My plants are not happy with me and all this traveling. It’s not so much the watering that they miss, it is the conversation.
You can call me Mary Poppins
Todays Backpack contents:
1 bag of baby carrots
1 bag dried Red Lentils
1 Macbook pro
1 apple charger
1 phone charger
1 bottle of vanilla extract and 1 bottle of lemon extract (from Keith and Allie)
1 phone car charger
1 windbreaker from Celebrity Apprentice
1 copy of Tom Robbin’s Skinny Legs and All
1 copy of Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City
1 blue money pouch with my Celebrity Apprentice and Food Network ID badges
1 piece of paper with the best Turkish Restaurants in NYC written on it from a Cabbie
1 bag of change
1 used starbucks cup
2 Mix CD’s from Kathleen
1 bar of soap
1 tube toothpaste
What do you have in your bag today?
The Plaid Shoes Adventures
Goldbug HotSprings, Idaho
The moon’s glow melted into the horizon as the sun painted the sky with rosehips and calendula. Autumn’s harvest.
I wiped the frost from my brow and laughed at the frozen clothes still clinging to the picnic bench from last night’s adventure in the Challis Hot Springs. We shook the cold from our bones and defrosted our thoughts with the hopes of cowboy coffee as we packed our cottonwood smoke-filled sleeping bags into the oversized – but comfortable - truck. Our 8 mm memories of sleeping under the diamond sea of the Idaho night replaying to the soundtrack of the breaking dawn guided us through the mountains to the trailhead of Goldbug Hot Springs.
A lemon sage scented day hike warmed our bodies as the sun gently laid its blanket over the crisp morning. Mesmerized by the game trails blazing their way through the strata of the ancient wild sagebrush, we entered the craggy canyon with dreams of the hot soaks and lush undergrowth at the end of our uphill battle. We challenged the ever shifting shards of rock biting our feet - the final stone dragons protecting the treasure at the top of the slope.
Out of breathe, but filled with spirit, we reached our green oasis. Clad only in our birthday suits and plaid shoes, we reveled in the hot waterfalls and steamy soaks of the tumbling geothermal stream - nourishing our minds and bodies in that single repleting moment of peace.
Ramazan Pide - Turkish Flatbread
As the first buds of rebirth show their blossoming face each Spring, the most vicious, ugly and relentless insect on earth infests my backyard - The Travel Bug. Despite the hoards of cilantro flavored stink bugs that taunt every human who constantly lives in hope that the neighborhood Mexican restaurant doesn’t infuse their guacamole with the ever soapy cilantro plant, I can smell the aroma of the Travel bug from miles away. Its sweet cultured bouquet rips at my senses and gives me a full-body itch to get out of the “wherever I am” and shake the winter’s frost right off my clothes. So you can imagine the swarm of thoughts that fly through my mind as I bounce around the house throwing open my windows, swinging all the doors ajar and welcoming that little sucker right into my entire being.
This past year I was visited by my very first International Travel Bug – and he came way too early; November. I invite you to picture my roommate’s confused face as I raced around the house throwing open windows in early winter. Actually, now that I think about it, it may have inspired him to counter balance our front door with a very full wine rack that would hold the door open; he is an engineer and it’s science. But that’s neither here nor there and my memory might be a bit fuzzy after downing several shots with Avi and booking our flights to Turkey. Just to be clear, by several shots, I mean an inhuman amount. So our friend the Travel Bug struck early and we had to wait nearly nine months before our plane would leave the states and take us to the other side of the world.
As an aside, I would just like to take a minute to explain that I don’t consider Canadian Travel Bugs to be a member of the International Travel Bug Society (ITBS). Shhh… let me explain. A few months before I left for Turkey, I took a spontaneous white water rafting trip to Montreal and I didn’t receive the ever-coveted border stamp while crossing into universal healthcare utopian Canada. Thusly, it didn’t really happen. Right? Truthfully, I wasn’t really bitten by the Travel Bug prior to this trip, It was Joey that bit me. That’s just embarrassing for him. But what can you do? It just occurred to me that the fact that our rafting guides only spoke French is a good argument to start the Canadian Travel Bug campaign to join the ranks of the rest of the ITBS community. I wish you had seen us “training” in french with our guides, ESPECIALLY since my French is limited to saying “ I am just a petite crustacean”. Remembering the sea of confused looks that we were all shooting each other as we robotically repeated "RAMEZ! RAMEZ!" makes me giggle A LOT. (I just asked my friend Caitlin how to say “to row” or “to paddle” in french, she is pretty much google, I hope she is right.) The good news is that we all survived our white water adventure on the Rouge River and despite the hilarity of my adventures amongst the – forgive my crassness - French speaking rednecks of the Montreal woods, I still maintain that my trip to Turkey really was my first trip abroad – and I will argue that to the death; as irrational as that is. Also, I apologize for “shhh-ing” you.
