Not Much Cooking In My Kitchen

I don’t think I mentioned it in previous posts, but for the last month our entire house was covered in scaffolding which, in turn, was covered in a shading netting. We had been cocooned. The exterior plasterwork was being repaired, stones regrouted, marble reconditioned, metalwork patched and wooden shutters and doors fixed and painted. It made for a lot of fine dust. A Lot. And it din’t all stay outside.

At the top of the building. Leading lines give the illusion of a much bigger building!

It also meant that air conditioning units were removed from the walls and windows were to be kept shut during the day when work is going on. All of this happened right in the middle of a heat wave here in Athens. Officially, a heat wave is defined as sustained daytime temperatures over 35 degrees C (95 degrees F). As a result, we’ve been existing in hot, dusty (and sometimes smelly) conditions with as many fans going as possible. Any opportunity to get out of town (in air conditioned splendor) was taken. In further attempts to stay cool, we’ve eaten up my reserves of sorbet I stockpiled last month. All gone…

Needless to say, these conditions hindered any prolonged cooking sessions in the kitchen. You might have noticed the dearth of food related posts this past month – concentrating instead on markets, bridges and doors.

On one of those trips away (in Heraklion, Crete) we had a fantastic and unusual salad with fresh summer greens, shredded red cabbage, apaki (a particular Cretan  vinegar and smoke crured pork), pistachios and candied hibiscus blossoms in a balsamic vinaigrette. In anticipation of the time when construction ends, I’ll see if I can recreate it. I even have a hibiscus in the garden and have been reading up on flower crystallising processes. It’s a start.

But mostly this past month, I was busy acquiring a few new additions for the kitchen. The first were quirky ceramic mugs from a workshop in Napflio. The potter has won a number of national awards for her work. There are little bowls and plates to match the styles.

I also got a beautiful ceramic pomegranate for my fledgeling pomegranate collection (now that I have more than three).

And…next time we are in Nafplio, I’ve earmarked these fabulous ceramic candle holders. Should have bought them then and there…

Next, a departing friend (who was going back home to the US) has given me three sacks of real grain craft beer kits from HomeBrewtique. The instructions look a little daunting, but I might give it a go.

Lastly, we were gifted with an old-fashioned coffee pot – a Neapolitan coffee maker – to test. It is slow and a bit fiddly, particularly when flipping, but it makes incredibly smooth coffee without a hint of bitterness.

And, there are these fishy coasters, purchased just because…

All construction eventually does come to an end. (I was saying this to myself quite frequently in the last throes of restoration.) Thankfully, the shroud and three-storey scaffolding is scheduled to come down – soon. Air conditioning is reconnected. The rubble filled skips are gone. The hard-hatted workmen wielding sanders, welders, hammers, scrapers and paint brushes have long dispersed. Cleaning has commensed. Back to cooking soon.

A monthly IMK (In My Kitchen) post. Check out other IMK bloggers, each of us writing about what’s been happening in our kitchens each month, hosted by Sherry @ Sherry’s Pickings. Earlier IMK posts can be found on former IMK host blogs: Liz @ Bizzy Lizzys Good Things, Maureen @ The Orgasmic Chef) and the fabulous Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who began the IMK phenomenon. A chronological listing of my In My Kitchen blog posts can be found on a separate page, just click the link or look under the heading of Diaries in the Menu bar above.
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38 comments

  1. Hi Debi,
    Nice post! It’s no fun living with closed windows and no AC in the heat of summer, let alone cooking under those conditions. Getting away to Crete and Nafplio sounds wonderful – a perfect way to dodge the heat and dust.
    Donna

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  2. Now Debi, that was a post full of temptation. Who needs a house when you can nick off into the hills and buy all those gorgeous ceramics. You MUST get those candle holders. Love the fishy coasters too.

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    • The candle holders are the potter’s signature item, so they will be there next time we go and I will definitely buy one or two (or three?). We make a lot of little trips this time of year and I enjoy exploring different places – plus the ceramics, textiles and local cuisine. It gives me inspiration for trying new things when I finally get back into the kitchen. Frustratingly, only a few small buds on the hibiscus bush at the moment. I think it knows I am waiting for the flowers!

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    • If you manage the heat by closing the shutters or drapes to the sun and leave ceiling fans (if you have them) or other fans on to circulate the air, the heat can be managed. Lucky you have a pool to cool off periodically! Yes, salads are also key and healthy, too. The pottery is great and we fully intend to shop there in further for more goodies (and probably more pomegranates).

