Authentic Turkish Food Overload at Nar's Organic Farm

Here's a question: why on earth didn't anybody tell me about Turkey before this trip??

It's almost embarrassing to say that we arrived here more by accident (we needed to find a cheap flight out of Israel before the possibility of a war with Gaza caught up with us) than on purpose.

But I've quickly found my purpose in Turkey, and it is to understand how and why its people are so devilishly good at making food.
Sitting down to lunch in Nar & Ahmet's backyard
The reason why the majority of us Americans don’t  know about the pleasures of Turkish foods eludes me. If I could guess, I would say that it's because Turkish people care about food and family and togetherness so much that they aren't concerned with finding the time to show the rest of the world what they are all about.

That's not to say that they don't like sharing. Quite the contrary: If you have a smiling face and an openness to new cultures, step right up, take a glass of black tea or Turkish coffee, and enjoy a brand of hospitality that you may never come to know elsewhere.
candied fruit
Turkish coffees (perhaps my favorite style yet?) with candied watermelon rind 
The fact is, I am so overwhelmed by all this beautiful culture that I have blindly and luckily stumbled upon, I haven’t found the chance to sit Nar down and extract the secrets of her mysteriously delicious cooking.

One issue is that we’ll need a translator...But my time is coming, and when it arrives, we will have authentic Turkish recipes galore.

Until then, afiyet olsun (af-ee-yet ol-so, the Turkish bon appetit)!
turkish food
Basmati rice pilaf and chickpeas, roasted garden heirloom tomatoes and peppers, fresh peppers, and candied pumpkin 
So let's talk a bit about what we've been eating since our Thanksgiving last week...

Last Saturday was Turkey's Teacher Appreciation Day, so to celebrate, we had tea, cake, and cookies for dinner.

I really appreciate teachers.
black tea kettle
Keeping tea warm atop a hot kettle of water. Pour the glass about 1/3 full of tea, and fill the rest with water
turkish food
Nar cuts into a cake layered with large wafter cookies, chocolate sauce, and chopped hazelnuts
turkish food
A buttery pastry topped with black sesame seeds and stuffed with sauteed greens
turkish food
It's squash season, so we can typically count on candied pumpkin to enter our mouths at least five times a week
turkey hashish
A Turkish style cinnamon roll, although with no cinnamon, no ooze, and a lot of hashish spiraling within
turkish food
Despite the hashish, these rolls don't make you high. Just a little high on full-stomach-happiness
After spending a day picking in the fields recently, Nar and Fatma (one of the cooks) used various edible weeds and spinach to make Turkish dolmas filled with rice and local ground lamb meat.
turkish dolmas
Using a simple weight to keep the dolmas from moving around in the pan
Action shot: Nar talks to me about some of her hocus pocus

turkish food
Hocus Pocus secret #999: Lemon, EVOO, fresh garlic, tomato paste, and a touch of honey
turkish food
The hocus pocus sauce on the dolmas is that little extra touch that makes them unforgettable
One of our favorite meals so far has been dumplings made of bulgur and flour and filled with a mixture of ground lamb with sauteed greens and onions, then boiled and served with lemon wedges.

You will eat it slowly, and you will never forget it.
turkish dumplings
bulgur dumplings
turkish dumplings

Us volunteers took over the kitchen one night after hunting wild mushrooms in the nearby forest...
turkey mushrooms
wild mushrooms
Mohammed, the local "nature man" who works at the farm, keeps us from getting poisoned

About two hours after getting back from picking, a mushroom, pumpkin, and sauteed greens lasagna with a layers of bechamel and tomato sauce was born.
mushroom lasagna
Of course the pasta was made fresh by John with garden sage kneaded into the dough...
homemade lasagna
Did I mention that Kylie, the other volunteer leading this effort, is a professional chef?
vegetable lasagna
Has a fresher lasagna ever been made in Turkey?
Then there's the fresh cheese that Nar makes on the stovetop...
stove top cheese
homemade cheese
Why isn't it this easy for me?
And if you set any of her fresh cheeses or yogurts on the table, I assure you that we will quickly find something to eat them with...
lentil patty
"Koftes," a traditional Turkish patty, here made with ground lentils with a side of sauteed onions with sumac
candied apples
Candied baked apples, traditional borek, and homemade tur┼ču (pickled vegetables)
Bluefish
Bluefish that had been caught hours earlier from the Black Sea, pan fried with EVOO, salt and pepper, and a dash of lemon
So in my quest to understand the fullness of heart that goes into all this cooking, I only have one question: how am I ever going to leave this place??
I definitely can't go anywhere with this cat on my back...

What's that? You want to know more about the cats?

All I can say is, they’re going to have to get their own post….
farm kittens
know what I'm sayin'?
All 18 of them.


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4 comments:

  1. Did that cake come with a side of cigarette butts?

    You are going to have to elaborate on the hashish rolls?

    Is the farm's main source of income selling goods at the farmer's market?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. It's no secret, there miiiight be a few chain smokers in turkey
      2. From what we could discern, the hashish rolls were made with ground up hash or hemp seeds, but they called it edible hashish. I'm assuming it was a powdery hemp paste? Definitely nothing illicit...
      3. Nar are Ahmet are pretty much retired and most of their income is from jobs they held in Istanbul. I think this is more of a sustainability-loving "project" or life dream type thing. They're also building an eco hotel on the premises to host conferences, events, weddings, etc...

      Delete
  2. Did you tell them your brother is a favorite energy blogger/sustainability expert in the United States? (mapawatt.com)

    ReplyDelete
  3. oh sure, it's all we talk about! They'll be happy to meet you...

    ReplyDelete

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