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On blogging, baking, and böyle şeyler

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I’d be playing coy if I pretended I didn’t know why there was a small but noticeable spike in traffic to my blog from my employer’s career site today. It can be difficult to engage with social media for people affiliated with my employer, and I’m sure those of my readers who have followed my writing on earlier blogs have noticed a difference in what I choose to write about – not even at the level of subject matter, but at the level of writing opinions versus analysis versus whimsy. That’s about all I’m going to say at this time, but I really enjoy writing, I have a lot of fun blogging, and I hope to be able to continue doing so for some time to come.

But that’s not what I intended to write about today. I’ve been sitting on a collection of short thoughts for awhile that I think I’ll just throw together into a smorgasbord of a post:

– Last weekend I stopped by the local manav (greengrocer) to stock up on tomatoes and such for the week. Apparently, it’s the beginning of sour cherry season! After stocking up on a kilo of cherries (and a kilo of strawberries, because why not?), I came home and opened my Joy of Cooking to figure out what to do with a kilo of cherries.
– Side note: I had been mentally berating myself for packing my cherry pitter in my air baggage. “Why on earth did you pack your cherry pitter?” I asked myself. “You’ve needed your collapsible measuring cups and your pastry cutter millions more times than you’ve ever used your cherry pitter [NB: I use a lot of hyperbole in internal conversations].” One kilo of hand-pitted cherries later, I now am actually quite glad the cherry pitter made it in my air baggage.
– Back to Joy of Cooking: Baking abroad can be simultaneously liberating and disheartening. I went through recipes after recipe in my cookbooks and on allrecipes.com that I couldn’t make because I lacked some random yet vital ingredient: shredded coconut. Oatmeal. Corn starch. Corn syrup (I was actually ok with not having corn syrup around). Cherry liqueur. Brandy (A surprising amount of Joy of Cooking recipes call for brandy).
– The other half of my recipe angst was the multitude of recipes, especially online, that included premade or prepackaged ingredients. “Add cherry jelly.” “Use dried cherry bits.” “Start with a packet of cake mix” – local cake mix in Turkey is nothing like cake mix in the U.S. And my mother would have conniptions if I started baking with box mixes.
– The end result was that I got creative and added or substituted cherries in three different recipes this weekend: muffins, cookies and what was originally a sweet, chocolatey bread recipe but ended up pretty darn brownie-like after I added cherries and walnuts. Thank goodness there was a bake sale at work so I didn’t have a freezerful of sugary goodness. Cooking and baking abroad is great for experimentation, but that’s usually out of necessity.
Unrelatedly:
– I am pretty much the best daughter ever because for Mother’s Day, I woke up my mom with a pocket dial. At 5:56 a.m. her time. This is the danger of time zone differences and smartphones.
– Somebody sent me an invite to Salamworld, the new (new-ish? There was an article about it in the Istanbul papers last summer) Muslim-compliant Facebook. Somebody doesn’t know me all that well.
– After I got all ready to go attend a lecture on the historic banking districts in Istanbul and Ankara, I realized that the lecture’s start time wasn’t listed in any of the fliers or emails advertising it. It also wasn’t listed online. So instead I watched BBC shows at home in my yoga pants, because sometimes I am a stereotype.
– Somehow all of my winter sweaters made it into my air baggage but my hand weights and all my books aside from my Turkish textbooks are on the slow boat over. Packing fail. Also on the list of things that should make it into the air baggage next time: cutting boards and knives, more shoes, Tupperware, slippers, some DVDs, a selection of things to put on the wall. And I probably didn’t need all of my scarves and shawls immediately upon arrival. With age comes experience, yani.
– I’ve also been enjoying access to relatively fast and reliable mail from the U.S. and indulging in some nostalgia and optimistic thinking: a package containing a bicycle helmet and DVDs of Troop Beverly Hills and Shag arrived last week. Amazon is the best!
– And finally, I’m sure you’re all as excited as I am about next week! That’s right, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: The Eurovision Song Contest! I’ll end this post with Turkey’s entry this year, Can Bonomo’s Love Me Back:

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