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20 October 2011

Where AM I?

I'm blogging here and only here for now:

Widdershins and Skeleton Keys

Makes things easier. Do stop by!! I've missed you :)

~J

01 February 2011

Honestly, I'm Pooped!

You know it's getting bad when the only thing you can think of to write about on a culinary blog is camel wrestling.

Yeah.

February is barely here and I'm already in need of a break. School is taking a lot more time than I anticipated and it's not the only iron I have in that proverbial fire. I don't have the time to cook like I want to and that leaves you, dear readers, with a great big pile of flop.

*insert apology and groveling here*

I will still be at my other blog, Widdershins and Skeleton Keys and I would love for you all to join me over there. I will still be visiting you all as time permits, but for now, the vagabonding must be put on hold. I'll be back. I still have a lot more countries to traverse before we end up at our final destination of Ireland.

For now, however, I must bid vicarious culinary traveling adieu.

(Please join me at my other blog. I don't want to lose touch with ANY of you!!)

27 January 2011

Camel Wrestling!


photo credit

Yes, you read that right! Camel wrestling! What? You've never heard of the exciting idea of parading a female camel in front of a small herd of male camels and then letting them go at each other's throats (quite literally) under the delusion that the winner takes the bride?

Yeah, me either. But since we're still in Turkey (although on another one of those life induced, unplanned stops), when I saw the article on About.com, I just had to post it here.

If that's not strange enough for you, did you know there are camel beauty pageants?
Now you do.

Please note: I don't support camel wrestling. I don't support any type of animal fighting for fun and profit. Heck, I hate WWF and those are humans who are (somewhat) capable of making the decision to get the snot beat out of them with metal chairs and plywood!

I just found it interesting in a cultural anthropologist kind of way. Besides, if I ever need a unique career for a character in my next story, 'camel wrestler' sounds as unique as any!

Now you can tell all your friends you learned something new today.
You're welcome.

25 January 2011

Where's that new post...

Afternoon all! If you're curious as to where this Tuesday's blog post went, take a walk over to my other blog. I've given a good excuse there.

19 January 2011

New Addiction

It's not hard for me to develop a severe crush on a cuisine once I dive into it. It doesn't matter if I've never tasted it, only researched it or wandered through the pages of a cookbook. If the descriptions tantalize my taste buds, I'm sold.

Dear Turkish Cuisine: I love you. For reals.

Since my last post, I've been thinking endlessly about Turkish Delight. Sad, but true. No, I have not made any yet. I have drank (drunk...drinked?) copious amounts of coffee. That's got to count for something. Research. Yeah, that it.

I did some Googling this morning and found a couple of restaurant menus which enticed me. I started hunting down these foreign phrases and discovered that Turkey is a treasure of culinary delights! It appears the Ottoman Empire did something right when it assimilated local and regional cuisines into their own, creating what modern people know as Turkish cuisine. It hints as Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan. The Mediterranean even dips it's toes in to contribute its trademark veggies, herbs and fish.

And honestly? It doesn't look that complicated to recreate. Well, except for the whole Baklava thing. All that phyllo.

Here's one for you. In fact, I might deviate from my flight pattern this evening and pick up a few cukes. This sounds fabulous! Even on a cold winter's night.

Cacik (Cucumber-Yogurt Salad)

Peel and rinse 3 medium sized cucumbers then coarsely grate them. Finely chop 3 sprigs of dill (or more if you love it like me!). Whisk together 3 cups of yogurt, 2 tsp. of salt, 1 cup of water, and 3 cloves of garlic. Add the grated cucumber. Pour the mixture into one large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a bit more dill. Or, you can divide it individually and garnish each bowl accordingly.

I'm thinking some grilled pita might be in order for dipping. Or some croutons. Or a really big spoon. Mmmmmm....

Sorry for the delay in the posting! Got a bit tangled in all these work-school-home-life wires. Fear not! I'll wriggle out eventually. Oh, and did I mention I'm diving into rewrites? Head first? No life preserver? Yippee!!

13 January 2011

Delightful!

First up, a couple of announcements:

1) School has knocked me for a loop. I thought it was going to be a cake walk, but this cramming a semester class into 8 weeks is whipping my back-side like nobody's business. That being said, I'm moving my posting here to 2 days instead of 3. You'll find me here Tuesdays and Thursdays until I can achieve balance, reach nirvana, or quit my job...

2) I have been a terrible blog reader! Please accept my humble, groveling apologies. See above for why it's taking me so long to respond to comments and visit your lovely places and faces.

