Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fare Thee Well

Dear reader,

I started the Old Curiosity Shop after my first daughter, Asya, was born in 2010 and since then I've shared so many posts about my humble adventures here in Sarajevo both as an expat and a "local" along the way. Go see the previous posts please. ­čĹç 

However, I have come to decide not to write any posts and end this wonderful journey here. You can always ask me any questions about the recipes I've shared on the blog, Sarajevo or the life here, though. Please feel free to drop me a line at ozermehtap@gmail.com

I believe this end will be another beautiful beginning and that's why I am not sad at all. You shouldn't be either. 


Well, as you have already guessed, this post is to say "Goodbye" to you all. Hope you've enjoyed or at least benefited from some of the posts I've shared on this blog. 

Well, I'll be still posting photos on Instagram and telling stories there. Check them out sometime at


You won't regret; I promise. 

Thanks a million for stopping by. 

See you around.


Mehtap

Monday, June 26, 2017

DIY Terrariums: Insanely beautiful gifts

Your seven-year-old can surprise you with the simplest but insanely beautiful gifts ever and all they need is a baby food jar that you have no idea to do with and a little bit of imagination. 

Asya excitedly ran to me one afternoon with these two baby food jars in her hands. She had apparently taken the jars from the recycle drawer in the kitchen, that's where she heads whenever she 'has an idea'. 

At first glance I couldn't understand why she had brought them to me and I had no idea what those two small baby food jars were to offer me yet.

"I've made a gift for you, mom." she said.

 The moment I knelt down to see what her gift was the beauty of the amateur terrariums she had assembled on her own simply amazed me. 


She had used grass, snail shells and some flowers to create those 'spring's finally here' gifts. That's how she called her DIY terrariums, by the way. 



Well, Asya has always been a gift maker and gift giver. That's one of her personal trademarks now so I was supposed to be ready for such a gift, in theory. But she managed to surprise me and enchant me one more time with those fabulous little terrariums the arrival of spring had inspired her to make. I am not quite sure what I appreciated more: the finally arrived spring, Asya's creative inspiration and endless power of imagination, her fantastic recycling skills or her outbursts of making and giving gifts.

If you are interested in making easy DIY terrariums which need a little bit more technical details than Asya's, learn more here.



Friday, April 14, 2017

┼×ekerpare (“sheh-ker-pah-reh”)



It all started when one of colleagues at the university , Emir, and his wife, Dijana, came up with their own version of ┼čekerpare (“sheh-ker-pah-reh”) that they once tasted on their summer vacation in Istanbul a couple of years ago. 

For their own ┼čekerpare, they replaced some of the ingredients w─▒th the ones they like better; reduced the sugar for the syrup; added chopped walnuts into the dough and made bigger cookies all of which made their ┼čekerpare look unrecognisable to me. They tasted perfect though, I should admit. 

Well, I immediately realised that I had not shared any ┼čekerpare recipe on my blog and so decided to use my sister's failproof recipe for this highly popular dessert from Turkish cuisine. When you give it a try, you will see yourself that ┼čekerpare isn't tricky at all and it is super delicious. Simplicity is often the king when it comes to food after all, isn't it?

INGREDIENTS

For the dough

  • 250 grams margarine/butter, soft at room temperature 
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 tablespoons semolina 
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconuts
  • 160 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (1 packet) baking powder 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour (add the last cup gradually)
  • hazelnuts/walnuts/ almonds for top depending on your choice
  • 1 egg yolk, optional, for brushing on top

For the syrup

  • 800 grams sugar
  • 1 litre water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


METHOD

1. Prepare the syrup first.

  • Add in a saucepan the sugar, water and lemon juice.
  • Bring to a boil then gently simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has slightly thickened. 
  • Remove the pan from the stove and set aside to cool down to the room temperature. 

2.  Make the cookies.

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C degrees.
  • Grease a baking pan or tray with margarine.   
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and knead them well until smooth. 
  • Take small pieces of the dough and roll them between your palms to make balls about the size of a walnut. 
  • Place the dough balls onto the pan leaving some space in between.
  • Brush on top with beaten egg yolk. This is totally optional. I do this because it gives a golden-brown color with a highly glossy finish.
  • Press an almond, walnut or a hazelnut into the center of each cookie.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cookies get golden brown. 
  • Remove from the oven.


3. Soak the cookies in the syrup.

  • Once you remove the cookies from the oven, drizzle the syrup all over the cookies slowly using a large spoon and let them soak in.
  • When you've used up all the syrup, cover the pan/tray with foil and let the cookies soak all the syrup and cool completely. 
  • Garnish with shredded coconut or ground pistachio before serving. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mira & Safija

It's been almost nine years here. My family, friends and colleagues in Turkey have kept asking for all those years about how I exactly feel about being a foreigner in Sarajevo. 

Some of them expect me to start complaining about possible homesickness, conflicts with the locals, and/or the language barrier and its fatal consequences. Some others expect me to praise the beauty of the landscapes here, to be carried away by the nostalgia for the former Yugoslavia and/or to trace the presence of the Ottoman Empire in this fabulous land. 

Such expectations naturally require a detailed discussion of my experiences in Sarajevo so far. When I started this blog that was actually what I had on my mind: documenting my individual level of exposure to Sarajevo culture. So, this post, in that sense, will serve as just another story to build my own story in Sarajevo intended to meet some of those expectations.

Well, what I love most about living in this city is that I am surrounded by people from culturally diverse backgrounds. This has its practical consequences for me such as having the opportunity to meet different cuisines and several religious, philosophical, political and ideological views encapsulated in one single city. 

Interestingly enough, this diversity has not resulted in chaos as most of the locals complain about. On the contrary, as a foreigner, I feel like just another pinch of spice  added to this amazing mixture of flavours. 'I too am one of those many 'different' components of life in Sarajevo after all and I am no different then.' This is very welcoming and this is the very feeling I have when I think about my place in this city, which has been confirmed by endless examples in the past nine years.

Please take a look at the two photos below. 

I found the basket full of all those greens in it in front of my door one day after a hectic day at work. It did not take me long to guess who left the basket there because it was not the first time that I had received such gifts from the same person: Teta Mira. She is an elderly neighbour who brings you some kale or Swiss chard leaves from her own garden just because she knows that you are still breastfeeding and greens are good for the baby. 


Teta Mira's treats

And I received some fresh raspberries in that tupperware accompanied by some fresh mint leaves and flowers from Safija, a dear friend, when Asya returned from a playdate at her place. Since she is a dietician and knows the best about combining food, she made my day by sending this little gift to us. 

Safija's afternoon treats 

I believe even these two individual examples of kindness and thoughtfulness on their own would be enough to describe the fantastic people I live among in Sarajevo or how grateful they make me feel every now and then. Yes, this is what I like most about living in Sarajevo.