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Turkey to Germany, Shopping/Eating in Izmir

We traveled from Incirlik AB (near Adana) to Izmir Turkey.  Customs requires a ‘checkout’ of the country and it took several days.  So we shopped, ate and discovered the ‘sister city’ of Izmir while we out processed from Turkey.  Being the 80s Frankie Goes To Hollywood was very popular and I got the most awesome tank top that was pink with a huge lettering in red RELAX on it.  I ended up wearing it to Peter’s Pop Festival in 1986 (Germany)…the guys pointed and gave us the thumbs up – I thought – “I am soo happy I bought this shirt!”

Shopping is fantastic in Turkey – anywhere you go there are outstanding deals on a wide variety of interesting things…brass and copper knick knacks, rugs, meerschaum pipes, food, clothing, GOLD, silver; you name it!  The biggest hurdle I had returning to the U.S. was NOT haggling with people in the stores about prices… LOL in Turkey, as with most Middle Eastern countries, is expected!!!

We truly enjoyed our time in Turkey.  Fortunately we were highly encouraged by my mother to travel and explore our host country during our assignment.  I will go into details about other trips in future posts…the history, culture and architecture you can experience is truly amazing!

The unique thing about Izmir in 1985 was the fact that it was closer to Europe and therefore was much more westernized than Adana (near Syria) in the eastern part of the country.  We saw several things that were “Americanized” – Pizza HAT – instead of Pizza Hut – no doubt to influence the patronage of Americans stationed in Izmir…but make no mistake they didn’t have anything like what you would find at a Pizza Hut… LOL still in all it was good food with a Turkish twist – their ‘pizza’ is a flat pita with a form of tomato paste/base with lamb , it is called lahmacan (Llama-Joon)

I included the recipe below from – let me know if you decide to make it how you like it… if you make it with lamb I highly recommend squirting some fresh lemon juice on it – just before you eat it – cuts the ‘game’ flavor out of the lamb and makes it SUPER tasty!  There are other ‘shorter’ recipes out there but we have tried this one and it is pretty good – worth the prep time for sure!

Lahmacun Turkish Pizza

Lahmacun Turkish Pizza

  • Prep 2 h

  • Cook 20 m

  • Ready In 1day –  3 h 20m

Recipe By:lysis
“This Turkish-style pizza is a Turkish flat bread layered with a fresh sauce composed of tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and minced lamb cooked with a flavorful selection of Mediterranean spices. It is normally garnished with fresh salad and a creamy garlic sauce and or a tangy zesty hot red pepper sauce. It is a really light meal, but filling and flavorful. I find it worth the time to make if I can’t get it from my favorite Turkish bakery in my old neighborhood in Amsterdam. For the best flavor, make the topping the night before you make the pizza.”


  • For the Lamb Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound lean ground lamb
  • 6 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • For the Dough:
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • For the Garlic Sauce:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Garnish:
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine the garlic, onion, basil, parsley, mint, paprika, cumin, coriander, diced bell peppers, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped. Add the halved tomatoes and process until the mixture is a thick puree.
  2. Place the lamb in the preheated skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the puree and the tomato paste and mix well. Cook and stir until the lamb is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 cup warm water. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well. Add the vegetable oil and 1/2 cup water to the yeast mixture and pour it over the flour. Use your hands to mix the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover with a wet towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Remove the lamb sauce from the refrigerator and allow it to come up to room temperature. Prepare the garlic sauce: combine the yogurt, parsley, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside.
  5. Punch the dough down, transfer it to a floured work surface, and cut the dough into 10 portions. Shape each portion into a round. Flatten each round with your hand; use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a 10-inch circle. The dough should be thin, like a crepe. Place the rounds on parchment paper.
  6. Preheat an oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
  7. Stir the lamb sauce and then spoon it onto a dough round. Spread it thinly to the edges and press down lightly so it sticks to the dough. Bake pizzas on parchment paper-lined baking sheets on the lowest oven rack until the edges are a light tan color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Place on a wire rack to cool. The pizzas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days or in the freezer for three months. To reheat, place the pizzas in a 350 degree F oven (175 degrees C) for 8 minutes.
  9. To assemble the lahmacun, drizzle with garlic sauce, top with shredded cabbage, and roll up to eat. See the Cook’s Notes for other garnish ideas.
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Being at Peace – Loss & Grief – A Struggle

