Yayla Corbasi

Sometimes, regardless of the weather, you crave something.

Today, it was yayla corbasi for me!  Despite the hot weather, I was dying for some soup!  This one happens to be a favorite of mine, featuring egg and yogurt (of all things)!  Also, it was a good way to make use of that leftover water I strained out of the pasta I boiled earlier.

Yeah, that’s a thing!

As is true to form, I don’t measure anything…so this is just an approximation😉

Ingredients

~7c water

1c orzo (arpa sehriye)

1 chicken buillion cube

1 heaping tbsp butter

2 c yogurt

1 egg

2 tbsp flour

Drizzle of olive oil

salt (to taste)

dried mint (to taste)

 Preparation

1. Put approximately 6c water in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Cook orzo noodles in the water with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  If available, use whatever leftover water you have from boiling noodles too, nixing the added salt and oil. Cook until the orzo is soft.

2. Add butter and bullion to the boiling water, making sure it is thoroughly dissolved.

3. Temper flour with 0.5c cold water, or enough to make a slurry. Mix water slowly into the flour, making sure to eliminate clumps.  Once the slurry is prepared, add spoonfuls of the hot soup water slowly to the slurry, bringing up the temperature.  After 2 or 3 spoonfuls/stirs, slowly pour the mixture into the pot, stirring well as you do (this also prevents clumps).  Let it boil for a few minutes.

4. Whisk together yogurt and egg very well.  Add approximately 0.5c of cold water to the yogurt and egg, diluting to a slurry. Again, make sure that everything is homogenous! Add spoonfuls of the hot soup water to the yogurt mixture, stirring well (I use the big mixing spoon for this).  After 3 or 4 (large) spoonfuls, pour the mixture into the pot, stirring well. Let it boil again.  This time, it should produce foam.  Boil for only a few minutes.

5. Turn off the heat, and add salt and dried mint to taste.

Afiyet olsun!

 

The Hunt For the Holy Grail- FILTERED

Yes, FINALLY.  Finally I’m writing the last installment of a series I started a million years ago.  I didn’t even get to try the last filtered coffee brand I had on my list.  Why? Because I am CONTENT.  I have found THE ONE.

(and because it’s been so long, I can’t find the pictures of each coffee brand on my computer… You’ll have to look at Instagram screenshots instead. Sorry!) 

But first, lets look at a few others.

For filtered coffee, I utilized the french press method for brewing. Because I like a strong cup, I steeped the grinds for 7-8 minutes instead of the suggested 5 minutes.  Also, due to the fact I kept letting milk spoil in the fridge, I’ve switched to powdered creamer (nestle brand). I know, the scandal! But I can’t stand wasting milk, and I simply don’t use it for much else besides the occasional dessert and coffee!

Turkish Coffee (ground for filtered)

Very simply put…Turkish coffee without the sludge.
Taste: 2/10

How is it possible that the taste got worse when I used the same beans as the traditional Turkish coffee, but with a filter?  Maybe because I hold my filtered coffee to a higher standard?  For more information on the flavor of Turkish coffee, check out my Hunt post here.

Texture: 7/10

Not having that nasty sludge was a huge improvement to this coffee.

Aroma: 7/10

One of the benefits of Turkish coffee is that it has a very strong aroma.  You can tell coffee is in my cup from across the room!

Too bad the taste dragged down the score.

Total: 5/10

Sorry Turkish coffee, you will never be my holy grail!

 

Starbucks House Blend

The standard Starbucks flavor we all know and (some people) love! (22TL for 200g)
Taste: 6/10

Like I’ve said on several occasions- I’m not a hardcore Starbucks fan.  But what I do praise them for is their consistency.  The taste of Starbucks here is the same as what I am accustomed to in the states.  So if you are a Starbucks fan, you can buy a bag of Starbucks coffee beans in Turkey and feel completely at ease. It was a welcome taste to have back on my buds, but at the same time, I always added syrups to the Starbucks I drank back home.  Because, while the flavor is a standard filtered coffee type, it doesn’t exactly wow me.  The complexity is there, but there is a bit of a sour note going on as well.

