Xinohondros- a fermented milk/cereal mixture

The combination of ground cereal grains and milk or yogurt to produce a highly nutritious, storable foodstuff is a common practice among the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.

There are two Cretan variations under this category: xinochondros (sour ground wheat) which is the boiled mixture of fermented goat’s or /and sheep’s milk and “chondros” and galochondros (milk-ground wheat)  which consists of fresh unfermented milk and chondros. Both are usually consumed in the dried form.

Chondros is called the coarsely ground wheat on the islands of Crete, Carpathos and Kythera. According to Geoponika,* in ancient Greek chondros was the dehulled  emmer wheat grain (Triticum dicoccum) that had been  pounded, boiled and gradually mixed with white, fine gypsum and a quarter part of the whitest and finest sand for each part of gypsum ( a practice that contributed to the grain husking). When chondros was all husked, they passed it though a rather coarse sieve. The best was the first-sieved chondros; the third sieved chondros had the worst quality.

The pre-procession of cereals is actually an idea  dating back thousands of years.

The archaeobotanical remains of ground einkorn and barley grain from northern Greece and Santorini indicate that preparations created by parboiling cereals and combinations of ingredients such as cereals and milk go back as early as the third millennium B.C. in northern Greece and mid-second millennium B.C in Santorini. Although the archaeobotanical finds of processed cereals cannot tell us much about the techniques and the recipes involved in their preparation, the description of Geoponika is reminiscent of bulgur preparation.

As I’ve already said,  the cereal grain that is know under the name chondros in Crete, Carpathos and Kythera is simply coarsely cracked wheat. For a very long time it was home produced and in the hands of women, men were not completely excluded from the grinding though. Nowadays, the manual grinding process has been replaced by the mechanical one and women buy chondros from the market. Sometimes bulgur is used instead of cracked wheat.

Chondros is mainly produced using Triticum durum, so in the recipe below I used mavrathera, a local variety of Triticum turgidum subsp. Durum.

HOW TO MAKE XINOCHONDROS

Keep the raw, unpasteurized milk in a room temperature until it begins to turn sour and thick. Stir once or twice per day.

Put the sour milk into a pot. You can use the whey too. Bring to a boil.

Carefully add the ground wheat (in a ratio 1 wheat: 3 ½-4 milk). This is the time to make the sign of cross or blow three times, thus you will bless the xinohondros or  you’ll awake the apotropaic gods. 🙂

Simmer stiring  constantly. When it thickens and spoon stays in the centre of the xinohondros, remove from fire.

 Leave the mixture  to rest overnight and then spread in the form of spoonfuls or  rectangular pieces in the sun to dry. If you will make a large quantity, keep it in a pillowcase or cloth bag.

Xinohondros is made in the summer, when there is enough sun for it to dry out.

Though it  is usually consumed in a dried form, fresh xinohondros has a wonderful taste and can be served for breakfast. Dried xinohondros is found in a myriad of recipes in place of rice. It is  used in soups and stews  or  it is cooked with chicken, or okra, or pork, or  snails, or vegetables, or legumes,  or simply milk.

* Geoponika, edited by Beckh, published in 1895 Leipzig by Τeubner

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DO NOT FORGET THE POOR, THE NEEDY, THE HOMELESS

Half of  Greek population fear that they can wake up homeless next day due to factors beyond their  control.


It’s December 13 and finally the winter is here. No more hot weather and mosquitoes, no more sockless shoes and summer dresses.  However, living in a time that the Greek economy is  sluggish the winter  is our difficult time because we have to spend on heating oil and there are many who cannot not afford it. Today 1 third of the Greeks live with less than 500 euros. Even worse, there are many people among us deprived of a shelter that can protect them.

According to FEANTSA’s (European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless) research data,  the number of street homeless people and those in transitory shelters in the city of Athens is approximately 11.000 (3.000 Greeks and 8.000 foreigners). Of course, one of the effects of the economic crisis is the change of  the profile of the homeless. In the past, they  were mostly people with  alcohol, drug or  psychiatric problems. Today they are immigrants, elderly people and people who have lost their jobs or their housing.

In these harsh economic times, let’s do not forget them.   Instead of having done nothing but feeling  pity for them,  let’s take action!

