Chicken Shishtaouk

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

So if you follow my insta-feed (btw instagram is my fave...lots of awesome pics with a reduction in click-bait...and lots of links to cool articles and blogs), you might have noticed I have posted some pics with reference to the Perkins household's favourite new chicken dish: Chicken Shishtaouk.

So (no surprise here) I am not an expert on Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine.  I sincerely apologize if I mess this up....

One day I was looking for a recipe for skewered chicken and googled chicken 'shish kabob marinade' or similar....after searching for a bit, I came across a recipe for Chicken Shishtaouk.  (it is often spelled in other ways e.g. Shishtawook).

While this particular version of the recipe has many different elements (some you might have to plan a bit of time, ahead) its flavours are seriously complex and absolutely delicious!!




I honestly am about to regurgitate a recipe I found online from www.allrecipes.com.  I have no idea if it's authentic, but damn, it's good.  (So good that Andrew insisted I call this blog post "Dope AF chicken". Sorry sweetie...maybe next time.)

First things first....

You must soak your skewers (if you are using crappy wooden ones, like I do) for at least an hour...ideally a couple of hours.  Realistically....in our house....the skewers end up soaking for about 20 minutes prior to being used...but whatevs.  Soaking the skewers prevent the cheaply made ones from instantly charring and burning up....instead, soaking them holds off the charring and burning up for approximately 2 minutes. Excellent.  Maybe you have the fancy metal ones....in which case...hook a girl up...



Anyhoo.

Next up...ingredients!  Gather the following:

- 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt (I use 2%..you can use the crappy 0%, if you really want)
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice (Don't be a skeet...make it fresh squeezed)
- 1/4 cup of olive or canola oil (this is important...it helps the chicken from sticking to the grill)
- 4 (at minimum) cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
- 2 tsp of tomato paste (damnit...you gotta open a full can of paste for two tsps...I keep the rest in the fridge in a tupperware container)
- 1 tsp of oregano (dried or fresh)
- 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp of salt (I use 1/2 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp of black pepper (fresh cracked, yo)
- 1/8 tsp of ground cardamom (I prefer to use a mortar and pestle to grind the cardamom cuz it's waaaay better fresh...it's lemony in flavour and makes the chicken taste unique)

Combine/Whisk the above ingredients in a small bowl.  It should look like a pink spicy yogurt.  If it does...you are doing it right. Trust me.


I take 6-8 chicken breasts and cut them into bite size pieces. Place them in a big bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken.  Mix around with a spatula...cover and put in a fridge for an hour (or 20 mins if it's after work..I use this time to prepare side dishes).



Next up...cooking.

I usually make this chicken with skewered veggies.  The veggies could be peppers, onions, tomatoes, zuchinni...whatever you got. Always (Read: ALWAYS) skewer your veggies separately from your meat.  Chicken and veggies have completely different cooking length times. The chicken needs to go on the grill quite a bit before the veggies do.  While you can frig around with the spices etc in this recipe...nobody wants a case of salmonella from undercooked chicken and overcooked veggies.

Right?




(for you Simpson lovers...I just heard a rendition of Apu singing about salmonella)

Grill your chicken skewers until it has nice grill marks on all sides of the chicken and the yogurt marinade is "cooked".  You shouldn't see a lot of yogurt marinade on it, essentially.

I like to serve this chicken with roasted spiced potatoes, the grilled veggies and tzatziki on the side.  It also pairs well, with rice or salad.  Essentially...it's been on the regular menu here at least once a week.

I usually make a ton and then I have leftovers.  Again...if you have insta...you might have seen that I made Shishtaouk chicken nachos with pita bread chips (just sliced pita bread), chopped veggies and chopped chicken and topped with cheese. Super tasty lunch! Feels like a treat on a weekday!

You can follow me on Instagram, here!

I later added a quarter of the tub of tzatziki...this amount is just for pictures, to show self-restraint

Enjoy :)

K.






Hidden Costs of Building a Home

Sunday, 7 May 2017

So I have had a few people approach me to talk about building a home.  I wanted to do a post for those that might interested in the things you don't know about building a home.  If this isn't something you are interested in by all means; thanks for checking in!!  I will give you a token of my appreciation for clicking on the link by including some pictures :)

Finally getting some of our artwork hung! 

