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!