Friday, February 23, 2007
1. If you like your injera to be more sour, you can use a self-rising flour starter instead of adding it fresh on the day you cook it. This will add sourness. Also, allowing more time between feedings of a starter adds sourness. But you have to be careful because if you allow it to sit for too long without feeding it, some of the yeast begins to die and you won't have as much ain.
2. If you are only able to get good ain on some parts of the injera, it could be due to your heat. Injera depends on high, fast heat to force the CO2 that is released by the yeast "eating" the flour to come to the surface, thereby creating ain. Also, it could be an issue of not having enough active yeast to begin with.
3. When you cook your injera, if it gets slightly crispy on the bottom, it should soften after it cools.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Warning: This seems complicated, but after you've done it once or twice, it will become much easier. So don't give up!
After trying and failing to make injera for about a year, I finally was blessed with an Ethiopian woman, Abeba, who has become a very dear friend. Abeba is a wonderful cook and has spent quite a bit of time with me helping me to make injera the way Ethiopians in America make it.
I've made enough successful batches of injera that I now feel comfortable sharing it with my readers. I will give written step-by-step instructions. For the visual learners, I have also uploaded videos demonstrating each step. As people begin their own experimenting with injera, I really hope you'll share your tips, as I have learned so much from other people's successes and mistakes alike. Good luck and don't give up! It might not work the first time, but even Ethiopians don't often get it right on the first try! :) Note: This is how the process works in America. I know that it is affected by altitude, quality of teff, and temperature. So, it may take some experimenting in order to get this to work in other places. For that matter, it may take some experimenting in some of the higher elevation places in America. This is NOT the same process that Ethiopians use in Ethiopia. This is the process that Ethiopians have adapted in order to make injera in America.
1. You need to start with a good strong starter. Click here if you don't know how to make a starter. All of the information contained in this post regarding making your starter is good, accurate information. There are also lots of ways to get a starter going that are quicker (and less smelly) than this method which relies on wild yeast found in the air. You can use a commercial yeast. Or you can even buy a starter from some bakeries. Since I haven't done it these other ways, I don't know how it works. But there is a wealth of information about sourdough starters on the internet. If you are using the "wild yeast" method, you'll need to give your starter at least 2 weeks to build up it's strength. The good news is that once you have a strong starter, as long as you take good care of it, you'll never have to make another one.
2. If your starter (lit in Amharic) is made of any grain other than teff, you'll need to convert it to a teff starter first. This only takes 2 feedings prior to actually starting the process of making injera. I believe it's detailed in the post about making a starter. By doing 2 feedings prior to the actual process, the injera will have more of the sour teff flavor that it's supposed to have.
3. Injera is a 3-step-process. About 8-12 hours is required between each step. I usually do step 1 at night before I go to bed. Then I do step 2 when I wake up the next morning. Then I am ready to cook the injera in the mid-afternoon.
Click here to see a video demonstrating all of the items/ingredients you will need to cook injera.
lid for mitad
sifter or metal strainer
at least 2 plastic containers
something large and flat to remove injera from mitad
Step 1 (The Night Before)
Click here for a video showing the kneading step.
Click here for a video showing the "thinning out" step.
You will need your teff starter. If any liquid has gathered on the top, pour it into the sink. Usually, there will be a dark blackish liquid if you've kept it in the refrigerator. This is okay. But you don't want it mixed in.
I'm sure that with some experimenting, the amounts that I will give can be changed and altered depending on your personal tastes. Just as in America some people prefer whole grain bread, or wheat bread, or rye, or white, injera is a matter of personal preference as well. The amounts I will give produce a medium-dark injera. Most restaurants I've been to serve a more white injera. Most Ethiopians I know prefer to eat the darker injera. Experiment to find what your family likes best. This recipe will make about 10 16 inch injeras.
Start with 2 cups of starter. Mix in 2 cups of teff. The mixture will start out crumbly. You will need to knead (mopkwat) the starter (lit) ALOT!!! The more you knead it, the better the injera will be. If your arm starts hurting, you're doing a good job! As you continue to knead, the dough will become a solid ball. This is good. Knead it for at least 10 minutes. After you've done that, you'll need to begin adding luke-warm water just a little at a time. Add 1/4 cup water at a time, then knead the mixture some more. Once the water is thoroughly mixed in, add another 1/4 cup. Continue doing this until the mixture has become quite thin and watery. The test is to put your hand in, then pull it out. You'll know the consistency is right when the batter slips quickly off your hand, leaving behind just a thin residue of the batter.