Pretty Gloomy, Lazy Sunday Morning Vibes (and yes I admit I do not reliably make beds)



So..that home building thing!

There are definitely some hidden costs when it comes to building a home: ones that I didn't think of at all!!  No, I am not talking about when you chose hardwood over laminate over ceramic. I am not talking about the hidden costs behind all the decor and the finishes you choose....I am talking about costs, that you don't think about, when you go to a contractor and get a quote.

Let's get started:

1) House plans: We were lucky...a friend that is an architect did our house plans.  Obviously...I can't speak to how much it costs to typically have a draftsperson complete their plans....but I am guessing it's not a bargain.  We had looked at house plans online but we would have had to pay someone to alter them to what we were looking for, anyway.  In addition, the house plans online drastically underquote how much it would cost to build them (don't trust the internet!)

2) Land: We purchased our land about a year and a half before we started the build on it.  What we didn't know at the time is that before you can have a mortgage on a house that you are building...you need to pay off the balance of the loan, for the piece of land.  In other words...the land price needs to be paid in full before you can start getting money for the mortgage and apply to your contractor bills.

First) In order for you not to have to pay a ton of cash, the bank has to assess the value of your house + the value of the land.  What you have to hope is the value is around the same amount that it is costing you to build (i.e. the cost of your land plus the price that the contractor is charging you).  For example:  If you paid 50,000 for the land and your contractor wants to charge you 200,000 for the house build, you better make sure that the assessed value is 250,000 plus hst.  Otherwise you will be paying any extra out of pocket.

This is not something to worry about in a large centre like Vancouver or Toronto.  It's a challenge when you live in a more rural area.  The banks need to know that if you walk away from the house, they will be able to sell your property for at least the balance of your mortgage.  Thankfully, for us, the assessed value came close to the actual price of the land + the house.  We had to pay about 9,000 + our downpayment out of pocket. (I should also mention that the bank also requires you to have at least 12 months of house payments, on top of your downpayment, in assets..in case the bank has to liquidate them.)

Second) For us, we had paid a chunk in cash on the land (the bank requires a good downpayment on "raw land"); however, we still had quite a balance to pay on it.

When you are building a house you typically get money from the bank in 4 installments (First is after foundation and things like the well and driveway is completed, second is what's known as "water tight" which basically means the framing and the exterior.  The third is your electrical and plumbing rough-ins, insulation, drywall, and the fourth is your finishes (flooring, kitchen etc).

Well...for most people...since they don't usually have their land paid off in full....their first installment usually goes first to paying off the balance of the land.  This can leave your contractor and subcontractors (like your foundation dudes) waiting a bit of time, to be paid in full.  Hopefully, you have some money left from the first installment monies, to tide them over a bit. We also paid our downpayment (5% down) after the first installment to help with some of the costs that were left uncovered, by the paying off the land. It helps at this point and time to have a patient contractor with a large line of credit (did I mention I worked with Graham Construction?)

3) Surveyors: the bank wanted a clear definition of the size of the land and the markings.  So we hired a local surveyor to do that. We also had to ensure that it clearly marked where crown land started (i.e. where the road begins) so that our house could meet certain by-laws (the house has to be so many feet from the road).

4) Engineers:  The municipal safety inspector wanted an engineer to sign off on the design of the house. Blahh...more money.

5) CMHC fees:  I will be honest.  Even this one is still hard to wrap my head around it.  Basically, when you get a mortgage with a bank, they add this one big giant fee (read: pain in the ass).  It is a percentage of the final mortgage and provides insurance on the mortgage.  The more you put on in a down payment, the lower the fee. If your downpayment is 20%, there is no CMHC fee.  But...20%.

6) Taxes.  Big ouchie.  15% on a 10 dollar pizza isn't much....but it's a lot on a couple hundred thousand dollars! (You can apply to get a certain amount of your taxes back....but unless your house that you built is your first house...it's not that impressive, and if the value of your home is over $450,000, you aren't getting anything back, if you live in Nova Scotia)

7) Water testing: to make sure you don't have E.coli  and shit in your water...literally.

8) Your Lawyer fees.  It's definitely a different structure than when you buy an existing home.  Since your lawyer is the one that the bank releases the money to, you have to pay the lawyer in installments, as well.

