Hijabi problems: Buying scarves

A problem that I sometimes have, and I know ya’ll have had before, is finding the right scarf.  Personally, I stay far, far away from polyester and other synthetic fibers because they don’t breathe well for me.  Limiting myself to rayon, viscose, and cotton can sometimes make scarf shopping difficult.  If you are in the US, here are a few shops that you MUST visit when looking for a scarf.

1. Charming Charlie

Don’t be fooled by the website, this store has a great selection of scarves! At my local store (just opened) they have a full palette of slightly shiny solid color scarves made of viscose with tassels.  I love these scarves, althought I’ve only limited myself to purchasing one at the moment (ice blue, fantastic!).  They also carry an assortment of patterns in other materials, but these soft and light viscose scarves have me hooked.  I will certainly be back for more!  When I visited Charming Charlie it was during the Thanksgiving Weekend, so I’m not sure if the scarves were on markdown, but they were 10$ a piece, very fair price.

2. Burlington Coat Factory

The downside of resale stores is that the inventory is always changing. But isn’t that also a plus?  For cheaper than department and specialty stores (Around 7.99$ or less), you can find a plethora of scarves depending on the season, all in different colors, patterns, and materials.  This can vary by store, so if you are willing to make a day of it, you may find it worth your while to visit more than one!

3. Ross

Similar to Burlington Coat Factory, Ross is a resale store with ever-changing merchandise and competitively low prices.  I usually come across polyester scarves here, but on some occasions I have run across a lovely piece! I purchased one of my favorite scarves, a french vanilla rectangular scarf with tassels, from Ross.

4. Platos Closet

If you don’t have a Platos Closet in your area…it is definitely worth the drive.  Platos Closet is a brand-name thrift store with gently used clothes, shoes, and accessories.  If you have a problem wearing hand-me-downs, this is not the store for you…But when I began to wear hijab I bought half of my scarves from Platos Closet with bargain basement prices ($3.99-$5.99).  Again, the merchandise changes, but the prices of this store cannot be beat.  When it comes to purchasing clothes such as jeans, dresses, tops, jackets… this is where almost everything I own comes from.  You seriously need to make the trip to a Platos Closet when you are on a shopping frenzy- you can stock your entire wardrobe on under 100$ if you hunt for bargains.

5. Pearl Daisy USA Etsy store

I must admit, I ride the Pearl Daisy Fan train.  While some of the prices are excessive (I wouldn’t pay 50$ for an outfit let alone a scarf), others are quite fair, especially when you grab a deal during free shipping events.  I am a huge fan of the drape scarf that Amena designed, the extra coverage is to die for, and my favorite scarf is a drape scarf.  I also own a hoojab which I like, but honestly, the stitching tends to come out and small holes are ripped in it, and I don’t even use a washing machine to clean it.  BUT, where stitching is not involved, I have been pleased with my purchases. I am currently awaiting the delivery of her newest pointelle hijab scarf, which I bought for a bargain at just over 6$!  Subscribe to her newsletter to get the best deals. Fair warning,  the shipping is ridiculously expensive, so be sure to grab your goods when the shipping is free!

Happy shopping :)

Holiday break, School to date, and Everything in between

Season’s Greetings all! :)

With the end of the semester comes SO MUCH TO DO as many students know far too well.  Alhamdulillah, there is one and a half weeks left of classes!  For my husband and I, that’s one and a half weeks left of classes…FOREVER inshallah!  We should both be done with our course work, as long as our grades are sufficient.  I can’t speak for him, but I have two exams and two papers left as assignments before the term is over.  I have actually finished those papers already, so all that I have left are finals in three weeks (Yes, we only have half a week of classes the second week of december, and then the third week of December is finals week, no classes and only exams.)

Additionally, my research is going in the right direction, mashallah!  I have sampling to do in two days, then another set next week.  If I am lucky (and inshallah I am), the sampling next week may complete my third set of trials (I have four trials total, two are completed and two are still running), with the last one not far behind!  If I stay on this path and hammer out my thesis in a few months, I could graduate in the Spring if my advisor and committee agree! THIS IS SO EXCITING!  And no, I’m not sure what I am going to do after I graduate. It all depends on what the hubby is doing.  There is potential that we could leave for Turkey permanently this summer, but that situation is always in a state of flux, so I can’t be sure.  I am planning on applying to jobs in the area so that I could get some work experience and a paycheck until we leave the country.

Thanksgiving break was VERY well deserved, and today is the last day.  We had off school Wednesday through Sunday, but unfortunately I had to be in the lab for experiments every day except today.  However, I only had to spend a short amount of time (less than an hour) there daily, so it wasn’t too terribly bad.  Besides that, I haven’t done much of anything school related these last five days!  I should probably run my current data sets through JMP and obtain some statistical results to show my advisor before leaving for the Christmas break, to further encourage him to give me the green light for Spring graduation… but vegging out on the couch while playing video games is so great ;).

After finals we plan on returning to the home state for a week, inshallah.  I can’t wait to see some old friends and enjoy a bonfire in the backyard!  We both wait all year for this trip to see my family, it has been a whole year since we have been home! I miss my family! Most of the Christmas shopping is done before we go this time, alhamdulillah.  Last year we tried to purchase Christmas presents in the three days before Christmas, and I have no idea why we thought we could manage that. It was a mad dash, for sure.  We purchased a leather jacket (as requested) for my brother, I’m drawing a portrait of my grandparents in their 30s for them, I’m thinking a spa-treatment style hand cream for my mother (she works at a dog grooming salon and spends her whole day with her hands in dog bath water), cologne for the hubby (Dolce and Gabbana The One for men…go, smell it now if you haven’t had the pleasure) and possibly a dressy watch or new wallet, and I bought boots and a new scarf for myself ;) Can’t forget my Christmas gift to me  ;D.  I still have to determine what to buy my friend(s) for Christmas, but some of them read this blog so even if I did know what I was getting them… IM NOT TELLING!

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking.  Why would muslims celebrate Christmas? Isn’t that haram?  Well, technically, celebrating the birth of a prophet is not allowed.  Mohammad SAW explicitly told the muslims not to celebrate his birth as the Christians do for Jesus.  Well, Christians believe Jesus is God, but the concept of birthdays is the same.  So why do we do it?  Well, it’s a family and cultural tradition.  Do I believe Jesus is God? no.  Am I spending time with my family and buying them gifts to commemorate his birth? No.  Christmas break is the only time I can see my family, and I love them and miss them so I am buying them gifts. So am I buying gifts for Christmas? I guess not really, I’m buying “I missed you guys so much, here is a token of my love” gifts, but since it is Christmas time and I have been celebrating Christmas my entire life, I guess the term just stuck. I feel completely ok with doing this, and if you don’t then you don’t have to :)

7 week TMJ update

Hey all, jumping on wordpress this morning very quickly to give a brief update on the jaw situation.  I have an appointment scheduled for late January with the surgeon to get the official word on my progress- but this is how it is from my perspective.

1.  I’m not sure about my opening (which is just over 2 fingers, please see previous posts about TMJ to understand what this means), but I have full side-to-side motion and jaw jutting motion, as far as I can tell.

2.  When chewing I do feel a bit of tightness in the left side, and sometimes the right side pops, but I honestly believe some of it is simply stress tension.  I am prone to stress headaches, which gives away how my face muscles react to stress.  Additionally, I actually pulled a muscle by my eyebrow so that it hurt as a sharp, stabbing pain in my temple when I raised them.  This cleared up in two days with ibuprofin, but this also gave me the feeling that I am causing some of my own symptoms.  Indeed, in the morning when I am not thinking about my jaw, I have no problems really.

3.  I am now chewing crunchy and chewy things- read kettle chips and english muffins- with little to no problems. Still staying away from gummibears…

While this is my perceived progress, I will update again after my appointment in late January!

TMJ athrocentesis 2 week update

Today was my two week follow up after having a TMJ lavage/ athrocentesis.  While I probably should have been describing my progress as it happened,  I was constantly upset by the information I gleened from the experience of others with this procedure/ disease and didn’t have the energy or strength to bother with much of anything- let alone my blog. However, I wan’t to share my own experience thusfar with my temporomandibular joint disorder and put another perspective out there for people to read.  All of this down-and-out business was NOT helping my recovery.  Personally, I believe wellness includes your own mental perspective of your condition as well.

