Animal Farm

It’s been a while since I have given an update on the strays around our home.

As you know Stanley has been in the wars recently and unfortunately it has not improved for him.  He is still an extremely loving little cat but we have had to ban him from the stairwell as he seems to have lost control of his bowel.  The vet suggested cat nappies which is just ridiculous so he now is chased out of the stairwell whenever we see him.

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We had a number of female cats pregnant and I mentioned the birth of some kittens a couple of weeks back.  Unfortunately none of those kittens survived but Nanu (my mother-in-law’s favourite cat) also had kittens around the same time and her 5 little ginger fluff balls are now strong enough to run around the back of my in-law’s garden.  It seems that all the other cats that were pregnant have lost their babies or perhaps they are extremely well hidden however none of the mothers seem to have any engorged breasts (is that the right terminology?).  I am really not sure what’s going on.

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The Turk and I are now starting to capture the female cats and take them to the vet for fixing but Nanu will need to wait until her babies are a little older.  We will also take her babies to the vet for a check-up and shots.

I have noticed that a lot of the cats are sneezing and have runny eyes at the moment so I guess a cat flu is rapidly spreading amongst them.  This is a problem as My Kedi Cat has befriended most of the Village Kedi’s and spends his nights out cruising the çiftlikleri (farms) with his akardasla (friends).  His bestie is often found waiting for him on our terrace while he finishes dinner and they swagger off together into the night – classic.  Thankfully he had all his shots before he came to Turkey but I think it may be time for a check-up for him in the coming weeks.  Sorry My Kedi Cat.

Kedi and Evil

Finally My Hurley Dog caught a chicken yesterday.  Bloody thing somehow ended up in our garden and My Hurley Dog had caught it in an instant.  In the blink of an eye.  Daughter was screaming, I was screaming, The Turk was laughing (and screaming at the dog).  Daughter and I ran out of the garden, across the driveway and was halfway down the street before we came to a screeching halt.  The Turk grabbed My Hurley Dog, forcefully took the carcass off him (he was not giving it up without a fight) and carried it around to show us.  Bastard!

It didn’t end that badly for My Hurley Dog though as Akan (The Turk’s youngest brother) brought half a feking sheep home (including the head) so he scored all the cut offs.  He was one happy little dog last night.

In case you are wondering where my two fur-friends are right now I can tell you.  My Hurley Dog has just come back from a walk with my niece Nisa and My Kedi Cat came wandering in about an hour ago, ate some biscuits and crawled into bed.  Literally crawled into my bed and is under the covers – we won’t see him again until after 6 tonight.  The Turk says it’s like living with a petulant teenager because now that we have giving him his freedom he has reverted to his pre-Sydney personality – that bloody cat or TBC for short!

100 posts!

This post is the 100th post on my blog.  100 posts!  100 posts in 270 days.  Yikes!  That equates to a new content every 2.7 days.  It seems like only yesterday that I started this blog, mostly to keep me occupied and also to update my friends back in Australia and around the world.  I am pretty proud of myself for committing to it (I never finish anything I start) and frankly a little amazed that you people keep coming back for another episode of my crazy life.

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I’ve got a few other stats for you.

350 subscribers is amazing (a big thanks to each of you) and 217 ‘likers’ on my Facebook page.

802 published comments.  I’ve had to cull a few of the nut jobs from publication.

Nearly 20,000 page views is phenomenal!  I mean that’s a big number.  That’s a lot of people that either stumbled onto this blog or intentionally went out looking for it (which is nice).

I’ve had some crazy search terms as well including: “hot bitchy wife” – I like that one.  “Will cheese fill you up?” – the answer is no, no it will not.  How about “Screaming sex on rooftop” – not recently.  I have also helped people “Muslim sad funeral Turkey” and made people laugh “crazy, funny mersin”.  One final search term that made me scratch my head “cat, elephant goes out out out by the bell 101” – worryingly this search term has been used 3 times.  Three separate people have typed those words into a search engine and somehow ended up at janeyinmersin.com.

Most viewed?  All About Janey … in Mersin and Contradictions

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First ever post? You’re Moving Where???  Originally titled “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” I thought it wise to not alienate my PG audience with swearing.  Now, of course, I swear like a feking trooper!

Most likes?  Coucous Kofte.  This makes me laugh as honestly I am no chef.

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My Personal favourite?  Ancient Wonders.  This one was only recent but Daughter and I had such a great day together exploring the ruins and just talking about ‘stuff’.  ‘Stuff’ is important you know?

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Least viewed?  Let’s talk about cheese.  This makes me sad as it is one of my favourite memories with my mother in law and after all who doesn’t love cheese?

Daughter’s personal favourite?  Five things in Istanbul.  Daughter wanted to be included in today’s post because she is a big part of this blog and, of course, my life.  Why did she choose this post?  “Simple mum.  Shopping and Istanbul.  What else is there?”  Of course.

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So that’s my first 100.  What have I learnt about myself over the past 270 days?  I think I am funny (sometimes).  I am happy (most of the time) and, most importantly, I am enjoying myself.

Here’s to the next 100.

Sampiyon Fenerbahçe

In the 1970’s I was a child on the beautiful Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.  My childhood was full of sunshine, fun times and forever memories.  Another thing my childhood was full of was rugby league.  My family supported the Mighty Sea Eagles and I learnt the love the brutish, forceful art that is the footy.

Living in Turkey and being a good Turkish housewife I support The Turk’s forever team of Fenerbahce.  I have previously hung my head in shame and disclosed to you that The Turk is a futbol hooligan and quite the embarrassment when his team is winning.  He is even more of an embarrassment if his team should, God forbid, lose.

Last night Fenerbahce clinched their 19th Turkish league title with a 0-0 draw against Caykur Rizespor.  The match itself was a bore.  To me a 0-0 draw means that nothing feking happened.  It means that there were grown mean running up and down the field chasing a little ball and no one found the goal.  It also means that these grown men got to behave like little girls – a lot – by throwing themselves on the ground and crying foul on the other team, cursing each other and basically acting like a bunch of toddlers at every opportunity.  To prove my point that they are a bunch of girly girls there were in fact no male supporters allowed at the match yesterday evening – the biggest match of the year had no men in the stadium!  It seems that Fenerbahce was being punished for bad behaviour at an earlier match and male supporters were suspended from the crowd.  This is just surreal.  I cannot imagine someone telling my brother or his mates “Sorry guys you can’t go and watch the Eagles today as they are being punished”.  Pffttt!

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Anyway Fenerbahce are the 2013/2014 Champions and The Turk and his friends went wild, running out of the house whooping and yelling before disappearing into the night.  When he returned this morning he smelt like a brewery but, despite his obvious hangover, he was still celebrating his team’s victory.

“This is a historical moment in our lives,” The Turk said to me over his kahvalti (breakfast) of two headache tablets and coffee.  “A great victory and we are blessed to be a part of it”.

Now this is football

Now this is football

Honestly I just don’t get it.  I want to see these “Champions” survive just one game of rugby league.  See how you would cry then, ya big babies!

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Ancient Wonders

Daughter and I went walkabout last weekend and ended up about 2 hours west of Mersin in the small village of Kizkalesi.  Most of you who know Turkey or more particularly know Mersin will no doubt already know about this little spot along the Mediterranean but for those of you who are yet to visit this area Kizkalesi should definitely be on your list. kiz 3

Once out of Mersin the bus ride is enchanting was we passed through small villages, a scatterings of ruins and the never ending blue ocean.  The town itself is really nothing to write home about with its extraordinary number of pensions and holiday apartments that have built along the shoreline and on the lower slopes of Tarsus Mountains but our reason for visiting last weekend is to wonder at the majesty that is Deniz Kalesi also known as the Maiden’s Castle floating in the blue water of the Mediterranean.  Set on a small island just 400 metres off the mainland the island (The Turk tells me he used to swim over to it as a child although I call balderdash on that statement) was built sometime in the 1st century and has been rebuilt many times over the following centuries. Like most things in Turkey there is a legend that is attached to Deniz Kalesi.  It is said that a fortune teller told the King that his beautiful daughter will be poisoned by a snake.  Shocked by the fortune teller’s words, the King tries to change her fate by building a castle on an island where no snakes live.  He sends his daughter to live in the castle.  But a snake hides in a grape basket sent from the mainland and poisons the princess.  Definitely a bit of bad luck for her – maybe the King should have sent the Princess to Ireland.  Incidentally there are hundreds of little lizards on the island sending Daughter into screams of terror at every turn – so that’s definitely a bonus *sigh*. Image Daughter and I took a paddleboat over to the island (which really means I had to paddle both of us over to the island while she hung her legs into the water) to explore before returning back to the mainland (which also meant I had to paddle us both back while she complained about being cold even though it was 30 degrees and I was sweating bullets).  If you don’t want to paddle (or know that you are going to get stuck doing all the work) you can take one of the tourist boats over for 10TL. Exploring the ruins takes time and as Daughter and I had all the time in the world we enjoyed wandering around the base, climbing up and down its high walls and examining the mosaics. Image The mainland also has its fair share of ruins to explore as well and Daughter and I spent a good few hours wandering along in the sunshine traversing the ruins along the shore including Korykos Castle (above) which is directly opposite Maiden’s Castle and then a quick dolmus to Elaiussa-Sebaste (below) ruins which are only a few kilometres east of Kizkalesi.  If you have a few days you should also explore the Roman-Byzantine cities of Kanlidivane and Kanytelis also has a wonderful example of Roman necropolis. Image In summer Kizkalesi is packed, mostly with German tourists, but right now it is just a sleepy village and definitely no crowds – the beach was just pristine and it was all ours. _________________________________________________________________________ Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love to travel and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Standing on the Peninsular

For many of us Aussies a pilgrimage to Gelibolu or Gallipoli is a must do in our lifetime.  The area is steeped in history, an ancient history, a pained history and a history of heroism by the boys and men who left home yearning for adventure, ready to fight for their King and country only to lose their lives and lay buried far from home.

Looking across Gelibolu Peninsular

Looking across Gelibolu Peninsular

Daughter and I travelled to the Gallipoli peninsular a few years back and had the good fortune of being shown the area by a Turkish author whose books explored the history in a Turkish light.  Slightly different to the stories that I had grown up with but the one thing that stood out to me was the number of young men who died on both sides.  Australia lost over 8000 men at Gallipoli however there were over 18,000 Australian casualties in all.  Turkey, on the other hand, were fighting beside Russia and sent a huge contingent to protect the peninsular from the British Empire.  Over 57,000 Turkish men were killed with over 100,000 casualties.  These are some pretty daunting numbers in anyone’s books.

One of the many trenches

One of the many trenches

Visiting Gelibolu and the surrounding areas of ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine, The Nek (chilling) and all too many cemeteries was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.  There are no words to explain my emotions sitting on the beach and looking up at those ominous cliffs.  The enormity of what these boys were sent to do is astounding and although the campaign failed in its objective of knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war the actions of our brave soldiers gave us the Anzac legacy that we are so proud of today.

Daughter at Simpson's Grave

Daughter at Simpson’s Grave

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now living in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 1934

Anzac Day

I can see why the people in Turkey give such high esteem to this man amongst men – I cannot imagine the British Prime Minister or even our own Australian Prime Minister ever being so gracious.

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets.

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Why Are You Here?

Daughter has fallen victim to the dreaded Grip.  It sounds quite ominous doesn’t it?  It sounds as though we need to send out a bat signal or Spider Man needs to come to her rescue but in fact the Grip is better known as simply the flu.  Yes Daughter has the flu and a little ear infection so I took her to the village doctor for a check-up and perhaps some antibiotics if deemed necessary.

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The rest of this story is not about Daughter.  She has had a day off school and is on the mend.  The rest of this story is a bit of a tantrum by me so if you are not in the mood for my drama then close the page because here we go:

Imagine a doctor’s office or a government office or a bank or a post office or, well imagine bloody well near anywhere in Mersin.  Imagine me.  Imagine The Turk.  Imagine an obnoxious Turkish doctor, government official, office worker or man on the street.  And.  Action!

“Yes we moved here from Sydney, Australia.”                                                                “Sydney, Australia?  Why would you come here?  There is nothing here.”              “We came here to give Daughter a family and for her to learn Turkish.”            “You have made a mistake.  You should go back to where you are from.”

This is the conversation that The Turk and I have had about 100 times since arriving in Mersin.  The confusion and hysteria that we imbibe from the everyday man when we say that we live here makes me want to throw something at them.  I find that it is usually the professional Turk that cannot understand our decision to move here the ones who think that they are smarter than we are.  The Doctor or Government official.  I always roll my eyes and turn away while The Turk goes into the usual speech about family, lifestyle, culture, language, blah, blah, blah.

Frankly it is none of your effing business why we have moved to Mersin, just stamp the document or give me the prescription and we will be on our way.  Yes we have moved to a small village.  Yes it is extraordinary and yes you can think it is crazy but you need to try and look at it from our side.

We lived in Sydney and believe me I love Sydney.  Best city in the best country in the world but Mersin and more specifically the Village has one things that Sydney does not.  Aile (family).  A huge family that has been so very welcoming to me and to Daughter.  Kuzlener (cousins) that want to play with her.  Kuzlener that love her (and some that do not).  Teyzer and yenge (aunts) that give her hugs when she is sad and yell at her when she is naughty.  Amcalar (uncles) that slip her 5 lira or take her to the market for icecream and a Anne and Baba who are at home when she finishes school and can spend quality time with her rather than coming home exhausted and stressed from a day’s work.

I know that not everybody can have this opportunity, it is unique to us, but when Daughter was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata I realised that something had to change.  I realised that our lifestyle, running from pillar to post, was damaging her psychologically and if ever an opportunity for a seachange came up I would jump at the chance.  Yes we could have moved to Queensland or even to a small town in rural New South Wales but all that would have achieved is that we would have alienated ourselves even more.  Moving away from friends, no I do not think this would have been the solution.

Moving to Turkey has taken a big chunk of our savings and frankly has put us under a financial strain (The Turk and I are terrible with a budget) but Daughter is blossoming from a stressed little girl who had lost most of her hair into a wonderful young lady who is doing remarkably well at school even though it is in a second language and has made some great friends along the way.

This is the right decision for our family – for now.

Seasonal Fruits

Spring has, of course, sprung which means all the farms and gardens around the village are abundant with new, fresh and usually unknown to me fruits.

When The Turk arrived he planted trees around the garden but they are still very young and so far only our nectarine (which is a sad looking young sapling) has borne fruit.

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I have however been thieving fruit from the neighbour’s trees to taste and to introduce to you today.

The first fruit that I have never seen (or tasted) before is called as Yeni Dünya (New World) but you may know the fruit as a loquat.  There are so many trees groaning under the weight of these little beauties that I am clearly doing their owners a favour when I steal them.   I am told that you should never buy them from the market and if you cannot eat them straight from the tree don’t bother as you are wasting your time.  They do not keep well, even in the refrigerator, and can bruise very easily.  They are succulent, tangy and sweet.  Delicious.

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Another seasonal fruit in Mersin at the moment is an Erik, a super crunchy little fruit that you need to eat it now – before it ripens.  They are quite tart or sour in taste but they are very moreish.  The Turk has them with salt which I believe can soften the taste a little.  Can anyone tell me if eating unripened fruit is problematic to the digestive system?  I remember from science class (all those millennia ago) that unripened fruit is very acidic but honestly I just cannot stop eating them.  As they ripen the Erik fruit loses its zing.

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There are so many fruits currently burdening the trees and gardens around the village (mulberries, apricots, nectarines) that I now take a basket with me when I go on pilfering so that I can pick at the branches as I go by – and I am not the only one who does it as I helped an elderly lady fill a plastic bag with Kayisi  (unripened apricots) this morning.  When she had had her fill she patted my face and said “sus” which basically means keep quiet or hush.  We are now partners in crime.

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Asker

“Every Turk is born a soldier”

This is a well known saying in Turkey however every asker (soldier) needs a little training and it is compulsory for every Turkish male between the ages of 20 and 41 to undergo military service in order to protect their homeland if deemed necessary.Image

The Turk’s nephew left for his training last November and yesterday returned home after completing his service to much fanfare and excitement.  For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while would be well aware of the family feud between Vito’s wife and the rest of the family resulting in no one from the family being invited to the nephew’s farewell shindig last year.

I debated with myself whether I should go and enjoy the frivolities or whether I should stay hidden behind my blinds and extend the feud to a new family line.  In the end I realised that ultimately I would only be doing myself an injustice festering alone in my living room as I am quite sure no one else would really care if I attended or not – plus I felt like going to a party.

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It does not matter where you are in the village when one returns from asker because you can hear the horns and the drumming heralding his return at least 5 minutes before the glorious arrival.

As soon as he sets foot on the ground the dancing begins immediately.  I find it quite strange that people just get crazy in the street but that is exactly what you do, young or old, throw out your arms and go for it in wild abandon.

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The beating of the drum and the dancing went on for some time until it stopped for the next part of the party.  The sacrifice.

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I chose to take Daughter and her young cousins upstairs at this point as I just cannot feking believe how many feking sheep have been killed since I arrived.  I get that it’s a religious thing but for fek’s sake – enough!

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I think making the effort to attend yesterday was the right choice as last night, yet again, the shit hit the fan with The Turk losing it at the other two sisters in law that did not attend.  I wasn’t there, thankfully, as I was still at the party however when I tried to make The Turk understand their feelings, particularly taking into consideration the recent death of his mother, he put their behaviour down to being a “female thing”.  Internally I exploded at this point but again being the good Turkish housewife I chose to keep my mouth shut.

Kaboom!

The Entity

We were not in Turkey when construction began on our home here in the Village.  We did not oversee the work and most (read that as all) building design choices were made by The Turk’s older brother (which includes the purples tiles in the en-suite bathroom).  Building your own home is incredibly stressful but building your own home in Turkey comes with its own unique set of issues.  There is no Government body that oversees the standard of workmanship and no one to complain to if there is a problem.  So here we are, nine months in our new home, with a problem.  An entity.

Not a ghostly apparition or a poltergeist, frankly I would welcome them without issue, no our entity is the unmistakable smell of sewage coming from the basement.  Blah!

Originally the basement was built as a garage “big enough for 5 cars”.  Well that’s great isn’t it?  If only we had 5 cars, or even 1 car for that matter.  Nevertheless when we arrived in the Village the first thing I pointed out to my brother in law was that the driveway leading to the garage was too steep and, in my opinion, no car could (or should) drive down it.  The Turk’s brother (who does not like being told he is wrong) was adamant that you could drive down it with ease and insisted on making the attempt with his shiny, black BMW.  It was not successful but it was damn funny to witness.

Now the driveway has been filled in (more money thrown down the Money Pit) and the garage has become an incredibly large basement or utility room.  It is still useful and we are storing our carpets there until the colder weather returns.  Daughter and her cousins play down there on occasion and she recently suggested we get a television or pool table down there so she can turn it into a hangout for her and her friends.

Yesterday it rained.  The first rain in a couple of weeks (maybe even longer) but that would not stop me from going for my walk with My Hurley Dog this morning.  I put on his rain coat and my joggers ready for an invigorating walk/run through the rain.  I opened the front door that leads to the stairwell and – BANG – the entity attacked me with its putrid odour enveloping me in its stench.   It felt like I had been smacked hard in the face with kaka!  This entity that has escaped from our basement is a life form so malodorous, so fetid that it actually made me vomit into my mouth.  I slammed the front door and yelled for The Turk to bring some holy water and a cross – an exorcism was the only thing that was going to get rid of this thing.

Disappointed that I didn’t have Proton Pack handy to capture our entity I donned a peg to control my gag reflex and followed The Turk, aka Dr Peter Venkman, into the rank darkness of the basement.  I was on edge, ready to be covered in kaka like an exploding Stay Puft Marshmallow Man only to find – nothing – no leaks, to mountain of shit pouring from pipe, nothing.

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After a thorough examination of the pipes (none are broken) it seems that the likely cause of our entity is lack of ventilation caused by Vito building his home abutting ours and in the process covering up two of our air vents.  Bloody Vito!

Now we will need to hire yet another builder to come and install new air vents and hopefully exorcise our entity.

And if you are wondering the entity did attach to both The Turk and I and we needed to scour our bodies and burn our clothes to remove its stench.

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Coucous Kofte

My next couple of posts may or may not be about food.  My sister in law has been home the last few days so I’ve been going backwards and forwards between houses drinking copious amounts of çay while watching and attempting to learn how to make a few different Turkish dishes.

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In Mersin most of the meals are simple and grain based so I’ve been cooking a lot of couscous, boreks, pirinç (rice) and the like as well as finishing off the last of the Swedish chard.  Daughter loves my sister in law’s kofte (I call them balls) made from couscous and because they are so simple I thought I would take a crack at it myself and you know what?  It really was that easy.

To start I made the couscous.  I used 3 cay cups of bulgur and 1 cup of warm water and then put it aside.  I would say that was the equivalent to 1 metric cup of coucous.

My sister in law’s recipe calls for a couple of large bunches (2) of maydanoz (parsley) and one large bunch of nane (mint).  I chopped them up quite finely and then put them aside.  I also boiled two potatoes and left them to cool.

I think the important part of the dish is the sauce.  A good serving of vegetable oil along with two soğan (onion) kimyon (cumin) for taste, and my mother in law’s chilli paste which we made last spring.  Once all are in the pot I left them to simmer for a good 15 minutes.  I added sarimsak (garlic) into my recipe (I add garlic into everything).  My sister in law was horrified but I don’t think it took away any of the flavour in fact I think it probably made it richer.

Once that sauce has simmered I add the maydanoz and nane and mix it well while it was still on the stove.  The aroma was sensational (I think it was adding the garlic).  I was feeling pretty good at this point, nothing was going to stop this from being a success.

Now it was down to mixing all the ingredients together.  It was hot and messy work and it took some time to ensure that everything did mix sufficiently well.  Once mixed I rolled them into balls and threw them on a plate. 

I had kept a small amount of the sauce aside and added some chilli powder and put it on top to finish the dish.  With a Turkish salad dinner was served. 

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To finish off this post I just want to say that my father in law (famous or infamous for hating my cooking) ate a huge plate and gave me the two thumbs up.  Progress!

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