Posts Tagged With: soup


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We are up early, April 22nd, in a darkened hotel lobby for a put together small breakfast. We fly to Izmir, the second largest port city in Turkey, next to Istanbul. Our bus driver is waiting for us and carries  us  overland through various cities and small villages. We stop in Karacaagac to meet a family that is expecting us for lunch.

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Our bus lets us off and we get to walk through town to see what a small town is like here. DSC04834 (Copy)

The mosque minaret towers over the village.meeting the mayor of Bragi

Our first stop is the mayor’s office. He has been mayor here for 15 years, elected by his fellow citizens, he gets paid a small stipend, but his main occupation is his farm. Like just about everyone in the village he is first a farmer. He has been asked to move to a larger village that needs a full-time Mayor, but he prefers to stay here where he feels needed and where he knows everyone and they know him.

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We crowd into his office and are encouraged to ask him any question. We learn that Turkey has universal health care. Doctors do their internships in small villages, they are required to serve so that all villages have medical care. The population here is only about 800 families. He and his assistant, on a part-time basis take care of any problems. They have sewer, street lighting, garbage service, municipal water that comes under the Mayor’s responsibilities and is paid from taxes given back to them by the government.  Farmers have their own wells for their crops. They have one person who acts as a policeman, but they have no crime. People here work and go to school and go to mosque. Young people are leaving the villages for big city life after they go to college. It is a problem.

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Pictures on the Mayor’s wall depict the town’s accomplishments. He has one assistant. She acts as secretary, handles the office when he is gone and she served us apple tea.

refrigerated morgue truck

We resume our walk. This refrigerated wagon is plugged in and serves as their morgue. Moslems bury their dead very quickly and are not embalmed. They are buried facing Mecca and carry no worldly goods to the grave. Their simple wood coffins are returned for recycling for the next to die.

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Most of the buildings are blocks, basalt, or clay bricks. In the bus we saw many lhouses and apartment buildings with solar water on the roof. Here in this tiny village, a house with a solar water heater. Amazing.

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Tractors rumble through town.

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We see a family sitting outside having lunch and Usla asks them can we see what they are eating? (This is Usla’s photo.)

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They are eating tomatos and peppers in olive oil, olives, egg, with home-made bread, cheese and the bottles hold pickled nettles. The little glasses are what everywhere in turkey people use to serve the apple tea. Or sage tea in some places.

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The young farmer invites us to taste, to help ourselves from his table.

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His sister does not cover her hair and she stares very curiously at our motley crew.

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His mother eats with him and they watch as we literally mob the table, tasting everything with our fingers.

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The food was fresh and delicious. All homegrown. This is Usla’s photo of us surrounding the table. Can you imagine anyone from the United States, pulling up to your house and being invited to partake of a lunch on the porch or anywhere? It amazes me. Later curious neighbor’s stopped by to see what we were doing.

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We resumed our walk and peeked into this small cafe where school boys were having a sweet drink and talking to the girls.DSC04863 (Copy)

The girls were a bit shy. No scarves.

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They were cooking what looked like a fried cheese and egg sandwich.

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Joan has this talent for instant repoire with anyone and asked the ladies to have her picture taken with them. She was watching them work with drying rosemary.

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In a flash, the whole gang poses for a picture. Everywhere we have traveled thus far, the Turkish people are super friendly, hospitable, helpful and curious about us. It’s a great feeling.

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Usla stops some kids on their way home for lunch. They are in costume, this is not how they normally dress for school.

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This man is shaving in front of a small mirror outside his house. I ask him if I can take a picture and he smiles and nods, yes. He probably thinks I’m a bit crazy. You can double click these pictures to enlarge them if you want to. Then back arrow to the blog.DSC04894 (Copy)

We finally reach our destination for our home hosted lunch. Above, everyone is having desert.DSC04881 (Copy)

Our meal served from the their finest china, flour soup, a tomato, chicken, lemon broth. Quite tasty.

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Dolmas.  Usla says the word means dumpling or stuffed. Stuffed grape leaves, salad, bread with seasoned olive oil to dip it in, yoghurt, salad, olives, condiments…

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…and the main course, potatoes, these great big peas, and a savory chicken and rice dish. I can truthfully say, for all of the sumptuous meals we ate in Turkey, this was the freshest, best food we tasted. We always buy small, sweet peas?  Unhah!  These were better. I don’t know what they do other than grow everything themselves with traditional seeds handed down from generation to generation.

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Gina went in the house to use the bathroom and came out with baggy pants on. She stands next to our hostess and her helper is the blonde woman seated with her daughter in front. DSC04886 (Copy)

The mother peeks out of the door, shyly. I coax her into joining us.

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And her mother is coaxed out to join us. Later the man of the house stopped to visit from the fields. Farmers choose what they grow besides their “house” garden. They sell their produce together from a co-op.

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They watch American television and named their favorite shows and asked us what our favorite shows might be?  One host likes Survivor. I don’t remember the others since I don’t watch television except for PBS. And our hosts daughter was having her picture taken, imitating sexy models from television. Oh, my.

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Our next stop was the school.  The children were rehearsing for a program they’ll perform for their National Holiday, which was the next day. These three kids had speaking parts.

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There was music and dancing and marching. The kids were very excited and curious to have an audience. DSC04910 (Copy)

The older girls and boys were very curious about Owen the minute the rehersal was over. OAT always stops at a school, but most students visit Turkey during the summer. It is unusual to have a student on the tour.

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Usla interpreted for them. It was fun and one of the things I most like about traveling with OAT.

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We left the wonderful village of Karacaagac with warm feelings and bused overland to our hotel in Kusadasi, the Kismet, which sits above the harbor where we enjoyed dinner overlooking the Aegean Sea.





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I love art and have always been a wanna-be artist. Pam at one time taught art and offered to give me two lessons. She said, pick a picture you like and I’ll teach you. I’m always attracted to paintings of people, so she suggested I choose from one of the homeless people pictures I took. I have a homeless brother and I tend to do that wherever I am.

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I took two the day we were downtown Palms Springs, but, they make me sad. We considered could I turn my interest into a political statement by painting homeless people? No, the pictures make the statement. I want to paint something happy and beautiful.

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I like my bird picture I took.

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I thought the saxophonist made for a fairly simple people painting.

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Among people photos, this is the one I liked best, the woman taking a picture of her friend modeling a hat.

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Hedging the bet, I chose a simple desert scene as probably an easier place to start.

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The night before my lesson she said think of the tree of life, your life. And see if you can look around and find 20 different shades of green.  I thought maybe I could do some palm trees and mountains. When in the desert paint desert pictures, that  kind of mentality that I’ve heard from various artists over the years.

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She loaned me a book on color charts.

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In my long ago past,  (early 60’s) I tried painting with oils and it was enjoyable, but not very successful. Recently, I tried a papier mache’ sculpture and couldn’t understand how to use acrylic paints and gave up and put the thing in a box.

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After talking it over, she decided I should paint on a student canvas a person, not a tree, not a desert scene. We chose a picture of her’s of a little boy. He has a long way to go, but the palette board for acrylics is very different. The brushes, too. I learned gobs and came away energized. I’ll try and finish this painting today, or at least get it in better proportion. Not only did I get a lesson, but lunch.

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Pam made this killer soup with mushrooms, peppers, chicken breast and fennel sausage with a small amount of noodles. Delish.

On a different note: In the morning,  Jim and I walked the park, looking to find my bike, both of us knowing that this is a park full of mature people, unlikely that we would find our bike lurking under someone’s canopy. It was our morning exercise anyway, and we learned from talking to people we met that bike theft is very common in this park, especially men’s bikes, which mine was. It seems, the thieves jump the fence, choose an unguarded bike, and ride out through the gate. The next weekend it will be for sale at a flea market. We went to find a White Sheet, (sales paper) but it didn’t list flea markets. We might try a regular newspaper today. But, I’ve mentally given up the idea that I might find that bike. There must be 300 in our park alone. And, another 70 parks like ours. It is probably a very lucrative business.

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A new restaurant in Murphys, Outer Aisle, opened right on the highway. I met two friends for lunch to try it out. It is more than a restaurant; it is an organic market as well.

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If you should have to wait for anything, you can enjoy a delightful foyer, comfortable couch, good art. Hey. I like it already. A place to take your wine or beer and sip.

