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Every year since I was very little, my mom, brother and I visit my Ya Ya and Pop Pop in Arizona over the holidays. This past year was no different. I flew in Christmas Eve and spent five days relaxing, reading, playing Gin, and spending time with family in sunny Arizona.

My Ya Ya (Greek for “Grandmother”) has always been an incredible cook. In many ways, I think she’s been an inspiration for some of my cooking. Especially when it comes to any Mediterranean or Greek dishes. I’ve still been practicing her utterly simple Greek salad, but I just can’t ever seem to get it just the way she makes it. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Every holiday season, Ya Ya slaves in the kitchen to make her Greek desserts — baklava, koloudia, melomacarona (my personal favorite). Seriously, they are the best. No baklava compares to her homemade deliciousness. Flaky, sweet, honey, nuts. Mmmm.

One of my mom’s favorite dishes Ya Ya makes is her Beef Stroganoff. So, one evening, Ya Ya made it and I got the pleasure of helping/getting in the way and taking photos.


Isn’t her kitchen just to die for?!











And you can’t forget the infamous Greek Salad…


The beautiful thing is that there is no recipe. I tried watching as closely as I could so I could recreate this comfort food at home, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to replicate her creation exactly. I can’t wait until I get to the point where I can make some of these classics from memory.


I am so fortunate to have healthy grandparents and to be so close with my Ya Ya. Her taste is impeccable – you know, the grandma you hope you grow up to be just like. Even if she does always kicks my butt at Gin.



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