Stale Bread is Not The End!

If you’re anything like me, you HATE stale bread.  As in,  please-dont-make-me-put-this-in-my-mouth HATE.  But with summer upon us, bread goes stale in a matter of a day or two.

Sure, you can turn it into croutons or bread crumbs, but that only gets you so far.  If you want to get rid of multiple loaves of bread (or just one), you can go for ekmek kızartması or…

Drum roll

Ekmek köftesi!

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Basically the regular recipe for fried köfte, but instead of meat use bread!  It may sound weird at first, but it’s so close to a fritter I can’t help but love it:).  Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks for guests, the sky is the limit! Just be careful with the salt…

Ingredients
1 loaf stale bread, torn to pieces and moistened in water
1 egg
1 tbsp flour
50-100g grated tulum cheese (or any cheese), as you prefer
Cumin to taste
Black pepper to taste
Parsley to taste, chopped
Salt to taste (your cheese may be salty so be light with your salt)
Sunflower oil for frying
(Optionals)
Grated onion
Dill
Mint
Anything you think sounds good, because no one can tell you what to do!

Preparation
1. Tear your bread apart and soak it in water.  Squeeze out the excess and place the bread in a bowl.
2. Add all the other ingredients, kneading it like a dough (as described in the köfte recipe).  This should be really soft and blended!
3. If needed, an extra egg can be added if the bread doesn’t stick together well. Also,  if too wet (like you squeeze it and bubbles come out between your fingers), add flour 1 tsp at a time.
4. Pinch off about a golf ball size piece from the dough and work it in your hand, squeezing and rolling it like a stress ball.  Tap it flat with your fingers, at about 1/4 of an inch thick.
5. Heat a skillet with oil for frying. Place your köfte in the pan and let fry until dark golden brown.  Flip them and fry both sides similarly.  Place on a paper towel to soak up the extra oil.

Serve with tomatoes and cucumbers

Afiyet olsun!

“Those who can, do… And those who can’t (?)”

Well,  I guess those who can’t go to a class or YouTube a tutorial… Because they sure as hell don’t teach!

Super rude, George Bernard Shaw.

I’m not sure how someone who can’t do a thing could possibly teach it.  Well,  I guess they could try… But they would probably suck at it.

That is my preamble into announcing I will be super busy next month taking a CELTA teachers training course! Woo-hoo!

CELTA is an English as a second language teachers certification program. For me, it consists of 4 weeks of course work and supervised teaching of English to non-native speakers,  getting feedback, doing some “homework”, and hopefully getting certified when it’s all done! It’s overseen by Cambridge University in England, but I’ll be taking the course offered here. It’s not cheap, but it also doesn’t expire… So if I ever get the opportunity to teach English, I’ll be ready to go!

I spent two years teaching at UF and loved it…I hope this is just as rewarding!

Wish me luck:)

Drowning

I had a nightmare that I was drowning.

It didn’t start out that way, of course.  Most of my nightmares start with me being unable to control my car in some way, then it rolling off with me in it into some bad situation.

This time, it was into an ocean that was pitch black.  I tried to swim, but the water was thick like molasses.  I knew it was a nightmare because water isn’t like that,  and I know my own nightmare trends (I am prone to aware nightmares/dreams)… But for a minute I couldn’t wake up.  Lifting my eyelids was like lifting ten tons of concrete. 

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I haven’t been feeling well lately, and I blame the weather.  This sudden heat has given me daily headaches, neck-aches , and a little bit of a stomach ache (but I’m not sure if that’s from heat or something else).  Compounded on top of my already dour mood,  I haven’t been all that pleasant.

Of course, drowning doesn’t help.

I feel like I’m drowning here.  Not in Turkey, but in this over crowded house.  I know hubby is too, but there’s not a damn thing to do about it now.  No one seems to be aware of nor care how uncomfortable we are. 

All.  The.  Time. 

