Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ethiopian upon Ethiopian

I can make absolutely no qualitative statements about when I might update this blog.

I will do it when it makes me happy, and lo and behold today it does.

Back story: I’ve had a series of rotten Thursdays due basically to the fact that Thursdays are an awkward day for me because it’s the only day of the week I don’t go directly from work to class and instead have an awkward 4-hour interval. You can’t really accomplish that much in four hours (well, and four hours minus commute time), but you can spend a lot of time feeling guilty about everything you’re supposed to be doing and eating all the chocolate in the house.

Today I just mixed up my routine- feeling not yet hungry for lunch due to a series of morning snacks, I went straight from work to the gym. Though I encountered anarchy due to a traffic backup on the Beltway (seriously, it was like nothing I have ever seen and left me feeling somewhat humbled and in awe. And not wanting to live here), I nonetheless made it to the gym and thoroughly revived myself with a magazine and workout. Good work, self!

Anyway, last Thursday was still in the rotten phase but FORTUNATELY I woke up Friday morning and there was ETHIOPIAN FOOD IN MY FRIDGE!

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My mom and her friend went to dinner at Ethiopic, one of the more in-demand restaurants in DC these days. It serves Ethiopian food, which is obviously awesome (always. ALWAYS) but it’s also in the up-and-coming H Street corridor and is apparently simultaneously really cool and really cozy.

And a (regrettably) Styrofoam container of it was saying “Good morning Lele! Breakfast is served!)

Let’s deconstruct, shall we?

We had a megapile of bread (some eaten, most saved for later; just wait!)…

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… and the remains of the vegetarian sampler and a fish dish.

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The fish (nestled atop the collard greens) was gone in two bites; but what bites! Grouper flash-fried to moist, not at all greasy perfection, zestily seasoned.

And the greens, holy garlic! I apologize to everyone who inhaled near me in the following class, but they tasted great.

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The legumes, in the form of a wonderful smoky lentil dish and a rich and hearty yellow split pea dish sandwiched the last tasty bite of potatoes.

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And the tomato salad tasted way better than any tomato has a right to in January.

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So fortified by several servings of vegetables for breakfast, I then had oatmeal for lunch.

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(Oatmeal with oats, milk, yogurt, chopped apple, almond butter, and chia seeds, with which I have rekindled my love affair. And overpriced tea).

The setting? Our on compus cafe. I have an awkwardly long lunch break Friday (a class 9:30-12;10 and then nothing til 2) but would be too disgusted with the carbon impact if I drove home. So, I bring a lunch to campus and eat in the Barnes and Noble cafe at the school bookstore.

Eating alone is so TOTALLY different when you are a returning student. It’s so relaxing!

And you can stare out the window at the REMARKABLE weather we’ve been having and watch pretty clouds…

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Become RADIANT SUN!

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Full disclosure: I have had oatmeal for lunch multiple days in the past week. I am so okay with it.

Also, someone else at the bookstore had done the same!

Er… maple instant oatmeal with an energy drink. Still, one superfood aint bad.

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But back to Ethiopian… I had LEFTOVER INJERA! The blissfully sour, chewy and spongy Ethiopian bread that makes a wonderful canvas for all things delicious.

Moreover, we had carrots, cabbage, and potatoes, the fascinatingly simple ingredient to the mouthwatering dish I’ve enjoyed many times at Ethiopian restaurants.

My mom’s brief Google research turned up this extremely tasty recipe for “Ethiopian cabbage dish”

She not only researched a proper recipe she also used a proper tool and madoline’d those veggies into thinly sliced beauty.

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It’s amazing how quickly and PERFECTLY that thing dispatches those veggies.

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Unlike me, she did not draw blood, either!

My mom is  a big proponent of the olive oil (and well she should be, as her doctor informs her that she has “the best HDL I’ve ever seen”), but I thought that 1/2 a cup was just a BIT excessive.

So she EXTREMELY reluctantly toned it down to 1/4 cup.

It still seemed to be PLENTY, as we watched the veggies slowly dissolve into caramelized bliss, seasoned oh-so-simply.

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This stuff is SO GOOD. Seriously Ethiopia, how do you do it?!

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I, meanwhile, tried to make Mark Bittman’s Ethiopian braised lentils (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian).

You used a delicious smelling selection of spices:

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But, er, damn they burn fast.

And then the air gets a little toxic.

And the lentils were kind of bitter. So I dumped a great deal of pepper jelly in the pot with them. Then they were fantastic. Go figure!

A great, great, great dinner.

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Food served atop injera. The way all food should be, really.

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