Texture: 8/10

No grits! No grains! This does a happy girl make!  Paired with the powdered creamer, the texture of this coffee has been bumped up to the slightly creamy category I’ve been looking for!

Aroma: 8/10

Everyone knows the smell of Starbucks.  These coffee beans are poignant in a very good way!  I can smell the coffee when I walk into the kitchen. mmm!

Total: 7/10

A solid choice, but still a “nothing to write home about” experience. If you are craving filtered coffee, this is not a bad option.  Plus, like I said before, the familiarity is nice when you feel a little home sick.

Tchibo (Guatemala Grande and African Blue)

Tchibo is a German company that sells a lot of random stuff.  One of their products is coffee. Guatemala Grande (GG) is their medium roast, while African Blue (AB) is their dark.  They have a few other roasts as well, but these are the ones I’ve been refilling over and over again.  I first tried the GG on it’s own…then I tried the AB…and I said to myself “these are both good. But what if I put them TOGETHER?”. (23 TL for two 250g bags)

Then the sky opened up.

Light shined down.

And the angels sang.

Taste: (GG) 7/10, (AB) 8/10, (blend) 9/10

GG is a lovely, if not standard, medium roast.  It has a mild complexity, not overwhelming, but also lacks the sourness of Starbucks.

While I am typically not a fan of dark roast, AB has me hooked!  It is a notch or two bolder than GG, without smacking you in the face with bitterness. It still has a mild complexity, but where GG is solidly in the “medium” category, AB floats softly in the “dark” category, with some of the notes found in the medium. When using the nestle powdered creamer, the bitterness is completely masked*.

But when you bring GG and AB together, it is a taste of heaven.  Even without any added flavors (hazelnut, chocolate, vanilla, etc), this coffee is a dream.  The GG and AB are just different enough that you can tell the difference when you drink them separately, but when you bring them together the flavors meld beautifully without having too much of one particular note.  I like a good 1:1 ratio of GG and AB, and if I am feeling light, I go 3:1.

Texture: (all) 8/10

I think I need to chock the texture up to the great nestle powdered creamer I’ve been using…

Aroma: (GG) 7/10, (AB) 8/10, (blend) 8/10

As is the norm, the dark roasted AB has a slightly stronger scent than GG.  However, when blended, the poignancy of the AB comes out in the scent. In my experience, you need to let this coffee steep a little longer (8 minutes) to get the full effect.

Total: (GG) 7/10, 8/10(AB), 8/10(blend)

Because the texture and aroma don’t change too much with the blend, the blend ended up tying with the AB dark roast…but everything was weighted equally in my assessment.  Because I hate statistics. And I am not about to pull out analysis software to do math on a blog post.  But in real life, the taste is obviously the most important thing.  So, numbers aside, I would say that the blend of GG+AB is the best filtered coffee I’ve had in Turkey.

I’d go so far as to say it’s the best coffee period (so far).

I’d even say…

I HAVE FOUND MY HOLY GRAIL!

Across all types of coffee, and brands, I believe the Tchibo Guatemala Grande mixed with the African Blue is my holy grail of coffee in Turkey.  Sure, there are other brands I haven’t tried.  There are flavored syrups I haven’t used.  But with my GG+AB, I have consistently made good (neigh, GREAT) cups of coffee that have started my morning right.  I’ve even gotten back in the habit of drinking coffee every morning. And that price point though!! (5.75TL for 100g. That’s 12~TL compared to 22TL for Starbucks!!)

 Thanks to Tchibo, Turkey is feeling a little more like home.  And in the end, I think that’s what I was really looking for.

Expat problem? Solved.

 

*Here’s some science for you:  The bitterness in coffee is caused by a chemical compound known as tannins, which also gives the coffee color we are all familiar with. They are also found in coffee and some wines. In order to cut bitterness, we must bind the tannins with protein (commonly milk protein).  Hence the use of milk/cream in coffee! The higher the protein content (like creamer/ powdered creamer vs regular milk vs low fat), the more effective the binding power and the less bitterness you end up with.

Here Comes The Groom, Dancing To The Tune! 

I don’t know about ya’ll, but my family isn’t very close.  I barely speak to my own aunts and uncles, let alone cousins and whatnot.

So imagine my surprise when a wedding came up (on the Turkish side!) a little like this:

So and so is having her wedding and we are invited!

Who?

So and so, you know, your husband’s grandmother’s sister’s granddaughter’s child!

…right.  So, family.

But it was amazing!!! Unfortunately I missed the kina gecesi because I was dead on my feet after traveling back from the beach all in a hurry for the festivities.  But the wedding was fantastic!

Fantastic, and very different.  Let me run you through the events to show you just how different a wedding in Turkey is from an American one! Honestly, I think the only thing in common is the white dress, the throwing of the bouquet, cake, and signing a piece of paper!

Let me start by saying that we were related to the bride, so everything I witnessed is from the bride’s side.

First off, the close (ish) family met at the bride’s mother’s house while the bride was getting ready at the salon.  Both men and women from the bride’s side were present, and dressed. We were fed pide and ayran (I guess you could be fed anything?) while family members trickled in as they finished getting ready. The last to show up was the bride, in her full gown and makeup/hair.  She was ready to go! She sat in a chair in the middle of the room and tried to eat a bit while we waited.

What were we waiting for? THE GROOM! (check out my instagram for the video).  Lo and behold, I hear drums and some kind of woodwind instrument.  I was rushed to the balcony to see the wedding party (grooms side) and the groom in his full suit coming with musical accompaniment.  

He entered the house and the bride’s uncle (because her father is no longer with us) tied a red ribbon around the brides waist.  They both gave him the respectful kiss of the hand and pressed his hand to their foreheads, as is tradition. Then the bride dropped her veil and was led from the house.  Before getting into a car decked out in wedding goodies (much like the car our couples drive away in, but at the end) they danced together in Turkish fashion (instagram video).  As the bridal procession started to drive away, an auntie on the bride’s side splashed a gallon of water after them, and another threw coins.

Then we piled into a rental bus and off to the wedding salon we went!

After the huge salon was filled, the bride and groom made their entrance. 

 Everyone danced- A LOT. Sometimes it was brides side, sometimes grooms side, but everyone danced! My favorite part of the dancing is that there is a guy with a big drum that gets in there. I wish I had a picture.  It was great.  Sometimes he would be on the ground banging the hell out of the drum.  People would throw paper money (some real, some fake) over the bride and groom, which was collected for the MC who was managing the music (and the very lively drummer!).

After some dancing (slow dancing and also Turkish style), a pause in the festivities was taken for the legal bit.  The couple were sat at a table, and asked if they wanted to be married (like vows, but it didnt sound like our kind of vows?). They both said yes, music played, and they signed their marriage booklet.  Then they cut a cake (like we do), and some more dancing happened.

Eventually the bride and groom stood wearing sashes for money and gold to be pinned on them.  The guests lined up and pinned money, hung gold bracelets and jewelry, etc. on the couple. 

More dancing, woohoo! Including cultural dances that I didn’t know how to do… 

Finally, at the very very end, after dancing for around 3hrs straight, the couple held a large Turkish flag, and everyone sang the Turkish anthem (except me! GOD BLESS AMERICA! :P)

My ears rang all night, and into the next day!

But…now I kind of want one too.

 

 

All About the CELTA

After one long month of training and a 10 day bayram…

I’m baaaaack

Now I can finally, FINALLY, catch ya’ll up on everything that’s been going on.  Which, I guess, wasn’t all that much from an outside perspective.  But for me and the other CELTA candidates, it was a whole lot!

