My mother-in-law is at the hospital in Istanbul. It’s a planned thing and she was on a waiting list for a while. They are making yet another round of the tests to find out what exactly should be done with her thyroid gland which refuses to work properly. Baba and Özge are talking turns in visiting her. And I am back to the countryside to oversee the kitchen after a busy month in Istanbul.
We’ve been naughty without anne here. Sunday afternoon Özgür drove down and got back with a sense of accomplishment and a bag from the butcher. Lamb chops, chicken wings, spicy sausage of sucuk and minced meat to make köfte, or meatballs. Folks got salivating at the very sight and thought of the coming mangal keyfi – barbecue fun – later that evening. And my 3-sauce pasta casserole I labored over for an hour passed as a background that discussion.
Once the weekend guests have left we closed the gate downstairs and started the mangal. With the lovely urgency we apply every time when making a communal meal. Some chopping salad, some washing vegetables for the grill, some rolling köfte, some preparing the mangal, some setting up the table.
Meanwhile I put together a jar of lemonade. I used to find lemonade intimidating. For such a straight-forward beverage it calls for two many steps and too much waiting time. Until I have discovered a quick way to make this Turkish-style lemonade my mother-in-law would be fixing just before the meal. The key is to get those thick-skin lemons: their skin is not bitter and their sourness does not crook your jars. We get ours shipped straight from Anamur, homebase of my Mediterranean family.
As I was making lemonade (and just about anything for the past week anne is not here) I have been reflecting on how it feels to be here without her. She has definitely set up a good system at the kitchen which makes running around easier. How we use the kitchen space, how we store and use ingredients, how we wash dishes – you can see her in all of that. Good systems stay.
But then the kitchen without her feels simply that – a system. Bare and lone. Without her busily manner of cooking 4 dishes at the same time. Without her flavors. Without surprises she never runs short of.
Semiha abla made pastry for the Sunday breakfast. She followed the recipes from the anne‘s hand-written recipe book. And that was good pastry: we’ve finished off whatever was left from the buffet the very next day. But it was not anne’s.
Hundred times I have watched anne putting together those treats and I have developed confidence to make many on my own. She has taught me a lot. But there is so much more to learn. Without her being around I constantly feel that I need her advice. That I am not completely sure I am doing the right thing. That it would be to early to run this kitchen without her.
Fresh Turkish Lemonade
Only 7 minutes and 1 bowl to make this fresh Turkish lemonade without loosing any vitamins. And two bonus ideas on what to do with the used lemon skins.
Prep Time: 7 Min
Total Time: 7 Min
- 6 thick-skin lemons
- 1 large fresh ginger bulb
- 4 springs fresh mint
- 1 cup sugar
- 2.5 L ice-cold water
- Cut lemons into wedges and squeeze the juice out (alternatively, halve the lemons and squeeze the juice with a hand juicer) – transfer the wedges and the juice in a large bowl. Peel and grate ginger into the bowl. Tear mint brunches into a few pieces and place them into the bowl. Add sugar and give a good squeeze for a few minutes to the mixture you have in the bowl. Add cold water and squeeze the lemon skins, ginger and mint for a few minutes longer – set aside for the flavor to develop. Strain and serve – immediately or refrigerate and in 2-3 hours the flavor will get to perfection.
- Now comes the bonus: you can make at least two different beverages out of what you are about to throw – minced ginger, mint leaves, lemon skin and zest. I chop the lemon skins into tiny squares and let them dry on the sun (or in the oven) and then use for my herbal tea mix. Better still, remaining minced ginger, mint leaves and lemon zest go into a warm porcelain tea pot: add boiling water and leave covered with a thick towel for 5 min. Serve this light lemon tea still hot or chilled with ice.