‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,

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when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

We’re upon that magical day, Christmas. I feel it today…that state of mind, the Zone. It’s not just a holiday, it’s a state of being…almost out of body – surreal.

Christmas, the holidays, the end of the Year all wrapped-up in one month. A time to give thanks, to reflect on what was and to set goals, have hope and onto new beginnings.

This past year was a good year in my realm and I thank my friends, family and foes for being there for me and for making me stronger.

I thank God for providing me with food, clothing and shelter where others in this world are not so fortunate.

I thank God for blessing my family and myself with good health. As us Greeks say, if you don’t have your health – you have nothing! Health above all.

I thank you, my dedicated readers of my blog who take the time to leave comments, send me emails full of warmth and kindness and express your joy at trying out one of my featured dishes.

I thank my new friends in the blogging community who take the time to share their lives, open their kitchens and share their family’s secret recipes and traditions. Everyday, I am inspired by your zest for cooking, food, hospitality and friendship.

Some of you have even got out on a limb to meet up with me in person and my motto is…there’s always room for another friend.

What will 2009 bring?

I hope for a world that is safer, kinder to Earth, more tolerant, less nepotism, more merit, an end to hunger, the reduction of disease and pestilence, Democracy and justice for all and last but not least…that everyone once again possesses hope for a better tomorrow.

Here in my home, the table is set and tomorrow we’ll be feasting on a dinner centered around Prime Rib Roast.

While we’re waiting for dinner, there will be lots of treats and snacks for one to nibble on. One such snack is known as Passatempo.

Passatempo means “passing the time” and for Greeks, the best way to do this is to chat with friends and family over a glass of Ouzo, Tsipouro or wine.

Just like in ancient times, Greeks eat when they drink and drink when they eat. For us, walnuts, sunflower seeds, toasted nuts or chestnuts along with dried fruits mixed with spices help us along during the cocktail hour.

In Greece, one can see stand set up on the streets, main squares or farmers’ markets offering up an array of nuts and fruits to majority of Greeks who stroll each day or night during their routine Volta (stroll).

Before I sign off for the day, I’ll be sure to leave you with a Passatempo recipe.

Another Christmas favourite at the Greek table are cookies and the two most popular ones are Kourabiedes and Melomakarona.

Kourabiedes are a rich, buttery almond cookie that get a vigorous dusting of icing sugar. They kind of remind me of the wintery outside.

The other cookie is Melomakarona and these spiced cookies are baked with aromatic spices wafting from the oven and then they are given a bath in syrup and topped with a mixture of ground cinnamon and walnuts…a reminder of the safe, warm and cozy haven of the family home.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, to the many non-Christians out there….Happy Holidays and may you have a spiritual and reflective time with your family & friends and to all…reach out and be a friend to someone new. There are many lonely people in this world and everyone deserves a friend.


1 cup of almonds
1 cup of walnuts

1 cup of cashews

1 cup of pumpkin seeds

1 egg white

1 Tsp. of fresh thyme

1 tsp. of paprika

1 tsp. of ground cumin

1 Tbsp. of brown sugar

1 tsp. of ground coriander

2 tsp. of hickory salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Pre-heated 325F oven

  1. Mix all of your spices and seasonings in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, add your mixture of nuts and the egg white and toss to coat. Now add your spice mixture and toss to evenly coat your nut mixture.
  2. Spread your nut mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Serve to your guests warm.

© 2008 – 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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49 Comments for “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,”



Merry Christmas my friend! All the best to you and yours and may your Christmas Day be bright and merry!

Mediterranean kiwi


merry christmas peter, peace and love all round (i’ll wish you a happy new year closer to the date…)

Catherine Wilkinson


A beautiful heartfelt post from one passionate guy. Merry Christmas and blessings to you, Peter! Your blog is so wonderful and inspiring to me, it’s like a gift from you every day!



What a beautiful post, Peter! Merry Christmas to you and yours, and here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!