 So let me rewind.  I started my CELTA course here in Izmir earlier this summer, and it lasted for one month.  CELTA is a teacher training course/program that, after completion, results in a certificate from Cambridge saying you are certified to teach English as a second language.  This is basically accepted everywhere (except in the US and maybe Canada, because we ain’t having none of that British English!), and it never expires.  To learn more, check out the course online.  The thing that I liked about CELTA vs other TOSEL or TEFOL or what have you is that CELTA is accredited by a well known institution, is accepted worldwide (besides the exceptions I gave you), and also gives you hands-on experience. Also, CELTA mostly focuses and works with adult learners, but it is also acceptable for young classrooms.

 You don’t need a degree in English or anything like that, in fact you only need to have passed high school or an equivalent.  But everyone I worked with had a degree of some kind.  But there were a variety of people, from engineers to tourism and business graduates to actual English Teaching graduates and experienced teachers.  And then me, the Food Scientist.

 Let me go into a bit of detail about my experience, for those who are considering CELTA…

  When they say it is completely consuming, it absolutely is.  On day 3 we started teaching.  Well, by “we” I mean someone in our groups.  At the very beginning we were broken into groups of around 6 and assigned a teaching level (elementary or intermediate- the students we would teach, I mean) and a tutor (certified CELTA trainer).  Then, those groups were split into two groups of three, group A and group B.  Groups A and B rotated teaching days (myself, as a B, taught on day 4, while my friends in group A taught on day 3.  Then I would teach again on day 6, while they taught on day 5…etc).  Each person in their respective group were given a 45 minute slot of teaching time, and the three would teach to actual students (ranging in number from 3 to 10, but that was just our classroom. Others had 14+ students) in the mornings.  After that we would have a break, then the teachers would be taught something by the trainers (teaching methods, observing certified teachers, etc). It was an all day event, going from 9am (prepping for the 10am class), to 5.30 pm at the earliest.

 No wonder I wasn’t blogging!

 Aside from teaching (8 lessons in total), we had four assignments to complete.  The assignments were word-counted, some in essay-ish format, and some in other formats that you would have to see to understand. Between planning those lessons and completing the assignments, we were running at full speed!

But assignments are boring, lets talk a bit more about the teaching…

 Our first lessons were basically planned for us.  They told us what our aims and sub aims were (teaching grammar/vocabulary/speaking skills/listening skills), who would teach first, and basically word-for-word what activities you would do, the materials needed (in a course book), and when in the 45 minutes you would execute them.  As we continued our lessons, however, the amount of info decreased.  In lessons 3 and 4 we were given our aims and some suggestions on what to do, and pages in a book.  In lessons 5 and 6, we were given aims and a page number, then by lessons 7 and 8 we had to choose our own aims, what were going to do in our time, who was going to teach at what point in the day, etc.

  While we taught and interacted with real-life students (ranging in age from 20 to 38, in our classroom), our trainers observed us in the back of the room, taking notes on our technique and whatnot.  Unsurprisingly, I talk way too much (but to teach you need to talk right? Maybe not…you’d have to take the CELTA to find out!) and often too fast.  I developed my own teaching style and classroom habits tremendously in only 8 lessons!

  Half way through the course (starting with lesson 5), we changed teaching levels (I began in intermediate then went to elementary, still adult learners) and continued teaching.  When going down in skill level, I found myself struggling to appropriately grade my language.  Even monitoring the tenses you use can be a challenge!  But at the same time, it was quite fun.  The students got a real kick out of it, and the teachers did too!

I know I still have a long way to go in actually learning how to teach (don’t even get me started on the G word…), but this course has given me a whole new boost of confidence when it comes to teaching.  I’m so glad I took this course, even if it ate up a month of my life!  Besides walking away with a teaching certificate, I met some awesome people (some who live here) and have gained a huge new level of independence that was introduced to me through navigating Izmir on my own.  Now I can take on the world!

So long story short…should you take the CELTA as opposed to other, online courses? In my opinion, it is absolutely worth the money and the time.

