Our Odyssey after relocating


Greetings from Assini.

We finally moved to Assini on the 25th of August and although we are here three weeks today, we are still trying to fix some unexpected mishaps.

Σας χαιρετώ από την Ασίνη.

Επιτέλους μετακομίσαμε στην Ασίνη στις 25 Αυγούστου αλλά παρόλο που είμαστε εδώ τρεις βδομάδες σήμερα ακόμη δεν έχουμε τακτοποιηθεί γιατί μας συνέβησαν πολλές κακοτυχίες, που δυστυχώς δεν έχω το χρόνο να μεταφράσω πιο κάτω.  Οι Κινέζοι λένε ότι μια φωτογραφία αξίζει όσο χίλιες λέξεις, γιαυτό έχω βάλει πάρα πολλές φωτογραφίες και εσεί θα καταλάβετε ότι ακόμη υπάρχουν πολλά προβλήματα.

Παρόλο που δεν πιστεύω στο μάτι, φτου, φτου, γιατί φαίνεται ότι μας έφαγε το μάτι!!


Do you believe in the evil eye?  The Greeks believe a lot in it and although I am not one of those persons who believe in it, yet I am having second thoughts after everything that’s been going on.

On Tuesday before moving, we visited Assini in order to clean up the house.  Our contractor told us that he would arrange for it to be cleaned but still in order to put some of the boxes with fragile things we had brought along with us, in the closet, we at least cleaned the bedroom.

We confirmed again with him that we had arranged to move on Saturday and he told that there would be no problem.

After his instructions, we went to the electrical outlet he told us and chose sockets, plugs, lamps, exterior lights, door bell and anything necessary for the wiring and his electrician would pass and pick them up.

Old train station near telephone company

We then went  to the telephone company in Nafplio to apply for a telephone land line and we were told that as it is out of the village, it would cost us 500 Euros in order to put the poles.  That was a real disappointment as we could not afford to pay that amount, so there would be no way we would have a land line and internet for a long time.

The truck came on Friday morning, as agreed, and they told us that our furniture would be delivered the next day around noon, so we left on Saturday morning.

We arrived at the house before the truck and when we unlocked, we nearly had a heart attack:  The mess was removed but the house was not cleaned, there was no electricity and the only source of running water was the bathroom sink and the toilet.  The shower was not working and the sink had not yet been installed.   Mind you that the temperature those days was over 40 degrees C for weeks and of course without electricity we couldn’t have cold water to drink and couldn’t shower after sweating all day! 

There was so much dirt and dust in every corner of the house that I was cleaning for days and each day there was more dirt as the workers were either drilling, scrubbing or making holes where necessary.

At the end of the day, we had to go to the beach to swim in order to have a shower at the beach!  We then returned to the house to dress while there was still light and went out to eat.  We returned back only when it was time to sleep, although we had bought a camping light, so we did have some light until we slept and a thermos to have cold water.

The painters were painting the house next door and started ours a week after we arrived.  Since then, they have been scrubbing the exterior of the house for days and are now adding the second layer of paint.  Hopefully they will finish early next week unless it is raining all the week.

The electricians were working about 3 days to install all the plugs and lights.  After installing the exterior lights, when they finished and the painters started painting, we realized that they would get dirty, so we had to remove them again and will put them back when the painting is over.

The kitchen counter had to be cut in order to install the stove top and the sink but the person we ordered the kitchen cabinets from was not reachable on the phone. As August is the month everyone is on holiday in Greece, we assumed he was on vacation but until today he has disappeared.   He had miscalculated the cabinet above the stove top where the ventilator should be installed and it was at least 10 inches lower than it should be.  After innumerable calls to him, he finally answered one of our many calls and told us that he was in Northern Greece as his father-in-law, who was sick, died.

We recently found out that his business didn’t go well so he went bankrupt.  Don’t tell me to sue him because Greece is not the place for lawsuits, as we will need to pay a lot of money and the case will take years to finalize.

In the meantime, we found a carpenter who came to do his job.  Instead of cutting the cabinet, we decided to remove it and place it next to the kitchen window.

We returned the ventilator to buy a new one but they had to order it from Athens, so it took a week to arrive.  We had it installed a couple of days ago.

