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Everything posted by sazji

  1. Yes, I'll second that one, a good BBQ is hard to beat! Also pumpkin pie, cranberries, American-style pancakes with maple syrup, hash browns, southern pork sausage (the kind that you form into patties and fry), grits, a good bread stuffing, chocolate chip cookies, corn dogs, really fresh sweet corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, brownies. And a really good hamburger is nothing to sneeze at either. I finally backed up my claim that McDonalds did *not* represent all that a hamburger could be by inviting some friends over and making real hamburgers on the grill, a bit thick, a little bit pink in the middle, with thin sliced fresh onion, lettuce, tomato, sorry no cheddar cheese available here. They were duly impressed; I hope I've ruined their taste for MickyDee's now!
  2. A couple of favorite family stories come to mind. In 1933, my grandfather lost everything in the depression, so as he tried to rebuild, the relatives in Greece (who were actually much better off at the time) brought my grandmother, mother and uncle to live with them on the island of Euboea (Evia). Of course my grandmother had to learn Greek. She went to the butcher and nicely asked for a quarter oka (an old measure) of calve's liver. At least that's what she thought she was asking for. She meant "sikotakia." What she said was "skatakia," or "little shits." The butcher laughed and said "are you sure you don't mean "sikotakia?" "Skatakia" is not a terribly bad word in Greek, but my grandmother was a proper southern belle, so she was properly mortified and never went back again. Later she was waiting in a cafe for some friends. The waiter came and asked for her order. My grandmother said in her considerably improved Greek, "Thank you, I'm waiting for my friends to come down." A perfectly acceptable expression in Greek, but the waiter looked at her oddly, then looked up in the trees, and left. A bit later another waiter, a bit more hesitantly, came and said "are you ready to order?" My grandmother said "No, I just told the other waiter, I'm waiting for my friends to come down!" This waiter too looked up into the trees, went back to his colleage, and made the "wacko" sign. A bit later the friends arrived and they all had a good laugh - She should have said "perimeno na katevoun i fili mou." What she said was, "ta fila mou" - "I'm waiting for my leaves to come down." Only sort of related to food, but when a woman asked her how old her kids were, she said "My girl is five years old, and my little cucumber is ten." - agoraki - little boy, angouraki - cucumber." And I made a mistake which is still talked about in the host family I stayed with on a foreign exchange program. We went to a wedding - gamos in Greek. I deduced that the verb to marry should be "gamo" - and I was right, but about 1000 years late...the modern word is "pandrevome" and "gamo" now means "to screw" (to the delight of thousands of Greek kids learning ancient Greek). So I asked the mother of the bride "what time are they [getting married]?" Understanding exactly what I meant but going with it, she said "e, perimene ligaki!" (oh, just wait a little!). I remember saving one Norwegian couple from the wrath of an Istanbul fruit seller; their sin had been to try and buy exactly one fig. He said "what the hell do you mean, one fig?! Who buys one fig?" I explained to him that where they came from, figs were really expensive and they had never had a fresh one before. He said "oh, then why don't they just try one?" and gave them one to try. He was incredulous when I said "you can't do that there." There's a much repeated story in Turkey about the foreign woman who goes into the bakery and asks for two loaves of bread (iki ekmek) and mistakenly says "iki erkek" (two men), whereupon the baker smiles and says "I'm all you need honey."
  3. Are you by a Japanese in the US or a Mexican in France, who longs for some flavors from home but find that local versions of "your" cuisine don't even come close, or some essential thing is missing? Are you a Cambodian who is still a bit scandalized when Americans load up their plates with some of everything before starting to eat? Do Indonesian restaurants in Holland spoil Indonesian food in a way different than in the US? I'm not talking about a single place that doesn't quite get the spicing right, but rather things that are "standard" in the local "transplanted" version of your food where you live; or ways people eat/expect to be served that more or less spoils the experience. Or other things I might not have thought of. Here are a couple of mine: I was reminded while writing another post of an evening in Seattle many years ago when my partner and I decided to try a Greek restaurant we'd wondered about. The first thing you get in a restaurant in Greece is a basket of good thick bread. When none was brought, I asked the waitress, and she said "we don't have any." "No bread at all?" I asked. "Well, we have fried pita" she said. "Let's go," I said. I couldn't imagine having a nice Greek dish and no bread with it! Sure this was just a case of isolated insanity, we went to another place, same story, so we went to another, that was still run by Greeks. The woman said "we used to have bread but the Americans don't want it so we stopped." Defeated, we settled for fried pitta, which continued to strike me as just weird, like sitting down to an American meal and getting a basket of hotdog buns. The food was great but it was just "wrong." But there you have it - it seems that most Americans now think Greeks sit around eating fried pitta. (I'm reminded of a reverse experience of some friends who went to a Chinese restaurant in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia back in the 70s. The dishes arrived, and the food had been ladled over big thick slices of wonderful, spongy bread!) Here in Turkey Chinese restaurants have no pork on the menu, you get dishes with no sauce on them, and a bowl of "chinese pilaf" (plain rice) is priced as if it were another main dish. There are so few Chinese here that what Chinese (or Americans who have lived near a big Chinatown) might prefer is irrelevant. So I just do without Chinese food here.
  4. They do it in parts of Turkey, especially with breakfast; dip the bread into the oil, then into the zatar. Not so much "before a meal" but as part of it. I have to disagree with one poster about bread that's "good enough" not needing anything else. That sounds to me like a comment from someone in a place where bread is mostly of poor quality and good bread is a special treat. Here you can find bad bread but there is still so much good bread around that it's simply expected, and it's something to be eaten with food, not before the food -- with cheese, jam, spreads, etc. It's one part of a great combination. Isn't a good sandwich better if the bread's good too? (What really used to get my goat in Seattle was going to Greek restaurants and finding they had NO BREAD! Only fried pitta. As if Greeks sit around eating fried pitta all the time. Fried pitta is what you put gyros in. It's like going to an American restaurant and being served hot dog buns. How can you eat a nice plate of moussaka with no thick, spongy bread to eat with it? But this is off topic. However it does give me an idea for a thread.)
  5. When I first moved out at 19, I worked at the Parthenon restaurant in Champaign, Ill. We weren't too subtle, and were not beyond vacuuming around them if it got ridiculously late. Also turning out all the lights except those right in their area of the dining room. One evening a couple came in at around 9, and after gazing lovingly into each other's eyes for hours, the time was past 2:00. The place was empty, the bar had been shut down, and there they sat. We decided to refill salt shakers to pass the time. As I walked by their table to put the shakers back, I heard the guy say to the girl: "What did you say your name was again?" It almost made it worth it.
  6. Ah, but cats are also smart. What a cat learns in this case is: "Never go up on the counter when you are around, especially if you have a spray bottle in your hand!"
  7. You must have forgotten two important sayings, sazji, due to lack of sleep. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Pretty is as pretty does. Dangerous kitchen activity perhaps, but certainly not unbecoming. ← Thank you for your vote of confidence. I bet if I posted a photo, you'd change yer tune pretty darn quick.
  8. Really beautiful too! Thanks for posting the picture!
  9. Okay okay okay...I confess...this morning, in a bleary-eyed state (despite a nice shower) resulting from staying up until 4:00 a.m. on an "urgent" translation, and in desperate need of caffeine, I made my morning coffee in my birthday suit. I'm sure it would not have been a pretty sight had anyone walked in on me.
  10. Here's the recipe from my project. A comment - pouring boiling milk into flour makes instant lumps, and I had to use the wand mixer to get rid of them. I think it would be a good idea to cool the milk first, or mix the butter into the flour (or some of it) at the end of the toasting process a la white sauce; oiled flour will distribute better. Khavidz (Serves 8) 125 gr butter 1 litre milk 8 T flour 9 T sugar 1 t vanilla 1 T fine semolina Boil the milk, sugar and vanilla together. On a very low flame, toast the flour in a pan for 20 minutes, without browning. Add the boiled milk little by little into the flour, and cook till the mixture comes to the consistency of a thin batter, then add the butter a little at a time. Butter a small baking dish and coat with semolina. Pour in the khavitz dough and cook till browned. When cooked, invert onto a serving plate and dust with cinnamon if desired. Khavidz looks easy but achieving the correct consistency requires skill. It is one of the most delicious Armenian holiday sweets. Its interior should be like a thick pudding or even slightly runny; its exterior should be well browned just like kazandibi. The special "Khavidz days" at the old restaurants at the Covered Bazaar, where Armenian cooks worked, have long been forgotten. Khavidz today is kept alive only in a few households where traditions are preserved.
