This is a post about love. True love, pure love, everlasting love, and sweet, sweet love. We are so humbled to be able to give you a glimpse into the beautiful story of Κυρία Βασιλεία (Kyria Vasilia) and the love of her life, while at the same time sharing her recipe for what may be the loveliest cookies you’ll ever have.
Several months ago, we were at our Thea Voula’s house (THEThea Voula of cheesecake fame) for a party. As is typical for any large family gathering, there was a lot of food, and a lot of dessert. Good thing we were there for hours; enough time to eat, digest, and eat again. When it was finally time for coffee and cake, we of course expected her cheesecake, maybe some baklava and likely a galaktoboureko or two. What we didn’t expect was a platter piled high with syrup soaked, pear-shaped cookies called Ahladakia. These were cookies we recalled eating and loving in a past so distant we couldn’t even remember the last time we had enjoyed them. We quickly turned to our aunt and asked her where they came from and she responded “Stella brought them”.
Our parents make so many types of koulourakia (Greek for cookies that are great for dunking into coffee or milk) that it is almost hard to keep track of them all. To help differentiate one koulouraki from the other, they often refer to a key ingredient. So here, we present to you koulourakia with orange…because, you guessed it, they contain a fair bit of orange juice. They also often refer to different koulourakia by the person who prefers them over all others. So these, along with being koulourakia with orange, are also affectionately referred to as “Georgia’s favourite”.
Today was officially the end of the holidays for us. Kids back at school, parents all back to work, and the merriment of Christmas and New Year’s gone for another year. One of us has succeeded in taking down the Christmas tree and packing away the decorations, while the other is still wondering if the tree should stay up until Easter, decorated for every holiday between now and then, the way it did last year. Despite our home décor differences, both of us agree that it might be time to do away with any leftover sweets and treats. After all, it’s a new year, and for a few weeks at least, we should focus on joining countless others who vow that this is the year that we eat well, and exercise more. But then again, life is short, and dessert is good.
Who doesn’t dream about a white Christmas? We certainly do! Thankfully, living in Canada means that most years, our dream comes true. It is rare that December 25th rolls around without a blanket of beautiful, white, fluffy snow covering everything! If you have never made snow angels on Christmas morning, we really hope that you get to one day! Our parents grew up in Greece however, a country not known for frosty winters and snow storms. So, in their villages, the whitest and fluffiest thing they could hope for at Christmas time, were kourabiethes.
When our girls were little and we returned to work after blissfully long (but not long enough!), maternity leaves, we were blessed to have them cared for by our parents. We would drop sleepy children off at their place in the morning and, after settling in to work, we would call our parents to make sure everything was okay. The morning report we received would often go something like this:
Either of our parents: She (grand-daughter # 1, 2, 3 or 4) wasn’t that hungry for breakfast. I hope she is feeling well. I’m quite worried. She only ate half her egg, two pieces of toast, a banana and she only drank one glass of milk.
Either of us: Hmmm…well, that sounds alright. She IS only 4 years old.
Either of our parents: Yes, well she has to eat, otherwise her stomach will close (this sounds much more ominous in Greek). At least she ate 9 koulourakia when she first arrived.
Growing up in a close-knit Greek family within a strong Greek community makes a significant impact on your values, your beliefs and, of course, your ideas about food. As young children we were taught about kindness, generosity and hospitality. We learned that one way to show love and caring was to cook and bake and to then share what you had made with your family and friends.