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Laura’s Review: Turkish Spinach with Eggs

January 26, 2011

I wanted to make the Yumurtalı Ispanak (Turkish Spinach with Eggs) recipe I posted, so I stopped at the 2nd closest grocery store down the street to buy spinach, and this happened:

Me: “Ispanak var mı?” (Is there any spinach?)

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish.” (???)

Me: “Bu ne?” (What’s this?), pointing to a leafy green that doesn’t really look like spinach and does not have the word for spinach, ispanak, anywhere near it.

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish.” (???)

Me: (smiles apologetically) Türkcem çok az. (My Turkish is very little.)

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish.” (???)

Me: Anlamadım. (I don’t understand.)

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish.” (???)

Me: (smiling apologetically again) Anlamadım. (I don’t understand.)

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish turkish.” (???)

Me: (nods head, pokes leafy greens)

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish  turkish.  Turkish  turkish  turkish. Turkish  turkish  turkish  turkish  turkish. Nerelisiniz?” (????. ????. ??????. Where are you from?)

Me: America.

Produce guy: “Turkish turkish turkish turkish  turkish.  Turkish  turkish  turkish. Turkish  turkish  turkish  turkish  turkish.” (????. ????. ??????.)

I won’t bore you with the rest of our conversation, but it was very one-sided. I believe I tried to answer the question of how long I’d been there in weeks because I didn’t know the word for months, and after he said something asking a university name, I figured he was asking if I worked for one of the unis, so I told him my uni name and “hoca” (ho-ja = teacher). And then I stuffed a bunch of greens in my plastic bag and had him weigh it and slap a sticker on it. I went around buying a few more things, and then when I was in the checkout line the produce guy ran over to tell me “Turkish turkish turkish turkish  turkish ispanak turkish  turkish  turkish Metro turkish  turkish  turkish  turkish  turkish.” So I said, “Metro? Ah, Metro. Tamam.” (Metro? Ah, Metro. Okay.) I assume he was telling me that I could find spinach at Metro, which is a big grocery store in a richer part of town. That was nice of him to go out of his way to help me find what I was looking for, even if I only understood two words. 🙂

Anyway, the label on the bag was “beets” when I looked it up, so I guess I actually bought beet greens instead of spinach. I figure they basically get cooked and taste the same, so I more or less just went ahead with the recipe. I threw in some garlic, mostly because I started cooking before I pulled up the recipe (and who doesn’t love garlic?), and I didn’t have exact measurements of the tomato paste and the greens. I used the recipe as a general guideline, and it turned out pretty well. I think I overdid it on the proportion of tomato paste and onion to greens, and I added a little water to prevent stuff from sticking, but despite my deviations the end result still tasted pretty good. I had only one egg left in the fridge, so here’s my single-egg and greens, finished in the pan:

You can see that it’s considerably redder than the pictures on the recipe page. I definitely had too much tomato paste to be true to the original. Will make again, possibly following the recipe a little more closely and/or with actual spinach, not because what I made was bad, but just to see what the difference is. It’s the kind of recipe I like: tasty, easy to find ingredients (well, at least in the States), and pretty darn simple when you come right down to it.


January: Month of Spinach

January 15, 2011

So… I don’t know if anybody else is still around, but as it’s the middle of January, I am taking it upon myself to issue a new challenge, even if I’m the only one doing it. The air here in Gaziantep is atrocious, and asthma has been kicking my ass. One food that is supposed to help with asthma is spinach (and possibly other dark, leafy greens?). At the school caf this week, I also had a really delicious spinach dish, and I think it was just a sign. I need to find some ways to eat more spinach-y things. I usually just have baby spinach raw, pre-washed out of the bag, but that isn’t an option over here. So my recipe contributions will probably be cooked, but it isn’t a requirement. I’d say a recipe even calling for another type of greens is totally kosher too.

Laura’s Recipes:

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach – A recipe I used to make at home, where it’s very easy to pick up some bags of baby spinach and some fresh mushrooms. I used red wine instead of sherry, because that’s what I had around, and I actually liked it more than when I later made it with the cooking sherry called for in the recipe. I made it once with baby bellas, but most of the time I used just regular ol’ white mushrooms.

Yumurtalı Ispanak (Turkish Spinach with Eggs) – This is what I had in the cafeteria. It seemed an odd combination, and it looked a little weird, but after eating bibimbap in Korea, I’ve learned to be more accepting of food topped with a cooked egg. This is a recipe I found in English that seems simple enough.

Garlicky Spinach and White Bean Soup – Another I haven’t tried yet, but the ingredients seem common enough. I will probably be leaving out the rosemary and canned tomatoes (subbing fresh) because those things aren’t available at my local store. Maybe somewhere else in this city, but I ain’t putting that big an effort towards it.

