A Shitshower Storm

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It’s a tough old world out there. Ants removing a dead centipede from a beach I was on this weekend.

I’m not sure I know where to begin. I thought it was just us in Greece who had to deal with a bunch of lying corrupt backstabbing egotistical maniacs in our House of Parliament. But no, it appears the British are pretty up there with us in that respect. I’m not sure if I should be horrified that this is so or heartened that it really isn’t just us.

First of all, you had a referendum campaign that was, on one side, pandering to the monumental rise in right wing extremism (a rise which has lead to one public servant being murdered in a horrific attack) and playing on the fears of an already disillusioned working class living in some of the countries most deprived areas, fears of the ‘other’ and fears of losing what little this section of the British have left. It’s the kind of fear that is illustrated by a ‘joke’ I saw recently on FB. A banker, a worker, and an immigrant are sat round a table with 20 biscuits on it. The banker takes 19 and says to the worker, watch out, he’s going to take your biscuit. This is a very good summary of the main thrust of the Brexit campaign run by Bojo and Farage and it has legitimised nationalism, xenophobia and racism. On the other side the Remainers did nothing but spread fear, refused to deal with any legitimate concerns about the EU and screamed racist at anyone who was not resolutely pro-EU. Both campaigns stank to high heaven.

But if that’s not bad enough, there’s everything that has happened since. The Brexiters have been shown up as liars on every point they campaigned on and the Remainers have sat and sneered at the most deprived people in Britain and smeared them all as inferiors and racists, which is frankly, abhorrent, and smacks of the lack of tolerance which they accuse Brexiters of.. Motes and Beams indeed. Add on to that, the unholy squealing about the result itself (who gave the working classes a vote, eh, dear progressives?). If the Remainers had won by even the slightest of margins they would have defended that vote with their last breaths as an expression of the democratic will of the people. When they lose? They want the referendum voided. Hideous behaviour from so-called ‘progressives’.

But not as hideous as what the Labour party is now doing. Instead of standing together as one to fight a tory party in obvious disarray they choose this as the moment to autocombust because the egotistical Blairites think getting one of their guys in charge of the party is more important than Britain and what happens to it. How the hell they think that deflecting all the spotlight away from the despicable tory party so they can stab their own leader in the back right NOW is what’s needed, is utterly beyond me. I fear that the Labour Party has just become like Pasok, an irrelevance, no longer socialist in any form, not representing workers or the have-nots in any way, completely sold out to a neo lib lite ideology that they seem to think makes them ‘moderates’ but which has lost them all support for Labour in Scotland and the North of England and gained them no new friends anywhere. Well, if that’s what the Labour party has become, good riddance to bad rubbish. Unfortunately, the vacuum they leave behind has been exploited by the nationalists, populists and demagogues.

Finally, while the British Tory and Labour parties fight among themselves and the govt does nothing about negotiating a Brexit, Berlin is plotting giving you the ‘Greek Treatment’. Their way is to basically crush you in any way possible using whatever tools of the EU and propaganda they can. Britain will be painted as traitors to the EU.. accused of holding the EU hostage. They will make exiting the EU as painful as possible. They will not care if this damages your economy because they do not want any more euxits, anywhere. They must make it as unattractive a proposition as possible. I will not wish this on Britain. It’s my country too, even if I am an adopted Greek. But I’ve been screaming about what the EU is up to when it set out to make the MOUs as punitive as possible for 7 years. No one in Britain listened.

First they came for the Greeks.

Beware of the treachery of the EU, Britain. And your own politicians. It’s been an eye-opener to see just how similar Britain and Greece are turning out to be.

Good luck.

 

May The Force Be With You! A postcard from Greece

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Our weather has been rather spiffing recently…

Dear Britain,

Greetings from Greece.

Good luck with your referendum today. It’s a tough decision to make and I hope the best for Britain is the outcome. Whatever happens, one silver lining on a campaign with many clouds is that the British Conservative party looks like it’s about to implode.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

Anyways, I know the weather is bad, but get to the polls. It’s important that whatever decision is made it’s one made by as many people in the country as possible. You have a democracy. Use it. It may be flawed, but its a darn sight better than the shower we have in the Vouli.

