Monday, July 9, 2012

SAVORING FOLEGANDROS


Last August, we found out my mom had breast cancer. Before her surgery and final prognosis, we didn’t know how bad things were, and even if she’d survive. Deep fear grabbed us. As mom and I went from one doctor’s appointment to another, we made a pact to go on a real trip together when she got well. Spending time in an exotic land sounded much more appealing than our stressful adventures in the world of cancer. With this future plan, we declared our optimism.

Mom has been heroic in her healing over the past 11 months and we all feel damned lucky to now find ourselves here in Greece together. Today as she lay on the shore of our favorite rocky cove, she said “This is good for the soul.” I know. The water, air, sun, peace, family time, and simplicity of it all.

We are back on our favorite island in the Aegean, Folegandros. This is the same quiet spot P and I first visited on our honeymoon, and some of you might remember these photos from the time we spent here last year. In Folegandros, people smile and say hello as they stroll through the car-less narrow streets of the old town, which teeters along the edge of an epic cliff. There are no big ads or much commercialism here. Signs are hand painted wood. Tiny bars serve delectable ice cappuccinos. Kids sell rocks in the town square.



Every day we walk an hour to the beach (Mom's health routine motivates those us with lazier tendencies.) We wander past stone walls and thistles, donkeys and sporadic fig trees. Then a plunge into the salty sea. The kids, and P too, hurl themselves off high rocks into the cool water. We all ooh and ahh about the beauty of each stripy pebble on the beach as we find our Northern California pallor being deeply warmed by the Mediterranean sun.



Our lunch spot is always the same -we are the kind of travelers who stick with a good thing when they find it. Our feet are sandy, and our swimsuits wet as we take a seat at our favorite taverna. Lilah’s carnivorous tendencies seem to be at their height here in Greece and she always orders a heaping plate of lamb stewed in olive oil, tomatoes, and onions. The rest of us devour Greek Salads loaded with ripe tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, tangy onion slivers, sunny yellow peppers, the creamiest local goat cheese, and a generous dousing of olive oil. I’m sure there could be new deliciousness to discover, but these Greek Salads feel just right. And this time is all about simple pleasures, right?

GREEK SALAD
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into bite-sided wedges
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored and sliced
  • 6 Kalamata olives
  • 1/2- 1 cup creamy feta
  • a good pinch of dried oregano
  • nice quality olive oil
  • sea salt 
  • optional: a teaspoon of capers 
Place all chopped veggies in a bowl. Top with olives, a big heap of feta, and a drizzle of olive oil. Pass a jar of extra olive oil and some salt around the table so everyone can season to her liking.



makes 2 generous servings

65 comments:

  1. A fabulous place and delicious salad!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. So true Rosa. Why mess with a classic when it is so good. I think I am going for a world record of the most Greek Salads consumed in 3 weeks. I cannot seem to get enough;)

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  3. Erin, what a beautiful place to spend time with your family. I was wondering with the first picture if that was your mother - how wonderful that she could come with you! It's good to hear that she is doing so well... I'm sure the scenery can only help her health:)

    So funny how you've written about rocks here;) Keep enjoying your vacation! xo

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    1. Emma, we both have rocks on the brain, don't we:) No agates herein Folegandros, but all the different stones are stunning. We have a hard time not wanting to collect them all. And the rock walls are something else.
      Yep, that's my mamma in the first photo. Having all this slow time with her is unbeatable.
      xxoo to you,
      E

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  4. Oh, my home, Greece! I love Folegandros. It's one of those islands that's not so well known to tourists (you discovered it!). It's a place where Greeks go for vacation, especially couples. Your photographs are beautiful!
    Have a wonderful time and I wish your mother all the best! Greece can be a healing country, especially the sea :)
    Oh and your horiatiki looks great. Good job!!

