Morel mushrooms and mother’s day…

This was our dinner the other night…

It was ammmmazzzzing…

Since we have been grown…usually my own mother is happily hunting morel mushrooms in the woods instead of with us…which is awesome! She gets this crazy passionate fire in her eyes when she talks about mushroom season and deserves more than anyone some alone time in the woods…

This year everything is early…lilacs, the everything including mushrooms so she had gone the weekend before. Her and her partner in mushrooming crime:) found a haul rain or shine!

We were so blessed to have this gourmet meal shared…a fresh morel mushroom, fresh farm raised eggs, and fresh asparagus omelet…

Note the purple hue of fresh asparagus, so tender, never stringy and from what is left of the little green house, the asparagus and rhubarb patches…

The leaf is a Nettle. They bring us back to Turkey…my cute father-in-law would go pick this prickly green without gloves…ouch! Bring them back for my mother-in-law to saute with onions and lots of olive oil. Side of fresh yogurt… delicious!

Unfortunately no picks yet but my dear hubby has been making fresh yogurt for us. It is amazing how moving across the world brought out the chef in him…I did the same in Turkey…

I don’t have a picture of the final omlette either but you just have to take my word for it that it was one of the best things I have ever eaten;)

On this mother’s day I feel so blessed with two daughter’s of my own. To have the most amazing role model mother as well as dear sweet aunties and mother-in-law!

Thank you everyone for your help!

xo

Inspiration

With beautiful natural eggs colors like these you don’t need to dye eggs for Easter.

Been making connections and finding inspiration in others stories as I let my feelers out into the world.

Some fun things:

A family friend, Beth Mathews especially if you are interested in graphic design but she shares many fabulous things, a big sweetheart…

From Beth I found this textile designer, sewer extrodinar and mother of six, Anna Marie Gorgeous color and patterns.

Locally, I had cut out an inspiring article about a darling colorful baby shoe designer, Chelsea of Chelsea-baby. She started out of her parent’s basement too and is blossoming right now! I was lucky enough to meet her down my street! Chance or fate:)

I had a meeting this week with a store. Although it wasn’t the right fit for the product I have now it made me prepare. I met a nice shop women with lots of high-end retail experience who gave me a lot of feedback and I don’t think will mind if I contact her with future questions. Learned about a cool high end site, twist with delicious jewelry! Thanks Amanda!

Nava Zahavi, who takes Byzantine, this Turkish flair of jewelry to another level!

Dolores Petunia, have been admiring her work for a long time! Colors, colors and quality funky pieces!

My friend Molly, a talented artist who is about to launch an Etsy store…patiently await but here is her blog for now,there there. You should be excited for her watercolors! Thanks for her critics and advice as well!

Mimi…hey girl thanks for the good eye and feedback!

To my mom and hubby for support and watching the bigs(our daughter) so much!

I miss the chickens…

Our neighbors had chickens. We had our dog. All the spare vegetable peels, fruit peels, breads and grains went to feed the chickens. All the meat and macaroni leftovers went to the dog. Nothing was wasted.

As we were moving from Didim the neighbors were too. As the house is their summer house and were headed back to Izmir for the winter. They, yes this happens and is delicious, killed some for meat and some how shoved a few live ones in their Mercedes Benz with them to give to his brother for his farm…real characters to say the least and really nice neighbors.

They left one behind, purposefully so our daughter who had made a daily ritual of walking across the lawn to visit wouldn’t be without one to feed and “chat with” (or scold) as the above photo shows. Or they figured we could have a nice meal one night.

I miss the fresh farm eggs. Every few days my husband and daughter would climb into the little white topless jeep, (carseatless, I prayed everytime) and drive down the dirt roads to go get fresh eggs from the local farmers. It was their cute little ritual which they both loved. At the farms our daughter would pet big cows and their calves, watch the chickens run and scratch for food, feed baby sheep and goats and just have a little thing she did with her “baba”-daddy. I miss my husband.

I miss my husband. She misses her daddy. He misses us but we will all make it through. There is skype…

I miss the chickens, our dog who had to go live with another family, I miss only eating seasonal foods, I miss the freshness of the produce, the pazar where you buy it and being able to taste it all before you buy it!