 I want to give a special shout out to the folks at the CELTA training program in Izmir.  They went above and beyond to make sure we would succeed…and we did!

 Celta certified! 

When I got that email a little over a month ago that said “leave behind everything, you’re starting the CELTA 1 month intensive course program”,  I thought to myself, how hard can it actually be?

I mean,  I’ve done the school thing. I’ve done grad school.  I’ve dug in cow poop in the Florida sun for crying out loud.  I can certainly handle a little month long course.

But dang,  they were not joking!!

THE CELTA IS HARD !

It’s not that the material is hard, but that you barely get to breath for five minutes before you have to turn around and do something else.  My conspicuous absence from social media is a testament to that!

But would I do it all again? Absolutely, without a doubt.  It was an amazing experience that (I think) has helped prepare me tremendously for teaching ESL.  Stay tuned for details about celta in general and my experience.

Yesterday was my last day! And now I’m escaping to the beach for the bayram! I’ll (insallah) be back with all the nitty gritty then!

Husbands say the darn-est things

This tag has made its way through Facebook to me… And I couldn’t help myself! One of the things I wish I could share with the world is my husband. In my eyes, he is the smartest and funniest guy I know. How many times have we had moments that belong in a sit com? Probably close to a million.

Today you get to hear from him! I asked him the following questions with NO prompting from me! I think this will give you a little insight into both of us… Which may be good or bad.

The following are his answers:

1.What is something I always say to you?

Honey!

2.What makes me happy?

ice-cream

3.What makes me sad?

anything can make you sad! You’re that kind of person😉 like stupid things even (enter his laughing)

4.How tall am I?

you’re so short😛

5.What’s my favorite thing to do?

shopping, or anything that takes you outside

6.What do I do when I am not with you?

sit around and wait for me to come back😛

7.If I become famous, what will it be for?

your art!

8.What am I good at?

talking ;D

9.What am I not good at?

math

10.What makes you proud of me?

everything:)

11.What is my favorite food?

omg there are a hell of a lot of your favorites… But you can write dolma

12.What do we do together?

watch movies

13.How are you and I the same?

Him: you know the answer babe
Me: But I can’t prompt you, you have to tell me!
Him: No, I can’t prompt YOU! You have to tell me😛

I don’t know what happened here…

14. How are you and I different?

in every way! ;p

15.How do you know I love you?

you just don’t, you feel it

16.Where is my favorite place to eat?

Briosos in Clemson

Which we haven’t been to in 3 years but alright…

17.How old was I when I met you?

you were young! A little fresh bunny to be eaten. Omg, I saved you!

LOL

18.If I could go anywhere, where would it be?

my heart :*

19.Do you think you could live with me forever?

at the moment? Yaaaa…:)

20.How do I annoy you?

you’re being a smart ass and getting frustrated

21.How do you annoy me?

easily (looks at me and laughs) I love you😀

Well, you heard it folks! Straight from the husband’s mouth.

Ramadan Mubarek!

That time of year has come around again…

It’s Ramadan!

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I hope everyone has a blessed and accepted Ramadan this year.

And also I hope to make it through, since my all-day-every-day CELTA course takes up the entire holy month…

More to come!

For general information about Ramadan, check out an older post here.

By April I mean December, and by December I mean July 2017

Even before we boarded the plane last August,  everyone was asking when we would be back.  I didn’t know at the time, and said we would play it by ear.

The following January,  I had thought that I would be starting a job this September. As you all already know, my headscarf kept that from happening.  But before that,  I had told my family that I would plan on visiting in April (with the promise a future income,  I felt comfortable dropping big money).  Unfortunately I had to take that back.

A bit later,  I had anticipated another job… Another job that didn’t work out.  At that moment I had planned on taking a Christmas break and visiting my family in December.  Well,  looks like that won’t be happening either.