We are always expected to do things when we don’t want to do them.  Expected to dress a certain way and act a certain way and speak a certain way… And you can only put up with it for so long before you explode. 

While hubby tells me to do my best, his struggles are much different from mine.  Yes, he has to deal with his own inner demons and social/familial pressures to provide for all of us (which is kinda bs in my opinion,  why are you looking at us for money when we both are unemployed? Here.  Take all our life’s savings.  Just take it.  We don’t need it or anything.).

But a gelins pressures are different.

Like I’ve told you before, the women in the house are kind of like a maid.  Particularly gelins,  because they are at the whim of their mother in law.  Sure, I can always say no, or not get up to help when I hear work noises, but I’ve heard them gossip about the girls in the family who are “lazy” and “unhelpful”.  On one side,  I don’t really care what they think.  But on the other side,  I live here so I’m trying to not make it too awkward.

With the heat it’s been especially hard, since I live in the same house as my brother in law (BIL) (with no AC mind you), so I have to be full on covered unless he is at work.  Our room doesn’t even have a lock, so I’m always waiting anxiously to have to throw on all my clothes again in case BIL wants to talk to his abey. 

Everything is just accumulating. 

NO I don’t want to clean the kitchen right now,  my head hurts.

NO I don’t want to hang the laundry,  it’s hot and I have to wear all my clothes to go outside.

NO I don’t want to eat!

NO I don’t want to go anywhere!

NO don’t move the stuff I put in our room!

JUST LEAVE ME ALONE BEFORE I DROWN!!!

The in laws will be leaving for the beach soon and we should have the majority of every month to ourselves for the summer.  I know we will be feeling much better then…

But for now,  I have to keep holding my breath.

Flailing my arms.

Trying not to drown.

Why I Didn’t Change My Name

Before you ask, yes I did change my last name when I married (because it’s a hella-cool name and half the reason I married that guy who is now my husband).

What I’m talking about is changing my name after reverting to Islam.

Some (many? A few? I don’t even know) western Muslim reverts/converts change their names to a more Muslim sounding name after their life change. Like Ayşe instead of Annie,  Elif instead of Erin, etc.  But, as my friends know, I didn’t. I stuck with the name my mother gave me.

If this sounds familiar, you can skip this post.  Ive posted over 200 things on this blog here, and I think I’ve covered this topic before (loosely), but it came up again in my life so I want to address it again.

When I introduced myself to someone new recently, they were surprised I was Muslim (after seeing my name only and meeting me for the first time).  They asked if I go by another name informally, and I said no. They were surprised, since converts change their names (apparently a lot?). 

Did I mention before that the imam that performed our Nikah ceremony (religious marriage) required I pick a “Muslim name” for the purpose of the religious stuff? Hubby got pissed, but it was too late to find another imam so… Yeah, I was Mariam for five minutes. My husbands name isn’t Muslim, it’s Turkish… So… What about him? Meh,  anyway…

Nowhere in the Quran, hadiths, or sunnah (to my knowledge) does it say to change your name. I personally think that changing your name after converting does a huge disservice to Islam. It’s as if you are forcing yourself to fit in a little box that Islam never wanted for you.  “Middle eastern” clothes, names, etc are a culture.  Islam is a religion.  Just because you converted doesn’t mean you have to wear a black Abaya and change your name to Khadija (although she was an amazing woman and should inspire us all!).  I mean,  if you want to you can… But it seems very sad.  Islam is supposed to elevate you to your best level, not change who you are.

So while I did change my lifestyle (I. E. No more drinking, no hanging out with guys outside of work requirements, now wearing hijab), I didn’t change myself.  My clothing style is the same, if not less revealing.  My name is the same.  My hobbies are the same.  I am still me.  But I’m more than me now,  I’m me 2.0.

And me 2.0 doesn’t require a name change.

An actually palatable green lentil soup!

Green lentil soup lovers of the world, forgive me.

I really don’t like green lentil soup.

