By Isa Covo

As the year started, we were hopeful it would be a better one than the two that preceded it. There were still many mourning the deaths of relatives and friends, and there were still COVID patients, but thanks to the vaccines, and the government mandates regarding masks and obligatory vaccination for most jobs, we thought that we had turned the corner, and celebrated that we were on the path to recovery and to a more normal life.

Then, out of nowhere, before we had time to eat the chocolates, before the flowers we received for Valentine’s Day (a day celebrating love) had wilted, we learned that Russian troops and armaments were advancing toward the Ukrainian borders. The people in the region, despite warnings from US intelligence, considered that a provocation, rather than an aggression which is what it turned out to be.

The brutality of the attack however brought back memories of Hitler’s war. He too never considered that he would find resistance from the Soviets. (That said we must not forget that the Stalinist regime was a brutal one, persecuting and terrorizing its own citizens.) The brutality and the cruelty of the German military is echoed in some measure by the acts committed by the Russians in Ukraine, such as shooting civilians at random and bombing blocks of residential and civilian buildings. There have also been reports of individuals being tortured before they were shot, as well as rapes and kidnappings.

In Russia itself, lies and disinformation are the trend. Putin had expected to conquer Ukraine in a matter of days. He never expected to find such united, fierce and effective resistance.

It is hard to guess how long it will take, but I am convinced that in the end the victor will be the Ukrainian people. To help, and perhaps also speed up things, we, on the outside, must support them as best as we can, and one essential way is to donate to reputable organizations that are sending aid to Ukraine, or directly to its government through its consulate.

Spinach Pie

This pie, with different ingredients according to the tradition of the region, is served in several countries of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. This is a Greek version.

SPINACH PIE. Photo by Isa Covo.


  • Dough for a double crust 8-inch pie
  • 1 lb. spinach, stems removed
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
  • Or 1½ teaspoons dried, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Rinse the spinach very well to remove all sand, if there is any; drain as much water as possible from the spinach, place it in a large saucepan, and wilt over medium heat, stirring for about four to five minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse again in cold water. Press handfuls of the spinach to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • Chop the spinach coarsely and squeeze it again to remove some more of the moisture.
  • In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add the spinach and stir a few minutes until moisture evaporates. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside until it cools completely.
  • Fold in the crumbled cheese and the egg, reserving one half teaspoon of the egg. Fold in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees; lightly grease an 8-inch tart pan and line it with half the dough. Spread the filling over the dough. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together to encase the filling.
  • Mix the reserved egg with two teaspoons of water and with a pastry brush coat the top of the pie, including the edges with the egg wash. Prick the surface of the pie with the tines of a fork four to five times so that steam can escape while it is baking.
  • Bake in the bottom half of the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is golden and the pie releases easily from the pan.

Yield: an 8-inch savory pie, about 6 servings.

Notes: Traditionally this pie is served with plain Greek yogurt. In some recipes, the filling contains a medium onion, chopped fine and sautéed until golden in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, or a large leek, white part only, chopped fine and sautéed in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, or ¼ cup finely sliced scallions, white part only, sautéed or not. In some recipes dill replaces mint.

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