Thanksgiving

THXGIVING TURKEY FRUITS N CHEESE

How to have a successful Thanksgiving…

Friends+ Laughter+ Love+ Food+ Wine= Fantasticness

When I first moved away from home I was far enough away that I was not really able to go home for Thanksgiving. I have to admit to a lower lip tremble over that. I am from a very close family and getting together for the holidays has always been very important to us. But since I was away, I decided to make the best of the holidays and to create my own holiday rituals and customs.

I have been very lucky in my Thanksgivings since I left home. The first year, I lived in San Diego, it was just Bulent and me. After the large chaotic extended family Thanksgivings it was a little hard emotionally. However, the high point of that year was that I successfully learned how to cook the entire meal by myself.

The second year in San Diego my BFF from New Hampshire came out with her husband and we had an amazing time. They had never been to California so it was a beach vacation rolled into the Thanksgiving holiday for them. Together we made the meal and had such a happy holiday. It really soothed my holiday homesickness.

The third year in San Diego my cousin had moved to LA and we had many more close friends. That year we hosted a Bad Ass Thanksgiving, complete with apple cider martinis and after Turkey clubbing downtown.

Last year we didn’t host but this year we really did it in style. This was our first “Married” holiday so it was pretty special that way. We had a fantastic Thanksgiving. We hosted 16 people, there was food, conversation and general merriment. We had an amazing time.

In the short time I have been in Ankara I have been lucky enough to make some truly amazing friends. Now I have my family that I was born to and the family that I have made. Holidays are no longer a time of the lower lip trembling– which is excitement in itself.

While Thanksgiving was a blast there was a lot to the preparation because of the amount of food to be cooked.

TXGIV TURKEY 2010 It included–

2 Turkeys
3 Kilos of green bean casserole
4 Kilos of mashed pumpkin
3 Kilos of cauliflower gratin
2 Kilos mashed potato
1 Salad
1 Pecan pie
1 Pumpkin pie
1 Apple pie
1 Crazy Allergic Reaction*

THXGIVING SPIRIT

While I did cook most of the food myself, two of my amazing friends decided to deal with the kitchen afterwards. They did all of the pots and pans, put away the food and in general took care of 90% of the clean up. It was the best gift EVER!

Next year I will re-introduce the apple cider martinis and the dinner may be potluck. It will still be fantastic though, no matter what! All the trappings and trimmings Thanksgiving just disguise the real point of the holiday. A time for our “Framily” (friends+family) to spend time together.

*One of the reasons this post is so late and also will be the subject of the next post.

Döner at Özçelik Aspava

Ridiculous!  I have posted about their döner before, but I feel it needs to be done again.

We ordered döner, the rest you see is complimentary.

Mixed green salad, with a pomegranate molasses dressing.

018

Fresh French Fries with a homemade tomato sauce.

016

Cacık with sumac and mint on top.

   019

And the pièce de résistance : Döner.  I had already had a bite before I took this photo.  I couldn’t wait!

021

The money shot, thinly sliced which had been roasted on a rotating spit.  Served with homemade tomato sauce and sliced onions rolled in a fresh soft lavaş.

 022

This is my favorite place to eat in Ankara.

Summer’s End

Fall is creeping in.  I can feel it in the crisp nights and the sunny days.  At one point in my life I thought Fall would no longer feel like the start of the year.  I thought as I finished school and entered the workforce there would be a separation.  And then I became a teacher, and autumn is forever linked with the smell of new paper and the start of the year. 

Maybe that is why I love Fall.  It is a hopeful time, new students, new schedule and a bright new slate.   I also adore the weather of Fall.  The brightness of the air as the coolness washes over the land, the change of the leaves.  There is something special about waking up and seeing frosted grass, knowing that now the  blades of grass are like green icicles, fragile and dagger like, but as soon as the sun hits it they will be back, fresh, slightly wilted but still tickly beneath bare feet. 

For 3 years I missed Fall.  It does not exist in Southern California.  It skips from summer to winter like a scratch on a CD, one moment you are in your bathing suit on the beach, the next it is cool and you have to wear a sweater–frigid I know.   Here in Turkey it is unfamiliar, yet still the same.  Fall is here, like an old friend in a new country.

Staying.

So as you know, we are staying in Turkey.  While this is exciting, I also miss things from home.  Like sushi and bacon.  There are just some things here that I can not get, or are incredibly expensive.  I certainly miss the convince of the U.S.  I think the biggest difference is in cooking.  It takes me twice as long to cook things here because everything has to be made from scratch.  There are no short cuts.  No cake mixes, or frozen bread dough or pie crusts.  No canned tomato sauce, or semi-prepared veggies, etc.

The good news is that we are eating very little processed food and we have lost weight without trying.  So anyone who would like to send me love swag, otherwise known as care packages, let me know.  In preparation for the flood of goodies, I have started a list. Seriously.