Sunday, 14 December 2014

Pumpkin time

The kitchen is full of pumpkins, the wood-stoves are all working hard, and the wet wet rainy garden is decidedly unenticing - the signs are all there that summer is over.
Pumpkin & squash grow easily and well around here, but it's sometimes hard to get excited about eating pumpkin day after day - not to mention the effects on one's digestion.  We grew enough pumpkins ourselves, but then a neighbour gave us two more and they sat on the kitchen table looking menacing until last night when I got going with pumpkin strategic planning.  All the recipes asked for canned pumpkin, so the first one was cut up last night & left cooking in the cooling oven overnight.  We had pumpkin muffins with honey for breakfast, pumpkin cake with teatime, and it's pumpkin, lentil & orange soup for supper. 

And there are 2 more still waiting to be processed...

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Snow White and the Seven Eggs

A few days after I arrived we had our first snowfall of the year.  We run two fires, one for the living room and one in the kitchen for heat and cooking. We let them burn all night and then stoke them up in the morning so that the house is always warm.  The dogs insist that they are house dogs, barging into the kitchen to lounge and toast their paws by the fire. The chickens stay in their warm pen and gossip all day (probably about the weather).  And some of us concede to finally wear thermal underwear, it is definitely winter.


Having the fires on all day means that there is valuable cooking energy being wasted up the chimney and into the kitchen. To make the most of it, dog food bubbles away, stewing gelatinous feasts and prompting three pairs of wet noses to nudge: “Is it ready yet?”.  We suspect that some of our chickens lay on the field, but the snow and the cold keeps them close to home and our daily egg count has gone up.

I have never been much of a cook, but I practice and I am getting better.  I am learning not to cut corners and with my new found patience am trying different things.  Prompted first with the hot oven going to waste, and second by the rows of pale and dark brown eggs advancing up the fridge door, there was only one thing for it; I googled.


Desserts with Eggs. Desserts with 10+ eggs. Lots of eggs.


I settled on lemon meringue pie, which is suitably impressive to trot out at a dinner party, should I ever have one.  Seven eggs in Mary Berry's recipe. Our eggs are quite small so I used ten.  The lemon curd filling by Mary Berry was beautiful; creamy, zesty and delicious.  But my meringue went a bit soggy as I didn't add enough sugar.  We converted it into lemon curd and custard tart and three lucky pups got my rather omelette-y meringue.


Never mind, there were still plenty of eggs and yesterday I made my second attempt. With the egg white demanding: “More sugar! More! MORE!”  I whisked them into snow white peaks until my arm ached.  Success! Crispy meringue. I also made banana muffins which seem to have all disappeared for breakfast.
It is a crisp winter day and the sun is melting the very last pockets of snow.  I am going downstairs  to light the kitchen fire.  We got six eggs yesterday and I am sick of meringue...Any ideas?

Thursday, 28 February 2013


With the aim of recycling as much as possible, we're striving for "zero waste" at home.  It focuses the mind to regard everything as a potential fuel for processing. 
  • Old apple cores get processed by chickens into eggs
  • leftover food gets added to dog-food
  • used tissues get composted into a substrate to grow vegetables in...
  • Anything that is combustible is processed by the stove into heat energy
So the only items which leave our property are things for which we don't have a processor: tins, glass, and batteries.  Here is a copy of the chart we keep on the fridge in the kitchen, just to keep everyone mindful of the opportunities offered by waste materials:


Sunday, 17 February 2013

War on Twitch

Twitch, also known as Couch Grass, Quack grass, and plenty of other unmentionable names, is a stoloniferous grass, Elymus repens. We've got a magnificent crop - and a particularly vigorous strain.  It romps away, and before you know it, it's winding its way into and through whichever area you thought was already cleared.  While digging, almost every spadefull has to be broken apart and the succulent, wiry and brittle underground stems teased out from the clod - to which they are hanging on with great tenacity. 

This large bucket of twitch is sitting in the middle of the area that it was cleared from, an area about 1.2 metres x 2 metres:

Sunday, 10 February 2013

plastic fuel

A few years ago, on the boat to Istanbul, I met some experts whose business was selling PET plastic bottles to CocaCola in Bursa.  One was Dutch, the other Austrian, our common language English, so naturally we fell into conversation.  Their know-how and subsequent background research that I've been following, has solved one of my waste management concerns, and we now burn much (not all) of our plastic waste in our stove.  It gets rid of the waste and contributes heat.  (According to my PET experts, up to 95% of the energy is re-gained from incineration.)

The logic, of course, is simple - plastic is made from hydrocarbon - so it's oil.  When you burn it, Carbon dioxide and water are the by-products from the combustion.  Here is an excellent demonstration - watch the video!

We're basically talking about polyethelene, here, and all of it's relatives - polypropelene, polystyrene, etc, but there are also some other groups of plastics which I'm not so confident about burning in the stove, so they still go out to the garden incinerator.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

water source

The other day we decided to set off in search of the source of our water, so we followed the river right up to the head of the valley - but on this occasion we could go no further without getting wet.  Winter rains and the recent snowfall meant the river was too full to continue, so we'll have to try again in the late summer when the water level is at its lowest, and we can get up the rest of the valley - I'm expecting to find a natural spring and/or waterfall - will let you know!... The large pipe which you can see on the left of the photo is the village irrigation water pipe, which has been lifted out for the winter and tied up to a tree.   CT

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Winter Walk

This magnificent old plane tree is the Kurtkoy Kapili Cinar (Kurtkoy Plane tree with a door): we walked up the valley, following the river, to find it - and then all got inside it!