these indulgent cookies were the best bayram treat we could have asked for. baked with love by alara and alegra they hit the spot as we wrapped up a whirlwind tour of the aegean coast and finally made our way back to istanbul. it was a blessing indeed to have had the chance to see such beautiful places and spend time with so many friends and family; something we were even more grateful in these trying pandemic times.
we started our trip in early July by driving down to a quiet part of the coast. we spent the first couple days of our trip in a small town called karaca sogut.
it is a haven for sailboats and the perfect shelter from the wind that is typical in the summers in the inner gulf called gokova. alegra had been at sailing camp for a couple of days when we reached the spot and although she enjoyed the sailing part of things i think she needed to be reunited with us. it has been a long 18 months of constantly being together and being thrust into an unfamiliar environment with lots of different camp rules was a little unsettling.
although navigating this shift was tricky we were happy to be in a different part of the coast and spent our time exploring bays we hadn’t seen before, discovering the ancient island city of cedrae (and it’s beach, cleopatra beach- famous for it’s healing sands), and eating out at the mecca of kitesurfing- akyaka.
our next stop was the town of bodrum. It is a real hot spot in the summer, and even more so this year as people literally flocked there to enjoy some post-covid lockdown freedom! there were boats, cars and people everywhere and i have to say it was a little (lot) too crowded for my taste!
we tried to make the best of it by taking long morning walks in the seaside village of turkbuku, eating and drinking at some of the most beautiful spots we have enjoyed in a long time, and seeing some of our close friends who are spending their summers there rather than suffering the heat of Istanbul.
our final stop was kucukkuyu. this is a small town in the northern aegean where my mother-in-law’s father (erim’s great grandfather) settled during the population exchange of WWI. known as the “mubadele”; peoples of greek origin who were living in asia minor at the end of the war were literally “switched” with peoples of turkish origin who had been living in what is now greece. the switching was rather abrupt and difficult; my mother in law’s family lore included stories about how they arrived in their new homes to find the closets and trunks still filled with the belongings of previous owners!
one small village in particular, adatepe, has been declared a historical zone and the homes and businesses have been rebuilt to their original specifications (with some modern advantages such as toilets and running water, of course). this is one of my all time favorite places in the whole world! it has a magical energy that is impossible to explain and i make an effort to visit the small town at least one time per trip. this time we were lucky enough to go up to the village more than once- each visit was special in it’s own way- we found a new cafe the first day, had a beautiful dinner with an amazing view on our second visit, and i was able to purchase some amazing wooden spoons on our last time up.
the end of our trip happily coincided with the eid holiday. known as kurban bayram here in turkey, and the feast of the sacrifice for english speakers; it is a time to come together and celebrate one’s blessings. traditionally families sacrifice a lamb or cow and share the meat with those less fortunate, this makes me a bit uncomfortable so we have joined in a more recent tradition of donating the same amount of money to foundations and organizations geared to serving the needy.
the fun part of bayram is that you get to go and visit everyone! and with it being so hot it is easy to do so in a more socially distanced outdoors way. so we went to each of my mother-in-law’s siblings homes; had a big family breakfast with the paternal side of the family; and visited some friends for a daylong poolside celebration. while i wouldn’t say it was relaxing, the whole trip ended up being so much FUN!
on our last day there the girls decided to do some bayram baking to share with the family members we visited. again, we had no muffin tin-because i forgot to pack it! and so they improvised to the tune of indulgent chocolate chunk cookies. these can be made gluten free or glutinous; but i must warn you that they are the real deal- with plenty of sugar, eggs and two kinds of chocolate they are indulgent for sure!
a small note: as I finished writing this post massive wildfires broke out, or were quite possibly set as an act of arson, throughout southern turkey. many of the beautiful places we were able to visit on our trip have been inundated with fires and smoke. roads have been closed, animals and families displaced, and lives lost. climate change, political mismanagement and oversights have all contributed to the losses that turkey has endured this week. between rapidly rising covid cases, these terrible fires, and a heat wave in istanbul it has been an emotional and difficult week. my heart is breaking for not only turkey but the world as we navigate an ever more difficult 2021.
indulgent chocolate chunk cookies-
- 2 eggs
- 2 ⅓ cup flour (use gluten free if desired)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- large pinch sea salt
- 1 tbl vanilla extract
- 1 cup butter
- big handful of milk chocolate chunks
- big handful of dark chocolate chunks
- preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- sift together flour, baking soda and salt
- beat butter, vanilla extract and sugars until creamy
- add eggs one by one and mix well
- add flour slowing, mixing well between each addition
- stir in chocolate chunks
- place spoonsized rounds of dough on baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes until edges are browned but middle is still soft
- cool on a cooling rack and serve with tea or lemonade for an afternoon treat!