pit stop

It it nearly two weeks since I returned from Turkey and it seems like it all took place in another world and time. But I keep going back in my mind. I must tell you now, since we are nearing the end of the year. My husband has been gone during the weeks for training and work since last August. I have been surprised how well it all has gone. A couple weeks before my scheduled Turkey trip I was really feeling the toll. Maybe there was too much going on, even if I have tried to really empty the calendar of everything extra. But the truth is that everything cannot be removed from the schedule. And so the trip to Turkey came at the most perfect moment. Usually things work out better than expected if not planned too perfectly in advance. Maybe it is the fact that then the expectations are not so high as well and all sorts of pleasant surprises come along the way.

mevlana and dervishes
Mevlana Monastery Museum and the Whirling Dervishes

After our day in Manavgat we started our drive to the Cappadocia region that we would be spending the next several days. Every two hours we would stop for a comfort stop as our guide called it, and often in public areas there were stray dogs that would lazily walk around. On the way to Cappadocia we stopped in Konya which is the ancient Iconium and place where Paul and Barnabas visited and preached to the early Christain congregation in 47-48 AD. It is also the place of the Mevlana Monastery which is currently a museum but also a place of pilgrimage for some. It is the birthplace of the Mevlevi order which joined ideology from Islamic and Buddhist traditions. The monastery had been a place of training for the Dervishes and the Mevlevi Order was well established during the Ottoman empire. In 1925 the Mevlana Order was outlawed but later some parts of the spiritual rituals have been allowed because of it’s tourist appeal. During the actual performance the Whirling Dervishes fell into a trance-like state. They requested that no photos be taken until the end when they would give a short demonstration for photos.

Göreme National Park
Cavusin, Göreme National Park

On the right hand side of the photo above, carved into the rock is the Church of St. John the Baptist. Some of the climb was a bit steep and slippier due to loose sand. Our own tour guide could not bring us there as we needed to do the climb at our own risk. A local fellow took us up there and the funniest thing happened on the way down. He told us that we must go down a different path since the one we came up would be too dangerous to descend. I differed in opinion. It really was not that dangerous. But we all followed him down a different route. The reason for this turned out to be that the path he brought us down would go past the shop of his friend and skirt some of the others. As one of the other young men noticed that he was taking the tourist group and potential customers a different route, there was heated debate in Turkish. Too bad I don’t understand the language! Every once in a while the other miffed shopkeeper would yell out to us in English, “Too dangerous!”  He thought the path that went past his shop was safer.

göreme national park collage

Monk Valley

The unique rock formations is due to the volcanic eruptions of the three volcanoes: Mount Ercyies, Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz. Underneath the harder layer of basalt was a softer rock that erosion weathered away making for incredible formations that are often called fairy chimneys and look like they could be straight out of a storybook.

Fairy chimneys
Fairy chimneys

Elisafairy chimneys 2I have been thinking that I must explore some of the savory dishes that they make in Turkey especially once fresh local vegetables come into season. This past week I tried my hand at Baklava. I used a ready to use frozen filo pastry dough from the grocery store and it turned out to be quite simple. I think that the flavor would have been significantly better had I used a homemade version. Next time. The secret to Turkish pastry is that they make a honey sauce that is then poured over after it is baked. The same is true with the Baklava.

baklava outside

Baklava with Rosewater and Honey (inspired by the recipe from )
50 g/ 1.75 oz pistachio, roasted
100 g/ 3.5 oz walnuts, roasted
150 g/5.3 almonds, roasted
1 package 375 g/13 oz of frozen filo pastry (allow to thaw for 1.5-2 hours in package before using) and trim to size of pan
zest of one lemon, grated fine
125 g/4.4 oz butter, melted
50 g sugar


Honey sauce

100 ml/1 dl/ 1/2 c water
125 g/4.4 0z honey
100 g/3.5 oz sugar
juice of one small lemon, about 30 ml
1 cinnamon quill

1 tsp rose water

nutsAllow the filo dough to thaw in its own package so that it does not dry out. Place the nuts on a parchment lined oven pan and roast gently at 160 C/320 F for about 7 minutes. Let cool and grind semi-fine either with a chopper or a food processor. Set aside a little of the ground pistachio for garnish. Combine the finely chopped nuts with 50 g/1.75 oz sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon.