I miss family and food…that’s what life is all about I guess…

That said I am not looking back about our decision to give MN a try…for the family and food here…

I realize now the huge food waste in this country, portion size is off the charts and everything is wrapped and boxed in copious amounts of plastic. No dogs or chickens to feed the excess to at my mom’s house(although of course we could have them again outside the cities limits) but the city of Wayzata does have a great organics composting program which she faithfully participates in.

All around good to be back and life changes take time to settle into…xoxo

Exploding fig bars…

The Aegean region is literally exploding with this sensitive little fruit. Hence the name! Every where you look, it’s distinct leaves still green even in the heat with fruits bursting about. Literally you know if they are ripe when soft and the end splits open, dripping a sweet nectar.

Although they dry so well I don’t know how to do this (anyone? storage tips?). They spoil really quickly and don’t keep all that great in the fridge so what was I going to do with all these sensitive little figs?

My maximum personal consumption tops at just one or two per day.

At the house sat some from the pazar, some from the trees around the neighborhood, a few really juicy ones from the farmer’s tree where my husband and baby girl had gotten the fresh eggs that morning. They were already split wide open from someones tiny two year old fingers digging into that juicy, gooshy center.

I got on the internet and adapted from there…

This recipe calls for 4 cups of figs and I was surprised I didn’t quite have enough so I added grapes. They are also exteremely plentiful right now. Other recipes called for raisins so why couldn’t I add grapes? Also an after thought was the dried Iranian dates that had hardened and need to be used up.

This recipe is adapted from the California fig site, Fresh Fig Bars

-3 cups peeled and chopped fresh figs
-1 cup grapes
-1/2 cup dried dates
-1 cup water
-3/4 cup honey
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons lemon peel
-2 tablespoons flour
-2 tablespoons water
-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
-1 cup walnuts

-1 cup butter
-3/4 sugar(would have used brown sugar but don’t have it much here)
-2 cups sifted flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
– 3 cups oatmeal

Combine the figs, grapes, dates, honey, water, salt and lemon peel. Heat and simmer for 1- 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally until it looks like a thick jam. Then thicken more with the 2 tablespoons water and flour, mixed then added into the fig mixture. Cook 5 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350° F or 175° C. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.(the original recipe had called for shortening and brown sugar?) Combine flour, salt and oatmeal; stir into creamed mixture. Divide and press half of the oatmeal mixture into bottom of well greased 9×13 inch pan. Spread fig mixture. Sprinkle remaining oatmeal on top. press lightly together.

And yum…

The taste of this recipe is really good. It was a little crumbly and needed to be eaten with a fork. That crumbliness could have come from the slightly strange oatmeal my husband found me? Or because my pan was slightly smaller than the called for and the crusts became thicker?

I sort of had envisioned eating these with my hands; Aunt Polly isn’t it you who makes amazing date bars? I need to the recipe…or Auntie Janie you have those crazy sweet apricot bars too? recipes ladies:)?

Vanilla ice cream or even really good thick Turkish yogurt would be a nice compliment. All my relatives here ate it with tea, of course.

This is what my child was doing as her mother was cooking and taking photos instead of playing with her…

She gave herself a tattoo with a sharpie, a permanent marker her mother so carelessly left out. Whoops. All I could do was laugh, take a picture and notice she did a pretty good job really. I tried to seem mad but I just couldn’t…

My mother-in-law scrubbed her down the minute she saw her like that and says she was going to get ink poisoning…I don’t think so…Sharpies are non-toxic…

My baby liked, or at least like everything, she liked to explore it:)

Unfortunately blurry but tooooo cute none the less!

Affiyet olsun!

xo

Also a Turkish band I love…Pinhani!

eggplant, aubergine, patlican kebab…

What ever you may call this…I say tomato you say tomato…

I learned it as patlican kebap, (eggplant kebab) from my lovely little mother-in-law.

You will need:

1/2 kilo or 1 pound of ground beef

3 small Eggplant(the long skinny type work the best as you will see why from the pictures below)

3 large tomatoes

1 small head of garlic (or large…I heart garlic)

salt and pepper

good olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 F or 175 C

I used a pyrex pan 5×7 inch or 13×18 cm pan

Serves 3-4.

Cook for approximately one hour.

Salt and pepper the ground beef to your liking and knead it in.

