Asleep at the wheel

I had planned to write yesterday’s post after putting Kaya to bed, but I hadn’t planned in falling asleep with him! I woke up a few times in the night wondering groggily what time it might be before konking out again. I guess I was tired.
Anyway, I’m back again and I wanted to share one quick glimpse of another market. On Monday, Ali and I headed out to the garden together and on our way we stopped at the weekly market in Kemer.
Kemer is a mid-sized town halfway between central Antalya and our garden. It is a very pretty place, but I find it a bit depressing because its whole existence is centered on tourism. There is, to me, an air of desperate interest in anyone from out of town in a place like that, and I prefer places where everyone is too busy going about their business to pay me much mind.

20131120-221210.jpg
Still, they’ve got a fantastic market. I took this one photo as I neared a table piled high with appetizing cabbages (my current vegetable obsession, though pumpkins are a very close second these days) and I heard Ali start to mutter. I’m used to marketing on my own, so much so that I felt quite excited that we were out together in a market day; it felt like a real outing. So to keep the peace, I didn’t shoot any more pictures as we shopped.
We got two lovely sea bass for lunch, though, so I felt quite richly rewarded for our trip to the market.

Seeing double

The boys have been leaping out of bed at 6 lately, so we have long crazy mornings. Today, Ali was in the apartment with us, so we drew a bath and he and Baki got in. I went to the kitchen to rustle up some breakfast and Kaya ran in, stark naked having apparently changed his mind about joining the guys in the tub.
After I got some clothes on him, I started grating sweet potatoes to make sweet potato hash – the fastest way I know to get sweet potatoes on my fork . You just grate the sweet potatoes on a box grater or in a food processor. Then what I like to do is sauté a chopped onion and add some minced meat. Once that is browned, I add the sweet potato and stir and scrape it once in a while so that I end up with lots of lovely browned and caramelised bits in a big mess of hash, sweet as can be.
By this time, Baki is wandering around in his bathrobe and Kaya is shoving me aside to get into the drawer for two butter knives to play a game called Chön. It goes like this: he bangs the two knives together while running through the house, yelling, “Chön! Chön!”
I get another pan going and scramble an egg for Kaya. Baki won’t touch eggs at the moment, so he gets apple with sunbutter. Then I crack a couple of eggs into the pan for Ali and me. I can fit a third egg in, I think, and crack another egg into the pan. And the egg stares right back at me with its two yolks.

20131118-213558.jpg
Someone laid a double yolked egg! I don’t know if it’s a one-off or not. I mean, I’ve seen baskets of double yolked eggs for sale in charcuteries in Istanbul, so presumably there are hens who make a habit of this sort of thing. All I can say for sure is, it made me smile and forget the morning mayhem entirely.

Time marches on

There are these moments kids have when they are, suddenly, all grown up. They sleep through the night (still waiting, Kaya…), start to talk, or go off to school without glancing back over their shoulders. It happens over and over again, these little transformations that force us to reconsider who they are.

20131117-220102.jpg

The last time I showed you these chickens, they were eggs wrapped in Kaya’s socks. My mother had brought them for me to hatch in the incubator and now, after a few mishaps along the way, we have seven chicks from those eggs. (There are 4 lavender Ameraucanas and 3 Copper Marans.) I stopped to watch them for awhile on my way out to the manure pile and thought of how far they’d come. How did they get big enough to range free?
They were very busy scratching around, and it is a funny thing , but those tearing, grasping feet, which can destroy newly transplanted seedlings in an instant, are a heartwarming sight in the right context. Meanwhile, in the Orchard Coop, our Australorps are just starting to lay, so they’ve come full circle – from eggs to eggs.

Curing sweet potatoes

20131116-084353.jpg

We had two beds of sweet potatoes this year, with four different varieties – two white and two orange. This is one of those things I grow because I love them and they are hard to find here (and expensive when I do), which puts them in the same category as things like Chinese veg and asparagus. My mother very kindly brought over some sweet potato plants for us, as I didn’t have any sweet potatoes to sprout – it’s been a few years since the last time we grew them.
We had eaten the leaves while the plants were growing, which my mom really enjoyed but she was going to be leaving before we lifted the potatoes themselves. We dug up a little sweet potato for her to try. I left it on the counter for a few days, but when we ate it I was pretty underwhelmed. There was a lovely earthy flavor to it, but it just wasn’t very sweet.
Then I ran across this article from Mother Earth News. I may be the last person in the world to learn about this, but in case I’m not let me just say that the difference was huge. Apparently, my sweet potatoes needed time in a warm spot for their sugars to fully develop. I didn’t follow the directions to the letter – I just put the sweet potatoes in a warm room that gets some afternoon sun and shut the door to keep the heat in. When I tried baking a little specimen after a few days, it was like eating a marshmallow, only ten times tastier. No joke.

