Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking

Over the holidays, I got a vegan Ethiopian cookbook, Teff Love, by Kittee Berns, for a present.

IMG_7616

 

I have loved Ethiopian cuisine since I lived in the Boston area, where I used to go to a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called Addi’s Red Sea. It is a very vegan friendly cuisine. Vegnews recently shared a story that has more about Ethiopian culture and their food and why it’s so vegan-friendly. Check it out here.

At first I only had the time and energy to try the Ethiopian style tofu scramble recipe. I’m pretty sure I could eat that almost every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. What really makes it is the berbere spice, the signature spice mix for the cuisine…although I’m a baby when it comes to spice and so I reduce it by quite a bit.

IMG_7443

You can get it in the international section of Whole Foods, among other places, I am sure.

One of the best parts of the food is the Injera, the spongy, crepe-like sourdough bread that you eat everything with. It can be used instead of utensils. It’s naturally gluten free (made from teff flour–which inspired the name of Bern’s cookbook). However, it takes up to a week to fully make, which is a bit complicated…but worth it if you can figure it out. If you are pressed for time though, the book has a teff crepe recipe which is really awesome as well.

IMG_7439

Another great aspect of Ethiopian food is that it makes a lot of food, and it lends itself to making multiple dishes and feeding lots of people.

For example, the first time I made it, I gave some to my friend who had just had a baby as part of a meal train.

Here’s a picture she took of her plate:

IMG_7473

And here is one of my favorite pictures of my own plate (one of many):

IMG_7455 (1)

Also, my dad happens to work with someone from Ethiopia, who ended up giving me a huge jar of Teff flour! It was very exciting as it’s like hitting the teff jackpot!

IMG_7508

After making a large batch of food for myself and my friend and her family, I made a dish by itself. It is called ye’zelbo gomen be’karot, which is kale with carrots, onions and mild spices. It’s seriously the best kale dish I’ve ever eaten, and that is saying a lot (I love kale) and my whole family loves it.

Speaking of which: yesterday (Wednesday April 7), after spending the weekend in my kitchen making a big feast for Monday, only to have snow (!!!) cancel the class, I served the small college program, College Unbound, who helped me get my bachelor’s degree, the feast as well! I kept raving about the kale dish to everyone, and one student said she doesn’t like kale, but I got her to try it anyways, and she really liked it! Her cousin who was also there, was claiming she might need to contact the local news channel because I had her trying foods she’d never tried before, and she’s usually so picky…which was a big compliment for myself and the author of the cookbook! Here are a few pictures of some of the other students posing with their plates:

Also, the majority of the students had never had Ethiopian food before when we asked. Most people who tried it were not put off by the fact that there wasn’t meat in the dishes, which can happen sometimes when I am feeding large groups (or at least they didn’t say it to my face! haha). I had one person comment to me that the split peas in mild sauce (called ye’ater kik alicha in the book) had a meatlike texture. My friend Domingo, who is pictured in the first picture above, was excited also that I made the vegan Ethiopian style mac and cheesie, because he’s lactose intolerant.

It was a really positive experience for myself and all involved. Especially because I could effortlessly share my love of another culture’s food and share that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or leave you craving protein (in fact, the red lentils in spicy sauce, in a dish called ye’misser wot, have 15g of protein per serving, according to Teff Love!). I hope to do it again soon.

And I can’t recommend the cookbook Teff Love, enough!

Advertisements

Another post about food and Girls Rock! Rhode Island.

Hello hello!

This past week I finished off my time of being the food/hospitality coordinator for the Girls Rock camp.

As you’ve been reading on my blog in the past perhaps, I have done this before for the Ladies Rock camp, which is one of their many programs they offer to women and girls in my state.

The Ladies Rock camp is 3 days long. Many women go from not having any musical experience in what they are trying to having enough to pull off an awesome performance on the third day and wow the crowd that has assembled to support them and cheer them on.

The past two Ladies’ camps I had organized all the food (for campers and volunteers), by getting donations of products and food from restaurants, asking volunteers to cook for us, and cooking and baking a lot myself.

It is very similar to my role at this Girls’ camp, except it is 5 days long, and a team of 25-30 volunteers get a separate lunch from the campers who also get lunches provided from them.

Many volunteers and campers (at Ladies rock mostly) have special dietary needs, like gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan, so I fit in well. It is usually easiest to try to make the bulk of the cooked meals vegan and gluten free, because then they accommodate everyone.

This year’s girl camp took about a full month of planning, organizing, and well, hustling basically, to get it all set up. I was very nervous about pulling it off prior to the start of camp, but it turned out ridiculously amazing by the end of it.

Before you read a bit about what we ate (I might forget some of it as there was so much food and my memory is a bit foggy!) check out this blog that was written about day 4 of camp, there is a section about me and my food and role at the camp (read the whole thing though!)

Monday- Breakfast was mostly bagels and pastries from White Electric (local coffee shop extraordinaire), and fruit. We had vegan chili, tortillas, and vegan brownies I made from this recipe here. Campers had sandwich supplies and lots of yummy snacks! There was also a snack time for campers and plenty of snacks of all types for everyone throughout the day, donated so kindly from Chex Finer Foods.

Tuesday- We had a similar breakfast as Monday. We had this salad I made, this recipe for chana masala , rice, and other various snack and meal options.

Wednesday for lunch? PIZZA DAY! We had a ton of wonderful pizza donated by Providence Flatbread Company! They make gluten free pizza, vegan pizza, and vegetarian pizza, as well as put their own spin on other classic pizzas. It was a huge hit.

rock! gluten free pot pie

rock! gluten free pot pie

Thursday was also a special day. I had made some savory pot pies. One was gluten free and a bit difficult to describe, but it was a gravy based veggie selection with some daiya cheese on the bottom. The next was a broccoli, nutritional yeast cheese sauce, and tempeh bacon one. The final one was the vegan samosa pot pie from the cookbook Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater. I used her crust recipe for all the pies except the gluten free one. For the Gluten free one I made it with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Crust Mix.
There was also a pea and Orzo salad with and without cheese made by a volunteer, and biscotti! The campers received lunch donated from Blaze restaurant, which was really great and generous. Check them out, they are actually where I went for my college graduation dinner and are awesome. They have a great vegan selection on the menu!

For snack Thursday we had an exceptionally special treat. Providence’s own, the world’s first vegan soft serve truck, Like No Udder, paid a visit and donated an ice cream or lemonade to all campers and volunteers. I was ridiculously excited about this, as you can see by the picture below.

vegan ice cream truck!

vegan ice cream truck!

On Friday everything was winding down, but the food didn’t stop coming. I had gotten up ridiculously early because I was so excited, and went to make this jackfruit untuna for the vegans because I was concerned they may need more selection. Since I was up so early, I also had time to make waffles for all the volunteers, which was a big hit. For lunch there was a cous cous salad, 2 different green salads, pasta salad, brownies, cookies, a large selection of fruits, and leftovers! Campers finished off the wide selection of sandwich supplies for their lunch.

I am so thankful to all of the volunteers, businesses (including New Harvest, who donated coffee) and parents or volunteers who helped with the cooking/procurement of food. It was a great success.

Now, last but not least in any sense, I leave you with the culmination of the camp, the grande finale, which is a link to the final showcase! I highly recommend you watch it, it shows why I am involved with this organization quite clearly and is totally amazing to watch.

Busy weekend!

I just finished out this past weekend in an amazing way. I am now fully exhausted, but it was worth it!

I helped to provide the food (as food coordinator) to Girls Rock Rhode Island’s Ladies Rock Camp again!

I wanted to make a quick post about what food I made and share a picture of a surprise I made for the campers…

If you want to know more about Girls Rock Rhode Island check out my post from last time I participated, here.

On the menu:

For breakfasts I made two kinds of muffins, a batch of chocolate chip coffee muffins and some lemon poppy seed muffins.

We also had plenty of donations of bagels, yogurts, pastries, fruit, and other stuff that was delicious!

Oh and coffee! It was provided by a local company called New Harvest.

For lunches-The first day I made an adapted version of the raw pad thai I posted here awhile ago. There were breads, chickpea salad (for sandwiches) and some volunteers made some rice, curry, and pasta salad. We also had a very generous donation of a bunch of snack items that were constantly put out with meals! I also made the Rosemary Chocolate Chip cookies from the book Isa Does It. The second day I made a taco salad and oat chocolate chip cookies. People so generously donated 2 big batches of chili (with some Daiya cheese on the side! I was so excited!), and two quiches! The final day we were so lucky to have The Providence Flatbread Company donate a huge batch of pizza for us! I tried the vegan pizza they made, and it was delicious! The gluten free pizzas went over really well too! Here is their website if you want to check them out! 

Dinners-The first night my friend Andrew made some awesome lentil stew and hummus and we also had some sandwich type salads and stuff. The second night more pizza was ordered, but I was not there so I do not know how that was!

Leftovers were at the final night at the showcase where all the women did an awesome job performing! I hope everyone really enjoyed the food (from what I heard it was great!) and congratulations to everyone who got on stage and did something so brave, inspiring, and empowering for themselves!

Image

The surprise cupcakes with a special message for campers!

I’ve been cooking up a storm for a great cause!

Hey everyone,

So my blogging has been lagging a bit, and I am sorry, but recently I have been busy organizing a big food project for a non profit organization’s event I love.

LADIES ROCK! CAMP, by Girls Rock! Rhode Island is this weekend!

Since participating in the Ladies Rock Camp in 2012, I have been fairly committed to being a volunteer as much as I can, especially at the past two Summer camps for girls. For this Ladies Rock camp, I was asked to coordinate the food for it. It’s a fundraiser for the work they do throughout the year but especially for the Summer Camp, so having yummy food to energize and nourish the lady campers is super important!

Here’s a picture of me participating (or I should probably say ROCKING) in the Showcase (I turned around to face the crowd shortly after, it was all part of the show haha):

Image

It was an empowering, special, fun and informative learning experience for me. Well, not just a learning experience–but the “experience” (of any sort) of a lifetime!

As a teen growing up I loved music and wished there was something like this for me. I longed to be a masterful musician, something that really frustrated me because music was always a difficult subject for me to pick up.

I dabbled with guitar but it was difficult to find a good teacher who encouraged me not to give up and let me learn in a way that made sense for me. I eventually gave up because I was only being taught old classic rock songs my dad and this particular teacher liked, as well as that I seem to have more of an intuitive learning style with music, and am not as good at picking up skills through formal, music theory teaching methods.

Girls Rock! RI (and the many other Girls Rock camps across the country and world) is a big solution for girls today who are like me when I was an adolescent. If it wasn’t for Girls Rock, many of these girls would not have the encouragement, support, or option to play and learn rock music. As an adult entering the camp in 2012, I thought I was doomed and would not do well as a vocalist. I was discouraged a lot for my singing voice by a lot of people around me growing up, and had to work through those issues. I had always wanted to sing, but was really afraid. I did it, and I saw such an improvement in myself.

My favorite part though, is beyond the music. Whether you are participating in a program as an adult or adolescent, there are multiple opportunities to bond with fellow females, relate and share experiences that are unique to being a woman or girl, gain empowerment, support, and learn new things (like notable figures in the history of rock–the females who made an impact that are often not mentioned in rock history).

This is by far the biggest event I’ve ever had to make food for (I’m getting a lot of help cooking, but I have also been a cooking machine myself). It has been a lot of work but also a lot of fun, and I cannot wait to hear what people think of some of my favorite foods and my new recipes I have made. I was too scared to make any unique recipes up myself, just in case they flopped, but eventually I hope to get to that point where I feel confident enough with my recipe creations to debut a dish for an event such as this!

The foods I am making are all vegan and gluten free (with maybe a few last minute exceptions to some non-gluten free stuff).They include items such as homemade granola, cookies, cashew cream cheeses and butters, a yummy bean dish, salad dressing, etc! Many other people have stepped up to also donate their time and cooking skills, as well as purchasing items we need and donating them! So I want to thank them all here if they are reading this by any chance!

Here are a few links in case you are interested in getting involved and learning more:

Girls Rock! RI’s website

Girls Rock Camp Alliance (to find if there is a camp near you if you do not live in RI, and much more)

An article about Girls Rock RI in the Providence Phoenix 

And if you’re in RI come to the showcase for this Ladies Rock camp! It is on Sunday the 10th, at 7pm at Firehouse 13.