Well,  the one instance I ate it out of a Progresso can I didn’t.  I was scarred after that…

I am all about that red lentil,  though.  All day.  Every day.  It’s so versatile! Don’t even get me started on the lentil patties, mmmmm!

Today we made a green lentil soup that (at first I was iffy about but later…) I actually liked! It feels more like a winter soup (thick, warm, stick to your bones kind)… But with the chill the rain brought to is today,  the warmth was very much welcome!

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Ingredients:
2c green lentils, washed and drained (twice!)
1/2c orzo or Turkish vermicelli (fine egg noodle)
Approx 3c hot water
Milk
1.5 tbsp flour
1 chicken bullion cube
2 tbsp sunflower (or anything but olive) oil
2 tbsp margerine
2+ tbsp dried mint (as you like it)
Salt to taste

Preparation
1. After cleaning, put lentils in a large pot with the hot water.  Boil until the lentils are softened (approx 20 min).  Add the orzo/vermicelli and chicken buillion, and cook until everything is soft and the water is nearly cooked out (another 10 mins).  Add 1/2c water at a time if needed to completely cook the lentil.
2. Add milk until the soup is at the consistency you prefer (for this recipe I would use a good 4 or 5c+).  Bring it to a slow boil and let the flavors meld. Add some initial salt to taste.
3. Temper the flour (add small amounts of cold water to a dish with the flour.  Mix it together so that it isn’t lumpy,  making a slurry.  Add a few spoons of the hot soup liquid to the slurry so that it acclimates and doesn’t clump upon hitting the heat) and mix into the soup. Continue mixing until it begins to thicken (a few minutes at most).  You can add more flour in this manner until you are happy with the consistency. Check for saltiness and add if needed.
4. Melt the butter and add the oil together in a separate sauce pan.  Once the butter/oil is sizzling,  add the the mint.  Once it is aromatic (less than a minute),  pour into the soup pot and gently mix, forming swirls of sauce at the top (if preferred, you can add this as a garnish when serving).

Afiyet olsun!

Mother’s Day (When You Aren’t One)

I have been exceedingly blessed with a different kind of mom.  The kind of mom that had to put on the Dad pants when my father passed when I was one year old and she was pregnant with my brother.  She never taught me how to do my hair, match my shoes to my outfit, or how to flirt with boys.  But she did teach me how to mow the lawn, kick an assailant where it hurts, and how to get by without a man. She did a nearly impossible task,  raising me and my hellian brother on her own… And we both turned out pretty ok.

Of course,  my maternal grandmother picked up on the girly slack.  And she deserves a shout out for that.  I may have never learned how to keep my mouth shut the like she tried to teach me… But I did learn many other skills from her.  She is where I took my knack for art from, too!

Now I have a mother in law to enjoy and appreciate. Sure, she gets on my nerves plenty, but she doesn’t mean to. She’s been willing to help me learn the day-to-day things most people know at my age, but I don’t (because, you know, I just got here…and things are different!).

So I am very blessed to be surrounded by positive female role models… Which is great and everything… But, I kind of want to be one too.

Mother’s Day can be a mixed bag for those of us who want to be one (a mother) but aren’t. It can be particularly difficult for those whose abstinence from motherhood is not by choice. Fortunately, I’m not one of those who are forced to be childless by physical/biological reasons outside of my control. I guess my not being a mother is by choice, but due to unfavorable circumstances.

When we came to Turkey, we didn’t think our lives would be the way they are right now. My husband thought he would be working. We thought we would have a house/ be somewhat settled down. Hell, I even thought I’d be pregnant by now. It seems sometimes like everyone else thought that too. But while my friends (who are first/second time mom’s, or maybe newly pregnant) drink the kool-aid and offer some to me, I can’t really tell them why I won’t drink it. These problems are ours and kind of private (again, don’t worry, not relationship problems. Life problems), so only a handful of people even know about them.

