Tag Archives: onion

Hot Onion Dip, you want it at your Superbowl party

This past weekend I tried my hand at a hot dip I had been jonesing for over a year.  A longtime friend and co-worker, that would be YOU, Sharon!, had stopped by my little sister’s and dropped off a super terrific hot onion dip for the family and it’s been on my mind more than constantly.  The onions were a complete taste tease and, although the dip wasn’t heavy, it was substantial enough to satisfy on a cool winter’s day.  I guess I could have asked her for the recipe but that would have been too easy, wouldn’t it?  It was savory with a hint of sweetness owing to the onions.  And I was aching to taste it again.  With my boys’ team, the Patriots, playing on Sunday; I thought I’d see if I could rustle up a facsimile.  Some hot onion dips call for frozen chopped onions but Sharon’s dip pleased both eye and palate featuring pearl onions and plenty of them.   My initial attempt was a triumph in mediocrity.  I had inadvertently grabbed pearl onions in some sorry excuse for a cream sauce which steeped the end result with a sour tang.  I shudder to think.  Despite the copious amount of cheese I was tempted to pull a Tom Hanks from the movie “Big” and scrape the vile, white jumble from my tongue.   More work was needed.  Not only did I need to lose that unpleasant, vinegary aftertaste but I also wanted a smoother and more gooey texture.  Back at the grocery store I picked up the correct onions and a small bag of shredded mozzarella and returned home to refine and perfect.  I had also decided to significantly amp the spices I had used.  My thighs and I are thrilled to report that the state of nirvana was achieved.  Oh, and I also swapped water crackers for good ol’ Frito corn chips…the scoop shaped ones.  This was the final touch needed.  The salty, crunchy corn  rounded out the appetizer making it a whole, complete flavor adventure.

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Hot Onion Dip

This dish has become a favorite of mine for several reasons.  It travels extremely well and is loved by all therefore I come home with an empty dish and no leftovers to tempt me.  Also, I don’t have to really measure the ingredients; you can eyeball it with confidence and finish with a great hor’s d’oeuvre.

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 -14 ounce bags frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, I used reduced fat
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided and shredded, both bagged and reduced fat are fine
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, I use Duke’s Light
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Cover a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT 1 cup of mozzarella in a large bowl, mixing well until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to baking dish,  smooth top and scatter remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese evenly.
  4. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.
  5. Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes prior to serving.  This stuff is like molten lava straight out of the oven.  You don’t want anyone to burn their mouths.
  6. Serve with corn chips.

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Pollo en Escabeche, Puerto Rican Fried, Pickled Chicken

When I flew down to Puerto Rico 30…35 years ago to begin work with Delta Airlines nothing prepared me for the level of partying that took place on that island.  The island celebrates a good 26, 26!, holidays.  Both January and July have 4 public holidays!  Sure, I had spent months, whole summers, vacationing with our grandparents and making the rounds to visit all the extended family members during the holidays.  But as a child and even as a young adult, one has no idea the degree of seriousness taken to make merry until one is wholly independent.  There were scads of Lopez family parties.  All-day pig roasts were pretty common place at my Tio Enrique’s mountain farm.  Being girls my sisters, cousins and I were not privy to the surreptitious sipping of rum my male cousins and uncles enjoyed while overseeing the roasting of the pig on a spit.  Even the farm hand whose job was to stand all day and turn the spit enjoyed the fruit of the cane.  Whenever our grandfather or any of our uncles would wander up to the house they were always so relaxed and happy… there’s a big surprise.  So, after college, when I moved to Puerto Rico I completely embraced this new lifestyle of “party down”.  My friends were the kids who had also been hired by Delta; all 12 local except me.  We were known as “the Dirty Dozen”.

Just a handful of "the Dirty Dozen".
Just a handful of “the Dirty Dozen”.

Training had been incredibly rigorous and demanding.  We were often and regularly tested on airline and Delta standards and it was made perfectly clear we would not be hired if we failed.  I remember one woman crying and saying she couldn’t make it…it was too hard.  I tried to get across to her it was just a matter of memorization.  To have been hired by Delta was quite an achievement at that time.  Literally hundreds of people had applied for our 13 positions in reservations.  She quit.  Right in the middle of our six-week training.  Her name was Sonia.  I’ll never forget.  Anyway, when the weekend or any holiday rolled around we were ready.  We became really close, the 12 of us, and spent free time together.  We had parties in clubs, in each other’s homes, at the beach, really anywhere we could.  We’d dance the night away and sip on rum.

