White Eggplants and a return to Lesvos

Vegetable Sides
Well, what can I say except that I am back to the island and still not quite settled in yet, grrr… suitcases still erupting with clothes! The past few days that we returned together to the island, we have been searching for a new apartment to live in for the following year. If we aren’t going to be moving abroad, then I would gladly welcome the change of a new living environment. The problem is that we (definitely) don’t always get what we want – that lesson is always hard to learn, again and again!!! After looking at around 8 other places to live, we found one we loved but probably out of our budget and the rest were not worth the extra stress/costs of moving, either similar size  or much older. As of now, we are staying put in our current shoebox. 
Another subject to discuss is the generosity of Greeks, specifically, Greek mothers 🙂
I always love visiting my in-laws and I am in a much better place now than when I was simply “dating” their son and not able to communicate at all (they speak no English, I spoke no Greek), and when there is a communication barrier, there must be another way to express approval, gratitude, and love. With Greek moms, this is easily shown by cooking and in return you eat what everything they put in front of you. Seriously, I am not exaggerating one bit; simply ask my mom, my cousin, and best friend who came to Greece for the wedding and were stuffed like it was going to be the last Thanksgiving of eternity at every meal. When there is a second third plate of food handed to you, there is only so many times you can politely say no before just accepting it while trying to force a face that you are still hungry. If you have Greek blood in you, I am 100% sure that you understand – especially when visiting your mom or yiayia!  Up until maybe only a few months ago, this was the very problem I faced with every Greek “momma” that I visited in their home. I was overladen with spoon sweets, liqueurs, biscuits (aka hard cookies), pitas, coffees, juices and anything else they had prepared the previous day or so, enough for a full meal to say the least. In the beginning, I was embarrassed because I usually didn’t even like the “typical” offerings, so, as soon as they would leave the room, I begged my husband to finish mine off for me before they returned – true story, multiple times! 
But now things are better, for one, I can communicate in Greek so much better. Not fluent, but at least enough to politely refuse when being offered something that I really don’t want or have room for. Also, I think I have “gained” somewhat more of a family status, instead of just being a visitor/guest. Lastly, I quit finishing everything on my plate (before I was full) so that when offered, I could simply show I still have some on my plate to enjoy – Caution: this approach does not always work, many times they do not think twice about loading you up with triple portions at a time. 
Back to the focus though, their generosity, Greek women (especially moms) have a knack for giving you anything and everything you show interest in – almost to anyone, not just a guest. The Greek culture itself is probably one of the most giving cultures I have lived in, because they live by a philosophy that, “If it isn’t too much, than it isn’t enough”! Most of the time I welcome this generosity, but sometimes (to be really honest with you) I find it a little too old-fashioned for me. Okay, I only think this when it is expected to give instead of giving because you want to – the other time is when I “discuss” with my husband that we only need 1 bunch of bananas or 3-4 apples since we are only two people. When he does the shopping or cooking, I’ve learned to expect a generous portion! 
Overall, I love the generosity. For example, upon leaving the main land for the island, we had enjoyed many fabulous meals prepared by Presvitara (my mother in law) and one in particular I enjoyed was the “Santorini” fried eggplant (white eggplants battered in flour and fried in olive oil – simple but fantastic)! The day we left I was handed a bag of 5 huge white eggplants + a bag of Halkidiki olives + a jar of local honey + two bags of a special grain + an extra large jar of spoon sweets from yiayia (grandma). My first thought was, “How the heck are we going to carry all of this stuff with us when I alone brought back 2 HUGE suitcases plus hand luggage?”. After the brain maneuvering and seeing my husband’s eager grin to make sure we take it all with us, I conceded that where there is a will – there is a way. Good thing we were taking the 13 hour boat ride, or our luggage limits would have never been approved. Finally, 4.5 bags in hand each we made it to the island with everything, including 5 battered white eggplants! 
And this is what happens when you leave the kitchen for 5 minutes and your husband finds a permanent marker! 
Needless to say, I didn’t have time to prepare anything fancy with them, I simply fried them up into delicate yet salty/sweet eggplant fries – WOW!!! 

What I learned and what you need to know about white eggplants is that they are the original – the reason they were named “eggplants” in the first place is that they looked like little eggs hanging from their leaves! They also are slightly sweet and not bitter, which is great because you don’t have to bother sweating them before using! They do have thicker skins, which should be removed, and sometimes contain bigger and more obvious seeds (but theses shouldn’t be a problem for you)! 
I am not sure if I have come across these in the US before, maybe I have just always overlooked them but you shouldn’t make the same mistake: instead, see them, buy them, try them, love them! 
And although it is hard for me to always live by the philosophy, “If it isn’t too much, then it isn’t enough” (simply because I don’t like wasting things) we should all have an abundantly giving heart! As my husband sees it, “Then they will always have enough to share with others” and it is true that the more you give, the more you will receive – we just got half of a 50+lb. bag of local potatoes! You can now expect some more potato recipes very soon, I mean we are only TWO, how can we possible eat 25+ pounds of taters before they go bad?! Potato recipes welcome 🙂 We have already eaten lavish mashed potatoes for dinner one night and Shepard’s pie the following – I am hoping to get more creative than that in the next few days so, please email me your favorite potato recipe if you are feeling generous. 
I also plan to get back into updating 2-3 times per week now that we are almost settled back into what will hopefully be an even better year than last 🙂 
Kali Orexi to all of you friends and followers, 
Jacquline 

Cauliflower with Avgolemono Sauce

Vegetable Sides
Cauliflower with an egg and lemon sauce. Try this vegetable side next time you want a filling and simple meal, both nutritious and flavorful.  
Cauliflower with Avgolemono Recipe
1 head of cauliflower
2-3 eggs
1-2 lemons, juiced well
EVOO
salt and pepper
Parsley or Dill
Start by boiling your washed cauliflower in a minimal amount of water until it becomes tender. Remove cauliflower from pot, keeping the water, and let slightly cool and drain. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and chop the cauliflower into desired size. Saute the vegetable (and the leaves if you’d like) until it has a nice golden brown color and becomes as tender as you desire, remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk your eggs and lemon juice (approximately,  1-1 1/2 T. lemon juice for 2 eggs). Once blended together, add a ladle of the cauliflower water to your bowl while continuing to whisk, preventing the eggs from scrambling, add more water if you prefer. Once the sauce is to your liking, simply spoon over your cauliflower for an amazing flavor combination! 
Simple, fancy, and delicious!

Colorful Winter Salad

Vegetable Sides
I have never been one for heart shapes or adding red food coloring to anything, so Valentine’s day is pretty much like every other day for me. I do like the idea of doing something special for the one you love, but that should be every day of the year, not just one where Hallmark stocks skyrocket. That is just me and that is why you are not finding a Valentines miracle recipe, sorry if I got your hopes up!

Something that is colorful and fully loaded with vitamins and nutrition is this winter salad. Before making this, I wasn’t even sure if I liked red/purple cabbage, but after this salad I am sure that I do. A simple yet bursting with flavor salad for a day that you want something a little lighter and will probably help clean you out or as a beautiful accompaniment to a piece of grilled chicken. I unfortunately didn’t have any chicken when making this beauty, but I could imagine it being the perfect plate mate to this salad – a simple grilled chicken breast!

Colorful Winter Salad:
1/2 small/medium red cabbage
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 medium apple, chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 small head of broccoli florets
1 medium leek
EVOO
1/4 red wine
1/2 lemon, juiced
1-2 T. honey or ginger syrup or sugar if you prefer
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
s/p

Saute the onion and leek in the olive oil until tender,  add the broccoli and red pepper with a little water if needed to cook until almost tender. Add the red cabbage and lemon juice, stirring to coat well. Pour in red wine and cook until almost gone and veggies are to desired tenderness. Toss in apple and turn off heat, but continue stirring until apples become mixed with salad. Sprinkle with vinegar if you like and serve warm alone or with meat. Enjoy to your health, literally!

Oven Potatoes or Fries

Vegetable Sides
Let’s talk potatoes; specifically, oven wedges and fries. 
Who doesn’t love potatoes? I do, I do, and I am betting that the indulgent side of you does too. Well, I am here to tell you that just by baking your potatoes instead of frying them, you save tons of calories and lose none of the taste. Here are two basic recipes to try, both are great. Always start with washed potatoes. 
1. Potato wedges 

Poke a few hole in each of your potatoes  and bake whole for about 10-12 minutes in your 350° oven. Remove and cool slightly to touch. Cut the potatoes in desired wedge size and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and either sprayed or little oiled with EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Next, sprinkle with sea salt (coarse), fresh cracked pepper, and Greek oregano (you can also substitute rosemary for a more Italian flavor)! Bake in oven for about 30-45 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. About halfway through use spatula to turn potatoes. Serve hot with anything you desire. Simple and easy as that folks, I promise delightful results too.

2. Extra crispy oven fries. Peel your potatoes and then cut into a rectangle. Slice into even layers and then slice into even matchstick fries. Soak your potatoes in cold water for a good 15-20 minutes, then drain and dry with kitchen paper. In a small cup beat a couple of egg whites (enough to lightly coat however many potatoes you are cooking) and add salt and pepper (even some oregano or paprika or cayenne), whisking until frothy, then toss over the fries in a large bowl, coating all potatoes. Place potatoes on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake on 350° until golden brown, again about 30-40 minutes depending on how many fries you are cooking. Make sure not to pour the extra egg whites onto the cookie sheet because your potatoes with stick together. You can space the potatoes out more for a crunchier potato align closer for a softer potato. 

Enjoy either of these delicious potato recipes next time you are in the mood to be swept away by those addictive, salty, and filling ground vegetables! It is totally worth passing the fast food fries that are guaranteed to give you health problems, take an extra 15 minutes to make your own healthier potatoes! 

You can make anything Greek just by adding some Greek oregano, right? There is actually a difference in taste to me, and I much prefer making my own dried oregano over store bought anytime! Very Soon, I will be having a GIVEAWAY for some Greek oregano and ouzo, all the way from Greece! Stayed tuned and tell your friends and family to check out the Greek Smorgasbord!