10 Steps: Turkish Breakfast

I have enjoyed Turkish breakfast in a variety of settings. My first taste of this delicious daily tradition was in a pension in Bodrum. From there, I traveled 20km to Turgutreis to stay on an ecofarm where I tasted the most delicious homemade orange jam from the trees in the backyard. My next memorable breakfast was in the apartment of two college student who prepared the usual edibles including sides of “bitter honey” and freshly prepared stove top tomato and pepper chutney. Moving from Denizli to Olympus via Antayla, I once again tasted fresh oranges from trees on the property, this time simply cut into quarters and served. I’m in breakfast heaven.

10 Steps to Preparing a Turkish Breakfast

Every Turkish breakfast included at least one Turkish person who is warm and welcoming, ready to instruct you as to the proper way to begin one’s day. Do not overlook this essential ingredient. However, since not all of us are friends with Turkish people nor have the ability to fly at a moment’s notice to Istanbul, made do with the friends and family that you have readily available. 

Ingredients: orange trees, chickens, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, honey (local), bread/simit, jam (cherry preferably), salt and pepper (for the table), Turkish teapot, small bowls, Turkish teacups, plates etc.

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  1. Prepare the tea*. A day does not begin nor end without this steaming hot beverage. Drink at will. P1050559
  2. Go outside to your orange trees and pick some oranges. Cut oranges in slices for easy consumption or boil with sugar and cloves for a sweet, sticky jam.
  3. Collect the daily eggs from your chickens or sneak across the street to the friendly farmer for some of his/her eggs. Boil water for the hardboiled variety or fry in olive oil and sprinkle with cumin and paprika. IMG_1639
  4. Take an inventory of the cheese recently purchased from the market. Slice fresh feta into squares or triangles depending on your geometric preference.
  5. Wash fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and slice accordingly. 
  6. Slice fresh bread purchased earlier that morning from the bakery. Rip simit** into pieces or leave whole.
  7. Put various condiments into adorable little bowls for easy access.P1050564
  8. Place sliced bread and simit in a basket and set the table.
  9. Fill tea glasses for guests with sugar cubes on hand.
  10. Serve. Enjoy. Repeat daily for maximum smiles. 

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Notes:

*Tea is an essential part of Turkish culture. The most common teapots look like two metal containers stacked together. The bottom pot is filled with water and placed on the stove to boil. The second stacked pot is filled with tea leaves. As the water boils, the top pot steams the concentrated tea. To serve the tea, make a ratio (3:1) of boiling water and concentrated liquid in individual glasses. 

**Simit is a soft breadstick looped into a ring shape and covered with sesame seeds. Found at all cafes and bakeries.

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Making Strawberry Jam

On Saturday and Sunday we picked strawberries in the garden. Smaller than the store-bought variety, these berries are just as sweet and completely pesticide free. Our fingers and tongues were red from the small red berries that filled our colanders and our stomachs. I asked what we would do with all of the fruit we had picked. The answer: strawberry preserves.

Strawberry preserves is the sweet taste of summer heat and sun-kissed cheeks spread thick over toast on cold winter mornings. It oozes, ruby-red and seedy, over brown crust completing the perfect PB&J. Here is an easy to follow recipe just like I learned a couple of days ago in the warm kitchen of the Hard Cider Homestead.

Strawberry Preserves:

  • 4 cups fresh strawberries (mashed)
  • 7 cups sugar
  • Certo fruit pectin
  • Canning jars and lids
  • 2 large pots
  • Butter (optional)

Cut the tops off the strawberries and put the berries in a large mixing bowl. Take a potato masher and mash the strawberries into a thick red pulp. Pour the contents (4 cups) into a sauce pan on high heat. Add the sugar and stir until the mixture boils consistently. Add the pectin and stir for 1 minute. During this time, the liquid will bubble and foam. Add a half-inch of butter to reduce the foam on the surface of the liquid. 

Remove from heat and ladle into glass jars.Screw on tops and lids. Add covered jars one by one into a pot of boiling water. Leave for 15 minutes. Remove the jars. Lids will pop when a seal has formed, preventing bacteria from contaminating the batch. Let cool and store.

A more complete recipe can be found here.

In less than 24 hours, I had followed a strawberry from its birthplace in the earth to the kitchen and into a glass container of preserves. My apron was relatively stain-free and I had successfully canned more jars than I cared to count. My newly acquired domesticity reminded me of long evenings with my mother, reading Little House on the Prairie on the living room sofa. I doubt Laura Ingalls could make strawberry preserves this good.