The Sims 3: crashing fix

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If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that sometimes seemingly random diy/fixes posts will pop up.

This is one of them

So I’m kind of obsessed with The Sims.  I had the first generation,  most of The Sims 2, and a few expansions short of The Sims 3. I think I’m going to have to draw the line there though. I’ve put way too much money into my addiction.

So you can imagine my distress when the game started crashing repeatedly to the desktop,  saying it stopped running and Windows would look for a solution.  It would crash mere minutes into playing.

Windows fail! No solution presented itself!

I knew my system was enough,  so that wasn’t it.  I tried deleting my caches and thumbnails, no dice. Compatability mode for Windows 8 and 7 gave no results. I tried to download the crash analyzer and that wouldn’t even run!

But you know what did?  Turning off the Internet and saving every hour.

Yes,  I have gotten back to my addiction-level playing sprees of whole day Sims marathons.  All because I turned off the internet.

I hope others can fix their games and waste days of their lives on this sweet sweet addiction faster than I did.

Turkey 315: Olur vs Olsun

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Welcome to the third installment of Turkish Cultural Sayings, a subset of my other “Turkey Lessons” (available under said category).

Today we will address a pair of words that still confuse me sometimes.  I even had to ask hubby just now, to make sure my explanation was correct.  I’m talking about

olur vs olsun

Both words come from the root verb olmak, meaning “to be”.  But the variation in the endings give them a slightly different meaning.  Both words are used very frequently (daily…maybe even hourly), making understanding them critical to a successful Turkish conversation.

 Olur:  “it is”

Olsun:  “it shall be”

 So how does one use this, culturally?

 In the most general sense, olur is typically applied to something definite.  As in, it is this way, or no way.  On the contrary, olsun is usually said when you are compromising, or it isn’t really ideal, but can be as it is.

That wasn’t very clear was it…let’s use an example!

  At the pazar, you collect a bag of oranges.  You give it to the vendor, saying you want 2 kilos.  The bag comes to 2.5kg, to which you say olsun, and pay for the 2.5 kg.

 In the same pazar, you make a stop at a sweater stand.  You hold one up to you, and it is perfect!  Your companion looks to you, and asks if it’ll work (olur mu?) to which you respond, olur! Someone is going home with a new sweater!

While this is a hard and fast rule for olur vs olsun, they can commonly be interchanged, depending on the situation.  Different people in different cities may utilize these two terms with different levels of severity.

 Go out and give your new vocabulary a try!

aka, reason to go to the pazar

Are there any cultural phrases/words you struggle with?

Dried eggplant dolmas

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While I do enjoy a chill in the air, I am not a winter person.  During the dog days of summer I always convince myself that winter is something to look forward to.  The only real benefit to this season is cute sweaters, layered looks, and a few foods like ayva and chestnuts.

Yesterday we had a call back to summer, enjoying the fruits of our favorite season.

Dried eggplant dolma!

My favorite food has got to be fresh pepper dolmas.  Oh yes, delicious goodness.  But that’s not a viable option in the winter when the price of tomatoes, peppers, and other necessities triple in price!

Although it’s still not expensive compared to US food prices

As I talked about before, back in August when we first came back to Turkey, the joys of summer can be preserved in jars or on strings in dried form.  As the winter begins to wane, enjoy this recipe while you await the first signs of spring!

As always, measurements are approximations made by eye.

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Ingredients:

20 dried eggplant halves
5 dried peppers (mild), chopped
Approx 200g ground beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste
4 tbsp olive oil
2.5c rice, washed
4 green onions, diced
Dill and parsley, diced
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried mint
Cumin
Black pepper

Preparation
1.  First,  rehydrate the eggplant in slow boiling water until pliable. Remove from water and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
2.  Meanwhile, cook dried peppers in olive oil.  Add meat and cook to completion. Add 1 tbsp tomato paste and pepper paste, stirring to incorporate into the oil.  Add rice and simmer in the oil and natural juice for for 10 minutes,  stirring.
3. Cut the heat and add herbs, spices (only 1 tbsp salt.  Adjust salt to your preference!) , and green onion. Using a spoon or your fingers, fill eggplant halves approximately 2/3 full. Squeeze the opening closed with your fingers. If eggplant is torn, patch with other strips of eggplant.
4.  Layer evenly in a pot.  I will typically keep the thicker portions of the eggplant on the bottom of the pot (such as the bottom halves as opposed to the top halves).  Lay the eggplants on their sides and fill in a spiral fashion, keeping the sealed mouths of the eggplant closed with the bottom of the next one. Drizzle the final layer ever so lightly with olive oil.
5.  This step is where I’ve been messing up my whole life.  Put the water you will cook the dolma in into the pan/pot where you prepared the filling.  Further season the water with the remaining tbsp of paste and salt.  Bring water to a brief boil. *if you don’t season the water, a flavor osmosis will occur.  All the goodness of the filling you just prepared will leak into the water… This will ruin your dolma!!!
6.  Fill the dolma pot with water until it covers the dolma with approximately half an inch extra.  If you have it,  cover the dolmas with a cabbage leaf or something, then weigh them down with a terracotta lid with holes (I have no idea what it’s called). Let simmer on low for half an hour to 40 minutes (starting at the time of simmering).

Let sit after removing from water.  Serve with yogurt and lemon.

Afiyet olsun!

*dolma is something unique to each city, so everyone has a different recipe. How do YOU make dolma?

Turkey 250: Intro to Turkish Cheeses

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If you are a self proclaimed cheese-aholic like myself, Turkey can be a wonderful but also intimidating place.  As cheese and yogurt are staples in Turkish cuisine, the natives have found many different ways of expressing their fondness of this dairy delight.

While there are many different types of cheeses in many cultures,  the Turkish varieties may be harder for expats to decipher because most of them aren’t popular in the West (at least not where I was shopping).

In order to make it easier,  I’ve compiled a list of Turkish peynirler (cheeses) that I have personally tried, and when I know it,  comparisons to American equivalents.

Not to be confused with Indian paneer… Peynir just means cheese.

Also,  it is important to know that every peynirci (cheese maker) can produce a slightly different tasting cheese… And even different batches can vary! For example, I prefer the tulum from the beach peynirci more so than the city one. Make sure to get a taste before you buy! They don’t mind handing out samples.

So without further ado,  and in no particular order…

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Turkish cheeses

Beyaz peynir : the ubiquitous cheese Turkey is known for (and the one I could actually find in specialty stores in the states).  Salty and briney,  this is a more moist version of feta.

Tulum: prepared similarly to cheddar (kept in a press and aged), this cheese is moderately dry and crumbly, ranging in flavor from a mozzarella+cheddar baby to a taste I can only compare to cow skin.  This can be aged in skin (deri) or a standard press. If you get the opportunity,  go for the izmir tulum.

Ezine: Ezine is a softer, very moist cheese that can be made from goat (my fave) or cow milk. It can be slightly sweeter than others,  and is great at kahvaltı with bread.

Kaşar: tbh, it’s kind of Turkish mozzarella.  A stretched, fresh cheese with all the mozzarella properties you crave.

Lor: Turkish ricotta, the cheese curds that are forced out of the whey remaining from bacterial fermented cheeses.  Should be eaten in handfuls (or not. But that’s my personal recommendation). Tulum lor and kaşar lor are delicious.

Çökelek: not to be confused with lor,  it is a bit drier and comes from ayran (watered down yogurt )  rather than whey.

Labneh: Turkish cream cheese… Which I have not eaten or tried to cook with (yet), but I see it all the time at the store.

Süzme peynir: the most moist and spreadable cheese I’ve found to date.  The flavor is similar to cream cheese, but it is slightly firmer and you can pick it up without getting a mess on your fingers.

Küflü peynir: Turkish blue cheese.  Just do it!

One thing that is very important to consider when buying cheese (from a peynirci), is that they don’t have preservatives. Well, at least not a lot if they do at all. That means that the cheese you buy at the pazar won’t taste the same a week or two later (depending on the type, the change can happen slow or fast). This is because of a little thing called oxidation. Oxidation causes fats in cheese to break down, making the flavors we love/hate. As time progresses (especially if your cheese has a lot of surface area) oxygen will act on the exposed parts of the cheese, changing the flavor! Like I said before… You may love it or hate it. For example: 2 week old tulum tastes like how a cow’s skin smells… And I hate it! That doesn’t mean the cheese is spoiled, it’s just aged!

To limit oxidation:
1. Don’t cut up your cheese until you are about to eat it
2. Store it in whey/brine
3. Cover it in a film of oil (good for lor and çökelek, which can be pressed into a box)
4. Eat it quickly!

While this list is in no way all inclusive,  it does cover your basics.  While the time I spend in Turkey increases, I hope to come back to this post and add more!

I came, I saw, I SHOPPED

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Whenever you go to a new(ish?) city, state, or country…there are many new things to try!  Food, culture, language, or maybe just slang; there are many new things to explore.  But, by far, one of the most important things is

SHOPPING

You know what I’m saying!  For example, when I moved from South Carolina to Florida, I was able to shop at Forever 21 for the first time (even though that store is now around in my home state, it wasn’t as prevalent at the time).  While a new mall and shops from state to state are exciting,I had never seen anything quite as different as experiencing the shopping style in Turkey.

For instance, apparently those shouts coming from the street weren’t fights or greetings, but people selling things.  From fish to oranges, carpets to sheets, cleaning products to dishes, the street merchants have it all.  If you are at all familiar with Turkey, you know how certain merchants tend to specialize…and the same is true for your neighborhood satıcılar.  You really have no need to run down the street to your local BiM or migros for that one thing you forgot to pick up.  They’ll make their rounds to your door eventually.

Oh, but when you do go out…there’s the

PAZAR

Not all pazars are created equal, and not all sell the same things.  let me tell you about the three kinds of pazars I have experienced so far.  For all of these pazars, one overlying rule applies: count your change ;).

Food pazar

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Usually it is a lot more crowded, I took this picture on the “off day”

If not the most important pazar, it is one of my favorites.  While shopping for a purse or shoes is fun, shopping for food is the best…because it’s FOOD! You get to eat it!  And shopping for food in Turkey can be an adventure.  While grocery stores do exist and are completely doable, you are missing out on half the fun if you skip the food pazar.

Marked by bustling crowds and shouting vendors, the food pazar is a wall to wall produce extravaganza (usually in an open air square)!  Along with the ubiquitous fruits and vegetables, you can also find brined olives, fresh made/aged cheeses, a plethora of nuts and snacks, and sometimes breads and yufka.  The best part of the pazar is that the prices are lower, and you get to taste EVERYTHING before you buy it.  This is a lot like a farmer’s market in the US, only huge. and awesome.

Clothes and trinkets pazar

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Unlike the US, Turkey does not have the same laws (or if they do, they aren’t enforced), regarding knock offs.  This pazar is your one stop shop for just about anything…sweaters, jeans, sweatpants, purses, shoes, costume jewelry (don’t listen if they say it’s real- it probably isn’t), dishes, plungers, needle and thread, the list goes on and on.  What differentiates this pazar from the last on the list is that everything is new.

The biggest benefit (besides the already low prices) of this pazar, is that you are able (and expected) to haggle. These sweatpants are 15TL? How about I buy 2 for 27TL?  This may not seem like a big sale, but after your massive shopping haul, it adds up.  However, because they are knock offs…don’t get upset when you find yourself repairing seams in a month or two.  Its the price you pay (or rather, didn’t pay).  You can find some nice, quality clothes…but look closely. Also, don’t kid yourself. Everything is a knock off. Everything!

