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When a stranger becomes a dear friend

In Greece there is a saying that “only the mountains do not meet” and I will share a story to confirm that statement.

In the summer of 2006 we took our annual trip to Greece and that year also we included a week in Amsterdam and Belgium… Upon returning from Europe we would always retreat to our condo in Las Vegas yearly to relax and recover from the several weeks in Europe.

One night we were out side the Stratosphere Casino at the bus stir waiting on a bus to take us to Bellagio Casino for dinner.. There were many people waiting on the bus and you could hear languages spoken from all parts of the world it seemed. Of course I could not understand what I was hearing but then I heard someone speaking the language. It was a couple visiting Las Vegas and I of course asked them what state they were from and expecting to hear New York, Boston or some large city. To my surprise the friendly couple replied that they were visiting Las Vegas from Sydney, Australia which is probably close to being an 8000 mile flight. It is a lengthy bus ride to the Bellagio and we were chatting back and forth all the way down the strip to our destination…. We all bonded instantly and to our surprise we had a lot in common besides just the Greek heritage…. We were finding out that we had a lot in common including our names… My name is Kiki and it turned out her name was Kiki…. It is a common question to ask someone where there ancestry is from in Greece and when I ask her what part of Greece she was from she replied that it is just a very small village outside Sparta, Greece and that I would not know it…. I ask her again for the name of the village… she replied “Yiorgitsi” and my mouth dropped with excitement because that same little village is where my mother was born and raised before moving to Athens. Another coincidence was that she left for Australia the same year that I left Greece to live in America. Before the evening was over we had gotten well acquainted and of course exchanged addresses and telephone number and the rest is history. We figured that that was the first and last time we would ever see her and her husband Dannis but to my surprise not long after we returned from Vegas I received a large package with pictures and articles of their family and involvement in the Community activities in Sydney which is another thing that we have in common along with cooking, baking and sharing foods with family and friends.

Here fourteen years later we are still the best of friends talking on the telephone regularly and text at least every other day sharing pictures and even foods we are preparing for dinner….. Many times she will call me just to share a funny joke with me…. she is such a positive and happy type person.

Her husband plays the guitar and he also composes songs and shares many of them for me to enjoy and like me her life is centered around her family and grandchildren.

Many times friends turn out to be closer than relatives — like who ever thought that two young ladies came from the same country at a young age with parents that came from the same village and ended up meeting in Vegas and remaining friends now for fourteen years.

We hope that someday we all can meet again and they are constantly inviting us to come and stay with them as long as we like and of course our home is always open for them also.

Friendship is a wonderful thing to share with others and we were very fortunate to meet Kiki who is a great person with a great attitude and personally.

We do not let more than a few days pass without one of us contacting each other.

Till next week

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To bake a Turkey

1 (11 to 12 pound) Turkey (Swift’s Butterball recommended)

Wesson oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, remove giblets from turkey, set aside for gravy. Wash and dry turkey well, then rub inside and out with Wesson oil, salt and pepper. Make dressing and spoon dressing into neck cavity. Bring skin of neck over back and fastened with poultry pin. Spoon dressing into body cavity. Do not pack. Bake any leftover dressing in covered casserole. With a long piece of twine, lace cavity close, bootlace fashion, tie with a knot. Fasten wings of turkey to body with poultry pins. With twine tie ends of legs together. Brush Turkey generously All over with lesson oil. Roast Turkey on rack in a roasting Pan breast side up, allowing 25 minutes per pound for a 12 pound Turkey. When turkey begins to brown cover loosely with a square of foil. Turkey is done when meat thermometer registers 185-190 degrees, leg joints move freely when twisted and fleshy part of drumstick feels soft. When fork is inserted in meatiest part of breast closest to bone, the juices should run clear. Remove from oven and let stand 20-30 minutes before slicing.

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Smoked Turkey

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon red pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1 or 2 cloves of pressed garlic

1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons flour

White wine vinegar

1 cup margarine

1 (12-16 pound turkey)

In a one cup measuring cup combine the first 8 ingredients. Fill to the one cup mark with wine vinegar. Mix well by shaking in a jar. Add marinade to the melted margarine and cook until thickened. Place turkey on charcoal grill, adding several hickory chips that have been soaked in water to the fire. Cook turkey for 1 hour, then begin basting frequently with the marinade, being sure to saturate the cavity. Cook over medium fire until the meat thermometer registers almost done (between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 hours for this size turkey) Take off fire and let set at least 15 minutes before serving. The turkey can be marinated overnight, but cover with a foil tent for the first hour of cooking so that it will not get too brown.

***

Southern Cornbread Dressing

3 cups crumbled corn bread

4 cups toasted bread pieces

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 green pepper, chopped

10 tablespoons margarine, divided

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon thyme

salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs beaten

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 pint jar raw oysters, simmered until edges curl (optional)

Turkey giblets, cooked and chopped (optional)

Soak corn bread and bread pieces in chicken stock. Cook onion, celery and green pepper in 2 tablespoons margarine until tender. Mix together the breads, cooked vegetables, remaining margarine and rest of the ingredients, using oyster and giblets if desired. Use dressing to stuff turkey. Or shape into patties, place in greased casserole and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about an hour or until as done as desired.

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