If you haven’t figured it out, I’m part Greek. My great grandfather moved to America when he was 17, settled down in central Pennsylvania, and ran a shoe repair shop until his death in 1966. I never met him, but I also can’t help but be proud of my Greek heritage.
Food remains the one Greek tradition that trickled down through my family. We lost my grandfather’s original recipes but continue to make Greek-inspired dishes all year round, with feta, pita, and Kalamata olives serving as household staples.
For Christmas specifically, we make baklava. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert comprised of three main ingredients — phyllo dough, walnuts, and honey. It’s a sweet, sticky, light, and crispy treat, perfect with a cup of tea by the fire.
Baklava Syrup Ingredients:
- 2 cups honey
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and let cool.
My family is Greek and Italian, therefore Mediterranean flavors are in our blood. The specific ingredient that my clan can’t get enough of is the modest tomato.
My dad is a huge tomato gardener, and has spent the past 22 years (that’s only as long as I can vouch for) perfecting the heavenly fruit — remember, tomatoes are fruits not vegetables.
I vote his Cherokee purple heirlooms best in show, but all of his varieties are delicious. So delicious, in fact, that cooking them down into a sauce or smothering them over a pizza is a waste. The only way to truly understand the perfection known as my father’s tomatoes is to enjoy them in simple form.
I’m partial to housing them down with just a sprinkle of salt, but here’s a recipe that everyone can love (even if you don’t have access to my father’s tomatoes — although he does handout seedling like frozen yogurt samples).
I just returned from an amazing two week trip to Greece with my family! My mom’s part Greek, so it was fun to visit the home of our ancestors.
We spent four days in Athens, but the bulk of the trip took place on the island of Crete.
Crete is the largest Greek island and a perfect combination of the beach and the country.
My favorite part about Crete was the food. Cretian food consists of seasonal vegetables, fresh cheeses, perfectly stewed meats and of course, olive oil.
My mom is an olive oil addict, which means I am too. It’s our go-to oil for cooking and eating. Due to this olive oil obsession, my family toured a traditional Cretian olive oil factory, named Biolea.
Crete produces 30 percent of all of the olive oil produced in Greece and five percent of the worlds olive oil. There’s no place better in the world to learn about olive oil.
Biolea is an organic, family-run olive oil factory that is one of the few left in Crete that is making olive oil the traditional way. Most of the olive oil we eat comes from large industrial factories, whose main goal is quantity not quality.