  11. I have a couple..one is definitely tongue-and-cheek: About the Author: Among Mormons, Sister Enid Chreistensen is a popular author, den mother, cook and roll model. A prominent leader in the Payson, Utah, 227th ward Relief Society, she has cooked countless inpsirational meals and shared her testimony-strengthening culinary experiences with thousands of those weak in things of the kitchen. There was a time, for example, when she was caught in a food-fight between Payson Troop 139 and Nagasaki Troop E=MC2. Her chef's hat torn from her head by Jell-O and suchi projectiles, she escaped without so much as a wrinkle to her polyester dress. Regarding this latter special experience, Sister Christensen remembers, "We were on all-night kitchen duty when the twenty-gallon pressure cooker exploded, sheding showers of whole wheat shrapnel into my dear friend's kitchenette. Sister brown caught a direct hit. I listened all night to her moans while fighting off two or three scouts who saw their chance for a midnight snack..... The other is serious...I bought it thinking it would be a little Joy of Cooking type thing (sorry for the blurry picture): The last paragraph of the introduction is priceless: And here it is. Well printed . . . well bound . . . well planned (I hope!) . . . and yours for a price so small that you can afford to keep one upstairs and one down. You may even end it to a friend as you would a greeting card! ..... It's got such delicacies as boiled eggplant, boiled celery, and asparagus peanut scallop. Also delicate subtleties as "boiled asparagus" and a different recipe for "boiled cut asparagus." Another favorite is Mushroom Vegetable Chowder: made of 1 can vegetable soup and 1 can mushroom soup. Asparagus Mushroom Soup is equally original: 1 can asparagus soup, 1 can mushroom soup, with the daring addition of chopped pimiento. Lots of the recipes really do look like something you'd fine in the Gallery of Regrettable Food. But I keep it around because...well, not really sure. But I keep it around.
  12. In Turkey people generally take off their shoes when they enter a house. There's a rack for shoes just inside (or sometimes just outside) the door, and sets of slippers. The slippers are nice because nobody leaves with them.
  13. Ahhhh...pudding..... Since we're doing puddings, I thought I'd enter one into the fray. I'm translating a web site on foods of Turkey (not only of Turks but of other peoples here as well), and as I feared, I've come across many things I've had to try. The lastest is an Armenian specialty called "khavidz." It's basically a thick pudding made of lightly toasted flour, milk, vanilla, sugar and more butter than I want to think about, poured into a buttered-and-semolina'd pan, and baked till the sides and top brown. My oven being a convection oven, the top browned before the sides could really get where I wanted them, and the glass baking dish surely didn't help. I'll try it again in a regular metal tepsi. (I thought glass would be handy so I could check its progress...but it didn't progress!) Anyway, here's the finished product, which tastes very good. Here's a cut piece. Yes, that's butter oozing out of it... It's semi-firm, very rich (with 125 gr of butter to one litre of milk it would be, wouldn't it) and definitely in the "comfort food" category. I've had a similar thing, though not baked, which was a little too thick for my liking. I will try an extra T of flour next time I make this one.