One thing I respect about the butcher’s here is that you can’t really find pre-ground beef. It is always ground in front of you as you specify the amount you would like. It took me a while to get used to lamb carcasses hanging from the butcher’s windows but I have come to respect, and/or hope for a level of freshness because of. You have to find your butcher though. I am yet to be very impressed with a big fat med rare filet mignon steak here. In Turkey the beef mainly is well done unless in a touristy area…

Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1 inch pieces. You can salt, wait, rinse and dry if you think the eggplant might have any bitterness to it.

Peel then dice the tomatoes.

My mother-in-law says this is very important to peel as the skins can give a bitterness. Also we seem to peel everything these days for fear of pesticides.

Peel and chop the whole head of garlic.

I find the skins very pretty, like a sheer fabric with the subtle pink hue towards the root.

Have a watermelon in the fridge chilling for dessert.

Give your pan a healthy dose of olive oil. Then start piling in your ingredients as follows…

As you can see alternate meatballs and eggplants around the outer edge of the pan. I like how the shape of this type of eggplant dictates the shape of the meatball.

Fill the inside with your tomatoes and garlic, adding another tablespoon or two of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

Then you are simply ready to stick it in the oven to blend and soften and become quite yummy for your tummy. One pan dinner for your family!

Serve this dish with lots of bread for dipping in that wonderful center sauce and greek-style Turkish style thick savory plain yogurt. Rice pilaf is a good add too. Again to absorb that sauce!

I have loved this dish every time my MIL made it but my husband would point out that the meat would dry out. She makes it is her big oven broiler pan so the tomatoes would cook down and leave the meat to dry out on those edges

I made it in this smaller deeper pan so the lovely tomato garlic sauce keeps the meat nice and moist, then you can use lower fat beef also. They size of your pan can really dictate your ingredient amounts.

It turned out really great. “eliniz sağlık”(health to your hands) from my husband and baby girl ate lots of meatballs.

Affiyet olsun!

Would love to hear from you if you make it…

Did you change anything? How did it go?

Do you have tomatoes and eggplants bursting from you garden?

Lucky you:)

xo

Salad dressing recipe…and the secret ingredient is???

So do you think it looks yummy?

Well what is in there?

3 large potatoes steamed and cooled
1 cob of corn, cut from cob, steamed and cooled
1 large tomato
2 small cucumbers
1 small white onion
1 large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

chop it all up to your liking, fine chunks or hunks…

And the dressing…(approximately- I eye ball and taste)
2 heaping tablespoons extra virgin GOOD olive oil (very, very spoiled by that here on the Aegean coast)
3 heaping tablespoons apple cider vinegar
dash of salt to taste

plus the, drum roll please, secret ingredient…

1 heaping tablespoon sumac flakes

No need to emulsify the oil blah, blah, blah just pour the ingredients right over whatever your salad of choice is for that meal.

Mix well and let it sit as the flavors meld. Dash of pepper could do you good too.

I use this dressing often be it simple green salads or a whatever is in the fridge salad. (My sister is the granola bar rockstar but my mom is the whatever is in the fridge SALAD rockstar!!!)

So my secret sumac ingredient, (sumak in turkish) is no secret at all of course. It has been used for centuries or more. But was very new to me and I believe is for most Americans.

I learned it from the old chef at our cafe…and it’s bomb! He was from Adana in the south east of Turkey. This spice is commonly used there, getting closer to the middle east, as a compliment with kebabs, mmm…mmm…spicy Adana kebaps with a side of an onion, parsley and sumac salad! yes please!

These photos are from a lovely lunch with my hubby yesterday. Despite the heat we sat on the balcony…it was nice our baby girl was napping…we could eat slowly and chat. He doesn’t mind me taking pictures during our meal…very supportive:)

The salad is nice but did you notice the fried cheese…yeah that’s right…fried cheese…

Hellim in Turkish…is a hard, salty(some brands/village varieties need to be rinsed because sooo salty) cheese sliced lengthwise and fried! Turning it into this gooey textured goodness…yum and yum…

Lots of bread is a must, no excuse in a Turkish meal. My sister-in-law wonders how people get full in America if you don’t eat bread with every meal? Do they just go about hungry?

