Teff Love, random facts, and a recipe for quick teff crêpes

savory and sweet crepes, and drink all the greensPlease forgive the lighting. I made these on a school day. (A testament to just how quick they are!)

A little over a year ago, I had just finished testing recipes for Kittee’s cookbook Teff Love. My pantry was stocked with all manner of dried lentils and grains. I had jar upon jar of spice blends and seasoned oils that I had blended and seasoned myself. I had mastered injera.

Fact: the reason I joined Instagram was because the community of Teff Love testers took it by storm, and I wanted to join the party.

One of my favorite recipes is ersho, the teff sourdough starter. There are two jars at all times hanging out in the back of my refrigerator, descendants of the first starter I made during testing. Someday I’ll do a post about this starter, about how it makes wonderful injera and pancakes and yeasted breads.

Fact: my starter smells like granny smith apples.

teff crepes

Right now, though, I’m going to tell you about Kittee’s quick teff crêpes, because they are magic. They bring the bubbles and sponginess and tang of traditional injera, when you need your injera fix but don’t have the time or means to make them the traditional way with ersho.

Fact: I prefer my teff crêpes in the morning, with savory leftovers.
scramble and kittee mac(savory) things on crêpes: ye’tofu enkulal firfir and Ethiopian-style mac ‘n’ cheesie (a.k.a. Kittee M.A.C.)
Fact: they are also really good with sweet fillings.
ayib and preserves(sweet) things on crêpes: ayib, a non-cultured cheese from Teff Love, paired with cherry preserves

Quick teff crêpes

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Although these crêpes don’t have quite the same texture or pronounced sourness typical of injera, they make a good stand-in on days when you want Ethiopian food quickly and don’t have time for the fermentation process or access to commercial injera. They have a slightly spongy-stretchy texture, with a small bit of tang from the yogurt and vinegar, and work well for scooping up sauces and stews.

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1 cup teff flour, any variety
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups carbonated water
2/3 cup unsweetened plain vegan yogurt
6 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Put the teff flour, chickpea flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine and to beat out any lumps that may be in the chickpea flour. Add the carbonated water and vegan yogurt and whisk well to combine. When the griddle is hot, whisk in the vinegar to combine. The batter will rise and foam, and the consistency will be thin and reminiscent of chocolate milk.

Form each crêpe by using a 1/3-cup measure to scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and pour it into a disk on the hot pan. Use a spoon to quickly and lightly smooth the batter into a 6-inch disk, starting in the center and working in concentric circles until you reach the edges (keep the center of the crêpe the thickest and the edges the thinnest; the crêpe should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick).

Cover and cook for 1 minute. The crêpe should be dry on the top with a smattering of little holes over its surface. Uncover and continue to cook the crêpe without turning it for another 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. The total cooking time for each crêpe should be 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. When fully cooked, the crêpe should be dry on top with a few air-bubble holes, and the bottom should be firm, smooth, and lightly browned. Depending on your cookware and stove, you’ll need to adjust the heat to achieve this result. Use a flat flexible spatula to loosen and release the crêpe, and then quickly transfer it to a plate and cover with a clean, dry tea towel. Repeat the cooking process until all the batter has been used. As the crêpes are made, stack them on top of each other and keep them covered with the towel so they don’t dry out.

As the crêpes cool, the crêpes will develop a spongy-stretchy texture. Let them rest until they’re room temperature, then wrap the stack loosely in a clean, dry tea towel and seal it in a zip lock bag until serving time. Be sure the crêpes are completely cool or the bag will collect moisture and they’ll spoil. If you notice any condensation, open the bag to air it out.

Cooking tip: For the best success, I recommend cooking these crêpes on a flat, anodized griddle or pan. If you find the crêpes are sticking as they cook, mist the pan with a small amount of oil. Keep in mind, just as with traditional teff injera, the first one cooked is usually a throwaway or a treat for the cook.

Cooking tip: Halve this recipe if you’d like a smaller yield, and for the best results, eat these the same day they’re prepared.

This blog tour was kicked off by Hipster Food. Check out earlier tour stops at Cadry’s Kitchen and Vegansaurus, and see the full line up here. The next stop is Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen, on February 24!

for a snowy day

candy cane scarf, in progressNina’s candy cane scarf

Years ago, I came across a yarn that was so addictively squishy I couldn’t leave the store without an armload of it. And it’s languished in my stash ever since.

