“Neither here nor there” taste of life

One comes to crossroads many times in life and makes decisions. As soon as you step towards one direction, that becomes a defining moment.  It is true for our attitude and approach to life as well. Something small, even negligible in some circumstances, lifts up a curtain that had been over your heart and you come to realize missing things and there you have your “Aha” moment. You decide to change your attitude.

There have been  some major moments in my life that changed the trajectory of my life and brought me to where I am today.

There have been many minor ones that shaped who I am today.

Recently, only a week ago, there was another small defining moment that changed my attitude this time.

I have gotten into a bad habit lately: complaining… about anything…work, people on the street, coworkers, the house, plumbing, money, health… I seem to be restless about every single thing and somebody needed to smack me in the head and say “Hey, it could be worse, pull yourself together!”

There is always that alternate life in another universe we are dreaming : Perfect job, perfect house, no worries of any kind. Everybody else’s life seems perfect to us. We desperately want to skip to the parallel universe, can not find the door, so we pout, complain and complain.

I was tired at the end of such week, so we rented Midnight In Paris, baked a frozen pizza, opened not one but two bottles of wine and buried ourselves in the deep couch to watch the movie. (Spoiler alert! Skip if you don’t want to know about the movie)

The movie starts in Paris in 2010. The main character, Gil, is a writer, hopeless romantic who thinks Paris is the most beautiful in rain and has a soft spot for nostalgia. He thinks 1920s were the best with all the writers, painters, creative minds he adores.His fiance, of course, is the opposite type, who loves her Malibu beach and Hollywood life style.

Magically, he gets transported to 1920s at midnight while he is walking on the streets of Paris. He gets so addicted to 20s that he keeps going back every night.  And he falls in love with a girl in 1920s.

The girl, however, thinks 1920s are dull, bland with no taste or creativity. She believes the life was much better and colorful in 1890s. Gil can not understand this. How come you call Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, and Dali “bland and dull”?

With the same magic, one night while he is visiting her in 1920s,the midnight strikes and they get transported to 1890s. They meet the creative minds of that era and Gil asks them about their take on which era is the best. Their answer “Renaissance” !

So Gil comes to realize, as we did on a warm April night in 2012, that the grass is going to be always greener in the other universe. We will always want what we do not have, even if we magically are transported to the place we want. There is no satisfying the human soul.

A simple movie lifted the curtain for me. Sometimes we need some nudges in life. Don’t we?

We can always work to improve our lives but being happy in the moment, being fully present where you are at this given time is an acquired talent. Some of us have to work hard at it. Instead of trying to get back to my 1920s, I/we should fully enjoy 2012s and make it worth, make our imprint on every minute of it.

Later on, while I was thinking about life and how we can make what we want to make out of it, this recipe came to my mind. What we call “Catal”  (fork) because of its shape, is something neither sweet nor savory. It has a nice mahlab touch that gives it a nice smell as well. Mahlab, a spice made from grinding the seeds of cherry stones, gives an almond-y taste to the baked breads or doughs like this one.

Some might call it bland, but I think it blends well with anything you drink, or any way you want to eat it. I put a spoonful of Nutella when I want something sweet, or take a quick bite with a smear of creamcheese on my way out in the mornings. However, it is perfectly balanced on its own without any additions as well.

Now, when people say “You have an attitude!” to me, I take it as a complement. At least I have the one that I like now :)


Makes 9-11

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons, about 226 gr) unsalted butter (very soft, at room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mahlab
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3-1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Nigella seeds

1.In a large mixing bowl, stir yogurt, oil and butter until all combine.(I normally use one hand to do this, not spoon or electric mixer)

2. Combine sugar, mahlab, baking powder, salt and 2 cups of flour , add to the dry ingredients. Mix until you form a dough.

3. Gradually add the remaining flour until you have a soft dough.

4. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

5. Take a golf ball size dough, shape it into a 6-7 inch long log.Place it on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper.

6. Take another golf ball size dough, shape it into another log,. Set it about  2 inches away from the other log. Combine the ends of logs and separate the middle if necessary to give it a canoe-like shape.

7. Proceed with the rest of the dough in the same manner until you finish all the dough.

8. Brush egg yolk on all of them and sprinkle with nigella seeds.

9.  Bake for 10 min. Rotate the pan once and bake for another 10 min or until golden brown on the bottom and top.





  1. by Jenni
    6:19 pm
    Apr 15, 2012

    What a wonderful post! It’s so true; we need to stop thinking that the grass is always greener elsewhere and tend our gardens in the here and now. With some catal–which are lovely, and I want to cram them in my face. The end. :)

  2. by Ilke
    8:02 pm
    Apr 15, 2012

    Jenni, I love the idea about tending our gardens now.
    Lell, if it made your day even a bit easier, I am glad. Hope it worked for Marcey as well if she had time to eat at all! :) Thank you for being here!

  3. by Lell Trogdon
    7:14 pm
    Apr 15, 2012

    Your gift of Catal was a perfect “undefined” moment in my busy day. I had one with a cup of afternoon coffee and I was suspended in a moment of quiet and happiness. I did not think about all I had left to do today and I did not fret about all the moments I was wasting by taking a break. I just savored the deliciousness and enjoyed my break! I thanked the Universe for the gift of your friendship and then cheerfully went back to my task list.

  4. by Gokhan
    9:27 pm
    Apr 15, 2012

    I normal follow a different recipe but I will try yours next time. They look yummy, well done as always!

  5. by Ilke
    9:54 pm
    Apr 15, 2012

    Thanks Gokhan, would be interested in seeing your recipe as well and taste how it turns out. It is always trial&error till we achieve the exact taste we are after :)

  6. by Angie@Angie's Recipes
    6:55 am
    Apr 16, 2012

    I don’t know about those nibbles, but they look cute and delicious. Those decorative Nigella seeds make them even more tempting.

  7. by Parsley Sage
    9:36 am
    Apr 16, 2012

    It’s so funny that you posted about this. I was struggling with the exact same thing…always grumping, thinking that things could be better. My husband then sent me this great video about happiness and success…if you have a moment, you might wanna watch it. Very, very cool new way of looking at happiness :)


    Delicious nummies too! You’re a baking queen.

  8. by Ilke
    3:21 pm
    Apr 16, 2012

    It was a good talk! Thanks for sharing. I will try hard to do the things he talks at the end. I do know that I am more positive when I regularly exercise. I should learn how to meditate as well!

  9. by Thyme (Sarah)
    11:48 am
    Apr 17, 2012

    I love, love , love this article. This is exactly where I was a few years ago. I think blogging really helps us to adopt a more positive attitude because we realize how many people say such kind words. We want to be kind and it is easier to do in this virtual world where there isn’t as much “at stake” it seems. I am a terrible complainer. And believe you me, teens pick up on it. I have really made an effort to be more positive since I see how much they absorb at these teen ages. I have to re-start constantly but I figure at least I am willing and aware that I need to “re-start”!

  10. by All That I'm Eating
    3:56 pm
    Apr 17, 2012

    What a nice post. I have to say I’m partial to a bit of complaining but I like to think I turn it into a positive. I bet your lovely looking baked goods make things better!

  11. by Mrs Ergül
    9:57 pm
    Apr 17, 2012

    I’m going to come back and read the post completely after I watch the DVD. Lately, I have been telling my husband that I want to stay in Turkey for a year. This is my case of grass is greener on the other side. Sigh!

  12. by Shelley
    3:08 pm
    Apr 21, 2012

    Ilke- it’s so true what you’re saying. Although I love the internet, often the voyeuristic temptation to peer into others’ lives can lead to comparisons that make you unsatisfied with your own, generally perfectly nice, lot in life. It’s so important to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are. Nothing like a great movie and good wine to add a little perspective. Glad to hear your mood has improved! And your catal is intriguing looking- sort of pretzel-y, no?

  13. by Parsley Sage
    8:37 am
    Apr 22, 2012

    By the way…we totally need a lawnmower now :)

  14. by Lana
    4:32 pm
    Apr 28, 2012

    Ilke, I cannot see the photos on your site no matter what browser I use, but I like the idea of a neutral pastry. That way we have more choice to enjoy our food.
    I understand your point very well (and I skipped over the movie spoilers as I still have not seen Midnight in Paris).
    Once I found out that my mom is terminally ill, I decided to change my attitude towards life. So many really bad stressful things happened to me since I came back that I should have ended up in a loony bin, but I try to wake up with a smile and go to bed with a smile, going over my checklist and making sure I learned at least something and helped someone in some way.
    It is hard on most days, but it opens up my horizons at least partially and I can see the beautiful California sky.
    Have a great weekend!

  15. by Ilke
    6:34 pm
    Apr 28, 2012

    Lana, we are having problem with Amazon hosting! Trying to find an alternative.
    I know that drastic changes in health and other people’s lives forces us to change our perspective. I hope it is long lasting! Blue, sunny skies always make it easier to wake up with a smile:)

  16. by Jeanette
    7:11 pm
    May 2, 2012

    So true, I think we become less happy the more we compare ourselves to others. Perhaps because I’m older now, I don’t worry anymore about that sort of thing. Instead, I am focused on how to put my passion into what I do. Still learning (that is a lifelong process), but at least I feel like I’m doing what I love.

  17. by Terra
    11:26 pm
    May 15, 2012

    I totally understand the feelings you have had, I was feeling like that for awhile, but then I had to just “let it go!” That feeling gets old after awhile:-) Your Catal sounds delicious, I want to make them now, especially with the yummy yogurt in the recipe! Hugs, Terra

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