9) Appliances.  This one is not very hidden.  But you kinda forget about it.  You can include the cost of your appliances in your mortgage.  I don't recommend this.  If your mortgage amortization is 25 years...chances are, you will need to replace your appliances before the 25 years are up.  If you do, and your appliances get replaced...you technically are still paying for your old one, while you are also paying for your new one :/ No thanks.

10) I feel like I need to find a 10th item to round out the discussion....I will chip in a water softener and sediment filter....as it was an afterthought for us.  I am a water princess that has lived on municipal water in my small Newfoundland town and on Brunswick street, all my life. When I realized that hard water, with lots of sediment, meant not washing clothes and sand in your bathtub...it was a race to talk to a plumber, to have that installed.

Well, I hope that was all clear as mud!  Please msg me if you have any questions!  I am not an expert, but certainly feel like I have some handle now, in the forgotten pieces of information, when you are bright eyed and bushy tailed, and picking out your hardwood floors and tile!  Seriously, home building was an amazing and privileged experience for us. We are super thankful to have had the opportunity.

Have a good Sunday!

K.




Moving Thoughts

Monday, 17 April 2017


Hello blog readers!

I can feel my life slowing down by the minute!  These past few months has been so hectic.

But....we made it!!!

We moved in to our new home at the end of March.

I tell people that the Saturday we moved in...I was floating on air.  Nothing could get me down!

I was in love with everything and everyone.

I liken it to when you have a baby and you have tons of oxytocin coursing through your veins and you just feel so high!  (btw I didn't have that experience at all, when I had E.; just speaking from what I have read ;) )

The next few days after the move was a real test of mental endurance and resiliency.

Not only did I have to clean the new house...I had to clean my old one (including the basement which was scary and gross), unpack in a house that was still under construction, manage my work schedule, my child's schedule and extracurricular activities and my husband's lack of home schedule because of a filing deadline on March 31st.

It is a time that I don't wish to repeat.

I couldn't have done it without some real champions!  I want to publicly thank each and every person that helped me pack and move our house.  I reeeealllly want to thank some real special folks (and there were many!!) who took Emma to their house on the weekends leading up to the move, during the move and after the move, so that I could pack/unpack and clean in peace and productivity (cuz it's hard to be productive when you are tending to a constant chorus of requests for snacks and demands to immediately get rid of boredom).  I also want to thank my mom who kept up with my cleaning demands and kept Emma entertained and busy.



On another note...some thoughts about moving into a new build...and things to keep in mind prior to moving in...

- Figure out your Canada Post stuff

I was scrambling to figure out a place to forward mail to. Technically, our address didn't exist before. I needed proof from the municipality to provide Canada Post proof that my house actually existed....get all that stuff prior to moving as there can be up to a 10 day delay in introducing a new address.  In addition, there is a delay when you put in a request to forward mail from your old address.

You also have to figure out if you want to go the mail box service or if you want your mail delivered to a superbox that is more secure.

- Figure out your waste management stuff

Again, we called our local waste management company for a green bin for our organic waste.  There was a 10 day delay in delivery of our large bin.  For over a week, we had to put our organic waste in a large garbage bag, that we emptied in the green bin when it arrived.  We had to keep the organic stuff inside because it would have been ravaged by raccoons.

- Figure out your power and other hookups prior to moving

Man, we lived without internet for a week.  It. was. rough.

- Make a list..check it twice.

Make a list of all the little things that you notice around the house that need tweaking, fixing etc.  Make it electronic and take pictures on your phone to give your contractor.  It helps ensure they know what concerns you have and demonstrate the issue just in case they have to access the house while you are not around.

- Be thankful and try to take perspective

It's not the end of the world if something is temporarily messed up...cuz you just moved in to a new build....the majority of people will never have the opportunity to do that.

K.


The view from our bed


The last picture I took in our old apartment...Emma's height chart

Kitchen Adventures

Thursday, 23 February 2017

So everyone wants to know when we are moving in!

The short answer: very soon!

We are in the thick of installing cabinets, flooring, tile...we have countertop people coming next week...looking at installing our stairs next week...

It's a lot of nitpicky decisions: faucets, trim, sinks..