Bit pazar

The flea market of Turkey, the bit pazar has all your random needs.  Need the guts of a 1960s radio? I got you.  Missing a shoe? It’s here.  Lost your king from a chess set? We can work it out.   I have no pictures of this one (sorry), because…to be honest…ours is skeeeeetccchhyyyyy! I was not about to pull my camera out to take a photo. Guard your purse and don’t buy clothes- they might have fleas. Everything here is used.  Gently or otherwise.  But for your bizarre odds and ends, this is the first place to go.

Where are your favorite places to shop (US, Turkey, or other?), and what is your favorite thing about it?

 

It’s not you, it’s me

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  Within less than a week of putting my CV out there,  I’ve gotten several call backs.

One of which I was extremely excited about.

I was asked to interview for a marketing position in a small dried goods company.  They only dealt in international clients, all of whom spoke English. For this reason,  they needed a fluent/native English speaker, particularly one that could help them break into the US market.

Perfect!  And my extensive education in food technology was a huge plus! By the end of the interview,  they had practically hired me.

But there was one big problem.

The commute.

One hour by train and a 20 minute walk (including crossing a major road with no cross walk) in a large industrial complex stood between me and this great opportunity.  With my limited Turkish abilities,  it wasn’t possible.

I really wanted to make it work.  I wanted it to happen,  but what can I do?  The pay wasn’t outstanding, but I feel it was negotiable.  The job was exactly up my alley, plus the great benefit of doing all communications from the safety of an office.

An office practically a life time away.

If it wasn’t for that long,  creepy walk after the metro… It could have been.

But it can’t.

Sigh.

It’s not you…
It’s me.

The job hunt has begun!

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Hello my dear friends/ followers- I have some exciting (ish?) news!  I have been sitting on my backside long enough…and I am on the look-out for a job!

6 months of nothing is just…it’s enough.

 As is the case for everything in Turkey, word of mouth is the best way to get your news out there.  If anyone knows of/works at a school looking for native english speakers to teach English in the Izmir area- let me know!

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Thanks in advance!

Why I Left Nutrition

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For those of you who know me personally, this is old news.  But for those of you who don’t, this will be new.  As you can see on my about me page, I obtained my undergraduate degree in Food Science (with a specialization in human nutrition).

But before that, when I first started at Clemson- I was on the Dietetics track.  What’s the difference, you ask?  Well, nutrition and dietetics have the same fundamentals, but dietetics tends to be more clinical- and therefore requires more accreditation.  In the US, a nutritionist does not require extra accreditation, and there is a very loose definition for this label.  However, dietitian is a very strictly regulated field, and one can only be labeled as such after taking special courses and internships at accredited Universities/medical schools/hospitals.

So, back to freshman me. I was (and still am) a huge proponent of using natural remedies/ food as preventative measures and sometimes treatment for acute illnesses and overall wellness.  This can be considered a holistic approach.  I wanted to be a holistic practitioner, and a great place to start was in dietetics.

 However, late in my sophomore year, I changed my mind.

 The main reason is simple, and quite unfortunate.  When it comes to health, everyone is an “expert”

I had determined at the relatively young age of 20, that I could not work with the general public in matters of health and wellness…because, well…they won’t listen to someone with a degree.  They are happier reading from a magazine with bright colors and fun pictures.

I’m going to start ranting now, so you may want to step out…or put on your understanding hat, and try your best not to get offended if you are a self-made nutrition/health “expert”.  Because I have a few things I would like to say to the majority of people out there who googled saturated fat and now know everything.

 Who do you think you are?

