Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Like everyone else that I know, one of Seyfi and mine`s new years resolutions is to eat more healthy.  It`s not that we have a very unhealthy diet, but we have days where we can get a bit lazy, and eat anything, not thinking about the health benefits of it.

On this same track, we have decided that we should eat more vegetables, less meat, and try out as many new recipes as we can.

So far it is going really well.  We both feel so much better, more energetic, and the girls are eating everything so far as well.

Part of the new foods we have been eating is brussels sprouts.

I have never really liked brussels sprouts, the are a bit stinky, and have an odd taste.

Growing up my brother and I used to share one, just to be able to say that we had at least tried one.

I decided to give them a try, they do seem to be very trendy right now, and we are so close to Brussels, and they are in season…

However, I decided that I would not cook them the way my mother does… she boils them, and calls them delicious…

I found this recipe for them roasted with a Honey-Dijon sauce on them, they are so delicious!  I swapped out the honey for agave syrup so that Ela could have some as well.

If you think you don`t like brussels sprouts, give this recipe a try, it just may change your mind!

Honey-Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Adapted from Parents Magazine

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1 c. boiling water

2 Tbsp. agave syrup

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 kg. trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts

1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 C.  Soak the cranberries in the boiling water for 5 minutes and then drain the water.

In a large bowl, mix the agave syrup, oil, mustard, salt and pepper.  Add the cranberries, brussels sprouts and walnuts.  Toss well.

Spread the dressed brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet.   Roast for 30 minutes or until the brussels sprouts are tender, and the leaves are just beginning to brown.


Winter in Belgium…

A rare sunny day in Brugge....

With all the snow that has been falling in Turkey, and in Canada, I am really missing my white winters.

Our first winter in Belgium was a weird one, there was actually snow, and not just a little bit, but a lot of snow, it was wonderful.  It also happened over the Christmas break, so we had a white Christmas.

It is also the first Christmas that Alara really remembers, so now, she finds it so strange when there is no snow at Christmas (poor kid…)

Our landlord told us that it wasn’t normal, that in the past fifty years he could only remember one other winter like that one.

And for the past two years the winters we have been living the ‘real’ Belgian winter.

It’s cold, not freezing, but cold.

It’s damp, and often there is rain, and the rain is cold.

Worst of all, it is grey.  There is a real lack of sun.

Now sometimes, like this weekend, the call for snow.

And sometimes, that snow comes!

And then within a few hours it quickly turns to rain, and we are back to our typical Belgian winter.

Now, I’m not complaining about living here in Belgium, I actually really love it, but one does get tired of the rain.

So, while you are sitting in our house, with the snow falling outside, thinking about having to shovel your drive way, or dreaming of a snow day…

Think of me, getting out my rain boots and umbrella to walk to Alara’s school to pick her up.

She never has a snow day!

A grey day in Ghent....

A grey day in Ghent….

Gone Girl… A Review

Everyone is talking about this book, and I mean everyone!

All the book blogs that I listen to, Books on the Nightstand, Literary Disco, the Readers…
Joy the Baker mentioned it on her podcast a few months back…
My friends and my sister…

Like I said, everyone is talking about this book, and now I am.

I’m going to start by saying, that I don’t typically read thrillers. I don’t like surprises, I don’t like plot twist that I can’t predict.

I don’t like dark books or mean characters.

Having said that, I loved this book.

I couldn’t put it down, I read it in three days (Ok all you people who read books in a day, I have two kids under the age of four, and I had a huge assignment due for my Masters course… otherwise I probably would have read it faster.)

So what is this amazing book about…

It is about a couple who have fallen on many levels of hard times. Hard times in their relationship, hard times financially, and even hard times mental. Basically they are pretty unhappy people.

On the day of their five anniversary, the wife Amy, who is a bit of a ‘celebrity’ goes missing. The story is told from two points of view, hers and her husband’s, Nick.

I don’t want to say anything else about the plot for fear that I will give something away.

I do want to say that this book was a real page turner, I would recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a good nail-biter/read.

Since reading the book, I have now recommended it to just about everyone that I talk to, and now, my friends, I am recommending it to you!

I think the sign of a good author is that after reading one of their books, you want to go on and read more of their books, Gillian Flynn must be a great author because I have just bought her first two books, and can’t wait to get into them!

Happy Reading!


