It's been raining every day for almost two weeks here in Melbourne where we live. We're right in the depths of a miserable winter in our part of the world and I can't wait for it to end. And end it will on August 17 when my partner Tony and I get on a plane to go to Greece for a four week holiday.
Both Tony and I are freelancers working from home – Tony a software developer, me a graphic designer and photographer. Weekends blend into week days and it's rare for us to find time to just relax and hang together.
Tony's always been crazy busy, but for me this is all new. Before I took a redundancy package from my previous employment I was twiddling my thumbs at work. Hence the redundancy package. But since February this year I've been working pretty much every day solid as a freelancer. The jobs just keep coming. But the best thing about working so hard is that it makes me appreciate how important it is to take holidays :)
Tony and I are literally counting down the days before we leave for Greece – only 59 days to go! We will be spending the first two and a half weeks in Limnos at the family house, then a few days in Athens, four nights in Santorini and a couple of nights in Singapore to break up the long flight home.
My dad, his brother George and my aunt Koula will also be staying at the house in Limnos while we're there. It will be lovely to spend time with family and I can't wait to get cooking with Koula again – imagine the material for the blog!
I'm also planning on stocking up on a stack of authentic Greek cookware and utensils while I'm over there and would love some of my Greek readers to advise where I can find these things. Are there any markets or specialty kitchen stores in Athens you can recommend?
So for the next 59 days Tony and I will dream of warm sunny days in Greece as we struggle to keep our extremities thawed. Our house has a rubbish heater and terrible insulation. I'm not kidding when I say I'm wearing a scarf and rug over my legs as I type.
I really struggle with this weather. My Greek body just isn't designed to tolerate the southern hemispheric cold. Even Tony who is of Scottish–German descent hates the cold as much as I do. Every year we go through six months of pain and anguish (yes, that really is how the cold affects us) and keep asking ourselves – why do we live here?
Melbourne is a cultural, arty city with a great cafe and music scene, but the weather for us changes everything. In winter we can't enjoy what Melbourne has to offer because it's so hard for us to venture outside when it's so bitterly cold.
The further north you travel in Australia, the warmer it gets, and we have our sights firmly set on the city of Brisbane in Queensland as our preferred place to live. We've talked about it for years, and finally we are doing something about it. When we get back from Greece we will start making plans for the big move.
The next few months are going to be enormously hectic for us. So much work to get through before we go to Greece, then uprooting our lives to move interstate before the end of the year. These are huge changes but we're so excited about all of it.
Today, at last, the sun is out but the ice I can see forming at the base of my window tells me another story about what's really going on out there. Nonetheless, I can still look out at the blue sky and convince myself that it's summer, and that the air-conditioning is turned up exceptionally high in the house.
But even when it's freezing, everything takes on a new light when illuminated by sunshine. Gum leaves reflect a golden hue, spots of white jasmine still cover our fences and the turtle doves peck around in sunny spots on the grass. It's not summer but it looks like summer. So much so it makes me want to make a salad.
A native plant to the eastern Mediterranean regions, asparagus has been used in Greek cuisine since ancient times. The unique flavour and juicy crunch of fresh or lightly steamed asparagus needs little added to bring this wonderful vegetable to life.
Today I have combined it with some crumbled feta cheese, avocado, fresh thyme, good quality extra virgin olive oil and a big squeeze of lemon juice to make a summery salad that can be enjoyed from a sunny window on a cold winter's day.
Fresh Asparagus Salad with Feta, Avocado and Thyme
- 16 asparagus spears
- 1 avocado
- 1 Lebanese cucumber
- 100g feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Remove tough ends from asparagus then slice thinly in diagonal cuts, leaving the spearheads intact.
- Peel and slice avocado thinly, and cut into 2cm squares.
- Peel and slice cucumber lengthwise, then cut into 2cm squares.
- Toss all the vegetables together, arrange on a plate and sprinkle feta cheese over the top.
- Drizzle olive oil over salad and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top.
- Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and enjoy.