3) Speaking of comments, I has a question: do you guys like having responses to your comments email to you (for those of you who have them set up that way) or would you rather me respond here, in a nice neat and unobtrusive format? Just curious; I want to make sure I respond to everyone and I'm trying to keep it sane for everyone involved ;)

OK!

Turkish Delight. I've posted on it before, eons ago, in another dimension. When I was a kid I was entranced by the name. Turkish hinted at the exotic; Delight meant it was, well, delightful.

CS Lewis (moment of silence...and go) immortalized it in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was captivated. Edmund was forgiven for his betrayal because, quite frankly, I would have done the same thing for something as tantalizing as Turkish Delight. (Not to mention he's WAAAAYYYY cooler than Peter and I always wanted to play the White Witch, but I digress...)




And then.

AND THEN!!

I found out what it was:




Cornstarch and sugar.

Yep. That's it. But wait! Don't get as disappointed as I was when I first saw it. My first thought was, "Really? It's jello covered in powdered sugar." Upon further research, I found that's not true at all. That's just what it looks like. Several recipes present it as technically challenging. The one I'm posting here confirms that: it's a candy and if you've ever tried to make candy, you'll know how challenging that can be.

Oh, and trust me when I say this, GET A CANDY THERMOMETER BEFORE YOU TRY TO MAKE CANDY OF ANY KIND!!! There's some people *cough* that I know *cough* who tried to make caramel without a thermometer. It didn't work out. *clears throat forcefully* That is all.

So, here's the recipe and a disclaimer: the guy who posted this thought it fun to have a French maid demonstrate the making of the Turkish Delight. I know that sort of thing may offend some (or just make it rather awkward if you open the link at work). That being said, it's more ridiculous than risque. The recipe is the most comprehensive I could find. You have been warned.

I have never made Turkish Delight but it's on my list of things to try.

Right after my "friends" purchase a candy thermometer I can borrow...

**If you haven't wandered over to my writing blog yet, you really should.
There's cake.

11 January 2011

Black as Hell



No, the title doesn't refer to economic outlook or the dark night of my soul. It's a reference to an old proverb regarding coffee. More precisely, it's a reference to Turkish coffee:

"Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love."

Can I kiss the person who said this? I'm known for my love of strong coffee and it's a given that if I brew coffee, someone (ie: everyone) will dilute their cup with water. I don't sweeten mine with much sugar, though. Just enough to enhance the flavor.

I've not actually ever tried Turkish coffee. I don't own an ibrik or cezve (the brewing device of Turkish coffee) and I don't know anyone who does. However, there's a local coffee shop owner who possesses uncanny knowledge of foreign coffee brewing techniques. Perhaps I'll ask him if he can brew me some black as hell coffee the next time I pop in for horchata

The most appealing aspect to me is not the legendary strength of the coffee, but the culture that surrounds it. It's my opinion that we take too many things for granted in our culture; we hurry through life, we rush and gulp and guzzle. There are precious few who actually take the time to brew coffee (or tea for that matter). I savor the moments I can sit quietly by, listening to the pot gurgle and hiss as my fresh ground coffee beans go from dirt-like grounds to deep, rich brew. The sounds, the smells of fresh ground, fresh brewed coffee entice and entrance. It's a far cry from shouting "a tall, half-caf, double cream, low fat such in such" to a disembodied voice via drive-thru.

Then again, I also like hand writing letters and hanging the wash on a line in the sun, so take the above societal chiding with a grain of salt ;)

Excellent resource for Turkish Coffee history, culture and instructions on how to brew it : Turkish Coffee
Ways to order coffee in Turkey : Turkey Travel Planner
Want to set up your own Turkish Coffeehouse? Visit Turkish Coffee World!

10 January 2011

Turkey has been postponed...

So I can go play in the snow!!!



Have fun out there (and stay safe if you've been hit with ice and snow like we have)!



Snow covered palms.
Only in Georgia.

**If you follow my other blog, you'll find the same post over there. Cheers!

06 January 2011

At the Crossroads of Asia and Europe

So far, our journey (no matter how sporadic it may have been) has taken us through Asia. From China to the Middle East we've wandered, discovering dumplings and pastries, fresh mint dishes and strange delights most of us would never touch with a 39 1/2 foot pole.

