Thursday, 11 September 2014

My First Lime in Bodrum

This post is for Kath and Dave, our globe trotting, camper-van driving friends.  When they departed last year, to return to real life in Surrey, they left us the money to buy a lime tree. This I duly did and yesterday I picked my first home grown lime.  These tasty green fruit are hard to come by in Bodrum, and impossible to find in the village so the possibility of being self sufficient in the next few years is a wondrous concept.  We celebrated our harvest with the best gin and tonic of the year.  The next lime I  pick shall be kept in the deep freezer and grated sparingly into Thai curries or desserts. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the coriander seeds and lemon grass plonked in the garden earlier this week.

Kath and Dave may no longer be driving around Europe, the van has been exchanged for a MG, but Kath hasn't given up blogging. Cakes by Kath is her new blog, showcasing the magnificent birthday cakes she makes for friends and family. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Her Derde Deva - Küdret Narı. Bitter Gourd

Excuse me breaking into Turkish, but "her derde deva" sounds so much better than "universal cure".  The village markets are full of jars and bottles which claim to be a panacea for every ill known to mankind and I used to be pretty sceptical, but the more research I do, the more faith I put in these local remedies.  My poor daughter has been diagnosed with a thyroid problem which, indirectly, has caused her insulin levels to rise so she has been prescribed Metformin.  This drug has horrible side effects and her suffering prompted me to comb the internet for alternatives and I found one that is on sale at almost every market in Bodrum. Bitter gourd or Küdret Narı has been proven to be almost as effective as Metformin at reversing insulin resistance and lowering blood sugars. Interestingly,  when I bought some of the fruit this week, I was told it was good for heartburn, acid reflux, stomach ulcers and skin complaints.  It is either sold macerated in olive oil or honey, so I was lucky to find the whole fruit.  In the East, it is treated as a vegetable and picked green, when it is less bitter, and cooked in stews and stir fries, juiced or eaten raw. 

Care should be taken in preparation as the red pulp covering the seeds is poisonous, but the rest of the fruit is edible and the leaves can be used for tea.  It grows prodigiously and the vine can reach 5 meters in height.  I've saved some seeds and will plant them next May and see if I can get my own vine growing.  If you are diabetic or on insulin lowering medication only try this vegetable in consultation with your doctor, as you might find your sugar levels dipping too low. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Nuts No More

I am of an age that if I hear the word "Nuts" it is always followed mentally by "whole hazelnuts, Cadburys take them and they cover them in chocolate". It's unfortunate that most of the readers stumbling on this blog live in the US, because this won't mean anything to you.
Nuts Whole Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are one of Turkey's biggest exports and the makers of Nutella rely on Turkish nuts for their famous chocolate spread. The bad news for lovers of this sugar and palm oil heavy concoction is that the hazelnut harvest has been affected by bad weather and production is down by over 50%.  We've never been a Nutella family as at 104 calories for a 20g serving it always struck me as being extremely unhealthy, but I have recently met folk who can't live without it. However, I have just been converted to another chocolate spread that seems a bit too good to be true.

Chokoliva is 55% olives, 20% chocolate and 10% cherries. Hazelnuts, citric acid and soy lecithin make up the remaining 15%.  At 33 calories for a 20g serving, it could almost be classed as a guilt free treat.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Running Water

Sesame drying. 

When we bought our land near the village, there was no water apart from a few wells. We planned to collect rainwater in the winter to use in the summer and built a large cistern. In 1992, by the time our house was finished enough to move into, domestic water pipes had been laid and we never got the chance to find out if we could have been self-sufficient.  The Karaova plain in front of us is very fertile but without water only tobacco and sesame could be grown in the summer, which meant that, by the end of August, there was very little green to be seen.  The scenery is very different today. A comprehensive irrigation project, completed in the mid 90s,  distributes water through a series of canals  to the whole agricultural area.

Now each family with land on the plain, has a market garden which provides all their summer vegetables and flowers for the house.  Everyone knows that we don't grow our own as we are further up the hill and are not lucky enough to have rich soil, so we are always offered veg as we pass by. As we walk past twice a day with the dog, this can be a bit embarrassing for me, as I have managed to retain my  annoying English mentality which makes me  feel that I am taking advantage if I accept their generosity too often. Despite long years in the UK, Teo luckily has not adopted such a useless mindset and helps himself whenever.

The abundance of courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes and peppers also attracts unwelcome visitors.  Wild boar get hungry up in the forest and in one trip down the hill they can wreck a whole field, so gardens can't be left unattended at night. These makeshift shacks house one man and a gun, asleep but with ears primed, ready to blast at the first grunt or snuffle.

A very good reason to make sure Jake is only let out in daylight.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Jazz Cafe. Past and Present.

I've been very lazy since returning last week. It's been too hot to do much other than read or swim but we did venture out once and this journey took me on a trip down Memory Lane. 
We set out to meet Simon, who had been in Turkey for the 2 weeks that I was in Scotland and Dorset, and was just about to leave.  Simon was my first "proper" boyfriend  - "proper" in that we were teenage lovebirds and even endeavoured to set up house together in a miserable two room flat in Selly Oak, Birmingham some 37 years ago.   (Brutal reality soon punctured that young love's dream). Neither of us is entirely clear when we last saw each other but it was a long, long time ago. Simon was with friends in Gümüşlük, so I suggested we have a drink in the Jazz Cafe.  We had a lovely afternoon gassing and promised to meet up again in the not too distant future as we only touched on the reminiscences of life in Rugby and Birmingham in the 1970s. 
The venue was an apt choice for reliving old memories.  In 1982, The Jazz Cafe was located in Tepecik in Bodrum, a 5 minute stroll from the Marina  (a 10 minute drunken meander back). It was where all the yachties hung out and where a lot of the foreigners living and working in Bodrum got together. Opened by Cengiz and Mete, it was a bar where the beer was always cold, the music always good and the company entertaining.  You could meet people who had just rowed in from the harbour and occasionally a few who had just rode in from Anatolia on two wheels or four legs.  Every other punter seemed to be a poet, writer, artist or musician  and, as it was just down the road from Ahmet Ertegün's house, occasionally those signed to Atlantic records would pop in.
It was the venue for my first organised (as opposed to just happening to be in the same place at the same time) date with my husband to be.  It was my last night in Bodrum after a season as a boatbum, farewell dinner and drinks were planned and I invited Teo to join me at 8pm.   He did eventually turn up. At 10pm with two women in tow, which was an interesting start to 32 years together. 
Towards the end of the 1980s, The Jazz Cafe moved to bigger premises on the other side of Bodrum, less handy for the marina, but good for a late night bop for those of us not enamoured with the commercial Halikarnas Disco. Eventually Cengiz and Mete moved the business to Istanbul, where it is still open in the winter months, but for those of us who remember the old Bodrum Jazz Cafe, we can still grasp a taste of days past on Gümüşlük beach in the summer.  Pity the beer isn't still 4 for a quid. 

Flapper Swing in action.  As we weren't staying for the evening concert, we were entertained with an impromptu performance. 

Nice to see the boss, Cengiz in the background. 

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.