I enjoy some of the nitpicky stuff.  Not so much others.

The kitchen has been an interesting project.  We purchased online from Ikea. We (i.e. Andrew) assembled the cabinet boxes/frames and our foreman and another carpenter have been doing the install. It was a steep learning curve for them.  Not one that was necessarily enjoyable; I would think.

Thankfully, they are pretty easy going and don't hold grudges (btw my contractor is Graham Surette from Graham Construction and my foreman is Pat.). It's been a very collaborative experience, thus far, and I can't really think of a time where we felt out of the loop or upset.  If anything, I was afraid I would upset them sometimes with my requests and they have been nothing but accommodating.

I just joke with them and say that I am their Ikea kitchen guinea pig, as I am sure the requests for their kitchens will increase when Ikea opens in Halifax, later in the year.

We ended up going with a recommendation from a friend (Hi Heidi!) for our countertops: Livingstone out of Mount Uniacke (www.livingstonehfx.ca)  They are close to Halifax but their wholesale prices for quartz are amazing (with a $300 price for delivery).  Their email correspondence is soo sharp (which I love cuz I hate cold-calling) and they are super organized thus far.

Our appliances are all through our local Leons.  We spent a lot of time researching appliances. While of course, I haven't used any of them yet....hopefully the excellent reviews on the brands we chose will hold true.  We decided to go with a Bosch dishwasher, an LG fridge and a Samsung range.

Hold up....I know Samsung doesn't have a great rep....hear me out...

I wanted a dual fuel, propane convertible, induction, double oven, slide-in range. Pretty darn specific....basically a step under some small commercial grade ranges. It's not a common occurrence. Kitchen Aid sells one, Samsung does...and I have seen an LG one. The Samsung version has awesome reviews...not so much the Kitchen Aid.

I wanted the ease of the propane with the best oven for baking...with the convenience of a double oven...without paying the price for double wall ovens.

Got it?

Stay tuned to see how it works.

Finally, we are working collaboratively on our flooring and tile with our local C & C flooring.  We have been working closely with Kirk and our installer is Jamie.  Both are amazing! I am super pumped about our tub tile surrounds (check out my posts on Instagram) and our backsplash.

Here's some kitchen inspiration to leave you with:









Happy Thursday,

K.

Light Fixtures

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Hello folks!

Happy New Year to you all :)

Things are buzzing along on B. Street.  We have a special little girl's birthday this weekend.  Tonight, I was lying on my stomach on the kitchen floor and she came over and pretended to be a baby koala on her mom's back..."Mom, do you know baby koalas stay on their mom's back, while the mom looks for food?".

Wow.

All of a sudden she's 6!


In the words of Emma: "What the??"


Yep.



Things are going pretty well on the new home front as well.

One of the biggest challenges I am having right now, with the house, is lighting.

All of our lights have been purchased online or in Halifax.

For those that may follow me on Instagram: our show stopper is a 9 light fixture from Attica (that we got on a great sale before they moved in the fall). That is going over our dining room table. It's basically a light fixture that we never could have bought..so I am super pumped to see how it looks.  (On another note, light fixtures just like it are featured in House and Home magazine in their February issue).

Our other kitchen lighting is our pendant lights over the kitchen island. I originally wanted 3 pendants over the island. We ordered three from Structube.com.  I love love them.  One problem:  they are a lot bigger in person.  So we have three light fixtures.  But only two will fit..(anyone interested in an industrial light fixture? They only have a 14 day return policy and we are not headed up to their Dartmouth location, anytime soon.)

(courtesy of structube.com)


C'est la vie.

We also have purchased a super sweet pendant from Ikea for Emma's room. Emma has requested a pale pink ceiling and pale yellow walls. I think she has perfect vision for her room...and this fixture will compliment it.



Finally...we are in limbo for the main pendant fixture in our bedroom.  I ordered one on sale from Pottery Barn Kids (of all places!).  It's a Moroccan-inspired brass fixture that will fit in well with my navy blue accent wall I have planned..


(like this blue wall!)



or

I have a Sputnik inspired light that I purchased from Costco (of all places!). It would go well with the mid century modern furniture in our bedroom.







What do you think?  Are we Team Morocco or Team Sputnik?

K.