So I am a booker…. I love to read. I’ve been this way my whole life, it isn’t a problem, but it can be an expensive hobby…

Because I read so many books, I often forget titles, plots, whether it was good or I liked it…

This problem was solved a few years ago, when I got onto Goodreads, a website where I can make notes of what I’ve read, or want to read and whether or not I liked it. I can also see what my friends and family are reading, and what complete strangers think of certain books. There are book clubs and discussion groups…

It really is for book lovers…

For as much as I love reading, I also have a total fascination with authors, what is their process, how did they get started, any tips?

The other day, I opened my email, and there was an invitation to watch a live video chat with Philippa Gregory , one of my absolutely favourite authors!

I had to watch.

Luckily, Seyfi took the girls for a walk, I made myself a cup of coffee and watched her chat.

She talked about her books, writing, and the new tv series that the BBC is making of the first three books of her cousins war series.

It was awesome! When could I have ever seen something like that otherwise.

Well, actually, it happened the day before as well, I was following Goodreads on twitter, and happened to see a tweet about a live video chat with Amor Towles, who wrote the book Rules of Civility

I loved his book, and watching him talk was also very neat.

I really love Goodreads, and although they don’t know that I am writing about them, I hope that you will find me on Goodreads, and see what I am reading…

A Perfect Food Day

A Perfect Food Day… I hadn’t really ever consciously thought about it until I last week when I was listening to the Spilled Milk podcast and Molly and Matthew were talking about their perfect day of food.

Their perfect days sounded so good, and they seemed to be having so much fun putting it together, that I thought…

Let’s put together our Perfect Food Day!

My perfect food day, doesn’t involve restaurants… It’s all food to be eaten at home with my family….

Ok, well, lets start the day as we should, breakfast- I would definitely have to enjoy a long Turkish breakfast (preferably outdoors). The thing I love most about a Turkish breakfast is the social aspect, sitting down with family and friends eating slowly, drinking cups and cups of tea, chatting, reading the paper, doing sudoku… It really is the best way to start a Saturday or Sunday…

So what does a Turkish Breakfast include?

What doesn’t it include? Tomatoes, cucumbers, white cheese, hard cheese, olives, eggs, parsley, fried potatoes and peppers, honey, jam, butter, crusty bread, fresh orange juice, Turkish tea….

Now usually, after that breakfast, I wouldn’t want lunch, but on a perfect food day, there would be no tummy aches, so here’s lunch…

Something you may not know about me, I’m a sandwich girl. I personally think that a sandwich can be eaten anytime, anywhere. My two favourites are toasted tomato (best when eaten with my dad) and cheese, pickle and mustard.

For my perfect food day though… It would have to be a sandwich like this- whole wheat sliced bread, cheddar cheese, turkey breast (not lunch meat), tomatoe, lettuce, sliced pickles, mayonnaise, mustard, fries on the side with ketchup. San Pellegrino to drink….

In the Podcast, they also chose a snack. There are so many snacks to choose from, but if I had to choose one, than it would have to be nacho chips and some sort of salsa layered dip, or veggies and onion dip.

Are you full yet?

Dinner, yes, what’s for dinner. This one is easy, lasagna, caesar salad, garlic bread. Glass of red wine, probably a Pinot noir…. Easy.

And for dessert- chocolate brownie, with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce…. With a coffee…

What do you think?

Are you full?

What is your Perfect Food Day?

Write about if in the comments, or on your own blog, and put a link in the comments!

Friday Favourites… It’s been a long summer…

What a great summer we have had here!

We went to England and Wales for visiting and because I have started back to school and had some course work to do. I’m a student again! Loving it?!? It will make for an interesting year!

We went to the beach a few times, and to Paris (again). We’ve hung out with some great friends, and unfortunately some of our great friends have moved away…

Alara has started piano lessons, and is doing really well. She has enjoyed her summer vacation, but is looking forward to seeing her friends at school!

Ela is crawling (all over) and standing up now! She’s such happy baby!

Here we are, heading into our last year here and Belgium. This summer has made us realize all the things we still need to do and see! You can believe that we will seeing everything that we get up to before our return to Turkey.

Here are some links to things I’ve been finding interesting…

A friend of mine from Ankara wrote a great post about figs on her blog,
Far From the Sticks

Joy the baker Podcast talked about some of my favourite things, book clubs, nail polish and autumn fashions.

NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour is the podcast that I have been listening to like crazy! So funny and interesting!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Favourites

I can’t believe another Friday is actually here! Time goes by so quickly!

Our big news is that Ela is now rolling over from her back to her tummy! Such a big girl!

Here are some of my favourite blog post for the week:

I found this post about gluten free flour very interesting…

Seyfi has said that he is completely taking over weekend breakfast making… But I really want to try this strata… I wonder if he’d make it…

I love crepes, but why does it always auto correct to creeps? Anyway these look delicious!

I love my diaper bag, but this one looks gorgeous…


Some how, and I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I have gotten myself slightly addicted to Real Housewives, both of New York and Vancouver…


Hope you all have a great weekend!

See you next week!

Fancy Meringues

Do you ever feel that some recipes a suited better for different seasons, or weather?

Well this is definitely a summer recipe.

In the summer when it is so hot (hopefully ;-)), I never feel like having a really heavy dessert, and I usually prefer to have something easy, and fresh, this is it.

Simple, yet fancy, sweet, but fresh. The perfect summer dessert.

I had never really eaten a meringues until I went to Turkey, and even then I rarely ate them because, let’s be honest, they are a bit boring on there own, but they are gluten free, which makes them an easy option.

Then I saw this recipe, and made it.

It is so light and fresh, plus it is super easy! Give it a try!

Fancy Meringues
Adapted from Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals

4 meringues, nest-shaped works best, but any shape will do.
4 tbsp Lemon curd
a handful of strawberries, cut up small,
1 tsp of strawberry jam
4 tbsp plain yoghurt

Mix together the strawberries, jam and yoghurt.

Scope a tablespoon of lemon curd onto each meringue. Top with the strawberry yoghurt. Serve.

Expat Living- Friends

“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”

One of the most difficult things about being an expat is making and keeping friends. Expat living can be a very transient lifestyle, people are always coming and going. It can be very rare that you are in the same place, with the same people for very long.

Here is how it starts, when you first move to a country, you try to be friends with any one who speaks the same language as you. Maybe they work with you, maybe you meet them in a classroom, or maybe you over hear them speaking English in a Starbucks and you start up a conversation with them. Whatever the reason, the commonality of language is the key factor.

You realize that you are only friends with that person because of the language. That they are a person who, in your normal life, you never would have been friends with. Sometimes that is a good thing, and you’ve opened yourself to a whole new kind of person and friendship, and sometimes it isn’t.

Then, you start to become more picky, just speaking the same language is no longer enough, you start to look for friends who you actually have something in common with, or dare in say, like.

And then once you’ve settled into a routine with this friend, coffees, shopping, even play dates with the kids you both have, it is time for one of you to move on.

What do you do? How do you deal with this revolving door of friendships?

Keep in touch! You never lose a real friend. They are always with you, and these days it is even easier to keep them with you. Facebook, Skype, text, keeping in touch is not as difficult as it once was.

Keep making friends. You can never have too many friends. You don’t need to replace them, just make room for everyone.

Keep your options open, yes you are no longer going to be friends based solely on English, but give someone who you wouldn’t normally be friends with a chance, maybe she is ten years older than you, or not married, but perhaps there is something else that that you two have in common.

Since I started my life as an expat I have had some of the most amazing friends, people who have been through all of the major and minor moments in my life with me. I am truly lucky.

In the last few years I have had to say goodbye to so many of these amazing friends, and looking towards the summer, I am dreading saying goodbye to two more amazing people.

This is the life of an expat.

You can’t close yourself off, as my grandmother used to say, every stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

How to Poach an Egg

I’ve tried to poach eggs before, and it has always ended in disaster.

Soggy, undercooked eggs that are slimy.

I think I know now what the problem was, I wasn’t using fresh eggs.

Well, now that I’ve got loads of fresh eggs (ok, two to four eggs a day), I thought I would try poaching them again.

I’ve been working on this skill for the past week, and I think I’ve got it down now.

Here is my step by step guide to…

A Perfect Poached Egg

Start with a pot of water that has got about five centimeters of simmering water in it. Make sure that it hasn’t come to a rolling boil.

Crack a fresh egg into a separate bowl.

Pour your egg into the pot of water and let it sit for a few seconds. You can pull the edges of the egg up onto itself if necessary. This egg was really fresh, so it kept together really well.

Let it cook for about two minutes if you like your eggs drippy (runny, whatever adjective you use to describe an egg that you can dip toast into.)

When it is cooked to your liking, lift the egg out with a slotted spoon.

Let it dry a bit on some paper towel.

Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Very easy, and very delicious!