House is almost ready and Koukoulopites (Galettes) or Kolokythopita (Zucchini Pie) – Κουκουλόπιτες ή Κολοκυθόπιτα


Μετάφραση της συνταγής πιο κάτω

I wish that the day comes when I will be able to tell you that I made this recipe or any others from vegetables from our garden, but at the time being I am still buying my vegetables from the farmers’ market.

The plot is small but hopefully there will be a small garden one day.

We made another short trip to Assini to finalize a few loose ends.  We left early on Wednesday morning and came back Thursday afternoon.

It’s been a long time I updated the blog but the economical crisis in Greece has changed our plans radically after seeing our pensions drop to almost half.  Under normal circumstances the house would have been ready by 100% last August and now we would be living in the countryside and relaxing.

Since last year we have been striving to finish at least the ground floor (which is about 40% of the whole structure) but there is still a lot to be done, which of course requires a lot of money.

Our family has been helping us out with loans, so on Wednesday we had an appointment for the fixing of the closet, which took about three hours.

In the afternoon we looked around for a shower cabin, washing basin and toilet, to finish the bathroom, kitchen tiles to put above the counter and doors for the bathroom and bedroom.  The kitchen tiles will be a mosaic of turquoise blue, which matches with the doors but as well as the brown counter and closets.  I am really anxious to see how it turns out,

We gave an advance payment for the electrical appliances for the kitchen, which is the oven, the stove top, which is both with gas and electricity, a ventilator and a washing machine for the clothes.  Unfortunately, we will not buy a new refrigerator as we do have a smaller one in Athens which will be used temporarily until we can afford one and will not buy a dish washing machine.

Hope now that we finally have a new Government, after the failure of the previous elections in May, that  the banks may now have cash to give us the remaining part of our loan in order to cover post-dated cheques issued and repay our debts.  The house still needs a last layer of plaster on the walls, painting  and the electrical wiring, plugs, sockets, etc., to connect electricity and water.  At a later stage we still need outdoor rails, to pave the driveway / garage, fence, central heating, a solar water heater, central heating etc., etc., not to mention furnishing the house.

On Thursday we had to be there to receive the equipment we ordered the previous day for the bathroom and then to look around for the bathroom and bedroom doors .

I chose the dark brown colour, second row, first one, which is similar to the kitchen closets and island.  These will be ready by next week.

The exterior painting will start this week and as you can see scaffolding has been set around the house.

The most difficult part was to decide what colour to paint the exterior.  The doors and windows are in a light greyish-blue colour so we wanted something to match.  We went to a store selling paints  to choose the colour.  The decision has been taken:  the majority will be a mustardy-yellow colour and frames around doors and windows navy blue. A stripe of ice-white colour will be separating the storeys.

I played around colouring the house on the computer but I don’t think the colours match to the ones we have chosen.  This is just to give you arough idea.

Update:  Here is the house after it was painted.

House painted

Finally we also went to an electrician’s store to buy sockets, plugs etc.  Next week, we will have to go again when the electrical appliances are fitted.

We had some time to go for swimming.

Although the heatwave has passed, it was still 38 degrees C in Argolida but as it was partly cloudy and windy, it was bearable.  The first day we went to Castraki, picture above, which is the closest to our house and the second day to Karathonas beach which is near Nafplion.

Koukoulopites are Greek pies, similar to galettes made with phyllo.  I filled them with grated zucchini, lots of herbs, especially peppermint and Greek cheeses. You can use any flour you like to make the phyllo but this time I opted for whole wheat flour.

The filling is inspired by two other Greek pitas called plasto and badjina, which however although both are without phyllo they have some minor differences.   Badjina is with pumpkin and cheese whereas plasto is with herbs.

I made half of the mixture into small galettes and the remaining in a baking tin which I froze and baked it another day.

