Thursday, November 30, 2017

The days between late September and early November are the best times to catch autumn in its full autumnal glory here in London.

By late November, as I’m writing now, the city is grey, cold and nearly lifeless. The trees are bare, but at least the parks have plenty of remaining fall leaves for me to fluff up with my boots.
Between working full-time and often travelling, I feel like I missed most of autumn in London this year, but I managed to catch a few snaps on those days I did have time to explore my “hometown.”

Borough Market
Going to one of the local markets here such as the famous Borough Market means you’ll find plenty of British apples, pumpkins and squash during the autumn months. My husband’s colleagues requested an American apple pie so I obliged and made one on my day off. No rest for this pastry chef.
Bizarre Red Sun in London
Around 3 p.m. on October 16th, the skies clouded over and turned a bizarre, hazy orange color. I thought a zombie apocalypse might really be happening, but the change in atmosphere was the result of Hurricane Ophelia stirring up particles and possibly Sahara Dessert dust. I got lucky with these photos because that day was my day off and I was out with my good Canon camera.

Richmond Park
In late October, I finally got my husband to Richmond Park with me. We’ve never been together because I’m normally working on the weekends and he works weekdays. We got lucky with the weather so we decided to rent bikes for half a day and packed a small picnic in our backpack. We brought along one of my favorite Turkish wines from the Bozcaada island. 

I love Richmond Park, which served as hunting grounds to England’s former kings and is London’s largest royal park at 2,500 acres. There are plenty of red and fallow deer that roam here. Great for photo opps!

St. James Park
I rarely venture through this part of London because the hordes of tourists drive me crazy. However, our uncle was visiting so we took him by to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace and wandered through the pretty St. James Park.

Battersea Park
As city dwellers, Battersea Park has become our miniature version of NYC’s Central Park – the perfect place to relax or exercise in. The park has some lovely, old maple trees that turn such pretty autumnal colors.

Where did you celebrate autumn this year?

My Traveling Joys

Monday, November 27, 2017

This year, I was fortunate enough to celebrate two Thanksgivings – one in Düsseldorf, Germany, and one at our flat in London.

This marked our third year travelling to the ‘Dorf to celebrate an expat Thanksgiving there with a fellow American friend and our German friends. We had to skip a year in 2015 when we moved to Australia, but we managed to celebrate Thanksgivings together in 2014, 2016 and 2017. I’m sure 2018 will be on the calendar again too.

Our friends rubbed down the turkey with a BBQ-like spice rub and then smoked it for several hours outside. The turkey was delicious, and surprisingly, really moist.

The dinner table included the classic American dishes: cornbread stuffing/dressing, my cheesy green bean casserole, cranberry compote, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potato casserole, and of course, pies. Once again, I travelled with a pie in my suitcase…and landed safely in Germany with it. I’m happy no one from border patrol tried to steal my pie!
When you live abroad, friends become like your own family members.

I also made a pumpkin pie once we arrived in Germany.
A lovely autumnal view and a rainbow in Germany for our expat Thanksgiving weekend.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, if you celebrated! I’m very thankful that our expat life continues to allow us to travel and meet up with our friends all over the world.

If you like to give my boozy pecan pie recipe a go, you’ll find it below.


Joy’s Pecan Pie
Use my standard Tart Dough for the pie shell here.

4 ea.  large eggs at room temperature, whisked
185 g. brown sugar
60 ml. light corn syrup or Golden Syrup
60 ml. molasses
1/2 tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp.  vanilla extract
45 g. butter, melted
30 ml. whiskey or bourbon, ** (optional)
285 g. walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped

In a large bowl, whisk the ingredients together in the order they are listed. Cover the bottom of the tart shells with pecans. Add the filling to right below the rim of the tart. 

Bake at 350 F/175 C until lightly browned and the filling is set, about 12 minutes total for small tarts, or 30-25 minutes for the large tart. Remove tarts from molds while still warm.

We even got to see the Christmas market being set up in the Old Town of Dusseldorf.
Of course, we enjoyed some gluhwein as well
My first, but not my last, gluhwein of the 2017 Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Of course, when one visits Turkey, you can plan to eat well.

I thought I would share some of the special dishes and places I visited during my trip to Bodrum, a beautiful resort area located on the southwest peninsula along the Aegean Sea.

On the first night in Bodrum after the 3rd Annual Karaova Grape Harvest Festival had kicked off with traditional Aegean dances, we ate dinner at a lovely restored, 160-year-old stone house called Avlu Bistro & Bar. The restaurant has two levels inside and plenty of outdoor tables so you can enjoy the pleasant summer weather.

Here, we started off with several mezzes including smoked salmon bruschetta, veal carpaccio, Turkish olives, cheese, etc. Every dish was delicious, but to me, the real highlight was the main course – the çökertme kebabı. This traditional Bodrum dish features tender steak (bonfile) served atop fried shoestring potatoes in a yogurt and tomato sauce. OMG! As a meat lover, I was in heaven!
Somehow during my previous trips to Bodrum, I had missed out on having çökertme kebabı. Never again! If you love steak, then you must try this amazing dish when you visit the Bodrum area.

For dessert, we had a warm chocolate soufflé cake and a panna cotta with berries. After dinner, we walked along Bodrum’s famous Barlar Sokak and headed back to our hotel to relax.
Hotel Marma Beach
In the mornings, I enjoyed a full Turkish breakfast buffet at Hotel Marma Beach, a small, boutique hotel located on Ortakent Beach. I had a second-floor bedroom here with a small terrace where I enjoyed sitting out in the late afternoons with a glass of Turkish wine. A traditional Turkish breakfast often features several kinds of cheeses, breads, olives, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, boiled eggs and teas. Simple and delicious!
Köy Kahvaltısı 
Of course, I can’t forget the amazing köy kahvaltısı (village breakfast) that I enjoyed with my new Turkish friends in the countyside at Etrim Doğa Restaurant & Köy Kahvaltısı. To read more about that experience, please read this post: Enjoying a Turkish Village Breakfast Near Bodrum.
Kavurmacı Celal Usta
For lunch, we ate at a small family restaurant in Mumcular called Kavurmacı Celal Usta. Often, small restaurants in Turkey will specialize in cooking and serving just one or two dishes. In this case, we were interested in eating saç kavurma. Kavurma usually refers to beef or lamb simply seasoned and cooked in its own juices and fat.

Another traditional way to prepare kavurma is to cook it on a metal pan called a saç. The saç is placed over an open fire and the diced lamb or beef is stirred around and cooked with a large metal spatula until the meat releases its juices and fat. Our dish was served with lettuce, freshly diced tomatoes and bread. Of course, the drink of choice here is ayran – a salty, but refreshing Turkish yogurt drink. Ayran also goes well a really spicy meal. Trust me.
Göltürkbükü Mahallesi
Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, I often didn’t know where I was going on this trip since I had very limited wifi and my brain was constantly working away at my lost Turkish language skills. After leaving Mumcular, I know we drove south toward the Göltürkbükü Mahallesi. I have since learned that we stopped for afternoon tea at Hasan Restoran, a family-owned restaurant/motel located on the beach. We dined on chilled, locally-harvested grapes and figs while enjoying the seaviews in the afternoon sunshine. But the highlight here was eating Saraylı Tatlısı – another Bodrum specialty which is thin sheets of yufka (phyllo dough) baked in a sugary syrup and topped with chopped pistachios.

If you like Turkish baklava, then you will love Saraylı Tatlısı as well.
Whenever you travel to Turkey, I promise that you will eat well – be it a large city like Bodrum or Istanbul or the tiniest of Turkish villages.

Again, special thanks to Karaova-Der, Slow Food Bodrum and the Bodrum municipality for making this wonderful Turkish trip happen!

My Traveling Joys