I’m drawn to yarns that are addictively . . . anything, really: bright; shiny; turquoise; not-scratchy; speckled-like-a-hen. All of the yarns that end up in my stash – I have a pretty good idea of the niche they’re going to fill before I buy them. It might be amigarumi (speckled-like-a-hen). Wrist warmers and a cowl that complement my sister’s chestnut hair (turquoise). A hat adorned with ear flaps and pom poms and braided tassels for a six-year old niece (bright and shiny!). A chic ear-warmer headband for her older sister (not-scratchy). Always a niche.

That squishy yarn, though. Not a clue! I let Nina siphon as much of it as she wanted from my stash. She was making better use of it than I was.

On my way to Whole Foods the other day, I went right instead of left and found myself in a local yarn shop I usually avoid. They have a great selection of vegan yarn, but it’s a pain in the ass to find. The vegan yarns are scattered throughout the store but not really organized with other yarns by weight or color or fiber content. Tucked into hard-to-reach corners or up on high shelves, impossible to see let alone get a hold of; an afterthought, really. Also, this shop’s blind devotion to alpaca and wool hinders rational discussion about anything not alpaca or wool.

Long story short (is it possible at this point?), I wander in, start squishing and label-reading, and end up with a collection of fibers that are so different in texture and composition, the woman ringing me up thinks I am mad. (Or cheap, for not buying ten of each.) What unites these yarns – one soft as cotton candy, one sleek as wire, the other adorned with tiny sequins – is that ridiculously squishy yarn I had squirreled away at home.

Shortly before SNL started that night I found my one remaining skein of squishy yarn, gathered the day’s new yarns together, dusted off my size 17 needles, and started casting on. A few hours later, Nina’s candy cane scarf was finished. The next morning we conferred about the length, and I bound off. And now she has a new scarf, just in time for the wintry mix snow storm raging outside, this moment, as I type.

Nina's candy cane Purl Soho scarfClockwise from the left: Blue Sky Alpacas 100% organic cotton, worsted, shell; Patons Bohemian, super bulky, casual cream; Lana Grossa Divino, worsted, 029 carmine; and Lana Grossa Opera, worsted, 01 raw white. The Opera is sequined, tiny as snow flakes, spaced about every inch. It’s like faerie dust!

The quick and dirty:

I simply adapted the Purl Scarf pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. As in, it is the simplest pattern in the world to adapt. This is one of my favorite pattern books; maybe someday I’ll do a quick review. Eventually I’ll add this project to Ravelry, but I’m listing my mods below because sometimes it takes me years to actually ravel something.

My modifications:

  • I used four strands of yarn, not three.
  • I used size 17 needles. The pattern calls for size 15, but the next-biggest size I have from 17 is 13, and I didn’t want to go down that low with four strands.
  • I cast on eight stitches instead of 16, in part because the stitches were so large, and also Nina wanted a skinnier width scarf.
  • I did not add tassels. Nina is presently anti-tassel.

This scarf is so fantastic with tassels. If we get snowed in and I can’t get to work or school, I might wile away the hours by making one for myself.

A short list of movie recommendations, in no particular order

woodland wanderings

Here’s a very short list of some of the films I enjoyed in 2014 and early 2015, with notes/subjective descriptions. If you have comments or suggestions, please do share.

Science Fiction
Snowpiercer This has a Gilliam-at-his-best vibe. Set entirely on a train, in the future, and touches on many social issues. Based on a French graphic novel, with an amazingly choreographed action sequence and stunning cinematography. Oh, and Tilda.
Under the Skin Impossible (for me) to describe, you just need to experience it. You’ll know within ten minutes if it’s to your liking. Johansson at her very most absolute best. Glazer, too, for that matter.
Predestination Based on a short story by Heinlein. Shades of Minority Report, but that doesn’t do it justice. Sarah Snook, whom I’d never heard of, was one of the best performances I saw all year.
Edge of Tomorrow Based no the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. One of the smartest time-loop action/sci-fi films out there. Great acting all around. A lot of fun to watch, and a big budget popcorn flick in the best sense.

Suspense
Take Shelter Michael Shannon absolutely blew me away with his portrayal of a man who is having apocalyptic visions. Scary, heartbreaking, beautiful, powerful, really gets in your head. Chastain was quite good in this, too.
The Fifth Estate Interesting character study of Assange. Many creative liberties taken, I am sure, in the telling of this story. Daniel Brühl was fantastic. (So was Cumberbatch, but that goes without saying.)

Ghost Story
The Awakening Atmoshpheric period piece. Some would categorize this as a horror film, but to me it’s just a fantastic ghost story. Imelda Staunton and Rebecca Hall. Gorgeous cinematography. One of my favorite movie endings, regardless of genre.

Vampire Story
Only Lovers Left Alive The vampire genre, and Detroit, through the lens of Jarmush. Swinton and Hiddleston in a beautiful centuries-long romance would be enough, but small parts by Wasikowska, Wright, Yelchin and Hurt made me adore this film.

Horror
The Conjuring Creepy, intense, old school horror that utilizes camera angles, sound, and tension build-ups to scare you. I wasn’t fond of where the movie went, stylistically, near the end – but it’s still one of the best horror films I’ve seen in a good long while.
The Cabin in the Woods Equal parts love letter and poison pen letter to 1980s horror.
Troll Hunter A fantastic addition to the found-footage and mockumentary genres. A lot of fun to watch. Slyly amusing. I am very sad there is going to be an American remake.

Drama
What Maisie Knew Julianne Moore’s unflinching portrayal of a really dispicable person. Steve Coogan probably at his best – at least in a drama. Heartbreaking story of two really selfish people who don’t know fuck-all about being parents. Told from their daughter Maisie’s point of view.
Locke Dialogue-driven personal crisis drama. Tom Hardy, as well as every actor who is just a disembodied voice, were sensational.
Nebraska Humble slice-of-life film about a father-son roadtrip. The cinematography reminded me that there is beauty in the decay of the rural Midwest.
Boyhood No words. Snippets of life’s ordinary moments, filmed over twelve years and pieced back together by Linklater. Such beauty in the ordinary and mundane.
Chef If you’re offended by seeing someone work with meat – this is not for you. This film captures the passion and elegance of a chef’s relationship with food, wrapped up in a sweet father-son story, with a clichéd happy ending that still feels right. I’m guessing the R rating is for language? I’m excited to watch this with Nina. The language is pretty realistic and nothing she hasn’t heard before, but may be an issue for other parents.
All is Lost Robert Redford took my breath away. Little to no backgroud info on the sole character of this film, just a man on a boat by himself out at sea; it’s all about what’s happening in the moment. Inevitable conclusion, but impossible not to watch through to the very end.
Japanese Story Quiet little love story set in Australia.

Animated
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child BBC animated shorts based on a children’s picture book. Pretty much the best voice casting ever, except maybe Batman from the Lego Movie.

Dark Comedy
Frank Quiet, quirky, bittersweet ensemble piece about a band. Fassbender’s best performance to date. The one movie I want to quote constantly, all the time, in a sing-song voice.

Foreign Language
Ida Beautiful, sad film set in 1962 postwar Poland.

Goblin, searching for woodland trolls

Two things

One: a picture of Daisy, the hen Nina sponsors at the Refuge. When I was visiting a couple of days ago, she couldn’t wait to rush over and give me a smooch.

daisy kisses

Two: a favorite way to eat chickpeas. Because sometimes a big mess of gooey, savory-sweet chickpeas is all it takes to make me happy. Especially served over sticky rice.

2014-08-02 14.26.13

Teriyaki chickpeas

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This recipe is adapted from a teriyaki sauce my friend Kevin Archer made for one of our cooking classes. Truth be told, I often have a giant jar of this hanging out in the fridge for drizzling into stir fries or dipping spring rolls, it’s that good. If you want to do the same thing, just quadruple the recipe; it should keep for a couple of weeks. I use an enamel-coated cast iron skillet when making these chickpeas. If you’ve ever had to scrape something sticky out of a regular cast iron skillet and then re-season it, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

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1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
splash rice vinegar
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can), drained

Dissolve the cornstarch, adding an additional tablespoon of water if necessary. Whisk in everything else except the chickpeas. Warm up a large skillet over medium heat. Add the drained chickpeas, then the teriyaki mixture. Toss to coat. Simmer until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze, stirring occasionally to keep the chickpeas from sticking.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes

brain candy

the-great-blizzard-of-2014Fifteens minutes, then the flakes turned to drizzle.

My first semester of law school ended a week and a half ago, and it’s already faded from memory. I’m drunk on the elixir of free time!