We now find ourselves at a crossroads. Not quite out of Asia and yet not quite into Europe. Turkey sits along the borders of both. Though technically a European country, there is much about Turkey that remains shrouded in mystery (as much of Eastern Europe tends to be to Westerners). Perhaps that's what has always drawn me to this country. Or perhaps I'm mesmerized by it's landmarks and natural phenomena:

the Blue Mosque


Hagia Sophia


Pamukkale



It could be the idea of feasting on lamb kabobs and fresh yogurt or indulging in a bracing cup of Turkish coffee. Sweet mint tea is also on the menu, and heaven knows how much I LOVE mint! Or my attraction with this country could be the legend that Vlad Dracul was once imprisoned here by the Ottoman Army. According to this story, Vlad's hatred for the Ottomans grew and when he returned to Eastern Europe to set up his rule, his time in imprisonment prompted his cruel and rather unusual methods of displaying his conquered foes.

Whether or not the legend of Vlad the Impaler (who we all know and love as the inspiration for Count Dracula) had any connections with this country or not, there is still an air of mystery that surrounds it. I've held an almost sacred desire to spend time in the city once known as Constantinople, to explore it's many markets. Most of all, I wish to sit outside at a cafe, find out for myself if Turkish coffee is as strong as it is legendary, and watch the many wonders of this melting pot of civilization.

Won't you join me?


~Jen

PS: Speaking of joining me, my new writing-centric blog is up and running! Pop on over for a cuppa at Widdershins and Skeleton Keys.

04 January 2011

Updates and Ramblings

I feel like I haven't blogged in months! I've missed being here, missed reading your blogs, your comments, your antics and inspired musings. I trust you all had wonderful holidays and are ready to kick 2011 off into high gear! I for one long to rest in January. A month of peace, to regroup and rejuvenate before diving back into life and all it's wildness would be a welcome, welcome treat. Until then, dear friends, I'll grab hold, hang on, and see where this dragon takes me.

Speaking of wildness, we've been adopted by a dog. Yes, a dog. The Thursday before Christmas, Jon came in with a lovely little lost girl. It was going to be terribly cold that night, so we put her up with a blanket, some cat food, and prayers that the house would still be in one piece when we got back from my mom's house. She was sound asleep on the couch when we got home. Christmas Eve we took her for a walk thinking we'd run into her owner or at least see some posters for a missing dog. Nothing. A police officer pulled up beside us and we learned that the dog had been roaming the streets for at least 2 weeks. The cop had been feeding her from a bag of dog food she kept in her patrol car.

Needless to say, we kept her, got her some food of her own (the cat was very grateful) and she's been our new baby ever since. Oh, and we named her Grace.


She looks to be either a foxhound or (as someone recently told us) an English walker hound. Whatever she is, she's a sweetheart. She definitely keeps things interesting!

In other news, I started school yesterday. Again. This is my fifth go at college. Honestly, though, it has been a better experience than either of the times before. I know what to expect, I know that all the "terminology" and "tone" they use in correspondence is just to mainly frighten freshman into doing their homework and pay back their loans. A lot of my former credits transferred in and I'm expecting to graduate in 2 - 2 1/2 years with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. ONLY program I could find that was completely online. I shall be a bit pressed for time in the coming months, but I fully intend to keep blogging away both here aaaannndd...

At my NEW blog! Widdershins and Skeleton Keys is open for business. The posts may come later in the day than the ones I post here, but I'm hoping to post regularly and often. As you all know, writing is near and dear to my heart and I've wanted a separate place to word play for a long time. Wander on over and check it out. It's definitely in the baby blog stages, but I've got some grand ideas and welcome any input you guys may have. Let me know what you want in a writing blog and we'll see what we can do! Being thrust into the Creative Writing department of a college as I am now, I should have loads to pass along eventually :D

As for my culinary ramblings, we're moving right along and crossing into Europe. Stay tuned for some fabulous facts and foodie love on Turkey :D (The country not the bird...;)

Cheers!
Jen

03 January 2011

Happy New Year

How is every little one?
Was Santa good to you?
Did you enjoy your Christmas, spending it with family, friends, or just some peaceful moments by yourself?
How did you ring in the New Year?

I'm trusting everyone is healthy and well this brand spanking new year. Our journey will continue tomorrow (Tuesday 04 January) and I'm really excited to learn about our new destination: Turkey.

[No, not the bird. The country ;)]

Enjoy your Monday evening. It's back to the job for me tomorrow, but I'll be here, blogging about food, about life. I've got a couple of interesting tidbits of news for you AND I've got a nice, shiny NEW BLOG which is ready and rearing to go TOMORROW!

Stay tuned!!!!