Anyways the bread is always fresh and crusty and serves as a utensil almost, a catalyst really for dipped delights. In this case olive oil from the olive bowl which is always full, ready in the fridge! (There’s my cute hubby reflected on the spoon)

In my Midwestern town we were mainly exposed to black olives that were factory pitted in a can and about the only good thing about them is that it was fun to eat them off the tips of your fingers(You know what I mean right?). Maybe throw some green ones with reds pimentos around too, slice them on your pizza…I guess…

Basically I never really liked olives…

Then I came to Turkey and lived on the Aegean coast…

There are huge (CRAZY ones my husband bought off the side of the road, you can hunt them out like that everywhere here!), big and little, black and green, and pink, and brown and yum and yum…and you can taste them ALL before you buy them (another whole post evolving here)…

But after all that goodness…

This is why I stay…it’s those eyes that won me over even without words…

Well I spilled many secrets today…AFIYET OLSUN!

Homemade granola bars with a Turkish twist…

So my darling middle sister is this granola bar making rock star. She has a science back ground and I think loves and I know is good at formulating new concoctions. I need to ask her for her pina colada granola bar recipe…mmm.mmm. lots of coconut and dried pineapple. (Megs can you be a guest poster, seriously?).

Ever since we went to Brazil and drank fresh shucked coconut water and coconut popsicles on the beach I think that white meaty nut is heaven.

My baby girl loved it too at 11 months…

I have been doing my own searching over the internet for a good granola bar recipe…and many call for maple syrup, corn syrup, rice syrup, brown sugar…never found here. The thing with living abroad is everything is not so easily at your fingertips as in the melting pot/convenience culture that is the United States of America. Well especially not in our little resort town of Didim.

On the plus side what you do find is usually seasonal(meaning found only at it’s peak of flavor-exception- you CAN find tomatoes and a few other staples grown in greenhouses during the winters here too), most is locally produced or at least locally meaning from within the country(not flown from Chile to MN). What many Americans are trying to get back in food Turkey has not lost, yet?

It’s a balance beam…there have been many times I screamed into my pillow for some freaking options.

That said limited resources fuel creativity.

It makes you get back to basics and understand where things come from, how they are made.

My sister tells me all you really need is a good glue anyways.

And let’s be serious… granola is about the most versatile recipe on the planet…

The nuts, dried fruits and honey are all amazing here so this is my adaption of Smitten Kitchen’s thick, chewy granola bars. She has tons of great recipes just search her site!

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (I use the Eti brand if you are in Turkey)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon(if you want)
3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)

I used almonds, hazelnuts, sesame, and coconut

1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used tahini which is sesame paste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, haven’t found that here either)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey(nice amount of honey, not overpowering)
2 tablespoons pekmez (This is a dark molasses made from grapes or mulberries)
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C.

Mix the above dry ingredients in a large bowl, The bottom wet ingredients mix in a smaller bowl.

Combine all well.

Layer an 8×8 inch(20x20cm) pan with parchment that goes up the sides and grease it all up. The pan and the parchment. Bake from 15-40 minutes(very vague but see below)

I didn’t have parchment although you can find it here. I just layed my mixture out on my broiler pan/cookie sheet thing. Looked like a huge cookie. I cooked it for only 15 minutes as my edges started to burn and I think my oven runs hot…trimmed my edges off and they were a hit!

So I know I am a bad blogger when I don’t have the whole process documented or at least the finished project but…

I translated this recipe to Turkish(pretty much by myself thank you!) Oatmeal-yulaf ezmesi isn’t used very much in Turkey but was happy to share this nutritional ingredient with my Turkish neighbors! As this place has taught me so very much!

When you don’t always have the right words pictures work too…in translating this I learned the words for bowl, melted…lots of good stuff…

 

How would you like to get a hand written recipe?

I ball just about everytime I get a handwritten letter from my mom in the mail. Not only does she have a way with words but her nostalgic cursive(who writes in cursive these days?-just my lovely mother)

In a time when everything is on the computer…don’t get me wrong there is some gorgeous fonts out there it is so special to see it written, illustrated. I appreciate these little things in life.

Do you?

Do you covet your grandmother’s handwritten recipes?(we do for the little green house project) Who has all of gram’s? And the love letters from the war?

Do you want to see my sister guest posting her recipes on here? Maybe I can figure out how to do a free printout? hmmmm…she has great handwriting too…

ok quick self…get off this lovely time sucker named the computer and go do your yoga before your two year old wakes up (sometimes one needs to write to oneself)!