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:
A foot at home:
And two foot with family shots:
None of us were aware that he’d taken any of these masterpieces.
A couple of days ago, Kaya woke early, at about 6. I had things to do, so I carried him on my back in the baby carrier while I did some chores and got breakfast together. He fell back asleep, lulled by the constant movement and by being so close (he’s going through a clingy phase lately). I put him back down on the bed and he slept until close to 9, which is probably unprecedented.
Baki woke at around 8, rubbing his eyes, and my mom came up the hill shortly afterwards. She couldn’t believe how quiet it was – she had even heard the sound her phone makes when she took a photo on her way up. “Kaya must be the noisy one,” she said.
Today, we all got in the car and took my mom and Baki to the airport; Baki is going to day camp in New York for a month, and he’s staying with Grandma. We had to get up early to make it on time, but the boys were still thrilled to be at the airport – all of those big, flat spaces just call out to them, “Run amok on our smooth even surfaces!” Luckily, they also found time for staying still.
It wasn’t long before it was time to go and Ali, Kaya and I stood at the bottom of the escalator watching them go up. Ali and I smiled widely and waved, even as we silently wondered what on earth we were thinking. And Kaya called out to Baki, disliking the fact that he was not following him, as he so enjoys.
We came straight back to the garden and busied ourselves with watering, playing with Kaya, and all the usual daily business. But I kept stopping and noticing how very quiet it was. Kaya, although he spent a fair amount of time calling for Baki today, is not the noisy one at all. It’s the combination of the two of them, like baking soda and vinegar, that creates their wild froth of laughter, bargaining, bickering and wailing.
Happy trails, Baki – we miss you!
In My Kitchen is a neat series that started out at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. To find more, go to the mother lode.
In my kitchen this month, there are signs of the season.
1. Solidified olive oil in the A.M.
When I went out to the kitchen in the garden to make breakfast, I discovered that the olive oil had solidified. (Those are both olive oil; the one on the right is extra virgin.) This is always a sure sign of winter; apparently it happens at about 40F, so you can see that we are not talking about arctic winter here. Conversely, I have a bottle of coconut oil in the kitchen as well, and when that goes all liquidy I know it’s really hot out.
2. A duck on a hook
This year, we are making a Peking duck for Christmas dinner. We have been hanging it out to dry for a few days now. I am sitting in the city kitchen and it is in the oven as I type this, popping away in the oven and turning a very deep and seductive shade of mahogany. It does need to dry out thoroughly, though, so we took it out to the garden with us.
3. A Christmas cake
My father loved Christmas cake and always insisted that we coat it in marzipan, cover it in royal icing and then stud it with silver balls. I am not sure why he loved those silver balls so much because they are not even that nice to eat (I can totally understand the marzipan bit, though). But after all these years, a Christmas cake just wouldn’t seem right without them. We added Darth Maul afterwards:
4. An angel
My mom got this angel from a glass blower in her neighborhood, back when her neighborhood was Cihangir, Istanbul. She was new to me this year, and has witnessed a lot of baking and other kitchen madness. I’ll miss having her up when all the ornaments are packed away until next year.
So that’s what’s in my kitchen this month. Merry Christmas, everyone!
The garden is full of scents! A honeysuckle that we planted in the outdoor kitchen is in full bloom, and the scent of it wafts about, making kitchen work positively dreamy.
As I worked on lunch, Ali wandered over with a flower from the white peony. It’s got a scent that reminds me of lily of the valley, but the scent of it in say, a talcum powder.
I was working on getting some lunch together — bubble and squeak and rarebits. My dad was a great fan of bubble and squeak — I think he liked to say it as much as he liked to eat it. There’s a nice article in the Guardian that breaks it down into a simple formula (equal parts potato and cabbage by volume not by weight, fry well). I thought it would make a good lunch for Kaya as well.
At the table, Kaya happily submitted to eating a few bites of the bubble and squeak that I had pureed for him, before making a lunge for my rarebit. I broke off a piece and gave it to him, and he tore away at it with his new front teeth. He demolished about half of it, eating it as fast as I could give it to him. It was a minimalist sort of rarebit (no beer, for instance), but as he liked it so much, I thought I would share the recipe. It’s a nice thing to make to go alongside a soup or a vegetable dish.
Bare bones rarebit:
1 1/4 c. milk
1 bay leaf
2 T butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 t mustard
2 slices bread (you may have enough sauce for more than two, depending on the size of the bread)
Put the bay leaf in the milk with a few grinds of pepper and heat to boiling then shut off and let them get to know one another. In the mean time, melt the butter in another pot and add the flour to form a roux. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the milk in three installments, stirring well to keep things from getting lumpy. Cook the resulting sauce for another two minutes before removing from the heat. Add the cheese and stir vigorously to melt it. Then stir in your mustard and add a bit of Worcestershire sauce as well if you like.
