>Christmas roundup

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At what point does it become completely pointless to write about the holidays anymore? Probably weeks ago, but I have been so behind lately. It seems like the weather is just perfect for digging every day, and before we know it our growing season will be in full swing; as usual, we feel as if we are hopelessly behind. Secretly, though, I think we are just a little more in sync with the season than we were last year. Baby steps.

My mother was with us for Christmas this year, our first at home since we moved to Antalya; we went to NY in 2008, not wanting to spend our first Christmas without my dad in Istanbul, and then in 2009 we had our last Christmas at the Istanbul house. This year felt like a real adventure, not least because we were going to be making a turkey in my mud oven! We researched gas ovens like mad, but to no avail — we just could not find one. For some reason, no one in Turkey seems to want a gas oven. Anyway, we warmed up on Christmas eve with a chocolate chip cookies for Santa and a stout little apple pie, then fired the oven again and put in the tiny ham that I had brought back from London.

The oven doorway had long since been destroyed by Baki, so I had to use three rocks all piled carefully together, for the door. It made me feel like Wilma Flintstone, stacking the rocks in the doorway, taking them off, putting them back. Still, we were encouraged by our results.

We decorated the peach tree by the kitchen, and even had a string of lights. Baki was very enthusiastic.

I kept some roots and other scrap wood burning in the oven at night, so that when we awoke on Christmas morning the oven was still warm. After Baki inspected his stocking, we had pannetone and coffee for breakfast and opened presents while I got the oven going again. We put the turkey in at around 10. We took it out after about an hour because the temperature had dropped, fired the oven again and put it back in.To our surprise, about an hour and a half later, it was cooked! We hadn’t stuffed it (we baked the stuffing and drippings last), so that made things go faster.

We put the bird in one last time to brown it, using my mother’s time honored formula of soy sauce, sugar and water on the skin, then put in the stuffing. The bird looked pretty magnificent in the end:

And all thanks to my mom! I never in a million years would have dared attempt a turkey in that oven if it hadn’t been for her.

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