The Bakers Kitchen


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Now that Ramazan is over, life has returned to normal. Breakfast in the village, at the regular time, has commenced and I love nothing more than falling out of bed, jumping in the car and turning up at my mother in-laws just as breakfast is being laid on the floor.

We do make a stop on the way though. We stop at one of the village bakers and pick up some fresh warm bread which can be used to wrap cheese, aubergine or peppers, then rolled up to dip nicely into bowls of freshly made tomato sauce – Delicious.

I especially like doing this on a Friday because Friday is the holy day, and on this day Murat leaves money with the baker to pay for the bread of village families that can’t afford any. I love that he does that and I’m sure there are others that make the same gesture.

The bakers, or ‘firin’ as it is known, is nothing fancy. It’s just a shop type building with a large counter behind which stand men in aprons holding paddles. I say paddles as I don’t know the real name for them but for the sake of your imagination, they do look exactly like paddles. These are used to place the bread deep into the fiery furnace until it turns golden.  Families also use the firin to prepare meals like ‘Tepsi Firin’ (oven tray) – They fill a large stainless steel dish, a bit like a flan dish but bigger, with tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, and sometimes adding onions, then send it to the bakers to be roasted in the oven – It costs just one lira for this service and of course, more bread is bought to accompany it.

I love the simplicity of this cheap and nutritious food and the simplicity of the village lifestyle. There’s a lot to be said for it.

Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines are such a staple of the nations diet that there is even a song about them. If you don’t believe me, here’s a video of the late Baris Manco singing Domates Biber Patlican :-)



Sugar Sugar


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Ooops I did it again!

Ooops I did it again!

What better way to celebrate 30 days of fasting than by stuffing your face full of sugar?

Yes folks, Seker Bayram is just around the corner – It marks the end of the fast and is a day for putting on your new clothes, visiting relies, eating sweets and kissing the hands of the elders. I love Seker Bayram, it’s such a joyful day and yes I have bought some new clothes; funky orange and red salvar (baggy trousers with the low crutch.) I know sister in laws Sebiha & Ozlem also have new dresses because they dragged me all around Yenihisar last week looking for them (we were supposed to be going to the market). Four hours of dress shopping to the sound of baby Bera’s high pitched crying. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm that was fun.

Not sure what Dursun will wear – I tried to buy her a new top as a present during that torturous shopping trip but everything I picked up, the girls said was too young for her – poor woman’s not even allowed a little boncuk (beaded) neckline! You may say, sod it, just get something nice for her and let her feel good, but I’ve learned my lesson in that respect. Having bought her things like that before, I’ve recieved a beaming smile, a “Tesekkur Ederim” and the offending garment is whipped away never to be seen again, (or spied in the bathroom as a new rag under the sink) – She’s not even worn the desperate housewife mules I bought her back from Istanbul.

Hopefully, I’ll be better by then – I’ve been laid up for nearly a week now with all sorts, which were, to be fair, in the process of coming anyway, but I’m sure these were exacerbated by the constant in and out of air conditioned shops on that nightmare shopping expedition.  First my neck and shoulders went into spasm and I literally had a hunchback (I kid you not), then within hours came the head cold and the swollen glands, followed by a delightful side of diarrhoea and a day or so in I was gifted with a little delirium, and I vaguely remember calling up to the sky for my Nan!

Of course, Murat wanted to pack me off to the village to be looked after and I would have liked nothing more, but it’s July, it’s roasting and I don’t want to wear much.  Showing even the slightest bit of ankle at dinner gets me a pair of socks or a blanket so there’s no way I could do the burning fever twist & shout with my bare bits poking out all over the place. Someone would keep covering me up and I would die!

No far more sensible to head to Dr Bey for a traditional igne (needle) or even better, a drip. After 4 days of bed rest it was time to succumb. I often wonder why, at times like this, my hair takes on the quality of candy floss and I have to go out in public? Still, at least this time I was not wearing my pyjamas.

The doc gives me an examination and reels off a list of meds telling the nurse to put them in the drip – I raise my eyebrows and ask him if all that is necessary – I’ve counted five at least! He says most definitely – ho hum.

