Friday, November 13, 2009

Pomegranates (Nar)

Hello from Calgary! I have been away from my blog for a while and I apologize to those of you whom I left your e-mails unanswered for a long time and/or published your comments late.

Many things have been going on in my life (in a good way), so I have not been able to dedicate much time to my blog since this summer. The biggest change is my husband and I are in Canada now. Due to my husband’s work situation, he has moved temporarily to Calgary, Canada recently. Luckily, my company also has an office in Calgary which allows me to work from the Calgary office. I will be traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Canada for a while. Yes, from one extreme to another, in terms of weather. Both of us look forward to this adventure while we’re still young and with no kids.

I have been here a few weeks and have not been doing much cooking yet. I have had the chance to browse and shop lightly at grocery stores in Calgary and all I can say is I miss my specialized upscale grocery store in Houston very much (sorry if I sound like a food snub). Not only the food is very pricey here (I pay almost double in Canada for regular food compared to what I used to pay in Houston for organic food), but also the variety of natural and organic food is very limited. This was no surprise as a Canadian colleague of mine had warned me prior to coming to Calgary about the food not being as good as in Houston. Although, there is one supermarket that sounds similar to my favorite Houston supermarket, but I have not explored the supermarket portion of it. Their prepared lunches were impressive though and what I would call, good quality.

When I first arrived to Canada, my husband’s solution to food was to eat sandwiches everyday! I thought he was joking, but no, he was not. Eating sandwich everyday? No way… I did stock up my pantry on basics and started cooking a little. Although I love my new kitchen very much, no heavy cooking will happen here since all my kitchen tools are in Houston. Mostly, I miss my knives. Someone who loves cooking has to have a decent set of knives. So far, my husband seems to enjoy the practical food I cook occasionally, but I know that once I go back to Houston, he will go back to his sandwiches!

Before I go on further, I would like to add that the next few months will be also eventful and I will not be blogging as much. After that, I look forward to starting blogging regularly. I miss reading my favorite blogs and as soon as I am completely back, I will have to check what I have missed. Now, I leave you with a post on another fruit of the autumn season.

Fall is the season for my favorite fruits. Pomegranates, were so abundant in my both late grandparents’ and neighbor’s gardens, I was taking them for granted, until I came to the U.S. For the past few years, my father also has been growing some pomegranate trees in his garden in the mountains, but I have not had the pleasure of tasting them since I usually visit in the wrong season. Pomegranates had not caught my eyes in grocery stores until the past few years in the States.

Pomegranates are grown and harvested from September to February in the Mediterranean region. Pomegranate fruit is made up of many small, pink/red juicy sacks containing tiny seeds forming tight clusters which are lined with a thin, soft, light yellow and bitter tissue. The tissue and the leathery skin of the fruit are bitter (yes, I’ve tasted them!). The size of a pomegranate can vary from a small apple size to a large grapefruit with a small crown on the upper part of the fruit. The outer part of a pomegranate can be yellow, pink or red.

Pomegranates grow on a tree with small leaves that have a glossy feel. The bright red flowers of the pomegranate tree can be a beautiful centerpiece at your table as can the branches and the leaves, not to mention the pomegranates themselves. Pomegranates can make an excellent centerpiece as they last long and do not spoil easily. My grandmother used to burry pomegranates under the soil in her garden for a year and they survived without spoiling!

In Turkey, pomegranates are used not only as fresh fruits, but also as sauces. The pomegranate sauce made from pomegranate juice is a wonderful tasty replacement for lemon or vinegar. Pomegranate sauce (or molasses) can make an incredible difference in the taste of ‘Kısır’ and ‘Dolma’.

Pomegranates are very rich in antioxidants, prevent blood clots, lower cholesterol and reduce various types of cancers just to mention a few.

If you do see pomegranates in your store and have not tried them before, give them a try! I have met some people who have never seen or heard of pomegranates. So, if you do not know how to eat a pomegranate, just follow these steps.

1) Slit a square around the narrow crown of the pomegranate with a sharp knife without removing the crown

2) Slit the pomegranate from the upper to the lower part from the four round corners of the fruit

3) Remove the crown
4) With your hands, separate the cut sections of the fruit

5) If you desire, you may remove all the seeds from the fruit and place in a bowl
6) You may also eat the seeds right out of the fruit

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Mediterranean kiwi said...

what a change in lifestyle - and moving from one extreme to another on a regular basis

glad you are still in touch, keep it up!

Yasmeen said...

Good to see you back.Must be quite a change,the weather and the pricey veggies.Pomegranates are booming here in central ohio,I mostly like these as is,may be in smoothies sometimes.Take care :D

Elra said...

Made in heaven. I am loving this fruit very much. Plan to plant at 5 different kind of varieties next year.

My Turkish Kitchen said...

Cok guzel olmus bence boyle bir degisiklik sizin icin, senin de dedigin gibi cocuk yokken ve gencken:)
Cok tebrik ediyorum ama seni ozleyecegimizi de belirtmek istiyorum.

Soma said...

Lovely post Nihal.. and now i know where you disappeared. I lived in Calgary for about half a year when i was in the 8th grade. My dad was working on a project in the Univ of Calgary for a year and me and mom moved here with him during the last 6 months. i went to junior high school there.. lot of lovely memories for me.. and we still have some good friends living there. Enjoy!!!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back! I'm cooking with pomegranates & pom related products a lot these days too. And it's national pomegranate month!

lisaiscooking said...

Wow, that is going from one extreme to another! Have fun in Calgary!

I'm determined to use more pomegranates while they're in season this year.

Maria said...

hopefully you will be back in Houston but if you are still in calgary in spring time, there really is so much to check out. Definitely check out Hoodoos near Banff, definitely go and see johnston canyon and takkakaw falls.
I have been visiting calgary since 1997 every single year. so much to explore.

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Maria, I will try to keep in touch as much as I can.

Yasmeen, yes nowadays I see so much more pomegranates. When I lived in Ohio years ago, I never saw them in stores; now they're everywhere! Pomegranate smoothie sounds excellent.

Elra, good for you. I wish I had a garden like yours with so many varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Iffetcigim, tesekkur ederim, ama ben tam kaybolmayacagim. Bir sure baska nedenlerden dolayi pek giremiyecegim, sonra tekrar full-time donecegim blog'uma.

Soma, so you've lived in Calgary! Have you been back since then? I bet it has changed a lot. I bet you have very good memories from here.

5 Star Foodie, yes it's National Pomegranate Month and I have to check out your blog to see how you cook with them. I've never attempted to cook with pomegranates, but I'd like to.

Lisa, thanks. Yes, definitely you should use more pomegranates. I think you do a good job incorporating different types of fruits in your cooking.

Maria, yeah I will definitely check out these places in the spring. We did explore Banff, but probably not fully. Thanks for the tips!

zerrin said...

Nice to see you back! Hope you adapt your new place and the food there soon.
Pomegranate is one of my favorites. I love its crunchy and juicy pearl like seeds. And they are great to decorate desserts or salads.