40 Days and 40 Nights

This entry falls into the DO THIS category, and you can DO THIS from the comfort of your own home.  I’m talking about “Cooking With Family”–especially if you have a big, noisy, hungry, chaotic family like mine.

I’m going to take you through what it’s like to cook with my BIG TURKISH FAMILY.  There is never enough time and never enough food.  If you keep those two things in mind and you’ll be far more at peace with the whole process.

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For the first installation of “Cooking With Family” I’m going to discuss Easter Weekend. Or more specifically, LENT. Catholics think they’re all hard-core because they have to give up one thing (of their choosing!) for 40 days.  I mean, sure, it’s hard to give up chocolate or beer or whatever it is you think you can’t live without for 40 whole days, but Catholics ain’t got nothing on the insanity of a Turkish Lent.

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For Turkish Lent you have to give up MEAT AND DAIRY AND BOOZE for 40 daysMEAT AND DAIRY AND BOOZE!!! Can you imagine?!?  No, no you cannot.  No chocolate, no beer, no wine, no cheese and no steak.  Fish are okay, because in the immortal words of Kurt Cobain, “they don’t have any feelings.”

Now, it’s been many many many years since I’ve participated in this self-inflicted torture, but at least half of my family still partakes in this exercise in self control.  I’m sure there are many good reasons why this tradition developed…like cleansing the body and the soul and preparing your taste buds for the inevitable feast to beat all feasts on Easter Sunday making Easter Sunday taste, ironically enough, like heaven.

So for 4o days you’ve deprived yourself of all things delicious and on that last night you really think you can’t take it anymore.  You’re totally hangry and craving something, anything with flavor.

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Most people on this last night of fasting sit down to a boring dinner of sadness and leftover fasting food. My family, however, can’t do anything the way they’re supposed to.  My family has to do everything at DEFCON LEVEL 10.

And thus…Homemade Sushi Night was born.

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This is no cucumber-rolls-with-a-side-salad-and-store-bought-ginger-dressing…oh no, my friends, my crazy Turkish family doesn’t do “mediocre” or “store bought”.  Not when it comes to food.  (Jiro would be proud.)

First you have to perfect the rice.  Which took several attempts over the last few years but now…perfect.  Yes, that is a bucket of rice you see there, because, like my grandmother always said, “GO BIG OR GO HOME.”  Except in Turkish.  Obviously.

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Make sure you gather all of the minions little ones in the family and get them to work.  Because there is a lot of work to do.  Like spreading the rice onto the nori, which is much harder than you think it is.

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And roll roll roll your heart out.

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Side dishes of shrimp summer rolls and edamame?  Oh yeah.  We’ve got that covered.

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Home made carrot-ginger dressing…obviously.

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Fancy sushi rolls of roses and dragons, check.

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And then…set the table.  In your incredibly over-decorated dining room reserved for special occasions.

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And DO NOT forget the saki.

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And begin the feast.  Super fancy Turkish shot glasses required.

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I suggest doubling the Saki for this recipe for maximum enjoyment.  Nay, go ahead and triple it.  You’re with family.

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