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Marilyn and Valerie and I kind of learned our way around. We chose an entrée with the salad bar. It is casual dining;  walk up to the bar, order what you want and someone brings it to your table. This place started out as a pizza and craft brewing place. But, oh, the building itself is beautiful and I hadn’t noticed it before.

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No pictures can do the salad bar justice, but the lettuces, cress, chopped kale and chard with many choices of in-season items, plus goat cheese and beans and… all fresh and organic. You have no idea what fresh means in a restaurant until you eat here.  Soups, too, are right from the garden. Choices this day, vegan greens, butternut squash, and I’ve forgotten the other choice.

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I love craft brews, my favorite being Black Butte Porter. They didn’t have it, but their porter was just as good, fresh on tap. Loved it. You can order organic wine, or tea. Or other choices that are not organic.

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The food itself comes right straight from the market on the opposite side of the building. Taylor farms grows and sells everything organic including grass fed beef.  The veggies are wonderful fresh choices in season.

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The refrigerated section comes with organic eggs from nearby Vallecito, meaning you don’t get them from long-term storage, moved miles across country in a refrigerated truck. I love it.

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A varied choice of bottled organic condiments, crackers, pasta, nuts, beans, cous cous, dried product not grown here, but aimed to provide healthy choices.

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This item was on the salad bar and we tried it guessing it was a seaweed mix of some kind. Kale chips freshly made that day and scrumptious.

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I talked with long time friends, Patty and Marc Miles who love Outer Aisle. I’ve never been in an organic restaurant that was so comfortable and friendly and warming. My friend Marilyn says, it is just Murphys. Maybe so. She left the county, moved to Sac, liked many things but for friendliness, she moved back into her old house.

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If you wish, on a nice day, as it has been, you can eat outside and enjoy the sun. We girl friends like to yap and Marilyn walked up to the bar and said: “I’ve been using this a lot lately, but we who are over 65 would like the music to be slightly lower.”  The attendant immediately accommodated us and we had a great visit.

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Some years, I’m imbued with Christmas Spirit. Other years I have to be dragged to the storage shed that holds the decorations. Why that is, I haven’t a clue. This year I got everything together early, humming and singing carols,  and enjoying the nostalgia of Christmases past. I invited the neighbors in for soup. Unfortunately, considerable wind damage up the hill prevented everyone from coming. The kiosk at Big Trees State Park was destroyed by a tree. Trees were blown onto several homes, others blocked driveways and the highway. Fires erupted and the winds fanned the flames. Power was out for 13 hours in some places and 26 hours in other places. Some still don’t have power. Yikes!

We sipped and nibbled. Karen, knowing I was tired of apples after my trees provided a bountiful harvest, brought me a gift.

The last apple on the tree. As you can see, it isn’t much bigger than a cashew nut.  It was a two-biter and I ate the darn thing while everyone laughed.

The Italian sausage soup was delicious and the decorations cheerful. Though missing several people, we enjoyed our time together.

I like to decorate several small trees that can be stored with their decorations intact. Our main tree is lit with candles on Christmas Eve.

The next day, with power restored,  I brought soup up to Quyles Kiln and we had lunch in the work room. Her showroom was dizzy with customers for about two hours before we got a chance to eat. While waiting, I crossed the driveway to Bryce Station Winery Tasting Room, and chatted with Pam’s sister Dolores, pouring their estate wines.

She, too, was busy, but had a small break.

I poked around the blacksmith shop and noticed two very young apprentices, a  girl and a boy.  Pam and Dolores’ father died several months ago and Eden, his first female blacksmith student, is now running the forge.

This is Eden with a young 12-year-old boy. Smithing is a fading craft, kept alive in little pockets like this one. It is basically a non-profit.

This couple told us stories of their exploits in Japan. They bought five Japanese sushi plates and a chopstick rest. Pam has that quality where her customers become instant friends.

Pam reminded me that I took video of her son’s first steps as a toddler. He is now 21 years old.  It is hard to believe we’ve been friends for so many years. While there, a guy from Copperopolis, Mark Viola, discovered the kiln and the printing presses that reside there. He was blown away that so much activity is close by and he had never seen it.  If you get a chance, Quyles Kilns  it is a great place to visit.


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