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  3. Collecting pomegranates is a very novel idea! I love that tiny silver pomegranates decorated the robes of the ancient high priests in Jerusalem. They are an uncommon object so your collection will be unusual.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    • Thanks! The house is in a lovely area, but when it was first built (back in the late 19th century), it was out in the sticks surrounded by open countryside. I do hope to get back to cooking, or at least concocting cooling meals – salads, cold soups, etc.

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    • I can say (now that they are gone) that it was worth it! Certainly, we are definitely enjoying our time living here in Greece, experiencing all the seasons and getting to know areas of the country we have never been to before.

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    • That construction dust will be handled soon by a team of cleaners who specialise in clearing up after construction crews. Delayed, however, by the sacrosanct holiday time in the middle of August. Meanwhile, I’m clearing away a little nest for us to live in plus the A/C has been reconnected (hurrah!). Soon, I will get those candle holders…

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      • We have our own drywall dust to clean up and the cleaners come next week. I had a moment of deja vu when I read your comment, we spent the weekend clearing and cleaning a nest as well. Construction is almost finished on your retirement cabin in Fort Bragg. I cannot wait to get settled. You must feel the same.

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      • That plaster dust!!! Be warned, I’ve been told that plaster dust has a habit of re-appearing even after a through clean. Hope you can enjoy the retirement cabin soon. Our nest is expanding on a daily basis as I clear away yet more dust, but furniture back in place and pictures back on the walls.

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  4. oh my that must have been awful with no air con and the heat. yuk love the ceramics. as you may have seen on my blog i tend to collect alot of them.:) the pomegranate is a cute thing too. love the fishy coasters. thanks for joining us this month in IMK land.

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    • I saw your lovely ceramics – the cow jug was my favourite. You would love the ceramics here. Pomegranates are fun to collect. The fishy coasters came back with me from our latest trip back to the UK. I couldn’t resist them. Always a pleasure writing up my IMK and exploring other kitchens.

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  5. Tradesmen are one of life’s necessities, but I’m always happy when they’re done making a mess. Hopefully you have your space and A/C back in action. I’d definitely buy 3 candle holders they’re fabulous, my aesthetic definitely calls for odd numbers. Love those fishy coaster too

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    • I’m happy now that they are GONE!!! I’ve managed to create a little space of tranquility (complete with A/C), so life if good. I’m even baking bread again (in the early morning before the heat starts up) and doing a few other things in the kitchen. Professional clean up will happen later in the month when people return from holiday. Definitely three candle holders. I know what you mean by odd numbers. I always plant things in the garden this way.

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  6. Debi, that Cretan salad sounds marvelous! (Looking forward to your interpretation/adaptation.) Glad to hear the worst is almost over, including DUST. Your patience will pay off. Wish I could’ve sampled some of your sorbet! Your ceramic and pottery discoveries are beautiful — your Neapolitan coffee maker, too. (I miss my Bialetti… still trying to master my French Press!) Lovely post. xo

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    • The candied hibiscus really made the salad – well, along with the apaki (the vinegared and smoked pork). My hibiscus plant is producing buds, but it hasn’t quite bloomed yet. It’s tricky since the blooms are only good for a day before they fade. I’ll have to pick them at the most opportune time and candy them immediately. The Bialetti is fabulous, but it is very small and we’ll be looking for a larger more substantial one. Haven’t used a French Press in years and I think I have ours stashed away in a cupboard back in the UK. Oh, and the sorbet was fabulous (and easy to make).

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  7. I adore your pomegranate. I have a small one that I bought in Cyprus. I love it and think it’s a fitting souvenir of our visit. Builder’s dust is the devil, it just gets in doesn’t it. You’ll be finding it in mysterious place for a long time to come!

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  8. House repairs create a lot of dust and endless cleaning and I can only imagine how uncomfortable it was with high temperatures and no air conditioning at least you were prepared with cooling sorbets. What an interesting salad Debi, candied hibiscus have not seen that before 🙂

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    • I had nerver seen candied hibiscus before either. The restaurant we were at (on Crete) is noted for its innovative cuisine. The combination of the salty smoked meat and the slightly hibiscus was a perfect combination. We’re getting the house back to normal, so the gritty hot feeling seems a thing of the past!

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