Monday, 28 July 2014

A Family House History


A Family House History

Greeks Overseas

As often happens when first generation Melbourne Greeks meet they find similarities in their histories. Many, like Takis, have taken an Australian name and were born in Alexandria. The problem for these Greeks is that when they think of ‘home’ in part it is Alexandria, but they also dream of the village that their parents (or grandparents) came from when they moved, before or after WW1, to work in Alexandria.

 The Appeal of Simple Village Life

Lemnos today

The appeal of these villages is now the contrast of the life there to their lives in bustling Melbourne or Sydney. Lemnos for instance retains the feel of older times. We have just experienced one of those events that so many return to Greece to take part in, a local saint’s day, with a march around the village, followed by a celebration BBQ in a local park.

Us enjoying Greek village life - a church fete

The Natal Home

Yannis Pandozolo, Efterpi's father, original owner of the house.

'Mrs' Pandazolo, Efterpi's blue eyed mother

For Takis mostly any ‘homesickness’ he feels is for Lemnos – partly a result of his parents longing, and partly as a result of visits here to see his mother and aunts who remained in Greece.

I remember the aromas from the kitchen, indicating that my aunts were preparing meals and sweets, under the supervision and direction of my Mother, who was the Matriarch at the time. I could hear the calls from rooms above, as other family members got ready for a swim. All you need is a towel, sandals and a five-minute stroll to reach the sandy beach of ‘Ta Riha Nera’. I remember the meals, the swims, and discussions while sipping Greek coffee and lounging in the courtyard of the old house.’

The Adopted Home

But Takis’ early memories are from his boyhood in Alexandria. He remembers when the family lived in a large apartment building, one family to a floor. His uncle lived on the ground floor, and above his family on the third floor was another family of cousins. The servants lived on the very top floor. Of these the most loved was Luisa an Italian woman married to a Greek who loomed large in his early childhood memories. She was both his nursemaid and the family cook.


George began by owning a supermarket, but later owned two leather tanneries

One of the tanneries

A Holiday Home

The church built by George on his home island in 1925, five years before he died.

George and Efterpi, were his grandparents, though both died before he was born. George, after moving to Alexandria accumulated a lot of property all over Greece. And while they lived and worked in Alexandria the house we have been restoring, on the island of Lemnos, was the natal home of Takis grandmother Efterpi, and his mother Artemis, for while George and Efterpi lived in Alexandria they would return to this house each summer with their nine children, many of whom were born here.

George and his nine children

Efterpi who married George

Death and Ownership

George died at the age of 60 soon after his last son was born, and he did not leave will behind. The business in Egypt was taken over by the oldest boys, and then later requisitioned by the government, and soon all the family wealth had disappeared. All the properties had been sold and only this house on Lemnos was left.

The nine grow up
Two of the brothers go travelling
One of the Nine, living in Athens after the war







A Continuing Holiday Home

The house on Lemnos however was left to the whole family. In Greece this is a property settlement called Exatieratou, which, as far as I have ascertained means that everyone has equal shares to everything on the site. This fulfills the Greek desire to take care the children. At first it was great, the children and later grandchildren had an island holiday house to come to each summer. There were many family holidays that took place here in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Two sisters with their progeny plus other family children

Buying and Renovating

But then ownership passed on to second cousins and great grandchildren. Now there were all sorts of problems. These last stakeholders, about 36 in all were widely distributed all over the globe, in Canada, Australia, Egypt, Greece, and France. We bought the shares of all these folk and now Takis and I have renovated the old house. But the history is still present, and sometimes we can imagine those nine children here again, chasing up and down the stairs!


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Tomatoes Galore

Tomatoes Galore


Tomatoes Galore
The tomato is the edible, often red, fruit of the nightshade plant Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as the tomato plant. It originated in the sough American Andes and its use as a food originated in Mexico. It spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The tomato is used in many different ways, eaten raw, as a sauce, in salads and as a drink. We tend to think of it as a vegetable even though it is a fruit.

From Wikipedia

The word "tomato" comes from the Spanish tomate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word tomatotl [aːˈtomatl͡ɬ]. It first appeared in print in 1595. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous (although the leaves are) by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit. Native versions were small, like cherry tomatoes, and most likely yellow rather than red.’

