Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The snowman- an update

We recently heard from a very reliable source (my dad) that some people were making fun of the size of Seyfi and Alara's first snowman. You know how you are- apparently you live in Bracebridge...

Well, Seyfi being the competitive man that he is, immediately did three things:

1. Pointed out that the snow that day was too powdery, making it difficult to make a proper snowman.

2. Put on his snow boots, and toque and made the biggest snowman he could.

3. Made me take pictures of it and post them here.

So here is Seyfi's huge snowman, it looks in our living room window and scares me every time I forget it is there.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gluten free butter tarts

I'm Canadian, an if there is one food that is truly Canadian, it has got to be the butter tart. People in Canada debate where you can buy the best butter tart, who makes the best butter tarts, and what is the seceret to the best butter tart all the time, In fact, I remember listening to a rather heated debate about where to buy the best butter tart a few years ago on the CBC.

Now, I can be very honest here and tell you that butter tarts are not my favourite dessert, and I probable would have gone my whole life without making a single one, if it hadn't been for my husband. Seyfi absolutly loves butter tarts. During his first visit to Canada, he was introduced to their sweetness, and now, everytime we go back, he always wants to have some. (My wonderful grandfather is usually the one to supply him with his fix!)

Since we haven't been back to Canada for a year, and we are not quite sure when we exactly we will be going, I thought that for Christmas I would make Seyfi some gluten free butter tarts.

I used Gluten free girl and the Chefs recipe for pie crust for the shells (which turned out perfectly), and my dad's recipe for the butter filling. They turned out perfectly. Just like I always remembered them to be, only for some reason better. Maybe becasue it has been so long since I last ate one. I generally don't eat the ones that have been bought for Seyfi (he doesn't like to share his tarts!)

This is how much I am enjoying them this time, as I am sitting here typing this up, I just finished eating one with my cup of tea, and am seriously thinking about eating another one, Alara and Seyfi are sleeping, no one would know...

Anyway, I just thought that I would share my dad's recipe with all of you. It is really easy and soooooo delicious. Go ahead have one, and then sneak two more when no one is looking.

Dad's Butter Tarts

12 tart shells (uncooked, homemade or store bought (no judgement)

1 cup raisins
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*F

Soak your raisins ( I acutally don't use raisins, some people put in nuts, I don't do that either)
Beat egg, beat in butter and sugar, add raisins or nuts and vanilla
Spoon mixture into unpricked tart shells, bake 10 – 12 minutes

These really are something else! Make them and join in the age old Canadian argument about who makes them better! Or let me know where you think the best butter tarts come from!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas lights

For the past eight years, while I had been in Turkey, I could feel the holiday season approaching as the shopping centres got themselves all dressed up for Yılbaşı (which is actually to celebrate New Years). Everything gets so beautiful and festive, but outside of shopping centres, you don't tend to see a lot of decoration on people's homes.

In our littlw town here in Belgium, there are some lights out, lots of Santas falling from windows and dioramas set up in windows, it really is quite nice. So, we went for a walk around our neighbourhood to look at them all. It was cold, but lovely.

Then, I heard that there was a little town near us where everybody lights up their house for the holiday season. We got very excited, we bundles up Alara, got into the car and drove to Neufmasion for their holiday lights.

It was beautiful. Alara loved them, and it was really nice to see houses all lite up like that again. If you live in this area of Belgium, I recommend taking the drive out there.

It is really nice to be able to see the build up to Christmas this year in a new country. To be honest, I haven't really been in any shopping centres, or markets, but just seeing how our neighbours here celebrate Christmas is very nice, and something we will hold onto forever.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gnocchi= Yummy!

Alara has been home from school off and on for the past two weeks because she has got such a bad cold. A cold that I assume is from started a new school and being introduced to new people (and there germs!)

Having here home is really nice, and I absolutely love it, but when she is not feeling well I need to have something easier to make because she really becomes a 'mommy's girl'.

I was looking through the cupboards and fridge, trying to decide what to make, when I saw that we had an unusually large amount of mashed potatoes left over. Other than potato pancakes, what could I make with mashed potatoes? Then it came to me... gnocchi.

I first ate gnocchi when I was a early teen, I remember it because my sister had gone out for lunch somewhere with my grandmother, and came home raving about these potato things called gnocchi. Our family then proceeded to incorporate these potato pillows into our meal rotation, and really enjoyed them. We did however always buy them, I can't remember if they were fresh or frozen, but I think they were frozen.

With these being a gluten free family, that pretty much leaves any 'ready made' gnocchi out. So today I made my own gluten free potato pillows and they were yummy. How yummy? So yummy that Alara ate three plates of them!

The girl with the cold, who has been eating very little lately, ate three plates of gnocchi!

Here is my recipe for gnocchi (it can be gluten free or not, depending on your flour)

2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of flour (I used gluten free, Schar C mix)
1 egg
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together to a dough.
Split the dough up to smaller workable pieces.
Roll out the down into a long roll and cut 2cm pieces.
Push down on the back of each piece with the back of a fork.
Cook in a pot of salted water until they are floating.

I then take them from the water and saute them with butter, olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with cheese.

From begining to end these take about 45 minutes. So easy, cheap, and satisfying!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making a gingerbread house

When we were younger, we would sometimes make a gingerbread house at Christmas time. I always loved doing it, and wished that we could do it more often. Then, a few years ago, before Alara, I made a huge gingerbread house, and thought, this is a lot of work and would be more fun with kids...

