Fall in our Island Garden

The first rain on Kea confirmed the coming of our 21st fall on the island!

We were very grateful not only for the much-needed water, but for the comforting, cool  temperatures after a very hot summer.  We still have some vegetables, and hope for a few nice oranges, soon.

We started to get ripe, yet small fruit from the arbutus bush, and soon we will be harvesting the first oranges. 

The few, aromatic quinces we got are ripening in a basket, and are soon going to be used in meat and vegetarian dishes, also, of course in our cakes as well as in jams, and spoon sweets (fruit preserves).  

A low layer of green grass now covers the property, and our rose bushes are filled with tiny oblong red berries, and the big carob tree is filled with foul-smelling flowers buzzing with bees –an unexpected end-of-season treat for them. In Crete, where carob trees are ubiquitous in the rocky mountains, I heard that the densely-flavored carob honey is considered the best for melomakarona, the Christmas cookies.    



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Spicy Carrot Jam with Oranges, Apples, and Lemons

I have never tried to make a carrot jam, as the ones I have tasted were sickly sweet, lacking any aroma or distinctive tang. But I was intrigued by the ‘Carrot Cake Marmalade,’ at Food & Wine. The recipe originated from “ Molly’s Rise and Shine in New Orleans, where diners rave about the yogurt bowl served topped with marmalade,” as the recipe’s intro states.

I liked the idea of adding warm spices, but increased the number of other fruits –oranges, apples, and lemons—which beautifully complement the carrots’ sweetness. Also, I didn’t over-process the fruit to get a very smooth jam, as the recipe suggests. Furthermore, my carrot jam is somewhat tart, much closer to my beloved citrus-fruit marmalades. But you can add more honey or sugar to make it sweeter, as most people probably would prefer…



Serve with creamy, thick yogurt, with fresh cheese –like myzithra or ricotta– or with the very creamy manouri cheese.





At Molly’s Rise and Shine in New Orleans their very smooth carrot jam is served with granola and yogurt, topped with orange segments and blackberries.

PHOTO from the restaurant’s FaceBook page.









Makes about 2.2 quarts (liters) (more…)


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Rose-petal-jam & Pomegranate Granita/sorbet

The frozen pomegranate juice produced on Kea had inspired me to make a granita/sorbet adding syrup scented with the rose geranium leaves from our garden. 

The other day I came upon a couple of small jars of Rose Petal Jam that I had made a few seasons ago, and totally forgot.

Tasting them I found that they were still nicely fragrant, although their color had darkened somewhat. ‘Why don’t I use them, together with pomegranate juice, to make a rose-scented granita,’  I thought, and so this one was created.

You may need to add some good quality rose water, depending on the fragrance of the rose petal jam you use.


Our friends and guests loved this very fragrant granita, so here is my very simple basic recipe. You can adapt it  depending on how sweet or tangy you prefer your desserts. 


Serves 8-12 (more…)


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TART with Summer/fall Fruits

You can make this tart with a versatile Olive Oil, Whole-wheat Yeasted Pastry that will give you a more rustic delicious sweet; or use a good quality puff pastry, which will give you a more elegant-looking pie. 

Either way, use up any overripe summer or fall fruit you have at hand: cherries, peaches, plums, strawberries, or apricots. Complement them with some homemade or store-bough jam or marmalade and you can totally omit any added sugar, as I usually do.

Serve on its own, or maybe together with the Fruity, Guilt-free Ice Cream.



Makes a round or square 9-inch (23 cm) tart



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Soumada: Almond Syrup

Before becoming the favorite commercial dairy substitute, homemade almond milk, almond syrup and a magnificent almond liqueur –called Crema alla Mandorla— were favorite Sicilian drinks.

 In Greece and the Middle East we dilute our precious almond syrup (called soumada in Greek) with ice-cold water and traditionally offer it at weddings, engagements, and other special occasions. At one time this expensive delicacy was given to nursing women as it was believed to help them produce milk.


From my 1994, out of print book Mediterranean Pantry, with photos by the brilliant Martin Brigdale


To serve, stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup into a large glass filled with 1/2 to 2/3 cup water and some ice cubes.  If you like, add a little liqueur Crema alla Mandorla.

You can also use this almond syrup as a sauce for chocolate ice cream or as flavoring when you make almond ice cream.


Makes about 3 cups  (more…)


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