food · international

An Ethiopian Feast!

On Sunday, I was inspired to cook an Ethiopian-inspired meal. I’ve been slowly gathering my supplies: teff flour, cardamom and coriander, turmeric and lots of vegan butter and olive oil, etc.,. And this weekend felt like a good one for jumping into some authentic Ethiopian cooking.

I absolutely love Ethiopian food, and have been a big fan of the cuisine for quite a few years. The truth is, I could eat Ethiopian food every week. And that would be a fabulous option, except I actually enjoy cooking. Instead of spending money on lots of takeout, I chose to try my hand at authentic Ethiopian dishes: misr wat (red lentils), tikel gomen (only cabbage) and potatoes and carrots alicha, and injera.

Here’s the finished product:

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Don’t be deceived: it may not look appealing, but it was so delicious. Now, I’ve definitely tried preparing these dishes before (all except for the injera: this was my first time trying my hand at that). Many times I’ve attempted to prepare Ethiopian food but the seasoning was just OFF. What I eventually learned was that my berbere seasoning (a spice blend I purchased from Amazon) was way, way too hot. And I’m not heat-shy at all: I love spicy foods, and I couldn’t handle the overwhelming heat of Frontier Seasoning’s berbere. In all of my time eating Ethiopian food, I’d never had anything as spicy as the berbere mix that I was using. I had to find another way.

It was time to make my berbere from scratch. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that made all of the difference.

Everything was DELICIOUS. The berbere was perfectly balanced and not too spicy. And no, I didn’t write down what I did AT ALL. But, I’ll share the websites I used to make everything. I did a mashup of a couple of recipes, so nothing on my plate is 100% from any particular website.

Since I didn’t adhere to any singular recipe, I’ll put out all of my other disclaimers and advice, too:

  • I didn’t let the injera dough ferment for four days, as recommended. I had an alternate recipe that recommended that fermentation could occur in as little as one day, which was the case for me. The sour flavor wasn’t as strong as it would have been, had I let it sit longer. But I was still pleased with the outcome.
  • Fenugreek is a critical spice for the misr wat, and I didn’t have it. I found out later that it’s pretty hard to find in most grocery stores. But one website conveniently compared fenugreek to a mix of celery salt and maple syrup. So I threw in a little celery salt, and I was delighted with the result.
  • The misr wat looked nothing like what I was used to (when I purchase Ethiopian food), but I loved the flavor. I’ll tinker with some more recipes and post my results in the future.
  • I still have to perfect my injera technique, but I liked the overall result. I used teff flour only (no wheat or barley flour added), so that created the super-dark coloring. It was mildly sour and tasty, albeit a bit thicker than most restaurant-style injera.
  • The cabbage was done more like a stir-fry, since I didn’t want it cooked to mush. Since I cooked it a bit firm, it reheats wonderfully (it isn’t too mushy).
  • Save yourself some time and just cut up several onions and start sauteeing them initially. Then, just portion off the onions you need for each dish into a separate pot or pan, add some more butter (in my case, Earth Balance butter substitute) and olive oil, and resume cooking.

These are the websites I used for my recipes:

Caroline’s Cooking (Ethiopian Injera and Tikel Gomen)

Hapa Nom Nom (Misr Wat and Berbere Seasoning)

AllRecipes (Ethiopian Cabbage Dish)

How to Cook Great Ethiopian Food (I looked up a bunch of different recipes on this one)

Daring Gourmet (Injera recipe)

Have any of you tried cooking Ethiopian dishes? If so, let me know how that worked out for you, or if you have a favorite Ethiopian dish that you’ve perfected!

 

reading list

Reading List: December’s Book

I had originally planned to just pick up my October book selection and finish that one, but I believe in following inspiration and I was not inspired to finish up Mae West’s story this month. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love Mae’s story, and I am excited to finish it. But I felt that the last month of the year deserved something . . . different.

Instead, I decided to read something that would set the perfect tone for the upcoming year. So I selected “The Best Year of Your Life” by Debbie Ford. I read it many years ago but I feel that now is a good time to reread it, especially since I intend to make 2018 the best year of my life.

You can thank Debbie for the terms like the “shadow self” and its counterpart, the “light chaser” (many people also use this term interchangeably with “lightworker”). I haven’t read her most famous book, “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” but who knows: maybe that will be one of the monthly books sometime in 2018.

You can feel free to click on the links or the photo of the book to see what “The Best Year of Your Life” is all about. I’m looking forward to this “refresher”!

beauty

Review: Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel

Hey friends! I’m in the midst of a very¬† busy – but fun – week, so I wanted to make a quick post about a product that I absolutely adore.

I started using Dr. Gross products last year, when I got serious about improving and perfecting my skin. The salesperson at my local Sephora directed me to the brand’s Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel for sensitive skin, since I was experiencing a bout of sensitivity and I was unsure how my skin would react to the product.

The price of the product – $88 for a 30 day supply – was not for the faint of heart, but desperate times call for desperate measures and believe me, I was DESPERATE. I held out hope that the product would improve my skin’s texture and clarity.

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The description of the product on Sephora’s website is as follows:

A daily peel in pre-soaked pads that contains three gentle acids, anti-agers, and soothing botanicals to exfoliate and nourish sensitive skin and combat the three most common signs of aging.

Lactic acid, mandelic acid, and willow bark extract all work together to exfoliate the skin, refine the texture and clear the pores gently. The product is easy to use: each peel consists of two wipes, conveniently attached in a connected dual-pouch configuration. You gently wipe your face with Wipe 1, until the wipe feels dry to the touch. Then you wait for two minutes, and follow up with wiping your face with Wipe 2. Wipe 1 is the exfoliating chemicals, and Wipe 2 neutralizes the chemicals (so you don’t accidentally burn your skin).

But the question is, how well did it work?

Well, Dr. Gross didn’t disappoint. After 30 days, my skin look transformed! In fact, my skin was looking better after one week, and continued use just made it look even better. By the time I got through the box, I was running to Sephora to get another one! I noticed that some of my scars were starting to fade, and my pores looked smaller. I looked like I may have even gotten a professional chemical peel!

I wish I had taken photos: the difference was noticeable. The results were so good, I plan to purchase another box and start up on another round of exfoliation: I’d like to ring in the new year with my skin looking extra flawless!

I have an upcoming post, describing how I’m winterproofing my skin. I have some other product recommendations that I think you all will enjoy. I’ll talk to you all soon!

art · luxury

Classical Art Sale at Sotheby’s London

Sotheby’s is having an Old Masters Sale on December 7th, and I must admit, I would love to own one of these incredible works. After attending the Drawing Salon at the National Gallery of Art, I discovered a new level of appreciation for classical works. As a result, I am always interested in the Old Masters and all manner of classical art.

I love all art with Black faces, especially classic art. So I was delighted to see this one, even if the Black woman depicted is a servant. I’m amused that the Princess of Zanzibar (an archipelago of Tanzania, an African country) is a European woman. I would think that the princess of any African country or region would be a woman of color, but I digress.

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(Portrait of The Princess of Zanzibar with an African Attendant by Walter Frier)
During the drawing salon that I attended, we studied the significance of the Madonna paintings. So I’m partial to any rendition of the Virgin and Child.
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(Virgin and Child with a Pear by the Workshop of Joos van Cleve)
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(The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Antonio del Ceraiuolo)
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(Madonna and Child by School of Bruges, second half of the 16th Century)
These paintings are expected to fetch between 10,000 and 90,000 GBP (approximately $13,000 and $121,000 USD). It’ll be interesting to see how well these sell in a couple of days!
The sale will be held at Sotheby’s London. Oh how I’d love to be there when this sale occurs!
music

Currently Listening To . . .

Happy Sunday, darlings! Every year, I wait until December to break out one of my all-time favorite songs. It seems just silly to listen to winter-themed songs at any other time of year!

I’m a fan of anything that makes me think of cuddling under a huge blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. And Sarah Vaughan’s version of “My Favorite Things” just symbolizes everything cozy about wintertime.

Her perfect vocals, the pared down instruments, and the timeless lyrics come together exquisitely. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

style

I Finally Found the Perfect Earring

I’m an August baby, and it’s taken me a long time to learn to love my birthstone. For years, I hated peridot, the bright green, “semi” precious gemstone assigned to my month.

But something changed when I became an adult. I realized how beautiful this bright green is, and how unusual it is to see people wearing it. I loved the uniqueness, so I started liking – and eventually loving – peridot.

So I started my hunt for the perfect peridot earring. I already have peridot rings and necklaces, but I don’t wear those items daily. However, I do wear earrings every day, so it only made sense that I would want a pair in peridot.

Finding my dream earring, however, proved to be a challenge.

I was pretty specific: I wanted peridot hoop earrings, similar to diamond hoops. I wanted a medium-to-large hoop, with lots of tiny peridot outlining the outer edge, preferably in the “inside out” style (where the inside of the hoop is also lined with gemstones). I wanted them in silver or white gold, and under $150.

I initially looked for earrings on Amazon, because Amazon has everything (normally). But, after looking high and low through their offerings, I realized my dream earrings weren’t there. I then took my search to Google. And I found a picture with my dream earrings, clicked on it, and was led to the godsend that it Overstock.

Here is the pair I selected:

peridotearring

(photo courtesy of Overstock)

This beautiful pair of earrings was less than $30. I’m so excited! They should arrive in the next couple of weeks: I can’t wait to share them with you all!

life curation · reading list

So . . . About NaNoWriMo

clipartlibrary

My literal expression when I write (photo courtesy of Clipart Library)

 

I got a book update for you all!

So, it’s December 1st, which means NaNoWriMo is officially over.

But (surprise, surprise) my book isn’t finished.

What does that mean?

It means I get to continue working on it through December LOL!

Now, I had every intention of getting 50,000 words in writing between November 1st and November 30th. But, life happens. I did get some writing done, which is better than doing nothing.

And, don’t forget: I’ve been posting here DAILY. So I’m writing, just not much in novel format.

However, I like the story that I’m forming in my mind, and I’ve written a lot more this NaNoWriMo than I did last year. So I’m celebrating that!

Anyway, enjoy your Friday, friends! I’ll chat with you all tomorrow!