Then a few weeks ago, my friend Jane called from Ikea and said she was picking up a gingerbread house kit, and would I like one too. Making a gingerbread house without having to do all the work? I'm in!!!

So, today, after school (where nobody was crying), Jane and her daughter, Melisa, Alara and I decorated our gingerbread houses, well sort of...

You see, our box had fallen while I was cleaning up the shelf, so as we opened our box, we could see that not only was it broken, it was completely shattered, we wouldn't be able to rescue it.

Luckily, Melisa's house was completely fine, so we just traced her house onto the two boxes and cut it out, and stuck it together. Really, other than the lack of gingerbread smell, there was no difference.

We had all kinds of candies, and Jane had made some different coloured icings, and we let the girls make their houses, with some helpful guidance from their mother's. The candies were stuck lovingly onto the houses, and some were eaten, we laughed, and enjoyed a lovely winter's afternoon with good friends.

Alara and I loved doing our house together, but I think that next year I am going to get two kits, one for Alara, and one for me, I don't like sharing!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pierrefonds- France

Last night, my brother called me to wish me a happy birthday. My birthday was a week ago, but that's ok! He's a busy guy, I don't judge;-) Anyway, I was telling him about a castle that we had gone to a few weeks ago, when I realized that I hadn't posted any thing about it.

When my sister in law was here, we decided that we would do one more trip into France after our 'rain out' trip to Paris. I had gotten an email about this castle in Pierrefonds, and it looked amazing.

The castle was originally built in the Middle Ages, and is absolutely huge. As we drove into the small village where it is located, it really was the only thing that we could see. It took over the whole area (which was also very beautiful, turning colours during the autumn months).

The castle was also one of the castles on the programme Merlin, a show that I have never watched, but that some of my students were big fans of.

The castle itself was interesting, situated on a hill, with views of the area. It was full of large, echoing rooms, staircases, and beautiful sculptures. I really enjoyed visiting this castle, the size alone will knock your socks off, however, as a personal preference, I like it when the rooms are not empty, I like to see a bit more of the 'daily life' of the place. This castle did not have a 'daily life' aspect to it at all.

On thing I will suggest, if you ever get a chance to visit this castle, there is a little bakery in the village that had the best baguette I have ever eaten!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Building a Snowman

It is so wonderful heading into winter and the Christmas season with a two and a half year old. This year, this season actually means something to her. She wants to play in the snow, decorate our tree and meet Santa. In fact, she keeps asking when Christmas is coming.

Last week, it snowed, not a lot, butt enough to cover everything, and make it a magical time. To see everything covered in a blanket of white was something that I haven't seen in early December, for a long time, it was wonderful.

Alara also thought so, all she wanted to do was play in the snow, throw snow balls and most of all, make a snowman. On Saturday afternoon, Seyfi and her did just that. There wasn't a lot of snow, but there was enough to make a little snowman- the first of the season.

After makeing their snowman- we sat down together with our hot chocolate and cookies, and watched the animated Frosty the Snowman. It was here that Alara learned the fate of snowman (i.e. the melting).

It sure is a good thing that she learned this important life lesson, because, in typical Belgium fashion, it RAINed the next day, and our beautiful white blanket, and our lovely little snowman were washed away... Until the next time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

She's a big girl now

Today was the big day, and day that Alara has been wanting for a very long time. In fact yesterday, she was so excited that she was running around the house saying she was 'very, very, big happy'.

No Christmas hasn't come early in Belgium, and it isn't her birthday. Today, my little girl, went to preschool for the first time.

I'm very happy, but as I sit here, in my empty house, I can't help missing her.

This morning she was so cute, she woke up, picked out her outfit, ate her breakfast and finished getting ready to go. She sat in the car talking about her teacher and the new friends that she would make today at school.

When we got to the school, she held my hand, and when the teacher came to her, she said goodbye to me, gave me a kiss and said 'see you soon'. And that was it, she was off doing 'school' things. She didn't cry, she didn't call out to me, she just went with her teacher.

To be honest, I am very happy that there weren't any tears, that I didn't have to dump a crying kid off on the teacher, that she wanted to go to school and make friends. It means that she is ready for the world outside of our house.

I'm very proud of my big girl, and can't wait till she comes home to tell me all about her big day. I hope she is still very, very, big happy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Most Delicious Vanilla Ice Cream... with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

The library that we have available here is, and I think what is greatest about it are the people who work there. They are so helpful and happy, they love Alara, and the best thing order in the books that they don't have from other libraries for me!

A few weeks ago, I requested a David Lebovitz books. The Perfect Scoop came the day before I left for Turkey, so you can imagine how excited I was to get back to Belgium and start using it!

Today, Alara and I made the first recipe in the book, Vanilla Ice Cream, it takes a long time, but boy is it worth it! The best ice cream I have had in a very long time. I also made his Salted Butter Caramel Sauce to go with it. All I will say is that it doesn't need to be put on ice cream! You can just eat it with a spoon!

Both of the recipes were very easy to follow, and they used the most simplest of ingredients. I have always been a David Lebovitz fan (I love his blog) but now, I think I may have to head to Paris and meet him in person to thank him. I never need to buy ice cream again!

I'm going to give you the recipe for the Salted Butter Caramel Sauce- just be warned- you may end up eating it all by yourself!!

David Lebovitz's Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

6 TBSP Butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Melt the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan, stir in the sugar and cook until it is a deep golden brown.
Remove from heat, pour in half of the cream (be careful the sugar will steam and splatter) and whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the cream, vanilla and salt. Serve warm. Can be stored for two weeks in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! I'm really thankful to the library for the book- now I think I am going to have to get a copy of it for myself!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle... a review

At home in Belgium, (I'm currently in Istanbul doing a lot of reading) I have been going back and forth on whether or not I should plant a vegetable garden for the two summers that we will be at that house. So back and forth in fact that there is only a small patch dug in my back yard, half of which was dug by my father when he was visiting in September.

However, all of these feelings have changed now, and I have officially decided that I will be planting a vegetable garden. The reason for this has to do with a great book that I have just finished reading.

I'll start by stating that I am a big Barbara Kingsolver fan, and this book of hers is actually quite different then her other books (being that it is not fiction). Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the story of her family's year living locally.

The book follows the family for one year as they live off of the things that they grow in their garden (fruit, vegetables and poultry), make in their kitchen (breads and cheeses) and buy locally (meats, flour). It also has lovely recipes that the family uses, and very helpful and interesting information about the impact you can make by eating locally and organically.

For years I have been able to eat seasonally quite easily. Living in Turkey, you can often only get certain fruits and vegetables at their appropriate times of the years, I know how it feels to eat the first fresh strawberry or cherry, and to eat as many as possible because before you know it they are gone, not to be seen again for a year. Also, I knew that our meat didn't come from very far, especially when we were in Seyfi's family village, and the meat had once been a part of a family members farm.

I'm finding that while living in Belgium, eating locally is also quite easy, we always do our vegetable shopping at the farmer's market, often buying directly from the farmer him/herself, and the meat I buy always has a Belgian flag on it, and after driving all over Belgium, I know that it isn't that big. And, even though there is a much wider variety of processed foods here than there were in Turkey, after all the years of making EVERYTHING from scratch because I couldn't find it there, I now know that I can live without it.

Now, I'm not saying that I am going to do the same thing as this book suggests, but I can definitely see the value in it, and feel that if I step up what I am doing a little bit more, that I might be pretty close.

I do recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read/seen anything about what food in North America is really all about, it is a real eye opener (although so is watching the documentary Food Inc.). It is a great motivation to pay more attention not only to what you are eating, but to the whole process behind the food that you are eating.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We're back

It's a holiday here in Turkey, and Alara and I are actually here to celebrate it with our family. (Poor Seyfi, he had to stay behind and work).

After the past few weeks of non-stop rain, the warm, sunny weather of Istanbul is a welcome sight, but not as welcome as the warm smiles, hugs and homemade baklava that was waiting for us when we arrived yesterday.

I just wanted to write a quick post about my mother in laws baklava. It is the most wonderful baklava in the world. I think the reason for this is because every layer of the baklava has something special in it, love.

This is a woman who takes great pride in the baklava that she makes, working hard at rolling out her dough thinner than paper, a skill that was taught to her by her mother.

As we eat our baklava, I notice that her arms and back are sore, she is not as young as she use to be, this job is getting more difficult for her. I wonder how many more years of homemade baklava we have.

How sad is it to think that skills like this are slowly leaving families. My sister in law and I both do not know how to roll out thinner than paper dough, I can get mine about as thin as a napkin that rips. I know that I should work at it, I should start making gluten free baklava.... there's an idea, I wonder how is would go...

So I've decided that for the next holiday, I will at least have 'tried' to make some gluten free baklava... I'll try to continue this beautiful skill. Something that can be passed on to my children. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We have a visitor...

For the past week and a half my sister in law has been visiting us from Turkey, which is why I have been neglecting my blog, yet again.

We have been having a wonderful time hang out together, visiting all sorts of different places, some old and some new. This picture (taken by my friend Jane) is from one of the new places that we visited last week. It is at Park d'Enghien about forty minutes from our house.

We went for the day with good friends of ours and it truly was like be transported into another place. The park is absolutely beautiful, the leaves were changing and falling, there were old statues and buildings, the air was crisp and clear. We had a wonderful day.

We were also very lucky to get there when we did, because typical to autumn weather, while last week was clear but cool, this week has been nothing but rain and wind. So much wind in fact that all of the beautiful colours are gone, blown away, ready for winter to come.

Serpil is here for a few more days, then Alara and I are off to Istanbul for a week. My plan is to enjoy visiting my in laws, eat good food (not prepared by me) and just relax and read a few books. Any recommendations?

Friday, November 5, 2010


Halloween is not a completely foriegn concept to us. While living in Ankara, we did celebrate Halloween every year with the others in our apartment building. But there was always something missing- pumpkins. In Turkey, you can find one kind of pumpkin, and it is huge, hard and green.

We were really fortunate this year to be near a big American community that does a trick or treat out of the trunks of their cars, all the candy supplied by sponsors. We would have our first Halloween outside! We got Alara into her costume and set out for a lovely evening.

This year for Halloween Alara decided that she would be a witch, probably because that was what her friend Melissa was going to be as well. She put on her costume and kept saying 'no scared Baba, Alara is good witch.' It was beyond cute. She was so happy to dress up. And when she got to the trick or treating area, and after she got over her inital fears of the others in their costumes, she really enjoyed herself, and her candy.