Cover the starter with a lid and let it sit on your counter overnight. Go to bed! :)
Step 2 (The Next Morning)
Click here for a video showing the "blending the teff starter" step
Click here for a video showing the "self-rising flour" step
When you wake up in the morning, you will probably see a 3 layered starter (if you have a clear container that is!). The bottom layer will be the tallest layer consisting of injera starter. The middle layer will be a very thin layer of liquid. And the top layer will be another layer of injera starter. This is good. If yours doesn't look like this, just keep going anyway because even if it doesn't turn out good, you'll learn from the experimenting process.
You will need to use a blender for this step. My Ethiopian friend who taught me to make injera said that it must be a blender. She has tried using a food processor and her injera didn't work. So, I've done as she said, and I've been successful.
You will need to gently stir up the injera starter. After you've stirred it, SAVE 1 OR 2 CUPS FOR THE NEXT TIME YOU MAKE INJERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You will be most upset if you accidentally use all of your starter and don't have any left! Trust me on this one. I'm speaking from personal experience! :) Store the starter in the refrigerator up to a month at a time. It's probably better to pull it out once a week and give it a regular feeding of water and flour, but you can get by with a month. It just might take 2-3 feedings to get it built back up in strength before making injera if you wait that long.
1 cup at a time, you need to blend the starter in the blender. The goal is to get rid of the gritty feel. Alternate settings on the blender. After maybe a minute, rub some of the starter between your fingers. If it feels smooth with only a very slight amount of grit, then it's done. Pour the starter into a clean plastic container after you've blended it up.
Next, you need 3 cups of self-rising flour. Add warm water to it and mix with your hand. The consistency needs to be soupy. After you do this, you'll need to blend it up just like you did the teff starter. It doesn't take as long in the blender though. The goal of this step is to get the mixture smooth and free of lumps of flour. Just as with the teff starter, you'll want to blend it up about 1 cup at a time. When finished, pour it into the container along with the teff starter.
Next, use your hand to thoroughly mix the two mixtures together. The final consistency needs to be thin and watery and soupy. Again, the test is to dip your hand in. If the mixture slides off quickly and leaves a thin residue, the consistency is right. If the consistency doesn't seem right, you can thoroughly mix in more water a little bit at a time until it is right.
Cover it with a lid and let it sit on the counter. Check on it every hour or so. You will notice that the mixture will begin to rise. This is good. In fact, the more it rises, the better the injera will be. Once the rising subsides and the mixture begins to settle back down, put it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes- 1 hour.
Step 3 (The Afternoon)
By the time you put it in the refrigerator, it will be the afternoon (unless you sleep in really late, in which case, your injera probably won't work because too much time will have passed between the steps!)
After the mixture has been in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, it is ready to cook!
Unfortunately, the video I made of the first 3 injeras that I cooked was too long for youtube.com by about 30 seconds! So, I am not able to show the consistency of the injera batter. It should be thin and watery. Just a little thicker than batter for crepes. If it's too thick, it doesn't spread out on the mitad very good.
Heat up your mitad to the highest setting, just slightly above 500 degrees. Each mitad is slightly different, depending on age, heating coil, etc. So you may need to experiment with the temperature. On my Ethiopian friend Abeba's mitad, she uses about 475 degree heat. I have to use 500 degree heat. We have the exact same mitad, but they were purchased at different times.
Once the mitad is good and hot (this takes a little while), you need to sprinkle about 1/2-1 tsp. salt on the surface. Using a damp, clean cloth, rub the salt into the mitad in a circular motion. You must do this after every few injeras. It aids in achieving the ain (bubbles) in the injera. But salt isn't good for the Teflon coating, so try to only use it as needed so that your mitad will last longer. NEVER use oil on the surface!!!!! I read that oil permanently adheres to and changes the properties in the Teflon. I use my mitad only for injera. Never anything else.
Once you have salted the mitad, gently stir the injera batter to get it mixed up and pour approximately 1 cup of the starter onto the hot mitad. In Ethiopia, injera is made by pouring in concentric circles working toward the middle. In America, this method does not work. It produces a very thick injera. Perhaps this has to do with altitude? I don't really know. But I do know what works!
Your pour the starter onto the mitad then pick it up and shake it gently in order to get the starter spread out over the entire surface of the mitad. You may notice the ain starting to appear. This is good. Cover it with the lid. Once steam starts pouring out of the small vent in the mitad, lift the lid just a little to check on the injera. If it has started to lift up a little bit around the edges, it is ready to come off.
If you cook injera too long, it becomes soggy and gummy, as the steam is trapped inside.
