Week beginning 21st July 2008
Beating the rising costs of fuel in Crete.
There seems no end to the rising costs of fuel and things are starting to be felt here in Crete too.
We have no gas, so everything is powered with electricity, and we seems to be paying about 100-120 Euros a month. Still quite cheap if you consider there are no other fuel charges (eg a gas bill) and our "Council Tax" is included in the electricity charges.
With summer in full swing the locals are hiding indoors during the day and sitting out at night. The ex-pats are out and about during the day and hiding indoors from the mosquitoes at night.
The only fuel used is for the air conditioning or fans because of the heat. Unless you have solar heating, you will need to pay for hot water too.
Cooking is the biggest problem in the summer, and the best idea is to cook outside. If you have an outside brick oven you're laughing, but even a simple barbecue can provide opportunities for saving fuel costs. The other problem is that using an inside oven in the heat of the summer in Crete can be a very hot thing to do, heating up the house even more that it already is.
You can make cooking outside even more economical by using wood, so you are not buying lots of fuel like charcoal briquettes, which can be costly.
Now the wood you can usually find lying round does not lend itself to grilling because of the smoke, flames and the taste some woods can impart on food.
Instead, try Casseroles
I use an old long handled wok style pan which has a pyrex see-through lid. Pretty sturdy and not cheap, but it cleans up well and does the job. I also use a good pair of thick gardening gloves to help protect hands from the heat.
Any sort of wood will do because you are not grilling. Plenty can be found on the beach and along the road. (Don't pinch someone's stash though – many people collect wood for their stoves all year round and can leave it lying around for collection later).
In the heat of the summer, most wood will light well, but you might need to help things along with newspapers, kindling or even fire lighters or lighter fluid.
Make sure your barbecue is of good quality and away from ignitable ground. Mine is on a stone bed, away from trees and fields, next to a wall.
Get all your ingredients ready first before you light the wood. Unlike a normal BBQ, you won't be waiting for the charcoal to stop burning, you'll be using the heat straight away.
Try this Chicken Casserole. You will need:
Olive oil (generous splash)
2 largish chicken pieces
2 meduim onions, chopped
2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
300 ml white wine
Salt and pepper
Now get started!
Put your gloves on and light your fire. You might need to push the fuel over to one side of the barbecue.
Put the oil in your handled pan and place near the flames, preferably high up.
Be careful! The flames might be quite high. The oil will soon heat up, so put in your chicken pieces and brown quickly.
After the chicken has browned take them out and soften the onion for a minute or two.
Next, throw everything into the pot, season well, and put the lid on. Add a bit of water if necessary.
Try to place near the edge of the fire, because it will be very hot.
Check the pan, and fire, periodically, to make sure it is bubbling away. You might need to add more wood to keep the fires burning.
Everything should be cooked after about 1½ hours. Check the chicken is done by piercing with a skewer. It will be hard to overcook, so long as there is enough fluid.
Serve with a side salad and a generous glass of local white wine!
NEWS FROM CRETE AND GREECE
This news report appeared in the Kathimerini newspaper on July 19th 2008:
" A 36-year-old man from near Kavala in northern Greece was charged with manslaughter through negligence after shooting his 31-year-old brother dead when they were hunting wild boar. The 36-year-old allegedly shot his brother after mistaking him for a boar. The 36-year-old has also been charged with illegally owning and carrying a firearm and hunting out of season."
…and for hunting wild boar where non exist?[Ed]
Another report appeared from the Kathimerini:
" Two men, aged 27 and 28, have been arrested in Thessaloniki on suspicion that they broke into at least 15 church collection boxes and stole 380 euros in cash. The two men allegedly used a technique involving a metal rod and some sticky tape to remove the banknotes from the boxes."
At this time of year, fires are a constant threat and worry for Greeks, and Athenians in particular.
These editorials set the mood (from the Kathimerini):
" Forest fires have become a permanent fixture in everyday life in Greece, and last year the government was incredibly slow in reacting to their destructive force, showing clear signs of organizational weakness. Much has been done to remedy the situation since last summer. One of the most important steps is that the leadership of the competent ministry has been put on 24-hour alert and is in a state of constant readiness."
" The growing desperation with which Athenians watch their surrounding mountains for any sign of smoke is an indication of how degraded life in the capital has become. A year ago, most of the pine and fir forest on Mount Parnitha was destroyed by a fire that started on the other side of the mountain and, through incompetence and mixed signals on the part of the authorities, was allowed to rage out of control. This year, on June 26, a fire broke out in the lush pine forest on the north-eastern slopes of Mount Hymettus, among the last bits of a major reforestry project carried out largely by volunteers after World War II, during which the mountain was denuded by Athenians searching for firewood. "
This from the National News Website in Greece (ERT):
Greece is taking steps to improve road safety:
4,700 Traffic Code Violations
"Some 4,700 Traffic Code violations were confirmed by the 153 Traffic Police patrols dispatched on July 12, 14 and 16 to inspect weather traffic code regulations on use of emergency lane and driving under alcohol influence were observed. From the total number of violations 42 regarded use of emergency lanes, 66 driving under influence of alcohol while the others concerned other regulations of the Traffic code. "
Greece is hotting up and mainland Greeks are on the move for holidays and to escape the mainland heat:
New wave of Vacationer's Exodus
" New wave of July vacationers started this weekend. 100% complement of passengers is reported in train and bus routes. Risen traffic also appears in Piraeus port and the national highway now. In El. Venizelos airport 1.779 arrivals and departures have been scheduled for today and 547 for Sunday. Most popular holiday destinations are Paris, Larnaka, Greece, Heraklion, Rhode and Thessaloniki. In Piraeus port, 31 departures are expected for today, in Rafina 18 and in Lavrio 6. "
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