08/11/2011

First catch your pumpkin: a recipe.

I' ve always felt a bit iffy about recipes that start with 'First, catch a rabbit'. I think Mrs. B used it, but given she was a London journalist, and she' d never set foot any where she could have caught a rabbit, one would be justified in thinking it was done for show.
So for readers who feel as I do, I apologise for this extravaganza.


First catch a bus, from the Ankara bus station, ASTI, in the direction of Nevsehir. At Nevsehir, get into a smaller bus to Goreme. When you get off, walk to your hotel, greet the owners like the old friends they have become, dump your bags, and go off for a restorative meal and walk.



The next day, hop into a minibus, driven by an even older friend, Zekerya bey, leaving the kids to sit at the back with his daughter, and enjoying the view. Drive south. Make your first stop at the market in Urgup. Feel a bit sad at the sight of the cows and sheep lined up for the coming sacrifice (Kurban Bayram), reflect that they've got it easier than the cows whose bits you buy in the supermarket most week. Let go.

Look at weird stuff, get daughter to ask what it is, taste it - like stewed apples, she says - buy a little, 'cause what the hell. The leaves make good tea, they say.
Study grapes, ripening in wooden crates, lettuces, lined up like wallpaper, nuts, herbs and spices in rolled up vinyl bags. No apples thanks, we'll pick our own, later.





Settle on a pumpkin vendor, ask his price: 1tl a kilo. This small one is three kilos - that's cheap and not too big to carry back.


They have olives! Husband is excited. He thought he'd missed the olive season. Not the olives in jars season, you understand: the raw olive season. He likes to prepare them himself in brine. We buy four kilos.




Next get everything back in the minibus. Drive some more. Stop off to look at some old stone with writing on it. It's not in any of our guides, we've never heard of it before, and have no idea what the writing is. Some really strange hieroglyphs.


A couple more stops: a prehistoric village with houses you can climb into, a monster of a church with Byzantine pretensions, surrounded by a huge monastery complex dug into the stone. No one around: again, this is not in any of our guides.

Our final destination: Soganli. Zekerya bey calls the restaurant ahead to tell them we're coming. They're crowded with two tour groups: but they'll make room for us, we come this time every year.

Out of the bus we fall, Max carrying a huge empty Safeway shopping bag.
The tables are set indoors. Normally we eat in the orchard but it's bloody freezing. But before lunch the ritual. Zekeya shakes the apple trees. The fruit falls every where and the children run and gather it in Max's bag. Zekerya and the restaurant owner cry: 'more! more!'



Bring the bag home after the holiday: fifteen kilos of apples, a pumpkin, some olives, and other essentials.


Carve the pumpkin for Halloween. Use the flesh for a soup, and for a pie.
Put a handful of flesh in a pan with a spoonful of water. Heat it a bit. Don't burn.



Wizz it with a hand mixer. Bang it in the fridge till you need it - it should keep a couple of days.
Mix a small carton of cream with the pumpkin. Add cinammon, crushed allspice, and grate what may or may not be mace into it. Add a bit of sugar, not much.
Prepare a crust: 200 g of white flour, 120g of cold butter, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and a bit of salt. If you use gluten-free flour, add an egg yolk. Mix with your fingers and don't be ages about it. Add a bit of cold water, roll it, flatten it on some grease proof paper, put the greased pie dish on top, turn it over and make it fit.

Add the pumpkin mix, bang in the oven for about half hour. Take it out to cool, well out of the way of the cat. Eat.


1 comment:

Erin said...

Glad you're back #2... blogger would not accept my first comment.

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