I know I should be grateful that my self-imposed childless-ness is self imposed…but I can’t help but feel a twinge of regret when the mother’s day pictures start rolling through my Facebook feed featuring my friends (who are majority younger than me) with their kids celebrating mother’s day.

Maybe next year?

Picture hiatus

So… For my Instagram followers this won’t come as a surprise.

My camera is no more… One day it just went to Sleep and never woke up.

Sad.

We tried to take it apart but hubby couldn’t see a problem with it.

And without a phone, I am incapable of taking pictures (outside of the house… I still have my tablet after all!).

So until I get a phone (hopefully this month) my posts will be all text…

Sorry!

A Winter in Review (2015)

As those of you who’ve been with me for a while already know, these last few months have constituted my first winter in Turkey!  I was very excited to see what the cold months were like (since my previous Turkey experience had been a summer trip in 2011).  Now that the temperatures are suitably warm (mid 70s/low 80s) I feel that it is an appropriate time to summarize my thoughts on winters in Turkey.

Let me start by saying… Winter isn’t very Turkish in my opinion.

Uh, how can a country be anything other than what it is?

Well,  like I said before… My first (and at the time, only) experience in Turkey before had been during the summer.  For that reason,  Turkey translated to:
The smell of the ocean
Watermelon and white cheese
Late nights spent with family/friends
Picnics and day trips
Midye and mangal
Windows and balcony doors open wide
Snatching figs off trees when no one is looking

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And of course, none of these things happen during the winter.  It’s simply too cold.  I couldn’t even pick up the ocean smell from the window until the weather warmed up recently.  However, there are other winter things that are unique to Turkey. Honestly, it’s kind of a mixed bag.

First off, here in Izmir, we only saw a flurry of snow twice.  Nothing that lasted longer than five minutes though.  Sure,  it snowed in the mountains and stuff, but nothing I was able to enjoy.  It’s kind of ironic, actually.  The thing I love most about Turkish summers (a lack of rain), translates to a lack of something I would have liked to see (snow).

But even without the snow,  it got pretty chilly!  With a lack of central heating,  we were limited to the soba (coal furnace).  I’m pretty sure I shared that with you guys earlier.  While the toasty warm room was a delight, the freeze-your-buns-off temperature in the rest of the house (including our bedroom and the bathroom) made daily life a bit uncomfortable. Hello two layers of long-johns under sweatpants.  We didn’t go anywhere or do much of anything because it was so cold (and my in laws kept getting sick). It’s just not the season for activity.

Eating new things was fun! I enjoyed roasting chestnuts on the top of the soba.  Greens like spinach and roots like celeriac were plentiful and I enjoy them immensely.  But there’s nothing that compares to summer foods like roasted eggplant and fresh green beans…

So… I think it’s fair to say that winter is not my favorite season (but it never was, anyway).  It’s nice to not sweat your brains out, but you miss out on so many fun things when the weather is too cold!

Helloooo spring/summer!! I’m ready for you!

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Wedding or Not…Here We Come.

One of the things I had been looking forward to when moving to Turkey was our big, fat, Turkish wedding.

You know, the one that didn’t happen because our lives were turned upside down.

Well, after I had finely started coming to terms with the idea that our wedding bonanza wasn’t going to happen, my mother in law was suddenly injected with the wedding bug.

Probably because there are two weddings in the family this summer,  one of which is this weekend.

So out of the clear blue,  Anne is insisting we get married this summer.  Like, in a few months.

Uh… What?

 

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Let me make it clear that at this point in our lives, neither of us (hubby nor myself) want to deal with planning/paying for a wedding.  Neither of us have a job,  we are living with my in laws, we clearly have other priorities. Are we saying no wedding EVER? No… We are even open to discussing early next year (I wanted it to be on our wedding anniversary, like a vow renewal).

But noooo… It HAS to be NOW.  And with literally no warning. I’m sorry if I can’t get behind that.