Removing the injera is tricky. Well, it's been tricky for me! The first time I dropped half of them into a gummy pile! I use a sufid (Actually, it's smaller than a suffid. I don't remember what it's called) that I bought in Ethiopia. Basically, you need to find something that is the size of the mitad (16 inches) and flat. Using your finger, you gently lift one edge and quickly slide the suffid underneath the injera. Set it down on the sheet, still on the suffid.
The injera will look gummy and not good when you first take it off. As it cools, it becomes the nice spongy consistency of injera.
Often, the first injera won't be good. It might be gummy or lacking in ain. Often though, the rest will turn out okay. So, if the first one isn't good, try another one.
Begin cooking the next injera. After you have the lid on, then go back and remove the injera from the suffid. Lay it on the sheet. Note: If you stack the injeras on top of each other right away, they will stick together and you won't be able to separate them. If you let them cool on a sheet first, then stack them, they will peel apart when you're ready to use them.
Now, I will address the color and taste of injera. Most reseraunts that I have eaten at in America serve a whiter injera. However, as with American bread, darker bread usually contains more nutrients. The same is true of darker teff and darker injera. To make lighter injera you can use ivory teff which is usually the same price as regular teff. It's usually specified that it is ivory. Another way is to experiment with the ratio of teff to other kinds of flour. I have not tried this recipe yet, but an Ethiopian woman who sells injera for a living told me that she uses teff, barley, and self-rising all in equal proportions. Experiment. And let me know what you come up with! Just remember that if you use too much teff, the injera won't have enough ain in it.
So, this has been a lot of information. As with anything, when you've done it a few times, it's easy to forget steps in the process, or information that wasn't so obvious at first. So if you get started and run into a question that I haven't addressed, please feel free to email me with your questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck! :)
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Avery, I'm sorry this isn't a very good picture of you, but I'm hoping that Mihret's absolute cuteness will make you appreciate the picture anyway! :)
Avery, here's a picture I know you'll love. Does it make up for the other one!? :)
I just love this kid! She makes the cutest faces! :) Not difficult when you're just so naturally cute without even trying!
What I said about Yosef never dating- it goes double for this one. Those eyes are enough to make anybody melt. And since Kaitlyn and Lucas are already never allowed to date, I guess Avery and I will just become two old folks with four adult kids! Hmmm... maybe I should rethink my "no-dating" policy??? ...........Not yet! :)
Friday, February 16, 2007
We found out today, Friday, February 16 that on February 15, 2007 we officially became a family!!!!!! Finally, the government has caught up with my heart!!!! Thank you to God. The One who is faithful to a thousand generations! Avery thinks I shouldn't put so many pictures all in one post. But, I've waited 506 days for this!!!! So truly, Enjoy the little chronological picto-story I've put together for you! :)
Yosef and Mihret, Dec. 2004 at their intake interview for our adoption agency
June, 2005 when Yosef and Mihret came to live at their orphanage
April, 2006- don't you LOVE her hair???? :) This is one of my favorite pictures of her!
April, 2006- Yosef- This picture came at such a difficult time in this adoption. Priceless!
June, 2006. They have lived in an orphanage for one year at this point. In just one month, they meet Dad!
Avery with Yosef, Mihret, and Grandmother Ayat Kelemwa in July, 2006. A little over a year prior to this picture, the children left their grandmother, their only living relative, to go live in an orphanage to await a family. This picture is such a gift to our family and to our children. Kelemwa is holding a photo album that I made for her containing pictures of our family, all six of us. I pray I get to see her again so that I can give her this picture to add to her album.
Baetaseb- Family! At last!!!!
This was the last day we spent with Yosef and Mihret right after Christmas 2007
This is a million-dollar-smile! :) She said that when she lost her first tooth that she threw it on top of the roof, as is the tradition. Yosef informed us that there are lots of teeth on the roof!
Yosef discovering the joys of Kit-Kat bars! Notice his bracelet. It was made for him by two Ethiopian children who recently came to their new family in the US.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Please pray that:
1. Nothing will stand in the way of their grandmother being able to appear in court next Thursday
2. There will be no further delays of any sort
Next Thursday (or Friday if we don't hear how court went right away) this blog will be plastered with pictures of my absolutely adorable children!!!!!!! Get ready! :)
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Poor thing thought we were actually going to THE Super Bowl. :) Ahhhh.... Kids. :)
Monday, February 05, 2007
I had to fax a copy of our I600-A approval (a piece of paperwork from the US government that gives families permission to bring an adopted child into the US) to our agency today and in doing so I realized that our approval expires the last week of April. I had known this before, but I think I blocked it out! The US immigration office that handles that particular piece of paperwork in our state has been kind of slow in my experience, but this might not be the norm. One experience doesn't really signify a rule, now does it? I probably need to find out. Our homestudy agency told us that with an expiration date in late April that we need to renew this particular piece of paperwork right now. We're holding off on it though because it will cost another $545 to renew it. So, we're giving it until the end of next week. If we don't hear anything, I guess we'll just have to do it again. I have a feeling we'll be hearing very soon.
I really just have so much peace about all of it. I really feel like this time is for real. And even apart from that, I have had so many supportive friends remind me that my focus needs to be on God and not the difficulty of the current circumstances. And they are so right. When my focus is on God, all is well, even if the world around me is going crazy. I can still have peace inside of me. Pretty cool, isn't it?! :)
On a separate note, my injera over the weekend was a dismal failure, so there is no video. But, I made another batch today which turned out so perfect. But, I didn't video tape it. But I will be making some more soon and will video tape that batch. Kaitlyn and Lucas hated Ethiopian food when we first started cooking it, but I think they're developing a taste for it! We had Siga W'et (spicy ground beef stew), mesir aliche (mild lentil sauce), aiyb (like ricotta cheese, sort of), and gomen (cabbage- one of my absolute favorites) for supper tonight. We actually got through supper with relatively few complaints. Probably the fact that I'm no longer feeding them injera that tastes awful is helping them to develop a taste for Ethiopian cuisine. I know it's helped my palate!
If you're observant, you've probably noticed "(red)" in a variety of places of late. So, what is (red) all about anyway?????? It's simple. When you're buying a product, you check to see if there is a (red) version of the same product available. If so, you choose to purchase (red). Then, a percentage of the profit from that sale will go directly to The Global Fund which distributes the money throughout Africa to be used in the fight against AIDS. The (red) manifesto says it pretty clearly, so check out their website.
So, why should we care about AIDS victims in Africa? It's simple. It's because we're all human. Most of my readers are from industrialized nations. That makes you one of the richest humans in the world, regardless of whether you happen to be a bit behind on your cable TV bill at the moment. And yet so many of our human brothers and sisters are dying of AIDS, which is not such a common occurrence anymore in the westernized world that we're privileged enough to live in. And this is thanks to ARV drugs that keep the amount of the HIV virus at not-s0-dangerous levels in the bodies of those who are HIV+.
The poor of Africa are just as much human as you and me. They are just as smart, or even smarter than you and me! They have hopes and dreams for their children. They want to see their children educated and successful, just like you and me. Again, they want to see this. They want to live long enough to witness it for themselves. They cry when they hurt, just like you and me. They bleed when they get cut. They laugh when their children take their first steps. And their children grieve when they watch their moms and dads die from AIDS, a very preventable death. Again. They are human. Just like us.
And furthermore, if you consider yourself to be a Christian, then you are undoubtedly responsible for the AIDS victims in Africa. Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of these (humans!), we do it for Him. It's not a choice to care for the poor. It's not something we are told to do someday when we have more time and money. It's a mandate. A mandate for now.
Our family's contract for our cell phone is set to expire in just a few weeks, and our phones are on the brink of death. So Avery began to shop around for a phone and discovered that purchasing a (red) phone would not cost us any more money than a non-(red) phone. In fact, often when you're selecting a cell phone contract, you can get a discount on a (red) phone that the cell phone company will more than make up for over the term of your service contract. This was the case for us. So the choice was really quite simple. We purchased new (red) cell phones and thereby have purchased the needed medication so that 200 HIV+ women can receive the drugs that prevent the HIV virus from being passed to their unborn babies. That's right. Also, we have paid for 2 months of ARV drugs that will keep one of these moms alive in order to care for her HIV- baby. That's right. By simply choosing to buy (red) on a product that we were already going to purchase anyway, we have made an impact in the fight against AIDS in Africa.
So I challenge you, beg you, plead with you, reason with you. Please choose to buy (red) products. Together, we can make a difference. Together we can keep more mommies in Africa alive to care for their children, which means that there will be fewer orphans like my Yosef and Mihret. That means more children get to stay in their native Africa with their biological parents. This is one "trend" that I am proud to be a part of, though with 5 million AIDS orphans in Ethiopia alone, I hardly would consider this a "trend" just yet. But won't you please join me and countless others in being a trendsetter for the sake of women and children in Africa?
Saturday, February 03, 2007
I have never had any inclination to ever call any radio station to win a contest before. Before yesterday that is. I was driving home with Lucas in the backseat and the radio was turned down because we were chit-chatting about 5-year-old "stuff." As we pulled into the driveway, we finished talking, and so I turned the radio back up just in time to hear the DJ say, "So, if your kid has an unusual name, be caller number three right now to win." They gave the phone number and I just automatically got out my cell-phone and started dialing. I had no idea why I was doing this, as I had never done it before. But I'm prone to random moments of, "Ahhh. I think I'll do this right now!" So, wouldn't you know it, I was caller number three. I had no idea what I was winning. I told the DJ all four of our kids' names and he wanted to know the story of how Yosef and Mihret got their names. I explained and he told me about my prize, a DVD.
