Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homemade Halloween Banner

Yay for discount Halloween fabric! I saw a Halloween Banner Tutorial on Ribbon Retreat a month or so ago. I loved the idea but I am super cheap so I wanted to wait to whip it up until all the Halloween fabrics went on sale. I love all the fabrics I scored, and all for 50% off. The tutorial over at Ribbon Retreat is pretty straight forward. Here's my 2 cents. To make the pennant shapes I used some chipboard pennants I had hanging around my studio. Since they are thick, I was able to just use the rotary cutter and whip them up in no time. Also, make sure to do a little pre-planning - measure your mantle or area you plan on hanging it and figure out how to space the pennants evenly so you end up with a uniform look. If you can do basic pinning, measuring and sewing, you can pull this off. Next project? I got some discount Christmas fabric ahead of time and I am getting ready to make banner #2.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ethiopian Feast (Mostly Vegetarian Dishes)

I adore Ethiopian Food. My husband is not such a big fan. I am always begging to hit up my favorite Ethiopian place every time we are in the city. It's just not his thing. I have been intimidated with the idea of making Ethiopian food at home, but I finally got a craving bad enough that I just decided to go for it. Surprise, surprise. My first attempt at Ethiopian food was actually better than anything I have ever had in a restaurant. Mr Bucket even liked it. I'm not a culinary genius but I am a good researcher. I poked around the net and found a great combination of recipes. It takes a lot of burners and a lot of people to eat this much, but I have made all of the following dishes for one dinner. Everything is vegan with the exception of Tibs. I am a vegetarian but my husband isn't so I throw together Tibs to suit his carnivore needs.

Injera Bread
Ethiopian Green Salad
Ethiopian Tomato Salad
Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes
Yellow Split Peas with Turmeric
Berbere Lentils


Berbere - this is really similar to Indian Garam Masala and a key component in Ethiopian cooking. A lot of the spices are the same as Garam Masala but the ratio is different. Berbere is hot and heavy on the chiles (oh baby). If you can find a premade blend, go for it. I couldn't find any that was readily available, so I just make my own. This recipe from Marcus Samuellson is spot on:


2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorns
1⁄4 tsp. whole allspice
white cardamom pods
whole cloves
1⁄2 cup dried onion flakes
dried chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded, and broken into small pieces
3 tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. In a small skillet, combine coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice, cardamom pods, and cloves. Toast spices over medium heat, swirling skillet constantly, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
2. Let cool slightly; transfer to a spice grinder along with onion flakes and grind until fine. Add chilies, and grind with the other spices until fine.
3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Injera - without this amazing, sour, delicious bread, Ethiopian food would just be some spicy stews. Injera is traditionally made with either straight teff flour or a blend of teff and wheat. For a lot of people, this is the most intimidating part of making Ethiopian food. I have always heard about cracked injera, dry injera, uncooked in the middle injera. The injera recipe/technique I found from Yum Universe is awesome! It's all teff flour (Bob's Red Mill makes one that's easily found in the health food section) so it's all gluten free. I have used the Yum Universe method both soured overnight and using baking powder to make up for not souring. If you have the chance, I highly recommend giving it a chance to get sour. The flavor is much more developed and the rise on the injera is perfect. The real secret to injera is covering the frying pan with a lid to let the bread steam. I use a glass lid so I can really see what's going on. It does take a little practice to see when it's just right. Just breathe and know that the first one is probably going to suck, just like when you make pancakes.


Large glass bowl
Cheesecloth, muslin or kitchen towel with a thin weave
Parchment paper
1 1/2 cups teff flour
2 cups pure water
1/2 tsp baking powder
Coconut oil for pan (**I don't like the flavor of coconut on injera so I just use veggie oil)
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
Check out Yum Universe for a full run down on technique. The photos are really helpful and way better than I could explain here.


Both of these salads are basic but a perfect cold, crisp balance to the hot saucy dishes. I make both salads every time I make Ethiopian food. Recipes from The Toronto Star
1 tbsp (15 mL) each: extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar (**I prefer Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) puréed fresh, peeled ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) each: fine sea salt, black pepper
tomato, halved, thinly sliced
1/2 head green leaf lettuce, cut lengthwise, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded if desired, chopped
In large salad bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, ginger, salt and black pepper. Add tomato. Whisk gently. Add lettuce, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Toss well. Serve immediately.
2 tbsp (30 mL) each: extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar (**I prefer Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 tsp (5 mL) puréed fresh, peeled ginger
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, minced
jalapenos, seeded, minced
In medium bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, ginger, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Stir well. Serve immediately.
Hot Dishes
If you haven't had Ethiopian food before, these are all a bit like curries but less saucy. I always make the Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes since they are really hearty. If I don't make the full meal, I pick between the split peas and lentils. It is worth making both but sometimes I am in a pinch on a work night. All of the recipes come from the Toronto Sun with the exception of Tibs, which comes from the blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.
1/2 cup (125 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 medium yellow onions, halved, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled thinly sliced on diagonal
2 white boiling potatoes, peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp (15 mL) puréed fresh garlic
1 tsp (5 mL) pureéd fresh, peeled ginger
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each: turmeric, fine sea salt, black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) water
8 to 10 cups (2 to 2.5L) chopped, coredgreen cabbage
1 jalapeno, chopped with seeds
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Add carrots. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Add potatoes. Cover; Cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add cabbage and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. (Don’t let it burn.)
1 cup (250 mL) dried yellow split peas, washed
1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 medium yellow onions, finely minced
1-1/2 tbsp (22 mL) each: puréed fresh garlic, puréed fresh, peeled ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
3 cups (750 mL) water + more if needed
3/4 tsp (4 mL) fine sea salt, or to taste
Optional garnish:
Thinly sliced jalapenos with seeds
Finely chopped red bell pepper
Place split peas in medium saucepan. Cover with water; Bring to boil over high heat. Boil 5 minutes. Let sit in water until ready to use; drain.
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onions. Cook, stirring, 8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in turmeric, then drained split peas. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 3 cups (750 mL) water.
Raise heat to high; bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed, until split peas are very soft and stew is thick and not soupy, about 30 minutes. Taste; season with salt.

3/4 cup (185 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) berbere spice blend, or to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) puréed fresh, peeled ginger
2 tsp (10 mL) puréed fresh garlic
1 cup (250 mL) dried red lentils, washed
3 cups (750 mL) water + more if needed
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fine sea salt, or to taste
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onions. Cook, stirring, 8 minutes. Stir in berbere, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add lentils. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add 3 cups (750 mL) water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often and adding water if needed, until lentils disintegrate and mixture is a thick stew, about 30 minutes. Taste; season with salt.


1 large red onion, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup niter kebbeh (spiced butter) or ghee (**I use oil since my husband is dairy allergic)
2 pounds beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons berbere
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, broken into bits
1 to 5 green chiles, such as jalapenos or serranos
1/2 cup red wine

Get the saute pan or wok very hot. Stir-fry the onions without the butter for a few minutes, until they char just a little on the outside. Add the spiced butter and the beef. Stir-fry hot and fast until the outside of the meat is brown but the inside of the meat is still very rare. You need to do this on as hot a burner as you have. The moment the meat has browned, add the spices, garlic and chiles. Stir-fry another 30 seconds or so, then add the tomatoes and the wine. Toss to combine and let this cook for a minute or two. Serve at once with bread or injera.