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April 27, 2012

FAKES - LENTIL SOUP



LENTIL SOUP (FAKES)


     Here's a (long-time promised) recipe of a favorite Greek soup called Fakes which basically is a lentil soup. It is a very easy recipe!
     It is traditionally made with small green-brown lentils and is usually made with tomatoes (tomato sauce) but can be cooked without them if you don't like them.

 
Cook Time: 1 hour or so (it's only about 10-15 min in the pressure cooker)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of small lentils, rinsed
  • 1 pound of ripe tomatoes, pureed or a can of tomato sauce
  • 4 1/4 cups of water (more or less depending on your preference- thick soup or not)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 chopped carrots
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • red wine vinegar
 
Preparation:
 
In a heavy bottomed pot (or the pressure cooker), add the oil and  saute the onions and garlic (for 1 minute) . Then add the water, tomatoes, bay leaves and carrots. Bring to a boil over medium heat and add the lentils, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 1 hour or so, or until lentils are done. I remind you that the pressure cooker doesn't usually require more than 10-15 min. Remove from the heat and take out the bay leaves.

Serve in a deep dish and add, if you like, a tablespoon of vinegar to your serving. It adds to the taste. Of course, accompany it with fresh (bakery) bread and feta cheese!

To prepare without tomatoes: Leave out tomatoes, and increase the water to 5 1/2 cups.


                         ΚΑΛΗ ΟΡΕΞΗ!
                                                         KALI OREXI!
                                                                                    BON APPETIT!


April 23, 2012

THANKS MOM

"THANKS MOM"
    The hardest job in the world is truly the best job in the world.

     With less than 100 days left for the start of the Olympic Games on 27 July 2012  (hosted this year in London, UK) and Mother's Day just around the corner (May 13th), Procter & Gamble launched a commercial to recognise and honor everything that moms all over the world do to help their children succeed. The idea comes from the fact that behind every great athlete there is an even greater Mom. 
     Watch the video and share it with friends and family. It is very touching (yes, I cried!) and will make all of us call our Moms and say "Thank you Mom!"
          

(...and thank you Procter & Gamble for honoring mothers!)

April 19, 2012

SPRING CLEANING (AT LAST)....CONTINUED

SPRING CLEANING....CONTINUED

......OK! We've made our list, we got our supplies, we even got the CD ready to play. We're pumped up and ready to fight off the slime, scum, grease...in one word the dirt. Nothing is stopping us! ...Uhmmm...that is until we stumble upon a ..."Darn, I can't get it off" or "How am I going to clean this?"

     Well, I'm going to give you some tips I've learned in my housewife years that you may find useful. (I hope you do!)


Uses of vinegar
 
  • Remove armpit sweat stains from clothes by spraying the stain with strong white vinegar before washing them and the stain will disappear.
  • If you add 1/2 a glass of white vinegar during the rinse cycle in the washer you' ll protect your linens and the colours of the clothes and remove leftover detergent. If you tend to hang clothes outside on a line to dry this will help them become softer. (Don't worry about the smell, it evaporates) 
  • Get rid of ants and other small insects by spraying a 50-50 mix of water and vinegar.
  • Remove stickers from furniture and bumpers by rubbing them with a soft cloth that has been dipped in warm white vinegar. (Also, mayonnaise, yes mayonnaise!, can remove stickers from furniture as well)
  • The acid in the vinegar can remove rust from small metallic objects, soak them in a solution with vinegar for a while and rinse well. 
  • Adding a little vinegar in your moping bucket along with your floor detergent will make your floor tiles shine.
  • Plastic food containers tend to smell bad after a while. Clean them well with vinegar and the smells will disappear.   
  • Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the vase of flowers will prolong their life. (An aspirin is said to be doing the same job)
  • Get rid of bad smells and even unclog your garbage disposal or sink by pouring baking soda and adding white vinegar. Let it stand for 30 minutes and then rinse with hot water.
  • You can remove spots from your silverware by rubbing them with a soft cloth dipped in vinegar. Rinse well.
  • Clean the baked on food and grease in your microwave by filling a microwave-safe bowl (or a coffee cup) with a mixture of half vinegar and half water and nuking it for two minutes (or more, you want it to be bubbling hot). Then, dip a sponge into the vinegar-water solution, and use it to wipe the food off of the walls of the microwave. It'll fall right off! (Don't forget to wear gloves to protect your hands!)

Uses of coffee filters
  • We can use coffee filters to wipe clean windows and mirrors!
  • If the cork breaks into pieces as we open a bottle of wine we can use a coffee filter to strain the wine of any cork pieces.
  • We can also use coffee filters to strain the oil we used for frying in order to use it again.
  • By placing a coffee filter at the bottom of a pot we make sure the plant doesn't lose any of its soil as it will allow only water to go through it.