Please note that I am a graduate student who has been seeing the doctors at the ajoining dental school, so the experience and education of these doctors may be different from others.  Actually, I was encouraged by this difference since I know that these doctors are still being educated.

Pre-surgery: Pain level was approximately 6-8 out of 10 depending on the day, stabbing pain in my left TMJ and radiating pain in my teeth and face.  Opening was 1 “finger” without pain, 2 “fingers” with stabbing pain. Couldn’t even chew eggs, very painful.  Even without talking/ moving I was in pain.

Day of operation:

On the day I had my athrocentesis I was very nervous!  My biggest concern, in all honesty, is that it wouldn’t help me.  I asked the doctor as they prepped me what the success rate was for this procedure.  The doctor told me that, in her experience, 80-85% of the patience she had seen saw improvement in their condition, while the rest saw no improvement. In her experience, she had not seen anyone get worse.  This made me feel a bit better and soon the “light anesthetic” knocked me out cold.

I was perscribed hydrocodone+acetomenaphine and ibuprofin for the pain and inflammation.  Since naproxen had given me a painful case of acid reflux I was told to take ibuprofin only as I could handle it (which was 200mg every 4hrs, come to find out.).  I iced the area non-stop for the first 8hrs after the procedure, as instructed.  The pain was manageable under medication, but I had to remain very straight, I couldn’t lay down without a lot of discomfort.  Needless to say, I didn’t get sleep that night.  (By the way,  I have completely recovered from the acid reflux caused by naproxen. It took a few weeks, but I can again eat high acid food! YAY!)

On the day of operation on, even now and for months more, I have been conducting “jaw exercises” that include opening as far as I can and wiggling my jaw side to side.  This should prevent scarring of the TMJ that could worsen my condition.

Could only eat broth

Days 1-4:

On the first four days I experienced a squishy-feeling, squeeky/crunchy-sounding sensation in my left TMJ (where the surgery occurred).  This was worse than the pain, since I am sensative to sounds and it was driving me crazy.  This was due to residual fluid after the flushing and is considered normal.  Each day the sound/sensation abated more and more and by day 4 it was pretty much gone, with some exception to occasional occurences (which stopped me in my tracks- like nails on a chalk board! but didnt hurt).  The pain was still there, but managable with ibuprofin only after two days.  I feel as though the right side of my face hurt more than my left, but this could be because I was babying the left side and putting all the pressure on the right.  NO clicking or popping at this point.
The biggest problem at this point was that I couldn’t close my mouth completely- meeting my molars together.  I felt as though a jelly bean was in my TMJ, preventing full closer and producing that obnoxious noise when I tried.  The pain was a dull ache. I was sleeping normally and fitfully, althought it took some adjusting to find a place that my jaw didnt align poorly.

My opening was a tight “2 fingers”, my range of motion for jutting my jaw past my upper teeth was minimal (couldn’t pass my upper teeth, a feeling a stretching) and pushing my jaw to the right was also limited (same sensation).

Could only eat broth and yogurt, but I had no noticeable swelling at the procedure sight and very very slight bruising.

Days 5-7:

Finally, on day five my mouth could fully close, although I felt some pressure.  Also at this point I noticed I developed a very obvious lisp.  At this point the pain was minimal, but I was still bound to ibuprofin , but now only one or two pills a day.  My opening was still a tight 2 fingers and my range of motion was limited as described before.  Now I could chew angel hair pasta, still very limited to soft foods.  Kept up my exercises, still sleeping well

At this point I was getting pretty upset. I had thought that this procedure, being minimally invasive, would heal quickly.  No, no it doesn’t heal quickly.  The follow up is scheduled for two weeks for a reason.