A lot has happened in my life in recent months, many things that I would not have imagined to experience or be required to ‘deal’ with – The roller coaster of emotions and grief has left me contemplating so many aspects of my life, my past, memories, choices and emotional attachments.  The loss of my mother is still raw, deep and debilitating – not every day – but some days…grief is a process and while some time has passed the emotion and loss is fresh in many moments throughout my day.

I am not alone.  Each of us struggles with something in our lives that unsettles our balance.  Emotional pain, loss, stress, financial issues, feeling lost or wondering what our life is supposed to mean…

Finding something that motivates you in your work, inspiration in a form of art (poetry, painting, gardening…etc) is important.  Many of us have lost sight of what makes us happy, inspires and motivates us to achieve more – in whatever area you feel you need to gain; financially, spiritually, in a relationship or just being at peace with yourself in this moment in your life.

The people in your life should make you feel good, not tired, drained, distraught or overwhelmed. You should not have to second guess yourself, monitor your feelings, words or actions.  In grief and the recovery of loss we all lose something in our cognitive thought process.  It is strange and annoying but it happens.  Mistakes are made, thoughts tangled, feelings mixed…judging someone should not be an option – every individual must work through their loss and grief in their own way. Not everyone believes this, nor do they necessarily attempt to be supportive and understanding of how events are truly and deeply affecting someone. It is a sad reality that there is always one person who must give more of themselves and make sacrifices to appease or keep the peace with others. This unbalanced duality is real, not everyone understands what others are truly going through, so we make the best of each day and try to manage our lives in the best way possible under the circumstances that may or may not be of our own doing…

Should you feel or think badly because of the way in which you are handling your particular loss, working through your grief and trying to overcome the shadow of loss that lingers every day?  I am tired of attempting to prove myself to those who are not receptive or accepting of what it is that affects me.  When we cut the ties it is like a weight has been lifted…while you are not healed you do feel some release of tension because you can concentrate on your own recovery.  Toxic relationships whether casual or intimate in nature are not beneficial to anyone.  It is hard to let go and be who you are, who you need to be to move on with your life in a calmer and more peaceful state.

Is it possible to regain what has been lost?  Self identity, esteem, the trust and love of family or friends…Do you need to regain certain things if they are inherently bad for you?  Trying to understand what is going on with the people who are in your life can be taxing…is it worth the time to mend broken relationships after a betrayal, loss or other negative experience?  Do you put yourself on guard again by reopening the doors of the past, attempt to embrace those who have severely hurt you – whether they realize it or not?

Where do we go from here?  How can we move on?

Keep working to find peace, balance and belief in yourself.  Wish others well but never compromise your own principles in order to gain favor with them.  Time and again we have experienced the changes that happen in relationships when a loved one is lost to us…and we only hope that ‘this time’ will be different but human nature, the ugly side, rears its head and there we are again in the same negative situation with strained emotions, thoughts and relationships.  If someone does not support you or try to be there to comfort you, celebrate your successes or even acknowledge the meaningful events in your life – is it worth the effort and energy? Do you open yourself up again to the strain, pain and turmoil that was ever-present in the past or just let go and move on the best way you can in your own life?

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Moving on with life…living for yourself!

I am working hard to make a difference in my life. After losing so many things that I thought were important I forgot about what is really important along the way – never get so caught up in other people that you forget yourself and those closest to you! Always remember those who you have lost and respect their memory, but keep working to make a positive change in your life…it is the best way to honor their memory and your family’s principles.

No one can determine who you are but you…