This year we have got a large selection of pumpkins to choose from. We bought one, and Seyfi decided that he would make the jack-o-lantern this year. It was his first time carving a pumpkin, and I think that he really enjoyed doing it. He and Alara worked on it together, after I had done that hard part of cleaning it out.

We put it out at out front window, lite it up and waited for any neighbourhood children to come by for some candy. No one rang our door bell.

Here in Belgium, Halloween isn't celebrated the same way as back home. Here they have more festivals in the city and village squares. Everyone is dressed up and there is a real sense of community. Unfortunately this year we didn't get to one of the little festivals (we were waiting by our door), but my friend got to one and said it was great.

Now that we know how to celebrate Halloween here in Belgium, next year we will have even more fun!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Sorry for not posting anything for a while. I'm not making excuses, but boy have I been busy these last few days!

The weekend was full of Halloween fun- (I'll do a proper post tomorrow.) Also, my sister in law arrived on Monday, so we've been doing a lot of touring around with her. (More posts on that too!)

Needless to say, this will I'll just leave you with a cute picture, and a promise of a Halloween post tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gluten free Pizza

So it is Wednesday again, and that means another recipe from Gluten free girl and the Chef's great book. This week we were asked to make her recipe for pizza.

We have really been missing pizza. There are lovely pizza restaurants all over our neighbourhood, and there is such a lovely convenience to ordering pizza once and a while, but with Seyfi's celiac, we haven't done that in a long time.

Now, as you know I am a newly made 'housewife', so I really don't need the convenience of ordering pizza, but I have not really gotten around to making pizza from scratch. At out local gluten free/health food store they sell a lovely pizza crust, so I have been using those when we are in desperate need of pizza. They are nice, but not exactly what I would like to be eating all the time. Really this 'assignment' couldn't have come at a better time!

I am going to start by saying that we are thick crust people, and this recipe isn't thick crust. However, we loved it. In fact there are a few reasons why we loved it, and I guess we could just roll it out thicker to make it a thicker crust. The rolling out was actually one of the reasons I loved it, too easy!! not at all sticky or 'shrinky'.

The dough is also nice and chewy, has a lovely base flavour that could easily be added to. I liked this because I could use a variety of different toppings, and they all went really well with the crust. I did a plain cheese and salami and cheese, salami and jalapeno peppers on a tomato sauce, and caramelized onion, spinach and pastirma on a white sauce. They were both really yummy.

The recipe did ask for a pizza stone, and I haven't got one, but I do think will be getting one. I found that the bottom did brown up nicely, and if that was what the pizza stone does, not a problem for now, but if it does something to make this delicious pizza any better I'd like to know what that is.

I'm really happy to have found this recipe, easy to make, yummy to eat, and Seyfi couldn't believe that I had made the whole thing myself (I don't know who he thought made it, but never mind.) Thank you Gluten free girl and the Chef for another great Wednesday Recipe!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What we did last weekend- Castles

I have always been a very big fan of history, and there is nothing that I love more than seeing history in action. Here in Belgium there are many castles to be visited and the two that we were at last weekend were wonderful.

The first castle was in the Namur area, in a small town of Celles-Veres. The castle is beautiful, set up on a small hill with its towers it looks like something from another time. Inside of the castle, they have opened the rooms with traditional furniture and settings. We had a lovely time at this castle.

The second castle that we went to was in Sainte-Anne. It was a completely different type of castle, not as tall, but definitely interesting. Also, with lovely furniture and settings inside. This castle had a mote surrounding it and lovely gardens inside the court.

These were the first European castles that I have ever been too, and I really enjoyed seeing them. I think what was even greater was that I am reading the new Phillipa Gregory book (The Red Queen) and it was nice to have a real life picture to go with the book.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dinner Party.... and Boeuf Bourguignon

I think one thing that I have really missed since we moved here is good friends. Friends that you can invite over to dinner, they already know what your cooking is like, you can give them anything, you sit around chatting, kids are playing and the evening just flies by, because you are having so much fun.

Last Saturday we had some work friends of Seyfi's over for dinner. It was our first real dinner party since we have been here, and let me tell you, I was a bit nervous. I had only met these people a few times, and they had never eaten anything that I had prepared. Also, it was my first time cooking for a large group of people in my minimal kitchen, and I had decided that I wasn't going to do an old standby...

Usually when I have people over, I do a lasagna, or a roasted chicken, or roast beef, something easy, that is always well received. But on Saturday, I shook things up a bit, and made a few changes to my standard menu.

To start, when everyone came in, a served homemade hummus with multi-coloured bell peppers. When I was growing up, we always has a veggies and dip tray when people came over. I have fond memories of my sister and I planting ourselves in front of the tray, and eating most of the veggies. I love this combination of hummus and peppers, it's just a nice twist on veggies and dip.

When it was time to eat dinner, I had made up little salads with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, olives and balsamic vinaigrette (that I had made) and had them sitting on the table for everyone to help themselves to. I made Pioneer Woman's tomato soup, which I may start calling my soup soon, because I make it so much! It went over so well I couldn't even believe it!

For the main course, we had Boeuf Bourguignon. Now, why did I choose to make this? There are actually a few reasons, 1. We are near France, this is a french recipe and I can get great wine here. 2. When my parents were here a few weeks ago, we made this dish, and it was so wonderfully delicious that we all ate two helpings, so I knew it would be great. 3. It sounds so fancy, looks delicious, and besides it have a bunch of steps, it is actually really easy to make.

