November 2008


Okay, so it’s not quite the children’s rhyme, but close enough!  I realized that I hardly ever remember to include the sort of “local color” that we get to enjoy living here.

First off, we actually do have a neighborhood butcher, two bakers, and an olive oil vendor.  They’re all about three blocks from our house, along with a fish market, a greengrocer, a hardware store, and a bunch of restaurants.  There are also giant modern grocery stores here, but most of the time we prefer to get our vegetables at the open-air market on the weekend and our meat in our neighborhood.  The olive oil we can buy at the little shop near our house is wonderful.

ossobucco

Shopping in our neighborhood has also helped us practice and improve our Turkish, and now that we’ve been here for several months the guys in the shops recognize us and patiently put up with our sign language when necessary.  Like this past week…Danny decided he really wanted osso bucco (which, in case you’ve never had it, is AWESOME.  It’s bone-in veal shanks that are cooked until they’re wonderfully tender and falling off the bone).  Of course, osso bucco is an Italian specialty, so we armed ourselves with our Turkish dictionary and a copy of the picture at the right and headed off to the butcher.  (Incidentally, the fact that the English words for calf (from which veal comes) and calf (being the part of the body the osso bucco cut comes from) are the same makes looking them up in the dictionary interesting.)  We were also buying some lamb shoulder for Indian night.  I’m sure passers-by were entertained if they looked in the window of the butcher shop and saw Danny grabbing his shoulder, then his calf, and miming “1-inch cubes” (for the shoulder) and “thick steaks with bone in” for the veal.

Since we had forgotten to look up the word for “bone,” we had to do some pointing and gesturing to get our point across that we wanted the shank with the bone in it.  My favorite part of that whole exchange was when, to demonstrate that he understood what we meant by “bone,” the butcher pulled a cow’s femur out of the walk-in freezer and held it up.

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dscn21412So as per our menu plan, we had Indian night this past Tuesday.  It was a huge success!  I apologize for the picture…I’m still working on my food photography skills. 🙂  Everything came out really well, though.  Clockwise from the top is the okra cooked in onions, rice, lamb with mint and vinegar, mango chutney, and lemon pickle.  The lemon pickle we made when Maryan was visiting, so it’s the one thing we can actually claim is authentic, but I have to say that the rest of it all really did taste like Indian food!

We found the recipes for the okra and lamb in An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, and I was really impressed with how easy the directions were to follow.  We picked up the original 1973 version free at a church yard sale a few years ago, but have never actually tried to cook anything from it before now.  The recipes definitely have a long list of ingredients, but don’t let that intimidate you — they’re actually very easy to prepare.  I think the recipe for okra could be used for pretty much any vegetable you wanted to cook with a delicious Indian flavor.

Danny and I don’t usually come up with menu plans in advance, but this week we decided to give it a shot.  We have all these great cookbooks that tend not to get used if we’re just doing the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants style of cooking, and we always seem to wind up with vegetables that don’t get used by the end of the week.  So here’s our very loose plan for this week:

Sunday: Roast chicken, roasted root vegetables (beets, carrots, celeriac and turnips), grilled zucchini

Indian night (probably Tuesday): Lamb with mint and vinegar, okra with onions, brown rice, lemon pickle.

Bean soup (most likely black bean soup since we have cilantro in the fridge), cornbread

Asian night (probably Friday): Malaysian fish curry, snow peas, pickled radish, brown rice

We’ll probably do the bean soup on Thursday night, but maybe Wednesday depending on how the night looks and how many left-overs we have from Indian night.  Next week I really want to make cassoulet (I found a great recipe in our Dean and Deluca Cookbook that I’m dying to try) and Danny wants to make tuna cutlet (recipe courtesy of my college roommate Maryan’s mom…will be part of another Indian night).

It appears that blogger.com is once again accessible here in the Turkish Republic, which creates something of a quandry for me.  Now that I’ve imported my old posts (albeit without pictures, but oh well) and sent out the mass e-mail with the new blog address, should I just stay here?  Or should I move back to blogger and try to import the posts I’ve done here back into that one?  Or does it really make no difference at all?

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