Hi Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

We celebrated the way we do every year — by doing precisely nothing to mark the day. However, the weekend was full of nice surprises. It poured rain yesterday, for instance, and I took a nap with Kaya. It felt so decadent to be lying in bed listening to the rain and dozing off. The temperatures dropped dramatically (it is now in the low 70s after a week in the 90s), so blankets are back, which is just delicious. I even woke up and read awhile before getting out of the bed. Bliss.

The grass and weeds in the garden are shoulder high in places, and you know that our pathways are very narrow, so when the garden is wet, it is difficult to navigate without getting soaked at least to the knee. I put on a pair of shorts this morning before venturing out to do some garden work and marveled at how nice it felt to have wet grass brushing up against my legs. Feeling a pair of jeans becoming progressively more sodden until they are clinging to your legs in a cold embrace is depressing. Feeling the leaves against your skin and the water beading up and rolling down your legs is a celebration of the good parts of being outdoors.

Osman and Dudu slaughtered a goat this weekend and offered to sell us some of the meat. Ali went off while I was napping yesterday and returned with a 3 1/2 kilo haunch! It is nice, clean meat and I am grateful to have it. I cut the meat from the bone, leaving a leg and a shoulder the way they were. They’re in the freezer waiting for you to arrive! I’ve got a pot of stock from the bones, too, that I think will be nice for soup noodle.


The mulberry tree is fruiting, and pretty heavily at that. Between the fruit and the rain, some of the branches drooped all the way to the ground. Of course, this is the nice thing about young trees — they are still small enough to be able to reach up into them with your feet on the ground. We had two big bowls at the end of our picking session, even with Kaya on my back, eating every other one. I made a mulberry cobbler with creme anglaise (Ali has been collecting eggs but not eating them, so we have about 20. This made 7 egg yolks seem not like an extravagance, but a blessing. I will be making meringues for Baki tonight with all of those whites). This reminded me that last year we discovered together that they somehow get tastier when you cook them. I hope that you will make it here in time to have some — there are plenty more still on the tree.

The red rose is mostly finished, but there are lots of other flowers popping up everywhere. And when I say popping up, I do mean that they are emerging in unexpected places. There are the sweetpeas that self seeded again, and snapdragons are also opening up everywhere. And look what I saw when I went to pick a sprig of rosemary from that plant we put up by the pecan tree (which is very big now, and will meet with your approval I am sure):


It looks like someone found that passion flower before I did and took a bite.

There was a sad sight waiting for me when I got back to the apartment — one of the new chicks died. They are a week old now, and down to 17 in number. I am not sure what killed that one — the others look pretty healthy as far as I can tell. We’ll see how they fare.

Still, I hope that there will be more good news when I call Ankara tomorrow to ask about your visa. It is high time you joined us and enjoyed all of these pleasant surprises alongside us!


In My Kitchen, October 2012

The clouds had been gathering all day, but when the first fat raindrops began to fall, it felt like a surprise. Within about five minutes, the rain was coming down in sheets; Kaya and I were making dinner in the kitchen, and I wasn’t sure how we were going to get it to the house without getting soaked. (Umbrella to the rescue.)
When we woke up this morning, the air felt as if it had been scrubbed clean. It was the first morning that had the air of an autumn day, redolent with the smells of damp leaves and soaked earth. Everything seemed clearer and brighter, and the kitchen seemed particularly inviting. So, without further ado, I offer the first glimpse of the kitchen this fall. (To see what’s happening in the mother lode of kitchen glimpses, head over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.)
In my kitchen…

…there is the distinct feeling that the maximillian sunflowers are about to stage a world takeover. They are great because they explode into bloom at the very tail end of summer/beginning of fall when everything else is swooning from the heat. Another sign that fall is here at last.

… there is a bowl of popcorn from the garden. Baki and I planted some Dakota Black popping corn and we harvested it a few weeks ago from skeletal, dried out plants. Out of the blue, Baki asked for popcorn this morning right after we ate breakfast, so we tried it out. After much energetic popping, I am pleased to report that it is unbelievably tasty — I swear, it tastes buttery! I like, too, how it looks burnt, but it’s just the hulls and kernels from the corn.

… there are quince, ready to be eaten. These might look green and unappetizing, but they are sweet and fragrant once you get them out of their fuzzy peels. Ali picked them from the tree, which was bent almost double under the weight of the fruit, and we’ve eaten plenty of them already. I will be making quince jam this week, and will post the recipe. It’s my mother-in-law’s no-fail easy-peasy pressure-cooker quince jam.

So these sights, smells and flavors of fall have gotten me well and fully appraised of the change of seasons. Summer is but a sweaty memory. I’m digging out the wellies and the sweaters. Hooray for fall!

A glimpse of the sun

During the hot, dry months of summer I dream of rain, but it’s hard to imagine that now. We’ve had a procession of wet, gray days, so when the sun came out this morning, it was intoxicating. Everything looked lovely.
We had our one freezing week in January, so the semi-tropical plants are all withered and demoralized- poor banana, taro, tree tomato and even bouganvillea. The aloe and passion fruit outside the greenhouse, on the other hand, seemed quite content:

The narcissus in the same neighborhood are making their appearance among some pots of succulents:

And the fruit is finally ripe on this lanky young lemon tree:

In the distance, the mountain hid behind a cloud. (That’s Baki’s bathtub in the foreground.)

The dizziness is subsiding now, as we’re losing the sun to cloud cover, but I hope we’ll be enjoying another sunny morning before to long.

Rained out

It was rainy on Friday, and since I had the car and was going to be driving everyone back to the garden, we decided that it might be better to see how things looked on Saturday. It was pretty demoralizing, so when we awoke to clearer weather on Saturday morning, I wasted no time in packing everyone into the car and heading for the hills.
It wasn’t a very clear day, but in between rain showers I was able to fertilize the vegetable beds and pull the odd weed. We have a lot of great salad material in the garden now, and I even pulled up a beet and a carrot to make a little dish for Kaya that we call “Rooty Tooty” (one carot + one beet: boil and blend). I read somewhere that beets can be a useful indicator of how long it takes for food to make its way through a baby, but even aside from that, it’s a nice dish because Kaya adores it. He looks a bit scary when he’s eating it though, with bright red dribble everywhere.
It poured rain all night on Saturday, and when I awoke it was to a garden bejeweled by raindrops catching the sun. As I knocked the previous day’s coffee grounds into the compost bucket, I looked up and saw a huge rainbow against the dark grey clouds. It was such a lovely morning, and a great affirmation of our choice to spend what time we could there this weekend.
Ali went to check the road while I made breakfast, and reported that it was bone dry. A few hours later, though, I heard the roar of water, and took my mom and Lulu to investigate. This is what we found:

In other words, no road. Lulu was completely freaked out. Luckily, one of our neighbors opened up another road a while back that we can use to go down in these circumstances (not up, though; it’s only a road in the loosest sense of the word). So we had our lunch and headed out. Next weekend we’ll be in Istanbul for Christmas.