I once created a cooking class, called 'Zen in the Kitchen'. Then wrote a book called the same. Then started the group with that name and the blog came after. All this happened in Turkish. Now is the time for the English version of it. Let's see what will cook here!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Steaming hot

I like steaming hot dishes. Especially on cold winter days. Or on days my heart is cold. Even the look of it warms me up. Warms my hands, warms my face, warms my body. Beans are staple food for the natives of the Americas. They have been using this nutritious ingredient in many ways. Then somehow, one day, in one year, beans came to my continent and my ancestors started growing them. Somehow, they became one of the staple foods for the Anatolian villagers. It is easy to grow them. A teacher, from one of the villages of the city Erzincan, in the eastern part of Turkey, told me that while they were planting beans, they were putting a few corn on each bean row. When they both grow, beans are hugging corn, that is nearest them, with love and never leave. This way, they grow together, as sisters and brothers. I like this story, since Native Americans did the same thing. Did my ancestors know that it is done by people of a far, far continent? I doubt it.

Anyways, here is the 'I created it with the ingredients at home' bean dish:
First you soak beans (you choose which one to use. Mine is a local type, tiny when it's dry) in cold water for 7-8 hours. Then boil with clean water, until they're tender. While it's boiling, you can sautee all the ingredients that you want to use. I had chard, leek, onion, garlic and carrot at home, so I used them. I sauteed onions in olive oil for few minutes, then add white parts of the leeks and stems of the chards. Then carrots, green parts of the leeks, chard, garlic and the boiled beans. I like to add cumin seeds when I cook beans. Cumin seeds are good to prevent gas, so it's quite useful to do that. And of course, salt and pepper. That's really it. It took me about 20 minutes to cook this earthy and nutritious meal. Now I have to eat it, before it gets cold.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Roasted chestnuts

“There is probably a smell of roasted chestnuts and other good comfortable things all the time, for we are telling Winter Stories - Ghost Stories, or more shame for us - round the Christmas fire; and we have never stirred, except to draw a little nearer to it” says Charles Dickens, depending on this site. I like to think of it that way. Or may be not. I like the feeling of warm, roasted chestnuts, that are sold on the streets of Istanbul, the city of Nobel price winner Orhan Pamuk. On each corner, on cold winter days, you see a chestnut seller. A guy, young or not, roasts them on small, simple charcoal grill (or whatever you name it). Usually, you pay a lot more than you'd pay for raw chestnuts but hey, that's the beauty of it. It's cold outside, your hands are cold, your heart gets cold and your nose cannot resist the smell of the roasted chestnuts. You pay the money, you get your little paper bag, full of warm, roasted chestnuts and you start whistling your favorite song, between the bites. What a wonderful life, isn't it? I love winter just because of roasted chestnuts. Otherwise, I can live without it...