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22 May

Chrissy grandmaYesterday, this world lost one of the greats: my sassy, vivacious, tough-as-nails Grandma Rita.

Her love of dogs, gambling, and gossip (though she maintained she was merely “sharing information”) are well documented, but my most cherished memories of her will be how much she supported my writing–she read every word I ever published in The Hoya, bought every copy of Newsweek in Sugar Notch the summer I worked there (even when I didn’t have a byline), and always laughed at the jokes no one else found funny on this little blog. Even after I became a nurse and writing was no longer in my career path, there was almost never a phone call that went by without her reminding me, “You are a tremendous writer, you know,” and then, a crescendoing giggle, “And funny as hell.”

She was also the first person outside of the immediate family to meet MrKef, and I’ll always be grateful for how immediately and warmly she embraced him as part of the family. They bonded over paczkis and poodles, and he was an admitted and unabashed favorite of hers.

Here we are on our sort-of-secret first wedding day with her, because I couldn’t imagine getting married without her:

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And while I could go on and on about her, I’ll leave you with this absolutely-typical email she once wrote me, after she saw on the Facebook that I had gone to a shooting range, subject line: Annie Oakley:

chrissy—-so pleased that you have taken up the fine art of target shooting.  I told Jeannie and she was thrilled–she and I in our younger years were on rifle teams we competed every sunday.  Jeannie was a sharpshooter and all the guys wanted her on their team.  she never missed a target…….. she was one lady not to tangle with.  It is a great way to spend a day/////  hope all is well with you….the puppy is teething and driving this ole lady nuts.  To date he has eaten/chewed my new boots , the electric wire on my fan,one of Rose!s throw blankets last night he was very quiet, I was thrilled, after awhile I checked him he had my cell phone, chewed all the leather from the case top and bottom===we checked he did not make any calls.  Have a great day.  Love you                       rita and ryley

Opa Go Bragh– Irish Soda Bread, Greek Style

16 Mar

Today we’re traveling back in time to one of the only recipes that satisfies my Greek and Irish ancestors. A gluten free Irish Soda Bread with Greek yogurt–what could go wrong?

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 c flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten free)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar (I used coconut)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c golden raisins
  • 1.5 c whole milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt (FIBBYDY)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and raisins. In another bowl, whisk together milk and yogurt until fully combined. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir using a wooden spoon until you have a shaggy dough.
  3. Lightly flour your counter or a piece of wax paper, press the dough into a loose ball, and lightly knead the dough for a couple of minutes on your work surface. You want the dough to be pliable and not too sticky. Reform the dough into a ball and throw it on your prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
  4. Find a large mixing bowl that is twice the size of your dough ball and is OVEN PROOF  (I used my large Pyrex mixing bowl– you will know it is oven proof because it will say on the bottom) and place it on top of the dough to help keep dough moist and to avoid burning. Bake for 30 minutes with the bowl covering the dough. Remove the bowl and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.

Quickie 4th of July Recap

8 Jul

Still don’t know what kefi is? A quick glimpse into a kefi-filled holiday weekend with the First Family of the Hudson Valley.

Let’s start with the food:

MamaKef always throws down–this year it was a Mediterranean-inspired BBQ. The best thing about my mom’s hosting skills is that she always make it look SO easy, unlike her daughter who barely showers before guests arrive.

 

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Paula’s famous peanutbutter cake–I really thought about ditching this whole clean-eating thing and sticking my whole face in the cake. Alas, I did not. Maybe she will kindly provide the recipe for us a guestblogger (ahem!)

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A new addition- s’mores bars. Graham cracker crumbs layered with chocolate and marshmallow fluff–MamaKef knows what the eff she’s doing.

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And then there’s the kefi NOS (NOS=Not Otherwise Specified for those of us not into the DSM):

We rang in the birthdays of BFKef, CafeKef, and KPMGKef. CafeKef was a great sport and put up with open flame–truly a life milestone.

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This group of people (minus BFKef) have probably logged nearly 1,000,000 hours in this exact spot since we moved into this house almost *twenty* years ago.

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JetSetKef in his natural habitat.

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Nobody–and I do mean nobody–just sits as well as we do in la familia Kef.

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Greek Easter 2014: Part II

23 Apr

Previously, on Cooking Up Kefi…

JetSet and I were at Grandpa Joe’s house, and the situation was this:

The kitchen was a disaster

IMG_0110My brother and I were getting into all kinds of nose-picking-selfie shenanigans

IMG_0115the Mets were losing, and Grandpa Joe was napping. So… it was pretty much business as usual.           IMG_0120 Somehow, all of this pulled itself together and some Easter miracles occured. Namely:

the spanakopita (recipe later this week), which is always the very first thing we make,

IMG_0117some new lamb keftedes WITH DRIED APRICOTS (recipe also coming this week),

IMG_0121 - Copythe gluten-free picnic pie that was so good I ate it with my non-driving hand the whole way home,

IMG_0122JetSet’s painstaking, time consuming labor of love: eggplant keftedes-cum-casserole,

IMG_0119gluten-free/sugar-free koulourakia,

IMG_0124tsoureki that didn’t quite make it through MixMonster Kef’s crash course + eggs made by my Godmother,

2014-04-20 13.17.47the beet salad to end all beet salads (and finally pictured half-way decently here!),

2014-04-20 13.17.53Francesca’s Orange-Dijon potatoes,

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and Paulatimi’s Five-Ingredient Wonder.2014-04-20 12.58.50

Not bad for two days work, eh?

MamaKef put the finishing touches on her salad

2014-04-20 13.03.34while JetSet poured us mugs of wine.

2014-04-20 13.42.01And then ANOTHER Easter miracle happened– my Aunt said that JetSet “always looks like Justin Timberlake.” Indeed, he has risen.

2014-04-20 13.51.07AND I STILL HAVEN’T TOLD YOU ABOUT THE BAKLAVA!

2014-04-19 17.58.08  IMG_0130Okay so baklava is pretty much always good–it’s flaky dough painted with butter and butter and butter (and then some more butter) and layered with sugar, spices and nuts. How is it possible to improve on such a good thing?

2014-04-20 14.38.52Well, if you use this awesome, creamy honey and finally heed the advice of every Greek on the face of the planet, your results will improve. What advice, you ask? The hot-to-cold principle, which states that if you have hot baklava you must have cold syrup, or vice versa. We did cold syrup to hot baklava (instead of hot syrup AND hot baklava) and the results were stupendous.

How good, you ask?

In case that testimonial isn’t good enough for you, my phenomenal Grandma Rita put it best:

2014-04-20 14.59.52“That’s baklava so good you have to eat the crumbs off your boob!” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: just TRY and tell me your grandma is better than mine. You’re fighting a losing battle there.

We had a stupendous meal full of the two major food groups: laughs and carbs. Grandma Rita made stuffed peppers (very sadly not pictured here) and Aunt Tina supplied the hardboiled eggs. A GREAT time was had by all.

No family gathering is complete with out a selfie– Ellen, you and Lupita have nothing on us!

IMG_0132 - CopySadly, the weekend had to end and I had to leave the la-la land of my family’s loving glow.

JetSet and I took one last photo (this one remiss of spinach and flour) and then I headed off into the sunset.

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This is a record-setting post, so I’ll cut it off here– I had the most delightful weekend with my family. Our Greekness is so very, very much your weakness.

Happy Birthday, MamaKef!

8 Apr

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My mom is the very best and it’s her birthday– that’s really all you need to know. Happy birthday tot he best of the best!

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