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2013 July

Istanbul Scrapbook: Intro and Day 1

Istanbul ScrapbookThere aren’t enough finallys in the world for this project! Finally I ordered the pictures (months ago!), and finally I am getting around to making the pages. I love this travel themed paper, and I just added a few things to it. Eric suggested that I tilt the pictures slightly to make them look like they fit into the layout. Good idea!

Istanbul ScrapbookI used some of my favorite stamps and letters to personalize it. Love those typewriter ones.

Istanbul ScrapbookI had so much fun stuff to put in that I made two pages for the first day. Finally a place to put ticket stubs and airline menus!

Istanbul ScrapbookThose little planes are maybe my favorite thing ever. Eric found these little paper punches for me at the Depot, and I’ve been hankering to use them. I love how they look here.

Istanbul ScrapbookThe cuteness just kills me. Also, bright colors!

Istanbul ScrapbookThis second page captures a few sights from our arrival. Our building had the most amazing view from the roof, and we went up there bright and early to see the sunrise (ah, jet lag!). I used a big border sticker on this page, and I like the way it looks against the orange.

Istanbul ScrapbookThis gorgeous paper came from my friend Hillary. Thank you, kind and kindred spirit!

Istanbul ScrapbookOur building was so gorgeous. And I was so very glad that someone carried my suitcase up all these stairs!

Istanbul ScrapbookOne of the things I love the most about international travel is the immediate sense of being in another world. Even before we left the airport, the gate agents’ announcements were in Turkish, as were the exit signs on the plane. It’s such an amazing reminder of how big a place the world really is. I loved recognizing a few words on this menu, and I loved the little introduction to Istanbul at 35,000 feet. More adventures to come!

Swiss Chard, Spinach, and Feta Pide

Swiss Chard PideI believe I have mentioned this glorious Turkish cookbook before. It’s such an inspiration, and I want to make just about every single thing in it. I love that Turkish cuisine truly has something for everyone, whether it’s perfectly cooked eggplant, a wide array of grains and spices, or subtly seasoned kebabs. I had a pide or two in Istanbul–they’re kind of like pizzas with the edges curled up around the sides (so…a structural and thematic amalgam of a pizza and hand pie). My eyes lit up when I saw that chard was the main component of the filling because I love to cram as many greens as I can into our weekly menu.

Swiss Chard PideThis is probably the kind of recipe I would have felt intimidated by a few years ago, but it’s really very simple. Make the dough, cook the greens, assemble and bake. I love that the dough is lightly sweet and so yeasty that it reminds me of the hot buttered rolls of my Southern childhood. I also love that, with the proper amount of flour dusting, these roll out flat like a charm. Rolling pin success! Believe me, this may be the first notch I have on that particular belt.

Swiss Chard PideI love the weird and wonky shapes mine turned out to be. As my mother would say, this just adds character.

Swiss Chard PideThe cherry on top is a light egg wash, which gives the crust a beautiful sheen.

Swiss Chard PideAren’t they gorgeous?

Swiss Chard PideThis recipe makes eight pides, which is four delightful dinners for the two of us. I love the caramelized sweetness of the chard with the tangy bite of feta. And that’s not to mention that decadent yeasty crust. These are basically heaven. Enjoy!

Swiss Chard, Spinach, and Feta Pide
Slightly adapted from Leanne Kitchen’s Turkey

1 1/2 Tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup whole milk
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt

-Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the mixture is lukewarm. Remove from the heat and set aside.
-Combine the sugar and 1/2 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the yeast. Set aside for about 8 minutes, or until foamy.
-Combine the yeast and milk mixtures in a large bowl and add the flour and salt, stirring to form a coarse dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6–7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Or you can just have your stand mixer knead it for you with the dough hook. That will save you some time and some flour under your fingernails.) Roll the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

1 lb 5 oz Swiss chard, 2 1⁄2 inches trimmed from stems
2 1⁄2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb 5 oz spinach leaves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄3 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 portion Pide dough
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 1⁄2 Tablespoons water

-Finely chop the Swiss chard stems and coarsely chop the leaves.
-Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened.
-Add the chard stems, cover the pan, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stems are soft.
-Coarsely chop the spinach stems and leaves, then add to the pan with the chard leaves, cover, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted
-Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and cool slightly. Stir in the feta cheese.
-Preheat the oven to 400˚F and lightly grease two large baking sheets.
-Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into eight even-sized pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll each piece into a 10-x-61⁄4-inch oval, using a rolling pin.
-Place one‑eighth of the filling in the middle of each oval, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge, then pull the dough up around the edges to partially cover the filling, pleating the edge.
-Transfer to the prepared sheets, brush the top and side with the egg yolk mixture and bake, in batches, for 15–20 minutes, or until the dough is deep golden and the filling is bubbling. Serve hot or warm.

July 2013 Goals

July 2013 GoalsI realized when I was putting this post together that I’ve been doing these monthly goals for a year–I started in June 2012. My life now is so different now than it was then, but I’m so happy I made goals for myself at both ends of the spectrum. I’m proud of all the fun stuff I’ve done in these past twelve months. Maybe sometime I’ll post all of my goal pictures together, just for fun, and I’ll circle all the stuff I’ve done, if I can figure out how to do that in Picasa. Hope springs eternal!

I am pumped for the stuff I plan to do in July. It is already plenty hot here, but Eric and I have special excursions planned for days like that. In a word, we go to museums and enjoy the sweet blasts of air conditioning. But this year we’re also planning to head to the beach a few times. We’re thirty minutes (in no traffic!) away from the closest beach, but it’s worth it in weather like this. And it’ll remind us of all the lazy days we spent reading books and having picnics in the sand on our honeymoon.

One of the greatest places in Pasadena is the Athenaeum, and every summer they serve dinner al fresco, out on the pretty lawn next to the tangerine trees. The food is fabulous, and it’s so lovely to be out in the cool evening air. I’m definitely making it a goal to get over there.

Pasadena also does an outdoor movie series in the summer, and we’re hoping to get to one or more of the screenings. Annie Hall, anyone?

On the home front, my triumph with quilting (I am only being mildly sarcastic) has led me to tackle other sewing feats: namely, putting in a zipper. I have plenty of them (thank you, Depot), and enough fabric to make a little purse, so I’m making it my goal to conquer it, with the aid of my sewing books and a few online tutorials.

I’m also going to make simits! These are the Turkish bagel-like breads that are sold everywhere in Istanbul. The kind that I want to make is actually called açma, and it was our favorite. Yeasty and lightly sweet, it’s covered with nigella seeds, also called caraway seeds, which have an amazingly curry-like flavor. I can’t wait! I had great success with another Turkish bread this weekend, so I am hopeful that I can make a decent recreation of this one too.

Project Life is going strong over here. I’ve got my photos, so now I just have to clear some space (read: move the sewing machine) and get to it!

And, of course, there will be lots and lots of pictures. I’ll be back in August with a full report (June is here, updated). Hope you have a fantastic month!

Update, August 2013: I love having these monthly goals. Sometimes I just leave the tab with my goals post open for weeks on end, and then I check in every now and again. It’s amazing how much stuff you can forget and then be gleefully reminded of in a week-long span. Anyway, the goals went really well this month! I made simits! I am in a good Project Life/Istanbul scrapbook rotation. We had dinner at the Rath al Fresco. We definitely did some warm weather exploring, locally and in San Diego, and we took advantage of the cool weather when it came our way too. We saw an outdoor movie too: fun! The beach trip and the zipper have been moved to August for reasons that are explained in that post, but that puts me at 6 out of 7 for this month. Awesome!

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