Friday, 31 August 2018

Festival Time

It's Grape Harvest Festival time again in Karaova. This will be the fourth year and it looks set to be a good one.  Festivities start this evening with a procession in Bodrum and continue with two days of food, craft, agriculture, carpets, wine, cheese, honey and everything else related to this fertile plain.  I was upset to miss this again for the second year running as my return from Hydra is booked for 5th September but by a strange quirk or two of fate, a serious dog bite in Italy and a 48 hour plus power cut in Hydra, I am home early. Too late to get involved in any of the organisation but in plenty of time to enjoy all the local talent on display.

Read all about the first Karaova Grape Harvest Festival

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Mooning about

Mooning around/about -English informal to spend your time lazily, moving around with no real purpose; "I wish you'd stop mooning about and do something useful!"

Not strictly true, I'm on Hydra earning a living but when I am not actively working I'm stuck for something to do. I've read a couple of books, painted a few pictures but nothing really hits the spot.  I really want to go BacktoBodrum to get on with all the renovation plans I have whizzing around in my head.  The building season doesn't officially start until the middle of October but I want to bag Ugur the builder  before he gets started on a bigger more lucrative project than mine. The decline in the value of the Turkish Lira has hit my savings hard and I want to spend the money in the bank before it becomes small change.  As someone who for the past 2 years has been telling everyone else how overvalued the TL was, I really should have listened to myself and converted it to Euros or Dollars but like a lot of folk here, I got used to living off the interest which is paid into the current account monthly and just let things ride. But hey it's only money!

The photo of the nearly full harvest moon rising over Hydra was taken a couple of nights ago. I went out with my camera to catch the sunset but was let down by a bank of cloud that spread itself over the Peloponnese just as the sun began to sink. I packed up my camera and turned around to walk home just as the moon peeped over the hill.  By the time camera was unpacked and turned on the yellow orb had risen well above the hillside. Sometimes the serendipitous shot is the best.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Baking when it's baking

It seems daft to turn the oven on when it's baking outside but I like the idea of preparing a meal in the oven without having to faff about with the stove top. Slinging a few ingredients into a dish and letting the oven do the rest of the work is a much better idea than stirring a pot on a hot day. 
These two dishes take just under an hour at 180 degrees and improve in flavour if you let them cool for half an hour before serving 

For the courgettes, choose the smallest you can find with the flower intact if possible, but they taste just as good without. Place in an oven proof dish with two or three cloves of garlic and then open a jar or a tin of achovies in olive oil. Pour the contents through a tea strainer over the courgettes, pushing the anchovies through with a teaspoon. This gets rid of all those annoying small bones and turns the small fish to a purée. Squeeze over a whole lemon's juice and put into the oven at 180 degrees C . Cover with foil for the first 30 mins. Small courgettes will be ready in 45 mins, larger will take longer. 

Baked aubergine slices are healthier than the traditional fried ones and taste just as good. 
Slice as many aubergines as you want into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons full of olive oil and a tsp of salt and pepper.  Rub the oil into the slices with your hands until they all coated all over. Spread in a single layer over a baking tray and bake in a 180 C oven for 15 minutes.  Remove, flip all the slices and put back for another 15 mins but check after 10 - they should be evenly soft, lightly coloured but not going  black.  With aubergines, overcooked is better than under. At the same time as the aubergines are cooking, have a tray of peeled chopped beef tomatoes, drizzled with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and 3 crushed garlic cloves in the oven.  When the aubergine slices are cooked, the tomatoes can be mashed with a fork to provide an accompanying sauce.  Top with a few basil or parsley leaves and you have two tasty dishes with minimum effort. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Six years on.

Six years ago Linda Kaya and I set off towards Didim with very vague driving instructions, which included 'turn right at the mushroom', to pick up a small terrier who'd been abandoned on the street and was bring taunted by children.  Neither of us could have imagined that this scared little puppy would turn into 'Dog of the World, Jake': Happy traveller and socialite who can't pass a bar or restaurant full of chatty folk without pulling his mistress inside. Who will try every trick in the book (sudden interesting smell he has to investigate, need for one more pee, urgent cat investigation - to name three) to avoid going home to bed. 
As a travelling companion he can't be bettered and I am ever grateful for his company over the past 6 years.  Hope we have many more happy travels Jake 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Sunshine in a bowl

A bowl full of apricots and a bottle of dessert wine. Baked together in a low oven for  45 minutes and served chilled tastes of summer in the Aegean.  

Friday, 10 August 2018

Bumpy rides

This may look idyllic but at two o'clock this morning when Jake and I were speeding across the straight in a tiny sea taxi, it felt like hell.  After a stomach churning 3 hour taxi ride from Piraeus, twisting through the Peloponnese, unsuccessfully trying to persuade the driver to either stop sending texts while whizzing round bends or to actually stop and send the texts, we were a bit wobbly of stomach and legs and I was surprised to still be in one piece. We got to Metochi without having realised just how hard the Meltemi was blowing but the wee boat dancing up and down alongside the rudimentary concrete jetty suggested it was 'hoolie' strength and I felt even sicker at the prospect of trying to get my 25 kilo dog aboard.  Jake was a star - at one point he had two legs on the boat and two on land with his middle doing a belly dance but we both managed to tumble in.  I then had to lie down and deliver myself to fate clasping my poor shivering hound's neck while we rocked, rolled and corkscrewed at great speed through the waves.  This has happened before, although not in the pitch black, and each time I have vowed to never make this journey again. And yet...

Two minutes off the boat, I would have been down on my hands and knees kissing the ground if there had been any chance of me being able to get up again but Jake was sniffing around, wagging his tail in recognition and ready to head off up the hill as if he'd just stepped out of his own front door. Dogs make great travel companions, no recriminations.