Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Save me from Gobby Women.

Is "gobby" a word?  I don't think it was when I studied English grammar and language at school but it is apt for a breed of woman I encounter more and more on my air travels.  They are anything from 20 to 45 years in age and usually have a few kids in tow though motherhood is not a criteria for the breed,  travelling in packs is.  They seem to think that anyone within 200 metres of them is lucky to be the recipient of their bon mots on life, love and sex and raise their voices accordingly so that even those with heads plugged into noise cancelling headphones  (me) will not miss a golden word uttered from their lips. They are also lucky enough to find everything they say screechingly hillarious and they fire out blasts of laughter worthy of a coven every few seconds.  Their children, also in packs, usually sit several rows away from their mothers but are then encouraged to run back and forth, grabbing each seatback and arm rest as they go.  When Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister issued forth on women not laughing in public, he was universally ridiculed,  but I am coming around to his way of thinking....

Remember the song "Silence is Golden" .... Time for a re-release I think. 

(Written on a Monarch Luton to Bodrum Charter flight,  the 31st plane trip of the year which proved to be one too many for middle-aged bordering on getting-on-a-bit me.)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Nutty Courgettes

Another quck meze dish that isn't really traditional but draws from 2 famous Turkish dishes and  can be on the table in 15 minutes flat. We love kizartma in the BtoB household but we always griddle or bake the aubergines, courgettes and peppers rather than fry them.  We are also partial to Çerkez Tavuk, chıcken covered in a walnut and garlic sauce, Cicassian style.   This is a merging of the two. 

Cut 3 courgettes lengthways into half centimetre slices.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook on a hot griddle until soft.  Arrange on a serving plate.
Peel and slice two cloves of garlic and liquidise in 2 tbls of olive oil.  When smooth, add a handful of walnuts and a handful of basil leaves and another of parsley. Grate 100 g of hard sheep's cheese, you can use Parmesan but only use 50g, and add to the mixture and pulse a couple of times.  Spread this pesto over the courgettes and serve.   This makes a change from the usual yogurt sauce.  

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

What am I missing

I am in rainy Scotland with wet feet because I didn't have time to grab my winter gear between Greece and the UK, and summer clothing doesn't cut it in August in the Highlands.  If all goes to plan I'll be back in Bodrum this time next week and I'm musing over what I've missed while I've been away.  Chris Drum's weekly Bodrum Echo newsletter keeps me up to date with what's on at home so I know there have been almost wall to wall classical concerts and ballets. I've missed the introduction of a weekly market for small holdings producing their own fruit and vegetatables, (the weekly Friday market has a few of these but also lots of commercial sellers). There's a new bus service to the airport and back leaving every 30 minutes from the main Bodrum bus station, which I will make use of in the future. (The existing service only serves the domestic airlines). I've been following the various protests against the privatisation of public beaches, a cause close to my heart. I'm glad to have been away during the Bayram holiday, when city visitors bring their own brand of road rage to the town and make Bodrum a hot bed of stress and unpleasantness. Several friends have sent me emails saying they are passing through Bodrum and unfortunately I haven't been there to show them around.  But yesterday, a photograph on Facebook really tugged my heart strings. I hope Özlem doesn't mind me putting this on

Two of my favourite bloggers, Özlem's Turkish Table  and The Archers of Okcular ( see links at the side) meeting up on the Bodrum peninsula and I'm not there...... Words fail me! 

(Sorry for the makeshift quality of this post. It is being written in a coffee shop in Inverness airport making the most of a 45 minute flight delay and free internet. Normal service should be resumed next week,  but unfortunately my fellow bloggers will be back home too.) 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spicing up an old favourite

This week I've been cooking for folk who love strong flavours and I felt my usually well-received collection of Turkish meze might be just a bit bland for them, so I have turbo charged a few traditional recipes to give them some more umph.  Green beans in a tomato sauce is one of my favourites as it is quick and easy to cook but this spicy upgrade is even speedier. 
I based the sauce on puttanesca, that famous Italian pasta sauce named after "ladies of the night", but kept it raw to make the flavours stronger. 
Prepare the fresh green beans in which ever way you prefer, I sliced mine quite thinly.  Steam or boil until they are the texture you are happy with,  I like them with a slight bite, but not too crisp. 

Combine the following in a blender:
2 peeled chopped garlic cloves
1 tsp rinsed capers
1 tbsp green or black olive paste
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tinned anchovies or more if you want a real flavour kick. 
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 tbsp the best olive oil you have.

Drain the beans and immediately coat them in the blended sauce.   Leave at least 30 minutes.  
This dish can be served warm or cold, but is best at room temperature. 


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Dog Envy

I wish Jake could travel with me in the summer, I think he'd enjoy Hydra.