Merry Xmas darling Pedro!!!! Boy, you sound so inspired in this post! A poet… a cook poet ;D

I love the picture of the statue’s head and the cards :D

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately… but I couldn’t leave without saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS CHICO!!!

alexandra's kitchen


Kala Christouyenna Peter! I love all your wishes for 2009. It is always a pleasure stopping by your site and seeing your delectable creations. I adore kourabiedes! They always remind me of Christmas time.

alexandra's kitchen


Kala Christouyenna Peter! I love all your wishes for 2009. It is always a pleasure stopping by your site and seeing your delectable creations. I adore kourabiedes! They always remind me of Christmas time.

alexandra's kitchen


Kala Christouyenna Peter! I love all your wishes for 2009. It is always a pleasure stopping by your site and seeing your delectable creations. I adore kourabiedes! They always remind me of Christmas time.



Chronia Polla kai Kala Christougenna to you and your family. Health indeed is the most precious gift we may have.

Robin Sue


Merry Christmas to you Peter! May all your wishes come true in the coming year! I am a new reader here and so happy to have found you. I love your recipes!

Stacey Snacks


So glad we became friends this year.
Best wishes for a happy & healthy New Year.

Nina Timm


I trust that you and your family will have a blessed Christmas and that the true spirit of Christmas will linger in your home!



Feliz Navidad, my friend. It has been a great year because I got to meet new amazing friends such as yourself. Have a wonderful celebration and best wishes from my family to yours! :D

Farmer Jen


Merry Christmas Peter. I enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for all of the wonderful recipes, photos and insights.



A Happy Christmas to you Peter and a very Happy New Year!
Ps: I have the very same dish you have those nuts in!

History of Greek Food


Merry Christmas, Peter. Με υγεία,τύχη και χαρά.

Joan Nova


Thanks for the beautiful year-end sentiment which I share and thanks for your support, comments and wit. I’ve really grown to look forward to posts and comments from kalofagas. All the best to you and yours in 2009.

We Are Never Full


i hope you had a happy christmas and now you are feeling stuffed and relaxed. i’m feeling flabby but am excited to not cook for the first time in 2 days!! we made christmas eve dinner (3 courses) for 12 and last night christmas day dinner (thankfully only 2 courses) for 9. i’m EXHAUSTED (and still flabby)!!!

thanks for everything peter and i hope 2009 brings us another night hanging out! maybe in toronto, eh?

Bellini Valli


I trust you had a very special Christmas this year Peter. We are truly blessed to still have our families with us to enjoy life, love and happiness. This is my wish for you and your family in 2009.The prime rib helps too. Mine melted in the mouth this year…a good year for beef.



peter! what a lovely post! i hope your holiday season has been and continues to be wonderful.
and by the way, had i seen this post before christmas, i would’ve requested one of those awesome bowls. :)



I’m going to have make Melomakarona after seeing your pictures, Kouriambiedes have been covered by my mom!



Happy New Year, Peter! (I’m really behind reading my blogs!) I love that nut bowl, by the way. Very creative and I like how it’s twirly. Can I ask where you got it? Oh, and the chocolate baklava, too, how scrumptious does that look!


Merry Christmas Peter, Hey, how ’bout I stop in and sit at that beautiful table with you and your family for that delicious dinner…just hang out a bit! Oh can I bring my family too! What a treat to receive your wonderful emails and recipes. Many nights I have went to bed late just fixing olives and cheese and salata! Opah!

Georgia K. Fountoulakis


Here’s a rendition of 12th verse of the 12 days of Christmas that I recently wrote. As an American Greek, I look for every opportunity to celebrate my Greek ancestry.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Twelve Timpanistee drumming,
Eleven avlitehs piping,
Ten kiriee-a-leaping,
Nine kiriehs dancing,
Eight ko-peh-lehs-a-milking,
Seven kikni-a-swimming,
Six hinehs-a-laying,
Four calling poulia,
Three French kotehs,
Two peristeria
And a perdika in a pear tree.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.