It all started with a single pine tree on the side of the road. At first there were only a handful of them up in that one tree. But each year their numbers grew until that one tree just wasn’t big enough. So they spread. Then spread some more. Now there are dozens of them up in a cluster of at least 8-10 pine trees on the side of the road.
If you have ever harvested produce from your own garden, or brought in cut flowers from the yard, you and I have very likely had a shared experience. You’re washing off your prize when out crawls something unwanted. Maybe it has six legs, maybe eight (the WORST!), or, ewwww, no legs at all and is slimy. Whatever it is, it is now inside. Exactly where you probably don’t want it to be.
We live not too far away from a stretch of river. As a result, we tend to get a variety of visitors to our neighborhood that make the trek from the river bottom, and on up into the suburbs. Some even decide they like it well enough and make our yards their homes. Some are welcome, some not so much.
This has to be one of the most interesting plants in our garden. The small, but profuse, orange blossoms coat the stems that emanate from the base of the plant and stick around for months on end. The leaves are an eye-catching bright green. Plant this and you will be able to enjoy the quintessential hum of summer as bumblebees and hummingbirds will flock to your yard. When the sun shines on it just right, the flowers seem to glow like magical little lights.
It never fails, I will either have gathered a huge bounty of vegetables from my garden or will have gotten a little crazy purchasing them at the market. That means a glut of things like eggplant, zucchini and other summer squashes, peppers, and tomatoes. Some of them I will cut into chunks and freeze for later use, but really, there is nothing better than using them fresh.
Could there be anything more old fashioned than bone broth? Talk about an opportunity to take the proverbial “two bites from one apple”. Once the meat has been pulled away, you are left with bones that seem to have no further purpose, but wait! There’s more! In fact even more than you realize just yet.
Let’s face it, plant growers lie. To be fair, it’s more like incomplete truths than all out lies, but no nursery is going to label a plant with “Under ideal circumstances this plant is great, but most of the time it really just sucks”. So you’re left with the task of discovering your plant’s dirty little secrets the hard way: after you’ve already had it in the ground for a good long time and it’s already caused a lot of problems.
My dad grew up on homemade bread. Even though my grandparents could have easily bought bread from the store, my grandma chose to bake her own. Definitely a Depression Era survivor. I remember eating sandwiches made from that delicious bread when I was younger. She would even occasionally save the heels, break them into small pieces, then let them dry out. These would become tidbits that we would take to a local park to feed the geese and ducks with. One of those geese once decided to show its appreciation by biting me in the butt. You know, roast goose makes a lovely Christmas feast.
When I decided to experiment with making sourdough bread, I started looking up information on making the “starter” cultures that were needed for the dough. Time and again, the recipes and instructions I found had you start with large quantities of flour and water, then after allowing it to sit and ferment, take all but a small amount and, get this, THROW. THE. REST. AWAY. The reason for this last step was because you would need to add more flour and water at regular periods and so if you didn’t throw some out, you would eventually have a monster bowl of sourdough starter.
At first I faithfully followed the instructions, but it really bothered me to be tossing so much potential food. I tried to use up as much of the discarded starter as possible, but so much was still wasted. It finally dawned on me that the answer was very simple: just start with less and continue to add less. Easy. No need to use so much flour and water if you’re only going to throw the excess away. (Here is the recipe for my Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread).
September 8th is the feast day of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. In Greek Orthodox tradition, feast days are holy days that commemorate significant events related to the church. They may mark the births and/or deaths of saints, or other momentous occasions. This particular feast day marks the day that Orthodox Christians commemorate the birth of the Virgin Mary. In Greek she is called the Theotokos, or Mother of God.
As far as I can tell, Greeks in Greece don’t actually own pets. I will admit that this presumption is based on limited observations, but I’ve really never seen anyone there with the stereotypical pet. One of my cousins once had some small birds (parakeets, I think), but I just don’t recall ever seeing anyone with pets like dogs or cats. Now don’t get me wrong, cats and dogs are definitely there. They just don’t seem to “belong” to anyone.
The original iced-coffee treat.
Though it is September, summer is still with us in full force. I occasionally hear tall tales of areas already cooling down, but I’m not sure I believe this. Long hot days are draining and air conditioning can only do so much. Is it any wonder that hotter regions of the world, like Greece, have traditionally taken a mid-day break? But once the break is over, there is no substitute for a cool pick-me-up with a kick to get you through the rest of the day.
It is amazing what a difference single individuals can make. You don’t have to go as far as this person did, even a few “food plants” for bees, butterflies, and other critters can be huge! Read through my Gardening section of the menu to find several plants and lots of information on how you can help the pollinators and critters in your area.
Most of what you find in the grocery store that claims to be Greek Yogurt is really Greek-style yogurt. Big difference. Real Greek yogurt is made with certain strains of bacteria that lend a less tart flavor, and the final product is strained to remove the whey creating that thick and creamy texture Greek Yogurt is so famous for. Greek-style yogurt often uses the same cultures as “regular” yogurt and is thickened with things like pectin or gelatin. This is especially done for fat-free Greek yogurt, four words that really just shouldn’t be allowed to exist together. It’s not bad, it’s just not right. So let’s do it right!
A yogurt story
(Skip to the recipe here, or read the story and catch the recipe link below) Greek Yogurt Recipe
I remember my mom attempting to make yogurt on only a few occasions while I was a kid. She assured me that it would taste much better than the store-bought. I’m sure I had a “seeing is believing” look on my face. The words may have even escaped my lips, who knows. I hated most plain yogurt then, and I still do. It’s too tart and is only palatable if heavily dosed with jam or honey. But my mom insisted that the kind her mother had made wasn’t like that.
Welcome to Mostly Greek! I decided to start this site because I wanted to share my love for gardening, home made food, Greek culture, and living a sustainable and healthy life. The irony does not escape me that I got so caught up in figuring out web-page design that I had to resort to popping open a package of hot-dogs and a couple of cans of chili for dinner for my family. Oh well… Something about the best-laid plans.
I called this site “Mostly Greek” because that pretty much sums up what it is. I love Greek food, but I basically just love food. So you’ll find recipes and content about other dishes and traditions here, too. Enjoy!