More of the "Dirty Dozen" with our beautiful Janet tearing it up with Rafa!! How I love my people!
More of the “Dirty Dozen” with our beautiful Janet tearing it up with Rafa.  How I love my people!

I remember one of the boys in our group went crabbing and I tasted for the first time crab cooked in tomatoes, wine, garlic, onions and fresh bay leaves.  The crabs were simmered in an enormous pot in the back courtyard of someone’s house.  The next day I went out and bought an equally big pot and still have it to this day.  One of the dishes I was introduced to was “Pescado en Escaveche”, ceviche or pickled fish.  It was eaten as an hors d’oeuvre, the sauce cold, tart and salty.  The fish was sweet and tender.  These tastes were most welcome on blistering, hot tropical days.  Through the years I’ve changed the recipe to feature bite sized pieces of chicken which are fried then marinated.  Steeped in a pot-pourri of vinegar, caramelized onions and black peppercorns, it’s one of those perfect pairings that need to be prepared in advance.  Yay.  I’m all for anything that can be made in advance.  Just right to serve or take to a party.  I usually offer this dish with whole grain wheat crackers, Triscuits, but I’ve also presented it with thin, toasted rounds of French bread.  It’s fantastic and no one, NO ONE, ever shows up with it!

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Pollo en Escabeche Fried and Pickled Chicken

  • Servings: 10-15
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 10-15 whole peppercorns
  • 5 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 2 pounds onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  1. In a large acid resistant pot or kettle simmer uncovered 1 cup olive oil, vinegar,  1 teaspoon salt, bay leaves and onions for about 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Mix flour with remaining salt and toss chicken in it to completely coat.  Discard leftover flour.
  3. In a large frying pan heat remaining 1/2 cup olive oil with the garlic cloves.  As soon as the cloves begin to brown remove from pan and discard the garlic.
  4. Over medium heat cover bottom of pan with one layer of chicken frying in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan.
  5. In a Pyrex or glass container pour half the warm onion-vinegar sauce.  Add half the chicken, the remaining sauce and then the remaining chicken.  Gently toss to thoroughly coat the chicken with the sauce.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  7. Serve cold.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Baked Orzo with Lemon, Shrimp and Feta

It’s April and coming up on First Communion time at Saint Anthony church, the Catholic church where I grew up, heck, where we all grew up.  Tommy and Pamela were baptized there, all four of us made our First Communions there and Cynthia and Pamela were married there.  As an adult I discovered the beauty of Sunday’s 7:30 a.m. mass.  No organ playing, (I can’t stand organ music), no shrieking children’s choir, but more importantly, blessed anonymity.  There’s nothing worse than going to that cocktail party called “10:30 Mass”, looking out at your fellow parishioners and thinking, “Jesus H. Christ.  What does she have on?  I mean really.  Don’t tell me she looked in the mirror  and thought, “Now this is the look I want.  I am ready now.”.  That little voice inside me scolds, “What are you doing? You are in the house of the Lord.  Of our Lord.  Stop it.”  Back and forth it goes, so it’s really best if I go to the 7:30 service.  I stand in the very back… I lean against the confessionals and take in the cool quiet, the beautiful wood of the beamed ceiling and the sun streaming through the original stained glass windows, colors dancing and splashing onto terrazzo floors.  I think, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been 12 years since my last confession.  Hope you packed a lunch.”.  Those same confessional doors were there when I made my First Communion.