Uses of talcum powder
  • Applying talcum powder on a fresh stain will make it easier to remove later as the powder will absorb the damp.
  • Reduce the moisture and sweaty feeling in your shoes by adding some talcum powder.
  • Applying talcum powder after shaving can calm the skin and avoid irritation.
  • You can untangle a tangled chain or bracelet by putting some talcum powder on it. You' ll be surprised!
  • Is your wooden floor creaking? Pour some talcum powder in the seams. It should stop!



Uses of baking soda
  • Make stains from ink and markers disappear by rubbing them with a wet sponge dipped in baking soda. Rinse
  • Put baking soda (and a little vinegar) on burnt grease residues on your pots and pans. Let it soak. rub gently and rinse.
  • Remove spots from your silverware by rubbing them with a soft cloth and baking soda. Rinse well.
  • If your house smells bad due to smokers or pets, pour a generous amount of baking soda on the carpets. Let it stand all night and the next day vacuum.

General
  • Remove chocolate stains with warm water and then rub with dish soap. Rinse.
  • Remove wine stains by putting some salt on it. Let it stand for about 1/2 hour. Rub with a sponge dipped in warm water and detergent. Rinse with cold water.
  • Get blood stains off clothes by rinsing them with cold water. Then wash normally.


Don't forget your gloves!
    
     Before I start the dishes I put a hand lotion on and then the gloves. The heat from the warm water makes my hands so soft!
Try it.

How do we begin all this cleaning though? Well, read here!

Please, feel free to comment and add your own housecleaning tips!




April 17, 2012

SPRING CLEANING (AT LAST!)


SPRING CLEANING (AT LAST!)


     Now that Easter is over we can go back to our regular lives, the festivities and the preparations are over and I can start talking to you about other things. too. This past week or more my blog must have given the impression of a religious blog as I was writing about the Greek Orthodox Easter almost every day but I could not not mention about what it is and means to Greeks or what customs accompany it since this blog is called "the GREEK housewife".

     Well, with Easter over it’s just about that time of the year that I need to concentrate on my much delayed Spring Cleaning. It's still not late to get started though!

So, where do we begin?

1. Make a list: I’m a list person. I always make a list first. It helps me not to exclude (by forgetting or not noticing) anything and erasing each task from the list as I finish it is very rewarding and motivational. I suggest you  walk into each room of your home and write down all the things that need to be cleaned in each room. This will create your own (detailed) spring cleaning checklist that you can photocopy and keep for next year!

* Don't forget this is deep and thorough cleaning of each area of your home. Don't miss any areas we usually neglect or forget, f.e. cleaning light fixtures, cleaning sides and backs of kitchen appliances, washing behind your washer and dryer, door handles, etc.

2. Get the supplies: After you have created your checklist, make a list of all the supplies you will need to begin your spring cleaning such as cleaning supplies, new organization tools, boxes, etc. Don't forget gloves !!! (In my opinion, the most practical gloves are those surgical type that are supposedly for one use only. They fit perfectly and you have a better grip on things)

April 15, 2012

EASTER SUNDAY

CHRISTOS ANESTI - CHRIST IS RISEN

ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΣΕ ΟΛΟΥΣ -- ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

HAPPY EASTER TO EVERYBODY -- CHRIST IS RISEN!

      Today is Easter! Christ has Risen and the decorated Epitaphios is less prominent now: it is empty, except for a sign which says 'He is Risen; He is not here'.
     
      In the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most significant religious observation of the year. There is a widespread over joyous feeling and combined with the "resurrection" of the nature, hence it's spring, makes this day a really glorious one.

     Even the computerized signs on the front of the city buses have a message. On Saturday it was 'Kali Anastasi' (Literally: 'Good Resurrection'); on Sunday it is 'Kalo Pascha' – 'Happy Easter'.
      As Greeks always do, today celebrations overflow with traditional entertainment and foods!


lamb and kokoretsi
       There are many interesting and different customs related to the feast of Easter, taking place all over Greece but the most important

April 13, 2012

HOLY SATURDAY

                                    Holy (or Great) Saturday


     On  Megalo Savvato (Holy Saturday), the sorrowful mood of  Holy Friday has somewhat abated. Now Greeks concentrate on the final preparations for the next day's Easter feast as Easter is the most sacred observance in the Greek Orthodox faith. Today is the last chance to buy the Easter lamb ( or sometimes goat).

     At home, dishes that can be prepared in advance are made and  the mageiritsa soup is being prepared. This is the traditional Easter soup, which will be eaten tonight after the midnight liturgy - the first meal to break the fast. It's very rich, made from a variety of herbs and the intestines and offal of the lamb which will be roasted on Easter Sunday.

     Also, today it is customary in many places in Greece for young people to light a huge bonfire in the churchyard to burn Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus.

     On Holy Saturday evening the Resurrection mass takes place. It is an occasion attended by everyone who is able, including children. At about 11.00 p.m. the churches are overfilled with people eagerly anticipating Christ's Anastasis– Resurrection.

