a true thirty minute recipe…

This is my plate of makarOnia me kaftO vOUtiro that I made last night.  Well, I must confess… I didn’t eat the entire plate.  And, I had to make a separate version for JJ, but more about that later. 

All this to say – this is, in my estimation, the best “less than 30 minute” recipe that one can have in their arsenal.  So, I’d like to share it with you.  I don’t want to turn you off, but the Greek literal translation is “macaroni with burnt butter”.  However, read on… if you like butter and cheese, you’ll love this.   And it’s quick and cheap. 


1.  Get out your favourite Greek cooking beverage before you start, as you might get thirsty.  Here are my recommendations: 

Lux orangeade and/or Lux sour cherry pop.  However, you can divert from this instruction and pick your own beverage, such as this one:

2.  Put on a large pot to boil water for pasta, then find your pasta:

(Note: you don’t need this yuppified pasta to make the recipe with success.  However, as much as I rail against consumerism, I do love my Italian pasta.  This one is called “spaghetti alla chitarra”, meaning “spaghetti guitar-style” – meaning that it was double length spaghetti and was bent in the bottom of the package.  I, of course, broke it in half.  Go figure.)

For this purpose, use 250g (just under 8 oz) for two people or 500 g (just over a pound) for four. 

3.  When you have put your pasta in the boiling water (with lots of salt, and without any oil – you don’t need oil in the boiling water as long as you give the pasta a good stir while it is still boiling), get out 1/2 pound of butter (or 1/4 pound if you are making the recipe for two people). 

You can use either salted or unsalted butter – but if you’re not a salt addict like me, think about buying the unsalted.

Put the butter in a heavy saucepan as you see above, on low.   

4.  Grate some cheese to put on the pasta. 

You can use any grating cheese for this, to your taste – parmesan, romano, etc.  However, if you want to be authentically Greek, try to get your hands on some dry mizithra.

You can find this at most Greek stores, and I imagine you could find something similar at any Middle Eastern shop.  It is a dry version of ricotta cheese made with sheep’s milk.  The closest easily available equivalent is romano cheese, but romano is a bit more tangy tasting.  Still guid, though. 

Anyway, grate up a bunch of your cheese – this is about the right amount:

Let’s say 120 g/4 oz worth. 

5.  By the time you’ve grated your cheese, the butter should be getting along.  It takes about 10 minutes over low heat to get to the “burnt” stage.  First, it will start foaming and look like this:

Then, it will start even more foam and look something like this.

Don’t get scared – let it foam.  It needs to start looking something like this in order to be ready:

When you see the browned bits start to appear at the top with heavy foam, take it off the heat. 

6.  Drain your pasta (which, by now, has cooked).  Put a bunch of the cheese on the bottom of a big serving plate.  Grate some nutmeg over it:

…not very much, four or five gratings worth will do.  Put some of your hot pasta over all of that. Repeat cheese/nutmeg/pasta until you’ve run out. 

7.  Pour over all of the brown butter, mix a bit and serve.  Make sure you have some of this on the side, though:

Easy as pie!!!

Except, of course, that JJ had to complicate my recipe because today one of his girlfriends on the Food Network did spaghetti with burnt butter and a twist:

That recipe also included this:

… and this was the end result:

Not too bad either, if you can ignore the baguette buttered with margarine on the side (this being a very odd household, I bring in butter as needed and typically only for burnt butter spaghetti!)

The recipe for the variation: 

– 4 T burned butter, as above. 

– 1 heaping T balsamic vinegar. 

– parmesan cheese to taste. 

It was also quite lovely, I must admit.  However, being Greek, only the original spaghetti with burnt butter recipe will do. 

Anyway, try either of the recipes.  You won’t regret it.  I’ve put many people here onto the Greek burnt butter one and they have cursed me afterward because they are now eating too much.  Always a good sign for a little Greek Canajan like me!

Happy weekend!


The best greek village salad recipe ever… and cross-stitch!


I wanted to share with you all a recipe which you should try if you like Greek salad.  I know there are millions floating around out there – but this is the best.  My cousin G. reminded me of it quite recently.  Actually, this is always how I’ve made “village” salad but I’ve diverted of late to the Nigella Lawson watermelon version. So, G., thanks for the reminder!

