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Archive for September 7th, 2006

My Ethiopian “Family” was Here!!!

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Altu’s Mom and Altu’s sister (they both live in Ethiopia) are here. They have been in the USA for maybe 4 weeks (for another sister’s wedding), but I have been gone a lot and they have been traveling between two cities in Michigan, plus Galane went to New York City (lucky girl).

My Mom, Me, Galane, Altu's Mother, AltuI saw “Mama” once earlier, the day before Altu’s Dad left to go home. Tuesday night I saw Mama and Galane very briefly and found out that they would be leaving Lansing Wednesday after dinner. Wednesday daytime was my only chance to spend time with them.

Luckily, I’m clear about priorities. Loved ones are more important than anything, though sometimes there are deadlines and conflicting schedules that get in the way. Wednesday I was going to be at my home office/studio (which I’ve really ignored with all the travel lately). End those plans, go see my loved ones. How lucky that this day it worked for me!

I also called my mother to let her know we had one chance to come meet these great ladies. I invited Brian to take his lunch hour at Altu’s restaurant. He had met Mama but not Galane, and my Mom had not met either of them yet. They both came out and we had a grand time!

For those who are new to my blog, Altu took me home to Africa over the holidays in 2004/05. We were gone 38 days total. We saw three countries: Ethiopia, Kenya and Egypt. We had one week each in the last 2 countries, but spent the rest of the time in Ethiopia. And whenever we were in Addis Ababa (the capital city), we stayed with Altu’s parents. Her sister hung out with us when she could, and she arranged and took us on a trip to the northern historical parts of Ethiopia early in our trip. Altu’s family treated me as if I were kin during the whole trip and I am deeply grateful for their love and hospitality.

I went to Altu’s restaurant around 1pm, and they arrived just after I did. I had a few final gifts for them including a CD with photographs from our trip to Africa. I stayed up until the wee hours Tuesday night organizing the photos. I took 1400 photos and Altu took nearly as many, and I had them all to sort into folders that might make sense to them when perusing alone some day. It was worth the effort, though, I’m happy with it all.

Food to Celebrate
I also made muffins. (Mama loved me on that trip in part by feeding me, since we don’t speak the same languages… it was my turn to love her back.) I recently purchased a bag of Bob’s Red Mill brand “Whole Grain Teff Flour.” I suspected it was not really flour, because Teff is such a tiny grain (100 grains of teff equal the size of one wheat grain). However, when I went to Bob’s website they indicate they have to mill it specially because of its size, but it truly is ground flour. Teff is also a very highly nutricious grain, with more protein than you might expect.

Teff Field at HarvestWhat is Teff anyway? It’s a grain common in Ethiopia. They use it for their special stretchy flat bread (it’s something like a sourdough) which is a traditional food for all language groups in that country. It of course would have 83 names for the 83 languages in Ethiopia, but the ruling group speaks Amharic and so that is the official national language. The bread is called injera in that language.

The bag of flour I bought had a muffin recipe on the back of it, with odd ingredients which are meant to make a good muffin without gluten. For anyone out there reading this who deals with a celiac (gluten-free) diet, I can vouch for the original recipe, which is exactly how I made the muffins the first time. Yum! At Altu’s restaurant we devoured the dozen muffins I made in that first batch. Excellent.

However, I then thought of you guys out there who probably don’t have arrowroot starch in your cupboards. So I played a bit, and made a version of the muffins that worked out pretty well, using Teff and spelt flour (which can be substituted for wheat flour, particularly whole wheat pastry flour). Those turned out well, with a good crusty outside, but a little more dry.

I have a lot more Teff flour. I will be experimenting to see what I can do to make a recipe that works for folks who don’t want to go to the health food store and get a cart full of ingredients that you will use only for this muffin. (Note that you can buy the Teff flour online if you don’t have a healthy-ingredient local grocer.)

Photos: My mother Liz, me, Altu’s sister Galane, Altu’s mother, Altu. Thanks to Charles (Altu’s brother in law, who works at the restaurant) for taking the photo. Second photo is a teff field after harvest. Notice the different shapes of “haystack” type storage they used.

Yahoo Woes

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Photo of Michigan State University by LynnH(Detour from normally-cheerful ColorJoy posts…)

My brother (the Internet Support guru) tells me I’m not the only one… but Yahoo can not seem to send me mail. They keep turning off my account for Yahoo Groups. They say my mail is bouncing.

Never mind I’m listmom for two (relatively inactive) lists… and that as far as I can tell, everyone else seems to be able to send me mail just fine. I’m frustrated.

It started August 19. I have had to reactivate my account approximately every other day since then. As I said, Eric/bro told me that Yahoo is having troubles. It doesn’t help that I changed servers for my domain around that time as well. That makes it harder to pinpoint the trouble.

At least the blog is stable, as is your support.

(I’m also in the process of writing a post that is optimistic and happy, I promise that will be up soon…)

To make this post more palatable, I’m including a photo I took last Saturday at MSU. It was taken just south of the intersection of Farm Lane and Mt. Hope Roads, facing northwest. This area is being turned back into a wetland, and it sure is looking good. What a glorious, beautiful day it was!