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Kitchen stories. Gadgets I Can't live without .

Kitchen utensils
Kitchen utensils

While cooking up a storm in my kitchen this morning, I got to thinking about various gadgets and utensils that I use everyday.

Some, I just couldn't live without, first and foremost, my Izzy Multi, (Izzy in England is the Moulinex company) a sort of small version of a blender and mixer combined.



Izzy Multi
Izzy Multi

It chops onions, herbs, nuts and can even grind coffee, although, I haven’t tried grinding coffee in it.

Through the years, I have owned a number of state – of – the art, expensive mixers, albeit they look cool, sat on your kitchen worktops, where they act as dust harbours, but, washing them after use, takes longer than it took to cook the whole meal!

The Izzy Multi, is used, washed and put away, in minutes, and that’s another of its good points, it takes so little space in the cupboard.

Moulinex AT718 Multi Moulinette XXL 500W Chopper & Blender 

Keep things simple, that’s my motto, save time, I need to be on the beach!


Kitchen knives, don’t we all have a pile of them, usually blunt, and only tend to use two or three?

My daughter’s boyfriend, a very good cook, I might add, educated me on the wisdom of buying decent knives.

I had a very motley collection; most were acquired for free, stuck on the sides of mayonnaise jars, others, bought for peanuts in the supermarket, all rubbish.

It drove him to near madness when ever he cooked in my kitchen.

To surprise him, I bought some quality knives, he was over the moon!



Fissler & Lakeland knives
Fissler & Lakeland knives

There are some impressive looking wooden-handled knives out there, but, thinking of the dishwasher, I went for plastic, a mistake, as I much preferred the wooden handles,  my knives are seldom in the dishwasher anyway, no time for that, I use them too much.

 I bought the Fissler, I was initially shocked at the price, but haven’t regretted it; they are about ten years old now, as good and as sharp as the day I bought them.

I can’t tell you about the joy of slicing a tomato, without it exploding all over me, or slicing through crusty bread as if it were butter!

I would never have believed, the difference, and ease, a good kitchen knife makes!

Fissler Signum Knife Block Set Black Kitchen Block, Inclusive Knives, 8Pcs. 


Again, with my salt and pepper mills, I had to waste money on cheap rubbish, ones that gave up the ghost after a few months, or a posh Perspex, acrylic set, that cracked and yellowed after no time, before it got through to me, buy quality.

I did a bit of research and decided on Peugeot, yes, the same Peugeot that make the cars!



Peugeot Salt & Pepper mills
Peugeot Salt & Pepper mills


I went for chateuaneuf, very classy, and at thirty cm, a good size, no needing to fill them every two minutes.

The feature I love best about these mills, is the option for fine or course ground, I have them both set to course, is there anything more aromatic than course ground black pepper?

I’m not sure which is best, the taste or the smell.

They have one drawback, and then only if you have atrocious eyesight, as I do.

The letters S and P, to differentiate between each mill, are very small; I overcame this, by winding a rubber band around the salt mill, that, I can see!

 Problem solved!

 If I forget to remove it, when we have guests to dinner, I always have to explain about the rubber band.

They have a lifetime guarantee too, I can’t see me needing it though, they will out live me!


Peugeot Chateauneuf Uselect Salt and Pepper Mill Set 30 cm Matt Black 



I must tell you about my saucepans, I use mainly five or six, of various sizes, I have had them for thirty years, since buying these, I have not had to buy anything else, except for the odd non-stick frying pan.

Before buying these Italian Lagostina pans, I used horrible aluminium, use once and throw away, everything stuck to them, did save on washing up!

A couple of the pans are missing their lids, one my son’s favourite pastimes, when about two years old, was to throw things in the rubbish bin, as he was always playing with the pans, I can only conclude that’s where the lids went, how else could you lose a pan lid?

Lagostina pans
Lagostina pans

Another example of how it pays to buy quality, not bad for over thirty years.

Lagostina Grancucina Kitchenware Set 10 Pieces Stainless Steel 18/10 Triple Bottom Steel And Aluminum 



Last but not least, for today anyway, is my Alessi press filter cafetiere.


As with food mixers, I have had any amount of flashy coffee machines, hell to clean and make coffee that can not be classed as hot, warm or tepid maybe, but not hot.

I discovered that the French cafetieres are the simplest and the quickest, and, by the way, make a great cup of coffee.

 What else would you expect where the French and coffee are concerned?

I have had a few; care is needed when washing the glass jug, especially when you have a ceramic kitchen sink!

Here, I can say, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money, but, I just adore anything made by the Italian company, Alessi, so, I splashed out!

I take extra care when washing the jug, but, all parts, with this Alessi cafeteria, even down to seals and screws are replaceable.