When the carpenter cut the counter to fix the sink, he said that it would not fit.  We had bought it from Athens and the period we were allowed to return it had expired.  After calling them, they were kind enough to accept the return, so my husband had to go back to Athens to return it while I had to be at the house waiting for someone to come and fix something.  Meanwhile, we bought a new one from Nafplion which was installed. After washing the dishes a couple of times, we noticed that the ground outside was wet and after checking it out, we realized that the sink was not connected to the sewage system.

The plummer had to dig a trench all way across the three sides of the house and install pipes which lead to the sewage system.

Yesterday the workers came to install the tiles around the ventilator.

A few days after we arrived, we were very happy when we got a phone call from the telephone company, who informed us that they would install the telephone poles, with no extra charge!!  Wow, that was great news for a change.  We were really happy as we did not expect to have a land line and internet so soon.  They started digging and putting the poles successfully, four in total, and when they were installing the last one outside our house, they hit a water pipe and water was pouring all across to our house.  They finally fixed it but this delayed the process of installing the line by about a week.

A glass brick window which was installed on the wall just above the stairs to the porch was filled with cement or a kind of plaster they use.  When we cleaned the dirt away, we realized that the flowers had disappeared.

The workers tried to clean it and scrubbed it and not only the design of flowers was removed but the glass was badly scratched as well.  That was also replaced.

I bet that by now you think our problems have ended here.  Well no!!  Yesterday, 14th September, 2012, our oven had to be removed!!

We had spotted from the very first day that it wouldn’t fit properly in the cupboard, leaving a gap of 5 mm below and the cupboard above couldn’t open properly.  The electrical appliances store from where we bought it claimed that it had nothing to do with the oven and blamed the kitchen furniture.  Eventually, after making many calls, they were convinced that the oven was defective.  Although they said since this morning that they would send the truck to pick it up in the morning, they eventually came at 7 p.m.  This is the usual attitude and almost all of them tell you that they will  definitely be there at a certain time and of course, they are never on time.   Now they have to check to see if the oven is in fact defective and fix it or if it cannot be fixed, we’ll have to buy a new one.  You can realize that it will take days to have an oven again one way or the other!

On the bright side, we have met some of our neighbours who seem very pleasant.  Most of them have by now left as they are using their houses only as a summer house.  I have also met some locals who are kind people and willing to help.

We met the “proedro tis koinotitas”, who is the person responsible for the community.  The land our house is built on used to belong to one person and he divided it into 16 plots.  Two private roads divide the plots.  The government does not oblige them to make roads, pavements, put electricity and water, before selling the plots, so this is something we have to do.  We asked him if we could have community light poles and lights installed on the roads and he promised that he will arrange to do this soon.  As regards the paving of the roads he said it would be difficult to get funds for this but he said he would do his best.  Otherwise we will all have to pay to do this and it will definitely cost a lot of money.

My next door neighbour “M”, is spoiling me with fresh eggs and produce like eggplants, okra and zucchini, from her garden on a regular basis.  To return the favour, I have given her Chocolate Cream Cookies, a Mixed Fruit Crumble (I haven’t posted the recipe yet but you can get an idea from similar recipes I have made) and a Savory Zucchini Cake, with some of the zucchinis she gave me.

The other day we went and picked some green bitter oranges to make “glyko tou koutaliou”, which is a fruit preserve I will be making soon.

Update:  18 September 2012

The oven was returned after being checked and there was no problem with it. The kitchen man finally returned our calls and appeared at our door step.  From what he said the Italian company he collaborated with went bankrupt.  The mistake now seems to be theirs and he removed the cabinet door which he will fix and bring back by the end of the week.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi / Κοπιάστε και Καλή Όρεξη!

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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,

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!!

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.

Hello Argolida!


Welcome to Gourmet Concoctions.  This is blog is mainly the chronicle of our relocation from Athens to Assini, in Argolida, Peloponnese, Greece!!

Why Gourmet Concoctions?   Well, I am a food blogger and after relocating, who knows, I may start a culinary business there or I may…….  Anyway, I have a few ideas going on in my mind but it’s too early to make plans and talk about them.

For the time being I am only dreaming…

The blog will be mainly written in English but when I will be adding some recipes, there will also be a translation in Greek.

Kopiaste!