'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

For Your Delectation

There are few things that give greater pleasure, in my opinion, than the feel and smell of a good book or the taste and smell of fine food. Especially Turkish food! Add to that pleasurable mix a fabulous volume of recipes from probably the finest exponent of bringing Turkish food, especially southern Turkish food, to the table and you have a truly palatable combination.

Archers does not, as a rule, do promotional stuff. I’m going to break that rule for the very best of reasons. Özlem Warren is an internationally reknowned culinary master of her craft. She is also one of the nicest people it’s been my pleasure to meet and know. If you are not already using her recipes from her superb blog  then you  really are missing out and should click the link and get acquainted asap.

Now she is presenting a cookery book in hardback of such oustanding quality that it deserves a place in every kitchen and, for the wonderful photographs alone, on every coffee table. This is a ‘must have’!

the lady herself – a great ambassador for Turkish cuisine

So, you lucky people, here’s your chance to get your copy of this volume of Turkish Delights. Act quickly and pre-order now for delivery in early April 2018 and you get a hefty 10% discount. Now that is just too good to miss! So, click this link right here!

Alan

Cabin Life

A Gloomy Outlook

It really is! Drizzle, everywhere looking grey and miserable – not a day to be out planting onions, leeks maybe, but definitely not onions.

So, what to do on such a day apart from getting depressed even more by the global situation – politically and environmentally. How to bring some colour into a post and at least let me feel uplifted? The answer just might be to give you a rare view of the inside of our hidey-hole cabin. It might help to explain why we love it so much up here.

the lovely old doors and the bread oven

kilims old and new

beautiful Palestinian embroidery – a cabin-warming gift from dear friends

the comms centre – laptops, Bose, DVDs, CDs, Books, radio, etc there’s even a tv for MotoGP

The outlook may be gloomy but we are cozy and contented at 1200mts. Alan

ps Looking for the famous Okçular book and PDF of walks and cycle rides? Then click here

Stuff, Wanderings

Worms From The Back Of Beyond

On our way back up here to our hidey-hole in the mountains J and I took a detour to meet up with our dear friend and brother ‘Deli’ Ahmet. Long-time readers will remember Ahmet as the blue-sky thinking collaborator with me on Gülay’s exercise machine. Well, Ahmet has a new project that he was keen to show us and that required a trip to the back-of-beyond in the mountains of Aydin Province.

my mate Ahmet thinking in the sky again

Winding through narrow village lanes we climbed and climbed often needing to use 1st gear! Eventually we crested a rise and there below us lay a small village. Our reactions were a mixture of wonder at the beauty and sadness at the obvious dereliction and decay. Here was a village in the process of dying.

sunlight on the local stone houses

a view to the grandchildren

Once upon a time the village thrived by harvesting olives and pine nuts. Today only the old folks remain whilst the younger generations have moved away to the towns and the work that can be found there. There are, perhaps, less than twenty residents left in the community. Houses that were once built from the local stone lie roofless and windowless as they slowly moulder away.

The survival of this beautiful, peaceful place lies in outsiders who recognise what a true gem it is and choose to move here and begin a process of revival. There are signs that this is happening with one couple, she a ceramic artist and he is a man after my own heart who distils fine rakı and whisky deciding to enhance their lives and settle! Then there is Ahmet who has a vision of restoring several houses and making them available for walkers/cyclists/lovers of peace and quiet. As you can see above he will have his work cut out to achieve his dream.

Loving bulbous plants as I do it was a treat to find cyclamen and Sternbergia lutea growing all over the place.

Remnants from a once thriving past are to be found everywhere.

olive crusher

What, you may wonder, has this got to do with worms? Well, it turned out that the lady ceramic artist also cultivated worms for composting and, having extolled the virtues of these amazing creatures to J, insisted that she have a couple of kilos to get her going on her very own worm composting venture. Here’s J getting started with a bucket of worms and in the next couple of days (weather permitting) I’ll set about building the interlocking wooden boxes that will become their permanent home.

Life is never dull! Alan@the wormery!

Cabin Life

At Risk Of Being Boring

If you are looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides then click here.

After the excitement caused by the last posting about bottling your own rakı it’s time to come down to earth and get grounded in ‘normal’. And ‘normal’ for J and me equals pretty, bloody boring for you!

Mr Bean

I mean, if this blog is to maintain its position in the Google Premier League then I have to post regularly whether I, or you for that matter, like it or not! Algorithms rule so here we are, I’m trying to make the ordinary scintillatingly interesting and you’re trying to pretend you are not bored out of your brain.

Our life here at the cabin is mostly quiet and simple. We harvest our veg – potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, aubergines, melons, cabbages, tomatoes, beans, tobacco. There’s been an apple, a plum, a few peaches and the cennet elması/paradise apples/persimmon are coming on a treat. Dried they are scrummy!

We weed, grub out or layer the hedgerows, find interesting things to do with rocks and, after the success of this past season, widen the veggie plot and add plenty of goat manure.

Just in case you get the idea that the only person who works around here is J let me ask ‘Who do you think built the path? And who is up the ladder waterproofing the woodwork?’

When the cabin was built the exterior was done over with varnish – in my opinion a big mistake. It never lasts very well in extreme conditions like we experience up here. Hot summer sun and ice, snow and -20C in the winter. I use this stuff and find it works very well – it waterproofs wood, stone, concrete, you name it – they even use it to waterproof the domes of mosques!

Alan, back to the job in hand!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Moonshine!

Those who follow these witterings with any regularity will know that I enjoy a drop or two of rakı in the evenings. My taste-buds became attuned way back when we first migrated to Turkey. I still recall clearly the initiation process. There I was with a couple of local gentlemen who set out two glasses in front of me. One glass was half-filled with the colourless liquid then, as I watched, water filled the other glass before it was added to the rakı and the magic began. As the spirit mysteriously turned white my host turned to me, beat his chest and boomed ‘Aslan süt!’ – Lion’s milk! The die was cast!

Back then, 1997, the state-owned Tekel company produced the goods and the tax was non-existent. A bottle cost next-to-nothing! All that changed after Tekel was privatised and our government began to harden its attitude towards alcohol consumption. Taxes began to rise until today they represent an eye-watering 80% of the retail price. From pennies to 100+ lira in the space of a little over ten years for a litre of rakı is no laughing matter!

What is a chap to do? The answer is that ‘When in Rome . . ‘ Turks are amazingly inventive and creative, They know how to turn any situation to their advantage. You only have to think about how quickly the verges of a new by-pass are turned in to rows of stalls/restaurants/farm shops. ‘In every situation lies the seeds of an equal or greater benefit’ to quote some positive-thinking author or other.

And so it was that I was introduced by a friend to something many Turks have been doing for quite some time – making my own and saving a pretty penny or three. I’m not here to encourage anyone else to do this – if you too want to know how to turn out 2.25 litres of excellent rakı in the space of a couple of hours for just under 30 lira per litre then contact me individually. Here’re some photos of the ‘kit’.

spring water, aniseed oil, a little sugar, ethanol/ethyl alcohol, mixing jar

the end product – 2.25 litres of excellent tasting rakı

Cheers!

In case you are worried, I didn’t go blind from moonshine and here’s the sunshine to prove it!

Alan, wondering what to spend my tax rebate on!

ps With so many Turks going down this path, foreign tourism down, Turks taking holidays in Greece in ever increasing numbers, now the minister responsible for these taxes has said that they are far too high on booze, tobacco and cars. Is a reduction likely? Don’t hold your breath!