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June 30, 2012

PHOTOS FROM GREECE (part 1)


Really beautiful pictures from my homeland, Greece. Enjoy !!!

Iraklio, Crete island
Santorini island view

Kalymnos island
























  P.S. Most of the photos are courtesy of   WorldWideGreeks.com


June 28, 2012

FRAPPE COFFEE - THE GREEK COFFEE




In Greek: ΦΡΑΠΕ, pronounced frah-PEH

      Frappé coffee is considered the national summer coffee of Greece, and is available at all cafés. It is Greek and was first introduced in 1957. It is the basis for the North American "Iced Cappucino" as well as the Anglo-European "Float" and the European "Frappuccino".
      Even though it's considered a summer drink, Greeks drink it year round.

      Frappé is a cool refresher on a hot day for all coffee lovers. It's a foam-covered iced coffee made from instant coffee, and while it can be whipped, the traditional version is shaken. Its main characteristic
is the thick frothy layer at the top of the coffee.

      It combines the cafeine boost with the enjoyment of a cool refreshing drink. It accompanies the often difficult waking up morning procedure, the studying time, working time, relaxation time and the time with friends.

All coffee lovers must try it!


What You Need
  • Shaker or jar with a tight-fitting lid or drink mixer (hand mixer)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Instant coffee (Nescafe is your best choice, believe me)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Milk (optional)
  • Ice cubes
  • Straw

Here's How:
  1. In a shaker or jar (with a tight-fitting lid), add 2-3 cm of cold water, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, and sugar to taste (1 teaspoon of sugar for medium-sweet).
  2. Close tightly and shake for 30 seconds or more (with the shaker), until the mixture appears to be all foam, a nice, thick foam. (15-20 seconds with an electric hand mixer)
  3. Put 3-4 ice cubes in a big water glass and pour the foam into it, add cold water until the foam reaches the rim of the glass
  4. Add milk if you like, stir and...
  5. Serve with a straw. Enjoy!!!


Tips:
  1. The purpose of shaking or mixing is to create a large amount of thick foam.. the more the better. The secret lies in the amount of water you use during shaking - little water = no thick and "rich foam" -/- too much water = foam will look like soap bubbles.
  2. If you have a soda fountain-type drink mixer or a small electric drink mixer, put the ingredients in step 1 into a glass to start, create the foamy base, and then add the water, ice cubes, milk, and straw to serve.


      The recipe is very easy and can be adjusted according to one's preferences. Frappe can be sweet (1 teaspoon of coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar) or medium sweet (1 teaspoon of coffee and 1 teaspoon of sugar) or plain (black: 1 teaspoon of coffee and no sugar). You could also use decaf instant coffee. These dosages are for a relatively light coffee, if you are a strong coffee drinker then make the coffee teaspoons 2 instead of one and adjust the sugar accordingly.


                Go ahead and shake it, baby!!!


 Watch this video on how to make your frappe coffee!




Frappe Variations
  • Kahlúa, Baileys (my personal favorite), Irish Cream or other liqueurs are sometimes used for additional variation.
  • Many cafes add a ball of vanilla ice-cream into their frappe instead of milk.


June 26, 2012

MY BALCONY IS IN FULL BLOOM !



       Finally, my gardenias and hydrangeas (ortansias) bloomed! I had been waiting for them for quite a while now (remember "Spring is here...at my balcony!").


The gardenias smelled beautifully !



...and the hydrangeas looked so good !


I took these photos 3 weeks ago and now I am sad to say that my hydrangeas have lost their color and started to wither and dry up.



I know they can't last forever but this happened so soon!
                                          Does anyone of you know why this has happened? And what I can do in the future to avoid it from happening again?
 The only thing I can do now is to cut them and make a nice (long stemmed) bouquet of dried flowers to put in a vase. It looks good, believe me!

My latest purchase: basil

      Basil is one of the most common plants that one can find in a Greek home. It is an easy to maintain fragrant plant that needs watering everyday and apart from using it in Greek cooking, it is also a natural insect repellent especially for mosquitoes!!!





June 20, 2012

June 18, 2012

THE POWER OF WORDS


THE POWER OF WORDS!

          Let's take a minute out of our busy lives to think of all the less fortunate than us and one more minute to do something good for them. Sometimes it doesn't take longer than a minute to do a simple act of love and/or of self-sacrifice. Really, doesn't!
      The power of words extends to what we say in our daily lives, too. When we communicate with people we should pay more attention to what we say and how we say it. There's a Greek proverb that says: "The tongue has no bones but it can break bones!" -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

June 15, 2012

FATHER'S DAY 2012



      Father's Day is a holiday celebrated in many countries of the world and for most, it is on the third Sunday in June. It is a day to express gratitude and appreciation to fathers by giving them presents or greeting cards.

     Fathers are usually pushed aside and sidelined in the household but we must not forget the important and sometimes silent role they play in a family's emotional balance. They must always be emotionally available and show their paternal affection and acceptance, which children desperately need to feel. Fathers make sure "they're always there when you need them" (something that is very important for a child to know). Fathers also, play an important role in the children's psychological and social development. Through their relationship with their children they provide them with a sense of safety which helps them build their self-confidence and self-esteem.  

     Then society, traditions (and/or stereotypes) put a lot of pressure on them as well, expecting them to perform in their roles as the breadwinners, the pillars of the house, the (usually calmer) fair judges of family disputes, the strong and brave protectors of the household, etc. 

     For all of these above reasons and for many more (and because we love them) we should take a day and recognise and appreciate all they do for their families. I am not going to post any gift ideas for dads, let us do something that comes out of our hearts, whatever that may be, to show them we really care. If you get stuck and don't know what to do, there are plenty of sites to help you with ideas, such as:

http://247moms.com/category/fathers-day/

http://familyfun.go.com/fathers-day/fathers-day-crafts/
 
http://crafts.kaboose.com/holidays/fathers-day/
http://www.marthastewart.com/274629/fathers-day-crafts-for- kids/@center/307033/spring-holidays

 http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/fathers-day/



June 14, 2012

BEAUTIFUL GREEK SONG AND VIDEO (NEW)


TO NISI (THE ISLAND)

             

      A beautiful new song by Greek singer Despina Vandi with a wonderful video of the Greek island Skiathos. Enjoy!!!








June 8, 2012

CHEESECAKE...my way!


MY CHEESECAKE RECIPE
LIGHT AND COOL FOR SUMMER
NO BAKING NEEDED
EASY AND QUICK

Ingredients
    • 12 graham crackers, crushed (appr.)
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts (or pecans if you prefer)
    • 100 gr. butter melted
    • 500 gr. of cream cheese - 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
    • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk  (start with 1/3 cup)               
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest  
    • strawberry (blackcurrant goes excellently) jam or canned strawberry preserves
    • 1 or 2 tablespoons of corn starch 
    • 1 envelope of strawberry, or raspberry or any berry flavored jello            
           

Directions

  1. Dissolve the jello in 1/3 (or less) of  the instructed hot   water and let it cool.
  2. In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and finely chopped  hazelnuts with melted butter until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of pan. Put it in the fridge while we prepare the filling. 
  3. In another bowl, mix/beat the cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in the buttermilk, the vanilla extract, the lemon zest and then slowly pour in the jello while still mixing to incorporate and until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust and refrigerate again for a few hours or until the filling is firm.
  4. Meanwhile simmer in a small pan the jam (or even better the canned fruit) adding a tbs of corn starch diluted in cold water. Stir continuously until sauce thickens. Let it cool.
  5. Pour the sauce over the filling only when the filling is firm and cold and the sauce has cooled as well. Chill in refrigerator until serving.
               

Extra tips
  • You can add fresh thinly sliced fruit on top (f.e. strawberries)
  • Don't forget to stir the jello often so that it doesn't become firm before you pour it in the mixture.
  • Try not to put too much butter in the crumb mixture or it will become very hard to cut.
  • Don't forget corn starch dissolves in cold water!
  • You could also try lemon flavored jello! Along with the blackcurrants you get this awesome sweet and sour taste! Try it!
  • You could also bake the crumb mixture for 10-15 minutes for extra baked taste.
  • I'm not very fond of gelatin but you could use it if you're having "firmness" problems. Just don't forget the trick is to add it to cold liquid, leave it to soak until spongy and then stand the bowl in a frying pan of simmering water until the gelatin becomes clear.
However you do it, I hope it turns out tasty and WOW!
It sure is our family's favorite summer dessert!

                                          BON APPETIT,
                                                       KALE OREXE!!!!




June 1, 2012

HOLY WATER


                               AYIASMOS --- SANCTIFICATION
 
      As I have mentioned before, religion for Greek people is intrinsically tied to their every day life, habits and customs,
i.e. .....

      Every first of the month the priest of every parish has a special liturgy where he blesses the water(Sanctification). This holy water is then given to the congregation who have come prepared with their little special bottles (vials) to fill them.          
It is then taken home, where everybody has a small sip especially if there's somebody who is sick and needs this blessing the most, and then they sprinkle the holy water in every room so the whole house gets blessed. (the right way to do this is by using twigs of basil and dipping them in the 'holy water' and sprinkle, but it's okay if it's not done that way).

      Also, every first of the month we greet each other saying "Kalo Mena" which means 'Have a good month'.

                                                       "KALO MENA"