One VERY strange tomato, Yes, this really is only one!

‘The Aztecs and other peoples in Mesoamerica used the fruit in their cooking. The exact date of domestication is unknown: by 500 BC, it was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas. The Pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination. The large, lumpy tomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.

The harvest is full on at the moment (24th July)

I’m picking bowls full and making lots and lots of sauces. Some bottles are mostly tomato but with other vegetable and herbs added, or else I’m bottling pure tomato juice.

Sauces and Juice

These sauces are great to add to other vegetables, particularly beans (of all kinds).

You can add them to a vegetable such as aubergines. Cover with sauce then bake with the addition of crumbled feta cheese. 

Or you can use them for the classic tomato sauce dishes, such as Moussaka or Pastikio. The first basically aubergines and potatoes sliced thinly, covered with a minced meat and tomato sauce and topped with bechamel sauce. The second is pasta tubes covered with the meat and tomato sauce and topped with bechaemel. Use the quantity of each ingredient to your (and your family's liking).

Pasta and Tomato Sauce

Tomato and Aubergine - a good dip

Tomatoes and aubergines together make a great dip.
My fast way of doing this (without roasting the aubergines first) is to fry a lot of onions and a lot of garlic. The add tomatoes that are chopped and seeded. The sliced aubergines, and cook it all up together. Cool the mixture and the blend. Add salt and pepper. Serve with some crumbled feta over the top.

You can also have tomatoes in everything, in the salad, in the sauce and in the pasta filling!!!

The ubiquitous Greek Salad!

A recipe from Recipes From Lemnos by Ourania Vayakou

Peasant’s Salad (Choriatiki Salata) 

4 ripe tomatoes, skinned and coarsely cut
2 cucumbers, sliced
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
I big onion, coarsely sliced
Feta cheese
Dried Oregano or fresh parsley finely chopped
½ cup of olive oil
 Rinse and chop vegetables, sprinkle with salt and toss. Turn into bowl and top with small cubes of feta cheese and olives. Garnish with olive oil and dried oregano or fresh parsley.
 (A friend of mine swears that he and his wife never get winter colds as they have this salad at least three times a week!)
 (And I nearly forgot to put the most important hint from Ourania. 'This is a very popular mixed vegetable sald, best in summer when the weather is warm and vegetables grow in the open air, under the hot sun.'!!!)

And this is Not Just Tomato Harvest Time

Our beans have now dried on the bush and here we are collecting a bowl of dried beans.


And at the same time we are dealing with a crop of pears

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Eating Out in Lemnos

Eating Out in Lemnos

After posting a blog about slow food and fast-food I realized that folk often do want to enjoy a meal without all that preparation and we too often go to tavernas and enjoy just sitting down and having the food place in front of us!
Over the years we have made it a habit of going out for a meal on a Sunday. And when we have guests they join us. It gives us the chance to go driving through the island and showing them some of the sights.


We have tried a number of tavernas on the island

These are a few we have visited close to Myrina

Aegeon at the port

 Platenas in Myrina

Terrain at Romeikos Gialos

In Terrain with Takis brother and wife

Nefeli near the Castro

Then there have been others out in villages, these are a few

Mantella in Sardes

With Lisa and Tony and their friends

Mouragio and Saerokkos in Kotsinaa

Moudros Taverna in Moudros

With two guests from Australia in Moudros Taverna

Agious Yannis Taverna

In the water the grandchildren and in the taverna Takis and our daughter in law



And there are others we have visited and still more to try out on other Sundays!


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Slow Food and Guests

Slow Food and Guests

We've just had a fun day with guests making ravioli. A morning making and a slow lunch eating!





























No, to ‘Fast-Food’

There is something insidious about ‘fast-food’ as against quick home made meals. These outlets tend to rely on formulas that please (sugar-fat-flour), often so much so that to indulge is to the detriment of our health.

We spend half the year in a beautiful wooded area of Victoria, and until last year McDonald’s did not have a foothold there. But in spite of much lobbying by the locals the government eventually allowed one to open. Of course there are many who say they want fast food, and do go to this shop, but as with many of these fast food distributors this is not seen as a one off enterprise they can only exist by growing FAST (notice the ‘s at the end of the name). That means they will have their sights on other small villages in the area.