And now I’m starting a course in June,  hoping to find work in the coming months.  Mostly I’ve been applying to schools (which,  as you know,  I didn’t intend to do… But so many are hiring!),  which means I won’t be able to go back to the states until NEXT summer.

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My mom started a new job on a production line,  so she’s been too busy to miss me.  Hah!  But really, having a scheduled job again instead of being her own boss has made planning a return trip home difficult.  Having to line up her vacation days with my (potential) ones is no easy task! Right now we are hoping I will be able to go stateside again next July for independence day (my favorite holiday!). 

Two whole years (ok, 23 months) since I left.  How will it feel?

Will America still be the way I remember it?

Will it be better? Worse?

What about my hometown? It hasn’t even felt like mine since I moved away for college.  But it feels a lot more mine than Izmir does right now.

While I do feel a little broken hearted (a little crack I guess) that I still have a whole year to wait before I face a 10hr plane flight solo, I knew it could have been like this when we left. Things never seem to go according to plan for us.

And it’s been about a year already, dang!

But hopefully this will.  And maybe if I’m lucky,  I’ll be bringing back more than luggage with me!

American Things I Took For Granted…

In all of my excitement to move to Turkey eventually, there were a lot of things about the US I took for granted.

Some things I didn’t take for granted, but I still miss them dearly and wish I would have enjoyed them more when I was there.

Sure,  several of these things are still doable/available in Turkey,  but not at the same level of ease/confidence/etc that they were before.  You don’t know what you have until it’s gone!

1. Filtered coffee

If you haven’t noticed my lamenting on Instagram, my supply of filtered coffee is hard to come by.  I miss being able to walk into ANY grocery store and find a dozen different coffee options… Being able to buy a half decent coffee machine on the cheap! It’s basically a God given right in the US to have coffee.  But here? It’s kind of an elitist beverage and it’s expensive when you do find it!

2. Driving

I guess I could drive in Turkey, but I would probably die. People here drive like the rules don’t apply to them (which I guess they don’t, since the cops seem to be pretty “whatever”  as long as there isn’t an accident).  Walking and public transportation is fun, don’t get me wrong, but I would like the option to comfortably drive if I wanted to.

3. Etiquette

You don’t even realize how ingrained your behaviors are until you have to monitor them.  There are so many social norms in America culture that could get you in trouble in Turkey.  I took having an automatic APPROPRIATE response for granted!!

4. Walmart (and other stores)

I miss how, in the most part, goods in the US have specific stores to shop at that are basically everywhere.  Walmart, Ross, grocery chains, Target, and Best Buy for example.  I still haven’t found a mouth guard in Turkey and I’ve been looking for months!!! Where is Walmart when you need it?!  While the specialty shops here are “cute”,  ain’t nobody got time for running all over the city looking for one specific item!

5. Knowing the value of something

Because I grew up in America (and lived on my own for 6 years), I’ve come to learn the value of things.  Tomatoes by the pound, notebooks, jeans, toilet paper,  you name it.  I know what it should cost.  I’m sure it helps that I’ve worked in retail for a long time too.  But in Turkey? I’m just starting to figure it out.  Is ₺25 appropriate for this item? Hell if I know! My husband doesn’t even know the answer anymore! This makes it hard to buy things on my own.  For all I know,  a better deal is right around the corner.

6. Living On Our Own

This is one of those things I knew I would miss, but had no idea at the time it would be this bad. We had thought that we would have everything ironed out and be on our own in 6 months… Well, we are rolling up on month 10 and yet there is no end in sight.  I can’t believe I miss our tiny one bedroom apartment with all of two sticks of furniture in it!

7. Multicultural food

In Turkey you get Turkish food. And Turkish food.  And Turkish food. What’s a girl got to do to get a taco up in here?!  I would kill for some lo mein,  sushi, or a tuna sub from subway! Maybe you can find these things in Turkey, but they are NOT the same!  Not to mention other staples like a good chipotle salsa or sour cream!

Coming soon… Things that are better in Turkey than America!