Here is my recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon (Serves 8)

Olive oil
four slices of pastirma (a Turkish cured beef)

Saute the pastirma in a the olive oil until it is almost crispy and the oil has change colour (it'll be darker). Take it out of the oil and put it on a plate.

1 kilo cubed beef- dried and seasoned with salt and pepper

In the pastirma oil, in small batches, sear off all sides of the beef and remove to the pastirma plate.

5 or 6 carrots, cut into big chunks on the diagonal
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Put into the empty meat pot and cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes.
Add the seared beef and pastirma.

1/2 a bottle of red wine (I used a bordeaux, but a Burgundy would probably be better)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 Tbsp thyme

Add all of these to the pot, and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, put it in the oven at 180C and let it cook for an hour.

12-15 fresh pearl onions, with skins removed

Add these to the pot

Let it cook in the oven for about twenty more minutes. Take it out of the oven and put it back on the stove at a medium heat.

250grs mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp butter

In a saute pan, brown the mushrooms in the butter. Add to the pot that has just come out of the oven, let it simmer for about ten minutes.

3 Tbsp butter, soft
3 Tbsp flour (I use the Schar gluten free flour C)

Mix these together in a separate bowl and add to the meat. Stir it in well and let it continue to simmer for about twenty minutes until thickened.

I serve my Boeuf Bourguignon with creamy mashed potatoes.

I gave out super big portions (which I don't recommend doing), but in this case it wasn't a problem as everyone ate their entire plate of food! Even the man who hadn't eaten cooked carrots in thirty years ate all of his carrots! Apparently when you cook food in red wine it makes everything taste yummy!

For dessert we had apple crisp, with apples and walnuts from our trees, served with vanilla ice cream and Turkish tea. I really wanted to use some of the fruit and nuts from our garden, and the crisp was the perfect way to do that.

The dinner party was a success, everyone left late with a smile and a full tummy. I think we all need to change things up from time to time. I'm really happy that I tried a new dish, I think it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this before, but I have got the best in-laws. Very traditional people from Turkey, they have always been very accepting and interested in where I came from, and the many different aspects of me. Whenever I make something that is 'foriegn' to them, they are always open minded and give it a try. They always finish their plates, and usually Seyfi's dad asks for seconds.

I remember one of my first experiences cooking for them involved pumpkin soup, I had invited Seyfi's parents over for dinner, and made them pumpkin soup. They had never had pumpkin soup before, they loved it. I think that was when I knew I wanted to be married to this family. It was funny though when Seyfi's dad said 'Soup from pumpkins, who knew this would be good?'

Why had they never had pumpkin soup before? Pumpkins in Turkey are 99% of the time used to make a dessert, not pie, but a steamed pumpkin topped with a sugary syrup and walnuts. It is yummy, (but not my personal favourite.)

Since we moved to Belgium, and I have been able to find sweet potatoes, I have been making an 'orange' soup quite regularily- carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and home made chicken broth, it's been going quite well actually. But this weekend- gluten free girl put out a tweet suggesting that every on make the pumpkin soup recipe from her book.

I just got this book last week. It is a beautiful book about a couples love of food, and the recipes that bring them together. I wouldn't classify it as only a 'gluten free' cookbook, rather, I would just call it a 'great food' cookbook. I've been leafing through it, trying to decide what to make next.

So when the tweet came though, I thought 'why not' and made it yesterday. It turned out really great. There are a few difference between her recipe and mine- mostly she puts cream in her soup. I love the flavour that cream adds to a nice soup, and this made it really nice.

I really liked the soup, but I knew it was good when Seyfi (a man who thinks that soup is 'boring') asked me if he could take some soup in a thermos in his lunch today. It must be really good!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just a Spoonful of Sugar- Alara recommends

Alara doesn't watch a lot of television. She really just doesn't seem to want to sit in front of it for too long. However, the other day, she was feeling a bit under the weather, so since I was bored of Charlie and Lola, Elmo, and the Wiggles, I put on Mary Poppins.

She loves it. All the singing and dancing, she likes Bert and and the children. And to be honest, I'm really happy that she does.

When I was younger, I used to watch Mary Poppins all the time. I would sing all the songs, and dance all the dances. I used to wish I had a nanny too. I will say this though, I don't think that I understood half of the dialogue when I was a child, because now that I am watching it again, I listen and think 'is that what they are saying?'

The funny thing about the accents is that Alara is trying to talk like Bert's cockney accent. She tries to tell me that the way he says words is the right way!

Mary Poppins is a movie that I am sure most people of seen (although I have learned that that does not include the Turkish people I know). But has your child?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gluten free Cinnamon Rolls- with Toffee glaze

The other day when I was at the bakery, I saw that there were some raisin rolls for sale. The looked so similar to cinnamon rolls, that I could not resist trying one. Boy was I disappointed, the bread part was nice, but there was no cinnamon, and it was all eggy inside, not at all what I was expecting.

I think what was most disappointing was that I have really been dying for a cinnamon roll. We haven't eaten them in such a long time, even before Seyfi was diagnoised with Celiac. Since then, I had just decided that we wouldn't be eating them ever again.

When Seyfi and I first moved in together I use to make cinnamon rolls all the time, at least once a month. I made them for ourselves, I made them when we were having guest over for brunch- I made them a lot. Then I guess we got a bit bored of them, so they kind of fell out of the baking rotation, and then we thought they had to be out of our lives forever.