Alessi coffee maker
Alessi coffee maker



Sometimes, you just wish things would wear out, I have my heart set on some splendid, French Le Creuset saucepans, I have no need for them at all, I just love the look of them, they are wonderful to cook with, by all accounts and are made from cast iron.

 My Lagostina have lots more years left in them, even if I did have the Le Creuset, where would I put them?

I would need to re-do my whole kitchen, these beautiful, colourful pans, deserve to be on display, not shoved in a cupboard, and I just don't have that sort of kitchen.



Le Creuset pans
Le Creuset pans


If my children are reading this, Le Creuset pans are on my wishlist, you can buy them here!!

Le Creuset Cast Iron Saucepan Set - 3 Pieces, Volcanic

MGG (My Greek God); you can supply the new kitchen!


Lost in translation. Word of the day: Meraki

Meraki: Love, passion and a lot of soul.
Meraki:
 Doing things with love, passion and a lot of soul.



Greek ranks as the richest language in the world; Europe’s oldest, with five million words

 and seventy million word types, existing for more than four thousand years.


Other ancient languages did exist before Greek, for example; Babylonian and Sumerian, 

but, Greek is the only ancient language, barring two Chinese dialects, that persisted, the 

only ancient language to remain alive today.


You can understand, then, why some Greek words are said to be untranslatable.

Meraki is one of those words, said to be untranslatable, but is it?




Sappho, on word
Sappho, on words



Meraki, a verb, or adverb, a Modern Greek word, derived from the Turkish “Merak” (Labor of

 love, to do something with pleasure), is applied to tasks, usually, creative or artistic tasks, 

but can be applied to any task at all.

It means to do something with passion, with absolute devotion, with undivided attention.




Maria Callas
Maria Callas. Greek opera singer.
Put her whole soul into singing,.
She sang with passion, with meraki



No matter how difficult a task, it is done with all your effort, with enthusiasm, with eagerness,

 with complete love; it is done with all your heart, a labour of love, so to speak.





Washing with butterflies
This lady, is so devoted to her husband,
 it is a pleasure to wash his clothes.
Not a chore at all.



Meraki is to put your soul into something, to put a little bit of yourself into it, be it singing, 

dancing, or painting.




Tango
Tango
 Danced with passion, with every fibre of your body,
giving it your all!



It can be the simplest of tasks, such as making a cup of coffee for your husband; you made 

it with love, with devotion, with meraki!





Coffee Made with meraki
Coffee
Made with meraki


Here’s a good example of the use of meraki, I asked a friend of mine, a chef, if his wife was

also a good cook.

No, he answered, she’s a terrible cook, but, when she cooks me a meal, I tell her it was 

delicious, because, she cooked it for me with love, with all her heart, she cooked it for me 

with meraki.




A jar full of meraki
A jar full of meraki



Someone who loves life, lives it to the hilt, does everything with zeal, someone who lives for


 the moment, for the now, is often, here in Greece referred to as a “Meraklis”.


 Every single thing he does, day in, day out, is done with meraki.





Zorba The Greek
Zorba The Greek
Maybe the happiest meraklis ever!



According to the artist Vincent Van Gough, doing something with all your being, with


 passion, putting all your heart and soul into your work, may result in madness!


"I put my heart and and my soul into my work and have lost my mind in the process"




 "Old Man in Sorrow" (On the Threshold of Eternity) Vincent Van Gogh
"Old Man in Sorrow" (On the Threshold of Eternity)
Vincent Van Gogh



Do you think the Greek word meraki is untranslatable?

How about the English word ardour (American; Ardor)?


Ardour means to do something with great passion, with enthusiasm, with a strong feeling of 

energy and eagerness, to do something with love.


It sounds very similar to me.

If you'd like to find out, if untranslatable words really do exist, a good place to look, is in this

 fascinating book by Ella Frances Sanders;

An artistic collection of more than 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign 

words that have no direct translation into English. 



Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World



"Lost in Translation" Ella Frances Sanders
"Lost in Translation"
Ella Frances Sanders



And while you're at it, why not check out Ella Frances Sanders, latest book;

A charming illustrated collection of more than fifty expressions from around the globe that 

explore the nuances of language. From the hilarious and romantic to the philosophical and 

literal, the idioms, proverbs, and adages i


 " The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World"



The Illustrated Book of Sayings Ella Frances Sanders
The Illustrated Book of Sayings
Ella Frances Sanders


Go and make someone happy!


Do something with meraki!


 More Glorious Greek Words



Eucharisto/Efharisto

Dreaming of Paris in the springtime



Paris in spring
Paris in spring


Am I really in Greece in the spring?
Days and days of seemingly endless filthy weather, makes me think otherwise.

