Ethiopia! I'm ready for our love affair.

Have you ever walked into a place so different but so familiar at the same time?  Ethiopia reminds me of many countries I have visited throughout Africa but the one thing that struck me was the one thing that was so much like home.  What was this, you ask?  Left hand drive on the right side of the road.  It has only been a year since I've last been home and driven around the States but for some reason it was completely disconcerting to me to have the driver sitting on the left and driving on the right.  Call me crazy but that's what stuck with me upon arrival to Ethiopia. 

I spent one short night in Addis Ababa upon arrival so I did not get a chance to explore Ethiopia's most well-known city.  Fortunately I'll have another chance to explore the city on my way to Shire in a couple of weeks.  Early the next morning we headed out to the 2nd largest city in Ethiopia, Dire Dawa.  We have been here about 4 days and I have been fairly lazy about getting out and about.  We hit up the pool bar at our hotel the first couple nights and then tried out a restaurant at another nearby hotel.  Tonight we hit up a local Ethiopian joint and had some delicious njera and shiro.  I could eat this all day every day. 

5 days down, 3 1/2 weeks to go.  Bring it, Ethiopia!

Kenya's War: Over the Line or Good to Go?

So for those of you who don't know, Kenya is at war; they broke the news over Twitter just a few weeks ago.  Locals have been inundated with newspaper stories of the developments made each day in the military's campaign to take down Al Shabaab's stronghold on various Somali towns.  I have been keeping up with the local news here but to gain a more international and less potentially biased perspective, I also monitor Al Jazeera's news updates as I have found they provide the most reliable coverage on issues in Africa over other news stations.

Easy Schmeasy...Cooking for the Clinically Insane

Since my initial cooking attempt of Tex Mex went off without a hitch I decided I would spend my first day of R&R cooking dinner for a few friends.  Fortunately it was not at my house as I do not have a oven or even a very functional stove.  (I did just procure a slightly used microwave though...oh the possibilities!)

Disclaimer: I am typing this as I cook.  Therefore there will be frequent updates and perhaps a random fire or two.

The menu: pulled chicken wraps with broccoli pasta alfredo and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  I decided to also throw in a guacamole starter since that takes me approximately 10 minutes to make including chopping and taste testing plus I figured it would keep the boys occupied as I attempt to finish the rest of dinner. 

Around 2pm: I returned from grocery shopping and started chopping and cleaning vegetables.  I threw 4 small avocados, some chopped onion and red pepper, and a jalapeno in the blender until mixed.  I added lemon juice and a little salt to taste.  There was an unfortunate incident where I put the spoon in to test the consistency a few seconds before the blender actually came to a complete stop.  Happily it  didn't break or kill the blender or take out my eye for that matter when it came flying out of the blender at me. 

Since I am incapable of chopping broccoli I asked the housegirl to chop that for me so I didn't come off as a complete imbecile when there were huge chunks of uncut broccoli in the pasta later.  She did an amazing job and puts my chopping skills to shame.

Around 4pm:  I took the chicken that was quasi defrosted (hopefully it's ok to continue on it's defrostation while in the oven?)  and sprinkled Hidden Valley ranch seasoning on it and drizzled some barbecue sauce on it.  I set the oven on as high as it can go because I know it takes longer to cook and you have to put things on higher temperatures since we're at a higher altitude.  Unfortunately, I don't actually know what that equates to in cooking terms but hopefully 300 degrees Celsius is adequate to get the job done. 

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