Monday, June 11, 2012

Who says you can't go home again?

 I grew up in Astoria, Queens. Well at least until we moved to Long Island. Astoria is a predominately Greek neighborhood, although when I was growing up, our block had many ethnic backgrounds. My grandparents were from Canada, our next door neighbors were from Italy, and the people across the street were from Greece. My parents bought a house in Hauppauge Long Island and we moved out of Astoria when I was 9 years old. We always went back to Astoria to visit family! Then, after a year at a local community college, I transferred to a City University in Manhattan. I went to live in my grandparent's house that was now my Aunt's home. Back in Astoria! I think I ate souvlaki once a week.....LOVED the tzatziki sauce, the homemade grilled pita breads, and most greek food. I am not a huge fan of Feta cheese although in small amounts I deal well with it.  I havent been back to Astoria for some Greek food in a long time, and not sure I want to ruin my memories. Sometimes we remember things far better than they really were OR they dont seem to live up to our memory. I make a great tzatziki sauce and we often have grilled chicken souvlaki and greek salads here at home. While food shopping this week, I came back to some memories of youth.  I have alot of amazing memories of my childhood and alot of them food related. Tonite we go home to Astoria or Little Athens and remember my childhood growing up there.
 Being a trained Chef, one of my downfalls as some people see it, is that I do most of my food prep in the mornings. I like being prepared early! So at 9am this morning, I made my Tzatziki Sauce with fresh dill from my garden, prepared the chicken for the grill, prepared the salad all but the feta cheese, made some homemade redwine vinaigrette with fresh oregano from my garden, and sliced the raw onion for the souvlaki.
Chef Michele's Easy Tzatziki
1 small container of greek nonfat plain yogurt

1/3 english cuke – seeded and chopped in food processor
Juice of ¼ lemon
Drizzle of olive oil
1 tbs chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. I usually make this in the morning so the ingredients can really marry well. Serve over grilled chicken, pork, or lamb……or use for dipping veggies or toasted pita triangles. YUM!!
Mom ate dinner tonite, and couldnt stop Mmmm'ing! She said the tzatziki was as good as any Greek restaurant. She even asked if I remembered going to the little greek stand at the flea market when we were kids. I sat at the table and said " I should thank you and Daddy. ( my father past away when I was 13 ) She looked at me quizzically and asked why. My response was because I was sooo grateful to be introduced to so many different and ethnic foods as a child. That alot of parents dont do that. Some of my best friends and even some younger generation family members are not exposed to the kinds of foods I was as a kid. I think a part of that may have been from being born and living in the city for alot of my life AND the diversity of my parents and what they introduced us to. Tonite's supper brought me back to my childhood and my college days. I know we werent the norm, people cower when I tell them my birthday meal was Calves liver with bacon and onions, a baked potato and asparagus or wax beans. Thanks Mom for cooking some ODD foods and thanks Dad for asking for them! I love going home again!!

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