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eG Foodblog: racheld - Thanksgiving and Goodwill


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Dear Miss Rachel, it's so typically gracious to think of us but, please, fret not. You've given us more than enough food for thought to sustain us in your absence. Having had someone very close to me go through exactly the same thing, I know just what kind of pain Chris must be experiencing. Rest well, both of you.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Please tell more about the asparagus casserole! 

It's a Southern-quick recipe, but no canned soup involved, thank goodness. It does use soft, melty canned spears, the longer the better. I got Green Giant.

I made up five cans this time, cause the kids and guests always hit the Glad boxes at departure, ladling in their favorite leftovers.

Butter a casserole dish and scatter the bottom with a handful of crushed crackers. Allow 1/3 can of asparagus per person. Make a standard bechamel, except use the liquid drained from the cans instead of milk. For smaller quantities, the juice may not be enough, so pour the juice into the measuring cup and fill up to the line with milk. If you're accustomed to heating the liquid for a bechamel, don't. It does something to the juice, changes its fragrance and taste, somehow, whereas if you just make the sauce and bake the casserole, it's delicious.

When the butter/flour/juice mixture thickens, stir in some salt, just a thought of garlic powder, and several handfuls of grated cheese, any kind, but yellow looks better. Stir in just a teaspoon or two of mayonnaise.

Lay the drained asparagus over the bed of crumbs and top with sauce. If you can make two layers, build it up. Top with more crumbs, preferably crushed and sauteed in some butter til nutty and golden. If you're storing casserole overnight as I do, before cooking, save the crumbs til baking time.

Bake til the proverbial gold and bubbly.

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THANK YOU for posting less often so I can get my own kitchen work accomplished. I demur from going so far as to thank Chris for getting a kidney stone, however. :smile: I'm imagining him resting drowsily on the sofa (now that the stone has been blasted to smithereens) while you bop around your kitchen -- dicing, stirring, folding, and loving all in your orbit with your food magic.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Home-canned snap beans cooking with bacon and sauteed onion.

Gravy simmering. Wild rice salad with apple, celery and cider vinegar dressing perfuming the kitchen. Table(s) set---a little round one nestled up to the end of the dining table, to hold three and for all of us to be together to talk and eat.

Cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves and star anise scattered in the big candleglobe with a fat white candle. Sherbet dishes stacked, awaiting the lemon pudding, and the ambrosia cake sits under the cake dome.

All plates stacked for the courses: Nibbles, salad, dinner, cheese, dessert.

Coffeecups and saucers lined up with their little silver spoons.

Two compotes out, one for home cooked cranberry sauce, and one for the dipped-out Ocean Spray, without which Chris will not feel Thanksgiving.

He's wandering around, much better, but still a little achy, and WILL do the turkey in a couple of hours. First thing in the car yesterday, he asked about the "turkey plans" as he always gets a fresh one, not frozen, from a certain butcher.

When I said Daughter had reserved his and was bringing it home this a.m., his face brightened up and he started planning times and temperatures.

I have so much to say to you all, you kind, understanding people---it will have to wait til I'm collected and have time enough to sit down and phrase things correctly.

I passed a community center yesterday which is expecting upwards of 25,000 to dinner today. Boggly logistics, and wouldn't you like to see that gravy boat!!!

I'm thankful for them, and that so many people will have a good hot dinner.

And a HAPPY DAY to you all!!!

Edited by racheld (log)
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A gentle saute of the chicken livers now, to slip into the gravy at the very last moment, along with some soft boiled eggs. Southern turkey gravy is giblet gravy, made with chicken broth simmered with onion, celery and some of the leaves, then thickened with a little cornstarch in water at the last. It's a golden gravy, at least one gravy boat of it is---the one for me and for the other guests who aren't liver-likers.

The broccoli and cauliflower just came out of their separate steams, perfectly almost there. As soon as the tray cools, I'll toss them with a little melted butter, lemon and salt, and then tray them up, wrap, and set aside until dinner. A couple of minutes in the microwave at dinnertime, under the wrap, will make them exactly right. The colors are beautiful and bright.