Here’s G’s version of the famous salad:

… whenever I make greek salad (the authentic Horiatiki kind with just tomatos, onion, cucumber, green pepper (sometimes), feta and olives with lots of oregano) I always make it as your Dad taught me.  Make sure the veggies are a room temperature and put salt on the tomatos and let them sit of 5 minutes or so before you put the olive oil on.  That way they release their juice and the “sauce” that is left after the salad is eaten is the greatest thing in the world to dip bread into.

I have only the following to add: do not use any vinegar on this version.  It’s not needed because the liquid that comes from the tomatoes provides the acid.  Most greek salad recipes call for an olive oil and wine vinegar dressing, but this is over the top if you just let the tomatoes sit for a few minutes as G. says.

And if you don’t believe me, these guys give the salad two thumbs up!

I feel I should sign off on a crafty note because I’ve been derelict on that front of late. When researching photos for this post I came across this snazzy one from a tote bag:


Now, if anyone comes across a pattern like this, please do let me know ASAP because I would take up cross-stitch again if I had something like this in hand.  This, by the way, is saying a lot – given that at the age of 37… oops 38 … I blame the fact that I need bifocals on this little piece that I made for my mother one Christmas:

Let me just say that it was actually a LOT bigger that this photo will belie, and that the canvas was not preprinted. She ended up getting it for her birthday in June the following year.  And now I’m half blind.  So, Mom, this is the evidence that I do really love you.  

I should just, instead, have stuck with something like the minimalist art that my brother V. had come up with some years previously:


But no.  Instead, I turned myself off cross-stitch forever – aside from a little piece that I made for Holly the Zombie Fighter Extraordinaire a while back:


Now, when Takis

saw the zombie hankie, he started to give me a speech about proper Greek female behaviour. 

However, his wife Spiroula’s feedback?

She said “You go, girl!!!” with a strong grik accent. Or rather, “gggheeeeeiou ggggo, gkerrrrl!”

I think that this is enough rambling for now.  In observance of the Labour Day weekend, I will not be posting this Friday or on Monday.  So – see you Tuesday!

social responsibility and … booze?

Well, summer has arrived!!!

How do I know? Because the LCBO has come out with its early summer issue of the Food and Drink magazine!

Now, this has got to be the best free mag going! Not only does it have lots of free yummy recipes:

(A note: if you’re trying to diet, never, ever look at this magazine. Although the photos look so good that you could probably end up eating the paper they’re printed on…)

…but also lots of important lifestyle tips. I mean, I don’t know how much longer I can survive without buying some chocolate covered sunflower seeds:

…Dufflet chocolate bark:

…or a $32.00 lemon juicer!

(But here, gentle reader, I must confess that I actually now own one of these. In my defence, JJ bought it for me as a gift, knowing how much I love lemon, and it cost quite a bit less than $32.00 where he got it.)

And, here’s the perfect hostess gift for the next time you need one: a “chip ‘n dip” set

Only $240.00!! (Hmmm… how many bags of chips could I actually buy with that, though – and hey, they taste the same coming right out of the bag, no?).

Now, the only reason that the LCBO can actually offer this mag for free (which, by the way, has in past inspired a complaint to the Ombudsman from companies which actually sell their magazines) is that it is government controlled.

That’s right, folks – here in Ontario the government sells us our liquor. At a premium, of course.

What cheeses me off more though of late is that we’re also paying to get lectured while buying booze these days. For example, the LCBO used to have plastic bags like this:

Now, let me tell you, these bags were famous. They were the best plastic bags ever. This was the topic of many of those banal smoking area or elevator chats. Seriously. You could have a whole five minute conversation on “Don’t the LCBO have the best bags?”. I even know one landlord rep who used them as briefcases!

Well, alas, no more. Seemingly overnight, they discontinued the plastic bags in order to save the environment. So, instead, you can get either a free (paper) bag – great if you’ve driven in your gaz guzzling SUV to the liquor store, not so great if you are walking any distance – or, you can have one of these “enviro-bags”:

…which costs $1.95.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a good idea to do away with plastic bags. However, because they didn’t bother to announce that they were doing this but landed it on us, I was actually forced to buy one of their bags when I stopped in on the way home from work one day.

But then perhaps whinging like this is not socially responsible of me. As a consumer, however, I’m just getting tired of corporations taking the moral high ground, lecturing me about my (lack of) commitment to the environment, then turning a profit from it.

It strikes me that if the LCBO were really serious about encouraging people to use these bags (rather than paper, which as I understand it, involves trees being cut down), they would sell them at cost. And although I don’t know for certain I would venture to say that the LCBO does not itself pay $1.95 for each bag.

I mean, it’s not as though they’re hurting any!

The LCBO transferred a record $1.275-billion dividend, not including taxes, to the Ontario government in fiscal 2006-07. It is the 13th straight year the LCBO has increased its dividend to the province and the fourth consecutive year the dividend has topped $1 billion.

I’d love to know how much of next year’s billion plus “dividend” (is this a fancy word for “profit”?) relates to the sale of enviro-bags, myself.

And is it “socially responsible”, pray tell, to hawk $240 chip bowls rather than encouraging people to donate that kind of money to – oh, I don’t know – Mothers Against Drunk Driving, perhaps?!



Don’ts for Wives

It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday
and I do not have to work
so here I sit, smoking cigs and s**t,
and fig’ring what duties to shirk…
(apologies to Simon and Garfunkel)

So, what can I do instead of getting out my steamshovel and clearing away all the crap currently filling my apartment? I promised myself I wouldn’t knit anything until at least the living room and spare room were done…

I know – I could read. That’s educational, anyway.

This should be fun. Let’s have a look:

From the intro:

Art is a hard mistress, and there is no art quite so hard as being a wife.

Damn tootin’!

Moving along to the main text:

Don’t worry about little faults in your husband which merely amused you in your lover. If they were not important then, they are not important now…

Faults? Hmm… such as bugging me to comb my hair all the time? Wanting to be given a medal for washing the dishes? Never throwing out an empty toilet paper roll? who says those aren’t important?!?!?

…besides, how about yours?

Mine?!? My faults? I don’t have any faults!!

Hmm… on second thought… hey, how do you like my loud hawaiian-style elephant shirt, anyway?

Scored it in Thrift Villa in Parkdale some time back for $5! Not really something a housewife in 1913 would have worn, though, I guess…

But I digress. Back to my reading.

Don’t live on top of a spiritual mountain. Try to be “a creature/not too bright and good/for human nature’s daily food”.

What?!? That doesn’t even rhyme? What the hell is this supposed to mean? I’m confused. But then I don’t live on top of a spiritual mountain, so I guess I don’t have to worry about it.

Let him be as messy as he likes in his own home…

Sure… that is, until I get tired of it and throw away all of his “important paperwork” that he keeps hoarding (junk mail, old newspapers, etc.) later today.

Don’t spend half the morning in bed because “there is not enough to get up for”. The day is not long enough to do all of the things you might do if you liked.

Oh – such as cleaning up after your husband?!

Anyway, the only reason I sleep in half the morning is that I’m suffering from a bit of the Tenant Advocate cheer the night before. But I guess that wasn’t the housewifely done thing in 1913, either. Good thing the list of tips doesn’t say: “Go out with the Tenant Advocates for several beer and Irish nachos every Friday after work.” I don’t think I could stick to that one.

Don’t greet him at the door with a catalogue of the dreadful crimes committed by servants during the day.

No fear of that. This is the only servant in the house:

Or is that “helpmeet”?

(Don’t feel too sorry for me, though. I think I may have mentioned before that I don’t even know how to operate this iron…and I’ve never quite mastered putting up the ironing board, either. Anyway, substitute “clients” or “boss” [in past!] for “servants” and that is probably a tip I could learn from.)

Don’t object to your husband getting a motor-bicycle; merely insist that he shall buy a sidecar for you at the same time.

Hmm – I wonder how JJ would look in a sidecar? What do you think?

JJ – King of the Household.

Don’t buy expensive food, and have it ruined in the cooking. If your cook isn’t up to French dishes, be satisfied with English ones cooked to perfection.

Well, since I had to let the cook go, the Husband will just have to content himself with this:

At least it fits the “not too expensive” category!

Don’t permit yourself for a single instant that nothing is more annoying to a tired man that the sight of half-finished laundry work. The remotest hint in your home of a “washing day” is like a red rag to a bull.

Bull, indeed. Two answers for that guy:
(a) do it yourself, then; or
(b) drop it off at the Wash n Fold!

Anyway, I think I’ve read enough. Time to get off my lazy @$$ and clean the damn house. I guess I’ve learned something from the book, eh?