Heat the broiler and toast the tops of your bread under it before spreading a thick layer of cheesy sauce on them. Set them under the broiler, but not too close, and let the sauce get hot and brown.
Keep out of reach of babies, or else make a helping for any babies present.
And while I am on the topic of food that Kaya loves, I have to also make special mention of a wonderful recipe I found at one of my favorite blogs, From the Bartolini Kitchens. It’s for polpettine (diminutive meatballs), a new staple in my kitchen. We had them the other night, and Kaya was jumping up and down in his seat for more (even Baki, the world’s pickiest eater, tucked in happily). What’s so interesting to me about this is that the blog is dedicated to sharing family recipes, many of them tied to wonderful memories and stories. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day Kaya learned to make polpettine so that he could bring back his memories of eating them under the garlic braids in the garden kitchen.
Kaya turned one today, and we had a little party. His friend Manolya came over, and the two babies played together while Baki and Manolya’s elder sister ran riot.
I’m still not giving Kaya sugar, so I made him some carob brownies, from Cynthia Lair’s cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family. I actually really like carob, but I think that they main thing about it is that you can’t think of it in relation to chocolate. It’s just a different thing.
Since the adults were not going to be as happy to eat the carob brownies, (I mean, let’s face it — children’s birthday parties, even with a limited guest list, require something more decadent to make them worth it) I made some other treats. Chocolate was in order, so I tried Smitten Kitchen’s world peace cookies . Intrigued by Yummy Chunklet’s recent postabout a new way to make shortbread, I decided to give it a try. It is a lot of fun — you freeze the dough and grate it into the pan so that the shortbread is all pillowy. And Jell-O (except it’s vegetarian, because when I think about gelatine, I get grossed out) because you need colorful desserts for a birthday party. Kaya and Manolya were pretty colorful, come to think of it, once they got their hands on the strawberries.
I must be getting old because birthdays have started to make me morose. It’s just too much time passing too quickly. I guess I should just take the hint and enjoy it all while I can, before the boys move out and forget to call or write. Maybe they’ll have blogs…
Spring is here, and Kaya is crawling, so I let him range free in the garden while I worked. He used to observe garden work from a high chair or on my back in the baby carrier, but he definitely prefers a more hands on approach. The chamomile is flowering (nature’s work, not mine) and Kaya loves to grab the flowers, squeeze them, tear them apart and stuff them in his mouth. I give him chamomile for his teething woes anyway, so I guess you could say he’s self medicating.
Not everything turns out to be so palatable, though. Rocks, he has discovered, are not a very good snack
I smelled the top of his head as I put him to sleep, and after a day in the dirt and the sun, he smelled like a potato.
“Why don’t you have a nazar bead on your son?”
I never put evil eye beads on Kaya, just as I failed to put them on Baki. Moreover, Ali is adamant in his belief that pinning tiny beads (choking hazard) on to a baby using a cheap little safety pin (poking hazard) is nothing short of completely idiotic.
The question had come, as it always does, from a complete stranger, while we were in Istanbul last week. I am always amazed at how forward people are about how wrong they think I am in how I dress/carry/protect my baby. I usually carry Kaya wrapped in a Didymos wrap-style sling, sitting upright with his face towards me. I know these slings aren’t all that common in Turkey, but I have had people actually come up and pull the fabric aside, asking me if he can breathe. Other times, it’s that he’s wrapped too tight, or else he’s sure to fall out, which presumably means he’s wrapped too loosely. He’s too cold or he’s too hot. He’s not wearing socks. Or, simply, I have made the grievous error of leaving the house without pinning the ubiquitous blue-eyed evil eye bead on his shoulder to ward off malignant wishes.
While in Istanbul, I decided to try pushing Kaya in a stroller. Kaya adored it, though he was pretty much overstimulated by it all; it took lots of nursing and holding to calm him down for sleep at night. At least no one had any comments about it like they did my sling.
On our fourth and last day in Istanbul, though, I went back to my trusty old sling because it was cold out, and I had to move quickly to run a few last errands. It felt great to have him all bundled in front of me, and in spite of the weight of him (7.8 kg/17 lb) it was so much easier on the metro to just walk through the turnstile and onto the escalator instead of all the rigamarole you go through with a stroller.
The previous day, a friend had given me an evil eye bead for Kaya, and as I got ready to leave the house, I pinned it onto pthe sling. It may or may not have kept away evil thoughts, but I can attest to one thing: it gives the dispensers of unsolicited advice one less thing to chastise me about, and that is worth a good amount of peace of mind!