Summer BBQ

I LOVE food.  ALL FOOD.  As my husband will attest while shuddering with repulsion and distaste, I will eat anything.  I will try anything once or twice (sometimes you need more than one tasting.)  I have no prejudice when it comes to food and will eat it mild or spicy, hot or cold, offal or vegetarian.   Seriously.  One of my favorite foods in TR is Kokoreç—lamb intestines…YUM!

But, there are some things that I miss.  Like tender, fresh, native summer corn and  Pork, Pork, Pork, Ham and Bacon…

While my husband was here we had a lovely barbeque, including some of my favorite things that I missed the most.

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Sweet NH Native Corn…

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Salad of Field Greens picked from Mom’s Garden

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Homemade Potato Salad

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Hotdogs, Hot and Sweet Pork Sausages

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YUM!

Fun Times with the FamFam

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Chemotastic!

This week we are back on chemo–Dad’s third round. While he does have some side effects and major fatigue he is in a pretty good spirits. When I came back he warned me that sometimes when he doesn’t feel well he is a ornery bastard (his terminology might have been just “cranky.”)  However, lucky for all of us he has been pretty chipper and not so cranky, though we would have overlooked it if he had been curmudgeonly.   His taste buds have  been slightly altered so we have been plying him with ice cream—so that have helped too!

Recently, we had some good news.  Apparently our darling SOB has started down the lovely path of telling Cancer to “F*ck Off!”  His nasty, fancy, rare tumor is starting to shrink significantly.  We just need it to keep doing so and his prognosis will alter dramatically.  Honestly, I think he is too stubborn for this bitch of a tumor to beat him.

I can hardly believe I have been home for more than three weeks. Alas it is true. On Sunday I drove down to Massachusetts with Bulent and dropped him off at the airport. We won’t see each other in person for a month. I will be exhausted by the time I get to Turkey. The problem is, I don’t sleep very well by myself. I am kind of like a toddler in that I talk myself to sleep–but I prefer an audience. Plus… I like to snuggle. My parents’ dog is too big and skittish to sleep with and the cat used to be feral and is not super cuddly. It likes to love you from a distance and on its own terms.  My brother will let me hold his hand during scary movies, but we are a little too old to cuddle.  Anyway he has a gorgeous girlfriend who he would prefer to snuggle with anyway.

So life in NH is going smoothly and without crisis.  Plus, the neighbors are still spoiling us with yummy soups and dishes like Pad Thai!  I may no longer be in the city or “Far from the Sticks,”  but our “sticks” are the place to be!

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Amasra: Last Road Trip with the FamFam

Before the wedding, when my parents were in Turkey we took the opportunity to see as many parts of Turkey as possible.  We went to Cappadocia and saw the fairy chimneys.  Then we started on our Black Sea tour.  The first stop was Safranbolu, and the next was Amasra.

Amasra is a small town on the Black Sea,.  The industry is primarily fishing and tourism.  The trip there is pretty amazing.  You have to drive through the mountains, there are one lane bridges and high passes through the mountains when the road ends six inches from a hundred foot sheet drop with no guardrail.  While the driver has to have their eyes glued to the road the passengers can enjoy the troop.  The drive is incredibly scenic.  From the last mountain you drive up and over there is an amazing view of the town of Amasra.  AmasraIt is on a protected cove with two small peninsulas shielding it from the main sea.  Amasra is best known for its delicious fish and the “Amasra Salad”

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A mix of lettuce, arugula, green onions, green garlic shoots, dill, radishes, parsley, pickled beets, carrots and some other delicious and spicy additions.

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We were there in the off season so it was nice and quiet.  We were just there to enjoy the sights and the fish.  What was interesting was that people were trying to pick us up.  There were some older women waiting on the streets, and when we parked the car they raced up to us, competing over offering us rooms at their pensions or homes.

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We ended up staying in a hotel right on the water.  The pensions offered by the women who were cruising us were well priced and safe, but not on the water.  We were only there for one night and so we wanted to be able to appreciate the sea.

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We had a fantastic time and it was a lovely trip with my parents.  We headed back to Ankara the next day to see some of the local sites and get ready for the Turkish wedding.

Safranbolu

While my parents were here they wanted to head up north as well.  My mom did not want to make plans or reservations, just to play the adventure by ear.  So one day we hopped in the car and drove north towards the Black Sea.  We stopped in Safranbolu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well preserved Ottoman-era houses and architecture.

TR Adventures and Wedding 009 We had a lovely time.  We stopped and had a bite to eat at small cafe and then explored town. Yes, in this photo I am on the phone.  I had checked for local hotels and was calling to see if there was room for the night.