Dad would take Cynthia and me to confession every Friday night, around five or six.  And, sometimes after confessing, IF we had had dinner, he would take us down to the beach to a little shack where they would make fresh, hot waffles from a little machine.  Then, with a practiced hand, cut off a big slab of Neapolitan ice cream and sandwich it between the steaming hot waffles.  Heaven.  We’d always take his car, an Austin Healy, with the top down, and park in front of the church’s double doors where he would wait patiently until we came out.  Cynthia was eight and I was six.  Right after my First Communion I went on a typical Friday night to confession,  stood in line outside the confessionals, and then, when it was my turn, went in, and knelt down.  A little muslin panel was pulled across a window so only a blurry profile was seen.  I began, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It has been one week since my last confession.  And my sins are…”  I can only imagine what my sins were since I was only six.  I didn’t even steal change out of my mother’s purse.  What,  I talked back when it was my turn to set the table?  I didn’t make my bed?  I called somebody the positively worst word I knew… SKUNK?  Whatever my sins were, I confessed.  I knew I had been stained by original sin, thanks to Adam and Eve, but I never dreamed I had committed mortal sin.  I didn’t really feel it was just to throw me into the venial category either.  But that was the first time I felt the skies had parted and God’s wrath had been hurled down directly at me.  That man, that priest, whoever he was, bellowed from the other side of the curtain, “YOU WHAT?  YOU HAVE SINNED!  YOU ARE A SINNER AND YOU HAVE SINNED!”.  The huge, thunderous voice rained down on me until I drowned in absolute terror.  No one had ever raised their voice at me, at us.  Not my parents, not a teacher, grandparents, neighbor, no one.  I wanted to be an angel.  I wanted to be holy.  I was six.  Six.  I just crumbled.  Huge, hot and uncontrollable tears spilled over.  I slipped out of the confessional, didn’t even say my penance, and ran from the church.  Cynthia was already in the car.  She wasn’t much of a sinner so it didn’t take her very long.  I don’t remember if I told my parents, but it shook me through and through.  And, sadly, at that age, adults are always right, even when they’re wrong.  The days rolled by and, once again, it was Friday, confession time.  Cynthia hopped out of the car, brightly announcing, “I’ll be right back”.  Yeah, we know.  I didn’t get out of the car.  My father asked, “Aren’t you going in?”.  “No”, I answered.  “Why not?”  “I don’t want to.”  “Okay.”  Okay.  That’s all he said.  Okay.  Gotta love that man.  Week after week Daddy took us to confession and I stayed in the car.  Then one Friday, Dad asked, “You going in?”  Opening the door and answering at the same time I replied, “Yup.”  I strolled right into St. Anthony’s and stood in line outside the confessionals. When it was my turn, I went into the confessional.  And guess what??  Nothing happened.  One Act of Contrition, two Hail Mary’s and an Our Father later, I had a brand new soul!  AND…a waffle and ice cream sandwich.

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This is the dinner I would have liked to have had on a Friday night instead of Mama’s hour-long baked fish.  It is so light and savory, the flavors compliment each other well yet surprise with their lingering tones.  The dish is quite flexible, any small shaped pasta works great.  There is a little chopping, but, hey, you will be rewarded handsomely with clever and discerning compliments and your family will love you even more.  In place of shrimp you could use scallops or squid rings.  And goat cheese or any soft, crumbling cheese that marries with the acid of the lemon and tomato could be put to use rather than feta.  It’s what you like.  It’s a pretty dish and works well for a buffet or to serve a large number of people.  The lemon, fresh oregano and feta are insanely good together but if you wanted to dress the dish up a bit, a splash or two of Armagnac or ouzo will do the trick, added when you mix the tomatoes into the sauce.  I have to confess, it’s truly superb!

 

 

Baked Orzo with Lemon, Shrimp and Feta Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 pound small shaped pasta, such as orzo
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups crumbled feta, crumble it yourself.  Don’t buy that already crumbled garbage.  Really.
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, rough chopped with juices
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil for your pasta and cook pasta to box directions.
  2. While the pasta cooks and adding the feta last, add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine.  Add the feta, lightly mixing so as not to completely break up the cheese.
  3. When the pasta is al dente, drain and put back into pot.  Add all the ingredients from the bowl.  Stir to combine.
  4. Pour into a baking dish prepared with non stick spray.  I use a 4-quart or 11″ X 13″ baking dish.
  5. Spray a large piece of tin foil with non-stick spray and cover baking dish tightly, crimping edges and corners to keep the moisture in.
  6. Bake 30-45 minutes.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

In Jamaica They Call It “Fish Tea”