So Colin, Kathleen, Avi and Myself piled onto our small plane (47 people across, finished basement, a guest house and apartment set above the garage) in August and embarked on one of the most spectacular trips I have ever taken. I was blown away by the kindness and the welcoming nature of the Turkish people. I would return there the second I have the opportunity. The four of us ventured all over the county, reveled in the good-natured spirit of everyone we encountered and bathed ourselves in turkish culture and food.
Besides the cay (Turkish Black Tea), the decadent Nutella filled cookies and the infinite fresh fruits and vegetables, one our staple foods while travelling was Ramazan Pide – Turkish Flatbread served during Ramadan. As most of our meals were included with the cost of staying in the local pensions, we would supplement our "in-between" meals by visiting local venders and purchasing the Ramazan Pide. The freshly baked bread costs about 1.5 Turkish Lyra ($1USD) and could feed the 4 of us (we would get 2 if we were feeling particularly heffer-like that day). There was nothing better than picnicking in a gorge, in some ancient ruins or in the Star Wars like desert of Cappadocia – stuffing our faces with the pide slathered with local honey, some fresh cheeses and a perfectly ripened tomato.
As most of you know, I am a huge fan of experimenting with recipes and enjoying the local food during my travels, so to say that I have became obsessed with Turkish food would be an understatement. Luckily I have access to Avi and his family and they are very willing to share their family recipes with me. In an attempt to bring a piece of Turkey home with me to NYC, I have recreated one of the best parts of our trip; The Ramaman Pide. Enjoy.
1 packet instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cup warm milk
4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm milk. Stir well so the yeast dissolves. Cover it with a towel, let it rest 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift flour and salt. Add the bubbly yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cup warm milk. Mix and put the dough on the lightly floured counter and knead well for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth (no more crumbles).
Then spread 1 tsp of olive oil inside a clean bowl. Place the dough in it and spread another tsp of olive oil with your hands all over the dough. Put aside for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature until the dough rises to double its size. (My trick is to boil a large pot of water, pour the water into a baking pan and place in the bottom rack of the oven. I place the bowl with the dough on the top rack to rise. The oven remains off and the humidity from the boiling water makes the yeast really happy.)
Place the dough on the lightly floured counter. Press all over it with your hands to get rid of air bubbles ( A gentle version of punching out the dough).
Cut the dough in 2 pieces with a knife. Knead and give a ball shape to each, cover with a damp towel, and put aside for about 15 minutes.
Place parchment paper on two oven trays, then arrange the doughs on the trays. Then use your palm to flatten each ball into a flatter rounded shape.
Lightly beat the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Dip your finger tips in it and press all over the dough. Sprinkle some black or regular sesame seeds all over and cover with a clean damp towel. Leave for about 35-40 minutes to rise at a warm place. I made two different shapes (a rectangle and a circle) to see how thin I could make the dough.
Preheat the oven to 450 F and put some water in an oven-safe bowl (you can use the same water from before). Place it on the bottom of the oven. Place one of the trays on the middle rack. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes (could take longer depending on your oven, my last round took 20 minutes) until the color becomes light golden. Place the pide on the clean towel to cool it down a bit. Then bake the second dough. Serve while still warm.
Makes 2 Turkish Ramadan Pide.
* After baking Pide, let it cool for 5 minutes, then place in a clean plastic bag. It will be more soft this way:)
I found that (although delicious) the round shape had risen too much during baking. It wasn’t the same texture as the bread I enjoyed on my last trip to Turkiye.
The next ” circular” batch that I make, i will use the opposite end of a wooden spoon to make deep indentations in the dough and then use the egg wash and sesame seed topping.
The rectangular shape, on the other hand was absolutely perfect. If you haven’t tried this bread before, I recommend giving it a shot, I mean who doesn’t like the smell of freshly baked bread emitting from their kitchen?
Are you looking for all the answers?
EFES Beer (Official beer of our trip to Turkey last year) has modernized the concept of the magic eight ball and has made it accessible to all of us. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, please take advantage. For me, the kindness of the people and the culture could only be matched by the glory of the landscape. What an amazing trip.
Avi has picture skillz
Dondurma Go Mastic: Oh hey Colin and Kathleen
Rest Stop: eating the best peaches of my life. Also, not aware of the long trip down the wrong road I was about to take. Gotta love rebar and running it over.
View from Pension
EFES after cruise
*Thank you droid for having a decent camera.