This is Rajah, he's the carpenter's dog, it was a one-dog workshop until about 2 months ago, now there are two. 

This boxer looks after a mini-market.  He's got a spaniel companion who was keeping a low profile. 

This setter will sell you anything to do with the sea.

The electrician. 

Jake might not get on with the occupant of the pharmacy. 

I'm waiting for me to get home too. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vegetable Spaghetti


I'm not keen on kitchen gadgets as there is not much you can't do with a set of sharp sharp knives, a sturdy mixer and blender, but I had great fun yesterday with a "Spiralo"
My daughter has been told to cut down on carbohydrates, a hard task for a working girl keen on pasta, so I bought this contraption for her.  Before I cart it back to Turkey, I thought I should give it a go. It is a multipurpose slicer, but it can very cleverly turn vegetables into long strings of "spaghetti".
I made a simple tomato sauce with 2 skinned beef tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, half a leek, and a glug of olive oil. Two courgettes were turned into strings in seconds, and could probably have been eaten raw, but I steamed them for 3 minutes to heat them up and soften them slightly.  A handful of grated cheese and a few basil leaves topped off the dish.  It was very satisfyiing to be able to twirl the courgette spaghetti on the fork, and with a meat sauce, would be an even tastier low carb dinner. 
I think I might have to buy another one for my kitchen. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Hoopoe Excuse.

It is proving difficult to write a blog about Bodrum this month as I've only been there for 48 hours in the last 30 days, but looking through my photo album has provided inspiration.  This photograph is a recent favourite.  I was siting on the terrace in June, reading a book, when this bird swooped over my head and perched on a nearby pine.  Luckily, I was reading on my ipad so I switched apps and took this shot. I hadn't seen a hoopoe for a while so was very excited to catch this one on film.  I always feel that I'm living somewhere exotic when a hoopoe visits. 
The sight also took me back over 20 years to our first weeks in the house. I was so overwhelmed by the number of birds in the garden that I used to spend most of my time with binoculars and no time with a duster or vacuum cleaner.  I'm not very house-proud anyway but with the wildlife distracting me, the house was getting progressively more untidy.  When my old friend Jane visited, she berated me for my messy house. I stood my ground, giving the hoopoes in the garden as an excuse.  She has never let me forget this and blames hoopoe-watching for anything I forget to do.  
I'm using the hoopoe excuse now - there are plenty of jobs to do in my mother's house in Dorset, but I'm writing about this beautiful crested bird instead.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Derek Charles Sadler 1926 - 2014

My father died on Friday.  I should be extremely sad, but I'm not.  He went the way he would have wanted, although I'm sure he felt he had a good 5 years in hand.  He spent the last week of his life doing the thing he loved most; paragliding.   There aren't many folk, well on their way to 90, who can take off from a Dorset cliff and fly like the birds he so admired.  He wasn't a religious man and his aim was to come back in the next life as a buzzard.  He had two reasons for this:
1. So he could spend his whole time following the thermals that keep the birds effortlessly flying.
2. So he could shit on the people he didn't like. (His words not mine).

He was not the sort of man who could have put up with a long drawn-out terminal illness so a heart attack in his chair at home on Friday was the best  way he could go.

If you are holidaying in Dorset,  watch out for any low flying buzzards with a gleam in their eye. Especially if you are a speed cop, politician or traffic warden.
My father and my Aunty Joy with their mother, Winifred c. 1927

Dad's visit to The Turkish Bakery

Dad's beetroot and apple bread recipe

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Up North

It was 30 degrees today.  So what, you say. Normal temperatures for July in the Aegean. But I'm in Sweden! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

No Shit Bitch

"No shit bitch"  has become my motto for the summer months. I pass these 3 words, as I climb up the hill in Hydra, on about the 180th step I think.  I keep meaning to count the total number, but the ability to sweat, walk and remember at the same time deserts me after 150 steps. I'm also busy trying not to lose face as an octogenarian or two overtake me with a friendly "Yassou" and not a hint of perspiration on their brows. There is not much graffiti on Hydra, but I can't say the same for the mainland. I don't like to draw comparisons between Greece and Turkey, but the amount of urban scrawling can't be ignored on the a Western side of the Aegean. It is everywhere and makes for unpleasant viewing on the bus or metro ride from the airport to Athens or Piraeus. 

I'm a great fan of Banksy because his pieces make us either laugh or think but the majority of the stuff I pass by on the bus just signals a society in decline. 

Occasionally there are attempts that look as if the perpetrator has artistic tendencies but most are rather sad and depressing.  I hate mindless graffiti so I'm not sure why I'm so fond of the "No Shit Bitch" tag. It may be the beautiful turquoise shutters it's written on but it's probably just the lack of oxygen getting to my brain as I wheeze and pant up the hill.