I have two more weeks to catch up on all things not-law-school, immerse myself in the holidays, plan for Nina’s birthday, welcome a dear friend for her annual New Year’s visit. There are books to read, podcasts to listen to, recipes to play with, museums to visit, toys and hats and mitts to knit, movies to watch, television series to finish and new ones to begin. If I read a New Yorker a day, I’ll be just caught up on the ever-growing stack next to our couch.

I don’t need to take notes on any of the above-mentioned things. No outlining or self-quizzing will happen in the next two weeks. My brain is free to wander off on as many tangents as it likes. My catch-up list is just a starting point; I might chuck it all for a Gilmore Girls marathon with Nina.

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Here’s where my brain has wandered lately; a bit of brain candy.

-A favorite song by my second favorite Nina in the world. The short version here (with a fantastic video and audio mix by Sakis Han). The long version here.

-If you’ve watched the final scene of this movie as often as I have and wondered if Celine’s moves are true to Ms. Simone’s, at around 3:15 of the long version, you’ll have your answer.

-And since we’re on the subject, my very un-romantic, sentimentality-eschewing self swoons at this song.

-How I intend to make a dent in my glass jar stash. Maybe next winter, maybe for Christmas in July. Gingerbread terrariums.

-This series of photographs.

-Postponing re-reads of Salinger and Franzen to dig into Atwood’s latest.

-What I suspect it’s like to have a conversation with either me or Nina. Two Loraleis under the same roof can be exhausting. (Not for Nina and I, but probably everyone who gets caught in our frantic/manic energy field.)

16037652746_32f605caef_oOur total snowfall that morning.

autumn + a simple apple crumble

What autumn means to me, so far this year:

  • dahlias that thrive from the union of cool, misty mornings and sun-dappled afternoons;
  • becoming a soccer mom;
  • taking Nina to her first college football game, a real nail-biter that was a blur of pompoms and cacophony of cheering;
  • apples, ergo the quest to perfect baked apple cider doughnuts;
  • and this lovely apple crumble.

What a lovely start to my favorite season.

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Apple crumble with muscovado and rye

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I’ve been on a dark rye + muscovado kick lately, and when my neighbors gifted me several pounds of apples, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. This recipe is a marriage of an apple crumble filling from Nigel Slater, and a rye crumble topping from Kim Boyce. A mixture of apple varieties is best in my opinion, so that some bits are tart, some are sweet, some melt into a slush and some remain slightly firm. The thing about Slater’s recipe I love most is that the apples are tossed with sugar then quickly browned before baking, giving the finished dish undertones of toffee or caramel. I think this tastes best without the addition of any spices, although I wouldn’t object to tucking a couple of bruised sage leaves into the dish just before baking. Another grain that pairs well with muscovado sugar is buckwheat, which also happens to be gluten free.

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Filling:
2 1/2 to 3 pounds apples, preferably a mix of tart and sweet
Juice from half a lemon
1/3 cup muscovado sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil, used in two teaspoon increments

Crumble:
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup dark rye flour (or buckwheat to make this gluten free)
1/3 cup almond meal
6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Large pinch of fine grain sea salt
3 to 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 180 C. Lightly oil a 1.5 quart casserole dish and set aside.

Peel, core, and chop the apples into 3/4-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice and sugar; stir to combine.

In a heavy bottomed pot, melt two teaspoons of the coconut oil. When the oil is nice and hot, arrange a layer of the apples on the bottom of the pan. Resist the urge to nudge the apple pieces around; the goal here is for them to begin to caramelize. After three to four minutes the apples will begin to brown in spots; transfer them to the casserole dish. Repeat the process until all of the apples have had their turn in the pot. If there are any sticky bits in the pot, add a splash of water, loosen them up, and add them to the casserole dish.

To make the crumble, combine all of the dry ingredients (everything except the coconut oil) in a food processor and pulse a few times until the oats are coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add three tablespoons of the melted coconut oil. Using your hands, stir to combine, squeezing as you stir to create small crumbly bits. If the mixture falls apart when squeezed, add another tablespoon of coconut oil. You want the crumble topping to have a dusty texture, similar to breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

amendment

I found this in Nina’s homework folder last night.

If there was ever any doubt about thoroughly explaining the debeaking process to a seven-year old, well, we underestimate these little people far too often.

Oof, I love her so.

Nina's amendment

If I could write my own law or rule for the constitution, it would be…

to not torture animals and cut off their beaks and tails.

I would write this law because…

it hurts and can kill the animals just with pain.