Friday, September 27, 2013

Melkem Meskel 2013

International School Addis Ababa does a spectacular job celebrating Ethiopian Meskel, the finding of the one true cross in the Ethiopian orthodox religion.  It's a big celebration around the city with large tee pee style bonfires lit on every corner.  For a family with small children, it's just too hard to get to Meskel square in Addis Ababa to see the official celebration.  The crowds are just too much.  Being able to attend with the children for a family friendly Meskel at ICS is wonderful.  I was even prepared this year with dresses made for the girls.  What a treat!
Last year, I was wowed by the entire tradition of Meskel, the dancing, the chanting and the burning of the demera.  I attended the celebration with Addie and my camera.  This year, with Ashlynn and Arabella in tow as well, I had less opportunities for amazing photos but many more precious memories.
My favorite moments were when Bella and Ash were able to sit with Addie and her class to watch the dancing and eat popcorn (a very traditional Ethiopian treat).  Addie amazes me with her compassion for her two younger sisters.

When everyone gathered to watch the burning of the demera, things got a little hairy for me.  Arabella especially hates loud music or speaking over speaker systems, so when speakers were moved to within 5 feet of us and the huge raging fire burned and the wine blew ashes on us; I had a sobbing 4 year old and very concerned 2 year old.  We all rushed up the hill away from the smoke and ashes which allowed us a moment to regroup and calm some fears.
All in all, the girls did really well.  Bella's still not a crowd lover but Addie and Ashlynn really enjoyed the entire thing.  As did I!

Melkam Meskel Ethiopia!
Addie and her best friend
St. Gabriel's choir

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Trio Craft

Natural fiber carpets have recently become synonymous with contemporary interior design. Flip through any catalog from Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, even higher end boutiques.  They're all jumping on the jute, hemp, woven wool band wagon.  Rough spun carpets add a touch of a rustic edge, balancing out even the most modern of living spaces.  Never, am I more excited than when I find common, locally made products being marketed in the West as a high-end product.  There are lots of examples of this in Ethiopia.  Handwoven rugs are just one of these great finds. 
Trio Craft PLC. is a textile company in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia using natural organic fibers to create carpets and other various textiles. They pride themselves in maintaining an authentic handmade feel  while preserving their Ethiopian cultural heritage.
Their showroom is modest, but if you unroll any of their carpets you’ll see beauty in the rustic texture and traditional designs.  Even better;  style, color and size customization is encouraged.  Every rug is loom-woven by highly trained artisans on location.   Expect custom orders to take approximately one month to complete.  Colors are limited to the fibers local farmers supply.  
Feel good about being on trend but original with a contemporary carpet, made right here in Ethiopia. 

Tsige  is an English speaking representative available M-F, call first 0911822875

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ethiopian bold

Last week I had the pleasure of photographing Salem's Runway Collection on a model.  It was the first model work I've done and I found the human element made me a bit nervous.  There's a first time for everything though right? This woman is actually the designer of this amazing collection.  She has the most gorgeous skin doesn't she?

These are a few of the bold, one-of-a-kind pieces that were created for an Ethiopian fashion show in August.  Each piece is unique and so important to capture on camera.  Ethiopian jewelry is fabulously colorful and tribal but in a very tasteful and modern way.  Just gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

moving day

When we drive around Addis Ababa, more often than not, we spot something that we wish we had a camera to capture the moment for posterity.  A lot of times it's because we spot a goat or sheep tied to the back of someone's bicycle.  Not joking.  This time it was a tiny little taxi carrying a very heavy load.

strawberry rhubarb pie

When I saw the gorgeous red stalks of rhubarb at the NGO bazaar, I snatched up a few bunches for strawberry rhubarb pie.  In college, I had a roommate from Amarillo, Texas and one spring break three of our best friends flew to Texas to visit her granddad's ranch.  My friend's mother made two strawberry rhubarb pies that will forever be etched in my mind.  They were sweet but not too sweet and the crust was perfectly buttery and flaky.  My girlfriends and I used forks and just took bites out of the pie until it was gone.  Or at least that's how I remember it.  It was probably the best pie I've ever eaten.

I did my best to recreate that wonderful memory!

I made mini pies for Market Day so I used double the amount of pie crust needed.  If you wanted to make one 9 inch pie you only need a single batch of pie crust.  I ended up with more strawberries than rhubarb but you could definitely swap the 4 cups for rhubarb and cut down on the strawberries.  Just keep tasting until you've got the sweet tart combination right.  I like using cardamom in place of cinnamon for recipes because it adds a unique flavor and still has that warmth of cinnamon.  Here I used cardamom in the crumble topping.
get your daughter to help and give you a smirky grin when you ask her to smile for the photo
Sara's Strawberry Rhubarb pie (adapted from here)
Double batch of your favorite pie crust (mine's a secret)
3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
4 cups fresh strawberries sliced in half
3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar (keep it separate)
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

Crumble topping
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
large pinch ground cardamom
1 tsp salt

First I cooked the rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar on medium heat until it was juicy and bubbly (use a dutch oven with a lid).  Cook only until the juices start coming out of the vegetable.  You don't want mushy rhubarb.  It's nice if it still has structure-not crunch, but structure.  Set the rhubarb aside in a bowl and add half the amount of juices left in the pot.  Sip the rest or add it to seltzer water for flavoring.  Rhubarb syrup is so yummy!

Add the flour, cornstarch and melted butter to the rhubarb and stir gently to mix.  It will become thick and gloppy.  Add the halved strawberries and gently fold in so you don't crush the fruit. Taste the mixture and then sprinkle in the remaining sugar if you like.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

For the crumb topping you can use a food processor or if you're like me and sometimes just don't want to go to the trouble to get the thing out and then clean it all for 3 seconds of pulsing; just get out a bowl and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix the ingredients for the crumble.  Simply mix the dry, then add the butter.  Add a bit of butter and mix, then add a bit more until it's forming small crumbly balls.  You don't want soggy crumble.  Just add enough butter until it's crumbly but still a bit dry.  The consistency you can easily sprinkle on top of the pie.

To assemble your pie, roll our your crust either for a 9 inch pie plate or in small circles for muffin tins like I did.  For a large pie pour in the fruit mixture and then top with the crumble.  If you are making mini pies, I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp of filling for each mini pie.  Then sprinkle on 1 Tbsp crumble.

Bake your 9 inch pie at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then turn the temp down to 350 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.

For mini pies bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes then turn down the temp to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 18-20 minutes.  You want the crust a nice tan not brown.

Let the pie sit for 2-4 hours.  Room temp is a good way to serve this pie.  Top with ice cream or just slice and enjoy.  I didn't even get a chance to eat one.  They sold out at Market Day but Justin said they were perfection.  Not too sweet and not too tart.  And they sure are pretty!