However, today, after all the success I have been having with the new gluten free flour that I found, I thought that I would give them a whirl. I took Pioneer Woman's recipe for cinnamon rolls.

As I started the recipe, everything went exactly as they were suppose to, the dough was actually really easy to work with, not too sticky and they baked up really nicely. When I went to do her Maple icing, there was a small problem. I had no maple and no powdered sugar. I looked in my Martha Stewart cupcake book again and found a recipe for a toffee glaze, which I used and it turned out wonderfully.

I am happy with the way these rolls came out. They do not have the same texture as normal cinnamon rolls, but I'm getting use to the idea that gluten free baking will never be the same as normal baking. Either way, they taste and look great!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What we did yesterday- Rail Bikes

We've been trying to save a bit of money these days. We thought that one of the best ways to do this was to not do any BIG trips at the weekend, and anywhere that we went, we would bring a picnic with us, so when we woke up yesterday morning, and it was the most beautiful sunny day that we had seen in a long time, we needed to choose our outing carefully.

As we looked through the www.365.be tourist book that we have, we found something that looked like great fun- Rail bikes. The are bike cars that sit on old railway tracks that go through the Namur valley in southern Belgium, only an hour from our house. The best part was that the whole day rental was only going to cost 25 euros for all of us. We were off with out picnic in our hands.

The rail bikes were a lot of fun, easy to use and the scenery was beautiful. We saw trees and rivers, castles, ruins and an abbey. It was an wonderful way to spend an afternoon together. Alara loved passing people who were on their bikes or walking and saying 'choo choo!'

I will give a warning though- if you are not a biker (which we are not), it is a bit of a long trip, and getting use to a bikes seat can be slightly uncomfortable. Not to over share, but out bums are a bit sore... but it was worth it!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gluten free Chocolate Cupcakes

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes have visited our house again! I'm continuing down the cupcake road, and have made a stop at chocolate.

Today we are having our first real guest over. They are coming over for tea after dinner. I always have trouble deciding what I should make for Turkish guests. I never know if I should do something 'typical' Turkish, or just make whatever I want...

As I thought more about it, I figured that since I would be making something gluten free any way, which will make whatever I make taste at least slightly different, I might as well make something completely not Turkish- therefore I am serving devil's food chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache icing, apple sauce cupcakes with caramel butter cream icing and tomato bruchetta.

The chocolate cupcakes are great! I truly don't know how these cupcakes keep turning out so great, I think it is because of this Schar flour that I am using, it is amazing! I just used Martha's recipe, and exactly changed the flours out, and sprinkled in a bit of guar gum.

I gave some 'practice' cupcakes to some friends today, and didn't tell them they were gluten free- and the could tell the difference!

I will give one critique- I am not happy with the ganache- it didn't set up they way that it should have, I think it is because of the chocolate that I used, but it may have been the cream. It taste great, but doesn't have the right texture. That's what happens though when you are cooking in a new country, sometimes you just don't find that right ingredients the first time.

I'm looking forward to our guest tonight, it will be nice to meet some new people, plus it was a great motivation to give the house a clean!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


A year ago, when I thought about these three years that I wouldn't be working, I don't think that I expected them to be like this. I thought my days would be empty, that I would be bored without having any 'work' to do. What would I do without my daily routine? I used to think how will I fill the TIME?

Boy was I wrong. I have filled the time...

There is always something for me to do, getting the groceries, running Alara up to the library to our reading group, cleaning the house, running to the health food store to get Seyfi some bread, or making dinner, lunch, desserts, breakfast, in general food to be eaten at home. I'm a busy woman.

I often wonder why that is, and I think the reason that I am so busy now is because I feel like I don't have an excuse not to be. When I was working there was always a reason not to do something. I NEED to have a lady clean the house, I don't have time! We NEED to order dinner, I don't have time! We can't go to the library/park/zoo, I don't have time!

The thing is I love the way my days are filled. I don't sit around all day watching television, I fill my days with lots of other activities, and you know what the best part of that is, I do all of these things with my favourite little girl.

She has become quite the little helper, wants to help cook, likes to pick up, folds the laundry with me, and my new favourite, she likes to help me take out the garbage on Wednesday evenings she likes to help me take out the garbage.

My parents say to let her help me do everything, because in ten years, she isn't going to want to do anything. I remember when I was 12, and they are right.

Having this little helper has made me slow down. We do things slowly now, so that she can learn, so that she can understand, so that she can do them right. There is no need to rush through ever little job, we don't need to run anywhere (unless she is wearing her sneakers...) there is no need to race, time is not important to us anymore, life is the journey. Alara has taught me to slow down and enjoy these days.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buckwheat galettes, stuffed with vegetarian chilli and quinoa

I've had a small bag of organic buckwheat sitting in my cupboard for the past month. I picked it up during our second trip to Paris. It's just been sitting waiting for me to make something, anything with it.

Today I did just that. I made buckwheat crepes, or galettes with it. And boy were they ever good. Galettes are a French crepe that is made from buckwheat flour, which is gluten free (I had to wikipedia it to make sure), they are usually made in the Brittany region of France, but after reading a bit more, I found that they are also made in my little part of Belgium. I immediately took up the challenge.

The crepes were not difficult to make, but they sure were time consuming. Between letting the dough rest for at least two hours, and then making them one by one, they were not something that could just be whipped up on a whim. I was however very proud that I only ended up throwing away three of the twenty two crepes I made.