A lucky friend of mine, today, leaves for Paris.

Paris in springtime!

I can only dream, and reminisce.

MGG (My Greek God) and I, have been through Paris, countless times, and got lost countless times in the process, I might add, on car trips from Greece to England and vice versa, but, we had never actually spent any time there.


Well MGG had, in his youth, this he thought, made him an expert, we still got lost though!



MGG at a very tender age in Paris
MGG at a very tender age in Paris


We kept thinking of having a proper visit, doing all the tourist stuff, but never got round to it, then, in 1992 Disneyland opened in Paris, having two young children, begging to go, this was our chance!

We let it go for a couple of years, the thinking being, it’s new, it’s a novelty, it will be absolutely heaving, in 1994, we booked the tickets.



Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris


Now, my faithful followers, will know, that MGG has a terrible fear of flying, which means, we travel everywhere by car.

This is actually the best way to travel, you get to see so much more, and, if you get lost, you see much more than you bargained for!

We packed the car, to MGG’s military standards, this bag for the ferry boat, this bag for Italy, this bag for France, this bag for the return journey, let me tell you, he was so strict, no way, could the bag for Italy, be opened in France, or the bag for France, opened on the ferry boat!

The bags were put into the car boot in order of destination, last stops at the back, first stops, at the front; I’m surprised he didn’t label them!

The first stop was Patras to board the ferry boat to Ancona, Italy, then, on through Italy, Switzerland, the Mont Blanc tunnel and into France.


The children were aged nine and eleven, I had worried about the boredom of long stints in the car, but, Nintendos’s Gameboy, saved the day!

We made various stops in Italy, the first being Florence.

MGG was convinced, and still is, that if you leave your car unattended in Italy, it won’t be there, when you return, so, no way was he risking leaving it parked in a side street, just to trek round Florence.

My son, Yiannis, opted to stay in the car with him, while I forcefully dragged my daughter, Nais, around the streets of Florence.


Baptistery Doors. Florence.Italy
Baptistery Doors. Florence.Italy

This forced sightseeing, happened to Nais a lot on this trip.

MGG is just not interested in ruins, churches, art or history, to him, The Acropolis, in Athens, is just a pile of stones!

It is so much easier, and saves all the grumbling, to park him in a coffee shop, and go and do my thing, alone!

If asked about his memories of our trips together, he is likely to say, of San Gimignano for example;

“Is that where I watched them cleaning out the well?

 Or, of Como;

“Is that where I lost my glasses”

Never anything about the actual place!

I do have to say though, he is very accommodating, he will take me anywhere, walk the streets, visit restaurants, bars and cafes, but, churches, ruins and museums, I visit alone.


After Nais’s informative walk around Florence, we went on to Pisa, where we spent the night in a beautiful old palazzo, converted into a hotel, so near to the tower you felt that you could have reached out of the window and touched it.



Yiannis & Nais Pissa
Yiannis & Nais Pisa

The drawback about this historical hotel was that it was hundreds of years old, and smelled like it!
Damp, fusty and musty, so bad, I could not sleep with my pillow, which smelled as if it had been stored in a damp cellar!

Sadly, this was at the time when The Leaning Tower of Pisa was unsafe to enter, not that I would have, with my fear of heights, but the children would have liked to go up to the top.




Yiannis & Nais Pissa
Yiannis & Nais Pisa

After Pisa, we pressed on north, up through Switzerland towards Mont Blanc.
This was before the tragedy of the infamous fire in the tunnel, we have been through it since a few times, and the awful fear of it happening again, is always at the back of your mind.




French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel
French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel



French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel
French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel



We spent one more night, somewhere in France, and the next day arrived at Disneyland, Paris.



Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris


Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris 



It’s an amazing place, the children had a ball, we stayed three nights in the Sequoia Lodge Hotel, I really would say, you need three days to see the whole place.





Yiannis & Nais outside the Sequoia Lodge Disneyland Paris
Yiannis & Nais outside the Sequoia Lodge
Disneyland Paris


The enjoyment of numerous scary rides, came to an abrupt end for me, after trying out “Space mountain”, I should have known better than to climb aboard, after reading the sign;

 “Do not go on this ride if you have a heart condition”

After that, I stuck to “It’s a small world” and “Peter pan’s boat”!

Before starting our return journey to Greece, we had a day in Paris.


Paris
Paris


A wonderful day, we visited all the “Must see” places;

 Notre Dame, and the museum, (Good old Nais accompanied me again), the Place de Concord, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, and, of course,The Eiffel Tower.



Notre Dame Paris
Notre Dame Paris


Notre Dame Paris
Notre Dame Paris



 MGG and the children went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, needless to say, I didn't.

 I tried, but, could only make it to the second or third level!



View from the top of the Eiffel Tower.Paris
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower.Paris


MGG, Yiannis & Nais
MGG, Yiannis & Nais

Hungry in Paris
Hungry in Paris



Crowded in Paris
Crowded in Paris



Before leaving Paris, we  couldn't not visit the Louvre, you just can’t take everything in with only one visit, it is huge, you could visit for everyday of your life, I think, and still need to go back again!

I suppose you have guessed, MGG sat outside at the coffee shop!

Look what he missed!


Louvre Paris
Louvre Paris

Louvre Paris
Louvre Paris



Louvre Paris
Louvre Paris


The Mona Lisa Louvre Paris
The Mona Lisa
Louvre Paris


Venus De Milo Louvre Paris
Venus De Milo
Louvre Paris


Victory of Samothrace Louvre Paris
Victory of Samothrace
Louvre Paris



I did manage to entice MGG to the church of  Sacre Coeur, in the Monmartre area of Paris,was it worth it though?

He moaned and moaned, as did Yiannis, my son, who spent the rest of the day saying;

Oh, Sacre coeur, Sacre Coeur!




Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur




Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur


You can not visit Paris without sampling the delicious macarons from Laduree, they are to die for.
By the way, photographs were not really allowed in here, but just look at the spectacular interior of the shop.

Nearly as good as the macarons themselves!



Laduree Paris
Laduree Paris



And don't forget to have coffee in one of the coffee shops, frequented in the past, by so many famous writers, poets and painters.



Cafe De Flore Paris
Cafe De Flore Paris



If you do try your luck on the Paris Metro, be warned, it is very smelly!



Paris Metro
Paris Metro


As we were there for only one day, we didn't visit the well known cabarets of Paris, or get to see the amazing can can dancers, just saw them from the outside , looking in, so to speak!




  Folies Bergere Paris
Folies Bergere Paris



Lido Paris
Lido Paris




Moulin Rouge Paris
Moulin Rouge Paris




Paris is such a beautiful, but melancholy  city, so beautiful, in fact, that my daughter, after a recent stay there, said;

“It was so beautiful, I wanted to cry”



View down the Seine Paris
View down the Seine Paris



Arc de Triumph Paris
Arc de Triumph Paris



We said goodbye to Paris, vowing to return, to spend more time getting to know this magnificent city of light.

We were now on the road again,  back to Greece, with an overnight stop in Milan.




Milan Italy
Milan Italy


Turning any corner, from the side streets and alleyways of Milan, the sight of The Duomo, in Piazza Del Duomo, really does take your breath away, it's just suddenly there, in front of you, in all its glory.


After shopping in the La Rinascente department store, where Nais, at the tender age of nine, insisted on buying some Chanel number five scent, we had coffee at the rooftop restaurant, the view over the top of the Duomo was astonishing!



Shopping in Milan
Shopping in Milan

Shopping in Milan
Shopping in Milan


Piazza Del Duomo Milan Italy
Piazza Del Duomo Milan Italy

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan Italy
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Milan Italy


Here, in the flagship store of Prada, I bought the most expensive handbag that I have ever bought.

Super soft, buttery, black calfskin,  quite large, plain, simple, minimal, just beautiful, I still have it, or rather, my daughter Nais , has it.

After all these years, and much daily use, it’s still in great condition, that’s what you get when you buy quality; you get what you pay for!

After buying this treasure, it was put into the “Italy bag” in the car boot.
A big mistake, it had to stay there until we were home in Greece.

MGG would not let me open the “Italy bag”

All I wanted to do was look at it, stroke it, my Prada bag, I own a Prada bag!


I have grown up a bit since then, I don’t stroke bags anymore, and have realized, that owning a Prada bag, is not the be all and end all.

Last stop, Ancona, before boarding the ferry that would sail us back to Greece, we did our gift shopping, for friends and family back home.


Contrary to belief, Ancona, away from the port, has the most amazing shops.
We had discovered this on previous trips, while killing time, waiting to board the ship.

We have since been around Europe, countless times, but, never stayed in Paris.
So, until we do, I shall once again, watch my Paris films,  I have watched both these films over and over, they really do transport you away to Paris!

"Paris J'Tame" is a collection of short stories about life in Paris.

       Paris, Je T'aime [DVD]

"Paris" features one of my favourite actresses, Juliette Binoche.

    Paris [DVD] [2008]

Or why not sit back,listen to Jazzradio, the Paris cafe section, listen HERE and dream?



Paris films The next best thing to being there!
Paris films
The next best thing to being there!



One day, one day soon I hope.

Ouf, looking out of the window, I see that it is still poring with rain;

I shall go and sort out my summer clothes, summer has to arrive sometime, doesn't it?


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