Our Summer Garden

The past few years had spoiled us, being somewhat cool and nice, with lots of rainfall in the winter.  This dry, extremely hot summer almost destroyed our trees. On the other hand, less rain and humidity brought less bugs, and with the appropriate drip irrigation we managed to produce more vegetables.

 

Last winter we did not get much rain in Kea, and this, the 2021, summer was particularly hot for more than a couple of days: for about two exhausting weeks the temperature remaining very high, even at night, something quite rare.  

 

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Pasta with Purslane and Tomato

This easy, fresh, and utterly delicious summer dish is based on a Cypriot recipe my friend Marilena Ioannides cooked on Facebook Live during one of her brilliant weekly presentations.

Even if you don’t speak Greek you can easily follow her cooking method, which in that case is extremely simple.

Marilena uses scallions but I prefer to flavor the tangy purslane and tomatoes with garlic. Also I substituted basil for the mint, as we have plenty in the garden. Note that contrary to Italy, the traditional herb used in Cyprus, as well as in Greece is mint, not basil.

But of course you can choose either, depending on your taste, and whatever you have in your garden…

 

We ate purslane in the summer, since I was a child, as it is one of the very few greens we have this very dry season in our part of the world. Lately it has become much sought-after for its health benefits. Yet, as I will never cease to repeat, my choice of ingredients and way of cooking is always based on what I learned from my mother and grandmother, as well as from friends who recorded old regional dishes of our area. I choose seasonal produce and combine them simply, to create wonderful, fresh flavors; whatever health benefits they have is an extra bonus!

 

Serves 4

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Kiki’s or ‘Lazy Woman’s Pie’ (Pita tis Tembelas)

As feta is usually too salty, I often use a combination of feta and myzithra (the Greek ricotta). I like to add fresh oregano or fresh thyme, and occasionally red pepper flakes.

Scroll down to see the variation with roasted vegetables, which makes the pie more substantial.  

Read more about the pie and our adventures to get the recipe.

 

Keartisanal-cheese-Pie1

Serves 4-6

 

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Gorgeous White Eggplants

My friend Hara Alexandrou gave me a basket with these wonderful white eggplants she grows in her garden. As I had mentioned before, we have not been able to produce decent eggplants of any kind in our sandy, poor soil, although we tried for years. I roasted slices of these wonderful eggplants simply dressed with plenty of olive oil, sprinkled with coarsely ground coriander, salt, and Aleppo pepper.

 

 

Only once we managed to harvest from our garden a few tiny white eggplants, full of seeds… (more…)

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Old-fashioned, Homemade Drinks

Long before shrubs became fashionable again, they used to be ancient Greeks’ favorite refreshments, called oxymeli (vinegar-honey syrup).

Equally almond milk, before becoming the favorite commercial dairy substitute, homemade milk from almonds and almond syrup, as well as the magnificent almond liqueur –called Crema alla Mandorla— were favorite Sicilian, and southern Italian drinks.

 

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

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