Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A little (blog) update

I finally got around to creating an email account for the blog. So, if you ever wanted to contact me, you can email me at poppiesandicecream@gmail.com. You will find this info on the right column and About me page, but I guess if you're reading this you don't really need the clarification (bright me).

Also, I believe some of you had trouble with the comment forms (silly blogger) so I removed the captchas/word verification. I hope this will make the process easier. So that's all for now, I hope you're having a great week.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Unexpected Paris trip

I was in Paris last week. I went there to meet two high school friends, one who came to study french and baking, and another one who is on a long trip around Europe. It had been a while since I went on such a spontaneous, out-of-the-blue adventure. Everything was decided a few days before the trip... and with a bit of encouragement of the boy I went for it. I have to admit I was a bit reluctant, not that I don't love travelling anymore or that I don't jump at the chance of walking around cities and discovering new corners of places I've already been too, but I hadn't stayed in a youth hostel for the last 8 years or so and I must confess, after working for guest-reviews for a year, a part of me was dreading the experience a bit. I'm glad I went though, we had lots of fun, walked as if there was no tomorrow, the youth hostel was clean and modern and I survived the night-trip by bus. That's right. If you ever want to travel Europe on a short-notice and on the cheap, buses are the way to go. Way more affordable than trains and low-cost airlines if you are booking last-minute. I have to recognize, the first two days were tough. I missed the husband a lot, and I constantly found myself wanting to tell him about stuff I saw, luckily he was able to join us for the weekend and all-girls time was something I hadn't experienced in quite some time. And Paris in the fall is always magic...  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunset lemon and raspberry cake

  I wish I could bake cakes everyday. The rate at which I find recipes that I want to try is way too high for our we-are-trying-to-be-healthy lifestyle. I have to take advantage of birthdays and reunions and use them as an excuse to experiment, so for my mom-in-law's birthday I was finally able to try this dreamy decoration technique with a watercolour effect. Thanks Sweetapolita for such a well-made and simple tutorial. For the cake itself I more or less used this recipe as a guide, but I changed the filling and the frosting, using a lemon-cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream. Anyhow, this is what I came up with.

 What you'll need:
For the cake
200 gr. butter
200 gr. sugar
200 gr. flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
4 eggs

For the filling
the zest of 2 lemons
lemon curd
raspberries (a small tin)
2 tbsp. sugar

For the frosting
200 gr. cream cheese
200 gr. butter
400 gr. icing sugar
the zest of 1 lemon
gel food coloring (I used teal, peach, and yellow)

Here's what to do:
Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one by one until the mix is homogeneous. Pass the flour and baking powder through a sieve and add to the batter. Grease and flour a pan. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 30 to 40 min, until a skewer comes out clean.
Take the cake out of the oven and let cool. In the meantime, put the raspberries in a bowl with the sugar and mash them a little bit. Now is time to prepare the frosting. Just put all ingredients together in a large bowl and beat them with the aid of a mixer until fluffy and creamy. Once the cake is cool, cut it lenghtwise. Fill with a layer of frosting, lemon curd and the raspberries. Then cover in frosting with a thin "crumb" layer and let it set in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. You are now free to have fun dividing your frosting in three parts and coloring it to achieve the desired hue. And now... watch the video and enjoy while you play decorate your cake. It really is as easy to do as it looks and it is oh so pretty.

Monday, October 15, 2012

These days.

 Time is going so slow lately, I wish I had a fast-forward button for life. We have been busy with doctor appointments, which in a way is exciting. Social medicine is great, but it sucks that you get a different doctor every time. At the same time, they only have 6 doctors at the polyclinic so it is starting to feel a little bit like family.  I am not sure they remember us, but we remember them so it makes it more comfortable. So far we only had a bad experience... one of the doctors is a guy, and I was not at ease the first time given the fact that in accordance to the Dutch's frugal nature they refuse to provide patients with disposable surgical gowns. What ! He was also classical Dutch in his cold approach... I don't need small talk over our next vacation plan, but some explanations would be appreciated.
 Anyhow, we have been filling the time finding new places to drink weird sweet stuff, like Taiwanese Bubble Tea, walking in the city, getting small gifts for friends and family and making fancy breakfast (hello eggs benedict) at home.
What have you been up to?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Florence Nightingale Museum in Istanbul