April 12, 2012

HOLY FRIDAY

                                                Holy Friday


      Holy or Great Friday - Megali Paraskevi for the Greeks, (Good Friday for Catholics) is the holiest day of this week (Megali Evthomatha). It is a day of mourning, not of work and that often includes no cooking, too. If we do cook it's going to be without oil, most likely boiled in water, f.e. lentil soup. The shops are closed till 1.00 p.m. Sweet things are not eaten today-for the love of Christ, who was given vinegar to drink. It is considered a great sin to work with a hammer or nails or sew on Good Friday.

      It is also the only day during the year when the Divine Liturgy is not read. Flags are hung at half-mast and church bells ring all day in a slow mournful tone.

      Traditionally, after the evening service on Holy Thursday the women and young girls undertake the decoration of the bier of Christ (epitaphios) with garlands of flowers, so that in the morning of Good Friday it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when He is taken down from the cross.





An embroidered cloth is placed on the bier; this is then sprinkled with flower petals. The priest places the Gospel (Evangelion) upon the Epitaphios.

April 11, 2012

HOLY THURSDAY

                              Holy (or Great) Thursday


      On Megali Pempti (Holy Thursday) the Greek Orthodox remember the Last Supper and the Betrayal of Christ. On this day we commemorate the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. During the Last Supper, Christ blessed the bread and wine with the very words that Catholic and Orthodox priests use today to consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass and the Divine Liturgy. 

     On Holy Thursday's  evening liturgy, church services include a symbolic representation of the crucifixion and a cross with the figure of Christ on it is carried in a procession around the church, while the beautiful hymn 'Today he … is hung upon the tree …' is chanted. Afterwards the altar is stripped bare and all bells in the church become silent until the Gloria at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. The period of mourning begins.

     Easter preparations reach a climax on Holy Thursday when eggs are dyed red and the traditional Easter bread, tsoureki, and Easter biscuits, koulouria, are baked.

April 10, 2012

SPRING IS HERE!


Spring is here (at my balcony!)







My azalea is in full bloom, as you can see!
....and so is my cyclamen....


...and my camellia, too!


I can't wait for my gardenia and hydrangea and roses! I just love springtime! 

April 9, 2012

HOLY WEEK

HOLY WEEK (Megali evdomada)


     Today begins the most important week of the Orthodox calendar: It is Megali Evdomada-Holy Week (Literally:'Great Week'). (The Eastern Orthodox Church follows a modified Julian calendar, different than the rest of Christendom, which means that Orthodox Easter often falls on a different date).  Most of the  Greeks, even if they haven't fasted in the previous weeks during Lent, will do so now and this week the fasting is complete.
    
    In Greek, Easter is called Pasha, meaning passover: It is the eternal Passover from death to life and from earth to heaven. During this period part of our greeting each other, is wishing "Kalo Pasha" (Good Easter). We wish "Kali Anastasi" (Good Resurrection) when Easter Sunday is very close, especially after Holy Thursday and Holy Friday.

     During Holy Week there is a frenzy of preparations for Easter. That preparation means the cleaning and decoration of the house, the baking of the Easter biscuits (koulouria) and Easter bread (tsoureki) and the dyeing of the eggs. Getting the shopping done as early as possible for the big feast on Easter Sunday is another concern for all housewives. Many families leave the big cities and go to their villages (cottages) to celebrate the Easter Holidays. ( I must add that the schools are closed for two weeks, this one and the one after Easter. It's sort of, our Springbreak!).
   
     During Holy Week the churches are full each evening as the people follow, once more the Passion of Our Lord. Every day has a special service and the byzantine hymns are so beautiful this week.

    While there are many local customs associated with Easter, there are several observed by all, f.e. on Holy Tuesday, housewives make sweet rolls, the koulourakia, and the following day on Holy Wednesday they do the housework and boil the eggs so they are ready for the dying, while in the evening they follow the blessing of Holy Oil that takes place in church.

     There are so many customs and traditions about the celebration of Easter in Greece but I will tell you the most important and that only is going to need more than one post. So, stay tuned......!

     In the meantime I posted a short video that gives you an idea and a small summary of  Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations: 

               

April 7, 2012


Happy Easter !

May the glory of the Lord's miracle strengthen your faith and renew your hope!

    Happy Easter to all my friends around the globe who celebrate Easter tomorrow April 8th.
     For the Orthodox christians tomorrow is our Palm Sunday because this year, Orthodox Easter falls on Sunday, April 15, 2012.
It rarely coincides with the Roman Catholic Easter.

   On Palm Sunday (Κυριακη των Βαίων-Kyriake Ton Vyeon) the Church services celebrate the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. At the end of the service some sprigs of bay leaves are given to the people who put them in purses, or keep them in their homes to bring good luck for the next year. For those who have been fasting there is a respite on this day, as fish is allowed.
 
    Next week, our Holy Week or Great Week (Μεγαλη Εβδομαδα-Megali Evthomatha) starts and I will keep you posted on the many and different events and traditions surrounding our Easter season which is the most significant and sacred time of the Orthodox Church calendar.