Market day – Thursday

Image

A friend of mine recently commented that although I am living in both the city and the garden, our city life is underrepresented in these posts. Of course, I began writing here when I was only living in the garden, and it has remained my focus but I see now that it is quite true that as a portrait of our daily lives, this blog is fairly unbalanced. This month is as good a chance as any to rectify that, and I wanted to start out by profiling one of the weekly markets that I visit.

I would love to say that we grow all of our own food but sadly that is not the case (although it is our objective). For the time being, then, I visit the weekly vegetable markets around town to fill in the gaps. When Ali joined me in China way back in 2001, he was surprised that there was a daily vegetable market outside the university gates. It ran from about 5 to 730, and was frequented mostly by the neighborhood retirees. I used to go out and do Tai Chi at 530 with a group of retired teachers, and then we would all head out the gate to peruse the market. The predawn hours in Harbin were the domain of the elderly, lining up to buy milk from a man on a tractor, or haggling with the doufu-sheet man, selling his wares off the back of a motorcycle. In the winter months, vegetables were displayed under thick cotton quits to keep them from freezing, or else inside styrofoam coolers.

When I entered the Thursday market in our old neighborhood of Sirinyali, I was struck by how fresh and lively everything looked. Here in Antalya, it is not the cold that zaps produce, but the heat. All summer long, the veg look beleaguered and parched. Now, with a few good rain storms under our belts and temperatures barely lifting out of the 80s, there seems to be a collective sigh of relief and feeling of weightlessness. And there is so much great veg to be had!

I apologise for the photos — I know they aren’t great. I was using my phone, and if you can believe it the memory was all used up (I think I had better check and see if Kaya and Baki have been taking large sets of photos…) but I get to this market so rarely, I thought this might be better than nothing. I’ll take the real camera next time.

At the entrance to the market, there is an area where people come to sell stuff from their gardens. It is far less formal than the market itself, which is neatly lined up on tables along the side of the road, but I like shopping here better because it is all local and in season and from gardens as opposed to the stuff from the wholesalers.

Image

Under the olive trees, there is milk for sale, home made butter and cheese, eggs and nuts as well as the usual market offerings. The white corn in the photo above is an unusual sight — I usually only see yellow in the markets. There are usually folks selling offbeat finds like fresh pecans, or medlars, and in the spring you might come across wild asparagus or morels. I’ll visit a few more local markets in the coming weeks so that you can see how they differ from neighborhood to neighborhood.

 

Attack of the nosy neighbor

Every Sunday, the boys and I leave Ali in the garden and go back to our flat in town so Baki can go to school. But I try to make it back out to the garden twice a week so I can get some things done.
It is about 8 km from the main road up the mountainside to our dirt road, and as I pass by I always peer out at the neighbors’ houses. We don’t have any really nearby neighbors – our house is one of two on our road (although there are some pomegranate orchards as well) – but these are a few of the gates that I pass on my way up:
P

20131113-205410.jpg
I have always thought this boat looked a bit out if place. I mean, the sea is nearby, but a mountainside is a mountainside, no matter how close the water is. We see land crabs on the road sometimes, though and they make the boat seem less weird.

20131113-205817.jpg
This is Huseyin the hunter’s house. He and his wife live here during the warm months, but once the persimmons from their trees are ripe and in crates, they move down to sea level. They are my role models for old age – he lolls around on the porch all day while she climbs the fruit trees and eats fruit, beaming from between the branches.

20131113-210202.jpg
I’ve always liked the way the drive curves out of sight from the gate at this house. This is also the part of the road that I remember from the first time I ever came up here so it makes me nostalgic.

20131113-210442.jpg
And this is my favorite gate, belonging to one of our closer neighbors, a friendly guy who has nearly flattened my car with his tractor – twice. We really need to do something about that blind curve in the road by his house.
I forgot to take a picture of our gate, but to be honest it’s not very welcoming – it’s got a slight Fortress if Solitude vibe. It’s a perfect expression of Ali’s hostility towards goats. To be fair, though, we couldn’t have much of a garden if we didn’t keep them out. (The neighbors pass by with their herds twice a day in the cold months.) Before the fence and the gate, we simply couldn’t plant a thing. I remember one memorable morning, though, I was cleaning up after breakfast and I felt eyes on me. I looked up and discovered the house was surrounded by goats. Oh and that was the year that we were covered in ticks all spring.

Kaya’s foot photos

I plugged the iPod into the computer this morning and found 420 photos that Kaya had taken. Now, these 420 photos were of about 9 different things — Kaya is definitely what you would call a trigger-happy photographer. What I thought was kind of funny was that most of the photos were of his feet. It’s a bit of a non-sequitur, but here are some of Kaya’s foot portraits.

There is a series of foot-in-car shots:

black foot sneaker sock

A foot at home:

foot at home

And two foot with family shots:

foot on table

foot and head

None of us were aware that he’d taken any of these masterpieces.