Ooh, Ambitious


Back when I was a good mom, my kids and I planned fun Summer School sessions around a themed cirriculum. When the kids were small, we had alphabet days, a la Sesame Street. I have really sweet memories of these days because we worked hard to make fun days on a slim-slim budget. For S day, I remember we skipped smooth stones and sipped Slurpies down the slide. On C day we cut through the country club golf course to buy cold, creamy coffee. And on P day we put up peach preserves and painted pink ponies on paper.

When the kids got a little older, we upped the acedemia. One year we gave two days to each state in the Union and learned state capitals, practiced vernacular slang and made regional food to feel like locals (in 50 different states). Another year we celebrated the Summer Olympics with Summer World Cultures, learning about a different country every week. (One week my daughter picked “Iceland” and I said, “Honey, I don’t think Iceland has a culture.” But of course it does. We made a tasty Icelandic fish dish and my kids got to call me “Anne” all week because apparently Icelanders don’t have surnames and everybody goes by their first name. So yeah, Iceland does have a culture. Just kind of a lame one. Joke.)

Sadly, I am getting more tired and less ambitious than I used to be. My kids still want to do these fun Summer School sessions, but I have toned down the over-the-top enthusiam. This summer we are very loosely basing activities around the Summer Olympics. When the Olympics arrive, we’ll have learned some new sports and we’ll know how to take high tea like good Londoners, and we’ll brush up on our Sex Pistols trivia, but it’s much more laid-back now. (I’m getting really lazy actually. Now I just try to connect everyday activites to our summer theme and hope it counts for hands-on parenting points. When my littlest daughter threw a tantrum in the Walmart parking lot the other day, kicking and screaming, I asked her, “Oh, is this your new biathalon?” That’s pathetic.)

But these Summer School sessions are a great excuse to make and eat good food, and I’m always up for that. In an homage to the origanal Olympians, we are celebrating Greek Week. We are making Greek food and my one daughter is reporting on the ancient Olympics because she likes to write reports. Unless it’s for school – then she’s apparently completely against it.

I love Greek food, and we’ve chosen two of my favorite dishes. The first is an egg-lemon soup called Avgholemono. Completely delish. Then we’re also making Tiropetakia, those little phyllo-wrapped parcels of spinach and feta bliss. They are definitely the most ambitious thing I’ve done in awhile, brushing phyllo dough with butter and wrapping each parcel into fussy triangular packets, but they really are worth it. Flaky, rich and completely addictive. Hello, Involved Parenting!

I’m including the recipe that we use, taken from Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet cookbook. That man can cook. Enjoy.



5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

4 oz. feta cheese, chopped

8 oz. small-curd cottage cheese, drained

1 egg

1 t. grated lemon peel


salt and pepper to taste

melted butter

phyllo dough


Drain the spinach. Mix with the cheeses. Add the egg, some lemon peel, a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a cutting board, and brush with melted butter. With a sharp knife cut the sheet into 5 pieces, each about 3″ wide. Place 1 T filling at the bottom of each piece, and roll up as to form a triangle. Move one side to the other until the whole is rolled up. [AP: The triangular folding is similar to how Boy Scouts fold up an American flag.] Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 30 to 35.