Ethiopian party!

The first time we went for Ethiopian several years ago, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  It’s a damn shame that Ethiopian food/culture/music doesn’t get more visibility because it’s all so awesome!  The food has quickly become one of my favourites and I’m super pleased that I was able to help my friend Kittee from Cake Maker to the Stars test recipes during the creation of her new book, Teff Love.  It’s been released now; mine just came in the mail on Friday and I’m already digging in.

We are fortunate that the closest restaurant to us—literally, like a 2 minute walk—is an Ethiopian place.  We go there for their DELICIOUS vegan platter (suuuper cheap too) often, and they sell injera (the spongy, sourdough flatbread that you scoop up your food with) by the bag.  So, it’s ridiculously easy for us to buy a bag and whip up a spontaneous Ethiopian feast.  Lucky, I know.  It’s a part of why I’m so attached to living in our neighbourhood!

Vegan Ethiopian Food

Clockwise, we’ve got ye’tikil gomen be’karot (ginger-garlic cabbage and carrots), ye’kaysir atakilt (beet salad), ye’dubba alicha (roasted butternut in a spicy sauce) and ye’misser wot be’timatim (red lentils).

Bonus: these recipes utilize super cheap ingredients (lentils, cabbage, beets, squash!) and make a tonne so we have meals for days.

– Crystal

Jamaican Coconut Collards & Black Eyed Peas, Carrot Cake

Trevor was out for the evening and all I wanted to do was just stay in and read.  I decided to make a carrot cake with cream cheeze frosting since I haven’t had that in years, probably not since being vegan.  I used the recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes (but I use the cream cheese frosting recipe from the pumpkin cupcake recipe from the same book)  It was easy and delicious.

So, then I woke up and ate it for breakfast.  And, er…lunch, too.  What?!  It was really good.  So, anyway, by day’s end I was feeling much like someone who had eaten nothing but cake all day; that is, to say, like shit.  I had to remedy that with something that was chock full of vegetable matter.

I’m so inspired by the little takeout place called One Love Vegetarian in Toronto.  I first discovered what ital was when I ate there and have since grown to have a huge appreciation for the food of Rastafarians, and really, of the Caribbean in general.  Especially when I’m feeling under the weather or have been eating poorly, I reach for greens and peas, lots of spices, ginger, garlic, yams and more, and always feel better for it.  This is real food, yum.

We made some brown rice, steamed cubed sweet potatoes and layered this all together, bowl-style.  I feel better already.

Coconut Collards

1 bunch of collards, hard stems removed and torn into pieces
1/4 cup vegetable broth, or more as needed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 19 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the vegetable broth over medium heat.  Add the collards, place the lid on and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and adding more vegetable broth as needed.  Once the collards are wilted, soft and bright green, remove from the pot and set aside.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion, ginger, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeno and sautee until softened and onions are translucent.  Add all the spices and salt and cook the spices for 30 seconds before reintroducing the wilted collards back into the pot.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Add the black eyed peas and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently (the black eyed peas may break up a bit, which is good).  Turn heat down to low, add the coconut milk and stir, coating everything.  Cook for another minute or so, tasting for salt and pepper.

– Crystal