In this day and age, where everyone wants to be involved in managing and understanding their health (a very admirable trait), something has gone terribly awry.  A fog has settled in, mixing up the very important distinction between fact, theory, and opinion.  People read an article on crunchygreenearthmother.com and think they suddenly understand everything there is to know about triglycerides, what they are, where they come from, and how they are good/bad for your health.  There is no need for accredited dietitians anymore, not now that there are experts studying under Drs Google and Wikipedia.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a reason people go to University for this topic.  It’s because it isn’t simple- there is a lot more to nutrition than the latest fad.

For a less ranty/more informative post, check out my public service announcement about research articles and food science in general.  I’ll go ahead and leave my conclusion here, since it’s the same as this one…

knowledge>fear

and leave it to the professionals (the real ones)

My Playlist

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Sometimes, when things are really bad, you just want to cry.  But after you wash your face and pull yourself off the floor, you need to remember how hard you are. 

And that it takes more than a hurricane to knock you down.

This is my (currently quite short) Playlist that helps me thug it out/cheer me up (I used to use Pandora but…) :

Moment 4 Life – Nikki Minaj
Cruise (Nelly remix) – Florida Georgia Line
This is how we roll- Florida Georgia Line
Bangır Bangır – Gülşen
My House – Flo Rida
Sen misin ilacım – aydilge (aka the kiralik aşk song)
GDFR – Flo Rida
Worth it – fifth harmony
Fancy –  iggy azalea
All I Do Is Win – dj khaled
And especially
Let’s go – trick daddy (this has been my go to since high school… Thug life chose me.)

Look at that… It’s working already!

What do you like to listen to when you need a boost?

“Maybe you should change it up”

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When I lived in the US as a hijabi (roughly a year), I didn’t go through any particularly difficult trials due to my scarf.  Sure, people would give me weird looks (that I never noticed), and maybe thought something strange…but it never truly impacted my interaction with other people.  Honestly, I expected a bit of trouble- but nothing bad happened.  Allah sukur.

Maybe I’m particularly lucky/blessed, or my white privilege over-rode the hijab.  Either way, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we started packing our bags to move to a predominantly Muslim country.  Surely my outward display of faith won’t cause problems there.

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Ha. Ha. Ha.

As I described previously, Turkish people are not actually people- but walking, talking, political opinions (something I particularly loathe about Turkey).  While I was constantly surrounded by people of many different opinions and backgrounds, I never felt that their ideologies should impact how we treat each other.  For instance, I have no problem being friends and hanging out with atheists, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, even wiccans/witches (as one of my friends calls it- a game of friend bingo).  As long as we have respect for each other and don’t cross boundaries- it’s all good here.  I don’t expect everyone else to abide by the rules I guide my own life by.

But oh no, not in Turkey.

 This became painfully obvious as we prepared for a rather political trip.  We would potentially be visiting with politicians/gov’t officials, and therefore we made special preparations.  Nice clothes, a splash of perfume, everything actually matched…

And then, Anne suggested I wear my headscarf differently, in a less obvious/more Turkish-culture turban style.  At first I thought I misunderstood, my Turkish only being mediocre.  I asked hubby what it is she said…and he felt that the statement needed no translation, because it was silly.

 Oh, so I heard right.

  While I know she was saying this from a place of love, it still made my blood boil.  Who are these people, these people who think they can judge me based on how I wrap my scarf around my neck.  What do they think they know about me because I chose to cover?  It almost makes me laugh.  But only almost.  Many people think that the current government is particularly religious, making things easier for religious conservatives and harder for liberals.  Most of this chatter comes from the latter.

 As a moderate conservative (religiously, but don’t assume you know my politics), let me tell you…that’s not true.  Particularly when it comes to the gov’t, it’s hard for everyone.  Turkey is going through a lot of growing pains, and everyone has to struggle through it.

But I have a suggestion.

Instead of drawing a line in the sand, lets all just be people.  Lets do our own things, in our own houses, and stop sticking our nose in everyone else’s business.  Because we aren’t politics. We are people.

Meh, fat chance.