greece and is famous for its Hania origins. It is served in practically every single restaurant, taverna, café or kafeneio in the province. It is extremely easy to make. I don’t know why it’s called dackos (or dakos, or dako for that matter); the same name is also used for the troublesome fly that infests olives and ruins olive trees.’

Scorched Earth Greeting Card
Scorched Earth Greeting Card (Chania’s Venetian Harbour)

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


One can get very sick of sunsets. At least, I can. It’s rare for me to find a sunset photograph exceptional. I find Silhouette Sunset exceptional and I can say that with impunity because it was captured by Mr FND and not me! He took it from a beach on the Akrotiri Peninsular in Crete, near to where we live. Looking at makes me exceedingly peaceful.

Silhouette Sunset Laptop Skin © Sarah VernonSilhouette Sunset Laptop Skin © Sarah Vernon


‘When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.’ Mahatma Gandhi


sunsetcushionfaa
Silhouette Sunset Cushion © Sarah Vernon

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah



“Gently the waves would break (Lily heard them in her sleep); tenderly the light fell (it seemed to come through her eyelids). And it all looked, Mr. Carmichael thought, shutting his book, falling asleep, much as it used to look years ago.”
― Virginia WoolfTo the Lighthouse

I’ve been at it again with lighthouses. I do love them. If I had my way, I’d live in a lighthouse. Mind you, it would have to have a special lift all the way up to the top. I envy anyone I read about who buys and renovates a lighthouse as a family home. Heaven!

The original photograph is one I took last month when my niece was staying. It’s the lighthouse that juts out from the Venetian Harbour in Chania which is twenty minutes away from our home in Crete. I plan to make this available for sale also.

lighthouseblog


“Man must behave like a lighthouse; he must shine day and night for the goodness of everyman.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan


Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art

See also:
Lighthouse Impasto
Lighthouse in Chania

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


IMG_0443

Flowers growing just outside the local church [η εκκλησία]

J1600x1200-43062

We call it a Greek Salad but I’ve heard the locals call it a ‘country salad’ [σαλάτα]

DSC00037blog

Our beloved Cretan mongrel when he was a little younger. Most of the time he’s a good little dog! [καλό σκυλάκι]

Mr FND and I have become ex-pats by moving to the Greek island of Crete, the reasons for which will be revealed in a later post. It is the best decision we have ever made.

Take care and keep laughing! [Να είστε καλά και να κρατήσει το γέλιο!]

I will have to check with my online writer friend, Nicholas C Rossis, that this last translation is correct as we have not yet mastered the language. It will happen!

Sarah

TRANSLATE

Award-Free Blog

About Me

about.me

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 15,487 other followers

Archives

Categories

Artists 4 Peace

Twitter

FND on Twitter

Facebook

FND on Facebook

YesterdayAfter

© Sarah Vernon and First Night Design 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Vernon and First Night Design with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements
The Secret Barrister

Independent Blogger of the Year, The Comment Awards 2016 & 2017

Heritage Calling

A Historic England Blog

British Pathé

Updates from the Archive on WordPress

Homeless up north

My experiences of my time sleeping rough on the streets of North east England

Free Vintage Illustrations

Free full-color vintage illustrations in the public domain! Curated from postcards, books, ads, and more antique media from the 19th to early 20th-century.

Disappointed Idealist

Ranting from the chalkface

%d bloggers like this: