Yesterday. I tried to talk my cell phone down from a suicide attempt.
Which is a tragedy in and of itself but especially because I felt as if we had really connected in the past few months. We’d made progress. Gotten down to the nitty gritty of why it feels the need to act out. So. Much. (I would get into the psychology of it but between HIPAA and patient-doctor confidentiality laws, it’s probably not the best idea. Suffice it to say, it’s all very Freudian. Oedipal complex. Penis envy. The usual.)
And then before I know it, I’m walking down 1st Avenue headed towards the gym. I’m checking my email. When all of a sudden, it’s jumping ship. Straight out of my hand and directly towards a sewage drain.
I do one of those slow motion leaps (note that I was about a foot away from the sewage drain at the time). Scream NOOOOOOOO in that slow motion extended long play baritone voice.
And then breathe a sigh of relief as it lands face down and somehow does not fall through the cracks and into the dark and damp recesses of the New York City sewage system. Never to be seen again.
So I pick it up and am ready to start scolding it for giving me such a ghastly scare and demanding that it never do any such thing again because I am not going to go down there after it.
When I look at it’s face. Now shattered. Pixel by pixel.
And especially after the oven’s ultimate betrayal of my wants. Needs. Desires. All I could think was. Et tu, Brute?
So then I went home, proceeded to get a monstrous headache that I went to bed with and consequently woke up with this morning. (Don’t you just love when that happens?)
(I really need to stop forging emotional connections with my electronic devices. It can’t possibly end well. For either of us.)
And somewhere in the middle there. I had dinner. Absolutely sick of technology (literally) and not having an oven to turn on even if I wanted to, all I could think about eating was clean simple food. Food without additives or preservatives or an agenda. Food that is good just because. And that is what I love about Ethiopian food. It is comprised entirely of ingredients that you have on hand (so long as you have a spice collection that takes up two whole shelves of one of your cabinets). And yet combines them in such a way that they taste like coming home. Even, and maybe especially, if home is a cell phone- and oven-less twelfth story apartment on NY’s upper east side. Which is probably about as close to an African savanna as I am ever going to get.
This is my submission to this month’s Regional Recipes! Be sure to send me your submissions by the end of the month!
Ethiopian Lentil Stew
Serves 4, adapted from Saveur
1 cup red lentils
2 tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp berbere spice mix (recipe follows)
1 small tomato, chopped
salt, to taste
1. Rinse the lentil under cold running water and set aside.
2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion until brown. Add in the garlic for 30 seconds. Stir constantly. Mix in the reserved lentils, 1 tbsp of the berbere, tomato and four cups of water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 45-50 minutes or until thick and lentils are cooked through. Stir in the remaining tbsp of berbere. Season with salt.
Berbere Spice Mix
Makes about 3/4 cup, adapted from Saveur
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp allspice
6 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
5 dried chiles de arbol, stemmed, seeded and broken into little pieces
3 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. In a skillet, toast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, and cloves until fragrant, tossing and swirling the pan frequently, about 4 minutes.
2. Grind these in a spice grinder, along with the onion flakes and chiles de arbol. Mix in the paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.
Ethiopian Green Beans and Potatoes
Serves 4, adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
2 large white potatoes (about 1 1/2 lb)
1/2 lb green beans, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch sections
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and cored, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
1. Set up a pot of boiling, salted water. Dice the potatoes and throw them into the pot, cooking for 12 minutes over high heat. Add in the green beans and cook for 3-5 minutes or until desired consistency has been reached. Drain in a colander.
2. Heat a large non-stick skillet. Saute the onion, garlic, and serrano pepper for about 4 minutes. Add in the turmeric, cumin, and salt. Saute for one minute more. Add in the stewed tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, and lime juice. Cook for 7-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.