A Difficult Goodbye and Dealing With it… Lamb Pockets (Talaş Bӧreği)

Some people integrate into your life very easily. Starts with a laid back dinner and a silly movie. Gradually you get to know each other, touching some topics lightly to learn your way around them. Then you go to the concerts, have picnics together,  you don’t even notice that they have become as close as your own family. A family away from your family. Their family would grow with the kids and you accept those kids like your own, because they would start calling you “Aunt Eelke” and “Unca Jay” with the sweetest smile and open arms.

Once you get comfortable and take everything for granted, they would drop the bomb on you and tell you that they are moving a world away from you, across the oceans and seas. Not only they would be moving, but of course they would be taking these two little fellas with them as well, giving you some stupid reason..like they are their kids or something. Whatever!

Then you feel like a fish out of water, feeling suffocated, regretting all the time you wasted in the past instead of spending time with them. This is how I have been feeling since our close friends told us that they are moving away, oh by the way they are pregnant with a baby girl. I was crying and laughing at the same time. I immediately thought that I need to install Skype to keep up with all the kids – which is something my mom has been begging me to do for the past years and I brush it off, saying “we talk on the phone, why do you need to see me?”

Boy, karma has a way of throwing it back at ya!

So we threw a very pink baby shower for this brave, loving and adventurous mommy and wife this past weekend! She deserves the very pink after dealing with the three boys in the house.

I wanted to make everything perfect at the party because our little pink hurricane, as her husband called the baby shower, could be the last time we spent plenty of time together.  But also I realized I had started my grocery shopping very late. Crunched for time to cook for an afternoon party, and also in need of dinners for several nights ahead, I decided to go with an easy choice. I knew I wanted to make some sort of borek, with dough and filling. I had puff pastry in the freezer. I had lamb, peas, carrots, dill (lots of it), potatoes, green onions and sweet onions (not sure why they call them sweet, still made me cry like I was watching Dead Poets’ Society for the eighth time).

This borek was easy to assemble and bake once I made the filling. And also I could make the filling in large amounts, and use the leftover to make dinner with the addition of several more ingredients. I chopped the lamb, or more like, diced it. I cooked some of it for the filling on its own and combined rest of the uncooked meat with the same vegetables plus diced potatoes and tomatoes, wrapped in parchment paper and baked it for an hour maybe.This dish is called Paper Kabab in our household.

I had a lot to cook on Friday night and all Saturday morning. So I had a lot of time to think, especially about my priorities. Sometimes I lose the perspective of what is important. I am thinking we over-dramatize the life time to time, make it more complicated than it should be and  are really sweating the small stuff. I am hoping I can make a change, relax a bit, and spend more time off-line. And hug&squeeze my friends and family more.   Then they would not move away, maybe.

Lamb Pockets (Talaş Bӧreği)

  • 1.5 lbs of leg of lamb (diced in very small pieces)
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cans of  peas and carrot mix (15 oz cans)
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • Salt,  and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, yolk and white separated (yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk)
  • Nigella seeds (or sesame seeds)
  • 2 packages of puff pastry sheets (thaw according to the instructions on the box)

1. Heat the olive oil in the pan at meidum-high. Add the diced meat. Stir frequently for 10-15 minutes. Add the onion, cover and turn the heat to medium. Stir it often so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.Cook until the meat is done (30 min or so, depends how small the cut is)

2. Combine the contents of the cans, dill and meat mixture. Add salt and pepper.

3. Dust the counter and roll out one puff pastry to be about one inch longer on both ends to make it a bigger square  (for example if the original measures to be 10 by 10, the rolled out pastry should be 11 by 11)

4. Cut the pastry sheet into four equal squares.

5. Divide the filling into 16. Put 1/16th of the filling in the middle of one square. Brush the edges with egg white. Close it like an envelope, opposite sides overlapping a little.

6. Rest it on a baking sheet lined with silpat (or greased with butter), envelope side down.

7. Once you complete all of the squares (16 of them), brush the egg yolk on all, sprinkle nigella seeds or sesame seeds.

8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until all puffed up and golden brown.



  1. by Kristi Rimkus
    1:07 am
    Dec 15, 2011

    What a beautifully written blog post filled with love. Such darling children, how fortunate you are to share them. Skype is a wonderful thing. :)

  2. by Gokce
    2:37 am
    Dec 15, 2011

    As usual, so delicious!

  3. by Lana
    2:40 am
    Dec 15, 2011

    Ah, the bitter-sweet curse of love! It’s hard to let go of the ones we love, but it would have been so much worse if that connections did not exist at all. My whole life is a series of teary goodbyes and in the end, I am happy that there are people that cry for me as much as I cry for them when we part.
    Definitely install Skype – it’s a wonderful tool that keeps people connected. I don’t even have a phone any more – everyone I know (except for my stubborn dad and another techno-peasant of a friend) is using Skype.
    We are moving this weekend to Redondo Beach (Bye, Orange Curtain!), but I was thinking about that expat thing you mentioned in the comment. There is something there – let’s connect in a couple of weeks (I have some ideas:)
    OK, for the food: in Serbia we have Burek (with cheese, or meat), but it’s made with phyllo dough. I know that it’s a Turkish word and the dish itself of Turkish origin, but it’s not similar to this one! So confusing:)

  4. by Ilke
    7:11 am
    Dec 15, 2011

    Lana, good luck with the move. We’ll catch up once you open all the boxes.
    We make borek with phyllo dough you are correct. For this specific one, traditionally we make the dough from scratch but when the time is short, we substitute puff pastry to give the same buttery flaky taste that it would have with a hand stretched dough.

  5. by Marie Sheneman
    7:53 am
    Dec 15, 2011

    Dear Ilke,
    I feel your pain as tears are rolling down my cheek. You and Jay are such an important part of Mike and Elisabeth’s life in Charlotte and you will be missed beyond measure. Keep the sweet memories that you have of them and it will be easier. I feel so fortunate to have met you and hopefully that relationship will continue. Thank you for being there for the entire Benchich family!

  6. by Ilke
    8:36 am
    Dec 15, 2011

    Dear Marie, please know that you still have a home here with us.
    The only thing We can do is to support and be here for them when they need.
    Love, Ilke

  7. by Calantha
    9:14 pm
    Dec 15, 2011

    This is such a touching entry. It’s taken me awhile to realize the importance of having good friends and family in close proximity. Distance can be hard to overcome, but I’ve realized that it’s worth the effort to try to close the gap any way possible.

    Again, lovely post.

  8. by rebecca
    11:11 pm
    Dec 15, 2011

    sorry your friends are moving these look amazing

  9. by Lora @cakeduchess
    11:27 pm
    Dec 15, 2011

    Ilke-You’re so sweet and this post is just beautiful. Yes, hug and squeeze more. I’m trying to do more of it, too:)Skype is a wonderful thing that makes the distance seem a little shorter (just a little). Your lamb pockets are gorgeous. xo

  10. by Loveforfood
    12:19 am
    Dec 16, 2011

    I love your photographs very much. … That close up shots are making me to grab food from the screen

  11. by Angie@Angiesrecipes
    8:38 am
    Dec 16, 2011

    A beautiful writing…you know…the same thing I said to my mom…;-!
    Those savoury lamb pockets look so inviting!

  12. by Parsley Sage
    9:19 am
    Dec 16, 2011

    Man, I have been there. My two best friends left Cayman within 2 months of each other…one moving to England and the other to Australia. But the great thing about the digital age is that no one is ever farther than a laptop away :)

    Gorgeous lamb pockets, I’m sure they were wonderfully received at the shower :)

    Oh, and remember when your friends move someplace new that just means you’ve got another country you can visit without having to pay for a hotel!

  13. by Snippets of Thyme
    10:38 am
    Dec 18, 2011

    Oh, I feel for you so much. We have moved so many times that it has been one long parade of saying goodbyes. I think this move here to Houston has been the toughest because the weariness of making friends (its harder with teens) and then saying goodbye a few years later has taken its toll. I’ve always been a wanderlust and have enjoying the discoveries of new places and cultures. The toll, however, is the limited depth of friendships that can be a sad byproduct. Pros and cons. Hold your friendships tight because all of mine are still close to me today even though we are hundreds of miles apart!

  14. by Okan Pala
    10:04 pm
    Dec 19, 2011

    Hey Ilke,
    I am sorry your friends are leaving. But remember you still have other friends here.. And life is still good.. :)
    I like your recipe, I wish I had time (and skill) to try it out.. I am thinking about asking Tiffany to make this for me as a present…

  15. by Ilke
    7:05 am
    Dec 20, 2011

    Hi Okan, thank you! Hope we get together more in the new year! Tell Tiffany I said Hi :)

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