You can see a video here:

Kolokythopita (Zucchini Pie), recipe by Ivy

Preparation time:  1 hour

Baking time:  45 – 50 minutes

Makes:  10 galettes (or 5 galetes and 1 baking tin)

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat flour Horiatiko phyllo
  • 600 grams zucchini, coarsely grated
  • Salt (no more)
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely grate
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • A handful of fresh peppermint, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 grams ladotyri
  • 150 grams halloumi
  • 150 grams feta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • Extra olive oil for brushing the phyllo and baking tray

Directions:

  1. Prepare the dough, cover with cling film and set aside for at least half an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
  3. Grate zucchini on the large side of a box grater.
  4. Put it in a colander and sprinkle some salt.  Let it sit for half an hour and then squeeze to remove as much fluid as possible.
  5. Grate the onion or chop it in a food processor.
  6. Wash and finely chop the herbs: a handful of peppermint, 1 green onion, including green parts and zucchini blossom flowers (optional).
  7. Put the herbs and grated onion together with grated zucchini in a large bowl.
  8. Add the eggs and grated cheese.  Season with pepper (do not add salt as zucchini have already been salted and the cheese are also salty).
  9. Finally add the flour and mix well.
  10. Divide the dough in ten equal parts.  Shape them into round balls.
  11. Roll out each ball into a round phyllo around 20 cm diametre.  Brush it with 1 tbsp olive oil.
  12. Add a generous amount of filling in the middle.
  13. Fold the outer parts of the galette into the centre, forming a round galette.  Brush with olive oil.
  14. Place them in a well oiled baking tray and bake for 50 minutes, or until lightly brown.
  15. You can serve it as a main dish with a salad or as I did, with marida or maridaki the Greek equivalent of the north Atlantic whitebait, Greek fried potatoes and salad.

Κουκουλόπιτες με Κολοκύθι ή Κολοκυθόπιτα, συνταγή της Ήβης

Χρόνος προετοιμασίας:  1 ώρα

Χρόνος Ψησίματος:  45 – 50 λεπτά

Γίνονται:  10 κουκουλόπιτες ή 5 και μία σε ταψί

Υλικά:

  • Χωριάτικο Φύλλο με αλεύρι ολικής άλεσης
  • 600 γραμμάρια κολοκυθάκια, χονδροτριμμένα
  • Αλάτι
  • 1 μέτριο κόκκινο κρεμμύδι, τριμμένο
  • 1 κρεμμυδάκι φρέσκο, ψιλοκομμένο
  • Μία χούφτα μέντα, ψιλοκομμένη
  • 2 αυγά
  • 120 γραμμάρια λαδοτύρι Μυτιλήνης ή γραβιέρα
  • 150 γραμμάρια χαλλούμι
  • 150 γραμμάρια φέτα
  • 1/4 κούπας ελαιόλαδο
  • Φρεσκοτριμμένο μαύρο πιπέρι
  • 1 κούπα αλεύρι για όλες τις χρήσεις
  • Επιπρόσθετο ελαιόλαδο για άλειμμα του ταψιού και του φύλλου

Εκτέλεση:

  1. Ετοιμάζουμε τη ζύμη, τη σκεπάζουμε με μεμβράνη κουζίνας και την αφήνουμε να ξεκουραστεί για μισή ώρα.
  2. Προθερμαίνουμε το φούρνο στους 180 βαθμούς Κελσίου / 350 βαθμούς F.
  3. Τρίβουμε τα κολοκυθάκια στον τρίφτη.
  4. Το βάζουμε σε σουρωτήρι με αλάτι.  Το αφήνουμε για μισή ώρα και το στύβουμε να φύγουν τα υγρά.
  5. Τρίβουμε το κρεμμύδι στον τρίφτη ή στο μούλτι.
  6. Πλένουμε,  στραγγίζουμε και ψιλοκόβουμε τα αρωματικά χόρτα:  μια χούφτα φρέσκια μέντα, 1 κρεμμυδάκι φρέσκο με τα φύλλα και μερικά λουλούδια από τα κολοκύθια (προαιρετικά, εάν υπάρχουν).
  7. Βάζουμε τα αρωματικά χόρτα, το τριμμένο κρεμμύδι και κολοκύθι σε ένα μεγάλο μπωλ.
  8. Τρίβουμε και προσθέτουμε τα τριμμένα τυριά, τα αυγά και πιπέρι.  Προσοχή δεν βάζουμε αλάτι (γιατί ήδη έχουμε αλατίσει τα κολοκυθάκια και τα τυριά είναι αλμυρά).
  9. Τέλος προσθέτουμε το αλεύρι και ανακατεύουμε καλά.
  10. Διαιρούμε τη ζύμη σε δέκα ίσα μέρη.  Τα κάνουμε μπαλάκια.
  11. Ανοίγουμε κάθε μπαλάκι ζύμης σε ένα στρογγυλό φύλλο διαμέτρου περίπου 20 εκατοστών και το βουρτσίζουμε με 1 κουταλιά ελαιόλαδο.
  12. Προσθέτουμε αρκετή γέμιση στο κέντρο.
  13. Διπλώνουμε τις άκριες και σχηματίζουμε ένα στρογγυλό πουγκί.  Το βουρτσίζουμε με ελαιόλαδο.
  14. Τοποθετούμε σε λαδωμένο ταψί και ψήνουμε για περίπου 50 λεπτά ή μέχρι να ροδίσουν ελαφρά.
  15. Μπορείτε να τις σερβίρετε σαν κυρίως φαγητό με σαλάτα ή σαν συνοδευτικό όπως έκανα εγώ με μαριδάκι, πατάτες τηγανιτές και σαλάτα.

A few days later, I had more zucchini which I made into a Zucchini, Feta and Halloumi Tart.

Μερικές μέρες αργότερα, επειδή είχαν περισσέψει κολοκυθάκια, έφτιαξα αυτή την Κολοκυθόταρτα με Φέτα και Χαλλούμι.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Update on progress


We were supposed to be moving in the house around the end of August but unfortunately this has to be postponed for a few more months.

The roof has been fitted but there are still a lot of other things to be done.

The economic crisis in Greece has shattered our dreams as the Greek government has cut down on salaries and pensions and rising taxes and imposing new ones, day by day.  Unfortunately, like the 90% of the Greeks, we are also facing some economic problems.  I don’t know if and when we will now finish the house as we don’t want to get another loan from the bank as the amount which was supposed to pay our monthly installments has already been ripped off by the government.  Our anxiety now is whether we will be able to repay the loan we have already got from the bank, so getting another loan is out of the question.

Even If we wanted to move in during 2011 now we will have to wait for the new year, as as soon as  we have the electricity connected within this year, we will have to pay the new property tax imposed, which is around 800 Euros.  So it’s not worth hurrying up, is it?

As a first step, we’ve decided to finish the ground floor only and only add whatever is necessary to live in.  The semi-basement and the top floor, where the bedrooms are will have to wait indefinitely.

A few days ago when we visited Nafplion we finally placed the order for the kitchen furniture, as well as the doors and windows.  These will be fitted around end of November or early December.

We are now trying to reduce the cost and starting from the kitchen furniture we have gone to a cheaper solution, by adding only what is necessary.  The part which is under the window was mostly for storage, so that will have to wait.

The microwave has been removed as a fitted microwave costs a lot and as I don’t use it often (but merely to reheat food), I prefer to add an extra cabinet for storage in its place.

I’ve also decided to reverse the colours and have more beige, to make it brighter.

Original kitchen plan

New kitchen plan

 They are still working on the tiles of the shower and the floors are almost ready.

The floors may look like wooden but they are made of granite.

Living room

Bedroom

Bedroom balcony

Side verandah

Shower

Enough of whining:)   We are still having great weather here in Greece, so we are grateful for that and are enjoying the beach as much as we can.

For the time being at least this is still free!!

A roof over our head and please help me make up my mind!!


Everybody’s dream is to have a roof over their head and we have reached the stage where the roof is now being placed on our house.  Hopefully it will be ready by next week.

At this stage there are so many things we have to decide about and I am so confused!!

What colour to paint the exterior?  What colour the interior?

I think the exterior may not be so difficult, so let’s focus on the interior.

The photo above is the kitchen I have chosen from the show room and below is my kitchen space, a couple of months back.

According to the plan of our house, this is the sketch which has been prepared for us.  The colour is the same as above, as the picture below has been scanned from a low resolution print.

The colour of the floor is something like the picture below but instead of wood, it is a granite floor tiles and the walls will be something between beige and light yellow (buff).  See colours below.

A dining room table will be placed infront of the window and opposite the kitchen will be the living room, which are all in the same space.

I am not buying new living room furniture as the ones I now have, were bought a couple of years ago.  Their colour is dark chocolate brown, so I have to match them with the remaining house.


I have beige covers on the leather couches, which I may not use in the other house.

I can’t make up my mind if making the kitchen brown and beige will be too dark.  Shall I keep it like this or is it better to make it the opposite i.e. everything beige with brown counter tops, bearing in mind that the walls will be probably beige as well.

I found this colour chart, so what do you think?  Shall I paint the walls in the living room chocolate, beige and blue green?

What do you think?  Any suggestions are welcome.

 

Another trip to Assini and to the beach


A couple of days ago we visited Assini again.

The plumbing, heating & air, and electrical system as well as the outer layer of cement, inside and outside, have now finished.

Next week a layer of plastering (interior and exterior) will be added and the house will look like our neighbour’s.  The roof will also be placed, soon.

We also visited Assini last month but there wasn’t much to post as we had visited some local stores to chose bathtubs and shower units, kitchen furniture, doors and windows, floor tiles etc.

A wall between the two houses is now being built.

Remember this picture in May’s update?

Well, here is how it looks now.  This will become a second small closet in the bedroom.

The beach is only 2 km from the house, so after finishing what we had to do we went to Castraki beach to swim and have lunch before returning back to Athens.

Although it was partly cloudy, it was very hot and the sea temperature was perfect.  In fact it may have been one of the hottest throughout summer.  Although we were planning to swim more, D treaded on a sea urchine but we were quite fortunate as the spines did not go too deep and were easily removed.

(The picture is from the port of Nafplion)

So we now know that next time going there, we will wear our swimming flippers 🙂

We had lunch at the restaurant which is just above the beach.  We have eaten there many times and the food has not disappointed us yet.

The food was delicious but unfortunately as I am still on a diet, I avoided the fried potatoes, olives and feta!  I ate mpifteki (Greek burger) and Greek salad and D ate a pork chop.

Our next visit there will be around the end of August, which we will combine with a few days of holidays.

Back from Assini and progress of the house


We just came back from another trip to Nafplion.

The house is progressing swiftly and now all the bricks have been laid.   Next follows the electrical wiring and plumbing pipes, tubing etc.

The two chimnies are, one for the central heating and the other for the fireplace.  These will be morphed when bound together and will have some arches as well.  I forgot to mention that the arches are gothic, elements of Cypriot architecture.

This will be the kitchen / dining room.  The sink will be under the window on the right.  You can see this side of the kitchen in the next photo.

Next to the right window will be the fireplace.

The staircase leading up to the bedrooms is now ready.  Next to the staircase is the W.C.

One of the bedrooms is next to the bathroom.

Upstairs:

This is one of the bedrooms upstairs.  The closet will be on the wall next to the door and as it is not ver big, we came up with the idea of demolishing part of the bricks which are above the staircase.  The ceiling above the staircase is very high so we can take advantage of this space by replacing it by a second small storage closet.

The second bedroom and behind the wall is the W.C./Bathroom.

It was the first time I saw the view from upstairs and was secretly hoping to have even a distant view to the sea but unfortunately this is all we can get, not that I am complaining but it would be great and relaxing having a sea view 🙂Just before leaving my husband gave me a piece of orange blossoms and the smell was amazing all way back!

See “Recent Posts” for full text with pictures.

Back from Assini


Yesterday morning we left early in the morning for Nafplion.  The weather forecast was not  very encouraging and we were thinking of postponing the trip but we finally decided to go. It was cloudy and cold but at least it did not rain.

Today it was partly sunny, quite cold again and windy and although the locals were dressed in winter clothes, wearing jackets, the first tourists which have arrived seemed to be enjoying the sun, dressed up in shorts and summer clothes.

This morning we went for a walk at Assini beach and we were freezing but nonetheless a woman was skinny dipping as the beach was desserted.  When she saw us, she seemed puzzled but as we did not want to embarass her, we returned back to the hotel from a side road.

Yesterday we visited the house as there were a few things we had to decide on the spot.

As you can see in the pictures, the houses in Greece are built with cement and bricks.  All buildings must now meet strict levels of energy efficiency, using ever-more advanced insulation materials.

The semi-basement

The ground floor bedroom

View from the ground floor bedroom

A new house is now built in the plot next to us and a couple of new ones are being built opposite us.

This is part of ground floor, the living room, staircase, bathroom and W.C, which is partly under the staircase and behind the bricks is one of the bedrooms.  The other bedrooms and bathroom are on the top floor.

This will be the kitchen and the dining room.  Although at the beginning the plan was to have two windows on this side of the wall, facing the orange grove but I changed my mind and prefer that the window is facing towards the side verandah.

Kitchen Window

The internal staircase has not yet been built so I was afraid to go up the ladder to take some pictures.  Hopefully next week when we visit again the staircase will be ready so that I can take some pictures.  I am anxious to see the view from up there.

The citrus treas are now in full bloom and the air was full with the sweet aroma of citrus.

I am not sure what these citrus trees are but I remember last year seeing oranges, tangerines and bitter oranges on the trees.

Top Floor / Επάνω Όροφος


During Easter we went to Sparta and on our way back to Athens we had a few things to do in Nafplion.  On our way back, we made a detour and spent the whole day there.   The children were also with us and the last time they visited was when we bought the plot, so they hadn’t seen the house before, except, of course, in pictures.

Το Πάσχα πήγαμε στη Σπάρτη και επειδή είχαμε κάποιες δουλειές στο Ναύπλιο, την Τρίτη του Πάσχα κάναμε μια παράκαμψη για το Ναύπλιο. Ήταν ευκαιρία να δούν το σπίτι τα παιδιά γιατί είχαν να πάνε πριν ξεκινήσει το κτίσιμο.  Περάσαμε όλη την ημέρα εκεί και γυρίσαμε το βράδυ.

Προχωράει με γρήγορους ρυθμούς και ήδη τελείωσε ο σκελετός του πρώτου ορόφου.

The progress is going ahead quite fast and the top floor skeleton is now ready.

Tomorrow we shall be visiting again and shall be staying until Wednesday, as there are more things we have to decide on the spot on what we want.  We shall have to be visiting more often now as we need to choose doors, windows, tiles, sinks, kitchen counter, bathrooms and so many other things.

Αύριο θα ξαναπάμε και θα διανυκτερεύσουμε γιατί υπάρχουν αρκετά πράγματα να αποφασίσουμε και να κάνουμε.  Είναι καιρός να αρχίσουμε να ψάχνουμε για πόρτες, παράθυρα, πλακάκια, νεροχύτες, έπιπλα κουζίνας, μπάνια και πολλά άλλα.

We had time to visit the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion and Tolo.

Είχαμε χρόνο να επισκευτούμε το Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Ναυπλίου και το Τολο.

Unexpected Delays


Our visits to and from Nafplio continued.  Signing of papers, visiting the architect, visiting the bank for a loan and when all these things were arranged, if everything went smoothly the house would finish before summer.

In real life, however, things don’t turn out as we plan them and we had a sudden death in the family which put our plans on hold for a couple of months.

Then when we decided to go ahead again we were told that new requirements for a green licence were now necessary and this delayed our plans for a few more months.  We finally got the licence in January, and our engineer told us that we were the first to get the green licence in Argolida.

The construction started end of January….  Unfortunately a lot of the trees had to be cut down…

Visit 7th February:  The basement is being constructed..

Visit 7th March.

Visit on 21st March:   The first floor is being built.  Arches are being drawn.

Visit 5th April:  The first floor skeleton is complete.  Next visit will be after Easter…

Moving Away from Athens


Limassol

I grew up in Limassol, Cyprus, at a time when there was only one multi-storey building, called “eftapaton”, meaning having seven storeys.  I think it didn’t even have seven stories.  All the houses were one or two storey houses, surrounded with a garden and having trees and flowers in the garden.   All the houses I grew up in, until I got married, were detached houses with a garden, except for the period of three years, when we lived in England.

After the invasion and occupation of Cyprus by the Turks and all the refugees from the occupied territories moving to the free part of Cyprus, more and more  buildings started appearing and by 1981, when we left Cyprus there were quite a lot of buildings.

Soon after we got married we moved to Greece and that’s where we started living in apartments.  A few apartments had large verandahs and balconies and others not so big.

We moved a lot because of my husband’s job, being in the army.   We lived in Northern Greece for three years and then in Samos island for another three years.   We were then transferred to Athens in 1987, where we rented a house which was near my in-laws house, who used to live in Athens at the time, before moving to Sparta.  We got transferred every 2 or 3 years the most, so we wanted to be close to our family.

The house, which belonged to one of my sister-in-laws, was very old, it may have been built sometime after WW2 or maybe in the early 50s, I am not sure but it was a two storey building with no central heating but at least it had a small garden infront which belonged to an old couple living on the ground floor and a small cement yard for the children to play in.   In the meantime my husband had a severe operation due to which he did not get transferred again from Athens, so we lived there until 1992.   We were not planning to move from that house as in the meantime I got a job and it was convenient for me having my mother-in-law close because we could always leave the children and go out when we wanted and I had some help when I was pregnant again and had to stay in bed until I gave birth to the child.

However, one day, just a few seconds after our two little boys got out of their bedroom, part of the ceiling collapsed and fell.     Some of the furniture were ruined but we were shocked with the idea of what might have happened, if the children were still in their bedroom!!

After that incident, we decided to sell our house in Cyprus and buy an apartment of our own.

The amount we got from the house in Cyprus was just enough for a down payment but with almost the amount we paid for rent we could pay our mortgage.  The apartment was about fifteen years old but it was quite big. The new apartments we saw were expensive and the rooms were really very small. The other advantage our new apartment had was that it was only 100 metres away from all the schools, starting from kindergarden, elementary and high schools and all the schools were adjacent to the park.   I used to send the boys to private school as there wasn’t any school near our old house and public schools operate from 8 a.m. till 12 noon, so it wasn’t convenient to send them to a public school.    The school bus  of the private school would pick them up before I left for work and bring them back by the time my husband was back from his work.  Now, I could save money on private schools as my oldest son was already 10 years old and he could take care of his younger brother and go to school on foot and come back together, while we were still at work.
The new house was a two bedroom apartment but after our little girl was born, we renovated the house by knocking down the walls of the kitchen – hall – living room, making it into one space and what used to be the dining room, which was very large became the third bedroom for the boys.
We were a bit crowded over the past twenty years as the living room was not very big and the boys continued sharing a bedroom but it was tolerable.
What I missed the most over these past twenty years was a garden. The small verandah in front was big enough for a table and a few pots with flowers and herbs. The balcony at the back was even smaller and I used it only to hang my laundry.

Ever since, I have been dreaming that one day when our children would grow up, we could leave Athens and move somewhere to the countryside.

We had paid off the 15 year loan, the boys had finished their studies at the University, the youngest one got a scolarship for his post graduate studies and my oldest son, had to work a few years to save some money and then decided to get a post graduate degree. Our daughter is now in University, so we are finally free to persue our own dreams…