Days 8-10:

Everything was pretty much the same, but the pain kept becoming less and less. Same range of motion, occasional use of acetomenophin and ibuprofin as needed.  I had a spasm in the right side of my face on day 10, but I took muscle relaxors that night and everything was ok. Now I was carefully chewing well cooked vegetables like cauliflower.  If it took more than two “chews” it was a no go. Lisp slightly improved.  Moving jaw to the left sometimes creates a popping in my right TMJ, but opening is fine.  Occasionally I would feel a “stop” when chewing or talking, but I think I was trying to move my jaw past its range of motion without realizing.  This became less frequent throughout the days 8-10

Days 11-13

On these days I stopped taking medicine all together, I had no need.  I was able to chew soft foods such as bulgur, hot dogs, meat products, regular noodles, etc, and even the occasional hand-ful of peanuts.  Basically, if I could get it in my mouth I could chew it, but I would get tired.  Not pain, mind you, just a feeling of tiredness in my jaw.  Lisping only on certain words.  Range of motion was still limited but now I can align my bottom and top teeth, barely passing the top with some pulling sensation.  Pulling my jaw to the right a little bit more, but still feeling a pulling sensation.  Could open my mouth “2 fingers” comfortably, but this is not my pre-TMJ opening still. Still occasional right TMJ popping.

Today (2 week check up):

Today it was made official that my opening is the same as before my athrocentesis, but it is PAIN FREE and I think that’s a win.  Lisp is still improving and expected to further improve as my range of motion improves.  While I cannot jump into chewing gummy bears I have been advised that, if it doesnt hurt, chew it.  So I plan on trying some bread soon (soft bread is fine, but chewy crusts have been avoided up to now).  When I bit down on the tongue depressor to check for pain I had none, but this started my right TMJ popping when I opened my mouth.  I rubbed it, rested it for ten minutes, and the popping stopped.  I was advised to get a dental splint, but I don’t have $400.  The doctor told me, conspiratorially, that if I’m not having pain that it isn’t necessary, that I can try over-the-counter guards and if they don’t hurt me then it should be ok.  The problem is that, if the guards cause a misalignment, it can make my condition worse.  Since my occlusion and bite are perfect due to previous orthodontic work, the purpose of a splint would be to prevent grinding and relieve pressure from grinding that I may be doing (which I know I do on occasion).

In a disheartened state I shared with my doctor the horror stories I heard about TMD sufferers and how many people said they spent years with pain and problems.  I asked sincerely if I would be doomed to a life of limitations.  The doctor smiled and told me that, for many people, TMJ can resolve itself as long as you aren’t aggravating it, and hopefully I will continue to see improvements until I am back to 100%.  I have another follow up in 3 months to check my progress and be sure I am not worsening the issue.

So, to all those considering an athrocentesis:

1.  It helped me.  While my range of motion isn’t back up to where it used to be (approx. 3 fingers I’m thinking) I can eat WITHOUT PAIN  and for me that is the most important thing.

2.  Don’t be disheartened, with patience you can improve.  Honestly, after the first week I was in a very dark and upsetting place about my condition, and I think that hindered my progress more than my actual physical ailments. You will find more people complaining about a problem than praising their recovery, so don’t be overwhelmed by all the negative reviews you may find.

3.  It WILL take the full 2 weeks to feel better.  The first few days will suck, you will definitely need to confine yourself to your home.  Talking will be hard for the first full week, but after day 3-4 you can get back to work if it is not a very physically exhaustive job (office work-yes, construction- no)

I’ll keep ya’ll posted as I continue to progress! Inshallah I will be back to normal!

Temporomandibular Joint…and surgery on Tuesday

So, how do I start?  Well, I’ll start where IT started.  In May my jaw suddenly, and without warning, refused to open when I was eating lunch with my colleagues.  No, I wasn’t gnawing on taffee or chomping on peanuts, I was eating a fish taco- relatively soft with easy give when chewing.  I could barely open my mouth a fraction of an inch without feeling a clamping on the left side of my face.  In a tizzy I went to the campus clinic, and the nurse suggested I put ice on my jaw and take some sort of anti-inflammatory (read: ibuprofin).  I went home and did that and, several hours after it happened, I could move my jaw with some stiffness and pain.  In a few days, I was back to normal.

Then, in the middle of the night in August, I woke up to my jaw being locked again.  I got up, iced it, took some ibuprofin, and went to sleep when I was able to move my jaw more.  The next day it was still a little sore and chewing was difficult.  And day after that was the same.  And the day after that. And after that. And after that. For a week.  With constant ice and ibuprofin I was still in a good deal of facial/neck pain and I couldn’t chew without my jaw getting stiff (left side again) and aching tremendously.  One night the pain was so severe I felt like I was suffocating.  The next day I went back to the clinic and I was referred to an oral surgeon for TMJ.

TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint.  This is the hinge and sliding joint where your jaw bone connects to your skull and, suprisingly, there’s a lot going on there.  A small disc takes the impact of chewing, talking, and general mouth movements, and several muscles like to hang around there too.  It seemed as though something in that complicated area had gone awry.  Anyway, I was perscribed a large dose of Naproxen (aleve) to help with the pain.  This worked for a while, until I began having side effects.

Apparently stomach problems, including heartburn and indigestion, can be a side effect to Naproxen that requires you stop taking it.  In the middle of the night I woke to a burning pain near my sternum.  The next morning it happened again.  This pain was deblitating and with some quick googling I found out this pain was associated with Naproxen use.  I called the physician and she agreed I should stop taking it immediately.  This was a few weeks ago and I am still scared to eat tomatoes (a common cause for heartburn) and I can’t eat too late at night.  After this craziness, I called the dental school (to which I was refered) to have my appointment moved up.

So, I went to the oral surgeon and they measured my mouth opening, palpitated my face, took some Xrays and poked and prodded…thank God for insurance… and they determined that the little disc I was talking about, well, it seemed to have slipped out of place and cause all kinds of disfunction in my jaw.  They scheduled me for a lavage/atherocentesis (a procedure of flushing out the joint, removing any adhesions, and working the disc back in- it requires two needles and is minimally invasive)…in three weeks.  In the meantime I had lost 11lb in the matter of weeks, been severly limited in my diet, in constant discomfort, and depression over all of it was beginning to set in.

Now finally….FINALLY… the surgery is Tuesday (5 days).  While I had been wishing the day to come I am now very nervous.  My biggest concern is that it won’t work.  While most patients in this scenario, no history of TMJ, sudden jaw locking, good occlusion (bite. I’ve had braces in the past) etc see great success with the procedure, I’m so scared that it isn’t going to help.  This constant pain and being unable to enjoy the food I used to love so much is heartbreaking for me.  It may seem trite and silly to those who haven’t been through it but…imagine a toothache that never stops and you can only eat liquids.  Yeah, it isn’t any fun.

Prayers and good vibes appreciated.  INSHALLAH I’ll be back to normal by the week after my surgery.

Putting your foot down

A lot has been going on recently, especially with the hubsy’s PhD!  He put his foot down with his advisor saying that he only has a little bit of time left in the US before he MUST return to Turkey, PhD or no PhD, and he has no time for classes!  His advisor was shocked, expecting many more years out of the hubster before he could graduate.  Well, long story short, it seems that he is done with classes after this term! YAY!

Also, he took his qualifies (the exam that means you can continue your PhD studies…like a GRE for PhDs) and PASSED! Alhamdulillah!

These are all the things that we were looking for as signs that his PhD is attainable and we should stay after I graduate this coming summer. Inshallah it all works out! Sorry I can’t be more detailed, I have to study for an exam. I hope my next post will be as happy!

Whey soup/ Peynir suyu corba

Last weekend I made a gallon-of-milk worth of biberli lor!  This left me with about 10 cups of whey (the yellowish liquid remaining after cheese is made)!  Never wanting to waste, I asked my mother-in-law what I could do with this peynir suyu (cheese juice) and she advised I make a soup.  I wasn’t sure what kind of soup I could make with this slightly acidic, dairy flavored juice…. so she gave me this recipe.  While the hubby insists it doesn’t taste just like the original, I adore it…dare I say, I eat enough for both of us.  Following in turkish tradition, I don’t know exactly what the measurements are for this soup- I simply eye-ball it, but I will try to guess the measurements for those who aren’t accustomed to “approximate cooking”.

this picture features the whey soup with all the additional ingredients :)

Ingredients

  • 3-4c whey
  • 3tbsp flour
  • 1 heaping tbsp butter
  • vermicelli or cappelini, broken into 3 segments
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 chicken buillion cube (optional)
  • other optional ingredients include:
    • spinach
    • mushroom
    • garlic

Preparation

  1. Pour the whey into a pot and bring it to a soft boil.
  2. Add optional spinach/ mushroom and vermicelli/cappelini, boiling until cooked
  3. In a separate pan, add butter and melt (cook the garlic with the butter if you opted for garlic). Add flour and mix well, forming a yellow paste.
  4. Take a ladle-full of hot whey from the pot and pour it in the pan with flour, whisking thoroughly and adding more whey by the ladle-full until dissolved (the paste will because goopier and goopier, until it is completely smooth).
  5. Pour the flour/butter/whey concoction into the main pot, whisking thoroughly to keep clumps out.  Let the soup simmer until thick.
  6. Add salt to taste before serving, sprinkle the bowl with black pepper as desired.

