Monday, March 24, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons...Make Turkish Food!!

You wouldn't be able to tell by looking at me, but I can eat. I love to eat. I LIVE for eating. People watch me eat and then comment on how much I ate, even strangers in restaurants. It's only fitting that I married a man whose cultural dishes are among the tastiest, most delectable food in the world...Turkish food!

(My husband's family is originally from North Cyprus, but now live in London).

Turkish food isn't among the most popular ethnic food. Not many people say, "Hey, let's order in some Turkish tonight." That's why I think people should expand their horizons. People are really missing out. I want to help people.

This recipe is from my mother-in-law, Hulya. Her cooking is soooooo good. Smack.yo.mama. I can make her recipes the exact same way as her, the way she has taught me and made me practice over and over, but it's never the same. Still good and definitely worth eating, but just not the same.

1 pkg wine leaves (also called grape leaves)
2 onions, finely chopped in food processor
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped in food processor
1 tsp ground back pepper
1 lb. ground lamb
1.5 c rice (Uncle Ben's)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 lemons, juiced

Place all ingredients except the wine leaves together in a large bowl and mix them thoroughly by hand.
Lay out a wine leaf on a cutting board or large plate. (If the leaf is small or irregularly shaped, you may want to overlap it with another). Place a small amount, maybe 2 tsbp. worth, of the meat mixture in the center. Fold in the top and bottom of the leaf, then the two sides, kind of like a teeny tiny Mediterranean burrito. Roll tightly enough to make a secure little package, but not so tightly the meat won't cook. Layer the individual dolma in a large pot.
When you have finished rolling the dolma, fill the pot maybe 3/4 of the way with water. When the dolma is boiling, it has a tendancy to unroll and you are left with some pretty unappetizing leafy meat water for dinner. Preventing this is tricky. You have to weight the top. What I do is put a dinner plate in the pot, then put my sugar canister on top of that. Hey, it works.
Boil the dolma for approx. 20 minutes. Check to make sure the rice and meat is cooked and everything is nice and steamy in the middle. Serve with yogurt and more lemon for sprinking. Yum!

A note about the wine leaves: I get mine from a local Turkish shop. Look around where you live and see if you can find one (check under "mediterranean markets" too). I Googled and unfortunately I can't find an online seller that stocks plain wine leaves not already made into dolma. If you know of any, please tell me and I'll update this post!
Lentil soup is another yummy recipe that's also healthy and easy on your grocery budget!

Lentil Soup
1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. tomato paste
8 c. vegetable stock
1 c. red lentils
1/4 c. short grain rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried mint
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Saute onion in oil or butter over medium heat until translucent. Stir in garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook 1-2 minutes.
Add tomato paste, stock, lentils and rice. Stir. Bring to a boil.
Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 35-40 minutes.
When soup has thicked and the rice and lentils have cooked, add salt, pepper, and dried mint. Serve hot with lemon for garnish.
HUMMUS!! How could I forget hummus!?
1 16 oz. can chickpeas with a little of the liquid, maybe 1/4 c.
2 lemons, juiced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. tahini
1 tsp. coriander sprinkle of salt

Dump it all in a food processor and blend until smooth. Eat with pita or veggies...very healthy lunch or snack!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

And for the Tweenies...

Being a 4th grade teacher for seven years and having an eight year old daughter of my own, there's no doubt I know tween girls and what they like. They are such a great age, just little bags of giggles (with a sprinking of screeching and whining). My daughter's a little on the tomboy-ish side, but even so, she gets a little dazzled by all things pink and glittery...and make up? Forget it. Show her an eyeshadow case and she's looking like Cyndi Lauper in three seconds flat.

I checked out some great sellers and I've come up with a few things off Etsy that a tween girl would just die for (and maybe you would too!). Have a look!

Here is a sweet little bunny pendant from Buster and Boo ( She has tons of cute pendants that would be just right for a jewelry loving girl. These pendants come on a sterling silver bail and a cord necklace. Check out her shop for details on how to get free shipping!

These cute little caps are from LSK Crochet ( They come in baby and big girl sizes too! I have something from this shop and I just love it. Very cool stuff from a very nice lady!

I don't know what it is about these girls, but they either LOVE soap and perfume, or they don't. Mine is hating it. Either way, who wouldn't go for this adorable rubber duckie soap? It's from Kreated by Karina ( She has lots of really yummy soaps, lip balms, and other goodies in her shop!

And just a few more really neat goodies for the girlies:

From left to right:

A cute little pouch that would be perfect as a pencil case, from meanbean ( (she can't be that mean of a bean if she makes such cute stuff!)

Unique dolls from forensic ( I love their faces and the fabrics!

A pretty ribbon belt from The Accessory Lady ( She's got a bunch of other adorable accessories in her shop (she is the accessory lady, after all!)

Fun and funky hair flower from PamperingBeki ( ) ...who wouldn't feel like a goddess with this in her hair?

And last but not least, a rocking necklace from Tizzalicious ( !!

Now go shop!