Friday, April 10, 2015


I often stop and look at our lives: I find them full, interesting, rich, satisfying, dignified and happy.

A friend of mine always says happiness is a choice. And for all of us lucky enough to have food, safe shelter, electricity and clean running water every day, happiness is indeed a matter of choice.

I started thinking about enriching experiences when our first Au Pair, Giulia, joined our family. She was at the time 20 years of age, abroad on her own for the first time.
In a matter of days, we began regarding her as our daughter, although we are not much older than her, and certainly not old enough to be her parents.

However, and this is a big however, she brought a whole new set of feelings in our house. It was beautiful to realise how we started to love her almost immediately, how we were "warning" her before she went out at the weekends, how I worried when, at 3 am, she had not yet returned from the City.

We keep in touch; she would call and ask us for advice on her new job in Italy, ask our opinion on many things. Just like a younger family member who doesn't really want to discuss certain things with her parents... I can see her blossoming into a beautiful young woman and feel a certain pride. It is obviously not my place to do so, but I do!

Now a new Au Pair lives with us, Dalia. She is older, 28, so the relationship with her has been different from the beginning. I regard her more like a sister in my house, helping out with everything.

She carried with her all of her positive energy, her passion for movies and, of course, she is the reason behind my decision to take Tango lessons. We go to the lessons together and we love it!

At present, a very good friend is staying with us, looking for work. Him, too, meant a new wave of feelings kicking in.
He studied with me in college, and now that we have children, with him around, it feels like being back to that care-free life we used to live back then.
We do a lot of things together, we talk, we exchange opinions and experiences and, often, we cook.

He has the creativity and resourcefulness i appreciate in people. He will say: tomorrow I'll make Moussaka! Let me ask my Greek friend for the recipe.

And that's exactly what we (mostly him...) made! 

The original recipe called for fried potatoes and fried aubergines, but to make it lighter, we boiled the potatoes and grille the aubergine.


6 good sized Potatoes
1 clove of Garlic
1/4 of an Onion
1 Kg of Mince Meat
2/3 of a litre of Tomato Sauce, or Passata
1 Aubergine, sliced quite thick and briefly grilled
1/2 a litre of thick Besciamella Sauce (Made With: 5 tablespoons of Flour, Olive Oil and 1/2 litre of Milk)

First thing first, slightly boil the potatoes, peeled, adding a pinch of salt in the water. The potatoes should not be too soft, they should be hard enough to be sliced.

Next, Besciamella Sauce. Place some Olive Oil in a small pot, let it heat on low for a couple of minutes and then add 3 tablespoons of flour, do not stop stirring, and gradually add the rest of the flour. Once you get a thick paste add the milk and keep stirring. It takes very little time to do it, so no distractions or you'll end up with a messy messy thing.
Keep it on low heat and stir until you have the right consistency.
Once that's done, set it aside, possibly covered.

Now, time to make the sauce.
Place some olive oil in another pot, on low heat, and place in a garlic clove, skin and all.

Chop up the onion and put in in the oil. Let the oil soak up the flavour and then remove the garlic.
Soften the onion and then add the mince meat.

Cook, always on low heat, until the meat is nice and brown.

Add now the tomato sauce and let it simmer on low. Add salt to this sauce according to your taste.
Once the sauce is ready, turn off the heat and you are ready to grill briefly the aubergines. We had them grilled from the day before, because we had a barbecue in the garden. But they can be successfully grilled on the stove as well.

All set! Cut the potatoes and place them on the bottom of your oven tray to make the first layer.

Now place the mince meat sauce as the second layer.
Now it's the turn of the aubergines and the third layer.

On top, the fourth and last layer will be the Besciamella sauce.
Now, place it in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, and when it comes out, it will look like this:

Slice it up and enjoy!

There is enough for 4 people in this recipe :) So invite a friend or two and have fun!!!

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