Warm your oven to 190 C/375 F.  Brush your square cake pan 25 cm/10 inch with melted butter and layer it with 6 layers of filo pastry dough, brushing each layer with melted butter. Add one third of the nut mixture and then add another three layers of filo dough, each brushed with butter. Add another third and repeat with another three layers of filo brushed with butter. Add the last third of nut mixture and finally add six layers of filo dough brushed with butter each time. Brush the top layer with butter and score the top layers with a sharp knife into 24 servings. I cut them part way through as I had noticed that it was the method used at our hotel Gypsophila Holiday Village. (You may see the Baklava in the photo below on the right hand side) Bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.

gyphsophila holiday villageMeanwhile prepare the honey sauce. Combine the ingredients above in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves over medium heat. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes on low heat and remove from heat. Discard the cinnamon quill and add in the rose water. After removing the Baklava from the oven, pour the honey sauce over the it while still hot. Sprinkle with ground pistachios and allow to cool before cutting all the way through.

daily lifeThere are so many pictures and stories to tell that sometime in the future, when I make a Turkish dish I will share more. If you have never been to Turkey, I definitely recommend it.

red tractor


  1. A wonderful experience, such unusual landscape. Thank you for the great pictures..could imagine the scents…hugs

    1. Perhaps they do 🙂 We had a couple of showers, but for the most part the weather was fine. It was definitely cooler in the mountains than on the Mediterranean coast, but the dramatic sky certainly made for interesting photographs.

    1. The Baklava in Turkey was delicious as was a dessert called Kunefe. It was made with a similar pastry dough that formed a mess of mini strings (crunchy once cooked), but in the middle there was a cheese, thick and stringy. It was a dessert that was mildly sweet and just a bit savory. Absolutely wonderful.

    1. Hi Marisa…He had us all chuckling a bit as well. I suppose they have tough competition with so many little shops along the same street that they try all tactics to gain a sale. 🙂 BTW…I will be coming to Stockholm in April for a couple of days. Do you have some Must See/Experience places that you could recommend. Any interesting coffee shops/cafes/restaurants? It has been years since I have last been in Stockholm.

      1. Hi lovely! Oh, I can recommend LOTS! Are you here for work/pleasure/with family? If travelling with kids, head to Skansen (while you’re out there, take a stroll back to town along the water’s edge of Djurgården). If traveling alone or with friends/colleagues (or even with kids, as any of these places are also kid-friendly), check out: (some of the best pastries in town) (trendy cafe in the revamped industrial south side- lots of local families) (healthy stuff) (more healthy stuff) (like a farm in the middle of town- cafe in a greenhouse… charming… eco selections) (super-awesome art and food!) (Italian with a Melker touch) (hipster central)
        I think you’d really dig this place: (design meets coffee)
        And this place does a special “high tea”
        There’s so much more I could recommend… if you think of anything more you’d like to know about, please drop me a line!
        And on this Pinterest board, I have shared some faves from around town:

        xx (PS I am so sorry I just saw your response to my comment now!)

      2. Thanks so much! I’ll look those places up as we are coming next week with my sister. It is part leisure and a little bit of work as well…looking forward to it! Hugs!

  2. We loved Turkey too, Laila. Our tour didn’t take us to Cappadocia and we were sorry to miss it. We went to Gallipoli instead and it was very moving. Your post is a good description of it all. Nice recipe and photos too!

    1. I remember reading your post on Turkey and the Turkish delight…It certainly was a delight. I especially liked the version with nuts in them. I can imagine that Gallipoli has a special place in the heart of Australians. You will need to make a new trip to visit Cappadocia 🙂

    1. Yes, I most certainly did! Actually he happened to come home during the middle of the week right then because we had some sick kids and I had a meeting and so he ended up bringing most of the pan back for his coworkers. 🙂

    1. Oh, good! I do hope you have a chance to go! I will definitely be happy to share whatever I know and am planning a post or two sometime in the future…I just couldn’t fit it all in these past two posts.

    1. We ended up not going on the balloon tour…had to leave something for next time 🙂 But I can just imagine! I did see all of the balloons in the sky the morning of the flight and even got a couple of pictures.

  3. Turkey is an amazing country and Cappadocia I have yet to see. Love your photographs, the fairy chimneys are so beautiful. The whirling dervishes are a real treat to see, we weren’t allowed to take any photographs too. Thanks for sharing your moments 🙂

    1. I hope you have the opportunity to visit Cappadocia some day Moya, I know you would enjoy it. I was glad for the short demonstration at the end of the performance by the whirling dervishes and chance to get a few shots. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    1. Wish I could send you a sample of the Baklava…I made an extra large batch of the filling and so perhaps I’ll make a batch this weekend. I think the honey sauce is key as it gives it the signature moisture and was used in so many Turkish desserts. 🙂

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