Seek out organizations that help homeless families.

Volunteer at your local soup kitchen.

Donate your used clothing for redistribution.

Donate children toys for redistribution. The new face of homeless in Greece embodies  poor immigrants, families hit by the economic crisis and single mothers without money for a deposit.  Their children need toys.

Buying a cheese pie, a nutrition bar or a snack for a homeless or making an extra serving of meal and bring it to a street person in your neighbourhood are things that most of us can afford.

Homeless do not need our pity but do need our love and support.

SOUP OF HOPE

chickenchondrossoup

Xinohondros is the Cretan equivalent of trahanas,  made with cracked  wheat (hondros) and sour (xino) sheep’s or goat’s milk.

1 (1,5-2 k.) whole chicken

4 carrots, washed and grated

1 cup of rice

3/4 cup of xinohondros or trahanas

salt and black pepper

lemon juice

a cup of strained yoghurt

Place the chicken in a large pot, cover with water  and bring to a boil. After 10 minutes remove the scum, add the carrots, reduce the  heat, add salt to taste and simmer until the chicken is very tender.

Remove the chicken from the pot, place it in a serving dish and sprinkle it with lemon juice and pepper.

Strain the stock and place it in a clean pot. Bring to a boil, add the rice, add salt and pepper to taste and cook.  When the rice is almost done add the xinohondros. When the xinohondros is tender  beat the yoghurt until creamy and add it to the soup. Stir over a very low heat for 1 minute and serve.

Non profit organizations dedicated to provide  the poor and homeless of Athens with nutritious meals.

City of Athens Homeless Shelter

Klimaka. For details ring +30 210 341 7160.

Hellenic Red Cross

Caritas Athens Refugee Soup Kitchen

First Baptist Church

 

 

 

ΓΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΕΔΩ

AFTER THREE MONTHS….

Four weeks ago, we arrived back in Athens, after being gone for 3 months. This time I’ve brought  several tons of olives and cheeses, herbs, books and I managed to forget half my clothes.
What I miss while here:
The view from my sister’s kitchen window

 

view-from-the-kitchen-window

 

And the view from my balcony

view-from-balcony

 

Writing under the olive tree very early in the morning

under-the-tree

Weekends in Karranou

Wandering around Chania’s old town

chania1

 

 and harbour

old-harbour

 

I miss the sea….

sea

… always the sea.

And I miss the lazy summer noons

The first autumn rain

The smell of the herbs

My mother and my sister

Sunday morning chat over a cup of coffee

 The old women, who brought me food gifts saying: eat, in order to remember Chania.

Knowing that my friends are either a short drive or a phone call away…
…. always my friends.
Yes I miss my summer home.
However, I am back…
I am back in the swing.
But eating with friends lift my spirits. Oh yes, my Athenian friends….

dinner

Apaki is smoked pork meat. Zelokoumpe or zylokoumpi is a goat or sheep cheese.

Vinegar or lemon juice or fig juice is used instead of rennet

Lentils (fakes)

3 cups lentils

6 cups water

½ cup olive oil + 1tbs

1 medium onion chopped

15 baby onions

4 garlic teeth chopped

3 medium green bell peppers cut into pieces

2 tbs tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp grated orange peel

salt and pepper

3 tbs red wine

Rinse the lentils under running water and set aside to drain. Place the peppers and the baby onions in an olive oiled pan and roast them. Place the lentils in a casserole, add the chopped onion, cover with water and cook for 15 minutes. Add peppers and onions into the lentils, stir in the garlic and olive oil, season with salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and add the tomato paste, the bay leaves and the orange peel. Cook until thick (adding some water if necessary). Stir in the wine, remove the bay leaves, season with pepper. Serve hot or cold.

Trahanas

This pasta is one of the many recipes for thrahana that are found in Greece. It is made with flour, leaves of white beat, onion, garlic, leek and white fennel and comes from Chios island.

Stir in 2 cups trahana in 4 cups boiling water, add 2 tbs olive oil and cook about 10 minutes (add more water if necessary, to make a thick soup). Then add ½ cup strained yoghurt, ½ cup crumbled feta cheese and stir. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve.