Tag Archives: Turkish Delight

I don’t know what to call this post.

It’s a mishmash of random photos from this week. Not that it’s particularly fascinating or anything, but I’ll share them anyway. Thanks for humoring me.

1. A Pineapple Update – our miniature ‘plantation’ is up to 10 plants now. Ten. None of which fruited this year. Either this has been a bad year for pineapple mating, or next year is going to bring a bumper crop. I’m personally hoping for bumper crop.

This is only half of them; the one on the left is at least 4 ft tall.

Some are growing 2 to a pot; they’ll have to be transplanted later.

For a while, we had a tenant; can you see the little frog?

2. Oh, yes. We have da’ bananas – This is actually our second bunch of the summer. Last year = zero. This year = over 100 bananas. Just goes to show… you never can tell what kind of year we’ll have around here.

What do you do with 100+ bananas? You freeze most of them.

3. Speaking of Fruits & Veggies – I went by Froberg Farm to pick up apples for my apple butter. I love this place. You can see your veggies being grown and harvested right there by the farm stand. I don’t think they grew the apples (they’re not really in season here) but they were exceptionally crisp and fresh.

Honey Crisp, Gala & Granny Smith apples from Froberg Farm

Fresh Texas Cream Peas – kind of like black-eye peas or crowders

Greak’s Jalapeno Cheese Sausage from ‘The Sausage Man’

This sausage is world-class. It’s made by the Greak family, and they sell it from a small cabin adjacent to the Froberg Farm stand. They torment shoppers with the scent of smoky meat and samples of their sausage. And you know what? It works every time. It’s not a trip to Froberg without a few links of Greak’s sausage.

4. Turkish Delight Fail – I tried making Turkish Delight. It’s a little like making gummi candies. Unfortunately, it never got thick enough. You’re supposed to be able to slice it into squares & roll them in powdered sugar. Mine was too soft, so I spread it onto a silpat mat and I’m re-categorizing it as fruit leather. Or jellies I can roll in granulated sugar. I’ll get back to you on this one.

Beautiful color! I just wish it was thicker. Live & learn.

5. The Great Jelly Swap – It’s a thing. My friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic and I started this last fall. Each year, we make a variety of jams, jellies and preserves and then ship a box to each other. She gets to try what I made, and I get to try what she made. The beauty of this plan is that we both have access to different regional ingredients – I’m on the southern coast of Texas; she’s on the northern edge of Michigan. Here’s what I’ve made so far.

Blueberry Pomegranate Jelly – sweet & tart, just like I like it.

The clear, colorful beauty of a good jelly can’t be beat.

Made with Turkish apricots, this one is thick and luscious and tart.

Mom’s recipe for molasses apple butter – made with those oven-roasted apples.

These two are all dressed up and ready to go to Kirsten’s house.

She’s also getting another jar of my peach cherry & orange marmalade. She said her boys really enjoyed that one last year. Note to Kirsten: If that was you being polite, now is the time to speak up. Opt out now, or face choking down another jar of that marmalade. :)

6. Ziggy – Our 13 1/2 year-old Boston Terrier is mostly blind, mostly deaf, and sometimes smells like a sewer line break, but he’s hanging in there and we love him like crazy. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo, so here you go.

He hates being photographed & got a mani/pedi right after this was snapped.

So… what have you been up to this week? Are you following Beer Week and getting excited for fall yet? Hoarding pumpkin or bacon yet? Have you heard about the looming pork shortage? Do you care? As for me, I’m pricing chest freezers. I’m going to stockpile bacon the same way doomsday disciples hoard canned goods. When the baconpocalypse rolls around next year, you’ll find me in the garage – sleeping on that freezer with a shotgun. Kidding (not kidding).



Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts

For the record, I am not dead.

Although, if I were, it would make me supremely happy to know that this little guy was hanging out with me. I know it has been two weeks since my last post, and for that I sincerely apologize. It wasn’t until a reader checked in on me that it really sunk in. I’ve been a terrible blogger this month. The good news is this – I am not dead. I’m not even sick. My allergies are bugging me a little, but it’s Houston in the fall and that’s completely normal. Annoying, but normal.

Fact is, I’ve just been a little too focused on other things. We were out so much for our long vacation and a week visiting family for Thanksgiving and a long weekend with the grandkids that I kind of got busy trying to make up for all that. We got our broken attic door fixed, so The Complete Package and I were finally able to drag all the Christmas decorations down. I spent 2 days unpacking it all, putting the tree up, and decorating the family room. Contrary to previous years’ decorations, I decided to focus all my Christmas cheer on one room instead of the entire downstairs. It has worked out pretty well, since it’s the room we spend most of our time in. Or at least that’s what I’m choosing to believe this year. One room is enough. Nothing beats sitting in a room at night with the lights from the tree casting a warm glow around the room, especially if there’s a fire going in the fireplace at the same time. I love our family room during the holidays.

See? When I said I finished my Christmas shopping, I wasn't lying.