So about ten minutes goes by and the phone rings. The radio station was calling me back because a woman had called and left her number and wanted me to call her. I called this woman and it turns out that a friend of hers had heard me on the radio. This woman lives only about 40 minutes from us and she just brought home her 4ish year old daughter from Ethiopia last September! I was so excited! And she was so excited too because up until yesterday she had absolutely no Ethiopian connections in our state. Our state has a really cool network of Ethiopian adoptive families and she didn't even know about it. So perfect!
Obviously God so sovereignly arranged my schedule yesterday as well as the schedule of this woman's friend so that we could get connected with each other. Oh, it's even better. The woman's parents live in the same town as us about 2 minutes down the road. She comes to our town all the time and she's going to come see us at our house today! So, I don't want to minimize the role of the Sovereign God of the universe, but He is indeed sovereign over the smallest details of our lives!
And, as though that isn't good enough, I have had such an incredible peace about our adoption. It's all so simple, and yet I'm so quick to forget. When I keep my focus on God and not my circumstances, God fills me with incredible peace and faith. When I choose to dwell on my circumstances, I feel tormented inside. So, the choice is obvious, isn't it?! And God is so faithful that He gives us opportunity after opportunity to make the choice to choose Him over our circumstances. Thank you for all of your prayers this week, this month, this year! One day at a time.
I am currently waiting for my injera starter to rise so that I can cook it. I have video taped each step in the process, so if the end result is successful, then I will be posting it next week. So, get a good strong starter going so you'll be ready!
Friday, February 02, 2007
To all who have prayed for me this week and sent me encouraging emails, thank you!!!! Sometimes I wonder what in the world is wrong with me that God can do so many miraculous things for us and speak so clearly to my heart. Then two days later I seem to completely forget about it and fall into an introspective discouragement! You know, kind of like when God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, led them through the desert, took care of their every need, showed them the land He was giving them (which was a pretty incredible place!), then they STILL forgot all of God's faithfulness and complained! So, I guess I'm not the only one who has that tendency. Must be the human condition or something like that?! At any rate, the important thing is that when we find ourselves in that place that we can ALWAYS go running back to God. When we are faithless, He is still faithful. Good thing too! :)
I have this little problem right now though. We've been invited to a Super-Bowl party at the home of a gourmet chef. This chef is a friend of a friend. He really is a master at culinary arts. We've had the good pleasure of attending a reception that he prepared. So, this chef wants to sample Ethiopian food. The food is not a problem. However I'm completely out of teff! I ordered some from The Teff Company online, but it's still not here! I may have to break down and drive all the way to Raleigh where I'll have to spend a small fortune on a tiny little bag of the stuff! Abeba still hasn't found us a new dealer. Hmmm... that sounds kind of shady, doesn't i?! Anyway, my point is to let my readers know that as soon as my teff arrives in the mail I am going to make another batch of injera and I will videotape each step and post it on you-tube along with detailed instructions in writing. Soon there will be injera-making-ferenj all over the world! :)
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The news on our adoption is that our agency's country rep needs to pick up a letter from the appropriate government offices stating that the agency is relicensed. Once she gets it, then she has to take the letter to the courts. Then once they look at it she will be able to go back and request our courtdates. The letter is supposed to take a week or two before it is ready for pick up. It's already been a week. So we'll see what happens.
I was feeling pretty sad today so I called a very dear friend to ask her to pray for me. She's an older lady and one of the things I love most about her is that she tells me the truth. She pretty much told me that she loves me, she always prays for me, God has given me assurance after assurance that He will indeed bring my kids home, and that I need to praise God in all circumstances. She told me that she will pray for me, to go to God with this, and to call her back later. Now, I don't mean to say that she gave me one of those trite religious pats on the back that is insincere and totally misses our obvious human condition! This particular friend would never do that to me. She was incredibly loving in the things she said to me and as I listened I knew how incredibly right she was. The truth is that God has been so good to me my entire life, even in the most painful of circumstances. He has never left me. He is good and He is faithful. At all times. Always. And that alone is reason enough to give Him praise. I'm not totally there yet. But I'm getting there. Funny how life can be such a roller coaster! Completely at peace one day and so sad the next. And through it all God tolerates my mood swings. AND He even loves me in my mood swings! How's that for love?!
Enjoy the photo shoot! :)