WOW.  I just made the most outrageous, EASY, and fast, fish soup!!!  I’m trying to cool down with a HUGE ice-cold, crisp Pinot Grigio!!  And, thankfully, it’s working.   It rained a bit today, the temperature dropped a stunning 4 degrees, I’m down for soup.  But I didn’t want some cook-all-day, roiling, thick, stew thing.  So… a gorgeously colored fish soup.  Always light but incredibly savory.  Dad gets a beautiful fish soup just about every Saturday at the Swap Shop, it’s so darned good but so darned expensive.  $12.00 for a cup.  Are you kidding?  Kiss my lily, white ass.  I looked all through my cookbooks for different recipes but they all did the “fish stock” thing.  I didn’t have any made or frozen and I just didn’t want to kill myself making it.  It’s fish soup, dammit, fish soup.  “I’m Gumby, dammit!! Gumby”.  Well, that’s how I felt.  Anyway, I wanted something rich in flavor, but at the same time, light and pretty.  Apparently I wanted it all.  And guess what?  Through hard work and diligence I got it.  I started with a good knob of butter, maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons, and a good splash of olive oil in a medium hot dutch oven/stock pot.  To that I added a HUGE onion that I had finely chopped and when that had cooked to soft and clear I added 7 or 8 finely chopped garlic cloves.  My feeling is, if I don’t have a good seafood stock then I need to unquestionably produce a broth that is strong, luxurious and full-bodied.  And I did.  After the garlic had softened sufficiently, I heightened the flavor by adding three large, peeled and cubed  red-skinned boiling potatoes, two whole scotch bonnet peppers, and a large bunch of fresh cilantro, washed and finely chopped.  We enjoy a lot of heat in our food and although scotch bonnets are small, they DO pack a considerable amount of heat!!  Fair warning!  I also threw in a good measure of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Actually, I added more than I usually would because the potatoes will soak up a lot of the salt, they need it to bring out their own flavor.  I found some saffron and tossed a few threads into the mix.  A little color is ALWAYS good.  I chopped and included another onion to deepen the taste.  And a healthy glass of the grape I was enjoying, my snappy Pinot Grigio.  To the juice of four lemons I added six cups of water and into the pot that went. I brought it up to a good simmer, covered it and walked away.  I had set aside a large bowl with two pounds of shelled and cleaned shrimp and a couple of pounds of cod fillets cut into small cubes.  After poking around on the computer and watching a little junky daytime television with Jimmy, I tasted the broth to see what it needed.  Just a little salt and pepper.  I added the seafood and another bunch of washed, chopped cilantro, to brighten the pot.  And turned up the heat, just enough to cook the fish but not toughen it.  Two minutes later… voila!!  It was gorgeous!  Just the right amount of heat, citrus and aromatics.  Even Jimmy liked it and he HATES soup!  I think snapper, dolphin or wahoo would be outrageous in this and, of course, lime in place of lemon.  Lemon grass would be lovely as would some marjoram.  Play around with it or focus on the flavor YOU like.  If you like the anise flavor use fennel in place of cilantro and add  a splash of Pernod.  I few chopped tomatoes might be nice.  And I ever so carefully took the scotch bonnets out and discarded them.  Well, Jimmy just called from the Panther’s game, in some fancy, hoity-toity box, to say he can’t wait to come home and have some of the soup. I say, “Get out!”.  He hates beans and he hates soup and he’s going to start liking it now?  Well, fine by me!  Nothing makes me happier than when he likes what I love!  Soup is a luxury to me so if there’s motivation to prepare it, bring it!!  This is a fine soup, delicate and light, still satisfying and potent.  In MY kingdom, this would be the consummate meal if served in an individual, footed soup bowl in my formal porcelain pattern.  Would that it were.  But it’s still the best regardless of it’s serving vessel!

Stewed Green Beans Greek Style

Isn’t it strange how as a child, the same things we hate, abhor, detest, we end up loving, downright craving, as adults?  My siblings and I have laughed to no end at the spare, flavorless dinners our mother used to serve.  Once a week my mother would go  to go to the grocery store for a “big buy”.  If we were in the car, she wouldn’t allow us to go in, saying, “You children stay here.  Today’s a “big buy”.  I’ll be back in TEN minutes.”  TEN MINUTES?  A BIG BUY?  That ought to give you a little insight as to my mother’s feelings regarding food and cooking.  She’d try to go to the store by herself and get that annoying food thing out of the way, never, ever suspect when she arrived home and her first middle child would greet her at the front door in the style of Eddie Haskell.  “Hello, Mother.  May I help you with the groceries?”, I would ask in my sweetest but most nonchalant tone.  “Gracias, Cielo!”, she would answer, “You’re a BIG help”.  My mother ALWAYS had words of encouragement for us.  While she was inside the kitchen unloading bags, I would go through the ones left in the car as  quickly and thoroughly as a swat team.  My mother bought only frozen vegetables, hard, square boxes of misery and disgust.  Efficiently, I set all the boxes aside.  Carrots, string beans, spinach, broccoli,  the runner-up for nastiest, succotash.  First place, numero uno for all time nauseating and most hateful childhood vegetable goes to……waxbeans!  Yes.  My mother served us frozen wax beans.  They were yellow and looked as though they had been hand dipped in tallow.  And NOT in an artisanal way.  When all the groceries were inside I would casually call out to who ever was around, “I’m going outside.”  No one ever cared and no one ever paid attention, thank you very much.  I’d grab all the boxes, all of them, and trot around to the back of the house.  Stacked neatly on the dock, we lived on the water, I would take a frozen square, and with a strong and practiced arm, I would skip that box across the canal with all the strength in my 11 year-old body.  Those boxes just skimmed across the top of the water, bouncing four, five, sometimes SIX times.  I know it was hideously wasteful but I really enjoyed it.  Mama always came home from the store in the late afternoon, so I was on the water skipping boxes when the sun was going down, palm trees swaying.  Often the fish would jump.  It was quite lovely.  I knew I had scored when Mama would rip the freezer apart, all the while talking to herself, “Oh, pooh! I know I bought vegetables!  Caramba!  Where could they be?”.  But sometimes, we weren’t that lucky and a box or two would slip past me.  My older sister, Cynthia, and I had only a few ways around these toxic nuggets.  And let me add, my mother didn’t even heap the vegetables on our plates.  She only put maybe three or four beans on each of our plates.  Child, that was more than enough.  My mother never used salt or pepper and there was NEVER butter or any kind of sauce on the vegetables.  They were just boiled.  Making sure my father didn’t catch us, we would swallow the little, yellow, nasties whole with our milk.  Until the day he DID catch us.  I don’t know how Cynthia got her’s down, but I remember thinking, “I don’t care if I’m still here at breakfast,  I’m.  not.  eating.  them.  I’m not.”  Everyone was long gone from the dining room, Cynthia doing homework, Tommy and Pamela were splashing away in the bathtub readying for bedtime.  And there I’d be.  No elbows or forearms were ever tolerated on the table and sitting up straight was mandatory.  The night would just drag on, my parents walked by every once in a while, always saying the same thing, “and don’t even THINK about getting up until you finish all of that!”  And I just sat there, thinking the same thought, “I’m not eating this.  I’m not.”  I overheard my mother reading to Tommy and Pamela a bedtime story or two and I felt big waves of hopelessness and despair wash over me because now I truly COULDN’T eat them.  They were stone cold.  And hard.  And I didn’t have any more milk.  Right about then my father put down the paper and barked at me, “Get up.  Put your plate in the kitchen, brush your teeth and you’re to go straight to bed.”  Okay…I can do that.   And the beauty of this whole memory is, the following morning you would never have known this had happened!   There was absolutely no mention of the dinner fiasco of  the night before.  My parents would be happy and loving, embodying the philosophy, “It’s a new day!”  Today IS a new day, but not new enough to eat wax beans.  Or broccoli.  Or cauliflower.  But just about every other vegetable is great.  I love this dish, stewed green beans, because it’s so darned easy and it gives one the full feeling of eating something heavier, like meat or fish.  The sautéed onion gives the beans and tomatoes the sweetness needed and the olive oil mixed with the broken down tomatoes results in a silky, savory sauce.  Fassolatha is served with a healthy sprinkling of crumbled feta on top and crusty bread to dip in the sauce.  I think it’s sublime!