And you know, a LOT of people Down South BOIL their turkeys, or bake them covered in those white-speckled blue two-piece pans, or the Wear-Ever one with the little vent eyehole in the top. They come out pale, overcooked, falling off the bone, and are sauced with the "dregs" left in the pan bottom.

I was probably the first person in my family, in-laws included, to actually ROAST a turkey. In the oven. To a fragrant, golden brown, with the drumsticks firmly trussed neatly down with kitchen twine. (Well there WAS that time I thought it would be a good idea to bake the turkey on a nice bed of rock salt. Seeing those lovely brown drippings standing irretrievable beneath that bed of little rocks---weep worthy.

No stuffing inside---that would have been too traumatic a change all at once. Besides, we all like the crusty outsides and bottom of a pan of good dressing. It's like great barbecue, with all the little bits of crispins on the unctuous soft meat of your sandwich, having all the crusty bits mixed into your serving of cornbread dressing.

The little skillet I cooked the livers in, in just a couple of tablespoons of butter, is now fragrant with the liver essence, with some of the crusty drippings left in the clarified pool. I know several people who'd love to take a good hunk of heavy bread to those leavings, sopping up every delicious drop.

Gotta go!! Moire non.

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Rachel, I've only read a few posts so far, but I had to jump to the end to tell you how much I enjoy your beautiful, expressive writing. The pictures are beautiful, too.

Your writing gives me such a warm, cozy feeling inside.

And now I'm going back to continue reading from the beginning.

Love it!

I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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Here's my MAJOR thankful today:  Chris is so much better, he's out lighting up the grill for the turkey.

Hosannas and Amen.

You have much to be thankful for: a husband brought back to health, and delicious turkey to look forward to later today. Happy Thanksgiving! (now, back to cooking for me)


Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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A minute to breeeeeeathe. All is in order, the dishwasher is shushing, things are chilling or awaiting heating or thickening or baking. The turkey has progressed to the point that our macaw, who is outside on this GLORIOUS day, has had a nibble, the little cannibal. I stepped out the back gate a couple of hours ago to pick up one last item from the grocery store, enjoying the sunny day. I didn't realize until two ladies in parkas and slacks looked me up and down in one of those lorgnette looks, that I was out in November in Indiana, in shorts and a T-shirt.

Nice long old-lady shorts, almost knee-length, as it happens, but shorts. This seemed to become an item of intense fascination for the two, so I hope it added to the gaiety of their celebration. They'll probably describe me at dinner, to great guffaws of revelry. It's nice to make people smile.

I'm just giddy with relief that Chris is out of pain. I don't think he's reached the giddy stage yet, but I asked how he felt, and he said, "Fine."

I don't know if I resorted to any of these in cooking this Thanksgiving dinner, since I just made the old standbys that my family has come to expect over the years.


But I DID make this---I made a nice 9 x 13, poured, with cashews pressed into half. The other half is just plain chocolate, and rich as all get-out.

I started scraping the pan, and it was getting a bit thick. To avoid making ripples and clumps in the top of the silky fudge, I left it. Daughter grabbed a piece of waxed paper and spooned out the last few little scrapes, which turned out to be regular-sized patties.

Just like Mother used to make:


Why she chose to lay the waxed paper into a non-stick skillet instead of a plate, I do not know. It's just a part of the joy of living with this quirky, good-natured family.

But we did not make pecan pie this year, though we have several other old Family desserts. Chris did toast us a little dish of pecans to go with the cheese course.

My Mother's own left-handed script:


I've made this pie, and never ONCE did I notice that there was cinnamon in there. You certainly can't taste it, and I never imagined that it was there. I'll have to try that again. I'd taken out the little pans to make tassies, but then got too busy with other things.

Better go get me dressed for this lovely occasion. Thankful doesn't quite cover it.

moire non

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Thank you, rachel, for a lovely blog.

I have many of those Lee Bailey cookbooks, too. I think my favorites ar "Country Weekends', 'Cooking for Friends' and 'Soups'. So civilized.........

Happy Thanksgiving !


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The last guest has ridden away, the dishes are rinsed and stacked, and all that food is safely away in about 900 tupperware dishes.

It's been such a week, and I cannot do justice to this occasion or this evening unless I have some rest. We are not leaving nearly as early as I had thought---the invitation was for dinner, not lunch, so we'll be leaving about 1 p.m., and I'll get lots done in the morning, including a little special something I have planned for while we're gone.

