Saved by sardines

It seems that lately I am always biting off more than I can chew, but I think it is symptomatic of birthday season (or actually, of Baki’s birthday, which never seems to end). Baki had a semester break, so we went up to Istanbul for a few days so the boys could see their grandmother and celebrate Baki’s birthday with Ali’s family. On our first day there, we went to the tulip gardens in Emirgan park.Image

It was a glorious spring day, and we were surrounded by thousands of tulips in full bloom. Every great city has spaces where you can forget everything, and Emirgan park is definitely one of those places. It was like something out of a fairy tale. Kaya loved all of the flowers, and wanted to smell them all. Baki declared himself thoroughly bored. (Though he did perk up when we encountered swans in the pond.)

Image

But for some reason, even though we got our trip off to the best possible start, the whole thing felt a bit like swimming in quicksand. I just felt stressed out while we were in the city and had the sense that I was fighting it all the time. The kids were bouncing off the walls, high on sugar and too much TV, and I never seemed to get anything done. It was wonderful to see everyone, and we had a lovely little party for Baki, but mostly I felt really frazzled.

Ali picked us up at the airport yesterday, with me nearly kissing the ground I was so happy to be back. We packed Baki off to school this morning and went out to the garden, stopping, as we always do on Mondays, at the market in Kemer. I stock up on vegetables for the garden and for the apartment, and always stop by the fishmonger – Mondays mean fish for lunch. Now while I was in Istanbul, Ali’s mom and I would sit and have tea before the boys got up and one morning we got to talking about fish because we always eat fish while I am there. I mentioned to her that I had gotten some fresh sardines at the market not too long ago and she said that I ought to cook them in the oven with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. Well that sounded really good, so I got a kilo of sardines, which the fishmonger cleaned for me, even taking out the backbones. And I took them to my kitchen, which is now scented by white wisteria.

Image

I shaved an onion on my deadly mandoline, laid the sardines on top, put some more onions over them for good measure, then scattered some lemon peel around. I poured on the juice of one lemon and some olive oil, sprinkled on a bit of salt, and baked the whole thing for about 20 minutes at 200C. With leftover stuffed grape leaves from Baki’s party and a big salad, it was just the thing to restore my sanity.Image

Sardines to the rescue!