Monday, December 27, 2010

My No-Something Projects

The past five years, I've had a series of home projects in mind. They didn't always make the best of sense, and more often that not, they may never see the light of day, but I wanted to do them. One was a no-TV project -- I was supposed to build a projector because I don't have and don't want a TV and if I were to use some gadget for watching movies only, why not have a home theater? The key was that I was supposed to build it myself. Alas, I've only gone as far as reading the DIY manual and acquiring a 15" flat panel.

Another project was the no-couch project. I was obsessed with making sure that everything in my apt was something i could move on my own, so things had to be dismantlable or small. My bed teethered on the edge of breaking this rule, but I didn't want to give the same leeway for a couch. I thought the best thing to do would be to build something of a platform myself, to put a big mattress on it, cover it with a few pillows and make it my couch/day bed. I fell in love with the idea, and completely out of love with the execution of it. So for many years I had no couch. A year ago I was moving apartments and I was about to throw out a shelf when it occurred to me, there it was, my 'platform'! I've since put it face down and thrown a single bed mattress and a bunch of pillows on top of it. Voila, my couch/day bed's finally come to life without breaking my no-couch rule.

I also had this idea that qulet has to have a lazy way of making it, i.e. the no-maqlalating qulet. I was convinced that I could make it with a slow cooker. They use slow cookers to make caramelized onions, so why can't I make qulet with it? I wanted the cooking instruction to be as simple as:

1) chop onions
2) put in slow cooker, mix ingredients; leave for 10 hrs in a well ventilated area, e.g. window sill, porch, etc.
3) consume

When I mentioned my idea, my mom said, 'wey gud.... beysti ... ingidih memoker new'. My friends said, 'wait, why do you have a slow cooker?', or 'what is a slow cooker?'

So a few months ago, I finally tried it. I needed the qulet for a habesha dinner I was planning to host at my place a couple of days later. I documented the process.

Step 1: I chopped as many onions as I could tolerate. The idea was not to chop them too finely. Not to highlight my questionable talents in the chopping department, but the idea here was to chop them as crudely as possible to fit with the 'be-lazy' theme.

Lessons learned from mistake: do not chop the night before, or any hours before, for that matter. It will stink up the place.
Step 2: I mixed the onions with enough berbere and oil, same amount I'd use if Iwere maqlalat-ing this in a pot.

Step 2.5 : Since I live on a floor of an apartment from which if an empty pot fell I could gravely injure a person, I decided that

I shouldn't risk a pot full of hot stuff falling on top of anybody's head. At the same time, I didn't want to give up the idea of getting to cook my onions on my window sill. So I tied up the slow cooker from various directions with climbing gear. In case you've never seen a slow cooker, don't worry, it wasn't a fire hazard.

Step 3: I left it on for something like 10 hours. 6 hours on active cooking and the rest on the setting to keep it warm, because I didn't make it back to my apartment. It looks like qulet, tastes like qulet. The smell, even after the mistake of chopping the onions the night before, was minimal. My dinner subjects ate woT from the slow cooker qulet, and nobody complained ;) I'm satisfied.

If I were to do this again, I'd leave it on active cooking for longer than 6 hours. I would also cook the berbere separately beforehand. Maybe I'll keep a stash of dilih(to be made by a slow-cooker too, doh!)

'till the next project ..

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