Settling Into My Kitchen

A new academic year begins for us in early October which means seminars followed by receptions and dinners. So, we’re settling into a familiar pace of prep and cooking in my kitchen. I love this time of year – the beginning of a new school year for some, new starts, new things to learn. It is also the time when the gloaming – Greek soúroupo – is at its best, that time of day when dusk is not far off and the light is filtered with a soft pink until everything softly glows. Plus, leaves turn yellow, orange and red among the bright evergreen citrus and dark columns of cypresses. It is a very atmospheric and nostalgic season of year.

New starts in the kitchen mean shopping in the Athens Central Market to stock up on supplies. Between shops and market stalls, we grab a souvlaki wrapped in a pita to go. There is a hole-in-the-wall place in the square by the church of Agia Irini that does it the Northern Greek way with spicy tomato sauce in place of tzatziki. As we walk, juggling bags and trying not to drip sauce, we happen upon buskers that fill in the air with lively traditional music.

Mid-month we had a quick trip back to the UK – North first, then down to London. I couldn’t help contrasting those Athens buskers we saw the week before with a marching band festival up North

More music down south in the British Library in the form of an exhibition on music in Britain inspired by the Windrush generation of migrants from the Caribbean after WWII. And, while we were in London, I experienced a truly dreadful squash risotto. This was something, in my naïveté, I thought was impossible. The incident affected me so much, I immediately began creating text for a blog post in my head – coming soon with a proper risotto and descriptions on where the London restaurant went disastrously wrong. It was almost the first thing I cooked in my kitchen after returning from London – a form of exorcism.

Butternut squash risotto as it should be – or at least my way

Naturally, I used some of homemade chicken stock for the risotto. I had recently made 4 litres and had frozen them in containers just waiting to be used. Well, the stock of stock is now dwindling in the freezer. I guess it is time to make more and another trip down to the market.

More food of the season: braised red cabbage, beetroot borscht , pears in wine, cinnamon topped baked apples baked in wine… Those apples were so good, I may make them again and post.

Dusted with cinnamon (maybe my hand slipped a little and added too much!) – ready to go in the oven

It is a lovely time of year to be in the kitchen and the market. Maybe I’ll see those buskers again, and perhaps indulge in some street food: all part of the shopping experience.

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.


  1. Best wishes for the new academic year Debi. I have also eaten some dreadful risotto in restaurants, would you believe, in the home of risotto in Lombardy, Italy. One comes to mind, where the centre was so hard I had indigestion for hours. Some were very good, many were mediocre. The street life in Greece sounds vibrant: must get there one day.


    • Thanks, Francesca. I’ve learned my lesson and will not be ordering risotto anytime soon. I find restaurant pastas can be equally questionable – often overlooked. And, a vibrant street life in Athens is very much alive, but the city can also be gritty. I think you would have a grand time exploring the place.

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  2. Apples definitely speak of fall! Your market sounds really good. Risotto isn’t one of my familiar recipes, and I normally wouldn’t order it if there were pasta dishes on a menu. So perhaps I should try making it.

    best… mae at


  3. thanks for joining in IMK debi. yes i am always very wary of risotto in restaurants and wouldn’t order it unless i really had to. it’s so dicey what you end up with. My hubby can make a great chicken and pumpkin version. delish! have a great month. cheers sherry


    • Chicken and pumpkin risotto sounds delicious. I am be cynical, but almost anything can be ruined in restaurants if they don’t pay attention to ingredients or proper cooking procedures. Thanks for dropping into my kitchen this month!


    • I usually use pumpkin purée for making sweet breads, pies and biscuits. When cooking savoury dishes, I prefer butternut squash or those lovely squat ones with the blueish white skin (I’ve forgotten their name) – a subtle difference in taste and texture. UK orange “pumpkins” are like their US counterpart – often used for jack o’lanterns. Yes, it was a shame about that risotto!


  4. Nothing is worse than a failed risotto and it’s been served to me more than ounce. Actually, it’s one of the things I now never order in a restaurant for fear of disappointment. But, that said, I love street food and that souvlaki wrapped in a pita sounds fantastic.

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  5. Debi, your title (not to mention the rest of your post) intrigued me: “Settling Into My Kitchen.”That’s where I’m at these days and incredibly (or coincidentally) butternut squash risotto is next up on my “must make again” list. (Homemade chicken stock and reliable friends’ recipes make it much better!) Don’t be daunted by the one you tried recently. Considering the time and attention it takes to produce a palatable risotto, I can only imagine how “hurried” that dish may be in some restaurants. I was also amused by your contrasting photos & description of buskers vs. marching bands. Sometimes the best experiences in life are performed spontaneously rather than “staged” — including stellar risotto. 🙂


    • Hi Kim – I so agree with you. Spontaneous experiences are much better than staged. This is what I like about walking around town, particularly the Athens market. There is so much street theatre going on plus all the lovely produce.


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