I didn't want to make dessert crepes, I wanted to eat them at dinner. When I lived in Uruguay we use to eat these wonderful crepes stuffed with meat, or spinach or mushrooms and bechamel, they were so delicious.

But I didn't have any meat, spinach or mushrooms at home, so I made a vegetarian chili, using chickpeas and kidney beans, grated carrots and zucchini, peppers and onions. It was really nice, but I needed to 'bulk' it up a bit more, so I threw in some quinoa, it gave the chili the nicest texture.

When everything was ready, and Seyfi (finally) got home, I rolled some of the chili up, added a bit of emmental cheese and served them with some plain yogurt. Seyfi was really happy with them, and Alara ate all of the chickpeas and kidney beans first, and then scooped up the vegetables and quinoa saying 'Alara quinoa like!'

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gluten free Cupcakes

I decided that I needed a bit of a goal when it comes to my new career as a domestic engineer, and since I have started on this new gluten free course, I thought I might as well choose a direction that directed me in this direction. After I bought my new ice cream maker, I thought ice cream would be good. I promptly went to the library to find a book about the ins and outs of ice cream making.

Unfortunately, there was no such book available at the library. However, I did find the Martha Stewart Cupcakes recipe book. I signed it out, and processed to leave it on the kitchen table for a week and a half.

Now, while it sat there, I was touring around with my parents, so I do have an excuse, and I did buy some pretty muffin papers, but to be honest, in the back of my head, I was thinking 'aren't cupcakes sooo five years ago??'

Then I watched Top Chef: Just Desserts, and one of the chefs (Morgan, who I'm not sure I'm a fan of yet) made these beautiful white cupcakes, and Alara started saying that she wanted to make cupcakes too...

So this afternoon, while Seyfi was a work (on a Sunday if you can believe it!) Alara and I picked out a cupcake from the book, but we didn't have any dutch process cocoa (any suggestions for substitutions?), finally we found one that we wanted, so Alara climbed onto the counter, and we got to work making Martha Stewart's Yellow Buttermilk cupcakes, gluten free...

It didn't go exactly to plan, we didn't have everything that we need to any sort of frosting, and since it is Sunday, and we live in Belgium, popping over to the store was not an option. So, we decided to put some chocolate pieces into the top (since we live in Belgium there is always chocolate in the house!)

We also didn't have any buttermilk, so we used plain yogurt, and we substituted the flour for the the gluten free cake flour that I have, and added some guar gum, the result? Perfection.

The cupcakes were so delicious, Seyfi has already eaten two today.

I'm really happy with this flour that I am using, I'm going to mention it, I'm not getting paid for this or anything, but it is great, and I love all there products- It is from a company called Schar- and they sell gluten free things all over Europe, and some of their products are available in North America as well. Just wanted to mention them because I am so happy with my baking when I use them.

Anyway, the cupcakes are awesome, and I am going to move on to another recipe in the book! Thanks Martha and Schar!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Paris.... with the parents

My parents of made it home safely, but I wanted to do a quick post about the two days we spent together in Paris.

I can honestly say that we had a really nice time, and actually saw a lot of the city. We walked from Pont Neuf, to the Eiffel tower, through St Germain and saw all kinds of fancy shops and people.

But the fanciest shops and people that we saw were in Madeline. We saw, Chanel and Gucci and Fauchon (a fancy food store) and the highlight was buying mustard in Maille. So yummy.

It was really nice to see Paris with my parents, and I am really happy that we had such a nice visit together. Can't wait for them to come again!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where did we go? Brugge

Even though it was raining off and on for the entire day, Brugee has to be one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been too. We had such a lovely time there, touring around museums, eating in cafes, taking a ride on a horse drawn carriage, it was a very interesting day.

Brugge is a canal city, often called 'the Venice of the North,' and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The streets are full of lace and chocolate, bakeries and tea houses, Christmas shops and candlelit restaurants. There are museums about all sorts of different aspects of Belgian life.

We went to two of these museums. The first museum we went to was 'Choco Story'. All about the history and making of chocolate. It was surprisingly very interesting, and there were free samples! I had no idea that chocolate had such a rich history.

The other museum that we went to was the 'Frite Museum'. All about the history of the potato and the fry, this was also very interesting. The whole museum smelt of fries, and they made really good ones, served with a variety of sauces. Who new that the potato had such an interesting history as well!

We also went for a horse drawn carriage tour of the city. Being driven around Brugge by horse was such a magical way to see the city. We were able to see everywhere, walk around a bit, and the best part was that it gave us a better idea of the places we really wanted to get to.

One of my favourite parts of the day was stopping in at a little tea room for a snack. Now, I love drinking tea and coffee from a cup and saucer, and the is how we had it. The service was wonderful, the presentation fabulous (exactly how I like it, saucers and all) and the mini tartlettes were delicious. My only complaint was that there were too many tarts to choose from!

We had such a lovely day in Brugge, I'm sure that we will be visiting the city again soon!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gluten free Doughnuts

In Turkey, we could never really find a lot of doughnuts, let me re-phase that, we could never find doughnuts. Doughnuts we something that we ate during our yearly trips to Canada. However, Belgium has got great doughnuts. I've eaten doughnuts the past three days...

With my parents here, we've been eating loads of super yummy baked goods, (i.e. crossiants and doughnuts) unfortunately that 'we' does not include Seyfi. So, we thought that today we would make something that Seyfi really loves and misses, Doughnuts.

