In My Kitchen June 2014

I’ve missed a few months, in both senses of the word. I know that we all have busy lives and it is just a matter of claiming the time to do things like sit down a write. Happily, it is pouring rain in the garden today, so I am sitting in the outdoor kitchen listening to it, smelling it and savoring it, because although we will probably have the odd shower in the weeks to come, this is likely to be the last real storm we have before our long, hot and bone dry summer.
There are loads of interesting kitchens to visit; if you’re interested, stop by Celia’s blog, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial which is Command Central for IMK posts.0
This is a bit of a May and June mash-up, but never mind. In my kitchen there are:


Cut flowers! And since I never bother to cut flowers from the garden, this can mean only one thing: my mom is back in town. She spotted the snapdragons and was busy with her secateurs in no time. They are a particular favorite of mine. Ali is more concerned with scent when considering plants, and he has filled our garden with fragrant plants. But I love my showy snapdragons because they are a feast for the eyes (the variety is Madame Butterfly. They are hybrids, but these ones have come back for three years in a row, so I forgive them). And besides, if everything were scented it might become a bit much.
My mother went to Paris to visit some friends shortly after she got here, and came back bearing gifts. In my kitchen there is:

this beautiful egg basket that she found at a flea market. Who knew that such beautiful things even existed? Well, plenty of people I am sure, but not me. It is nice to have something pretty to keep our eggs in, since the ladies put hard work into producing them.
On the subject of eggs, we’ve received an exciting gift from our neighbour:

Do you see those smaller eggs in the front? They’re from his Guinea fowl! He heard we have an incubator, so he gave us 10 eggs. We’ll give him a couple of the hatchlings in return. I am very excited to have Guinea fowl, not least because I have heard that they are quite aggressive around snakes; we’ve got lots of snakes here. I like the black garden snakes just fine, but we’ve got vipers too, and poor old Lulu (our dog) just got bitten on the nose by a big one. She is at the vet, attached to a bag of serum. She seems to be getting better, but it has been a pretty miserable few days for her. She’s always been aggressive around snakes, but I bet she’ll tone down her attitude now… Anyway, hopefully the Guineas will take over the snake patrol before long!
On Friday, Ali wandered into the garden and came back with this:


We’ve been here for six years now, and the trees that we planted in those first few years have started bearing fruit in earnest. Not all of them, of course; I am pretty sure we will only eat a handful of our own cherries. But we’ve got plenty of apricots! I’ll have to think of something to do with them all, since I am sure we can’t eat them fast enough.
And that’s a quick look at some of the things in my kitchen this month! While we’re on the subject, here’s the view from where I am typing — if I stand up, I have a clear view of the tub in the rain:

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Where is my mind?

I was in the kitchen and went to grab an avocado from the fruit basket only to encountered a bumble bee (these things happen when your kitchen is outside). Then a few minutes later I went up to the road to cut a sprig of rosemary and saw honeybees in amongst its purple flowers. “What’s going on,” I thought, “have I been asleep?” The weather is changing and everything around me is waking up – I’m just a few steps behind. I resolved to spend the rest of the day being a little more observant/productive than usual, and this is what I came up with:


I love the colors of eggs. I’ve decided that if I ever paint the walls somewhere, I will just use the colors of different eggshells and possibly the color of good butter from a grass fed cow, too. That top right egg is the very first egg from one of our Copper Maran hens – we hatched those chicks last summer. What a lovely, rich chocolate brown! I am still waiting on the Ameraucanas, hatched at the same time,  who will lay bluish eggs – another lovely wall color…


This is a box of Daphne odora Aurea-marginata (a.k.a. variegated daphne) cuttings. As you can see, they are flowering and the smell is heavenly. You don’t even have to stick your head in that box to smell it — the whole greenhouse is deliciously scented. That would be enough to make these special, but there is a story behind these particular cuttings.

Outside my aunt and uncle’s house in Portland OR, there is a variegated daphne. It’s right in front of the porch and it’s huge. When my aunt died way back in 1998, we started to  flap ever so slightly about the daphne. Would it survive? My aunt had been the gardener, after all. But the daphne proved that it could take care of itself, as did the cosmos that sprung up along the side of the house. Other plants didn’t fare so well, but my uncle gradually took over the back yard and grew Chinese chives and tomatoes every year. daphne1917

That’s the daphne behind me, to the left. Incidentally, that photo was taken in 1980 when I was 5. It was the year of my first unaccompanied  trips on an airplane (although I did have a traveling companion in Blue Bunny, also pictured above). I flew from NY to Portland and back – a not insignificant 5 1/2 hours of air time. Back then, your parents could come right on to the plane with you to get you settled in, which seems hard to imagine now. I asked my mom how she didn’t completely freak out just putting me on a plane and she shrugged and said, “Your father said you’d be fine.” And I was, of course. I mention it because it looks like this year might be Baki’s first solo trip – from NY to Istanbul, no less. I’m not sure how I feel about it just yet, but Baki can’t wait. I tried to break it to him gently, but he was whooping it up when I told him. But I digress…

When my uncle died, the flapping over the daphne began in earnest. My mother had gone out to visit him a few years back and brought a cutting, but it struggled and didn’t make it. The house was going to be sold, and I hated the thought of losing our connection to that daphne. So my mother appealed to my cousin Pamela to send some cuttings to her in NY, and she received a package of them, each with its own little capsule of water attached. My cousin Elaine has some of them, and the rest my mom brought out to Turkey and that is what you see in that box. So that smell is a sweet one, indeed, and for more reasons than one.

veg bed

And lastly, it is the time of year when I haul out my early spring allies — the plastic bottle cloches. I’ve got lettuce and bok choy under those ones. On the periphery of the bed there are shallots and garlic. This is my new method of planting alliums — I’ve got them dotted along the edges of all the beds. I thought it might be a bug deterrent. We’ll see how that goes.

Well, that feels a little better. I’ve got my ears to the ground at last, and it’s humming with activity. It makes me buzz with excitement a little myself.

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!