  14. In Turkey it seems they have drilled into waiters that every empty dish or glass, must be removed from the table as soon as it is empty or even approaching empty. This is "good service." I've heard them referred to as the "last sip patrol." You have a few swallows leftof your tea and there is a waiter or busboy trying to grab your glass away from you. Four people eating and every time some plate is done, the waiter is back messing with the table. Yesterday I was out with a friend eating, I'd finihed the kebab but there was still pilaf on the plate and I had my fork in my hand; the waiter came and tried to take my plate; I hadn't even finished swallowing. Another time I was eating lahmacun (like a thin pizza you eat rolled up, burrito-style). I'd eaten half of it, it was in my hand and a bite in my mouth. the busboy came, grabbed the plate, and said "would you like anything else?" I made a "wait" sign with my finger, swallowed, and said "yes, please, I'd like my plate back!" It got a laugh. The worst is when you are telling a story or a joke, and are just getting to the punchline and the waiter barracudas in with a "dessert? coffee? tea?" You can tell them when you go in to let you finish but it's a losing battle because besides your waiter there are other waiters as well and they all seem to operate throughout the whole room, plus a hoarde of busboys. You'd have to make the announcement to 10 people!
  15. Yeah...shoes in the kitchen are a good idea. I spilled hot oil once all over my shoes and thought about the times I didn't have them. On the eggs - I've done it, actually hot scrambled eggs hitting the remnants gets them hotter than the runny yolk of a soft-boiled egg. I actually think we tend to go a bit overboard on food dangers. Having a sunny side up egg with runny yolks is pretty much the same as eating a raw egg, but nobody except the most fanatical would object. I've seen exactly one case of someone getting sick from an egg, and that was 2 weeks ago when we had power outages amid 100-degree days (meaning refrigerators not working) and my upstairs neighbor at some eggs that were already rather old by any standards. It was not pretty. He had a 104 fever and such high leucocyte-or-something levels that they made him come back to the hospital twice more for checks. So...while living in fear of food is not good, some basic precautions are still in order!
  16. Ginger Cucumber Mint Lemonade This is an adaptation of an adaptation of an Indian recipe. The original is done as a lemon-ginger syrup, to which some cucumber slices may be added. I came up with my own proportions using all-fresh ingredients. If the cucumber seems odd, all I can say is, "try it!" 5 medium lemons 2 medium cucumbers (not with bitter peels) 1 1 1/2 - 2" piece of ginger root 8 springs mint 1/2 c sugar, pluse more to taste Grate ginger finely and simmer with the 1/2 cup of sugar and an equal amount of water. While the ginger is simmering: Process the cucumbers till finely ground, the pour into a strainer or piece of fabric and squeeze the juice into a pitcher. Juice lemons, strain juice into a pitcher. Take 4-5 of the juiced halves and knead in the juice to release some of their oil. Add a quart and a half of cold water or until you have a tartness you like. You can always adjust with a bit more lemon. Remove simmering ginger syrup from the heat and strain into the pitcher. Taste and add sugar to taste. Add sprigs of mint, stir vigorously to release their flavor into the lemonade. Serve chilled over ice. Keeps several days, but the beautiful green color will fade in a few hours so it's best to make it and serve immediately. Note: some cucumbers have a bitter peel. Make sure the ones you use do not! If the peels are bitter, peel the cucumbers first. You won't get the green color but the flavor will still be good. Keywords: Non-Alcoholic Beverage, Easy, Fruit ( RG2001 )
  17. Perhaps the milk had been frozen....clearly she wasn't drinking year-old milk. ← Maybe she wasn't drinking it at all...she was just saving for "special" guests. My grandmother used to put on huge Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and she was a very good cook. As my grandparents got older, they got a bit forgetful...Mom went down just before Thanksgiving - got in the day before - and found that she'd invited a bunch of people as usual (for dinner thank God), and she hadn't done any shopping yet, there was just one small bowl of cranberry sauce made, and my grandfather had eaten about a third of it. There was no sitting around resting after the flight that year!
  18. I have felt suspicious of it ever since it appeard. Perhaps because they went to such trouble to try and convince people it was okay. I won't use the stuff. I do use it to kill ants though. Mix it half and half with sugar, wet it just slightly and put it where the ants are. Within a week, no more ants!
  19. sazji


    Just a couple of word corrections - a fincan (pronounced finjan) is the catch-all name for a coffee or tea cup here. It can be of china or whatever material. The Greek counterpart is "flitzani." The Greek word "briki" (a shortening of kafeibriki) is indeed from the Turkish "ibrik" (in turn from the Arabic "ibriq") but in Turkish, an "ibrik" is a large ewer or long-spouted kettle for heating water. The pot used for coffee is known in Turkish as a "cezve" (jezve). If you called Turkish coffee "Greek coffee" here the most they would probably do these days is look at you funny. During the Cyprus conflict many people stopped saying "Turkish coffee" (Tourkikos kafes) in Greece in favor of "Greek" (Ellinikos). But now you hear both. Though Greeks in the US seem to cling to animosities a bit more firmly. An amusing related story...some friends of mine went to a Greek restaurant in Boston, and after the meal one of them asked for a Turkish coffee. The waiter got his nose all out of joint and said, "This is a Grik restaurant, an we serve GRIK coffee, not Tourkis coffee!" So the friend said "Okay, then I'll have a Greek coffee." The waiter went back to the kitchen, opened the door, and yelled, "ENA TOURKIKO!" When I first moved out of the house at 19, I got a job in the Parthenon restaurant in Champaign, Ill. Their contraption for making Greek coffee was interesting - a shallow tray of sand with a burner underneath. That sand got really hot. You put the ingredients in the pot, put it in the sand, it too about 30 seconds tops, faster if you moved the pot in the sand (but that also made for crappy coffee). As for how - everyone has their favorite method, and Greek "kafetzidhes" (coffee makers) have quite an array of different names for different ways of preparing it - "glikivrasto" (sweet and boiled which also involves pouring the coffee in a thin stream from high above the cup, this supposedly affects the flavor), "varigliko" (heavy sweet) etc. In Turkey most people consider it best to do it slowly, without stirring, to get the most flavor out without heavy boiling. I do it slowly but often do give it a very slow stir (more like a "slow nudge") as the first foam is forming just to keep it rising evenly. I pour this into the cups before it really comes to a full boil. Then I just pass it over the flame a few times and finish the pouring. Also quality and freshness of the coffee affect the foaming; a friend of mine brought some vacuum packed coffee from Greece a year and a half ago which I'd forgotten about. I ran out of coffee and remembered it languishing in the back of my cupboard. It made no foam at all, and the flavor wasn't much better. It does make good compost though. Much as I'd hate to admit it, the "Nescafe frappe" really has practically become the Greek national drink. I had no idea that it began a year before I was born! I remember the ads promoting it way back in the late 60s in the news magazine "Tahidromos" which my grandfather subscribed to from Greece. It was originally made in a shaker (a "seiker" in Greek) but now there are many variations on the little whipper machine for the instant coffee, some battery operated, some with a cord, and some quite classy looking! They do sell "just add water" disosable frappe kits though, with a shaker, coffee and sugar. The original was water, sugar and coffee, sometime between 1985 and 2000 (when I was gone) they started adding optional evaporated milk. It's so ubiquitous now that I've absentmindedly ordered just "coffee" and gotten a cold frappe. You have to specify "hot." Lots of people even have one for breakfast. Now they have Nescafe freddos as well, made with instant espresso and foamed milk, they look quite classy. It was also because of frappes that I found out that Nescafe in the US was not nearly as good as the one they liked in Greece, because the frappes just didn't taste right. Here I use Jacob's "Monarch" instant. A couple of years ago Nescafe tried to push frappes here in Turkey; there were billboards all over Istanbul with frosty floods of sexy smooth cold milky coffee (the milk was pushed as part of it). You can find it in cafes now but it never really caught on like it did in Greece.
  20. I love this thread! I was just thinking of some recently... People who leave water running when they aren't using it. It may be a produce of living with water shortages, but when someone's using water, it's running, then they turn away to do something else while the water just runs and runs...it's all I can do to stop myself from reaching over and turning it off. Once I did, and the response was, 'why did you do that, I was still using it.' In my own house I will say something. Politely, but I'll say it. I love good ice cream. I had friends back in Seattle, who fortunately will not be reading this post, who would have dinner, then bring out two half gallons of Haagen Dasz or what have you for dessert. Everyone would take what they wanted, and as we ate, the open ice cream containers would sit out on the counter melting! I'd sit and squirm and want to take it and put it back in the freezer...I can't stand wasting food but wasting really good ice cream must be a special class of sin! Watching people cut things dangerously, coming close to chopping fingernails or whatver...I can't watch. I tell myself "they still have all their fingers, get over it" but I just have to look the other way. Seeing things get overcooked while people aren't paying attention to the food on in the frying pan, on the grill, whatever. My old upstairs neighbor was a sweet woman who loved to invite people over for dinner, breakfast, whatever. Great, except when she cooked fish. Leathery, dry, parched. The third time I sort of hinted that the fish might be done, and luckily she asked me how to tell so I showed her and didn't have to bite my tongue any further. My old housemate however was incorrigible, and I knew better than to open my mouth (either to tell him that his "stir fry" had been dead for 15 minutes now, or to let any of it into my mouth!). Amazing how a wok full of different colored vegetables becomes uniform in tone after 20 minutes of the old Bessemer treatment!
  21. I used to live in Seattle and would regularly collect lots of berries there, as well as various mushrooms (Lepiotas in Woodland Park, chanterelles in the Cascades, the occaisonal Boletus). Now I live in Istanbul, which is a pretty cement-bound place any more, but I still get to forage! Mulberry trees abound (both white and red, and I have a huge black mulberry in my yard), and blackberries are fairly common, as are elderberry blossoms. More than anything else I forage greens. I don't usually collect them in the city as there's lots of cars and exhaust; I go out to the Prince's Islands for that. I get nettles, wild asparagus, wild amaranth, wild mustard, wild cabbage, wild turnip (the leaves and the unopened flower heads are the edible part), chicory, sorrel, wild garlic, fennel, wild chard...I know I'm missing some. Asphodel, corn poppy greens, St. Mary's thistle (a pain to cut the spines off but very very good) too. Every time I go to Greece or somewhere else I ask about local greens; the Greeks are really big on them as are the Muslims who came from Greece to Turkey during the population exchanges during the 20s; especially those from Crete are knowledgeable and in the south, they gather and sell lots of wild greens in the market. A couple of years ago a friend and I were gathering asparagus and met an Armenian family doing the same thing. They had lived in Italy for years, and were avid hunters of Porcini (Boletus edulis) mushrooms. They said "oh, we collect so many up in the Belgrade Forest (north of Istanbul along the Black Sea) that we get sick of the smell of them drying in the house..." We were going to ask them details but we got separated before we did. We did try looking for them in the fall but found not a single one. But we did get a nice haul of wild chestnuts!
  22. I alternately long for a mandoline and thank God I have no idea where to get one here...2000 dollars? What did they have to do?
  23. The staghorn sumac in the US does have a sour taste, but it is a different species that is used in the Middle East. (I could look up the species but I'm too lazy...) The berries of the American one are fuzzy; the ones here are quite a bit larger and when packed, are sticky/gummy. They are sour without being nearly as astringent. We made "sumac lemonade" from staghorn sumac and could hardly drink it; but the drink made from sumac here is really very nice - just a hint of that astringency.
  24. Oh yeah. I live in Turkey where we get beet sugar, and as I was reading the thread, I found myself wondering when someone would mention the smell. I don't notice it in anything I make with it, but when I open the container where the sugar is stored, the smell that hits me is not really pleasant. A friend of mine lived for a couple years in Eskişehir where they processed a lot of beets, and the smell got into everything she had...she once took a coat out of storage that she hadn't used since she lived there, and was instantly transported....
  25. I'm weird on coffee, I love it, but don't enjoy it black too much. I can drink it with milk (but it should be milk in my coffee, not coffee in my milk), or milk and sugar (amt of sugar I want changes with my mood and what I'm having with it if anything). But black filter coffee with just sugar I find vile. Now I'm wondering about these blueberry explosions...I don't have any Harrar around but someone did bring me some good Kenyan from Seattle recently. I guess I'll have to try it again and try to watch out for different things!
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