Hillside adventure

Recently we were called by Hala to come out to the koy for a visit with the family.  We were enticed with the promise of sura (a type of food that you will see towards the end of this post), a trip to the family field.  This field is different than the one I told you about before, and it is also a lot more extensive.  Unfortunately, however, it has also been generally abandoned because fewer and fewer members of the family are taking on the challenges of farm life- and are migrating to the city.  Still, the place was beautiful.

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It was raining off and on that day, but that didn’t deter us!  I speak for myself, Anne was pretty put out by the rain and continuously dodged under trees whenever it got heavy.  This resulted in a LOT of mud and slick grass.  However, the nearby brook seemed to appreciate the refreshment.

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While Anne and a cousin hung back and picked fresh rose hip (an ingredient to Anne’s wellness tea), Baba, hubby and I went exploring on the hillside.  Much to our chagrin, there were no fruits left on the trees- a combination of the season coming to an end and also neighbors foraging from our empty fields.  Rude!

Between jumping between cow pies and trying not to fall down a hill, I really had a work out!  those hills that seem so beautiful from far away are really no joke to climb up- especially when the glass is slick!  Fortunately, I made it through our hillside adventure without falling down.

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We came across a well, which had a huge frog floating inside.  I was really intrigued by the depth and width of it, since most wells in the US tend to be much smaller.  I’m still not sure what purpose this well served, since there was a tulumba (water pump) nearby…

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While leaving the well, Baba saw a few ayva (quince) trees, which he went to inspect.  Hubby and I hung back eating kuzu kulagi (lambs ear- a sour tasting leaf that looks kind of like spinach).  I heard a crunch in the woods nearby, and expressed my concern about a fiend being up to no good.

It’s just a bird, don’t worry about it

But it wasn’t a bird. And it was worse than a fiendish neighbor.  It was a wild boar.  And, no joke, it was the size of a donkey.  It crashed through the brush- thankfully in the opposite direction of us.  It looked at first like a dog…but then I though it might have been a bear.  It made it half way up the hill before I was able to shout.

DOMUZ!

I apologize for the lack of picture- I was too busy getting the heck out of there to take one.  Instead, I offer this lovely scene that reminds me of the ending of Gladiator.

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Well, that was enough excitement for me.  On the way out of the field I picked plenty of stray blackberries that didn’t realize summer was over.  We headed back to Hala’s house and waited patiently for our extra special dinner!

Sura is kind of like Thanksgiving turkey…except instead of turkey it is lamb, and instead of stuffing it’s rice.  So I guess it’s nothing like Thanksgiving turkey, except that it is typically served on holidays!  Instead of having this delicacy on bayram we had it now.  Sura is cooked in a large stone oven- which is first heated, the food put inside, then sealed with mud.  Sura usually takes around 10hrs to cook.

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And was it a feast or what?  Our meal started with lentil soup and a side of homemade pickles, which was closely followed by the much anticipated sura!  The meat was so moist and tender I couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying it.  No condiments necessary!  I think it is safe to say I prefer this to turkey any day.

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Even though we were nearly stuffed to bursting, the next course was keskek (a lamb porridge), yogurt noodles, and finally rice pudding for dessert.  You can see what keskek (keshkek) looks like below. It may not be pretty, but it’s good!

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We had a fantastic day and sat with the family until the sun went down, drinking coffee and laughing at jokes that I mostly didn’t understand.  Hey, they fed me though- no complaints here!

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That Farm Life Though

Anneanne owns a field out in a koy area in Izmir, and a large portion of the family came out to help pick up the walnuts from the three trees that are out there in early September!

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It was an all day event- and I got to be a farmer for a while.  The youngest dayi climbed the trees and beat them with sticks to make the walnuts fall, and everyone else picked them up and threw them in buckets and sacks.

And by everyone else, I mean mostly the second oldest dayi and Baba.

I mostly played with puppies.

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It was still a lot of fun!  Hubby played with a pellet gun and practiced his aim.  He started out not hitting anything, but by the end of the day he was knocking cans off tree stumps. We made tea over an open flame and ate lots of walnuts and figs.

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As the day progressed and our tummies rumbled, the oldest dayi prepared kofte. He used to own a restaurant at one time, and he has quite a way with knives!  I was mesmerized by his technique of chipping an onion into finely diced pieces using only a knife and his hand- no cutting board!  He even laughed at my amazed expression.

Since the summer has mostly come to an end, the nights are coming sooner.  We ended up eating our dinner by lamp light- 12 of us huddled around a blanket covered in food- fried potatoes, kofte, peppers, salad, and bread.  You don’t know how dark darkness really is until you sit in a field with no lights at night.  I even caught a glimpse of some heat lightening in the distance.

Little did I know that that heat lightening would be followed up by two days of rain.

It is actually quite interesting how much I enjoy these simple things.  When I was young you couldn’t pay me to be outside more than five minutes.  As I’ve gotten older- I’ve come to embrace the outdoors more and more…sweat and all.

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Now is the right time for me to be in Turkey, huh?