28 December 2015

Graduation Fear and Spiced Orange Shrub

I have been in Turkey for almost three years now. I've studied Turkish on and off since shortly after I arrived. I did three levels at one school then stopped for over a year I think. Wow now that I am thinking about it that was a long time. Then I took two more classes at a different school and quit because I thought I was leaving. Then when I wasn't leaving I had to wait for there to be enough students to make a class for the level I was in. Since about February though I've been steadily taking courses and last week I, along with my class friends, graduated. 

So I guess that means I speak Turkish, right? I graduated. I've finished. There are no more courses. Ergo I speak Turkish. I am so not ready to graduate!!

Aslan & me-ready for our close up!

Deli Kedi-how I feel about graduation
Ugh, no! Not ready!

Like many establishments in Istanbul, street cats are pretty free to make themselves at home at Turkuaz (which I highly recommend if you're interested in learning Turkish!) and there are many familiar faces among them. There's the cat that's always dirty and slightly sick but who just lays about sleeping. There's the deli (crazy) cat who constantly meows, zips around, and demands attention. And there's Aslan (lion) who I named when she first started hanging out with us this summer. Her paws were just so much bigger than she was and I thought she looked like a lion cub. She crawls around all of us during class wanting pets and cuddles and disturbs our note taking by trying to play with our pens when we're writing. She has a purr that's about three times her size.

No scurvy happening here!

My clever segue into alcohol is that a) my Turkish is always a little better after a few drinks and b) the thought that I now have to function in Turkish (since I no longer have the excuse that I'm just learning!) really makes me want to drink. Frankly so does the Turkish language. It's fracking hard! Like really, really hard. I know hard languages. I took five years of Russian,  three years of Mandarin, one in Taiwan, and a year and a half of Arabic. Turkish falls somewhere in the middle of all of those for degree of difficulty. The words just don't end, especially the verbs. You can pile suffixes onto words - INCLUDING THE VERBS - pretty much forever. I'm a little horrified even talking about it.

Cheap Turkish wine, vinegar...same thing really
Shrub, which is basically fancy drinking vinegar and is often made out of overripe fruit can be drunk on it's own or mixed with liquor and/or soda. E got really into making shrub over the summer. I think she made one peach and one strawberry. She likes things rather less sweet than do I so hers...needed to be cut pretty significantly. The first one I tried was sooo vinegary that my face did that thing where it basically caved in on itself. You know what I'm talking about...like when you taste something super sour and your mouth tries to retreat into your face, you wrinkle your nose, and squeeze your eyes shut like if you can't see it you can also no longer taste it.

Most people view shrub as a summer thing but I found a great recipe for spiced orange shrub. Call me crazy but the combined scents of oranges, cinnamon, and clove have always smelled like Christmas! What better flavor for making Christmas and New Year cocktails?! It's a bit sticky in the making and I've had to sponge off my counters so many times they've probably never been this clean...

In the end, absolutely worth all the stickiness. I like to mix it with vodka and sparkling water. And after it's been strained the orange slices make nice garnish!

Recipe (adapted from Cooking Stoned):
  • 1 pound oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/12 cups champagne vinegar*
  • 5 black pepper corns
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
Special equipment:
  • quart-sized jar of some sort 
  • sieve
  • mortal and pestle (or other poundy tool)
  • another jar, bottle, something
  1. Wash and dry the oranges. Quarter them lengthwise then cut crosswise about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Alternate layers of orange slices and sugar in the jar. Close it up and shake until as many of the orange slices as possible are coated with the sugar. Set aside for FIVE hours.
  3. While you're being patient, crush the bejesus out of the pepper corns, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Enjoy the scent because it smells great-the addition of the black pepper is surprisingly nice.
  4. ....Five hours later add the vinegar to the jar, seal it really well, and shake the crap out of it to dissolve remaining sugar. Then add the crushes spices. shake it up a bit more, and store in a dark space for day.
  5. Strain  the liquid into another jar, a bottle, a whatever.
  6. Enjoy!
*I can't get champagne vinegar at my Carrefour. Or white wine vinegar. Just regular white vinegar which is far too astringent for this. Instead I used Sava brand white wine (which let's face it is basically vinegar anyway) and a few tablespoons of white vinegar.

No comments: