Big cheer, medium cheer, little cheer.

We have been celebrating some around here, some things quietly, some not.

To begin with the least quiet celebration imaginable, Baki had his first proper birthday party yesterday (although he turns 8 on the 28th). Until last year, I was able to convince him that birthdays were something celebrated with your family. Then he started primary school and the invitations started coming and the cat was out of the bag.

Baki wanted to have his party at McDonalds, which I can completely understand since at his age my greatest hope was to have a birthday party at Burger King (and just for the record, mom, I am soooo glad we never did. Our parties were the best!) but empathy aside, that was an idea too depressing to entertain, so I decided that the only place I could face having a party was at Sundance Camp.

We filled the big geodesic dome with balloons for everyone to jump around in, which Baki and Kaya carefully monitored for quality before the guests arrived:


And I started some flower seeds (calendula and annual dahlia) for the kids to plant in pots and take home. The seedlings were doing really well and I felt quite pleased with myself… until the whole box of them fell off the top of the car as I was trying to get Kaya into his car seat to go down to Sundance. We lost a few, but there were enough survivors to go around.Image

We hunted for Easter eggs, played nature bingo, but mostly the kids did what kids do best, particularly outdoors — they just ran around like mad and found fun for themselves. It was a gas, but I am very, very glad to be done with it. Thank goodness these things only roll around once a year (and Kaya is still young and impressionable enough to just blow out a candle or two with mom and dad and be done with it).

I also celebrated, quietly, the new batch of small fry on its way.


It’s not very romantic, and I tend to think nature handles these things best, but we are incubating some eggs to increase our laying flock. I was highly skeptical of the whole idea, and I still worry about rearing chicks, but I have to admit that I am also kind of excited about becoming a mama hen. Today was the 8th day of incubation, so I candled the eggs (actually, I iPhoned them — I used the flashlight on my phone) to see how things were going. I was nervous! Happily, 15 out of 18 eggs appear to be developing normally. At this stage, I was looking for a network of veins and a dark spot. My heart leapt as the dark spot I was looking at swam around in the egg! Yes, I know, living things will move, but it was a thrill. I held extra still to make sure I wasn’t the one making it move, but it really wasn’t me, and subsequent eggs did the same thing. Amazing. The three that were not developing just looked empty in comparison, and when I cracked them open to check (I held my breath, I will admit), they just looked like eggs. They were the smallest eggs of the lot, so maybe the hens were too young.

The eggs came from Sundance; here is a look at the new gene pool:


Aren’t they a handsome lot? They are an exceptionally peaceful chicken community, and they have the run of the Sundance garden in the afternoons. Not that their coop is such a bad place — in fact, Kaya is ready to move in. I think he likes the little doors, just his size.

And the quietest celebration of all, just in my head, a little cheer — two years on WordPress. I moved here after my former blog host was blocked in Turkey. I can’t remember why it happened, but the result was that I could edit my blog but not see it. That was weird, so I came here and I am glad I did.

Here’s to celebrations, big and small!

In my kitchen November 2012

With school back in session for a few months now, we have settled into the routine of moving between the garden and the city. This month, I am in my city kitchen, not our outdoor garden kitchen. In this kitchen, there is …
A tea cozy

Before I lived with chickens, I used to think they were cute. I guess I may have been influenced by the histrionic mother hens in the cartoons, but I got warm feelings when I thought about them. Then we got chickens and I saw what they were capable of. Before long, I came to view them as dinosaurs in disguise. I won’t go into details, but let me just say that it was a few years before any chick hatched in our coops lived much past the age of a month or two. Those motherly, nurturing cartoon hens weren’t real!! Not to mention the horrific damage they can inflict upon the vegetables with their tireless scratching.
I still like the way chickens look, though, and I am a sucker for chicken shaped things (I have chicken shaped egg cups that I find very satisfying to set upon the table), so when I saw this tea cozy I was thrilled. Never mind that it is hard to find a proper tea cozy anywhere these days, this is a cozy with some serious personality. And when I am away from the garden, I still have a chicken at the breakfast table — and this one is very well behaved.

Lebanese Coffee

Where on the planet Earth could I have possibly found such a thing? Why, in Abu Dhabi! A few years back, some dear friends of mine moved from Istanbul to Abu Dhabi. I saw them again on their visits back to Turkey, but we always talked about me and the boys going there (Ali doesn’t leave the garden). It was just talk for a long time, until one day Tuba and I were talking and suddenly it was time; I found myself booking actual tickets to visit her and her family. Her daughter, Ella, is Baki’s very first friend and in spite of her being almost 3 years older than him, they remain fast friends. And Ted is a fellow gardener. Plus, Tuba and Ted love to eat and cook (and do both well), which makes them excellent company.
We had a wonderful time there, catching up on the chats and coffees that we had come to miss and in the mean time taking in a bit of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In the glittering malls, it was easy to forget where in the world we were. Of course, in a mall you expect to see the same stores that you recognize from every other mall you’ve ever been to, but in the Dubai Mall there were stores from so many different countries that it was like the whole world was there. I was reminded of Hong Kong, where it sometimes felt that you could traverse the entire city by going from one mall to another, and your feet would never touch the ground.
The evening that Tuba and I spent in downtown Abu Dhabi, then, was an interesting change. After an exhilarating romp through Lulu Supermarket (I love to visit markets and supermarkets when I travel), she took me to a Lebanese restaurant among dated looking high rise buildings. The place was doing a roaring business,and no wonder — the food was great. Afterwards, we went next door to buy coffee at the Lebanese Roasters. Tuba marched me straight to the back of the store where a row of coffee grinders was rattling away and the rich smell of the coffee filled the air. It is lovely, dark coffee, roasted until it is just this side of black. And in the store, with its white paneled ceilings and fluorescent lights that looked like standard issue 70s office building decor, its wooden drawers with glass window filled with nuts, the steel shelves stacked tightly with tea and the linoleum underfoot, I felt as if my feet were touching the ground at last.

Banana Pink Jumbo

There is always something from the garden in the kitchen and this being November and all, naturally there is a squash. I got the seeds for this squash, named Banana Pink Jumbo from Territorial Seeds the year before last, but the seedlings came to a bad end last year. This year though, we had two plants that flourished at the feet of some tomatoes and today I baked one in order to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. (I guess most pumpkin pies in the US aren’t made of pumpkins at all; I read somewhere that Libby’s canned pumpkin is made of butternut squash.)
The minute I cut the Banana open, I could smell its kinship to melons. There was such a sweet, fresh smell to it, and the raw flesh was lovely, crunchy, and just slightly sweet. I set aside a wedge of it to make a pumpkin cake that I read about at Rachel Eats (it’s cooling right now and I can’t wait to have it with tea tomorrow morning).
And that’s what’s happening in the kitchen right now. I hope that everyone out there who will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday has a good one, with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches the next day.

If you liked peeking into my kitchen, you ought to check out some of the other blogging kitchens out there. Celia at <a href=””>Fig Jam and Lime Cordial</a> has a list of them all!