I wish I could vote today. But I can’t. So, I’ll just sit here and wish the best for the Mother country.

Good luck to you all! Will be thinking of you.

May the Force be with you.

Cheers,

kiz xx

Mediterranean Vegetable Summer Bake with Feta

Another one pot wonder from kizbot Manor

When all around you are losing their heads in the heat of (national) arguments or searingly hot weather (*sob* on day 5 of heatwave) a good way to calm overwrought nerves is with some lovely, summer veg. However overheated folk become this sits light on the tum while still being eminently yum.

It’s also very easy to make. The only thing I would recommend is salting the slices of aubergine and courgette and letting them sit in a colander for an hour before rinsing off and patting dry with some kitchen paper. This brings a lot of liquid out and stops the bake getting to soggy and ensures the veg cook properly too.

Normally, I would just top this with feta, but I added the last bit of smoked regato I had as I’m against food waste! And make sure you use proper feta. None of that Greek style cheese rubbish. It’s vile. I’m sure you can find Fage products in Sainsbury’s or other supermarkets, or go to a a Greek or Turkish Cypriot shop and ask them if they have any feta from a tin (doxeio). My favourite Feta is Ipeirou because its not too strong or tangy. It’s creamy but with a good flavour.

As with all Greek foods, this is served only a little above room temperature. If you want a salad to go with it then I would recommend one of shredded Cos lettuce, with chopped dill and spring onion and a vinaigrette with EVOO, dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. All that remains to go on the table is a good litre carafe of wine (chilled rose works here) and some proper crusty village bread.

Med Veg Bake

2 medium potatoes sliced thinly

1 large aubergine sliced thinly (I do mine longwise but its no big deal either way)

1 large or 2 medium courgettes sliced thinly (as above)

1 onion chopped

1 red or green pepper sliced

1 large tomato (such as a beef tomato) pulped

a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

at least 200g of Feta

EVO oil

Seasoning

I used my cast iron casserole pot (er.. as you can see in the pictures). I greased it with a little EVO oil. I layered the potatoes followed by the aubergine and courgette. Then the pepper, onions, parsley  and the pulped tomato. I added a little seasoning, but not too much as the aubergine and courgette soak some up when you prepare them. Crumble the cheese on top and drizzle EVO oil all over the top of the bake. Put the casserole lid on (or foil) and bake in a medium hot pre-heated oven for an hour. Remove the lid or foil and brown off for 20 -30 minutes. Check the veg are cooked by piercing the bake with a knife point. All the veg should be tender. If cooked through, remove the bake from the oven, replace lid or foil and leave to stand for half an hour before serving.

Mydia Axnista – Steamed Mussels

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These were fresh, plump, juicy and a real treat. Nice with Assyrtiko wine.

Things are getting all too frenetic in Britain this week and so, as I can’t vote, I’m going to take the unusual (for me) step of winding my neck in for the final 2 days before the referendum. Good luck Britain, whatever happens.

Let’s talk about mussels. I love all sea food but mussels are one of my favourites as they’re so easy to make, inexpensive and great hands on, sharing food. Nothing beats lots of hands round a big bowl of steamed mussels scooping up juices with a shell or dipping good bread into the briny liquids. I recommend a dry, tangy, crisp white wine like Assyrtiko from Santorini as the perfect accompaniment. Malagousia would work nicely too.

Me and my friend bought a kilo of mussels from the port of Pireaus last Saturday and then took them home to make them. The only thing that takes a bit of time, preparation wise, is cleaning them. And its really not that hard or time consuming to do. I use a wire metal pan scrubber to get any gritty bits off the shells and yank the beard out. Each shell gets a few seconds of scrubbing to make sure I don’t end up with any grit in my lunch. There’s no need to get every bit of barnacle off. Once they’re all clean I rinse them one final time under the tap and discard any that aren’t closed. Apparently, there’s some controversy as to the necessity of that but I’d rather be safe than sorry and I’ve never had occasion to be sorry for eating mussels yet, so I’ll stick to my way.

I recommend half a kilo of mussels per person if you don’t want anyone to be unhappy.

Mydia Axnista

1 kilo of scrubbed, de-bearded mussels

1 onion or a small bunch of spring onion, chopped

a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

a handful of chopped dill

half a glass of white wine

a good generous glug of EVO oil

 

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole pot over a medium heat. Gently fry off the onion until transluscent. Do not brown. Add the herbs and stir into the onions for about thirty seconds or so. Carefully tip in the mussels, add the glass of wine and close the pot with a close fitting lid. Shake the pot a little from side to side every minute. After 3 minutes lift the lid to check that the mussels have opened. They rarely need more than 3 minutes and if you over do them they become shriveled and chewy. What you want is plump and juicy. As soon as the shells have opened (you can always check before 3 minutes are up too), carefully tip the mussels and all the juices into a large bowl. Serve with big hunks of crusty bread and some salad, if you fancy. Me and my friend stuck with accompaniments of bread and copious white wine for a very fine Saturday lunch.

Hiking in Greece

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These boots are a little heavy but they’ve seen a lot of mountains. I’d recommend something a bit lighter though.

I’ve been hiking in Greece for 20 years now. Mainly in Crete (E4 route and various gorges), but pretty much anywhere I can. There are lots of ways to approach hiking in Greece and a lot of factors to consider to ensure it’s safe. In the main, it is very safe, however, people have died. The main problem tends to be inexperienced walkers not having the right equipment or enough water, becoming disoriented and getting lost. Occasionally, that can have fatal consequences. Greece is very hot in the summer. I enjoy summer walking, a lot, but you need to be aware of what you are doing and respect the power of nature.

The best time to hike in Greece is probably spring or autumn but summer is great too. And the safest way is with an organised guided group. There are many companies offering hiking tours in Greece and I can’t think of a better type of holiday myself. If I didn’t live here, I’d choose just that kind of holiday.

But you can still enjoy hiking without going with a guide. You just need to follow a few rules. Get a hiking map of the area you want to hike in. For instance, Andros routes has maps of all the marked paths on Andros and they organise guided walks too. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and footwear. If you don’t have proper hiking boots then good trainers are fine. I highly recommend buying hiking socks though. You’ll thank me for it. You need a hat. You need a breathable long sleeved top too. And a decent back pack for carrying the essentials.

Equipment: carry a map (a compass if you know how to use one), a charged mobile, some fruit, more water than you need (do not stint on water – it’s very important in Greece), a knife of some sort (I have a swiss army knife), a whistle and some basic first aid stuff – Anti-sting cream, iodine, cotton wool, plasters, sun cream. You never know when you might need a bit of first aid, like the time on Crete, on the E4 route, when I slipped a bit on some shale and my hand went straight into a thorn bush. The swiss army tweezers and a bit of iodine ensured I was back on the hike within ten minutes.

Before you set off: try to find out as much information as you can about the hike you want to do. For example, is the path steep or narrow? Can you find water en route? Do many people use it? Always make sure that you have informed someone of exactly where you are going and when you should be expected back. Don’t attempt difficult walks unless you know the area and are an experienced hiker.

While out on a hike: Follow the signs. Paths are usually well marked in Greece with either official hiking signs or spray painted signs or small piles of stones. Keep your eyes open for them. If you come to a place where you are unsure what direction to go, look for the sign or retrace your steps to the previous sign. Drink water. Stay in the shade whenever possible and rest often. Hiking should be fun, not a test of endurance. Enjoy nature and the freedom of being outside. Take your time.

I like to walk early mornings; setting off with first light and thus avoiding the midday heat. On many routes, especially in Crete, there will be a beach somewhere along the line, little remote beaches. I just strip off and jump in to cool off for a bit and then hit the road again. Best. Thing. Ever.