I’m turning into my dad.

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Today, while having lunch in the cafeteria at work I realized that due to the fact that it was pretty late I was all alone. Not a single other employee was seated and eating lunch at 4 pm! Woohoo! I could have my tuna salad in peace and quiet and jot down where my first pay is going to go when pay day comes. So I start writing on the paper napkin and crossing and stuff and then suddenly I realize that that’s what my dad used to do, my pappa as we called him. I glance at the paper and it was almost deja-vu (ish) Back in the States my sister Gianna and I would always find newspapers with numbers written all over the place laying around the house, especially the kitchen, and we’d wonder what he was adding up. What was he budgeting for? I guess we’ll never know. My dad passed away almost two years ago. I was 7 months pregnant with Maria. It was tough because I didn’t even realize he was sick, so sick that he would be succumbed by whatever it was he died from. Old-age, and not enough proper care. The pictures I’ve put up are from 2011, the summer we realized something was up with our little guy and the summer I should’ve realized something was seriously up with my dad as well. My dad, with all his flaws as a parent and a husband, was a very charismatic guy. People enjoyed his company, he was funny without even knowing it or trying to be. That summer though, the last time he saw Panayioti, he just wasn’t himself. He kept saying he was tired. And the man that lived for food and tables strewn with platters and plates and bowls just didn’t have the same passion for cooking anymore. That summer we visited his one observation of Panayioti was that he was too skinny. Oh, pappa.

Sunday Lunch at Yiayia’s

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On weekends I like to cook for everyone, my sis-in-law, us, parents-in-law, everyone! But we almost always eat over at my in-laws. They live right next door so taking casseroles and dishes over is no big hassle. They have a bigger balcony and basically a bigger house so it’s just more convenient really. This weekend aside from the tiropita I also made Smyrna style meatballs (soutzoukakia) and served them with mashed potatoes and homemade french fries for the kids. They came out totally delicious! A very nice way to end the weekend, if I must say so myself 🙂

What you’ll need:
1 kilo ground beef
1/2 cup finely ground up bread
2 pieces of garlic, mashed
4 tbsp. Mavrodafne (sweet red wine)
2 eggs
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. sweet red pepper

For the sauce:
1 kilo tomatoes, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients you’ll need for the meatballs in one bowl and knead it really well. Let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Next, make your sauce. Just add all the ingredients in your pan and once the sauce has thickened that’s when you know it’s ready. After you’ve made the soutzoukakia into the oblong shape they’re supposed to look like I prefer to put mine in the oven at 200d/C for about 15 minutes before adding them to the sauce. My mother-in-law fries hers first, but this is a much healthier alternative. Just drop them in the sauce and let them soak in the pan for another 15 minutes and voila! Enjoy:-)

Tiropita (Cheese pie) at last!

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I’ve been thinking about making tiropita for the longest time but each time I keep thinking I want to make my own dough but that takes time and time is something I don’t have lots of lately. What I did instead was buy Pillsbury thick dough sheets and the result was very tasty, very easy, and very homey
🙂
What you’ll need:
4 thick dough sheets
250 grams mizithra cheese
150 grams feta cheese
4 eggs
1 ½ cups heavy cream
Bit of salt and pepper

Butter/oil your pan and begin with the two sheets on the bottom, each time buttering/oiling in between. Add the cheese mixture and finish with the remaining two sheets. Make sure to carve your pieces and sprinkle with some water. In our oven it took about 45 minutes at 200d/C. Enjoy 🙂

I felt so bad for him today.

My hubby. I felt really bad for him. I was annoyed too, but mostly I felt bad. We were invited over another autism mommy’s house today after work. Previously we had declined for some reason I can’t remember now but this time I really looked forward to it. She has a daughter that goes to the same school as P and they seem to really hit it off. I left straight after work and since it was near I decided to walk there and hubby would meet up with me there with the kids. Which basically means that after he gets off work instead of coming home and strutting about the house shirtless and shoeless like he likes to do, he has to pick up both kids from his parents, strap them in the car and drive down to the center in crazy rush-hour traffic and pick up a present on the way, too! A tall order for my husband. He is not the most social person on the planet and he’s made huge steps the past 6 years that we’re together. To go to another person’s house that he has never met before is HUGE for him, even if it is for a just a playdate. And to top it off he was the only dad there and that sort of pissed him off, and I totally understand. Plus his immense fear of heights and the fact that the apartment was on the 5th floor with barely a kiddie fence installed was just too much for him. Yes, he was panicky and nervous and fidgety. He couldn’t relax and kept chasing after Panayioti. And I’m pretty sure that Panayioti picked up on all these negative vibes and was rambunctious and hyper on purpose! 

On the ride back home hubby was certain that the other dad didn’t show up not because of work but because he didn’t want to show up. And I thought about our awkward and sort of stressful playdate and I realized that maybe he was right. I mean, we’re sort of autism newbies, but I have yet to meet an autism dad. It’s all about the moms. Where are the dads hiding? 

Did I mention I started working?

Oh it’s not anything grand, or special, or super wow, or anything really fancy but in this day n’ age, and in this economic crisis, it’s sort of like a miracle really. There is so much competition out there, so many people vying for a job, any job, some people with degrees and a lot of people without degrees and lots of single women without ‘strings’ which in Greece means kids and husbands to take care of. But here I am, almost 35, with two kids, one of which is special needs (which I mentioned in my third interview – mostly because I was sort of fed up to be called in for yet another interview and kinda wanted to push their buttons) and a husband to take care of. I need the money bad though, we all do. Who doesn’t need money, right? Only if you live in some sort of bubble can you not be in need of cash right now, especially in Greece. And I’ve been sort of lucky this year. Yeah I was broke a lot of times and borrowed money, mostly from my sis-in-law whom I always paid back, who’s got tons and probably is one of the very very few people not affected by the crisis thanks to her shrewd money-saving skills from a little girl basically, but I’ve been lucky, way lucky. I still went out with my kids, I still bought them stuff, and managed to fulfill my Sephora addiction to high-priced creams, perfumes and lipsticks, I still kept my monthly manicure/pedicre appointment, we still went out for dinner and ordered out and stuff. We still made it this year on one income alone and didn’t touch any of our savings, what with all the therapies Panayioti has going on. I mean, we took OT to once a week instead of two and I was his OT at home, basically doing his therapies for 1 1/2 hours every day to make up for that but nothing changed in Panayioti in a bad way. He didn’t regress. If anything, he improved. So, mommy not working and not having tons of money didn’t affect my kids. Husband whined a bit though, because he hates being late in paying our maintenance bill lest the superintendent sees us in the hall or at the entrance and makes some sort of embarassing comment like “when are you going to pay your bills?” and stuff. But, oh well, we’re two months behind in that. And Eurobank keeps badgering me ’cause I haven’t paid my credit cards since January. Again, oh well 🙂 These things don’t affect me. I probably wouldn’t have paid even if I did have a job. But I do now. So maybe I will go in when I get paid at the end of the month and give something their way. But mostly my first month’s pay is going to go to P’s school which I’m behind in, for the first time mind you, and maybe buy a new dress for work 🙂 I’m nervous though to be working full-time and not seeing my kids as much and trying to be perfect at everything but I’m giving it my all because I want to impress my boss and prove that I can make it even with all my ‘strings’. Just once this week my flight instinct kicked in and I wanted to make a run for it during my lunch break. I kept thinking: what would happen if I just took the Metro home right now, right in the middle of my working day? The old Georgia, no strings attached Georgia, would so do it. Especially on Thursday when, without any training whatsoever, I was asked to do things, draw up documents that I had no idea as to how to even begin constructing. I told hubby this and he just looked at me like he didn’t recognize me. “You can’t quit”, he says to me. “You have kids”. So that’s it basically. I got a job and I should be happy and grateful, which I am because it’s a really nice job, no heavy lifting or serving. A nice office job for some high-profile people, that pays well considering we’re right smack in the middle of a recession/depression. I am super lucky, indeed.

The Birthday Party.

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Last year’s birthday party was a sort of bonanza. A friend of mine even called it a ‘gala’. There was catering, there was a huge birthday cake, there was a photographer, we were dressed to the nines, I even sent out invitations and invited about 30 of our closest friends and family all with NT […]

The Birthday Cake

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For this cake I used a cupcake recipe that I have and just doubled the ingredients. It came out super moist and delicious!! I am definitely making this again 🙂

For the cake:
1 1/2 C. self raising flour
1 1/4 C. flour
1 C. unsalted butter
2 C. sugar
4 large eggs
1 C. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift the dry ingredients in one bowl. Then in another bowl mix sugar and butter. Slowly add in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture last and the key is not to overbeat. I lined a 9′ pan with parchment paper and baked for 30 minutes at 180 d/C oven.

For the icing:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 box confectioner’s sugar
2 – 3 tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

The best birthday cake I’ve made so far 🙂 After I let the cake cool completely I used this new ‘thing’ I bought from Cook Shop that cuts cakes in half perfectly and spread the icing in the middle, put the other half on top and finished off with the rest of icing all over the cake. I lined with about 12 Kitkats and 2 bags of M&Ms and it was good to go! The kiddos loved it!!