ANZAC Bikkies

Ooohh!  Ooohh!  Super-special post today!  What makes this post so special you ask?  It’s written (well not this introduction, of course!) by April.  There are several things that come to mind when I think about ANZAC day, such as Dawn Service, Two-Up, poppies, and ANZAC bikkies to name a few.  The bikkies (aka cookies) are where April comes in.  IF a better than April’s ANZAC bikkie exists in the world, I have yet to experience it.  I’ve witnessed first hand the slight jealousy in Australians at the thought that a Yank could make their beloved treat better than they could.  Their jealousy is short-lived, mind you–usually by the second bite, at which point they just enjoy the delicious goodiness!

And now, ladies and gents, may I introduce the lovely and wonderfully fabulous April and her ANZAC bikkies:

If I am honest, Anzac biscuits were never a treat I had much when I was living in Aus; Tim Tams were my go-to for indulging. When I found myself stateside and wanting to bring in some homemade goods for my workmates to celebrate Australia Day, though, I knew there was no way I could make Tim Tams. So I searched online for some recipes I could do, and I found this one for Anzac biscuits. Fortune must have been smiling upon me because these bikkies are a hit wherever I bring them, and they are the number one requested treat from my coworkers.

Anzac biscuits first made an appearance during World War I. Australian wives, mothers, and girlfriends were concerned about how nutritious the soldiers’ rations were so they developed a recipe for a treat full of healthy ingredients like coconut and rolled oats. The components also did not readily spoil which allowed for the biscuits to remain edible after the long non-refrigerated transit to the frontlines. While normally a fan of cookies fresh from the oven, I actually find Anzac biscuits much tastier a few days after I baked them, which kind of ties in nicely with the end of my bikkie ramblings…

While preparing for my trip to Turkey in 2011, I got it into my head that it would be great if we could actually have some Anzac biscuits to eat when our group did our overnight vigil at the Gallipoli peninsula. So right before my departure I made two batches and packed them carefully in a place of honor in my suitcase for the long journey east. They survived intact, and several days into our excursion my travel companions were pleasantly surprised when I brought them out for Anzac Day. Sherry and I were the only Yanks on the tour so I think it was even more startling for everyone that the biscuits were delicious! I had more than one compliment that even in Australia they had not ever had such a tasty bikkie. So without further ado, here is The Recipe:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (NEVER quick oats)
  • 3/4 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 tbs golden syrup (I use Karo syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda)
  • 1 tbs water (boiling)

Mix oats, flour, sugar, and coconut together. Melt syrup and butter together. Mix bicarbonate of soda with boiling water and then add to the melted butter/syrup. Add to dry ingredients. Place by 1 tablespoonfuls on greased tray and allow room for spreading. Bake for 20 minutes at 300F (150 C). The yield is around 3 dozen depending on the size of your scoops.

That is the recipe I acquired from Aussie-Info.com more than 10 years ago. I haven’t made any modifications to it–why mess with perfection?–though you can get a fabulous treat using brown sugar instead of white. I can’t decide which one I like more so I always just make one batch of each. So happy baking, and remember, it’s always a biscuit and never a cookie!

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tasty enough to eat as is!

 

what a difference the sugar makes!

what a difference the sugar makes!

nom nom nom!

nom nom nom!

Coffee Break

I’ve been sitting here thinking about Turkey and Greece; trying to figure out where to start by looking through photos and old blog posts. Naturally I begin basking in my trip down memory lane, so much so that I’m actually having trouble focusing on exactly what I want to write.   This trip was spectacularly epic.  I think, in part because it’s been so long since I’ve been somewhere so out of my element and so completely, well, foreign.  Not that the entire trip was out of my element, but the majority of the last 10 years has been spent traveling around America and Australia–so it was exhilarating and revitalizing getting to visit a place where I could sit and relax and be completely immersed in anonymity and not understand one single solitary word being spoken.

