In the Willowbee Tree story “The End of the Season,” Clancy is lamenting the end of first grade and the prospect of starting a new grade. He likes the way things are and doesn't want them to change.
The Willow Tree takes the children to Tanzania for the migration of the wildebeests and zebras at the end of the wet season, when change is welcome. Although it's not always easy, the animals come home changed: a year older and stronger and wiser.
Like Clancy, I think a lot of us feel unsettled when change happens. Happy and excited about new adventures, perhaps, but also a little wistful about comforting routines and friends being left behind.
Inspired by the Willowbee's trip to East Africa, this week's recipe — for an East African flatbread called chapati — has two options: one for when you feel like playing it safe and the other for when you're feeling up for an adventure.
The white flour version is soft and comforting; the buckwheat version is nutty and exotic. The white flour version requires a few extra steps; the buckwheat version is gluten-free.
Serve either with your favorite curry or with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar for a sweet snack.
Chapati Bread, Two Ways
(Makes 4 small flatbreads)
1 cup flour (all-purpose or buckwheat)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ to ¾ cup warm water
extra flour and oil, for rolling out the bread and frying it
Begin by mounding the flour on a plate and sprinkling the salt over the top. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the oil and ½ cup of water.
Use a fork or spoon to slowly mix the flour into the water until the flour starts to break off into small, sticky clumps. You may need to add more water.
Once you've combined the mixture well on the plate, dump it onto a floured cutting board and continue mixing and kneading with your hands until you have one large lump of dough.
For the buckwheat version:
Once your dough is sticking together in a good lump, dust the outside very lightly with more buckwheat flour to make it easier to handle. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
When you're ready to cook, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Break the dough into 4 equal pieces, and — on a well-floured cutting board — roll each piece into a round shape. Don't worry about getting these too thin.
Use a spatula to transfer the chapati to the oil and cook for a few minutes per side, or until brown char marks just start to appear. If you like and you have a gas stove, then right at the end you can use a pair of tongs to hold the chapati over an open flame for a few seconds to help it brown a bit more.
Coat the cooked chapati with a little melted butter and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the white flour version
Once your dough is sticking together well, continue to knead it for about 5 minutes or until it's soft and just slightly sticky. Break the dough into four pieces, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
At the end of that time, rub just a few drops of olive oil onto the first dough ball, and—on a floured surface—roll it out into a round shape.
Starting at one edge, fold the chapati like an accordion or a fan, then wrap it in a spiral to make something that looks a little like a cinnamon bun.
Repeat with the remaining dough balls, then cover them with plastic wrap and let them rest for another 15 minutes.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.