Yassas Krystina. I know this is a very busy time of year for you so I’m thrilled that you have found time to join me for a chat. Although my blog focuses on Kritsa, a village Crete, I take also take a wider view to links with Greece. Your blog, Kouzounas Kitchen centred on Greek cooking certainly fits my theme. As I know that you live in America it makes me wonder, are you Greek or American?
Hi! I am Greek American. My father is from Greece and growing up in a Greek household I feel 100 % Greek. My mother is from California, where I was born and raised. I’ve lived in Canada, Las Vegas, Southern California, and Greece for a while. I moved to Greece in 2009 to study culinary techniques, and to attend the University of Athens for Greek language studies. I learned so much in the culinary field, as I right away got a job as a sous chef on the island of Skiathos, to work at a Spanish restaurant. I created their pastry menu, and assisted the head chef with a number of recipes ranging from appetizers to main course to desserts.
Ah, no wonder there are so many influences in your cooking. I remember being surprised when you used coconut milk in a recipe. What was it that led you to start your blog?
I started my blog in hopes to share my grandmother’s recipes around the world. I created a mix of traditional and modern Greek recipes, and it soon became a hit for my Northern California audience, and in Greece. After a year of blogging, I met some fabulous food bloggers from around the world, and then I grew a passion for the blog world. Almost one year ago, I started a food group with a couple friends of mine, called Foodify. Now we have about 240 members in our group, which is a small community, but our members are worldwide. We help one another grow, and succeed on our blogs, and I must say the recipes we all share in Foodify are unique. If you’d like the link to our Facebook page, you can Click Here.
I know you run a business too. Can you tell us about it?
Yes, I currently have my own Greek catering business, where I provide organic appetizers, pastries, teas, and spices in California. I specialize in baklava, kourambiedes, spanakopita, and other sorts of Greek goodies.
Currently I am at an event called Apple Hill, where I have my own booth set up, where I sell organic teas, spices, kitchen goods, and art signs. I used to have my booth at four different farmer’s markets, but I got run down, as the hours I was working was a bit too much for me.
Ah, my mouth is literally watering, I LOVE Greek pastries!
I am also a certified hairstylist of 15 years, specializing in hair color and cuts. I guess you can call me a jack of all trades.
I was pleased to learn that your book Back To My Roots is now available in your local area. How did the book come about?
Thank you for mentioning that Yvonne! Yes, I am very excited to announce my very first cookbook is finished! It took me about two half months to do, and I’m very happy that I now can say all the hard work is done. Well, most of the hard work. I am currently working with a formatter, who will help me get my cookbook on Amazon.
Please let me know when it is on Amazon; I shall post a link to it from this blog. When I get a copy, I’ll post a photo of my attempt at a recipe. You said it took you about two half months to create the book. My guess is that you were thinking about it long before.
Yes, you are right. It has been a long dream of mine to be able to create a Greek cookbook that not only shares recipes, but also tells a story. My yiayia (grandmother) was such a lovely cook; unfortunately, she passed away years ago from cancer. Her recipes were so unique, and I remember how she created beautiful meals with just basic ingredients. So, it finally hit me that I could share my grandmother Stavroula’s recipes in a book, and also be able to share stories to go along with them. I dedicate my blog and cookbook to my dear yiayia.
Yvonne, did you know Kouzounas Kitchen comes from my grandmother’s maiden last name Kouzounas?
Well, I do now as I read it on your website. However, at first I thought it was a different way of writing Kouzina, the Greek word for kitchen. Doh! Changing the subject, what do you do when not blogging, writing or cooking?
This is a tough question lol. Well, when I am not cooking or writing I am enjoying time with my boyfriend who is a photographer, and my fur baby Cosmo who is a 1-year-old golden retriever. I love music, working out, going to the movies, and of course shopping. When I find the time, I love to try to sneak away to the beach.
If there was one Greek person you could cook for, living, fictional or dead, who would it be, and why?
I love this question!!
It would be Melina Mercouri, who is a well-known Greek actress. I would love to cook for her because she was full of light, positive energy, loves life, and she was a very strong advocate for the Parthenon Marbles in Athens. She had love and compassion for her Greek culture, and I really love that.
I love your answer!
The main bus stop in Kritsa is at Melina Mercouri Square. Some of our older villagers remember being extras in the 1957 film, He Who Must Die. Much of the filming was in Kritsa and Melina Mercouri was the star. The picture below shows that some of the film set still stands although it’s a smallholding now.
The basis of the film was my favourite Nikos Kazantzakis novel, Christ Recrucified. It is a morality tale that takes place in a Turkish-occupied Greek village where the Easter Passion play merges with reality. However, I digress…
One thing I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to discover new blogs, some I visit occasionally and others go on my ‘must read’ list. Do you have favourite blogs?
Thank you for asking Yvonne. Yes, I do have some must read blogs. Of course, the majority of these are food blogs, but who doesn’t like food right? You can click on any of the links below if you’d like to visit them.
Ah, we share a love of the Greek Wives Club, and I laughed aloud at Ekaterina Botziou’s books.
I shall certainly visit the other blogs that you recommend.
What is next on your agenda, Krystina?
Another good question Yvonne! Well, I am patiently waiting to get “Back To My Roots” on Amazon, and once that happens I will be very happy. I would like to go back to Greece in the next few months to start a new cookbook that I started planning back in 2014.
I’m also working on a new spice line for Kouzounas Kitchen, and my blog will have a new face-lift for the new year coming when it will include a new shopping cart, and some other great features.
It has been fabulous to chat to you, Krystina. I’ve really enjoyed finding out more about the person behind one of my favourite blogs. If you ever get to Crete be sure to visit me in Kritsa, I’d love to show you around. Meanwhile, do you have a final thought to share with us?
Thank you very much Yvonne for having me, and I hope your fans will enjoy this interview as much as I did answering the questions. Perhaps my last words should be my favorite quote, by Julia Childs:
“Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
To read more about Krystina, and her wonderful recipes click below:
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