Uncharted Territory

Last week, my friend Karen and her friend Jonathan (whom I do not know) went out and bought us 16 spices that I would need for Ethiopian cooking. AND, Jonathan put together a binder of Ethiopian recipes that he'd used with his cooking students. (!) Thank you, thank you, because I never would have thought to ask for that!

Now, I'd always labored under the delusion that I did not like to cook because I work full time and am too tired when I get home, and that I probably wouldn't like cooking anyway, and what am I going to do, because 2 children will live here, and would like to eat regularly. BUT, when I saw the beautiful colors of those spices, something stirred inside me. It made cooking seem more like art.

I am cooking Doro Wat as we speak. That is a spicy chicken stew, usually served with injera, but I didn't order the teff flour yet, and that's got to ferment awhile before cooking. We'll have it with rice.

I had a lot of firsts with this recipe:

1. I minced real ginger root. Don't get me wrong, I've BOUGHT ginger root before because I love it's knobbly shape. Every one I've ever bought has shriveled up my fridge... except this one. It dropped off the side shelf of the fridge and onto the floor, losing one of it's appendages in the process. I didn't see where it went, and considered it lost. Later, I saw a TOE on the floor and almost started yelling, but it was just the ginger's toe. It really was the same size and shape of a pinky toe.

2. I made a recipe that serves 10. Of course, I didn't realize it until I had cut up the chicken, AND the onion, and I thought "Hey! That's a LOT of chicken and onion!" (Have Lee tell you about the year I made 200 chocolate truffles because I kept doubling and quadrupling part of the recipe, which meant I had about 150 more than I'd intended. Lee called it a "Bumper Crop of My Wife can't do Math".)

3. I used Fenugreek and other actual spices in a recipe. The only spices I've used in the last, oh, since we've been married are those to make Christmas cookies and pie. I'm not even kidding.

4. I purposefully set aside vegetable matter for composting. (!) My head may just explode from all these firsts.

5. I marinated chicken. No, really, never done that before.

6. I used a lemon that I bought. See #1. The life cycle of ginger root, lemons and limes all ended in dessication.

So, now that it is 8 pm, dinner is ready! Did I mention how I don't have time to cook? Apparently I do!

P.S. UPDATE: the doro wat was very good. It had a nice cumulative spicy heat that didn't leave you gasping. In fact, Lee and I decided it could have been a little MORE spicy, so I'm sure it would have been totally BLAND to any Ethiopian. I will definitely make it again. With more heat! BAM!


Katherine said...

I'm so proud of you, Chris!!! I used to HATE cooking too, until I realized our budget wouldn't support all that eating out we were doing. I made lots of mistakes at first, but have learned a lot! Most of my lemons and limes (still) would almost end up being a family pet, if they didn't smell so badly.

Susan said...

Good for you!! I'm sure that it was delicious! We are blessed to have injera available to buy at our nearby market. Way to go!

~Susan (AWAA Family)

Ann said...

First...your spices look so pretty and organized...love the labels on them! Second---love all your firsts...you have seriously never marinated chicken and now you are making Doro Wat...wow you have come along way in just a day!!! Congrats--looks forward to trying some of your new dishes!

Ali BG said...

hey chris, got your note and am so excited to have this link to your blog!

also, as for cooking injera, i have an ethiopian friend here in town and she "taught" me her way of making injera--she uses teff really sparingly, since it's so expensive, supplementing with self-rising white flour. just a thought...


Yarnsmith said...

Yeah, the teff is expensive. I just ordered 3 pounds online. $20. I'll definitely be using it mixed with something else!

The McEvil One said...


Glad the first foray into cooking didn't leave a bad taste in your mouth!!! (Sorry, couldn't help myself...)

Maybe one you & the expanded family get more comfortable, would you consider showcasing these foods for us Westerners who have no clue what Doro Wat taste like???