Things are moving right along. I suppose we'll be buying the signal booster any day now. We did get a landline. It has helped. I want to continue using my old calling card from Sam's Club (we used it faithfully the first four years of marriage instead of long distance b/c it was only 2-3 cents/minute--and we didn't have cell phones). We're planning a trip to Little Rock in about a week, so Sam's Club better "Look OUT!". I will have NO mercy.
Living out in the sticks has made me a better cook. Our eating out options are limited, and what we do have is fairly American (with the exception of the local Mexican restaurant). If you know me, you know I love ethnic foods. So, I've been trying to cook them at home--mostly Indian food. They're never as good as they are when a native of that country cooks them, but they sure do help. I've had several friends bragging on Ethiopian food lately, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.
Kristen, a former student of mine and a friend (hope I can call her that without it being weird), is a fabulous cook and a great art and food blogger. She's also vegetarian and recently posted a great Vegan website with tons of recipes. I am not a vegetarian, and will never be vegan (I know...never say never), but I love to incorporate vegetable-only meals into our weekly menu for our health and to save money. I have a TON of lentils that I bought from various Indian grocers, and I wanted to find more lentil stew recipes. I love lentils. You should too--they are superfood. Not kidding--tons of fiber and protein. I found an Ethiopian lentil dish called "Mesir W'et." It has several spices and vegetables in it along with the lentils and you typically serve it with a flatbread (injera). Well, we're low-carbing it around here, so it'll just be the stew.
[And just a note for those of you already thinking, "Oh, she's such a wonderful cook and how adventurous of her!"--the only thing that makes me a good cook is that I can read and follow directions (most of the time). Seriously, if you can read, you can cook, in my opinion.]
BUT, it called for an Ethiopian spice paste called "berbere". I knew no one in our county would have this stuff, especially since I couldn't even find PESTO! (And they didn't know what "pesto" was. "Is it in the Mexican aisle, do you think?" Seriously...I had this conversation.) So, I knew I'd have to either a) make my own berbere or b)wait until I get to Little Rock to find it in an ethnic grocery or at Whole Foods. I opted to make it. How hard could it be?
Really not that hard. There was a LONG list of spices. I had most of them. Except for ground fenugreek. I knew I might not be able to find that anywhere but Whole Foods. So, I thought, "Well, I'll just look at our local herb store and see if they have it, but if not, I may have to order it online or wait until we go to LR." I stopped at the herb store the other day. The only fenugreek they had was in supplement form. Dave happened to be in Conway yesterday, though, and he stopped at a health food store and found fenugreek seeds--just need to be ground. They are really small and hard like little pebbles. My food processor wasn't doing the job, so I cleaned out the coffee grinder, and it worked like magic. I was halfway through the berbere recipe when I realized it called for 2 CUPS of paprika. CUPS. Insane. Of course, I needed one more cup, so I had to run to Walmart last night and get more paprika. I should have known how involved this would be. I finally finished making the spice paste--which made 3 cups!!!!
I checked my recipe. It only calls for a tablespoon.
So, Kristen, if you or any of your friends (or anyone else, for that matter!) want some homemade berbere paste, let me know.