I mixed up a ton of shortbread cookie dough for Cookie Week, which just happens to start Monday over at Kirsten’s Comfortably Domestic blog. It’s like Pie Week from November, but with cookies and a cause instead. Six bloggers are selecting six recipes from the Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook to feature on our blogs this week. My post will be up Tuesday, but please click here to check out Kirsten’s posts. She’s kicking it off Monday with a savory recipe and from what I understand, it was good enough to inspire snacking right out of the bowl – before they were even baked. Now that’s gotta be a good cracker. PS – I’m doing a giveaway with my cookie post and so is Kirsten. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’m giving away, so don’t forget to drop by Tuesday and enter. And visit Kirsten’s blog to enter her giveaway, too.

If you haven't tackled your holiday baking, you're going to want this.

Last week, The Complete Package and I spent two whole days sitting in a big tall building in downtown Houston for a retirement seminar. It’s hard to believe we’re attending stuff like this since he’s 54 and I’m 48, but the truth is this – you can never start planning for retirement too early. And frankly, even then it’s a crap shoot. But we enjoyed the seminar, and we learned some things we didn’t know and need to look into, and we feel like we’re better prepared to move forward. And that counts for something. Or at least it should.

We'll be THAT couple & TCP will probably honk and flip you the bird

The Complete Package made homemade pomegranate Turkish Delight last week. It was an experiment in recapturing his favorite sweet from our last vacation. It took one full week to ‘set up’ and the results were disappointing. Too soft – the texture just fell apart when you touched it instead of being the consistency of a soft gummy worm. But all is not lost. We have other recipes and techniques to try, and try again we will! As a bonus, we had leftover pistachios and we’re planning to try homemade pistachio ice cream soon. See? When God closes a door, he opens a window somewhere else.

Time to break out Christine again. She's evil; pure evil.

This weekend, TCP picked up one of his Christmas presents early. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but it’s black and shiny and produces grilled and smoke meats in an outdoor setting. Okay, so that’s not so subtle a hint. The upside is that we’ll be enjoying smokey meat for years to come. The downside is that it came in a huge box and looked like the assembly instructions for an entire Ikea living room set. He spent 2 days assembling the darn thing. It’s up, it’s seasoned, and it’s ready to roll. Now we just need 200 pounds of cow or pig to fill it. I’m not kidding – this thing is a beast, and TCP is determined to tame it.

TCP's smokey pork ribs. I'll have what he's having.

I’m hosting a day of cookie baking with friends next week. We’re going to bake holiday cookies all day, with each of us making a different cookie. While it’s all baking we going to hang out and play cards and visit. When it’s all done, we’re going to divide it all up a la cookie exchange so everyone goes home with a jumbo tray of mixed goodies. I can’t wait. Something about this Christmas just seems shinier and brighter. Maybe it’s the colder weather we’ve been having. Maybe it’s that our decorations and tree are finally up. Maybe it’s Cookie Week with my blogging friends and our cookiepalooza day next week. Whatever it is, I’m all in. I’m looking forward to this Christmas more than any other.

My favorite band of holiday misfits in finger puppet form

How about you? Are you looking forward to the holidays? Will you be traveling to see family and friends? Are you listening to that radio channel that plays nothing but holiday music in your hometown, or dragging out your holiday CD collection at home? Are there any favorite TV specials or holiday-themed movies you just HAVE to watch every year for the holidays? And lastly – and this is an important one – do you drink eggnog, and if so do you add booze or no booze? Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of eggnog, but I could be persuaded… with the right recipe. If you have one, feel free to share!

What's the story with eggnog? Booze or no booze?

Happy holidays, everyone. Thanks for checking on me. I’m well. Everything’s fine. And I hope you can say the same. -Jeanne


Filed under Family Stuff, Miscellaneous Thoughts

Istanbul – The Food

Turkish Baklava & Turkish Delight - delight is an understatement

The problem with blogging about vacation food is remembering to snap photos before you start eating. If you lose focus and get carried away with the fabulous dish in front of you, you’re faced with nothing but memories. That said, I had every intention of documenting all of the regional cuisine we sampled while in Istanbul. I was not entirely successful. I was able to snap a few though, and here they are – for your enjoyment. While it’s obviously not the same as being there, until they develop scratch-n-sniff computing it’s the best I can offer. Suffice it to say, the food was every bit as good (in most cases better) than it looks.

Buffet Lunch in Sultanahmet - varied, traditional & incredibly flavorful

This buffet lunch was one of our first meals in Istanbul. It was in a tiny family owned restaurant in the ancient Sultanahmet section of town, almost next door to our hotel. The manager greeted us at the door and took the time to explain what each dish on the buffet was and how it was made. We then picked the dishes that sounded interesting and waited for them to prepare our plate. Among the dishes we sampled – stuffed bell peppers, eggplant tangine, spicy green beans, a baked squash and tomato casserole, a seasoned rice, and lamb from the rotating kebab spit. Verdict: a perfect introduction of the week to come. It was varied, flavorful, traditionally Turkish, and as warm as the people who served it.

Lunch on the Run - a street vendor doner kebab & a cold ayran

There are a myriad of options for meals on the run. Our favorite was the doner kebab. Each vendor serves a different version, and each version is delicious. This was one of the first of our many doner kebabs. If you love doner kebab like we do, keep reading. Our favorite is listed below.

The Perfect Snack - dried fruits & nuts from the Spice Market

Know what’s better than gorgeous dried fruits & nuts in the exotic atmosphere of the ancient Egyptian Spice Market? Dried fruit stuffed with roasted nuts. We sampled the succulent apricots stuffed with almonds & the dates stuffed with pistachios. It’s a perfect “carry around while you shop the Spice Market” snack.

Simit - warm & smothered in toasted sesame seeds

Dear Simit, you look like a donut or a skinny bagel, but you are nothing like those imposters. You are warm and toasty; brushed with sesame oil and smothered in gloriously roasted sesame seeds. If you were smaller, I would wear you on my finger like a ring. A wedding ring.

Giant irresistible mounds of Turkish Delight in the Spice Market

There’s no escaping it. Turkish Delight is everywhere in Istanbul. There are almost as many varieties as there are shops selling it. Some are rolled into small square-shaped logs and dusted in superfine sugar. Some are rolled like a jellyroll and have the flavor and texture of a chewy marshmallow. But the best are made from honey & roasted pistachios and are more expensive than other varieties. Bottom line: they’re all good; some are better than most; you get what you pay for, so go for the good stuff. Also, try the pomegranate. It will rock your world.

A cold Efes Pilsner hits the spot on a warm day

The Complete Package will attest to the fact that I am not a beer drinker. What I miss out on, TCP makes up for. He enjoys a good beer, and loves to sample the local brews. However when we travel, I make it a point to try new things. Local things. Even exotic things I might never try at home. So I tried the local Efes Pilsner. And it was good. It’s even better on a warm day.

Picnic Supplies - a meat & cheese vendor in the Spice Market

I was blown away by the giant wheels of cheese and ceilings dripping with cured meats at the Spice Market. I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did. We saw shop after shop of dried fruits, Turkish Delight, and spices. But to come around a corner and see giant blocks of gorgeous cheese and big, beautiful cured sausages and salamis – well, it was a joy and an unexpected pleasure. My tip for travel food: ALWAYS try the local specialties. Even if it means crawling out of your box and your comfort zone. Life is an adventure, so live it!

Lunch on the Bosphorus - Olives in Lemon & Octopus Salad

Our lunch break on the Bosphorus was terrific. Sitting in a little cafe right on the water, eating seafood just pulled from the water by local fishermen – well, it was beyond memorable. We picked a handful of appetizers instead of a lunch plate, and we were not disappointed. Among our choices, olives brined with lemons and whole peppercorns and a lovely octopus salad. I can still taste it just looking at that photo. Followed with a hot cup of Turkish tea, it was a perfect meal.

Our favorite restaurant - The BarBecue House

The BarBecue House restaurant was conveniently located a few doors down from our hotel. We passed by it each time we walked to the trams on Divan Yolu Cadesi (the main street that runs past the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque). Each time we passed, the engaging waiters would try to tempt us in for a meal, regardless of the time of day. With a lovely dining room upstairs, a lively dining room downstairs, and a charcoal grill right by the front door that was perpetually tempting us with the smell of grilled meats and fresh bread – well, let’s just say they didn’t have to sell it too hard. In all, we ate dinner here three times in six days, and we thoroughly enjoyed it each time. If you’re in Istanbul and looking for a meal near the Hagia Sophia, stop in and visit The BarBecue House. And tell Ramazan his friends from Houston say “Merhaba/Hello!”

Favorite Food - this doner kebab outside the Rustem Pasha Mosque

Every vacation produces a favorite dining experience. Usually, The Complete Package and I have differing opinions on what that favorite meal was. In this case, we agreed. Hands down. Our favorite meal was this fantastic doner kebab from a small stand outside the entrance to the ancient Rustem Pasha Mosque near the Spice Market. It had everything the perfect doner kebab should have – warm, lovely bread, lamb sliced right off the rotating spit, a creamy yogurt sauce, fresh tomato slices, some thinly sliced onion, and in this case – golden french fries. But the frosting on the cupcake, the cherry on top of the sundae, was the addition of a few blazing hot chili peppers set out on the dining tables. This was one of those sandwiches that had you rolling your eyes back in your head and moaning with delight. As we washed it down with two cold ayrans (a salty yogurt drink), we both leaned back in our chairs and simultaneously said, “Now THAT was one fabulous sandwich.” It was all we could do to walk away and keep sightseeing. If we’d hesitated even 5 minutes, we would have ordered another one and done it all over again.

And that, my friends, is the best reason to immerse yourself in the place you are visiting. You never know when something will surprise you. Do yourself a favor. Try the real cuisine, not the fast food joints that are sprinkled about more and more cities around the world these days. You can have those things at home. Take a chance and enjoy the best your destination has to offer… while you can.


Filed under Travel Tales