Dinner Ala Turk

When I invite guests over, normally I cook a mix of Turkish and American foods.  My repertoire of food is what I learned from my mother and the Joy of Cooking.  When I have dinner parties the main dish is usually something American-ish, because I am more comfortable cooking it, and confident a that it will turn out well.  However, the other day I had some friends over, they were both foreigners and did not have the same ample opportunities to eat Turkish home cooking.  The home style of Turkish cooking is very diverse, and particularly tasty.  It is also not usually served in restaurants, so when both members of a couple are not Turkish, they have fewer opportunities to eat what I consider real Turkish food.  I made three vegetable side dishes and one main dish.  I also made cheese cake which I served topped with sour cherries, which I dropped on the kitchen floor trying to put it away. (3/4s was left.  I was fairly irritated.)

Yoğurtlu Pancer Salatası/Beet and Yogurt Salad

Cooked beets, shredded, minced dill and garlic yogurt.

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Zeytinyağlı Pırasa/Leeks in Olive Oil

Leeks and carrots sautéed with olive oil and tomatoes served room temperature.

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Yoğurtlu Havuç Salatası/Carrot and Yogurt Salad.
Sautéed carrots mixed with garlic yogurt.

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Hünkar Beğendi/Sultan’s Delight

OHHHHHH…One of my favorites.  Slowly stewed lamb or beef chucks with tomatoes and peppers on a bed of roasted eggplant that has been whipped with cheddar cheese.

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Dinner was really fun because my friends had never had any of these dishes and were really surprised.  It was also very tasty if I do say myself.  I am getting more confident with my Turkish cooking.  There are still occasional mishaps and my börek is weak, but in general I am coming along.  My Turkish cooking is definitely more developed than my language fluency.

Welcome to the New-ish Year!

I am a little late for the obligatory New Year post, but I have good reasons.  We spent New Years Eve with some very good friends of ours.  It would have been a lovely evening if I had not been huddled under a blanket, drinking herbal tea, being miserable and running a fever.  We stayed until midnight and then headed out.  Bulent tucked me into bed and took care of me for the next couple of days.  I feel much better now, but was really out of it for a week and a half.  I had sort of gotten better but talking (and yelling) at children for seven hours a day really slows down the healing of a sore throat.  I actually sound pretty sexy—if you like a raspy low pitched growl.  Bulent thinks it is cute. 

I was also dealing with the loss of my laptop.   My hard drive crashed.  I lost a little data but I had backed up a few weeks ago.  Luckily, I had it back within a week all fancy and like new.    I replaced the hard drive with a larger one and upgraded from Windows Vista to Windows 7.  So yay!

The new year also started a new adventure…A Masters!  I found a great distance program through a public university in the States.  So that has started and I have completed my first Saturday of homework.  Whee…Graduate level education, here I come. 

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.

Trip to Niğde

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Niğde, where my husband’s mother is from. Niğde is know for its apple production, and his family owns a small apple orchard down there. We were going to watch the harvest. We drove down Saturday and were greeted by chilly weather and rain. We did manage to see Kapadokya’s most intact and well preserved Byzantine Monastery, Gümüşler Monastery. After trudging around in the freezing rain seeing the historical site for several hours, we had a lovely dinner with some extended family.

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In Niğde in mid-October there was already snow on the mountains. Niğde is nestled into the plains surrounded by inactive volcanic mountains.

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When wewere there we were supposed to go to the apple orchards and watch the harvest, but we ran into some trouble. We spent the afternoon in a small village looking for a mechanic, then for a tow truck.

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While we were waiting I took a look around the village.

We saw puppies…we always do.

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Plums drying in the sun.

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Farmers harvesting cabbage.

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That last photo was taken from inside the car on the top of the tow truck. We needed a new radiator and by the time it was fixed it was time to head back to Ankara. It was a whirlwind trip. While we did have some fun we have since decided that we will save trips of five hours of driving or more for long weekends only.

No Internet Connection = Irregular Posting

We won’t have internet for the rest of the month.  So posting may be spotty.  That is fine since it gives me the opportunity to post wedding porn!

So the lowdown on the wedding…It was fantastic!

We had a fairly small wedding on the lakeside.  The actually ceremony was under a tent on the shore and the reception was nearby at the boathouse on the same property. We had a small wedding party, just the matron of honor, the best man and a flower girl.  We wrote the ceremony, which included a ring warming, and the whole thing lasted about seven or eight minutes. 

My friends were amazing.  I had one friend drive up from Kentucky the Monday before the wedding (which was on a Saturday.)  My friend spent the week doing laundry and yard work and anything else that we asked, to help prep for the wedding.  My other friends all helped out and decorated the boathouse for the wedding. 

My matron of honor was amazing.  Not only did she arrange the shower and help with invitations and make my jewelry for the wedding, but she also hosted another one of my friends from out of town.  Her husband actually drove two hours to the airport to pick my friend up.  My friends are wonderful and I am so lucky.