Stewed Green Beans Greek Style

  • Servings: 6-8 as a side or 4-5 as a main course
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bag string beans, washed and trimmed (that means snap off and discard the ends)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of dried oregano, preferably Greek
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled feta cheese to taste
  1. In a large pot, add olive oil and heat on medium high.  When oil is hot, but not smoking, add onions and stir well.
  2. When onions are fairly translucent, add oregano, stir, then add green beans.
  3. Pour both cans of tomatoes into pot and carefully break apart tomatoes with the side of your spoon.
  4. Add salt and pepper, stir, cover and drop heat to low.
  5. Allow to stew for at least one hour.  If this serves as your main course, serve in individual bowls with crumbled feta cheese on top.  Hot, crunchy bread is always welcome!

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Greek Salad, or as we say, Horiatiki Salata

Mention the name “Wilson” to my son, James and my niece, Elizabeth, and I guarantee a couple of slow smiles will spread across their faces.  We took both of them to Greece for the first time in 2002.  Having Elizabeth with us meant James had company when he was dragged from museum to museum, (ya seen one 600 B.C. amphora, you’ve seen ’em all!).  And for us, the adults, it meant we were forced to work on our vocabulary.  Traveling with a genius will do that.  I bought them a soccer ball here, stateside, for them to bat around by the pool, in the sea or on the beach.  And we named it “Wilson”.  It was a big hit!  There was always a lively, bordering on violent, game of catch going on, usually in the water.  Until the day James HURLED the ball, not to, but AT Elizabeth and, tiny thing that she was, instead of catching the ball, she DODGED.  Over the side of the pool it went, down, down, down the service drive, down, down, now we’re scrambling, rolling, rolling, down the hillside hotel property.  Gone.  Somewhere in the field next to us.  The private property field. The completely fenced in field.  We trudged through the resort, dripping wet, to rescue Wilson.  We had to!  It was Wilson!!  At the front gate of the field, all three of us stood sizing up the situation.  The wild grasses were WAY taller than they had looked, so far above at poolside.  Then that all-american practically kicked in and I said, “How hard can it be? It’s a ball, for crying out loud.  C’mon!”  The driveway wasn’t even paved and we had to lie down right on the dusty ground and shimmy under the bottom of the gate.  THE BOTTOM OF THE RUSTY, CORRODED, TETANUS COVERED, GONNA SLICE YOU TO RIBBONS gate.  Oh, Lord!!  We all shimmied under without any bloodshed and started ever so gingerly walking.  Carefully planting each foot, one in front of the other, it just got creepier and creepier! There were all kinds of weeds and grasses I had never seen. The children became more and more quiet as we progressed further into the field and further away from civilization. Well, it felt like that, anyway!!  And then, my personal tragedy hit. I heard a “POP!” as I stepped down HARD on something.  Something pod-like.  Something big.  Big and full.  Something big and full EXPLODED, spewing wet, gooey stuff ALL over the tippy top of my inner thigh.  Yeah.  My inner thigh.  Right by my cootchie.  Sweet Jesus, I wanted to scream!  It was gooey!!  And I had children with me!!  How we did it I don’t know but that just spurred us into “find the DAMNED ball, ’cause we’ve got to get out of here”!!  What a relief when Elizabeth’s voice rang out,  “I found it!  Here he is!! He’s over here!”  She grabbed that ball and we just hauled out of there!!  And you have NEVER seen two children and one adult shimmy under a gate so fast!!!  No bloodshed and back to the pool!!  Oh, happy day! In Greece, the following is the salad we eat at just about every lunch and dinner…day in, day out.  It is the quintessential Greek salad.  And never, EVER with lettuce.

On my mother’s honor, THIS IS THE GATE!! We must have been crazy!!

Greek Salad – Horiatiki Salata

Yield: 4 servings

  • 5 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 bell pepper, seeded, ribs cut out, cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 12 Kalamata or greek olives, or 3-4 per person
  • good olive oil
  • 5-7 oz. slice or wedge of Greek feta
  • 1 tbls. dried Greek oregano, (if you can’t get Greek domestic or Mexican will do. But Greek is sweeter.)
  1. In a good-sized bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber and olives.
  2. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over salad and toss.
  3. Sprinkle all but a little oregano over salad, toss and top with feta.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over feta, sprinkle with remaining tsp. oregano and enjoy with warm bread!