(ps. I once went to a McDonald’s and my critique of that meal was that the burger was flat and soggy pancake, nothing like the picture high juicy burger pictured behind the counter.)


Yes to ‘Slow-Food’

Of course we all like and sometimes need to have a quick snack or a quick meal, but we can do that for ourselves, with a lot of fun, and a little effort. One batch of homus will keep a few days to have with various raw vegetable or dry bread as a dip (If you want a quick recipe use tinned chick peas, but they are better if you cook them yourself, however that does take longer.)


Takis loves making homus and we love eating it!

a)      You can regularly cook in bulk and then cook or freeze portions for another day.


cooking in bulk, two pans in the oven, serving 6 for two meals


And then as an extra (slow food) bonus we cooked the vegetables and fish in the furno

While we had the furno going our guest offered to make bread for us

b)      You can have a fun day cooking up something a bit tricky but delicious with friends.


Making dolmades with a guest. A long slow process, best done with a friend


c)      You can watch a crop growing, and even though by the time you pick those items are cheaper in the shops, you can bottle, freeze and cook up something really special. Something unique that you can’t buy in the shops!


Our first harvest this year was apricots. Takis jam making

d)     And even if you don’t have a garden you can buy up at those times when the crops are coming in fast and grocers are selling cheaply, by the boxful, and then do the above!


OK local Lemnian bread is very good, and cheap, but what can compete with the joy of home made bread? The best!

Slow Food International

This is an organization with branches in over 160 countries. . It is a global, grassroots organization linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment.


There is an international network and activities around the world. It was founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini and a group of activist. They aimed to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, and to counter the rise of fast life and fast-food.


I don’t belong, as yet, to this organization but I realize that our philosophy (Takis and I) agrees with this approach to growing and eating locally. It also suits our lifestyle here in Greece where we love to share food preparation with our guests.


Slow Food and Guests

making tagliateli

Getting ready to make ravioli

By the time we finished we were a well organized production team!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Lemnos: more than beaches


Lemnos: more than beaches


In one of my blogs I talked about alternative tourist activities. The old style Greek tourism emphasised Sea and Sunshine

And because of this many just associate Greece with Sea and Sunshine

Yes I know, nothing can beat the Greek waters! But....

But, for something new go inland and try mountain climbing

view of the island from the mountains

Mountain Climbing

climbing the mountain

Mountains hold their own delights, including an abundance of herbs such as thyme, oregano and rosemary, as well as honey that cannot be rivaled.

some rocks grusome and fearsome

witches turned into stone!

Plus on the mountains are many hill top churches. Elias is one church that is always perched on the very highest mountain top. And you will find a way to walk up to this church as on the evening of the 19th many will climb up to celebrate Agios Elias day, the 20th July.

the small church at the end of the climb

On Lemnos there are many chapels dotted all over the island, each the location of a ritual celebrated on some day or other during the year.


Another high on the hill that we have just visited is Panagia Kavaviosta. This Marian chapel is in a cave on the top of a hill. There is a half hour walk to get there, and the views of the island are magnificent.


Sea Excursions

Multi-island cruises. Greece has over 400 islands, not just the main five that everyone knows about.


view of the red rocks from Anemos

We have just taken a trip around the Lemnian coastline in the good ship Anemos. We left at ten in the morning and returned by five in the afternoon. The cruise included lunch and time for the kids and some others to jump off the boat and swim to shore and back.


don't forget your sun screen lotions

jumping!! on the boat and off the boat.

Anemos is a traditional 18 metres boat, constructed in 2001. It had some shaded areas but as you’ll notice I took an umbrella. Very Merchant and Ivory!!

Me, auditioning for the next Merchant and Ivory film!

Thermal Waters

And today we went with our grandchildren to Therma Spa. Here they played in an outdoor spa pool while their mothers took a thermal bath, and I drank coffee. This site is situated between three hills and the spa is surrounded by tall shady trees. It is a cool spot even on the hottest of days.



(I’m looking forward to the fete for our local, Agios Pandeleimonos, on the 26th of July. It is one of the best attended of all the island’s local gatherings. We usually sit on our balcony and watch the evening procession pass by. First there will be a number of priests carrying crosses, and then a couple of small local bands leading the throng of participants around the bounds of the village.)