I hope everyone is well and happy, and that your Thanksgiving was as bountiful as you could wish for.

til morning . . .

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A wonderful blog, Rachel, lyrical and making me nostalgic for experiences that weren't even mine. Glad your husband is on the mend, and you deserve an award for continuing to blog at this difficult time without even missing a beat!


"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Rachel, So glad to hear Chris is feeling better. My MIL suffers from kidney stones and it just takes so much out of her. She just had one blasted last week and is feeling great now! Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. I did say a little thank you this morning for you and this blog! Kim

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I've now run the dishwasher twice, packed up the yams, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, mized mustard/collard greens, pumpkin pie and canned cranberry sauce, and wrapped up most of the turkey and put everything in the fridge. I'll tackle taking the meat off the bones and using the bones for stock tomorrow. The last guests have left, everyone but me is asleep, and I can now look back on a fun Thanksgiving and catch up with the action here.

I live for days like this, just like you. Glad to hear Chris was in good enough shape to share in it with you.

Green Eggs and Ham in your cookbook collection! Ever tried them?

As for me, I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Good Morning After!!! It was a lovely evening, with friends and food and candlelight and lots of laughing. From the first sweep down the stairs of Dear Son bearing an immense pan of Aunt Glynda's-recipe-dressing to go into my big oven, to the last fading taillight through the front screen, it was a beautiful evening.

Chris was right there at the head of the table (albeit the little table, which we had to attach to the big one. The big glass one served just nicely to seat eight last year, but when we bought the lovely new table-bottom at Goodwill several months ago---an excellent buy, beautiful verdigris scrollwork, etc., we did not allow that three cannot fit to a side, by REASON of those gorgeous table legs).

So we went upstairs, unseated a parlor fern the size of a Volkswagen, and brought the little 2 1/2' round table down, snugging it up against the big one. It's a little lower, but we fit just fine.

We started with cranberry/gingerale coolers, so beautiful in their old cut-glass pitcher, and some apple cider. Of course, the kickoff, the starter pistol, the opening of the gate of a Southern Thanksgiving MUST involve some form of Pimiento Cheese.

Stuffed celery with Pimiento Cheese, with cashew butter and benne seeds, and a bowl of Daughter's Famous crab and green onion spread, set atop a battered old travelin' trunk in the sitting area:


We nibbled and munched whilst the oven finished its business, turning out a lovely golden pan of dressing, divided into two sections: regular recipe in one half, and boiled eggs and celery enrichening the other.


Note the yellow gravy boat; it contains the giblet gravy, dark and rich with with sauteed, sliced chicken livers---several of our family members just SWEAR by it. Others won't go near it.

The turkey came off the grill after several hours, golden brown and magnificent, a not-too-big specimen, with melty-soft dark meat and smooth, moist slices of white:


It was just perfect---compliments to the chef all round:


I must point out three things on our Thanksgiving table, because they were not store-bought:

The tomatoes, which came from our Summer garden, and have been snugged away upstairs in little pockets of newspaper, slumbering til needed.


The Snap Beans, also grown in our garden---we got three nice pickings off the little rows, and this is two quarts of them, canned in July by my first Mother-In-Law's recipe, which was later appropriated by my own Mother and claimed for her own.

So in effect, the two of my children who were present sat down to a dish long served to them by BOTH of their Grandmothers. The beans start with a few slices of bacon, rendered slowly to give up its fat and shine, then a big chopped onion is added, to fill the kitchen with a home-fragrance reaching back generations.

The two quarts of beans, which had been canned with a little vinegar and a little sugar in the brine, were rinsed in a colander and added, to simmer for perhaps and hour and a half. That's just the way Southern green beans, not just canned ones, are cooked. At the end, whilst Son was checking on the oven, I finger/thumb fished out one bean and gave him a taste.

I always say, "Is that CLOSE?" The big thumbs-up with the huge green oven mitt said I did. And Daughter's eye-closed sigh at her first bite of beans from her plate said the same. Home and memory and food from other hands, remembered for the times and the circumstances and the sheer FEEL of the other woman's kitchen and table.