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    1. Magda, I love your country! I feel so at home here. And Folegandros is as sweet as ever. IT really is romantic. Since we've been here, there have been 6 weddings. I'm encouraging my kids (only 8 and 11 years old now) to get married here someday.
      Thanks for the well wishes for my mom. I think the Greek air, water, peace and kindness are working wonders.
      xo
      E

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  5. Beautiful photos and such heartfelt words. It's so important to cherish life, to enjoy the small things and be thankful for everything we have.

    Greek salad is one of my favourite holiday dishes - so simple, fresh and evocative of hot summer sun and happy times :-)

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    1. Thelittleloaf, thanks! I am soaking up every minute of this peaceful island and the time with my mom and family.
      And the Greek Salads are making all of our bellies happy. I occasionally make a Greek Salad at home and I think I need to do so more often. They are so satisfying.
      xo

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  6. Gorgeous post. Beautiful to be able to spend time with your Mom, I wish her continued perfect health. I love Greece, the food and the culture :)

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    1. Sunchowder, thanks for your kindness and well wishes for my mom - much appreciated.

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  7. These photos are lovely! I truly love the one of your mom but the one of your son is stunning. You just captured a true moment perfectly- no posing just being.

    What a beautiful place!

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  8. Cred, I'm so touched by your comment. Nothing fancy going on around here - just simple lazy joy. I feel lucky.

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  9. What a truly special time for you to be with your Mom! It is moments like these, that we sit back and realize how precious life really is. Glad that you can get some time away. I have not been to Greece in many years, but I do fondly remember having greek salads on a daily basis. Yours looks supreme and just how I remembered them. Enjoy!!

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    1. Lisa, I feel so lucky that mom is thriving and we are getting this time in Greece.
      I love to hear how you and some of the others have your own great memories of this place. I love it here.
      xoE

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  10. Erin! How lovely to read your post! We just finished a two week trip with Keith's parents, siblings and kids (15 of us!) in Italy, and a final week in an agriturismo in sleepy Massa Marittima, just the four of us, relaxing, wandering, sketching, swimming, and eating. It really is a gift to spend this much blissful quality time together. We'll be back in Berkeley tomorrow, and I can't wait to pick up some farmer's market tomatoes and mozzarella di bufalo to drizzle with Tuscan olive oil for my own Caprese salad at home.

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    1. Marites, I saw some of your awesome Italy photos on Facebook. It looks like you guys had a dreamy trip. Wow 15 of you! That makes our family posse look tiny.
      Massa Maritima sounds fascinating. I hope to hear more.
      And yes, Capreses... yum! I tried to get my fill when we were in Capri, but I never seem to tire of them. Luckily all the tomatoes are just getting perfect back home, right?
      xxxooo
      E

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  11. What fabulous pictures! I'm glad your mom is doing better .. . and that you can spend some quality time together! That is something you will never regret. (speaking as someone who just lost a very close friend to cancer) I love Greek food, but have never had authentic Greek food I don't think! Looks delish!!

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    1. Jane, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Thank you for the sweet words about my mom - I feel so lucky.
      xo
      E

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  12. How wonderful that you and your mom get to celebrate her recovery in Greece! Your photos are so beautiful, and I see that refreshing Greek salad too. This year I celebrated 10 years in remission from leukemia, and it's true, the simple pleasures are the ones I savor the most: holding my husband's hand, enjoying the sun on my shoulders, and even a fresh salad. I wish your mom all the best!

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    1. Jess, wow 10 years of remission from leukemia. I had no idea. My mom and other cancer survivors I've talked to say how totally changed they are by the disease. Just as you beautifully described, they too seem to savor those simple pleasures that we can so easily take for granted.

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  13. Now that's an authentic Greek Salad! Love the herbs on the feta. :)

    I'm so glad you were able to have this fabulous trip together. It just shows how far your mom (and the family) has come through all of this. I too have a parent who beat cancer and it's one of the hardest things for a family to deal with, but the end accomplishment (strength, togetherness, support) outweighs any of the previous struggles. Did you experience that?

    xo,
    Christina

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    1. Christina Marie, We totally experience what you described. Even just taking uninterrupted time together during the height of mom's cancer struggle meant so much to us. And now to see her well, it's an unbeatable feeling.
      xo

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  14. I'm so glad your mom is doing well, and you are in a perfect spot for healing and regaining energy.
    It's been a while since my last trip to Greece but I still remember its beauty and simplicity... and fantastic food...

    all the best to you and your beautiful family,

    m.

