Interests and talents are passed on

As we get older we realize and discover we have many talents that we did not discover through the years.

I love talking to different people and listening to their different dreams, interests and talents, and it is funny how talents are sometimes inherited but of course this is not true in all cases.

During my two month stay this year in Europe, I had a chance and the time to visit with many friends and relatives and had the time for them to tell me about their families and grandchildren.

My niece has a handsome son named Dimitri Vlaxos that I can remember as a little boy and when I used to visit him in the summers, he would give me several books and ask me, “Thea (aunt) I want you to read all these books to me.” He was a very bright and talented boy that I knew if he continued on that path, he would become something important. I would ask him what he would like to be when he grows up, and even from a little child he would tell me he wanted to be a doctor, and when I would ask him, “What kind of doctor?” he would say a plastic surgeon. I used to tell him to please follow though that ambition so that when I get older, I can come to you for a face lift.

Today this same little boy is finishing his fourth year medical school, but has changed from a plastic surgeon to a gastrologist.

I also have a very good friend that is a very proficient and excellent cook, and her talents have carried over to her granddaughter (17-year-old Despina Koropioti) who is planning to enroll in a culinary school to even advance her knowledge of the art of cooking — another example of talents in families being carried over.

This was a wild year for things I purchased in Europe to bring home with me — believe it or not, I had one large suitcase packed full with baking, cooking and food items such as cinnamon, cloves, oregano, mint, farina and many special spices that I use in my cooking that you would not know. Keep in mind that you are NOT allowed to bring meats, fruits, seeds or veggies in the USA from Europe. Everything I bring into the country is approved and legal.

I will share one rather funny story with you about returning to New York before 9/11, when friends had given us a couple bottles of ouzo ( a very famous Greek liquor ) which I wrapped in some clothes breakage safety and placed in one of our check-in suitcases. However as we landed in New York and our baggage came down to the carousel, we could smell ouzo and see our one suitcase dripping something.

When we got to customs, one of the questions was, “Are you bringing any alcohol into the country?” Our answer was, “Yes we were” but if you smell the one piece of luggage, you will see we no longer are bringing in alcohol for the bottle broke in transit.

I will close with one last thing I saw at the Grand Central Mall last week — a young man was wearing a t-shirt that had an American flag on the back and the saying “IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT I WILL HELP YOU PACK.” I couldn’t resist telling him how much I liked his shirt and told him many people feel the same way.

Until next week!


Peach Wine Coolers

2 cups frozen unsweetened sliced peaches, thawed

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup honey

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1 bottle dry white wine

1 1/2 cups carbonated water, chilled

In a 2-quart pitcher, combine the peach slices, brandy, honey and lemon slices; stir in wine. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or until chilled. Just before serving, stir in sparkling water. Serve over ice.


Hazelnut and Pear Salad

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted, divided

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup chopped red onion, divided

2 tablespoons water

4 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

4 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove, halved

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup olive oil

1 package spring mix salad greens

1 medium pear, thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup dried cherries

For dressing, place 1/3 cup hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons onion, water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and paprika in a food processor; cover and process until blended. While processing, gradually add oil in a steady stream. In a large bowl, combine greens and remaining onion; add 1/2 cup dressing and toss to coat. Divide among six salad plates.

Top each with pear, cheese, cherries and remaining hazelnuts; drizzle with remaining dressing.


Southwestern Watermelon Salad

4 cups cubed seedless watermelon

2 cups cubed peeled mangoes

1/2 cup diced peeled jicama

3 tablespoons chopped sweet onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon grated lime peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, mangoes, jicama, onion and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey, vinegar, lime peel, salt and cayenne. Pour over fruit mixture; gently toss to coat. Cover and chill for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon.


Fresh Lime Margaritas

4 lime wedges

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup gold tequila

1/4 cup Triple Sec

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons superfine sugar

1 1/2 cups crushed ice

Using lime wedges, moisten rims of glasses. Holding each glass upside down, dip rim into salt; set aside. In a pitcher, combine the tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, lemon juice and sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Serve in prepared glasses over crushed ice.


Favorite Barbecued Chicken

1 broiler chicken


1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

dash salt

dash hot pepper sauce

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Grill chicken, skin side down, uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, saute the onion in oil until tender. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Turn chicken; grill 15-25 minutes longer or until juices run clear, brushing often with barbecue sauce.


Country- Style Grilled Ribs

3 pounds boneless country-style ribs

1 cup water

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire’s sauce

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

dash pepper

Place ribs in a shallow roasting pan. Cover and bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour 1 cup sauce over ribs, turn to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and discard marinade. Grill ribs, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-2 minutes, basting with 1 cup sauce and turning occasionally. Serve with remaining sauce.