Ever since I read that the Hospital where Florence Nightingale started her pioneer work in nursing allowed visits and was now a Museum in her honor I knew we had to go. The thing is, this museum is located within the Selimiye Army Barracks, headquarters of the Turkish First Army and so you need a special permission to visit. This must have been the most complicated process ever, basically we spent every day of our stay calling them to ask if our request had been accepted, and ended up going on the last day of our stay. To visit, you need to fax a letter informing of your wish to visit, suggesting a time, and including your full names, passport numbers, nationality and contact details in Istanbul. We could not thank enough the receptionist from our hotel who patiently did all this for us while getting all kinds of funny questions. Apparently they thought we were spies.
 The barracks were originally built by Selim III in 1799, and were reconstructed after a fire by Sultan Mahmut II in 1827.  At the museum, you will be able to see the actual hallways that served as a hospital when Florence Nightingale was there, helping wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Upon her arrival, the mortality rate was as high as 70 %, mostly due to infections, cholera, typhus, and dysentheria. By the time she left this rate went down to 5 %, due to the careful organization and hygienic measures she initiated. You can also visit the treatment or surgery room, with an original chest tube (a primitive drain), and some of her personal objects such as books, original furniture, pictures and letters. Her living room and resting space is also available to visit. I have a thing for medical history, and I remember studying and acting  the life of Florence Nightingale for English class in 3rd grade so I was really happy to see this place.
To get there, you need to take the ferry to Harem (they go there from Eminonu) and then ask directions (or take a taxi) for the Selimiye Kıslası Harem Kapısı (the barracks). The entrance is free and it is open from 9h to 17h
Phone: (0216) 5568166.
Fax: (0216) 5531009 
Address: Nci Ordu Komutanliği 1 Üsküdar Selimiye Army Barracks

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jumping into the unknown

My eyes are red from crying and I feel I have nothing left in me. I just found out that we are going to actually have to use those hormones that we  have been keeping in the fridge for a few weeks, hidden in the bottom drawer. I had been hoping that we would not need to go through this. A part of me really thought we could do it, that this month was the month where I would pee on a stick and see two lines. I had always wanted a Juno moment, and now it has been taken away from me. I called all forces in the Universe to make this happen for us. The religious, the scientific, the supernatural, the rational, the superstitious, the hippie-dippie. I made sure we ate all the good foods. I got vitamin C and Zinc tablets for the boy, Folic Acid for me. I bought sunflower seeds. I lit candles at every church I entered. I touched the weeping pillar at Haghia Sophia, the one that is supposed to heal you and grant you a miracle. I got an eye bracelet and a Holy Spirit (Lord and giver of life) pendant.

We do not have any risk factors, and ironically all the medical tests that can be done have come out basically perfect. We aced all the exams, and still we are here, standing, lost. I've been thinking positive thoughts all along, patiently waiting for our moment. I have meditated, we have "called" our baby, and yet, here I am, with a warm water bag in my belly and an appointment for after tomorrow. We are starting IUI and I am scared as can not be put in words. Scared and sad that this happened to us. I know deep down, that as much as I am afraid, it is a blessing that we are even able to do this, that our insurance will cover it. If this is the path that has been laid in front of us, that is where we'll go. I just hope we'll get through to the other side, and I just really, really hope it will work.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ice-Cream Word Tour: Istanbul

I could not leave my Ice-Cream World Tour without a recommendation for the fabulous, turkish elastic ice-cream, also known as dondurma.  You will find it in small stands and candy shops all over the place. I had mine in Sultanahmet square, in a big terrace right in front of Haghia Sophia.
It resembles dough, and owes its remarkable elasticity to salep, a flour made of dried orchid tubers, and to mastic, a natural resin from a tree, common in Greece (Pistacia lentiscus). When you get it, you will for sure be teased by the vendor, who will pretend to give it to you and then take it away, several times. If you order two flavors, they will layer one scoop over the other. I had raspberry and lemon, the boy had chocolate and vanilla. Quite the experience and a perfect delicious treat for the warm days.
First image via here
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