I realize that probably sounds outlandishly bizarre, as most people I know would be slightly panicked at the thought of being in a place where communication wasn’t guaranteed.  It was also very evident that April and I were, in fact, not Turkish.  Not that we really felt out of place–on the contrary, both countries were so warm and welcoming–but well, people kept stopping us to ask.  We also realized that Turkey doesn’t get many American visitors, or perhaps if they do, they don’t hang out where we hung out.  Everyone we met were generally amazed that we were Americans.  English, Australian, German, Dutch, Kiwi, South African, Swiss, and Canadian were all guesses, but never American.  In fact, our second afternoon in Istanbul we exited the Egyptian Bazaar (aka Spice Market, which has THE BEST TURKISH DELIGHT ON THE PLANET!) to a very busy plaza area.  As we head down amongst the throng of people undoubtedly on their way home from work, I felt someone poking my arm.  I turned to see this 90 year old woman sitting on the ledge, glaring and shaking her finger towards my face and she asked “Armenian?”  I was in such a state of shock that she had taken the time and effort to poke me to confirm my Armenian heritage, all I could do was shake my head and yell “American!”  She responded with an equally confused look and finally there was a shoulder shrug followed by a “HUH!” and then went about her day.

So what was the equalizer? The one thing everyone spoke was coffee.  You know…that stuff I affectionately refer to as nectar of the gods!  If you enjoy a robust cup of coffee, then let me tell you that Turkish and Hellenic coffees are amazing!  They are very similar–in case you’re wondering–although Hellenic coffee is usually a bit bigger than Turkish coffee.  The first time I had Turkish coffee in Turkey (and yes, it was something pre-trip I was soooo excited about experiencing) I felt fireworks in my head!  I feel quite certain my eyes rolled back and I asked April to give me a moment with my little demitasse cup!!  I also learned that it’s traditionally served with sugar.  My first few coffees I ordered without sugar and I would get stares by everyone, which I thought were because this crazy American is actually drinking proper Turkish coffee. However a few days into our trip, a waiter informed me that Turkish coffee is usually served with sugar, which is how I had it from then on (but I still got a lot of stares, so I’m still going with my crazy American theory!)  For Turkish coffee, I will happily deal with the stares.  It’s breathtaking.  Like a great shot of espresso, but with a lingering sweetness that caps any meal perfectly.

It is usually prepared in an ibrik (a tiny pot with a long handle–ibriks are usually just big enough for 1-2 servings) by adding cold water, finely ground coffee (hello, Turkish grind! 1-2 heaping teaspoons), and sugar (usually 1 heaping teaspoon).  NO STIRRING until the sugar starts to melt and the coffee starts to settle.  You then give it a quick stir or two and allow the coffee to come to a boil, pull it off the heat, then repeat the boiling and pulling off the heat at least two more times (depending on the site, they suggest reboiling anywhere from 3-4 times).  Afterward it is poured into a demitasse cup and voila!  a bit of sunshine for your day!

Şerefe!

 

My very first Turkish-in-Turkey coffee!!

My very first Turkish-in-Turkey coffee!!

Oh Happy Day!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…so here two thousand to sum up my morning. Btw, did I mention it’s a gorgeous spring day here in NYC?? Well, it is–and that’s not just the cawfee tawkin!

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April…for April

I got an email from April today where the subject line read *cough* BLOG! *cough*

I’m more than happy to oblige for two reasons:

  1. When I started this blog, I gave her my express written consent to harass me if I wasn’t posting enough–so really, she’s just doing her job.
  2. This month, I’m going to be blogging about a trip that we took together to Turkey and Greece a couple of years ago.

If you look down the left column you’ll see a blurp entitled “PICS BY APRIL” in where I call her my wanderlust alter ego–and it’s so true, except she’s been to more places than me…but I’m not…jealous…nope…I mean, well perhaps a bit ;- )

April and I met when we were studying in Australia, became fast friends and travel buddies.  Since we both lived in Australia for several years, we got to experience ANZAC Day (April 25th) and during one of a gazillion conversations we confessed to each other that one year we’d like to go to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day celebrations.

Since neither of us spoke a lick of Turkish or Greek, we opted for a guided tour that would encompass a few days in Istanbul, ANZAC Day celebrations, various Turkish historical sites and concluded with a yacht cruise around the southern Greek islands.  Not a bad way to spend 18 days!

Of course, nothing went according to plan and the only certainty seemed to be that nothing was certain.  Once we anticipated that, things went smoothly–and by smoothly, I meant we just went with the flow and tried laughing rather than crying when random things happened, like our yacht being nothing close to a yacht or our bus needing a push to get started.

So, April, this April is for you!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA