Green Things

There is this tiny establishment, Cafe Dareye, on Telegraph Ave. in Oakland that carries all things Ethiopian and tasty…including a kitchen dishing up AMAZING home-style Ethiopian food – take out or sit at one of two small tables on the sidewalk outside. I LOVE Ethiopian food. I Love the flavors, textures, aromas, and above all I LOVE LOVE LOVE eating with my hands. The tangy, spongy, teff-bread, Injera, is delightful and delicious. The lemon and salt dressing on the salad is signature.

I also LOVE coffee…and when it comes to coffee I’m VERY picky. I don’t make coffee well enough to drink. That’s right. I won’t drink or serve my own coffee…so I don’t make it. Ever. In our home, Omar makes the coffee. Always. And his coffee is AMAZING. Omar’s coffee is Art.

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There are few places I will go to drink coffee. Every now and then I’ll order a cup in a random diner because I know from experience, now and then, a diner can kill it…but I’m usually let down. Right now, there are only a few places I make a special point to order a cup of coffee. One such place is Slice of Life in Sebastopol, CA. Cold brew and S-M-O-O-T-H. The coffee at Oasis Market is also very good, especially with a couple baklava…and when the Ethiopian coffee vendor sets up at the Oakland Grand Lake farmers market on Saturdays, that’s some good stuff. But you MUST understand, it is because of Omar’s coffee making gift that I know for sure my favorite coffee bean region…and it’s Ethiopia. South American coffee is very good, as is Hawaiian Kona, but my favorite coffee beans are Ethiopian. So when I saw bags of green coffee beans at Dareye I was excited.

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Let’s just say…fresh roast beans are desirable.

Roasting beans is not hard, but the process requires acute attention. The woman working the register at Dareye was insistent about my paying attention to the beans, and she was right. I burned the beans my first attempt, but the second time I nailed it.

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Photo above: Green beans on the left ~$9 a bag, roasted beans are on the right.

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In addition to the green coffee beans you will need a pan and wooden implement. Turn the heat up high. Dump in beans enough to cover the surface of the pan in a single layer. Continually and vigorously stir the beans in the pan over high heat until they reach the desired darkness of roast. Do not walk away. Do not stop stirring. Do not let them burn. To achieve the roast on the beans in the photo it took about 10 minutes over high heat. Expect a little pop and sizzle. And guess what…expect yummy. The beans are delicate and rich enough to just munch a few and make a lovely cup of coffee.

I also picked up a few other items: bulk dried split yellow peas, shelled black cardamon, bishop’s weed, and nech kimem. The black cardamom is potent. It doesn’t take much. I use one to three seeds when steeping a cup of tea or coffee, and a 1/2 tsp when making simple syrup or my spiced fruit bundt cake.

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The bishop’s weed is also known as white cumin. It does share a certain savory note with cumin, but it is a different spice from the product called cumin on your American spice rack. It looks like caraway but about half the length and with a tiny ‘hair’ at one end. I have read this is considered an invasive plant species.

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I don’t know what nech kimem translates to in English. The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic and Google translate does not at this time include Amharic. Nech Kimem is a blend of ground spices and this is what it looks like:

20160118_175302I’ve used this spice preparing beans, potatoes, and cruciferous veggies. Cabbage, carrots, and onions sauteed in butter with nech kimem and a pinch of turmeric and salt is very good.

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OK…now for one more green thing…20160117_185224

…because I recently posted a recipe for a medicated salve using a specific strain of cannabis. We picked this beautiful book up at the gift shop of the Oakland Museum. It details numerous strains of cannabis and has fantastic photography of each bud featured. No two strains are the same. Each has unique properties and applications.

The museum has an exhibit about Cannabis coming up this year. Omar and I are looking forward to seeing the exhibition. I LOVE the Oakland Museum almost as much as I Love Miss Kitty Pants. Yeah. I know. Miss Kitty Pants merely tolerates me in this photo. But sometimes she snuggles me like crazy…I swear…that’s just how cats are. Other cat people know what I mean.

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Speaking of cats, artists, and books available at the Oakland Museum gift shop…we also found this little gem:

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As an artist with kitties this book makes me smile. Especially when I got to the page with Diego Giacometti! I Love the juxtaposition of his sculpture’s iconic aesthetic next to his big fat cat.

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Meow for now!

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