Naturally, this leads to plenty of fighting in the house.  Anne will kick and cry because she wants what she wants, and hubby will shout and stomp because he wants what he wants.  Me? I want everyone to be quiet.  When I told Anne that this much notice is not enough for my friends and family to make plans,  she wasn’t swayed.  When I said we didn’t want to pay for something so expensive in our financial situation (hell,  we can’t even move out and pay RENT), she said that she’d pay for it.

Funny that,  when they just asked us for money towards a car and an awning at the beach house.  With what imaginary money were you planning on paying for our (expensive) wedding acaba?

What I don’t understand is why it can’t wait another year, once things settle and İnşallah we will both have jobs.  She keeps saying that “oh we were planning to do it when you came back,  next year is too long to wait.”

I have news for you.  We had a lot of plans for when we came back. I assure you,  our current situation was not in them.  We were supposed to have jobs,  a home, maybe even a kid on the way.  But none of those things happened.  And all of them are much more important than a wedding. And oh yeah,  we’ve been married 3 years already,  one more isn’t that much.

At some point OUR (potential) wedding stopped being about us and started being about her.  And it’s making me very frustrated.  Very. Very.  Frustrated. As if we didn’t have enough to stress us out already.

Hijabi problem #99: I am oppressed

I am a hijabi (wearer of the hijab)

And I am oppressed.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term hijab, let me clarify (but most of the world probably is by now). The term hijab technically refers to a scarf, but the way it is understood by Muslimahs (female practitioners of Islam) is a little more inclusive.  When we (muslimahs) refer to hijab, or call ourselves hijabis, we are referring to a style of dress which includes a scarf on the head in some fashion, and a certain etiquette by which we live our lives.  Different cultures will define proper hijab in different ways…some more “conservative “, some more “liberal”.  While I feel comfortable in the way I physically wear my hijab and socially practice it, I don’t feel the need to judge others on theirs. Is mine perfect? Hardly. But I consider myself a hijabi none the less.

And like the media loves to trumpet, I certainly am oppressed.

My attire doesnt stop me from physical activity (hiking, swimming, riding bikes, etc).  My dress doesn’t keep me from being fashionable/feeling beautiful (quite the contrary, I’ve never felt so good looking in my life!).  My social etiquette doesn’t keep me out of the work place or secluded at home (I’ve worked with both men and women with no awkwardness, and I’ve gone on outings on my own).  I’m not oppressed by my hijab.  But as a hijabi,  I am oppressed.

I’m oppressed by you.

Not you, specifically, dear friends.  You support me and my right to practice my faith, my way.  I love you all! By “you”, I mean the traditionally “western” concept of hijabi oppression.

Being glared at on the street and whispered about; constantly fearing a violent outburst from a stranger keeps me at home.  The current fashion of see-through blouses and crop tops makes it hard to dress myself.  Requiring I remove my hijab before I can work keeps me out of the workforce and dependent on a man to care for me.  You consistently, relentlessly telling me I am not a strong woman because of the choices I made for myself makes me feel secluded and weak.

I did not oppress myself.  I would not choose a way of life that makes me feel poorly about myself.  The only thing about being a hijabi Muslimah that is oppressive is other people’s attitude towards me and the difficulty of living in a society that doesn’t want me in it.

So when you see us on the street, don’t cluck your tongue and shake your head.  Smile.  Nod.  Maybe a little wave of “hello”.  Make us feel included.  Makes us feel welcome.  If you are so concerned about the oppression of hijabis, maybe you should stop doing it.

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I got 99 problems but my scarf ain’t one.

#hijabiproblems

*light-hearted notes below
1. Like I said before, not everyone does this. If you are reading this and are a hijabi supporter,  hey girl/dude! You’re the best!
2. The new style of “shirt dresses” is great for hijabis and am all about that fashion trend right now! Yes!
3. No, I don’t expect everyone to bow down to hijabi style and not wear sheer shirts and crop tops.  You do you, boo. We just want some fashion options that aren’t boring black Abayas*.
4.*if you like boring black Abayas that’s OK too.:)