I had hoped to keep blogging when I moved back to the U.S. It’s obvious that it didn’t work out. I was too absorbed in living my life, instead of being an observer, to keep writing. Many things have happened since. I continued working for my non-profit, my career advanced, I made new friends and found a new community. I have lived life to the fullest in Austin, taking advantage of the weather and live music and generally had a blast! I also got pregnant, had a baby, traveled for work, and continue to take advantage of the amazing city in which I live, with one more person in tow.
And now I am back! Four years after we left Turkey, we have returned for a visit. It has been fascinating to be back in Turkey. It simultaneously feels the same and different. While I missed some things, in others I am reminded why we wanted to move back to to the U.S. While I am here, I hope to have a chance to blog about it. This is one of the things, from my time in Turkey, I have missed.
I am waking up everyday so excited for our new adventure. It is getting more and more real! I packed up most of the shipment that will be staying in Turkey (at the summer house) as well as the stuff that will be shipped to the US. We are going to be staying with some friends in Dallas for a while which will give us time to get phones, buy a car, maybe even get Texas drivers licenses. I have to get fingerprinted for my new school as well. We will get all the bureaucratic things done in Dallas, and then we will go on vacation in Austin with our friends. They were the friends we toured Texas with in 2012, and they came to visit us in Turkey last year. I apparently have been very lax on the blogging as I did not blog about the epic international fun. Anyway, we are incredibly excited to be moving close to our friends, Shawn was Bulent’s landlord when he was a grad student in Texas in the early 2000s. Their bromance has lasted and deepened over the years. I met Shawn’s wife Larinda in 2012, two years after she made and sent (to Turkey) the most beautiful shadow box with our wedding invitation and wedding photo. I was so glad we hit it off, and so excited that we will be closer in distance! Whee! 27 days and counting to the move!
This weekend Bülent and I were craving some naughty food, so I pulled out all the stops! I usually can’t eat chocolate desserts here due to cross contamination with hazelnuts. However, if I make it myself with bitter chocolate, I am safe. So this weekend I made some really rich, decadent, chocolatey brownies.
They were practically black with chocolate.
For fun I threw in some chunks of 70% Cocoa dark chocolate!
Super Chocolate Brownies
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 3/4 cup baking cocoa 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 2 tablespoons water 3/4 cup butter 2 teaspoons vanilla
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C. Grease your baking pan. Combine the sugar, cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, water, butter and vanilla and stir well. Optional: Add nuts or chocolate pieces. Spread into pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until knife or toothpick inserted in center comes out cleanish. Let cool before slicing. DEVOUR!
So in June Bülent and I watched the documentary Forks over Knives which promotes unprocessed foods and veganism. It advocates a plant based diet with no refined oils and lower ingestion of oily foods, such as avocados and nuts. We were quite struck with the documentary. While Bülent mostly focused on the health benefits, what struck me was the sustainability. I was amazed how the amount of livestock we require in developed countries affects global warming (10 % of human based carbon dioxide emissions), deforestation, water pollution and soil erosion. According to a 2006 University of Chicago study, if an average American meat eater reduced their intake of animal produce to 25% of their total calories it would reduce their carbon footprint by approximately one ton. However, the largest impact on me was that if that if we ate the produce we grew, rather than using it to feed to farm animals that we will eventually eat, almost every one in abject poverty could be provided with more than they need to survive. When I worked in San Diego it was the first time I dealt with real hunger. Children who were so hungry they couldn’t concentrate in class. I used to carry granola bars in my purse, and had an unlocked file cabinet filled with them. If there is anything I could do to end hunger, I would work towards it, and so have given up meat for the most part.
While we have not adopted a true “plant based” Forks over Knives lifestyle, we have altered our diet. I love a good raw steak , and though I haven’t mentioned it previously, we have been living a mostly vegetarian lifestyle since July. Occasionally we slip (mostly when I am hormonally challenged and crave a steak rather than chocolate) , but for the most part we are vegetarians. We have also cut back our lactose and egg intake by at least 75 percent. Usually the milk in my coffee is the only milk product I eat each week. Occasionally I bust out the non-fat yogurt, especially if I have a funny tummy, but that is an exception.
I love meat, but really haven’t missed it. I feel lighter, and healthier. The grocery bill is also significantly lower. Now that we are eating only veggies and beans, I spend a little more time and energy finding the best and juiciest of whatever I am looking for. The most expensive organic beans are still way cheaper than meat. If I do buy eggs or milk I buy from smaller producers, free-range and organic. Since we are eating less of it, it hasn’t jacked up the bill either. It has definitely been interesting adapting our normal recipes to a vegetarian style. However, it is usually pretty easy and Bülent swears that the vegetarian version of Hünkar Beğendi I made was better than any other he has EVER had. (Secret: for a rich taste—instead of lamb: lentils and chipotle) I will have some vegetarian recipes coming to Close to the Kitchen very soon!
A while back I created an Ev Yemeği/Home Cooking page, which has been sadly neglected, thought I cook all the time. When I post recipes, I have been doing so in a haphazard way. So over the next few weeks I will try to dedicate some time and energy to both posting more recipes and organizing the page itself. I spend a significant amount of my time cooking, and eating, as evidenced by this blog. So here is the beginning of this new branch of Far From the Sticks: