Thursday, January 29, 2009

Soup making weather

Usually my posts are inspired by the photographs I take, but it has been pretty overcast and grey here lately. Often I look out to fog blanketing the Bosphorus, only just being able to make out the huge cargo ships moving through it. They sometimes sound their fog horns to warn the little fishing boats.

So it is definitely not photo taking weather, but it is soup making weather. This version of Avgolemono was delicious! I believe that Avgolemono refers to the egg and lemon base used for soups and sauces (Avgolemono is the Greek name) and that in Turkish it is called Terbiye.

I actually got the base of the recipe from the Martha Stewart website and changed it a little. The main change I made was using burghul instead of orzo which I think worked really well. Martha Stewart actually has some really good recipes. Her show is one of a few English language shows that are free to air here and it is repeated three times a day so I usually watch at least a little of it. She often has chefs from great New York restaurants (the show is made in New York) in to make some of their recipes and they often look so delicious! So don't knock the Martha!

Here is my version:
5 cups chicken stock (I would usually use the fresh non-powder type but that is all we had last night)
1 chicken breast (sliced into strips)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup burghul
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Freshly ground pepper

Fry onion and garlic in olive oil until soft, add chicken and fry until just cooked. Let chicken cool slightly, and then shred (I pulled it apart with my fingers). Cook burghul as per packet instructions.
Bring chicken stock to a gentle simmer and add burghul and chicken mixture. Simmer for about fifteen minutes. Then reduce heat to low.
Beat together eggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Ladle 1 cup hot broth into egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly until mixture is warm to the touch. Stir the egg-broth mixture into the broth in the pot. Make sure that the broth doesn't start to simmer again as the egg will curdle. Season with pepper when serving. Martha's recipe also added dill which sounds nice.

I have a confession to make. I have been serving my soups with thick slices of bread that I have fried in olive oil - I know - probably not particularly healthy but soooo golden and yummy - like a giant tasty crouton. Mmmm. My excuse is we don't have a toaster. Ok, one more confession, I then have the left over pieces of fried bread for dessert with thick lashings of nutella on them. OK I think I have said enough.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another favourite...

One of the highlights of our trip back to Australia was being able to see an exhibition of my great grandfathers work on at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Before moving to Turkey, Senol and I spent many weekends with my Dad framing prints of my great grandfather's work. It was a wonderful time for us - up in the mud brick studio, which is surrounded by gum trees and garden, far away from the noise of the city where we spent our weekdays. The only sounds would be the birds calling out, the occasional possum on the roof or the classical music that would usually be on quietly in the background. Senol would cut the glass and prepare the backing boards, Dad would make the frames and I would cut the mounts. We would spend time together deciding which frame would suit a particular painting and which mount would bring out the colours of the artwork. And of course there were plenty of coffee breaks.

Now every Sunday we go down to our favourite coffee place and I love that they usually have Mozart playing and I think of Dad and miss our weekends framing together.

After spending so much time framing prints it was wonderful to see so much of great grandfather's work 'in the flesh'. The vibrancy of the work is what struck me most. And I was able to see many paintings that I had never seen before. I also loved seeing the development and change in his work when he started painting the Flinders Ranges.

This is the little summary from the Gallery's website:
One of Australia's greatest artists, Hans Heysen (1877-1968), is celebrated with the first major retrospective of his work in three decades at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The Hans Heysen exhibition features more than one hundred works created over the artist's seventy year career.

Born in Germany in 1877, Hans Heysen emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia with his family at the age of seven. After four years studying in Europe, Heysen embarked on one of the most successful careers in Australian art, becoming synonymous with the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf, where he worked and lived.

The Art Gallery of South Australia holds the largest and most representative collection of works by Hans Heysen, including more than two thousand drawings, oils and watercolours bequeathed by the artist himself. Included in the exhibition are many of Heysen's greatest oil and watercolour paintings, alongside rarely-seen
preliminary sketches and studies.

Testament to Heysen's national standing, the Gallery has borrowed masterpieces from every major collection in the country as well as from many regional and private collections, to tell the story of Heysen's art. In addition to his iconic ‘gum tree' paintings, the exhibition takes a fresh look at Heysen's lesser-known themes. Hans Heysen traces the artist's development from early student days painting in Europe from 1899-1903, including images of Paris and Venice, to the revelation of barren
landscapes and ancient mountain forms in the Flinders Ranges from 1926.

The exhibition will be touring Australia for about 2 years, including going to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia.

PS. Recently Sharon, creator of the website Expats Moving and Relocation Guide, contacted me about putting one of my stories about living in Istanbul on her site. The end result - 'Manyak Misin?' - a post I wrote after one of my early driving experiences here is now on her website. Sharon sounds like she has many interesting stories to tell as well - she has been an expat in the US, Venezuela and Canada.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There doesn't seem to be any tradition of card giving here in Turkey. In fact, the whole time I have been here I have not seen a single card given, received or for sale. So I was so so happy when Keryn sent me over some of the gorgeous cards from her business gryb at home. They are made using Japanese fabrics and are just so pretty! Thank you!

Keryn's blog is also a favourite of mine, with beautiful photos and great finds.

And while we are on cards and great finds, here are some of my favourite cards for the upcoming big L day (although I am more into year round loving!!)

2 from Sweetbeets

Octo love from Pearl & Marmalade

Valentine Invader by Anemone Letter Press

Monday, January 19, 2009

Snuggle up!

Hey everyone! I think that I mentioned before Christmas that I was working on some 'projects' that couldn't be unveiled before certain people got their presents. Well here is the little illustration I did for my dear little sister Maia. Miss you Maia!

I used the same method I did for the eagle for this one - a sketch in ink and then digitally colouring it.

We had such a wonderful time when we stayed with Maia (and Dad and Barbara). Maia was amazing with Yashar - a natural with children that is for sure. I hope she enjoys having this in her room!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some favourites

My favourite photo from the trip:My second favourite restaurant from the trip (am planning to post about my favourite very soon): Libertine - French dining in North Melbourne. Mmmm, the lavender creme brulee - so delicious.

Favourite new recipe: This delicious watermelon and marinated fetta salad my Mum made on Christmas day. The mint makes it taste so fresh.

Was there a dressing on it Mum?

I will definitely be making this one in Summer here. Watermelons are sold from the back of huge trucks here in Summer, and of course there is no problem getting fetta here!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Just when I had given up hoping...

(and had thought that the Turkish postal system had struck again!)...a heavy package arrived from Canada.

A little while back I asked for help finding a birthday present for Yashar on etsy and, after getting some great ideas, I ordered some wooden toys from Diamond Isle Treasures.

In her book, The Creative Family (on my reading list at the moment - I'm halfway through reading it), Amanda Soule encourages choosing toys that are beautiful, simple (to evoke imagination and creativity), and that are made of natural materials. And she says that "Finding toys that will hold up to lots of use and play - versus poorly made toys that will break easily - will encourage your children to value human work and experience over consumption." These toys fit so well with this approach.

The look and feel of the timber is much more satisfying than a lot of plastic toys (although some of the plastic toys we have, especially the better quality ones, are lots of fun). Yashar has already spent hours stacking and unstacking the blocks, pulling the wagon around, giving me the blocks one by one with a huge smile on his face. I hope these toys will be around us for a long time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hello! Remember me?

Just dropping in quickly to let you know that we are back after a gorgeous three weeks in Australia. Here are a few photos to give you a taste of what it was like (although it was actually a little cold some days - Melbourne weather is like that!). I am just getting settled back in around here but will be back with more news and photos very soon. And yes, things didn't quite go as planned with the posting while I was away... but I am excited to be back (and sad to have left Australia again). I have missed this whole blogging world and am looking forward to catching up on all my favourite blogs and to hearing from you all again!