There was one small hitch.  My Matron of Honor got a flat tire on the way to the wedding.  She calls, says she already has the tire iron out and shouldn’t be more than 15 minutes late, just then in the background I hear “That’s a might pretty dress…”  Some boys stopped and helped her and she was only 10 minutes late. It worked out fine.  While we were waiting for her I shoved my future sister-in-law out of the limo to start the ring warming so the guests would get too antsy.  Enough with the talking though….Wedding Porn.

EVILS EYES

Nazar Boncu pinned to my dress

JULIA N ELLIOT

My brother and me at our home.

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My parents, brother and me at the house.FIRST KISS

First Kiss

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Walking out as husband and wife. (Music: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder)

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Walking to the boathouse with my men.

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Wedding cake, which my mother and I made.  She has the skill, I just helped. 

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  View from the boathouse.

More photos coming later, including tales from the Morning After Brunch.  That’s right, my mom threw an after wedding brunch for 75 people and cooked it all herself. And it was tasty!

Pig Roast means pork right?

My cousin lives in New Hampshire, she and her fiancé own several hundred acres of orchard and a couple of houses that sit on the property.  With their gorgeous setting they have hosted parties and weddings over the years.  This year they decided to host a “Pig Roast.”  In translation that means a pig on a spit, cooked for 12 hours, and a keg of beer.  However my cousin, in her infinite class and wisdom, decided to do a whole lot more. I arrived to find the whole orchard mowed, a large tent with several picnic table covered by table clothes, and a tremendous amount of tasty food.  There was guacamole, salad, casseroles, lasagna and paella.  That is right.  This was a “Paella and Pig Roast.”

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(There were two large paella-That’s right, be jealous)

I might have eaten enough to impress the young men there.  I think after my 2nd or 3rd plate one guy told me,  “ I KNEW I liked you!”

Then there was the pig.  Oh the pig! Scary to look at, moist and delicious and tasty!

after wedding 004That was a lot of pork, but I ate as much as I could and then snacked all night!

My younger cousin and his friends were there too.  The young guys thought that the keg would be lonely if they did not keep it company. To do so they decided to do “keg stands.”  I had no idea what this was—I went to an all women’s college-We drank profusely but never standing on our heads.  Our university taught us all about gravity.

after wedding 021“Keg Stands” are when you tip yourself upside down, other people hold your legs steady and you drink directly from the keg tap-while upside down.  This particular guy upped the challenge and started doing upside down push-ups while drinking beer upside down.  Wowza!

I was able to eat copious amounts of food, mostly slow roasted pork, scarf paella and hang out with my cousins all night.  It was a wonderful time and an awesome party!

Family Times Ahead

I looked at the Calendar and all of a sudden we are way into January.  Crazy!  Where did the year go?  January means two things, the first is that my awesome cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Jake, are coming to visit.  It will be amazing and it will be Turkish Foodapaloza.  Jake is totally into food, so I will be using that as an excuse to eat my own weight in just about everything, of course while introducing him to the best and tastiest of Turkish foods.  I will try to record it. 

The second Family Event that January brings is a visit HOME! I will be going home for two AMAZING, WONDERFUL weeks.   I love being with my family, and cannot wait to go home. 

PS: Family I will be wanting Pork. Ham. Bacon. Bacon. Ham.  PORK!  Weird how you always want what you can’t have. 

Parties Are Supposed To Be Fun!

Unless you are planning them.  So this is to be my first big party, ever.  I have hosted large dinner parties, but not full scale bashes.  I am slightly nervous about it.  Part of it is that I don’t know everyone will fit in the apartment, also I am hoping that many people will come.  It is also less common (meaning not at all) to use disposable plates or cups.   Which is great for the environment, but not great for me.  We only have the dishes that my school provided with the apartment.  That means I have two dinner plates, four dessert plates, three soup bowls ( I already broke the 4th) and two wine glasses.  Unless I buy some disposable plates and cups, the people will just have to look at the drinks, or swig out of the bottle.  Which could be fun.

I have brought the American tradition of potluck to the party aka I can’t afford to feed and liquor forty people.  I will be attempting to make eggnog, cookies and mulled wine(Thanks Barbara) as base items on the buffet. Perhaps their will even be some pizza on the horizon.  Please suggest easy to make apps and desserts or magical hosting tips!

My Thanksgiving Tradition

I have hosted Thanksgiving for the last three years. This year is my first year that I am not hosting.  Because I lived in San Diego and my whole family lives on the East Coast Thanksgivings usually included close friends rather than family. To that effect I began to create my own Thanksgiving traditions. I will share with you the most fun: The Apple Cider Martini.

Delicious, simple, and makes Thanksgiving a party!

Apple Cider Martini

2 parts Apple Cider

1 part Vodka

Place vodka and cider in martini shaker with several ice cubes and shake well.

Strain ice out and pour into martini glasses with cinnamon-sugar rim.

If you cannot obtain apple cider, “Simply Apple” juice works well as a substitute.

Cinnamon Sugar Rim

Mix equal amounts cinnamon and sugar. Pour onto plate. Use a lemon slice to moisten rim of martini glass. Dip rim in cinnamon and sugar so that the rim is evenly covered.

Warning: Serve these only after you have finished cooking. I cannot recommend using the stove or handling hot dishes while drinking these tasty martinis. Trust me. Please.