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    1. Thanks Monika, we are so relieved that mom is doing well. And Greece is working it's magic on all of us.You've got to come back some day. I can only imagine the pix you'd take!
      xo
      E

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  15. What a wonderful post, a wonderful trip, and a wonderful time...with your dear Mom. The salad looks delicious and perfect for our efforts to get off so many carbs. I absolutely love travel photography so thank you for whisking me off today to a Greek Island!

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    1. My pleasure to bring you along for a little journey;) I feel the same way about your travel posts. A little escape is always fun.
      We didn't make it to Ireland this year, but Greece is treating us right.
      xo
      E

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  16. AnonymousJuly 09, 2012

    I just made a this salad! I used dill instead of thyme, do they have dill on the Greek islands? Lamb stew sounds wonderful as well. Any recipes for that dish? Beautiful pictures. I love the chalky grey of the rocks, contrasted by the auqua water and white buildings. Lovely!

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    1. Oh I bet the dill was great. They do use quite a bit of dill here, though not that I've ever seen in the Greek Islands. They make artichokes with dill and of course tzatsiki is packed with dill. Yum!
      I don't have a recipe for the lamb, but seeing how much Lilah loved the stuff, I'll need to do some experimenting when I get to my home kitchen.

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  17. The pictures are stunning as your talent shows. Love the one of your mom and what beautiful kids and lovely area. That wall is tremendous isn't it? Looks like a spectacular place. Enjoy your mom and the holiday. I always feel like I am with you when you post pictures and feelings. Love that. This way I get to travel too...but in my head. I need to go make salad.

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    1. Oh my Oli, what a sweet comment. I'm completely touched. Thank you. xoE

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  18. Mouth watering and beautiful! I soooooooo love seeing your mom on the beach - make MY soul feel happy. and Otis is the most gorgeously handsome boy! We also need Lilah's lamb recipe when you can get to it. I've never wanted to go to Greece, but now I do.... Love to you all!

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    1. Thank you! Doesn't mom look peaceful? It makes my soul happy too. xxoo
      E

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  19. Sounds like a wonderful trip with you mom. Absolutely love the first photo Erin. That's your Mom, I guess.

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    1. Yep Kankana, that's my mom soaking up the sun. She's watching Otis and Lilah scampering on the rocks. Good stuff! xoE

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  20. I knew you were going through something last summer but I didn't know what it was. What an awful thing to go through; I'm so glad you're having tranquility and time together now!

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    1. Thanks Sarah. It was an extremely intense and scary time last fall. I didn't want to infringe on mom's privacy by sharing too much, but now that she's well, I feel thrilled to openly celebrate her health!

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  21. What a journey you and your Mom have been on. So glad to hear she's on the mend and that the two of you got to spend some much needed relaxation in such a tranquil spot.

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    1. Carolyn, Thanks! Tranquility is seriously good medicine:)
      xo
      E

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  22. This post is absolutely gorgeous. Holidays are definitely good for the soul - especially with the sunshine and water. Very jealous - it's very grey and rainy here. Though you still have to come and visit soon! Anyway, keep having a wonderful time and love to you all.

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    1. Emma, having all this time with my mom makes me think of you and your mom. We are lucky to be such friends with our mothers!
      I hope you are settling into your new house - so exciting:)
      xo
      E

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  23. Your photos have fired up the wanderlust in me. We visited a few of the Greek Islands on a cruise a couple of years ago and I have been dying to go back every since. Your holiday sounds and looks like something out of a fairy tale. Absolutely lovely!

