Home is … where my yarn is ?

I is back !! 3.5 months away in a loud district of Istanbul and of all times during the election campaign, made me appreciate the silence here so much more. I had a good time in Istanbul and charged a lot of energy, but I couldn’t meet all the friends I wanted to meet … well maybe in a few years then. I did meet this lovely creature at my aunt’s place though :)

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Thankfully my mom was there with me for a month and made me finish THE EuroBlanket :) She also crocheted parts of it and the last lines around the blanket as well. And my aunt helped a bit too. Some squares are from her. So, a special thanks to my mom and aunt !!

Now, we the team, have to decide where to sell it, to which price, and whether to a fix-price or auction ? Let the comments and suggestions come in :) Maybe we should put a poll on the EST blog as well.

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The blanket measures 126 x 96 cm. Not all the granny squares I received were used here, because not all of them were the same size. I’m planning to make them into cushions and list in our charity shop.

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Memories of India and yet another recipe

Yesterday I went to an Indian store and felt like stepping into my memories of a trip to India a few years back ( see some photos here ). The atmosphere, the smell, the bits of Hindi I picked up whilst strolling the aisles, and the head-wiggling of the staff must have done it.

I remembered the words written down on the business card the owner of the hotel I stayed in Mumbai gave me: a Home away from Home. Even though I prefer food that hasn’t travelled half the globe, I can perfectly understand why people want to have a piece from Home where ever they go, may it be in form of a grocery store. When you are an immigrant you learn to value the new things you find at your new home, but you also realise that the old things never taste like they used to “back home”. In my case this means that every winter I try to hunt down tangerines and every summer I try to hunt down watermelons that come all the way from Turkey.

One thing from my India trip I remember vividly, is the Delhi-Mumbai flight I took with Air India. Oh, I enjoyed every bit of it .. the chaos at the airport, my conversation with the lady at the check-in counter who initially sent my baggage to the wrong airplane, the interested stares and smiles from the passengers, and the huge meal … a huge portion of delicious okra and the hottest green chilli pepper I have ever tasted.

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The okra dish made me realise that we in Turkey have a way of turning everything into a torture :) Okras can get very slimy when they touch water. So, in Turkey, we buy the tiniest of Okras so that we don’t have to cut them and later we spend ages to scrape away the brown edge around the stem without damaging the Okra itself. That way the inside never touches water and we end up with a nice, slime-free dish. In India, the Okras are huge. They do cut them but don’t use water while cooking. Simple solution.

Ingredients:

  • 300 gr fresh okras ( to serve 4 people )
  • 2-3 table spoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tomatoes ( peeled and finely chopped )
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of pea flour
  • 1 teaspoon of hot paprika paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper powder
  • salt and pepper

Procedure:

Wash your okras a few hours before you want to cook them so that they have time to dry completely. Chop them into small pieces of ca. 2 cm.

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Heat a pan, put 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in it and let it get hot. Put in the okras and let them cook for about 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally (ca. every 2 minutes)

Once the okras are tender put them out of the pan and set aside.

Put another 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan and add the pea flour. Stir it for about a minute and add the tomatoes. Now add all the spices and the yogurt. Bring the mix to a boil. If it gets too thick you can add some milk ( I used about 1/4 cup of milk ).

Now you can add the okras into your sauce and let them cook on low heat for about 20 minutes.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

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Menemen – Recipe

My Turkish friends might laugh this recipe off, because this is one of the dishes that is being made so often that it is not considered a proper dish anymore :) Nevertheless, it is a favorite among students who live away from their families (i.e., their mothers) and everyone who wants to fix a meal the quick way.

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 onion ( chopped )
1/4 paprika ( chopped )
3 tomatoes ( peeled and chopped )
some parsley
some garlic ( optional )
salt, pepper
5 eggs

Procedure:

Melt the butter in a pan add the oil and heat it up. Throw in the onions and paprika, close the lid of the pan, bring to minimum heat and let it simmer for 7 – 10 minutes until the onions are supersoft. Increase the heat and put in the tomatoes, the parsley, and garlic. Let it simmer for 3 minutes and add some salt and pepper. At the last step break the eggs into the pan and stir until the eggs are thoroughly cooked (ca 3 minutes).

I love to eat it with yoghurt and a small slice of whole wheat bread - bon appetit !

Preparation time: 25 minutes

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Dental Tales

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Under normal circumstances, these lovely looking, delicious, mouth watering ( ok I stop) bars of Marzipan chocolate, would last for a week and a half. But it has been 3 weeks since I bought these and I’m not done even with one bar. What happened?

Well .. I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago. I had tooth ache and wanted to make sure that it is nothing important, like some kind of inflammation that could spread to other teeth or something. My dentist made several tests and said to me that my tooth died and it needed a root canal therapy.

I had several in the past and don’t dread the pain, even though I don’t let the dentist use anesthesia. I very much dislike painkillers. I want to feel what happens with me and when my situation gets better and worse. In cases like this, I like to make the best of the situation and experiment with pain. How much can I stand? What happens when I concentrate on something else? Can I make the pain move from one place to another? etc.

For years, I was thinking that dental problems are simply genetics related. That some people have strong teeth and some don’t … simple. After all I brush, I floss, I eat healthy (or so I thought), but still have problems with my teeth. And my dentists always would say that there is not much to do apart from that … that we have to live with it.

I’m wondering why is that so. Other doctors always look at you in a somewhat judging manner when you become ill, as if saying “what have you done to get sick like that, you are not a child anymore, you should know what is good for you, etc”. But with dentists, this is different. They just drill and fill and say to come again in a few months. Not a word about effective prevention besides “brush your teeth after eating candy”.

Well, turns out it doesn’t matter that much if I brush my teeth after eating candy or not. The problem is how the blood sugar levels fluctuate and affect the rest of the system. After all our blood transports all the necessary minerals and vitamins to the various parts, including our teeth.

When we take a look at the common diet of todays people living in the ‘civilized’ world, we see that almost everything we eat raises our blood sugar levels, because they contain processed white sugar and white flour. And the body gains nothing from either .. they have no nutritional value whatsoever. High sugar levels in the blood cause the body to try to regain its balance, which takes time and during this time our immune system becomes vulnerable. I even found a list of 146 reasons why sugar is ruining your health

I always heard people saying that white sugar and white flour are bad. But they always talked about it in relation with body weight. And to be honest, I don’t mind  a kilo or two more on my bones, if it means that I can enjoy my ’sensible’ daily portion of chocolate. If I knew that it affects the body (and the teeth of course), impairing its health from the inside, I would have stopped eating them a long time ago.

Better late than never, right? For more than 3 weeks now I don’t eat white sugar and white flour. And I am surprised how easy the transition was. Every two days I take a tiny bite of chocolate, though :) The immediate effects of my new diet, which contains no processed food from the shelves except milk and yoghurt, has been:

  • 1.5 kg weight loss in the first 10 days without doing anything else
  • stronger teeth: I was very much surprised to see some results so fast

So now my challenge is to analyse my diet and look whether it contains the minerals and vitamins the body needs and then to adjust it to get the required daily amounts (not less and not more).

The second challenge is to find out how different elements of nutrition affect each other, so that I can add good combinations to my diet and avoid bad ones. For instance, calcium seems to affect the absorption of iron in a bad way.

Lot’s of research to be done on my side :) I will share the results here .. stay tuned :)

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Calzone Recipe

Here comes my beloved calzone recipe. I just made a new batch and my folks aaah’d and hmmm’d a lot … so, here you go =)

Ingredients

… for the dough

1 kg flour
350 ml warm milk (= 1.8 cup)
200 ml warm water (= 1 cup)
2 teaspoons (1 package) dry yeast
9 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons of sugar

… for the filling

You are actually free to put whatever you want in it. Your favourite pizza topping will do.

Procedure

Put some of the water in a cup and slightly mix in the yeast. Add a teaspoon of sugar and let it wait for 5 minutes.

Put the flour, milk, rest of the water, oil, salt, rest of the sugar, and the yeast+water mixture into a bowl and knead well. Put a cloth on top of the bowl and let it rest for about an hour.

After the dough has grown to approximately twice its size, make little balls (a little larger than a walnut) out of it and put aside.

Roll out each ball to approximately 14 cm in diameter (= 5.5 inch). Put 1,5 tablespoons of the filling on one half of the dough, fold over the other half and tightly secure the borders =)

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Bake at 200 C (= 390 F) for about half an hour or till they look brown and crisp.

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Walnut-Apple Dessert

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Every time I make this dessert I decide to make it more often. Much, much more often. But then something happens and I wait till the next time when I expect guests.

This recipe will serve 8-10 people.

Ingredients:

… for the apple layer
2 ground apples
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
100 gr ground walnuts

… for the biscuit layer
50 gr ground petit beur biscuits

… for the pudding layer
1 lt milk
50 gr cornstarch
7 tablespoons sugar

Procedure
… the apple layer
Put the ground apples in a pan and let it cook over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Add the sugar and cook till the mixture gets dry. Add cinnamon powder and walnuts. Mix well and remove from heat.

… the pudding
Mix cornstarch and 100 ml of the milk in a separate cup and set aside. Mix the sugar with the rest of the milk in a pan and bring it to a boil. Add the milk+cornstarch mixture and stir well till the mixture thickens (appr. 3 minutes). Remove from heat.

Now put a layer of pudding in your serving cup.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of the ground biscuits.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of the apple mixture.
Add another layer of pudding.
Done !!

Let it cool in the fridge and serve with cinnamon on top. Bon appetite !!

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For the language lovers out there …

Nowadays I’m following Tim Ferriss on Twitter ( I still think that ‘following’ is a creepy word for that, though ). He mostly gives useful links, but doesn’t tweet as much so that you can go to sleep without worries that the next day your tweetlist will be full with links.

Though I’m more interested in his language learning related posts, his blog is informative in many ways. Even more so because he tries everything out himself and reports the results, saving you and me a lot of energy and time.

He recently tweeted about a site ( Etymologically Speaking ) with a list of some curious word origins. Here are some of my favourites that I found very interesting:

Quintessential
From the medieval Latin, “Quinta Essentia,” or “the Fifth Essence” — what we would now call, “The Fifth Element.” That which is quintessential is of the fifth element that would come after the four classical elements (earth, wind, rain, fire). The OED summarizes this original sense best, “The `fifth essence’ of ancient and medieval philosophy, supposed to be the substance of which the heavenly bodies were composed, and to be actually latent in all things, the extraction of it by distillation or other methods being one of the great objects of alchemy.”
“Quintessential” began life as an alchemical term, the Quinta Essentia, the fifth that arises from the four elements you mention in your etymology. The Fifth was thought to be the fabled Philosopher’s Stone which the alchemists sought, a Stone that could cure illness, extend life, and turn base metals into gold and silver. How to combine the four elements to make the Fifth was the great problem of alchemy (from the Arabic “al-kimiya”).

Robot
Robot comes from the Czech word “robot,” which means “worker.” In 1923, Karl Capek, a well-known, Czech, science-fiction writer at the time, wrote a futuristic thriller about a nightmarish scenario in which the machines have taken over (a la, the “Terminator”) and implanted circuitry in humans to make them into mindless zombies willing to serve them as workers or “robots.”

Schlaf (German) Sleep
Originally meant, “the process of becoming tired”

Suede
Gants de Suede is French for “gloves of Sweden.” It was in Sweden that the first leather was buffed to a fine softness, and the French bought the gants de Suede. Suede now refers to the buffing process–not to any particular kind of leather.

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Cabbage Stew

My mom didn’t cook cabbage stew as we were children and I discovered it only a few months back myself. I loved it and keep making it since.

As Renate from kreativlink just asked for an easy recipe for cabbage, I thought it is a good time to put my recipe online.

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So, here it is to serve 4-5 people

  • 500 gr cabbage
  • 100 gr minced meat (optional if you are a vegetarian / vegan)
  • 100 gr rice
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika or tomato paste
  • salt

Cut the cabbage into slices and the carrot into cubes. Put everything together in a pan and cover with water. Let it come to a boil, add salt. Reduce the heat and cook … well … till it is cooked.

Serve with yoghurt and chilli on top. Bon appetite !!

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Walnut-Fig Dessert

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I wanted my first blog entry to be something appealing and sweet. What better than sharing a recipe of one of my favourite desserts, right ? :-)

This recipe is originally from the Turkish blog “ Portakal Agaci ”. However, I adjusted it a little bit.

Ingredients:

… for the cake
3 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of grind walnuts
1 cup of flour
1/2 package baking powder (appr. 10 gram)
6-7 dried figs (steeped in warm water for 10 minutes and finely diced)

… for the syrup
550 ml warm water
50 ml milk
1/2 cup of sugar

… for the topping
40 gr cornstarch
6 tablespoons sugar
800 ml milk

Procedure

… for the cake
Beat eggs with sugar thoroughly. Add flour + baking powder + walnuts and mix well. Finally add the figs and mix again. Pour the batter in a baking pan and bake at 160 C.
Stab the cake with a fork in order to get little holes so that the syrup is being immersed better in the next step.

… for the syrup
Mix everything well and pour on the cake 5 minutes after the cake has been removed from the oven.

… for the topping
Mix cornstarch and 100 ml of the milk in a separate cup and set aside. Mix the sugar with the rest of the milk in a pan and bring it to a boil. Add the milk+cornstarch mixture and stir well till the mixture thickens (appr. 3 minutes). Remove from heat and pour over the cake 5 minutes after you poured the syrup on the cake.

Serve with cinnamon on top. Bon appetite !!

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