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And there was!  We stayed at Mehves Hanim Konagi, it was a lovely old Ottoman Style house, wonderfully refurbished. The proprietor was great.  Since it was just my parents and me we thought we could share a large room.  However, since there was no room with 3 beds (only cots for children) she gave us two rooms for the price of one.  IMG_0471

Later we hiked all around town.  There is a large covered pazar which sells all kinds of goods.  Above the city on a hill there is a small park.  For a lira admission you can go in and see a panoramic view of the whole town.  Up on the far side you may be able to see a large yellow building.  That is a restored Ottoman mansion, which is now a museum.TR Adventures and Wedding 013

The museum hosts photos and examples of Safranbolu’s history and culture, though all the explanations are in Turkish.  It also has a gallery of local women’s art work.

After exploring Safranbolu a little morn the next morning we headed off in the morning to the next town on our list.  While it was not too far on the map, it took us longer to reach Amasra than we had thought.  Between the construction, the one-lane bridges and the mountain passes without guardrails it was an exciting drive.   More on that later.

Kapadokya with the FamFam

The trip to Kapadokya with my family was fantastic!  We stayed at an adorable little place in Goreme.   The owner was incredible helpful.  He steered us to some really wonderful small family owned restaurants where we had some truly incredible food.  I even went back to one of them later and learned how to make Turkish Manti (ravioli).

Showing my parents the incredible rock formations, with their amazing natural properties and unbelievable carvings and churches was really wonderful.  I was so excited to share my favorite parts of my new country with my Famfam.

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We stayed in a lovely hotel which had a great view of the valley of Goreme.

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We had two rooms on slightly different levels.  The rooms themselves were carved into the rock walls of the fairy chimneys.

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We shared a balcony which worked out very nicely for post hiking cocktails.

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My parents were game for all kinds of hiking and tromping.  We climbed hills and rocks, looking for the best views.

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This visit to Kapadokya we actually had time to hike in Ihlara valley.  This is a valley about 45 minutes away from Goreme.  To enter the valley you have to climb down about 400 steps because the valley walls are made of sheer rock cliffs.  Into these cliffs thousands of year ago people had carved large and elaborately decorated churches complete with vivid frescos.  There are also many cave-dwellings carved into the rock as well.

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We hiked from the halfway down the valley to the end and saw several lovely churches and lots of cave dwellings.

056  A stream ran through the middle of the valley separating the two sides.  At the end of the valley we wanted to walk back on the other side to see different scenery but there was no bridge.  We intrepid explorers found a shallow spot to cross and trudged through.  The effort to get to the other side was rewarded as the path was beautiful and there were several more churches on that side.   047

We also managed to visit a few wineries and take advantage of the regions other natural attractions.

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The Beloved Chick Magnet

See the faces of those people behind me in line?  They are disapproving because they think we are flirting in front of Dolmabache Palace, Ataturk’s residence.  In reality, what the are seeing is me being manhandled by my younger brother.  He loves that he is bigger, and likes to prove that to me.  He has no mercy.P6112409

He also does not lie, cheat or steal.  He is kind to children and animals.  He is witty and erudite.  My friends also tell me he is handsome.  Or in NH, “Wicked hot.”

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He is my baby brother, a great guy, and a good friend.  He is also turning 22. Happy Birthday Elly.Elly  I love you.

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Even though you have no mercy.

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Transcontinental “Meet the Parents”

When my parents came to Turkey, we visited all types of beautiful and historic sights, however the main reason was to meet Bülent’s parents.

Quick back-story: Bülent is Turkish (as you might have guessed.)  We met in Cambridge (Massachusetts) my junior year of college, I was attending nun-school (All-Women’s college—I loved every minute of my feminism injection.)  And he was getting his Masters from a school that he would prefer I not mention because he hates to name drop. (Hint: They hate Yale) We hit it off despite some minor issues.

Him–Why won’t you come to the bar with me? 

Me–Well, hmmm, maybe later. 

Him–When then? 

Me–A few months sound good?

We have been dating for over four years, and got engaged this February.  So we thought it was time that the parents should meet.  We weren’t too worried as our parents are all well behaved.  However, there was a lot of planning and coordination for the trip.  Also, my family does not speak Turkish and Bülent’s mother is not fluent in English.  While you might think this would be awkward (it was a little) it was also helpful. When strangers meet and engage in small talk it can always be awkward.  But, there was a valid excuse for gaps in conversation which allowed everyone some respite.

The meeting of the parents went well, but I had developed a pretty severe stomachache that would not go away. Here is the gang, assembled for brunch.  It was great that they got to meet each other, as living in separate continents it was not likely that they would bump into each other at the grocery store.

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