Sluggish in the Kitchen

My last IMK post reported a decided lack of cooking in my kitchen due largely to construction chaos. Although the construction on the house finished a while ago, we are still (slowly slowly) clearing away all the dust and grime generated. But, the summer season (when Athens empties) is still upon us. Plus, the heat continues. As a consequence, cooking activity idles – stalls – brakes. Even the weekly market is largely empty as I reported in my IMK post last year. That and escape beckons. We have been away for a few days here and there – ping ponging in and out of Athens. Just so, I have not been able to keep up to date with reading and commenting on posts lately. I hope to rectify that soon.

Excuses, I know, but, cooking is not upmost on my mind these days. However, some essential things do get done – not exactly stalled, but sluggish, slowed down, not completely inert. Sorbet (and sherbet) making is necessary for our coolness balance. The mixture is quick to make and only requires time to churn and chill. We love this chocolate sherbet and think it better than chocolate gelato – more refreshing with its lower milkfat content.

I’ve also been experimenting with citrus based sherbets – a little trickier when you mix citrus with milk products, but it seems to work well if whisked properly – no curdling! The lemon sherbert was not a success (too milky tasting) and we’ve vowed to stick to simple lemon sorbet which is much more refreshing. But, the orange sherbet was fabulous. It was made simply by substituting milk for water and fresh orange for mandarin juice in my mandarin sorbet recipe. It reminded me of those ‘dreamsicles’ (sherbet popsicles of vanilla coated in orange) we used to eat in the summer around the pool.

The garden has been active and continues to produce prodigious amounts of courgettes, requiring searches in cookbooks or on the internet for new courgette recipes as well as revisiting old ones. One well-loved recipe is zuchinni fritters. And, I’ve recently expanded into more traditional kolokithokeftedes (with the addition of carrot) to produce something that is decidedly more Greek. Both versions are delicious, but slightly different. The more substantial Greek variety makes a fantastic quick meal along with a juicy tomato salad.

Roasting courgettes with other summer vegetables make a satisfying salad for supper, the juices sopped up with a crisp sourdough baguette. This one pictured below combines my garden courgettes with aubergine slices and tomatoes topped with a dressing of basil oil and white balsamic and a scattering of olives, capers and feta.

Or the fitst one pictured below – a meal in itself of roast courgette slices with halved cherry tomatoes and chopped tarragon (all fresh from the garden) then topped and baked with feta and rough conza-type toasted bread pieces. I must admit that this was inspired by a recipe I read on the internet of a baked courgette and feta casserole with a savoury cobbler on top. The second one is simple courgette slices interspersed with tomatoes and topped with thyme and Parmesan, roasted then drizzled with a balsamic glaze. These roast salads are different every time I make them, depending on what veg I have to hand and where my imagination has wandered.

I also have jars and jars of dried lemon verbena. For a while my luisa (lemon verbena) bush was growing like a weed and it needed a weekly prune. The bunches of branches dry within a day or two, so I harvested tisane leaves on a regular basis. I have been making loads of iced lemon verbena tea, but (for now) my supply of leaves far exceeds the demand. That was lucky, since the shrub has given up the ghost in the herb garden. A replacement plant is in order. I suspect it needs a place in the herb garden with well-drained soil and away from water-loving plants.

There are more herbs to harvest and preserve in the garden. I’ve replenished my stock of basil oil and am now experimenting with herb butters. They will be stashed away in the freezer for future use in cooler months. It is always satisfying to hoard and preserve supplies garnered from the garden’s bounty.

Last, but certainly not least, my mind is on escaping (again) to the countryside on our own holiday – this time for an extended period. I will be posting from the far north of Greece quite soon, relaxing and reading all those backlogged posts (that’s the plan anyway). I’m also looking forward to exploring the regional Greek cuisine of Macedonia and Epirus. Going with me are two new purchases – biographies of cooks that might also provide inspiration when I return. Watch this space for more on these biographies.

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.

22 comments

  1. “Fasting and Feasting” is a wonderful read and a must for any cook curious about true regional and seasonal food. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. While holidaying in Andalusia a few years ago I read another you might like to add to your list, Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart. It was set in a village nearby. I’m living in dust and chaos now, after a spur of the moment decision to pull down a wall. It does make planned cooking almost impossible, blogging too. Enjoy your escape..

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    • I’m sure I will enjoy “Fasting and Feasting” – what an interesting life she led and her book “Honey from a Week” is one of my favourite books and a constant source of inspiration. I am trying to find her book Ring Doves and Snakes, all about their life on the Greek island of Naxos – out of print and very very pricey secondhand. I’ve read Driving over Lemons several years ago. Did you know he came out with two more followup books? “A Parrot in a Pepper Tree” and “The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society”. They are all fun reads. Hope your construction dust is tamed soon! Not nice to live with.

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  2. I just finished listening to the BBC Food Programme interview with Adam Federman and a couple of others about Patience Gray a couple of days ago! Well worth a listen as it has audio from earlier interviews with Patience, and fasting and feasting is now added to my wish list alongside honey from a weed itself which I still haven’t read!
    Interesting re sherbet, I’ve read some recipes which are much the same as sorbet but with a small percentage of cream (5%) added – that might make it less milky?

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    • Next time we’re in the UK, I must look up that radio programme on their archives. Sounds very interesting. Thanks for the tip! For me, sherbet should only have a small amount of milk. Cream adds more milk fat which changes the taste and texture. Sherbets should leave a clean fresh palate like sorbets and not the creamy feel in the mouth like ice cream or gelato. The lemon sherbet took away from that fresh clean taste of tart lemons. That’s why I prefer the sorbet version. Experiment and see what you like best.

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  3. Very keen Debi to read what you have to say about Fasting and Feasting. This may become my first book purchase when I return. Why hang in the kitchen when you can travel yo far flung parts of Greece. The sorbets look wonderful.

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    • Travel and escape – yeah! He we come. However, do hope life slows down enough for me to resume regular blog reading. I do enjoy what you all have to say. Hope your own travels are going well and look forward to reading about it. Feasting and Fasting is first on my book list.

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  4. Man can live on ice-cream alone, surely? All your food looks delicious as per usual KW. Enjoy your Hollie and your reading looks tops. I am going to go hunt down Fasting and Feasting, sounds fascinating.

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    • It would be nice if you could live on ice cream, but alas … Am halfway up the country as I type this with another half to go until we reach the far north of Greece. Looking forward to it immediately. Going to a place where trout are fished from fresh lakes, water buffalo graze, and beans are gigantic. Or, so I have been told! Let us know what you think of Feasting and Fasting once you track down a copy.

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    • Cooler weather is on the way here in Greece, particularly as I am now in the very north of the country and the clean mountain air is very refreshing. Yes, those butters are a great idea. Trying to think up more as the herb garden in Athens is still flourishing and I’d like to preserve more for the winter. Basil oil is also worth its weight in gold!

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  5. Your two book selections are very appealing … I should read both of them! Also should reread Honey From a Weed.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    • I’m in the middle of Feasting and Fasting and I can tell you it is very interesting. Hope to post more about both of them soon. Honey From a Weed is a must for anyone interested in Mediterranean regional food and traditions.

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  6. Your sorbets look wonderful as do the roast veggies. lovely to have your own produce like the herbs. I made coriander oil recently. very satisfying to do. strangely enough i saw chris stewart on one of rick stein’s shows today. i have 2 of the books and enjoyed them very much. have a great holiday. thanks for joining in IMK. cheers sherry

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    • I saw your coriander oil and it intrigued me. I tend to just chop it and freeze, getting out a handful when needed for cooking. I must try it when we get back to Athens. I’m half way through the bio of Patience Gray and very much enjoying it!

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  7. After home renovations the cleaning seems endless… dust gets everywhere and then reappears a few hours later 🙂 Your sorbets look very refreshing and your herb butters are a resourceful way of using excess herbs 🙂

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    • Am away from home at the moment and a cleaning crew will have gone through and (hopefully) cleared away all the dust by the time we get back. Am also itching it make sorbet – difficult in holiday kitchens. Who would have guessed it is so addictive – almost as much as eating it.

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  8. Yes, I completely understand your feeling of sluggishness…I sometimes feel that way too! Love the books. Enjoy the garden…and yes, you get my strong encouragement to take a bit of a vacation.

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  9. Good to have a break from time to time. Look forward to hearing more about those books!

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