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    1. Candy, travel really is magic. I'm glad to inspire the wanderlust in you:)

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  24. Oh that is so sweet, and so wonderful, that you & your mom were able to go to Greece together. You have your priorities right, how priceless! And of course, beautiful pics as usual.
    -sarah @ two tarts

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I'm soaking up this place and all the sweet time with my mom.xxoo

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  25. So happy to hear that your mother is recovering well. Enjoy your time with your family, it looks like a wonderful trip!

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    1. Thanks so much Kathryne!

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  26. I'm really glad to know your mom is doing well. What a perfect get-away, beautiful post and gorgeous pictures!
    Hugs

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    1. You can't imagine how glad we all are too:) Thanks for your sweet words. xxoo

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  27. This post truly touched me, Erin. I'm really close with my mom and just had a great trip to London with her. Thanks for reminding me to really realize how special and important that time together is. I'm so glad your mom is doing OK and the pictures really show how gorgeous Greece is!

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    1. Denise, I'm so glad to hear you just got some time with your mom too. It's so easy to get too busy isn't it? My mom lives only a hour away from me and we can go more than a month without seeing each other. It seems funny that we need to fly across the world to spend all this time together - I guess it's all this distraction-free time that feels especially sweet.

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  28. Greek salad in Greese tastes so much different. Their vegetables raise in the sun and taste just amazing. Feta is unique as well. I've been in Greece a couple of times and I love the food over there. You're so lucky!

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    1. Marta, so true! Things do taste different depending on where you eat them. I agree that it's the land that grows the food, and I also wonder if it's the smell, feel and light that impacts the flavor as well. If we are hearing someone speaking Greek as we eat a Greek Salad does it taste different from when we eat it in our home kitchen? I've been thinking a lot about this lately:)

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  29. atmoseatsJuly 15, 2012

    I have long admired your photos of food. They are so luscious and inviting. But when I see your pictures of people, what I learn is that it is really love that you convey with your camera. Thank you.

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    1. Atmosteats, you are too kind to me. Thank you. xxoo

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  30. Beautiful post, Erin. I am so glad your mother is doing better, and I applaud your whole family for doing the right thing; that is, taking a special vacation together, somewhere truly singular that you will always remember. It's so easy to forget how little time we get here in this world, and savoring the what one often refers to as the "basics" is truly a beautiful thing.

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    1. Thanks for your note Julia. I'm so grateful for this super slow time with mom ( and of course P and the kids too). We leave Greece today and I'm trying absorb as much of this place and time. It has been dreamy. xxoo

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  31. What a beautiful post Erin. I'm so glad to hear your Mum is doing well. My Grandmother was diagnosed about 18 months ago, and while she's been in remission she's been up and down as a result of complications from the treatment and has only recently been released from hospital again. It's when things like this that happen to the ones you love it really makes you appreciate every moment. Thank you for sharing your beautiful images, Greece is definitely on my list of places to visit one day. It looks so serenely beautiful.

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    1. Oh Jennifer, I wish your grandmother good health. Dealing with doctors and hospitals is so hard on everyone and when complications happen, it is beyond scary. Sending good thoughts to you and your grandma. xxoo

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  32. This vacation sounds so special. So glad that your mom is there with you!!

    Beautiful photos as always, I especially love the ones of your kids.

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    1. Stephanie, It is so amazing to get this time with my mom. We haven't been on such a trip since I was a teenager!
      I hope summer is treating you well! xxoo
      E

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  33. What a beautiful way to celebrate your mother's recovery, and what a cliff! I've been addicted to Greek salads this summer, but I bet they're far better in Greece enjoyed in a wet bathing suit with sand on your feet. Enjoy!

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    1. Lisa, isn't that cliff amazing. The rocks mesmerized me every day with their variety of colors and textures. Wow!
      After nearly three weeks of Greek Salads I never did get sick of them. When I get back to Berkeley in a few days, I think I'll go ahead make more - it's the best time for tomatoes!! But I will miss the wet bathing suit and sandy feet:)
      xxoo

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  34. What a lovely way to spend time with your mother. There truly is nothing better than a return to life's simple pleasures -- and a refreshing Greek salad. xo

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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