Nicole’s Review: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

December 22, 2010

This pot roast came out wonderfully! I should have taken a picture, but oh well. It fell apart when I put a fork in it – no knife needed! I did brown the meat as she did, but not sure what texture that added so I may not do that next time to compare. I’ll just add minced garlic to the pot to give it some flavor, since I think the garlic powder made a big difference. I added salt to the potatoes and carrots once it was on my plate, but I figure each person can add salt and/or pepper to their liking, so that’s not a big deal.  John said it’s one of the best dishes I’ve ever made, and ended up having 3 helpings by the time he went to bed last night! So, in conclusion, this dish gets two thumbs up!

Challenge: Holiday Beverages

December 13, 2010

I thought about desserts since it seems a natural thing to do around Christmas, but I thought that desserts are good any ol’ time, and when the weather is cold like it is, and when people want to get jolly as they do, a seasonal holiday beverage of some sort is a nice touch. Alcoholic or not, hot or cold, whatever. Just so long as it makes the day seem a little happier, a little more special, a little different from the rest of the year.

Laura’s recipe suggestions:

Turkish Apple Tea – I tried apple tea while I was in Pamukkale and it was rather chilly. It was fantastic- it’s very much like a hot apple cider. I tried buying apple tea in tea bags at the store, but it’s nothing like the apple tea I had in Pamukkale. I hope this recipe is more like it. The comments on the web site seem to indicate so.

Spiced Cider/Wine Mix – I think we tried this last year at my parents’ house. I’m not sure we had mace, but you can sub nutmeg for it. We added it to a regular ol’ red wine and heated it in the crock pot. It was pretty good! Also makes a good homemade gift. 🙂

Partridge in a Pear Tree – A random Christmas cocktail find on WordPress, but it looks tasty, and the Christmas tie-in is kind of cute.

Laura’s Review: Gavurdağı Salatası

November 25, 2010

I went ahead and made this today for Thanksgiving, as this was about the closest thing I was going to get to Thanksgiving food here. I made a few tweaks to the recipe, including adding a cucumber, seeded and chopped into small pieces. I thought the recipe had this as an ingredient, but as I was making it I noticed it was missing. I also doubled the amount of pomegranate sauce. I think I probably could have added some more. And lastly, I did not have red pepper to add, but it didn’t seem to hurt the taste at all.

It was really delicious and fresh, and not all that difficult to make. I both washed and then peeled the tomatoes out of paranoia (pop them into boiling water for a couple seconds and the skin cracks and peels off really easily), and the parsley got washed twice. Foreign bacteria paranoia. 🙂 I will definitely make it again.

There was a little bit left after Katie and I ate dinner, so I put it in a container, minus the juice it was sitting in. Salads generally don’t keep well, but it was so tasty I hate to just toss it out. We’ll see if it survives a night in the fridge without getting too soggy.

New Month, New Food

November 5, 2010

Alrighty, it’s my turn!  Even though Laura’s in Turkey, she said she’s still totally in for our monthly cooking challenge.  I was trying to think of something we can do that would be pretty easy for Laura, given that she’ll probably have a stove top, but not an oven.  Also, we’re not sure what kind of foods will be readily available.  So, with that, I think I’m going to go with: salads.  They can be any variety – it doesn’t need to be leafy or anything.

I’ll start!

I can’t say how much I love this Mediterranean Pepper Salad.  The flavors are awesome, you don’t have to cook anything, and it only gets better the longer you let it marinate.  When I first made this, I wasn’t sure what a Kirby cucumber was…it’s just a pickling cucumber, and HEB tends to have them all the time, so I don’t think you gals will have too hard a time.  If you do, just use a regular cucumber.  I would love to have one of you gals try it, and tell me what you think!

Laura’s recipes:

Gavurdağı Salatası (Gah-voor-die-yuh Sah-lah-tah-suh) Amazingly, this salad tastes like Thanksgiving! It really reminded me of stuffing. I think it is the walnuts and the pomegranate sauce, which gives it a sour-sweet tang, like cranberry sauce. This recipe calls for pomegranate paste (aka molasses, aka sauce), but I would try to substitute some pomegranate or cranberry juice (maybe reduced with a little bit of sugar? It was not thick when I ate it, just like a salad dressing, so maybe plain is fine.). I really want someone to try this and see how it tastes.  I think it would be a fantastic dish to make for Thanksgiving! [Addendum: I’ve found a recipe for pomegranate paste HERE.]

Turkish kidney bean salad (Piyaz) Simple and lettuce-free. 🙂 The other recipe for this I saw said to marinate it for one hour. I had something like this, but I think the beans were fava beans.

Tish’s Slow Cooker Review: Sesame Pork Ribs

October 25, 2010

This is another great slow cooker recipe.  I hadn’t made pork ribs before, so I wanted to give them a try.  They worked out pretty well – they got all eaten up in one night!


3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 ketchup

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

5 pounds country-style pork ribs

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

2 tablespoons chopped green onions


1. In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients.  Add ribs and turn to coat.  Place onion in a 5 quart slow cooker; arrange ribs on top and pour sauce over.

2. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Place ribs on a serving platter; sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.

And that’s it!!  Easy and yummy.