we are back in istanbul and thoroughly enjoying a short little break in the city. luckily for me, the weather is finally a little cooler and i have even felt a tiny bit chilly sitting in the garden in the evenings!
this week is a really, really big week for us- asya is getting ready to go to college for the first time! we have spent the weekend packing and planning and on tuesday, just two days from now, we will be on a flight to the u.s. to get her settled into georgetown!
sending a child off to school is a very funny thing.
I am simultaneously thrilled for her! i went to Georgetown and i loved it! the school, the city, the people- i am definitely biased but you really just couldn’t ask for more in a university.
but sending her off, as exciting as it is, is certainly also bittersweet.
asya is my first baby. i can’t believe how quickly she went from baby to young lady! a silver lining of the covid crisis is that we got to spend much more time with her this past year than we ever expected. for this i am truly grateful. asya is a sweet, kind, easy going person and her presence at home has been a real gift. not having her at home is going to take some real getting used to…
in the meantime though, we still have our sunday to enjoy- and these summery fresh breakfast muffins turned out to be a great way to enjoy the calm before the storm! as always, i had mine with a nice cup of hot coffee but i’ve been told they are delicious paired with an iced latte too!
2 cups organic almond flour
3 tbl chia seeds combined with 6 tbl water
2 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl coconut oil (melted)
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
The zest of one lemon
1 cup mixed berries
2 tsp ground ginger
preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a muffin tin with muffin liners
combine chia seeds and water and set aside
mix lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract
add in chia seed combination and mix well
in a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt and ground ginger
combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well
fold in lemon zest and berries
spoon into muffin tin
bake for 22-24 minutes until tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle come out clean
cool fully on a cooling rack- store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days 🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋
when i was a little girl we used to spend our summers in a tiny little apartment that was located right on the edge of the bosphorus in a small part of istanbul called cengelkoy. this was before the bosphorus waters became too polluted to swim in so we spent our days playing outside, jumping in and out of the water and using our small rowboat to go out fishing. it was a perfect way to spend the summer and i loved every minute of it!
while our house was small, we did have a large wrap around balcony- perfect for early morning breakfasts and afternoon tea times- and just above the balcony there was a peach tree that would bear fruit every july. we could literally pick peaches from the comfort of our own front door- with a quick rinse they were ready to eat and were some of the most delicious fruits i have ever tasted.
i still love a good peach and use fresh peaches in a number of ways- they are great with some crumbled cheese; delicious grilled; perfect for sangrias and a wonderful way to make summer muffins too!
alara kindly baked this week’s muffins as an afternoon activity and i enjoyed them thoroughly as a light breakfast. i added a bit of almond butter to mine for some extra am protein and of course, added a nice cup of coffee too. this recipe isn’t vegan but it is gluten free- and i enjoyed the addition of cornmeal as a nice change from the other muffins we made this summer.
try the recipe if you have the chance and let me know what you think 🍑 🍑🍑
3 fresh peaches
½ cup buckwheat flour (or regular gluten free flour mix)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup cornmeal
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground ginger
large pinch sea salt
¼ cup butter
⅓ cup organic yogurt
preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a muffin tin with liners
mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground ginger
in a separate bowl beat butter and sugar until fluffy. add egg and vanilla extract and mix again.
add the yogurt and a couple of scoops of flour mixture and stir
stir in the remaining flour mixture until well combined
fold in the peaches- this will help to thin the dough
pour into muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
remove from oven and allow muffins to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool fully
store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days (if they last that long!!)
we are home! and as we have been reunited with the muffin tin we are finally back on track with our sunday muffins!!
this week’s muffins are something i have been craving for a long time. summer vegetables are some of my favorites and i just love anything that has zucchini in it!
easy to make and easy to eat, these muffins are the perfect breakfast muffin–I had mine with some sliced tomato, a drizzle of olive oil and some delicious turkish olives… let me know what you pair your muffins with, i always love a good breakfast suggestion!
1 cup grated zucchini- strain the excess water and set aside for later
½ cup almond milk
½ tbl apple vinegar
2 tbl olive oil
1 cup buckwheat flour
¾ cup gluten free oats
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
generous pinch of sea salt
2 tbl finely chopped dill
¼ cup cashew cream
preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius and line a muffin tin with muffin liners
mix together zucchini water, almond milk, olive oil and apple cider vinegar and set aside
in a large bowl combine buckwheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt
slowly add in wet ingredients and mix until combined
add cashew cream, zucchini and dill and mix once more
pour into muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
cool on a cooling rack
store in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature or a week in the fridge- these muffins will freeze well if you want to make an extra batch to enjoy once zucchini season is over!
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 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!
so remember how we are going with the flow and being creative this week because we have no muffin tin?
well, the results have been pretty amazing so far!
alara and alegra were itching to bake something gluten free and delicious for this sunday’s recipe and i was really craving a yummy breakfast treat to go with my morning coffee and here is what we came up with- a completely delicious, completely gluten free almond apricot tart!
i adore fresh apricots and try to eat them as long as they are in season 🌱🌱🌱 we are lucky here in southern turkey because the land is so fertile that finding good fresh fruits and vegetables is always easy.
and so, with a big bag of ripe apricots ready to go, the girls set off on their next baking adventure…
1 cup organic almond flour
1 cup gluten free flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup yogurt
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup butter- browned and cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground ginger
6 apricots halved and pitted (you may need more depending on the size of your tart pan)
preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
mix together almond flour, gluten free flour, baking powder, salt and ginger
in a separate bowl whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla extract
combine wet and dry and mix well
pour batter into greased tart pan and spread evenly with a spatula
press apricots halves, skin side down, into batter- sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar if desired
bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
cool completely on a cooling rack and then slice and serve for a great breakfast treat; or with your morning coffee or afternoon tea!
this year’s celebration is a little different! alegra and i are on the way to the southern turkey where she will attend a sailing camp for 10days. it feels very summery and july-like to be off to sail and i am so proud of her for taking a chance and trying something new!
alara knew we would be leaving first thing today and so she very, very sweetly baked us fourth of july cupcakes for the road! she decorated them in red and blue with white sprinkles in honor of the holiday and i have to say i am pretty impressed 🙂
alara tells me the recipe was super simple and foolproof- we added a bit less maple syrup than usual and she was so smart to add a whole bunch of cinnamon and ginger because she knows i love a little spice!
I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday whether you are celebrating or not- send us pictures if you have fireworks and tag us if you try the cupcakes too!
½ cup butter
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups almond flour
¼ cups coconut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
frosting and sprinkles if desired
preheat 180 degrees celsius , and line your muffin tin
whisk together butter eggs syrup and vanilla
next,add flowers baking powder and spices,mix well
scoop batter into muffin tin and bake for 12-15 minutes
once tops are golden brown remove from oven and place on cooling rack
frost and decorate as desired- for a less sugary version decorate with chopped strawberries and blueberries-perfect for the fourth of july!!! 🌟❤️💙
sunday muffins…. gluten free and vegan lemon poppyseed…
i am happy to report that with the exception of not having any muffin tin liners left at home this recipe went off without a hitch! and, as an added bonus- just as i was contemplating prepping for the muffins one of my best buddies here in istanbul sent me a giant bag of lemons! it was fate.
i woke up early to bake these for our breakfast and it was so worth it. nearly sugar free, the lemony taste with the poppyseeds was just perfect and i savored my muffin with a fantastic cup of morning coffee.
it was early enough that i was moving a bit slowly, but i would say these muffins could be ready in one-hour tops. have your ingredients ready and a hot oven waiting, and you will be set.
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed with 6 tbsp water- mix and set aside)
½ cup nut mylk
1/3 cup coconut oil-softened
2 tbsp baking powder
½ tbsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup almond flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp poppy seeds
preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. (400f)
line muffin tin with muffin liners or grease with coconut oil and sprinkle with almond flour
mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest
in a separate bowl mix flax eggs, lemon juice, coconut oil and nut mylk
combine wet and dry ingredients and spoon into muffin tin
cook for 20-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 minutes) and cool on baking rack
another lockdown weekend; another funny muffin story!
yesterday i was absolutely exhausted. i had bitten off too many weekend projects, had too many meals to cook and way too many things to tidy and by the time our muffin baking rolled around i had really had it with the idea of being in the kitchen.
my beautiful children came to the rescue! alegra loves all things cooking related anyway so she was ready to help and alara has been studying like a crazy person for her upcoming in-person exams. we still don’t know if these exams will actually happen but, rightfully so, she really wants to be prepared. give or take a few days, when she goes back mid-week, she will have not hand any in person learning for exactly 12 months. (the other two did have the opportunity to go to “real” school in the fall so alara holds our family record for number of days of online school.)
i had planned to make some very berry muffins- one of my favorites- but i had not planned well enough to actually make sure we had all the ingredients we might need. oops.
we did seem to have an inordinate amount of coconut flour, so that is what we used. the end result was good, although very coconutty! if you do decide to recreate our coconutty berry muffins just be prepared to use a bit more almond milk as coconut flour tends to soak up liquid more than other gluten free flours.
1 ½ cups gluten free flour (in hindsight i recommend using an almond flour and oat combo)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¾ cup nut mylk (or more if using coconut flour)
1 flax egg (or regular if not vegan)
8 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mixed frozen berries
¾ cup brown sugar
preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (375 f)
prepare muffin tin with liners
combine berries and sugar and mix gently- set aside