And the CORN. It started life in an Indiana cornfield, bristling from those waving green stalks, and was transported to our back yard one day in July. Son and I stood at the tailgate, shucking the rustly green ears, and as we "got some ahead," I sat down to silk as he finished crackling the shucks from the fourteen dozen ears. He came in to wash and cut, first nipping the tips off the kernels with a sharp little knife, then reversing the blade to scrape every drop of the milk from the corn.

We blanched the batch, watching it go from a yellow-studded liquid in the pan, to a bubbling, thickening mass, with little "puh" sounds punctuating its cooking changes. Into the freezer in pressed-flat neat little bags, and three of the bags went into the skillet yesterday. My Mother always had a skillet of oven corn on her Thanksgiving table. She would take three of the little freezer boxes out, plok them upside down into the skillet, drop in a stick of butter, pour in about an inch of hot water, and shower salt over the whole thing, then plop it into the oven.

As it heated, she would screech out the oven rack and reach in with a long spoon, scraping off the thawed, withering tops into the liquid, stirring, but only until all was thawed and mixed. THEN, the corn was left to do its own magic, developing a little bottom crust of a flavor and texture beyond any human-created foodstuffs. The center was creamy, the top getting firm and golden, and the corn was ready to pull out and serve to kings.

So that's what we had last night, from field to table, through our own hands:


I'd proudly set that old black skillet on any table, beside the Sheffield and Limoge.

I'm going to post this much now, as I did a great long one the other day, and lost the whole thing into the air. Besides, we're all together, Chris and Daughter and I, and it's time for breakfast.

moire non

Edited by racheld (log)
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More on the feast:

Of course, no Thanksgiving, barn raising, baptising or Hog Roast would be complete without devilled eggs:


Daughter requested a steamed broccoli/caulifower combination, simply dressed with lemon and salt. This, oddly enough, almost exactly matches one of only three pictures I managed to post LAST Thanksgiving.

It tasted fresh and lemony and was a good contrast to all the richness elsewhere on the table.


It was also probably the only dish without butter, except for the cranberry:


Daughter-in-law brought this from her Mom's house; they had eaten a lunchtime dinner with her parents, and she sent leftovers: the cranberry salad and the remains of a "Mountain Mama," with all its layers of cream cheese, pudding, and a Pecan Sandy crust.

We also had a cooked cranberry sauce with little supremed orange segments, as well as the obligatory can of Ocean Spray.

DDIL also brought her broccoli/cauliflower salad, made with raisins, bacon and cheddar. It's an expected regular on the tables of BOTH sides of the family, now.

There's always a discussion of who just HATES broccoli, but they tried this and ate the whole bowl.


Chris always requests Aunt Barbara's Five-Cup salad, made with impossible amounts of Cool-Whip and sour cream, along with crushed pineapple, halved red grapes, and enough marshmallows to float the Bismarck.

Nobody ate it but him, I think. Consider it medicine.


The table was crammed. I was snapping photos, people were emerging from the kitchen with hotpads full of dishes, asking, "You want this HERE?" and "Shall I put the spoons IN the bowls?" Lotsa help, lotsa chaos, and we got the pictures, said the blessing, served our plates and sat down. We serve so many company meals buffet style, and the rule is, if we've said the blessing, you eat when you sit down. Somebody will be right there to keep you company, and the food doesn't get cold waiting decorously for everyone to meander through the line.


Some of everything on the plate at Thanksgiving always makes me think of Marge in Fargo when she and her husband are going through the buffet line at the BIG LUNCH. They just talk and glop and sling great ladles of stuff onto unseen plates down below camera level. This, for the first time for the viewing public, is what they REALLY looked like:


From twelve o'clock: Broccoli/cauliflower; dressing; tomato; wild rice salad;

green beans; stuffed egg; corn; broccoli salad; turkey. Center: baked sweet potato slices with vanilla butter and marshmallows.

Daughter (newly registered eGullet member caroled) says I need to apologize to torakris and all her compadres on the No Touching thread. And I DO apologize. For this plate, I grovel, I cringe.

Moire non.

Edited by racheld (log)
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The table, afternoon, whilst the sun shines and the aromas of bacon and onion frying and gravy simmering fill the house. The little table sat a bit lower than the other, but it was fun; Chris and I sat there together.

We call these glasses the "Mammaw goblets" because she had about a dozen of them, clunky old heavy things, with feelable grapes etched into the sides with what feels like emery under your fingertips. She had them on her table at every occasion---they were probably the only glasses she had that didn't say "Welch's."

(Or Garrett---Mammaw had a sister who dipped).

These were also the tea receptacles involved with the Bottomless Teapot of my childhood, the one that she poured and poured from, never seeming to run out of the strong Lipton brew.

We use them for all important occasions; I have found several more in flea markets over the years, but still recognize the originals---the grapes are larger, but smoothed by countless hands, and the gold rim is just a whisper on the lip.


This is not on the buffet because it was the Forgotten Thing. Never a holiday or Sunday meal is spent without missing an item---a congealed salad made the day before to chill, then pushed WAY back into the refrigerator and missed when the table is set. A bowl of potato salad, to accompany the cookout hamburgers, left at home/in the house and not thought of until breakfast, when you have to move it to get at the bacon.

It's happened to us all, especially when the menu is not just the usual meat, two vegetables, and salad. All the little Tupperwares and Glad Boxes, filled for easy fitting into a crowded fridge, then the contents forsworn and neglected, but nice for a quick lunch next day---those cause a start of dismay, then an easy laugh because of the inconsequence of the loss.

I'm just surprised that a hue and cry did not emanate from Chris' end of the table; he LIKES his Ocean Spray, and that would have clued me in to go get BOTH the compotes from the fridge. As it was, I went for the dish of cut lemon and spied this, halfway through the meal. I just set both bowls on the table to be passed.


There was a gorgeous cheese plate, but I didn't get all the names from Carole, so I'll detail it later---some blues, a Brie and a good hearty, crumbly cheddar are all I remember. Grapes, apple slices, and good old meaty Mississippi pecans toasted by Chris' special recipe to accompany.

And there was dessert. I had made a Key Lime pudding---the old Eagle Brand lemon pie recipe, but with those pesky little Barbie-limes that yield half a teaspoon apiece. Chris' request, and he brought in the limes. Carole made an ambrosia cake, involving using crushed orange segments for part of the liquid in the batter; it makes a rich, moist layer. It was a single layer, frosted with Cream Cheese Frosting, then patted thickly with a long-shred sweet coconut we hadn't tried before.

She also did a WW recipe for a three-berry crumble with oatmeal streusel topping, which was yummmmmy.

The candy-stand held the making of fudge, along with some Lindt truffles and some tiny pocky-like things with no handle, chocolate over espresso centers.


DDIL came in with the three-layered chocolate cream cheese Cool-Whip dessert left from her Mom's dinner, and our other guests brought TWO of the creamy cheesecakes-in-a-piecrust topped with wonderful sour cherries in sauce.

The dessert service was also chaos, with everyone hopping up to get and serve their own offerings, so the plates look a little chaotic. I was reaching WAY over the table to make sure everyone got a slice of cake---some slices toppled onto the plates like Jengas, and the creamy cakes got sort of jiggled onto the plate. The only sedate item seemed to be the sherbet dishes of the lemon pudding, with their little whipped-cream topknots and tiny slice of lime.


I left the cream off the berry crumble---it WAS WW, after all, and there was quite enough schlag on the plate already.

And one last item, a treat-beyond-marvel, a delicious combination of supremed orange and tangerine segments, as the final palate-memory of a good meal. This was a coveted dish, a put-forward-to-company dish, from the days when oranges were dear and scarce, the finest gem in a Christmas stocking's toe.

My still-limited camera skills cannot do justice to the colors, the orange and the pale gold, of the fruit; the little dish of cool fruit was a fitting finale to the heavy, rich, traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal.



The port went wanting, and I STILL can't look at that bottle of Bailey's in the fridge.

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      The children don't get spared either

      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.


      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.

      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.

      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.

      On a nearby table is this

      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.

      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.

      Let the eating, finally, begin.
      In no particular order:

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato

      Bamboo Shoots


      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery

      Stir fried pork and beans

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)

      Pig Ears

      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.

      Stir fried Greens
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
      Roll on dinner time.
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
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