Afiyet olsun!

All American Muslim

No, not the TV show (that was canceled)…I just like the picture

On many of the TV shows, youtube videos, movies, etc., that I have seen featuring western converts to Islam, many of them forsake their old identity for a new, Islamic centered one.  Changing their name, their style of dress (not just halal-ifying it), picking up a new language in the hopes of moving to an Islamic country….yes, I’ve seen all of (or many) of these things occur.  Let me just take a moment to remind everyone:

You are still you.

Islam is both a guidebook for living and a religion- but it is not a culture, per se. I think that many of us have identified Islam with the middle east and, when converting to Islam, many people will pick up the culture-ways of the middle east as well.  While I do subscribe to the notion of all muslims being of one ummah (nation)I don’t think that means we should forget who our families raised us as.  While some converts/reverts embrace a new culture because they married into it (like myself- who embraced Turkish culture BEFORE I embraced Islam),  I am troubled by those who seek to isolate themselves from their western identities because they feel Islam is not amenable to their culture.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.- Ch 49, vs 13 of the Holy Quran 

I whole-heartedly believe that Islam can fit into any culture, and therein lies its beauty.  When people seek to release their previous culture in favor of a more Islamically rooted one, they are propagating the sense of “otherness” that many Western societies associate with Islam.  Muslims are “the other”, “the odd ones”, the mysterious eastern people with their strange customs and strange ways…as seen through the eyes of the US and others. But, here’s the thing… Muslims can be American too. Americans can be Muslim.  Please, go to the mall in your hijab, go out for coffee and lunch with your friends. Be SEEN. Interact!  You are no less the person you were born as before accepting Islam as you are after it.  In fact, you are only a BETTER version of yourself. But you are you.  Remaining an active part of your society after converting to Islam can be one of the best acts of dawah (inviting to Islam) you can do!

So, I don’t know about you, but I plan on keeping my name and my identity after my conversion.  I’ll always be that All-American girl next store…with a head scarf!  What about you?

Creamy cottage cheese with peppers- start to finish! (Evde biberli lor/kesmik)

Yesterday I was feeling domestic, so I tried my hand at making “cottage cheese” (lor or, as my husband called it, kesmik).  I felt pretty pleased with how it turned out- nice and firm, but not rubbery!  I only got about 1/2-3/4c of cheese curds out of 4c of 1% milk! That left me with a LOT of whey (the yellow, watery looking leftovers of milk when a lot of macronutrients like fat and proteins have settled out into cheese).  I did some googling and I saw mixed opinions on whether or not an acid whey, left over from acid set cheese, such as cottage cheese/lor could be used to make ricotta.  Well, I thought I’d give it a go, if it didn’t work I’d still have whey.  Cranking up the heat on the stove,I was left with some creamy, semi solid substance that I had to scrape off of my tea cloth (aka- hubbys old tshirt scraps). Adding that to the solid cheese curds added a whole new dimension to the lor/curds! YUMMY!  I think I’ll use the whey as a substitute for water in a bread recipe, or as a stock for a creamy soup like potato…It feels so wrong to throw it out.  Later I found out from my mother-in-law that I can bring the milk and curds to a boil together the second time, saving me that extra straining step!

Today we went to the local farmers market and came back with quite a variety of goodies! This included some mild, raw banana peppers from a local farm. Cutting into them and washing away the seeds, I could smell the sweet aroma of a ripe pepper. MMMmmmm! Sautee them up in some olive oil, add the curds, and you should have biberli lor!  The first time I tried this at home, I added the curds to the pan…and they began to melt a little! Hmmm! So I added a tiny bit of whey to the pan to make the mixture extra creamy.  It was DELICIOUS with my homemade english muffins! Normally in Turkey, you wouldn’t add the curds to the pan but serve them cold from the refrigerator…its all up to you!

Now, down to the nitty gritty!

Acid set cottage cheese/ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 4c milk
  • 1/4c vinegar
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Pour the milk into a pot and heat slowly, stirring, over medium heat until it is hot to the touch, but not boiling or forming a skin on top (approx 120F).  This temperature approximation is CRITICAL. If it gets too hot at any time, the curds will come out rubbery! I did it without using a thermometer…it should be “hot shower” hot, but not scalding.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat once the proper temperature is reached. Immediately pour in your vinegar, giving the milk a slow stir for about a minute.  You will see the milk curdle before your eyes! Just scrape it off the spoon when you are done stirring.
  3. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  I put it in the pantry so the AC won’t cool it down.
  4. Put the pot back on the stove, heating it to a brief boil (around 200F or so), remove from the heat and let sit for about 30 minutes again.
  5. Put a colander in a bowl (that doesn’t touch the bottom) and line the colander with cheese cloth or a tea towel (or an old cotton tshirt, one layer, no graphics). Slowly pour the pots contents into this straining device and let them strain for about 5 min.
  6. Remove the towel with the curds in it and run them under cold water, mixing them and breaking them apart with your fingers until they are completely cooled.  They will be incredibly soft. Squeeze the curds as dry as you can in the towel and put them in a container for storage or a bowl to eat them, adding salt in either case.

Creamy ricotta with peppers (biberli lor)

Ingredients:

  • Ricotta or homemade curds
  • Sweet/mild raw peppers (anaheim, cubanelle, charleston, banana… your choice)
  • olive oil
  • salt

(I purposefully didn’t put measurements in this recipe, since it is all about preference.)

Preparation:

  1. Chop the peppers to your preferred size and sautee them in olive oil.  I add just a smidge of salt to the peppers to bring out their own, unique flavor. Make sure to keep the seeds OUT! Let them cool.
  2. When storing, pack the cheese into a jar with the peppers (either mix the peppers in with the cheese, or layer cheese then pepper, cheese then pepper.  Make sure it is packed air-tight!
  3. Allow to sit for one day, draining the liquid that has come out of the cheese overnight. Do this again for another day.
  4. Pour olive oil into the jar, as you desire, and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for a week or two.

Afiyet olsun!!

I hope you guys like this as much as I did :).  I haven’t actually tried to make the ricotta and peppers with store bought cheese, but I saw the recipe on turkishfoodandrecipes.com for using store bought.  With how easy (and cheap) it is to make the curds at home, I don’t see why you wouldn’t ;) time permitting.

National Yeast day/ English Muffins recipe

There should be a national yeast day.  There’s so many amazing things you can do with it! For example:

 

 

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4c bread flour
  • 1/4c warm water
  • 1 1/4 tsp. yeast (sprinkle of sugar)
  • 3/4c milk
  • 1 tbsp. butter, room temp
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. sugar
Preparation:
  1. Proof yeast in warm water with a sprinkle of sugar.
  2. Combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a mixing bowl, forming a well in the center.  The butter will not seem like much in the dough at this point.
  3. Pour milk and proofed yeast into the well. Knead well until smooth and tacky. You will probably need to add more flour.
  4. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover, letting it double in size (60-90min)
  5. Once doubled, turn out dough on a floured surface.  pinch the dough into 6-8 pieces.  Roll each into little balls and place on a well floured (or cornmeal sprinkled) parchment paper and cover, letting rise again for about an hour.  They will spread up and out, give them plenty of room.
  6. lightly oil a griddle and turn on to medium heat. Once the dough has risen again, gently place the dough balls on the hot griddle.  Let them brown on one side (a golden brown, not burnt), then flip them over. Each side can take 3-6 minutes, depending on the stove top temp.
  7. Preheat oven to 400F.  Place browned dough balls into the oven to finish cooking (either on a parchment covered cookie sheet or a baking stone).  Bake for about 10-12min.  Remove and let cool.
Afiyet olsun!
**Credit for this recipe goes to Elsie and Emma over at abeautifulmess.com
Edit: Today I tried these with my creamy cottage cheese and peppers...AMAZING!