My dad and I were looking at gluten free girl's website, trying to find something to make, and there it was! She had recently posted a recipe for gluten free doughnuts, and that is what we made. They turned out great. The recipe was very easy to use, and it really didn't take as much time as I thought it would. They were so great in fact that my dad couldn't tell that there was a difference! Thank you gluten free girl. (Also thank you, because my dad read your comments about needing a scale, so he went to the store and bought me one!)

We are serving the doughnuts tonight with cinnamon apple, caramel swirl ice cream that I made in my brand new ice cream maker. I will post my recipe for that a bit later on...

Another great day in Rotterdam

While they were visiting my parents had wanted to go and visit the Netherlands, so I thought I would take them to Rotterdam. We had had such a lovely time there the first time that we visited the city, I hoped that it would be nice for them too.

It was. Rotterdam is such a beautiful water city. Modern buildings, canals, bikes and trees, the city has so much to offer a visitor. We decided to drive around a bit and then head to the Maritime museum.

The museum was very good. If you like boats, I think it would be even more interesting. My dad liked it. There was a big restored boat outside to tour around. I found that really interesting. Alara loved it, You could touch everything, and see how a boat works. The only thing she didn't like was that the steering wheel didn't turn.

What I really liked about the museum was the childrens activity room that they had set up. It was appropriate for kids of all ages, everyone could play and learn something there. The room is set up with a nautical theme, and covers (in my opinion) all aspects of boat and port life, both on and off a boat. Alara had a great time and made a new Dutch friend.

The day was finished off with a hot chocolate and apple pie at a local cafe. The apple pie was so good, and so was the hot chocolate. I'm glad that we were able to have another great day in Rotterdam. It is a great city, with something for everyone. I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

World War One Tour

My mom and dad arrived on Sunday. After their very long trip (there were some problems with the train) they wanted to have a down day which was Monday. So yesterday we went on a small tour of some of the WWI sites in the area.

To be very honest, I didn't know what to expect, but we had a lovely day driving around the Belgian countryside. There are lots of cemeteries and monuments to remember the soldiers who died here. We went to both the Canadian site and a British one. Both of these sites were beautifully kept and had wonderful gardens around them.

What I found really interesting to visit were the trenches. In the town of Diksmuide, there are the 'trenches of death' where the Belgian troops fought. These trenches were very long, narrow and deep. I couldn't imagine spending months fighting and living in these trenches. While we were there it was wet, but not cold, how could it have been for these men?

Going to these kinds of places makes you respect the job of a solider, men and women who put aside their own safety to go to fight for justice, safety and peace. I never thought about the job of a solider, until I married one. I definitely have a big respect for them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gluten free Ravioli

I'm really happy with the gluten free pasta recipe that I have, so yesterday I decided to make ravioli. It turned out so yummy! I stuffed them with three cheeses, fresh basil and oregano, served them with a really simple tomato sauce and they were a big hit. Such a big hit that Alara actually ate two plates of them!

The thing about making ravioli, they way that I did it, it is a lot of work! I did each one individually. Silly! Next time I am going to do them in groups using two big sheets of pasta.

Luckily I had a helper. She helped crank the pasta maker, she helped put the cheese in the ravioli, she helped to close them. But honestly, the biggest help from her came when she went into the living room to watch tv and fell asleep!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple Buter

I'm telling you, I am more busy now that I am not working!! We are all over the place these days! Wednesday library, Tuesday play dates, taking care of the garden, having friends over for lunch, getting ready for my parents big visit! It's is great, I love to have stuff to do, which is why I loved making this apple butter.

Making this batch of apple butter took the whole day. We had to go and collect all the apples from the trees in the back yard, then sort them out (some had already been eaten by our garden friends), then we washed, peeled, and cut them, put them on the stove and let them cook for hours.

Making apple butter is so easy, cook the apples with some spices, (I use ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few cloves), then when the apples are mushy add in your sugar ans some lemon juice and cook down until thick. I really like my apple butter to be thick, so I cooked it for a long time. I put it into clean, hot jars and sealed them. So easy, and so yummy.

The problem now is, what do I do with the rest of the apples I have? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gluten free Lasagna

Part of our new gluten free life has been getting use to the idea of not being able to buy anything we want, exactly as we like them, for example, pastas. We can find penne, spirals and spagetti, but nothing else- and I love lasanga. I figured I'd have to learn how to make pasta.

A few weeks ago, I was at a flea market and and found a pasta maker (for an unbelievably cheap price).

I made my lasagna noodles and a bit of lingune to have for lunch. I couldn't believe how good it was, and easy. I don't know if it was the sauce (made with extra 'hidden' vegetables, or the three different cheeses, or the gluten free pasta, but it had to have been the best lasagna I've ever eaten.

I always serve my lasagna with a nice ceaser salad on the side. I like the way the creamy garlic of the salad mixes with the cheesy tomato of the lasagna. I think it is one of my favourite meals, and Alara told us it was one of her favourites too!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An update...

Sorry I've been out for a while, we had a few things to do, and I have had a bit of a cold, but the blog will be up and running again now without fail...

Last week we went back to Paris for the afternoon and had a wonderful time. We went to Montmartre. We walked all around the artist and had a portrait of Alara drawn. It was such a beautiful afternoon with the sun shinning on us.

We ended up staying there a bit later than planned, so we had a wonderful Moroccan dinner and then drove past the Eiffel Tower... It was beautiful.