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When Dogs Get Old

My dog is at my feet. She’s not particularly fond of me, but I’m the only one home and she’s feeling like a little affection might be the way to go.

We all get old, but when your dog gets old it’s really sad.  My dog, yes the one I rented for my picture on the right, has such a hard time now-she can’t get up, she can’t hear and she just sleeps all the time.  It’s as if now that the kids are gone, she just doesn’t want to be with the old people, us! Should I tell her her “brother” is coming home, a young person, the one she grew up with! Then again she may still be traumatized from when he did live here.

And so we wait  with her, getting excited when she wags her tail and shows genuine affection  and felling bad when she just can’t get up the stairs like she used to.  Her mountain days are over;  the snow’s deep and the ground is cold. She just doesn’t like being out of her “bedroom.” And who can blame her; she’s been the protector, the trail blazer and the high energy dog  for years, now she just wants to be mellow-a word that only describes an elderly Dalmatian.

We rescued Carly 13 or 14 years ago.  She’s been with us a long time and for the most part, I think she’s enjoyed her journey.

Here’s to Carly.

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Let’s talk about houses.  I love old houses; always have.  I grew up in a new house,but always yearned to live in an old one.

But I’m lucky, I now live in a traditional Arts and Crafts Bungalow built in 1916 with wonderful original woodwork and hardwood floors.  The craftsmanship in my house is exceptional.

The Arts and Craft movement started in Victorian Britain, around 1880.  It was more a philosophy rather than a style.  This movement came about because of an uneasiness with industrialism and a refocus on the worker, the artisan.  Arts and Crafts valued the craftsman artist over the capitalist factory worker, and it shows.

So many artistic forms were affected during this period:  painting, architecture, textiles, metal works and furniture.  The era lasted about 60 years.

I am all for preserving what this period gave us.  I still have my original kitchen cabinetry-1916 cabinetry in 2010!  Amazingly well built!

If you have a spare weekend, head to the Art Institute of Chicago and see the exhibit Apostles of Beauty Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago. Not to be missed and you won’t be disappointed.

According to Cook’s Illustrated this month the top 3 olive oils are from  Spain and Greece!

I remember Greek olive oil growing up-it was really potent! I had a great Aunt Mary who made moussaka and it was always drenched in Greek olive oil.  It was quite inedible because it was served at room temperature (allowing it to be a bit congealed) and it was always some gigantic piece that would serve a family of 4. Yuck!  It took me years to acquire a taste for moussaka;  I was in my 20s.

The trick with moussaka is that you must slice the eggplant, salt it and let the brown liquid ooze out for a few hours.  It really makes a difference, in fact it makes it edible!

Eggplant Moussaka (ala Tess Mallos-The Greek Cookbook)

Serves 6-8, Cooking Time 2 hours, Oven temperature 350 degrees

1 eggplant

  • cut in slices, salt and let drain in colander
  • oil each side
  • place under broiler, turn when brown-do both sides

Meat Sauce: place all ingredients below in pan and let simmer for 30 minutes

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves (are you kidding-more like 10!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (what a surprise!)
  • salt and pepper

Cream Sauce (let it be known, this cream sauce goes on everything!)

  • 3 tablespoons butter (that’s all)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (try closer to 1/2 cup to make it good)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten

Melt butter in saucepan, stin in flour and cook gently about 2 minutes.  Add milk and bring to boil, stirring constantly.  Let sauce bubble gently for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in spice, cheese , salt & pepper. Just before spreading on moussaka, stir in egg.

Assembling:

  • Grease an oven dish (13 x 9 x 2)
  • Layer eggplant and meat (2 times)
  • spread cream sauce on top
  • Sprinkle with cheese
  • cook for about 1 hour
  • Let stand 10 minutes, so that you can cut it into squares to serve(it’s illegal to not serve moussaka in squares)

Yassou!

So many people ask me about 2 things: Greek food and real estate. Since one is an avocation and the other a profession, I have plenty to say about both! But for the time being let’s focus on food-Greek food!
My families hail from Kythera, a small island south of the Peloponnese and Kalamata, you know the olive people. Most of what I experienced as a kid was the food from the island. I recently discovered a cookbook “The Greek Cookbook” written by Tess Mallos who hails from Kythera (now living in Australia.) I’d love to meet her; I’m sure we’re related. I have tried many of her recipes and they are very good.
So when the typical non-Greek thinks of food they think lamb, grape leaves and feta cheese. Fortunately the Greek culinary experience goes beyond those staples.
And so like Julie and Julia, I have decided I will work my way through Tess’s cookbook, albeit not so maniacal as Julie, certainly not dedicating my month’s earnings to food and eating every night at 11:00 pm (like the Greeks.) But follow me on this journey; we may find some incredibly interesting food groups that have gone undiscovered.

Greek Girl in the City

To Know Greek Food is to Love Greek Food