Sunday, September 30, 2012

Delicious Autumn

    Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
    George Eliot

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Disappointing God

One of my cousins has been waiting for years to get married to the 'Prince Charming' that hasn't popped up yet. When I visited them in Istanbul last month, her younger sister showed us the doll she's been keeping for years (symbolizing her long wait in expectation and the disappointment that's followed) and made fun of her. When I looked at the doll, I felt so confused and didn't know what to say. I just stared at it and shot a couple of photos.  Perhaps, it's just me and my beautiful mind that still make me feel so sad about that doll. Weeks after our visit to my cousins, I remembered this poem by Emily Dickinson. 

There comes an hour when begging stops,
When the long interceding lips
Perceive their prayer is vain.
"Thou shalt not" is a kinder sword
Than from a disappointing God
"Disciple, call again." 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Prickly Pears in Karmylassos

While we were enjoying ourselves in Istanbul, we had the opportunity to visit a dear friend in Fethiye, Mugla. During the three days we spent there, I realized there's only so much you can do on one holiday in that fascinating ancient town. On the day we visited Karmylassos / Kayakoy, I was full of different emotions which made this haunting and magical town look even more interesting to me. While we were wandering among the remains of the stone houses, an old lady handed us a yellow-orange coloured something that I hadn't seen before. 

My friend told us it's a local fruit the ladies in Kayakoy sell to make some money during the summer season. Well, it was the prickly pear as I was to learn later. Some of the common local names for the fruit and the plant are ''dikenli incir'', ''Hint inciri'' and ''Frenk inciri" as it also varies in English as Indian fig opuntia, barbary fig, and prickly pear. The thick outer skin is peeled and the flesh which is juicy and sweet is eaten usually after being refrigerated. I liked it right away. 

After a few clicks, I learned it is a species grown in dry areas of the world such as Mexico, Spain, Sicily, and the coasts of Southern Italy, Greece, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, Chile, Brazil, Eritrea, Ethiopia, as well as Turkey.  

a prickly pear seller in Morocco

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Ladybird in the Garden

Until I decided to post this photograph, I did not know that ladybirds, apart from being a welcome sight in the garden, are natural enemies of many insect pests and the most popular and widely used beneficial insects around the world. What is more, it was surprising to read how gardeners do that: They just buy and release ladybirds (as adults or larvae) in their garden, boost their numbers and basically help nature help them control pests while ladybirds happily munch away on tasty pests.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Swing Ride Nostalgia

On the second day of Eid we went to our old neigbourhood and visited some relatives and old neighbours. While we were walking in one of those familiar streets, I didn't know that I would come across the very same swing ride my sister and I used to enjoy as little kids. A wave of nostalgia swept over us when we saw it which made my sister burst out with childhood memories instantly. The man was the very same man who used to turn the handle of the ride's carriage while we were whirling around. We used to beg him, we remembered, to turn it faster and faster because the faster he turned it the faster we whirled. The man then would fold and carry the swing ride home after it got dark. 

My sister and I told the man that we wanted to give it a try but of course this time it was Milou and her cousins' turn to enjoy it. While they were doing so, we had a short chat with the man and learned that he has been doing this job for the last 25 years struggling to make a living. Interestingly, he survived despite all the malls around with playgrounds that offer futuristic mixtures of attractions for children. 

The man, then, folded the ride's carriage and headed for other streets leaving my sister and me with pleasure and sadness that he caused by reminding us of something from the past and making us wish we could experience it again. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Best Grape Arbor Decoration Ever: Melons and Watermelons

Have you ever considered melons or watermelons as summer-time decorations at your grape arbor?  Honestly I haven't. My father has apparently done. Take a look at these photograps. 

Using a hammer, a few nails and some packing yarn my father found the best way to store these summer fruits for the cool fall days. I liked the idea so much that I wanted to share it here. They also serve for the best grape arbor decorations ever with such bright and stimulating colours! They remind me of the starry chandeliers in ball rooms! Cool!

Summer Drinks #4: Cranberry Juice

The first day at my parents' house was full of surprises. It all started with a bowl of cranberry juice which was something I'd always wanted to try. It was refreshing and sweet with a mild tartness level. My mom used the frozen cranberries my father had brought from Bodrum - a popular seaside town on the  Mediterranean coast in Turkey. The juice was easy, delicious and super healthy. The jewel red colour looks very attractive, doesn't it?

  • 1 kilo frozen cranberries, thawed (or fresh if you prefer)
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 cup sugar*
*The amount of sugar needed may vary depending on your taste and the sweetness of the berries. Work your way up with 1/2 cup.

  1. Wash and drain the cranberries.
  2. Place the cranberries and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cover loosely. Simmer 10 min. until the cranberries have slightly burst.
  3. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Transfer to a pitcher and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate untill chilled.

About the Fruit:

Cranberries are one of the only three native North American fruits (Concord grapes, and blueberries being the others). To the eastern Indians, cranberries were known as sassamanesh. The Cape Cod Pequots and the South Jersey Leni- Lenape tribes called the little red berry ibimi or bitter berry. But it was the Pilgrims who gave the cranberry its modern name. To them, the pink cranberry blossoms resembled the heads of cranes; therefore the word crane berry later contracted to cranberry. Early American sailors carried barrels of cranberries while at sea as a source of vitamin C, much like the British limeys carried limes aboard ships.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Greetings from Turkey

Milou and I have been in Turkey for the last two weeks. We'll be around for one more week and it's been such busy days that I haven't been able to post anything. We've seen, eaten and done wonderful things so far. The photos are coming soon. 

Here is the first greeting photograph from Istanbul. It's taken on Çamlıca Hill, the highest point in Istanbul. The hill is one of the most popular tourist attractions day and night thanks to the fabulous scenery it offers over the historic peninsula as far as the Princes' Islands and north to the Black Sea. If you ever go to Istanbul, do not skip it.