A few hours in and I start to feel hungry – ooooo an improvement. I also start to wonder where the in-laws are. Never before have I been unattractively contained to a hospital bed and not been subjected to the well wishes of various relatives?  Hmmmmmmmmmm

When my lovely young nurse Meltem comes to flick my drip, I tell her I’m hungry. She sends in the lady that I guess we would call an auxiliary; a lovely smiley lady who orders me soup and gets me water. Meltem means Melody by the way.

6 hours after admission, my drip bags are finished but I’m to return at 10pm for another one.  Still feeling a bit weak, I don’t go to the village for Iftar, instead I go home and change the sheets on the bed to get rid of any germs! I do however ask Murat why Dursun has not called me all day?

“She doesn’t know” he says. It seems in his infinite wisdom that he decided not to tell them and do you know what, for once I agree with him! It’s hot, they are fasting and I wouldn’t want them travelling down to see me just to tell me gecmis olsun. Even though I agree with him, I will still get him in trouble next time I’m in the village by turning on the big eyes and bemoaning my stay in hospital. Tee hee.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, back to the hospital for my second drip – Just half an hour this one but a telling off from different nurse for going home and using my hand as they has left the needle in and I’d managed to work it out by typing….ooops.

This morning, I have to go back again for a full and final bag of goodies which should have me fighting fit and ready for Seker Bayram, and I’ve a feeling my salvar are going to be even baggier because, if there is a plus side to being sick like this, it’s the loss of poundage…..yay bring on the seker!

A day at the beach


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Island Life

Island Life

Had a fabulous 11 days in Istanbul – Not that I did much sightseeing; more catching up and chilling really. We did have a day on Kinarli though. That’s the nearest Island to the mainland. The name translates into Henna Island; named because of the colour of its earth due to all the iron and copper that has been mined there.

If your’e ever in Istanbul it’s well worth a trip, but perhaps not at the weekend – too busy! We set off from Besiktas on a cloudy Friday and walked for ten minutes to Kabatas (pronounced Kabatash) where we caught the little hopper (deniz otobus) just as the rain came down. Hmmmmmmmm

Some twenty minutes later we were sitting drinking tea in Yassos, a little cafe by the harbour, under bright sunshine. Our mission today is to tan, but instead of catching the little white boat that bumps you around the coast to the beach bar for free, we decide to walk.  Leaving the main drag, we turn into a side street on the left, pass the bike hire, chemist, bakers and more cafes, then hook a right into a pretty tree lined street on a gradient. It’s not a big hill and we hardly notice it as we take a leisurely stroll along while chatting and discussing the different architecture and informality of the houses.

Getting to the little beach, involves lots of uneven concrete steps (I need to tell you this just in-case you go and end up cursing me!) – At the bottom in the cafe area, a short grey haired women in a bright purple dress, puts her hands in the air and starts dancing toward us, clicking her fingers along to the music as she goes. The beaming smile never leaves her face.  She envelopes Magi and Helen in her meaty arms, saying her hellos like an old friend, which of course she is. I get a kiss on each cheek in welcome – Hey I’m new here!

We take up prime position sun loungers and arrange ourselves for the task ahead….Tanning!. Our view is to the mainland with its erratic skyline currently under a turbulent fusion of black and charcoal cloud. It reminds me of a violent cartoon with its tongues of white lightening, too perfect to be real. Magnificent to look at, but we are so very glad we escaped it!

The day is spent flat out under partial cloud which still leaves strap lines and red bits! During the day, the boys make sure we have all we need, and when hunger strikes we wander over to the bamboo roofed cafe for Kofte, with an extra plate of chips.

With good grace, Kinarli keeps it visitors dry for the whole day, and when the little boat arrives to take everyone back to the harbour, only Helen gets on it. Magi and I literally take the high road.

Some useful info:

The cost for a day on the beach is 15tl (25 at weekends) – I think in total with refreshments and lunch it cost us around 40tl each.

For the ferry, and for buses, you need to pick up an IstanbulKart which you can get from the little news kiosks that are dotted around the city, and this you can top up during your stay (machines in the ferry port or little man in the kiosk) – I managed to lose mine, and it had 25tl on it…..think that had something to do with Brian, but that’s another story…….



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